Parrot - Case Study
The supply chain control tower: driving end-to-end S&OP execution, orchestration, and visibility
Founded in 1994, Parrot is a high-tech company based in France. Initially focused on hands-free communication solutions for vehicles, the business has since diversified to become the leading consumer drone producer in Europe and the second-largest worldwide.
Parrot’s drones are known for their high performance and ease of use, and aside from leisure purposes have a range of applications including agriculture monitoring; 3D mapping, surveying, and inspection; and defense & security. They are designed and engineered in Europe and offer features such as thermal imaging cameras which can be used to assist civil engineering and firefighting.
Since consumer drones were launched there has been an explosion in their popularity. Parrot is keen to build on its existing success by capitalizing on this opportunity, with the growth of its business in Asia and the United States being a key priority.
Alexandre Lemaire, Production & Logistics Manager at Parrot, explains the company’s challenges in achieving this goal:
“We are in a very fast-moving and unpredictable market. There is very high sales variability, particularly down to the high seasonality of products as consumers tend to buy more around the holidays. We have limited order book visibility - usually a maximum of one month – and the lead time for some key components is extremely long. Sometimes it can be up to 12 weeks, which can cause a four-month delay in the production of a drone, so balancing supply and demand can be tricky. Add to this the rapid obsolescence of some electronic components and regular releases of new versions which require testing, and you have a complex logistical operation.”
To overcome these planning challenges, Parrot launched a project to increase visibility and drive efficiency throughout the supply chain. Its main objectives were to:
Improve supply chain visibility in the medium and long term
Improve coordination between Parrot and its Electronic Manufacturer Supplier (EMS) by better reconciling the sales plan and the EMS’ capability to deliver
Better control stock at product launch and withdrawal, and the international flows of stock from the EMS to regional distribution hubs in Hong Kong, Europe, and the United States
Deliver a unique dataset shared by all
“We needed a solution which would provide a reliable long-term forecast to enable us to adjust production based on demand and anticipate component requirements to ensure stock is available in seasonal periods. We also required complete transparency of price, quantity sold, and stock levels as this informs logistical choices such as whether we use boat or air transport.”
Parrot’s criteria was for a platform that would provide full supply chain visibility and enable the business to introduce an S&OP process in a user-friendly environment. It had to unify sales and operational data to create an integrated approach which would enable the ongoing adjustment of operational activity in line with demand and changes in the business’ strategy.
The Board decision-making platform, which combines analysis, simulation, planning, and forecasting capabilities in a single interface, was chosen to act as a supply chain control tower. Alexandre explains the reasoning behind the choice:
“We quickly ruled out other products because they didn’t offer the flexibility needed to meet our requirements. Board’s approach means solutions can be implemented in a short timeframe using an agile methodology in collaboration with other business teams. This is something which wouldn’t have been possible with other tools. We also wanted to host the platform on our own premises because of our security standards, meaning a SaaS model was not appropriate for us. Board’s on-premise option was the ideal solution to this need.”
The result is a completely unified S&OP solution, which acts as a supply chain control tower and features:
A DRP calculation tool connected with different data sources including goods in transit, backlogs, stock levels, and production planning in collaboration with the supplier
Manually adjustable calculations which take inter-warehouse transfers into consideration
The ability for end users to develop multiple S&OP scenarios in parallel
A time-phased process, controlled by workflows which contain validation checks to prevent unauthorized changes
An accurate historical record of all S&OP data, providing visibility of several months
Parrot was up and running with Board in under 100 days, which meant the business quickly realized the benefits of the all-in-one platform. The end-to-end S&OP process is now managed via a seven-stage workflow, creating complete control over the planning and revision process. Full visibility of the entire supply chain - from goods in production or transit, logistics hub activity, sales figures, and forecasted sales – has been achieved, making it much easier to understand current stock levels, see when goods might need to be replenished, and plan logistical aspects such as transport methods and storage requirements.
“We have a clear picture of stock values, and stock transfers between warehouses can be calculated automatically or adjusted manually if sales figures are higher than expected, making it easier to ensure demand is met. We send production requirements to our supplier and reimport their agreed production figures, giving us complete visibility and reconciling the data with the sales plan with ease. We also have a record of all historically agreed production figures compared with sales forecasts, meaning we can look back a few months after a supplier meeting and confirm whether they met their commitments in terms of volumes.”
Board has also provided Parrot with the ability to produce an accurate sales forecast, thanks to a single point of truth combined with write-back capabilities:
“It’s now easy to consolidate sales forecasts from different markets to produce one central view, broken down by week. We can compare this month’s forecast with the previous month, as well as identifying gaps between the two, enabling the logistics teams to focus on the high-stake areas. Upward and downward adjustments can be made with ease, in a collaborative approach, until an agreement is reached.”
Users are also now able to make more informed decisions thanks to inbuilt modeling tools:
“Scenario management, combined with accurate historical data, helps us to react to different situations based on the outcome of those scenarios in the past. We can model the potential outcomes using our existing data and take an informed decision on what to do. This is useful for helping us to prepare for events such as Black Friday, which can cause spikes in demand.”
Alexandre concludes by summing up his experience with using Board:
“Board has given us the end-to-end visibility and control we required to increase the efficiency of our supply chain. Everyone is now working off the same, accurate data set, in a much more collaborative approach.”