Flex: Using the Internet of Things, Data and Analytics to Innovate in High Tech Sketch-to-Scale™ Manufacturing

By | March 23, 2016

Building intelligent products for the connected world, Flex is a Sketch-to-scale™ solutions company that builds all the cool devices we love to use; and they manufacture them for multiple industries: healthcare, automotive, communications, home appliance, mobile, energy, capital equipment and server/storage technology. Flex literally takes sketches and other design blueprints and manufactures devices and products for companies like Johnson & Johnson, Fitbit, Nike (and full disclosure they manufacture for Teradata too!) Flex serves its customers by creating a supply chain advantage anywhere around the globe.

Kerry McCracken VP, Business Architecture & Delivery

Kerry McCracken
VP, Business Architecture & Delivery

“Our mission is to help the world Live Smarter™. We essentially are the intelligence of things company. We make many of those small devices that you hear about that make equipment and things like that smarter. It’s not just about the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s about making those things smart and helpful in our daily lives.”  – Kerry McCracken, VP of Business Architecture & Delivery

Serving over 1,000 customers adds up to a very complicated supply chain! The Flex team wanted to innovate in their technology platform and look forward to enabling predictive analytics, in order to give their customers the confidence to make business decisions knowing the supply chain is data-driven.

“What we wanted to be able to do, from a data perspective, is connect all of those dots. We wanted the supply chain to include the factory floor. Putting the datasets together allowed us to do a better job of analyzing our on-time delivery and how accurately we are able to commit to our customers. It also gives us the ability to look more granularly at our yield data and our product information, not necessarily just for us, but that’s information that we can provide back to our clients. At the end of the day, it’s about taking that dataset and going from our supply base all the way through the factory floor and shipping to our clients.” – Kerry McCracken, VP of Business Architecture & Delivery

Flex migrated from legacy systems and brought in even more data sets (outside of the supply chain), such as shop floor and HR data, allowing the business to perform analytics to see what is happening on the production floor as it relates to supply chain and how human resources planning affects the supply chain. Integrating these multiple data sources is giving Flex new insights to multiple KPI’s.

  • Purchase Price Variance
  • Procurement
  • Manufacture Part Number
  • Product Management
  • Top Skews
  • Suppliers
  • Distribution


And it doesn’t end there. The ability to continue bringing in more and more data sources just gives Flex more insights.

“We’re even looking at bringing in our real estate data into the environment, our asset management and tracking, all of these data elements are other sources and now we’re just going to combine them and correlate them with the existing dataset.” – Kerry McCracken, VP of Business Architecture & Delivery

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 2.40.29 PMFlex teams call Teradata Data Labs “Innovation Labs” because they are able to see and connect to the new data sources.  When data scientists and analysts have ‘married’ a new dataset, they show IT what the new data model looks like and then get that data into the production environment dramatically speeding up the ability to adopt new data models and give the business insights for faster decisions. All of this making Flex a truly data-driven organization.

“We survive on relatively low margins. We’re always working to make those better. A part of it is just the challenge of the business environment we’re in so we’re extremely data-driven.  It’s in our DNA. I think that being able to be more predictive about what we do is really the next frontier.” – Kerry McCracken, VP of Business Architecture & Delivery

Flex is truly a change agent in the supply chain space.  Congratulations to Flex for all of their success!

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