How Huawei’s supply chain saved the company

Huawei’s President of Supply Chain Management, Xiong Lening, says that the company managed to survive everything the last year has thrown at it because of the outfit’s long-term Business Continuity Management (BCM) system and the company’s diversified supply policies.

Huawei by all accounts has had a pretty rubbish 18 months with the US trying to shut it down and leaning on its allies to go somewhere else.

Despite the political climate, Huawei had signed contracts for more than 50 5G projects worldwide by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, shipment volumes of wireless network, optical transmission, data communications, and IT products had been growing rapidly.

But Xiong said that deploying proactive digital supply chains to provide its partners and customers with B2C-style experiences in B2B businesses has helped to maintain confidence, despite external pressures that might have broken another company.

In 2019, Huawei’s Enterprise Business Supply Chain Group “hot housed” a range of new corporate supply chain policies, enhancing production/sales coordination and introducing smarter digital operations.

Huawei’s own supply chain has consistently provided customer service in compliance with local laws and regulations and the company believes it has a duty to help others to work as smartly and efficiently as possible.

The company ensures continuity of supply throughout its business by adopting diversified technical plans and multi-region supply strategies, and by using multi-level inventory planning and management, he said.

Huawei has established numerous supply centres worldwide and designed global networks that integrate regional warehouses (hubs) and logistics routes, to ensure service continuity for its customers.

Meanwhile, it has set up end-to-end business continuity management (BCM) by aligning its own BCM system with those of its suppliers and customers. This has helped to improve resilience and continuity.

Xiong said Huawei adopted modular-based product designs to streamline the integration process for customers, partners, and suppliers alike. This allows them to assemble modules flexibly, based on their own requirements.

Huawei has replaced the traditional one-size-fits-all operating model with product- and industry-specific alternatives to create a much more flexible and responsive system.

“We believe that collaboration with customers and partners is key to making the supply chain work. Before contracts are signed, all parties discuss alignment, planning, capabilities, and resources”, Xiong said.

Huawei aligns its data, processes, and systems with those of its partners, enabling simplified information sharing and end-to-end. This helps to ensure confidence in difficult times – and reduces uncertainty.

Xiong said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could help to identify different product requirements and assist partners and customers with their decision-making. Resources can be arranged and allocated on demand during this adaptive planning stage.

He said that the company provides transaction rules and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) up front; builds differentiated fulfilment channels; arranges fulfilment according to different scenarios; and automatically schedules production. This creates a ‘no touch’ order model, Xiong said.

The company has automated many of the elements that lead up to the transport of physical goods. As a result, operations are streamlined along the distribution chain in an end-to-end system.

By using modular network designs, node backups, and risk contingency plans, Huawei provided networks that can cope with external uncertainties, and can be quickly set up or taken down.