Tom ‘t Lam
Supply Chain Consultant at Quooker
Tom is concerned with all kinds of challenges concerning the supply chain such as lead times, inventory reduction and risk reduction. Tom completed a graduation assignment at Quooker in 2014 and then started as a purchaser at the company.
Quooker is located in Ridderkerk, where it has 11,000 square meters of business space. More than 180 people work on Quooker’s development, production and marketing on a daily basis. At this moment, there are Quooker locations in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Sweden and Switzerland. Since the invention of the original boiling water tap, Quooker is constantly innovating. The Quooker’s production is carried out its own production department. Many parts are supplied, but a large number of essential components are produced. The entire assembly takes place in Ridderkerk.
Tom: “Quooker grows extremely fast, revenue growth is about 30 percent each year. With such rapid growth, communication with our suppliers is becoming increasingly important. A predictable delivery time is also essential. If a lead time is given by a supplier, we really need to be able to manage our stock position and production planning well, in order to maintain growth in production.”
“We sent the purchase orders in PDF format to our suppliers. Then it took one to three weeks to get the order confirmation back in the supplier’s format. After that we had to process it manually again in our Exact ERP-system. There was not only a considerable delay but also a lot of manual work in the purchasing process. In addition, in Exact we could not confirm at the level of order rules. We then solved it by adding a note to the main level of the order. This method was obviously far from optimal and the probability of errors was high.”
“The communication about orders that were delivered to the various suppliers for us did not work very well. We do a lot of transport on our own, so we wanted to know exactly when we could arrange transportation to get it here. Combined with the rapid growth of the company, it became an untenable situation. We lost the overview and the grip on the ordering processes. Change was needed: we wanted to integrate more with the suppliers and communicate better with them.”
“We did not find the supply of this type of solution very wide. Via A.B. Software & Consultancy, our COO Geertjan Woltjens contacted Tradecloud. Tradecloud was found to be well-connected to the process of OEMs in orderflow design. That’s why it was the right solution for us. We started with one supplier we know well and we have a good relationship with. After a successful pilot with this company, I quickly upgraded the number of suppliers. Currently, 45 suppliers at home and abroad are connected to the online platform. The order confirmations of the suppliers that are not yet affiliated are also processed in Tradecloud. As a result, we now have a real-time total overview of confirmed and not confirmed orders together with their status. We now use Tradecloud as a dashboard to keep track of order streams. We think this works nicer than the reports that Exact offers now. If an urgent action is needed, we’ll see it right away in Tradecloud and we can take targeted actions towards our suppliers. In this way we can focus on the exceptions in the process.”
“We also started connecting our Asian suppliers. With Chinese suppliers, we noticed that they are not used to working with such platforms. The culture is different and Chinese attach more to personal contact by phone and email. What helped was that there is a standard translation to Chinese in Tradecloud. Because working with the software still requires a bit of discipline, we have provided them with additional help and explanation. Many of our suppliers from Europe also work for the automotive sector. Then you’ll see that it’s easy: they’re already used to similar platforms and the switching is almost naturally!”
How does Tom look at the added value of Tradecloud? “The system works very intuitively and our employees can quickly get along with it. It helped us to get insights. The metrics in the system are very nice because I know what I’m up to. If something seemed wrong in the system, we were quickly helped out by Tradecloud’s employees. Our suppliers were also quickly up to speed. We now have a single overview of what communication took place with the supplier and we immediately see where action is still required of us.”
Tom has many ideas and sees the potential of big data for Quooker. “The beautiful thing about Tradecloud is that there is a huge bin of data available. It is possible to get good metrics out of the database. I will talk to Tradecloud soon because I want more metrics that I can not get from our ERP system.” For example, Tom mentions the time that a vendor (or vendor group) requires on average to confirm an order and the average time that an order is due.
“With that kind of metrics, I can then conduct a focused conversation with my suppliers.” What other possibilities does Tom see? “I would also like to compose my personal dashboards that I can internally beam to someone through the various screens that are hanging out in our company. That’s how I make colleagues aware of the fact that we have these insights.”