1.What role does forecasting play in the supply chain of a build-to-order manufacturer such as Dell? Although Dell builds to order, they obtain PC components in anticipation of customer orders and therefore they rely on forecasting. This forecast is used to predict future demand, which determines the quantity of each component needed to assemble a PC and the plant capacity required to perform the assembly.
2.How could Dell use collaborative forecasting with its suppliers to improve its supply chain? Collaborative forecasting requires all supply chain partners to share information regarding parameters that might affect demand, such as the timing and magnitude of promotions. Dell could share with their components suppliers all of the promotions, e.g., holiday, back-to-school, etc., they have planned. These suppliers could, in turn, notify their suppliers of discrete components that a spike in demand is anticipated. These demand forecasts for end items determine the demand for components and coupled with knowledge of fabrication times, allows all members of the supply chain to provide the right quantity at the right time to their customers.
3.What role does forecasting play in the supply chain of a mail order firm such as LL Bean? LL Bean has historically operated almost exclusively in a make-to-stock mode and with very few exceptions, stocked products that did not go out of style as rapidly as many other clothing and accessory lines. A pre-worldwide web existence would have relied on communication with manufacturers about what products might be featured on the front of their catalog. The lead times involved in printing and distributing the catalog and producing the product line were such that elaborate planning and forecasting tools were not required. A quick visit to the web site demonstrates that this is changing; the featured products on the web site can be changed daily or programmed to rotate each time the web...