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October 07 Businessexcellence 67 continues. “A lot of messages happen in MRP between the time you fi rst recognize demand and you ultimately receive whatever it is you’re buying. In a pull based environment those messages don’t exist anymore, because there’s no activity until you hit the replenishment point, so there has been a tremendous reduction in the amount of message traffi c.” Theune also points out that Plexus has made a strong commitment to standardize processes and that all its locations will be on the same ERP system by the end of this year. “This gives us a considerable advantage in being able to see available supply and putting in common metrics and tool sets.” But the supply chain is not all about suppliers. Customers come in all shapes and sizes, too, and dealing effi ciently with them is as important as it is with suppliers. The capabilities of the customer have a huge effect on the solution, says Theune. “If they’re not thinking from a lean perspective it can add inventory, cost and uncertainty into the supply chain.” So part of the skill in managing the supply chain, he says, is getting the customer to understand the importance of connecting to the real source of demand, rather than sending a purchase order once a month. “When you’re really synchronized with true demand it makes a huge difference. Unfortunately, that’s not very common when we first initiate with a new customer. It’s partly because of the way the industry has worked in the past, but we’re trying to change that. We’re trying to get people to share that demand with us in as raw and relevant a state and as early as possible, so we can design the supply chain appropriate to that. Plexus

68 Businessexcellence October 07 Ur-Energy Inc, a junior mining exploration and development company, is nearly ready for uranium production, CEO Bill Boberg explains to Gary Toushek Readyforuranium