The desire for an end-to-end supply chain control tower

end-to-end supply chain control tower

The scope of most control towers is limited to the part of the supply chain where the most benefits can be gained. For ASML that is the warehouse in Veldhoven, whereas for Hilti it is ocean freight from Asia. Many manufacturers and retailers would prefer to go a step further and broaden the scope to an end-to-end supply chain control tower. But that’s still not so easy in practice. 

The warehouse that opened on the ASML campus two years ago is anything but a standard warehouse. The highly automated 35,000 square meters facility holds between 30,000 and 60,000 items in stock, ranging from the tiniest of screws to gigantic steel frames. The exact number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) varies from day to day, and depends on the design of the lithography machines being assembled in the cleanrooms one kilometre away. “As each machine is unique, there is very little standardization in materials and processes. This makes the operation extremely complex,” states Maren Schenkel, Manager Control Tower at ASML.

Among other things, the complexity is evident from the layout of the warehouse. There are five different storage areas, including a shuttle system holding 29,000 bins, an automated high-bay warehouse for 28,500 pallets, and mobile racking for 5,400 oversized products. Whenever one of the cleanrooms places an order for a ‘building block’, the warehouse must retrieve all the necessary materials from across the five storage areas and transport them to the Material Intake & Contamination Control department. There, all the materials are carefully unpacked, checked and cleaned in a darkroom equipped with UV light before being sent to the cleanroom as a complete set. “The whole process is lightning fast,” Schenkel emphasizes. “If the materials are in stock, we can deliver a building block to a cleanroom within 30 minutes.” … … …

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Pauline Vink

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Supply Chain Movement No. 51 Q4, 2023 now! >>