Inventory too hot to hold

For companies inventory management is essential as their exists economic downturns and upturns. These trends in the economy can drastically effect company cost as holding onto inventory can become expensive. Demand is often a difficult thing to get correct. We see many companies looking to sell and reduce inventory as soon as predicted demand for goods do not pan out the way they suspected. Often times the ridding of inventory is a difficult task as the liquidity to react quickly historically is not there. Inventory can be stolen, it can become obsolete and it could be sold but many companies are now starting to believe dedicating money to inventory is a high risk with a high cost. What are the alternatives as the companies need to keep up with the demand by their clients as the cost of a shortage is even greater? Through problem solving initiatives like Six Sigma companies are more fit to react to customer demands. Theses investments in a higher level of inventory management rather than in inventory can be more competitive and eventually get more bang for the buck.  Companies, in order to remain competitive, have to reevaluate where their resources are being focused and the use of technology is a resource that would be very beneficial in their future. The Ford Motor Company reportedly saved $600 million by the implementation of a Six Sigma management system. In 1999 Ford started to train their top level management then the officer group, and then the leadership group. After a year and half Ford has reportedly spent $6 million in training their several levels of management in Six Sigma. Ford rates the level of training by way of colored belts like that of a karate dojo:

Green Belt: “They receive one week of training that includes a basic understanding of how Six Sigma works and an overview of the Black Belt tools. Green Belts learn to help Black Belts do projects faster. Green Belt training allows the people who are affected by the Six Sigma projects to be able to continue to monitor and control the improvement and to do their jobs better”

Black Belt: Process full time for two year. The training includes, “define-measure-analyze-improve-control cycle” , “mapping, cause-and-effect diagrams, failure mode and effects analysis, design of experiments, and mistake proofing”

Master Black Belts- Handpicked by upper management; describes duties are.. “My core job responsibility is to help Black Belts with the tools, eliminate road blocks and support them during the various phases of their projects”

Project Champion- Work alongside master black belts and provides them with necessary resources to complete tasks.

This sort of implementation depends on the companies dedication to customer service and by senior leadership. With such a large company as Ford Motor Company making a commitment to new, nimble approaches to inventory management there can be an example for companies of all sizes that there are very good alternatives to the negatives that come with projecting demand the traditional way.

How often do you believe companies tend to under estimate the demand in the market?

Do you feel that smaller companies have the chance to save proportionally the same level of capital a company like Ford did using something like Six Sigma?

FORD is really “Shifting into Gear!”

Recently, Ford Motor Company has a announced they are putting a greater focus on their SUV and crossover cars to prepare for the future. You might ask, why? Well according to forecasts by IHS Automotive, one in five cars sold around the world annually in 2018 will be either a SUV or crossover. There is about 14 million vehicles sold world wide annually and a specific model taking up 20% of an entire market is a very large number.

Now after reading this article, I almost felt like I was ready the weekly courier, and analyzing the market conditions report from our simulation. Its really remarkable how this article pertains to the methods and leanings of the game we played in class.


Ford’s SUV and crossover sales were up 37%, which also outpaced the industry increase of 17%. This is exactly what we tracked in the statistics segment of the segment analysis. Ford is clearly putting a focus on a specific segment of the market, or in our game “product type.” The amount of models of SUVs and crossovers has risen from 180 to 370 from 2000 to the current day. This market is becoming very competitive and in the simulation we would have to go into R&D and tweak our product to become better and have an edge. We would also encounter situations where we would have to buy more capacity in our plant to account for higher demand. Ford is doing exactly this. The article states, “…Where it is spending $700 million to expand.” Ford has announced it will continue producing their crossover product, The “Edge”, and expand its production capacity by spending $700 million dollars in Oakville, Ontario where the car is produced. Ford ships this model to over 60 countries, which obviously can be concluded the demand is very high. This scenario right here is exactly like the decisions we had to make within the simulation, adjusting capacity to meet demand and forecasts, along with the segment demand fluctuations.

Just to show exactly how intense this increase in market demand for these SUV’s and midsized crossover is, utility cars sales grew 10% and crossover sales grew 16% last year totaling about 2.2 million units…but that’s just in North America! In 2000 1.8 million units of utility vehicles were sold outside North America, today that number is now 10 million!

Obviously the future of the automotive industry is leaning in a specific direction. I think it is very interesting to see how Ford Motor Company is planning all of this now, and how closely this scenario relates to our simulation. How do you think this market preference for SUV’s and crossovers will affect the industry as a whole? Do you think this will create entry points for new automotive companies? What do you think will happen to all the inventory of the less preferred sedan and cope model type of cars?

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-Evan Meador