From the Brink to Cash in the Bank – Supply Chain Management Can Save You Too

The SCMR is back, Quinn is still in charge, and it looks like he’s striving to maintain the quality that the SCMR was known for. I was quite impressed with one of the first articles on driving a turnaround in tumultouos times, which presented a case study on PolyOne and how it came back from the brink of bankruptcy. In March of 2009, it’s share price reached an abysmal low of $1.32. On May 27, it was $10.19. That’s an eightfold improvement in a little over a year and the reason analysts are now recommending it as a buy.

In the past year, it generated $218 Million of free cash flow and reduced its net debt by $233 Million. This is very significant given that it’s sales in 2009 were only 2.061 Billion as it means that PolyOne not only freed up 10% of their total sales for working capital but also managed to direct over 10% of their total sales to reduce their net debt. Plus, not only is their long term debt only 60% of what it was in 2005, but they went from a net loss of 273 Million in 2008 (when sales were 33% higher) to a net income of 68 Million in 2009, an incredible turnaround.

So how did they do this? Great supply chain management. Specifically:

  • Manufacturing Realignment

    A series of mergers and acquisitions left PolyOne with over 40 global production facilities, considerably more than it needed to meet demand and mitigate risk. A detailed network analysis indicated that they could more than meet demand and mitigate risk with only 80% of manufacturing capability. This allowed them to close nine production facilities and significantly decrease operating costs.

  • Inventory Reduction

    At the end of the third quarter in 2008, the company was carrying $331 Million in inventory, a number equal to 16% of sales in 2009 and an incredible cost. They undertook a two-day Kaizen event to identify opportunities to reduce inventory and cash-to-cash cycle times that identified consignment inventory reductions, opportunities to reduce costs by way of distributors, better inventory transfer practices with key suppliers, and opportunities to improve reorder points. Specifically the first thing they did was kill the re-order points that were on autopilot in the SAP MRP, which didn’t reflect the plummet in demand that came with the economic downturn. Moving to regular, manual review, helped them reduce inventory by $139 Million in just six months.

  • Process Improvements

    Through numerous process improvements that included inventory stratification, PolyOne also reduced DSI, which dropped from 55 days in first quarter to 37 days in third quarter, while improving on-time delivery.

  • Greater Customer Focus

    Management established the mindset that on-time delivery was critical and by improving customer focus, PolyOne improved on-time delivery from 81% in 2005 to 93% in 2009, a 15% improvement.

In short, it was supply chain that saved the day, and its the best practices described in this blog that will get you there. Get a strategy, manage your finances, lean your supply chain, improve your forecasts, optimize your inventory, analyze your opportunities, adopt e-Sourcing, and optimize your awards and you too can go from a net loss of 10% to a net income of 3% literally overnight, on your way to becoming a best in class supply chain company.

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