How to manage planning of more than 300 products?
Gérard Eyidi (37) is a highly experienced production planner, who has worked in planning all his life. Inspired by complex planning challenges, he aims to serve customers and deliver the right products with the highest quality, on time and at the right place. At the same time he has the passion to produce more than 300 products in his planning portfolio in the most efficient way. ‘It’s the best of both worlds’, he says.
He began his studies in Cameroon and then moved to Germany, where he received his Bachelor and Master degree in Transport and Logistics at the University of Applied Sciences in Heilbronn. During his studies, he did several internships in the food industry: 1) at Nestle in Cameroon, 2) at Friesland Food in Heilbronn in Germany, where he wrote his bachelor thesis on the topic: Forecast models in the food Industries. He started his career at Bosch Rexroth (Bosch Group) in Nuremberg in the Logistics Department (Procurement and Production Planner) and at Keysight Technologies (former Business Unit of Hewlett Packard) in Stuttgart in the Order Fulfilment department (also as Procurement and production Planner). After acquiring extensive experience in planning and logistics in these companies, he was able to fulfil his ambition of becoming an expert in food planning and was recruited by Allos in April 2015.
Heart of the production process
‘In planning and logistics, dealing with natural foods and raw materials is in a different league altogether. I’m at the heart of the production process. Our Sales department provides me with forecasts and a demand planning schedule based on customer orders. We then translate this into an overall production plan: a kind of master plan for over 300 products with different tastes and packaging needs for thousands of customers all over the world. Of course there are conflicts sometimes, but we always manage to solve these. Not only to meet our customers’ requirements, but also with the aim of producing as cost-efficient as possible and with as little waste as possible. This is quite a challenge.’
Flexibility through Lean Management approach
‘On top of this we need to be flexible. Not only do we have last-minute deliveries, but we also need to bring in newly developed products. And if you know that we develop dozens of new products every year, you can imagine that we need to be 100 percent in control. We also manufacture some products for our sister company Bonneterre in France and Zonnatura in The Netherlands. These products are also integrated into our production planning process. The only way to solve all these challenges is by adopting a Lean Management approach and a minute-to-minute bird’s eye view of processes that interact with each other in our plant. ’
‘We can only succeed by working together as a team and communicating clearly. I work with our Senior Supply Chain Planner, Customer Services departments and Product Development on the order forecasts, including new products which need extra quality time. Also, there is a direct line to Bonneterre in France for the flexible products forecasts we need to add to the planning. At the plant I work closely with the production supervisors, floor management and the purchasing department to prevent shortages of raw materials and packing materials. I am very much part of the action!’
Dreaming of tomorrow
‘I like the fact that I’ve been given more responsibility at Allos over the years I have worked here. I see many future opportunities by scaling up production, further integration with IT systems and entering into the next level of Lean Management. I couldn’t be happier in my job!’