Behind the Scenes with Supply Chain

Getting to Know Sakata Seed America

In the seed business, in order to provide our customers with high-quality products when and where they need them, balancing supply with demand takes careful management. That’s where the supply chain department comes in.

Supply Chain is responsible for making sure that seed is available to meet the market demand and for providing customers with high-quality products that meet their expectations.

Quality, on-time and in-full seed delivery starts with ongoing inventory management and accurate forecasting, and continues with the selection of optimum production locations, diligent crop maintenance and proper harvest timing and techniques. It ends with seed conditioning, packaging and shipping.

Teamwork & Communication

A critical part of providing customer satisfaction is ensuring that products are available for on-time delivery. This requires strong teamwork and good communication, since staff members who work the supply chain are located in many different locations and are involved in everything from production and conditioning to packaging and shipping.In addition, frequent product review meetings help managers bring demand planning in line with inventory and production capabilities. “We do everything possible to meet customer expectations,” explains Dennis Storm, director of the supply chain for Sakata Seed America. “If we do have an issue, we work in conjunction with our sales team to evaluate and offer alternatives. Our desire is for our customers to know us for our quality, service, and reliability.”

Three major departments fall under the supply chain: production, quality analysis and logistics. The production department is responsible for producing enough seed to meet the market demand. Planning production to meet demand comes with challenges that materialize in the form of changing weather, drought, floods and disease. Crop challenges always generate a certain amount of anxiety because planning for seed production occurs two to three years in advance. After seed is harvested, the quality analysis department takes over. They perform multiple tests during processing to ensure products meet minimum specifications prior to placement into inventory. In cases where products do not meet minimum specs, the logistics department will determine the necessary processes needed to raise the product up to required specifications. “The logistics team has one overall goal, to bring seed up to optimum quality and have it available when our customer requires it, says Rhonda Jones, logistics and operations manager. “This goal drives everything we do, every day.” Overall, operations and logistics is responsible for seed enhancement, packaging, shipping and inventory management.

Running the supply chain efficiently involves a lot of people, technology and activities, so it is critical that the departments coordinate with each other. “We get the opportunity to touch all facets of the business on a daily basis,” says Storm. “Without an orchestrated collaboration of our logistics group with the sales, production and quality analysis groups, we would miss the delivery and quality expectations of our customers. Communication is the key to our success not only as a group but also as an organization; it is imperative that we’re closely aligned with all departments to ensure success.”

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