PING has been innovating the golfing world for more than 60 years – ever since the day a General Electric engineer decided to craft putters in his garage based on an innovative design. He improved putting accuracy by shifting the weight in the club head to its perimeter, and PING clubs were born. Since then, PING’s signature technology has boosted the games of amateur and pro golfers alike. Today, the US-based golf equipment and gear manufacturer has assembly operations in the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom, among other locations around the world and works with suppliers in both Vietnam and China.
Highly Complex Manufacturing Challenge
“PING offers customers more than 7 million possible specification combinations across its set of irons.”
PING pioneered the practice of custom-fitting each club to suit the owner’s body type, swing style, physical strength, and personal preference. Dozens of customizable characteristics, from grips to shafts to club head weighting, create more than 7 million possible specification combinations for just its irons. With so many moving – or rather, swinging – parts configured-to-order, PING pre-builds its finished goods based on projected orders. That creates a profound manufacturing and supply chain planning challenge. Moreover, player preferences change significantly over time. Sports retailers must accommodate trends in playing styles as well as the natural aging process experienced by their long-time customers. PING planners like to say it’s not the product they’re forecasting – it’s the player.
This level of complexity was far beyond the capabilities of PING’s planning process which relied a lot on Excel. The team recognized the need for a more powerful and efficient approach that exploited the value of real-time sell-through information from retailers and could handle the sheer volume of SKU configurations.
When PING’s planners decided to leave spreadsheets behind, they conducted a value stream mapping exercise with the experts at John Galt Solutions. Together, they defined a new process that was both automated and easier to maintain, with no disjointed steps, and integrated smoothly into the company’s ERP system.
John Galt Solutions’ Atlas Planning Platform helps PING’s 24-month rolling forecast model respond more quickly to change. Having one global view that links demand and supply aided the evolution from a stage-gate process to a nimbler one that uses daily data to collaborate closer with suppliers on maximizing global production capacity. For PING, a manufacturer that deals with average component lead times ranging from three or four months to eight months and longer, Atlas helps mitigate the effects of global supplier disruptions. This enhances all levels of the planning process, from high-level model forecasting to SKU/BOM forecasting, assembly planning, and integration with the company’s MRP system.
“Atlas is helping us execute our global digital transformation,” said Chris Carter, Ping’s Director of Global Business Planning and Forecasting. “We have the end-to-end visibility we need to anticipate, understand, and react quickly to volatility and uncertainty. The Atlas platform goes a mile deep but is very flexible and adapts to our customer relationships.”
For PING, Atlas is driving a range of enhanced value. Digitalizing their global supply chain operations lets the team look beyond orders and retail shipments to detect patterns, sense evolving customer behavior, and perform insightful what-if scenario analyses to “ride the demand wave” while staying one step ahead of potential bullwhip effects. Their focus is on taking maximum advantage of sales and demand data, exploiting highly granular ABC segmentation, and creating more precise and nuanced attribute-based product plans. On top of that, they plan to reduce overall levels of excess safety stock and obsolete inventory to cut carrying costs. Atlas will help the team project the spirit of PING innovation across all sales channels, from traditional retailers to online-direct, distributor networks, and major accounts. Or, to put it in terms their customers might use, PING is positioned to power past the traps and hazards associated with today’s supply chain links and achieve results that are far better than par for the course.
“We have the end-to-end visibility we need to anticipate, understand, and react quickly to volatility and uncertainty. The Atlas platform goes a mile deep but is very flexible and adapts to our customer relationships” -Chris Carter, Director of Global Business Planning and Forecasting