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Kimberly-Clark's Secrets to RFID Success

Kimberly-Clark's Secrets to RFID Success

The man in charge of keeping store shelves across the US stocked with Kleenex and Huggies reveals the company’s best practice for making RFID work

Supply chain integration with other enterprise systems is the holy grail of making SCM systems pay off. How big a part of your SCM strategy is focused purely on integration?

It was a key driver, but it wasn't the only driver. Historically, our business processes were managed with what I described as a "patch-quilt" of systems. There was a lot of handing off of information up and down the supply chain. Not everyone was working with the same information - and not even close to real-time information. And what that tends to drive in the supply chain is surprises, variability and waste. We believe that getting to the end state of high-level integration will allow us to have a more finite supply chain and also helps to manage that variability down and helps to take the waste out.

At Kimberly-Clark, how critical is the management of the supply chain function for those executives not on the inside? How much do they care to know about it?

Obviously it's critical in many ways, but it is so critical to working collaboratively with your customers on common objectives. Supply chains that have the capability to provide high levels of service for in-stock at retail and on-time delivery, in a cost-effective manner, can be a competitive advantage that can be leveraged to help grow the business.

You mentioned real-time data. There are some potential downsides to real-time data-for example, making too-quick decisions based on not fully flushed out supply chain information. In addition, the term "real-time data" can mean different things to different companies. What does real-time data entail at Kimberly-Clark?

[Real-time data] improves your ability to see what's going on in the marketplace and to understand, in a very timely manner, what's happening with the promotions, what's happening with a product in production. And it enables you to respond, from a supply chain perspective, in a more cost-effective manner, and in a manner that helps you increase your stock levels and keep things on the shelf.

Now that doesn't mean to us that we that we need real-time data at an hour level. But we certainly want to look at it in eight- to 16-hour buckets so that we do get a very timely read as to what's happening in the marketplace.

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