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Flex: Accelerating supply chains, delivering for the client

Flex has a number of sites in Ireland including offices in Dublin, operations in Cork, Limerick and Leitrim, and distribution centres around the country.

Senior Vice President and General Manager of Flex Global Services Pat Ring explains how Flex has evolved into a $25bn business

Flex has a number of sites in Ireland including offices in Dublin, operations in Cork, Limerick and Leitrim, and distribution centres around the country.

The Irish facilities are part of a vast network of more than 100 sites and design centres around the world who share a mission to make the world smarter.

That means Flex, a $25bn corporation, can help companies design and build intelligent products for our increasingly connected world.

They also manage the complex logistics and after-market services of getting finished products to markets and end customers, no matter where they are in the world.

Pat Ring, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Flex Global Services, in Cork, which has developed new digital tools allowing the company to operate and view the supply chain in real-time, giving visibility to customers on hand held devices.

Sketch-to-Scale® product solutions

“We describe ourselves as full-service partner’, says Pat Ring, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Flex Global Services, based in Cork. “Our focus is not just to make things, but to combine innovation and disruption with our deep industry expertise, and collaborate with our customers, to help them drive value for their customers, as well as differentiation from their competitors.

“Our business has evolved from that of a contract and product manufacturer to becoming a Sketch-to-Scale solutions partner, where our design and engineering expertise, and our technology and intellectual capital are used to create new solutions.

“By bringing insights and technologies from a dozen different industries, Flex can add value to one sector with technology developed in another, and in the process, help solve some big challenges.” he says.

Time to manage your supply chain

Ireland is ideally positioned as a location to manage the global flow of goods and materials. Its global position allows you to speak to Asia in the morning, Europe and the Middle East all day, and the United States in the afternoon.

The firm produce about 12,500 different products for global brands like Lenovo, Google, Bose and Allergan, and manage the forward and reverse logistics for a host of other household names. As a result, Flex handle some of the most complex supply chains in the world.

A key part of the evolution of Flex to a Sketch-to-Scale company which offered end-to-end product life cycle management solutions, was their focus on supply chain and aftermarket services.

Managed product services

Every second counts in supply chain management and customers now demand real-time information about development, fulfilment, forward and reverse logistics for their products.

The growth in customer demand for speed and visibility in order to better service end customers through Direct to Retail, B2C & B2B solutions is driving significant disruption for end to end supply chains.

Flex developed digital tools allow the company to operate and view the supply chain in real-time, giving visibility to customers on hand held devices.

Pat Ring said:

The consumer dynamic today is a significant factor. Delivery to a home addresses or pick-up, drop-off points globally means companies must have visibility and agility to avoid significant hits to their cash flow, inventory and customer satisfaction.

“That’s a critical development,” he said. “Before the availability of these tools, you could imagine it was like driving on a motorway in your car, and trying to monitor and increase your speed using yesterday’s speedometer information. It’s almost a cliché to say that the pace of change is accelerating, but it’s true.

“Sophisticated technology allows us to increase the velocity of a supply chain. Customer benefits are clear. but the financial benefits of speed in the supply chain for a company is something that is getting a lot of focus now.

"Faster inventory turnaround means more free cash flow. The velocity of a supply chain is directly linked to the health of the balance sheet of a company, so a faster supply chain, is a better supply chain,” he concludes.

Historically, the biggest problem with supply chains was always one of visibility, according to Ring.

“You can’t fix what you can’t see,” he says. “Digital allows you to see what’s going on with the inventory, to understand the flow on a real time basis and react immediately to whatever obstacle is holding things up.”

However fast your supply chain, there are many other factors adding to success which Flex help address. Global trade dynamics and regionalisation are increasing supply chain complexity and Ring advises that companies should consider not only what they make, but where they make it.

Choosing a location

Determining the right number and location of suppliers, design centres, manufacturing sites and distribution centres can be challenging on a global stage.

You need a solution that provides the right balance of flexibility and cost efficiency, while also meeting the requirements of a dynamic and demanding market including Direct to retail, B2B & B2C.

Designing an effective supply chain

To assess the effects of implementing changes before they’re made, Flex use an advanced proprietary simulation and analysis tool to run a diagnostic test on your supply chain network. 

The tool will surface potential changes in tax and trade policies and show you how changes to your risks and opportunities could enhance your supply chain.

“We used this tool when reviewing the strategy of one customer who was building server farms in Latin America.

By combining our proprietary analytics tool with the extensive experience of our local team, we developed multiple import and manufacturing scenarios, enabling the customer to select the best option. 

"This ultimately resulted in cost savings of 20% for the customer,” say Ring.

Flex help companies all over the world take the guesswork out of implementing changes across their supply chains when entering new markets or regions. 

The advanced simulation and analysis tool test the viability of a proposed solution against key macroeconomic factors to aid decision-making with the constant key objective of “total cost of ownership”.

An experienced partner with presence in developed and emerging markets around the world can help you introduce your product to market faster.

Flex enable their customers to scale rapidly and with ease by leveraging any of their facilities in Asia, Europe, Middle East and the Americas. 

The footprint allows Flex to design and manufacture where it makes sense for their customer to optimise market entry and speed time to market.

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