ISC’s Christy McMunn and her team keep things running on time

Christy McMunnWhen Whirlpool Corporation acquired the Maytag brand 12 years ago, it added a solid portfolio of products to the Whirlpool family, along with some talented employees. One of those is Director of International Logistics and Logistics Engineering, Christy McMunn.

International Logistics includes Import and Export operations (the ones responsible for the actual shipments), Customs Compliance and International Transportation. Logistics Engineering includes Supply Chain Design and Warehouse Optimization. The entire expanded team consists of about 30 people.

Recently, the Warehouse Optimization Team began implementation of a new warehouse management system in all of Whirlpool Corporation’s distribution centers across North America. They went live with their first site in the month of February with the system, which is called SAP EWM. “There are three team members within my team and then several cross-functional process partners working on this,” said McMunn. “Warehouse management systems (WMS) serve as a technological nucleus for our distribution operations. Through the processing and transmission of key data, they allow us to streamline workflow and deliver product on time, with inventory quality, at optimized cost.”Project Nucleus, through the implementation of SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM), will deliver a WMS solution that empowers Whirlpool Corporation’s distribution network to deliver on those promises to our trade customers and business partners.

It will replace two other programs in use. “It will allow us to have one common system across all of the warehouses and port operations,” said McMunn. “It’s going to help us to strengthen and grow our promise to our trade customers and our business partners. The intent of the warehouse management system is to streamline our workflow and make sure that we’re able to deliver product on time at an optimized rate.”

Another area of her team’s current focus is to deliver on one of the initiatives that supports the NAR imperative of “Reinventing the Value Chain.” New for 2018 is the Distribution Network Transformation. “We’re just starting on that project and continuing to refine what that project plan looks like, but the initial metric put out there for 2018 is Improved network efficiency and a clear roadmap to +20pt improvement in on-time to Promise” said McMunn.

In addition to that initiative, McMunn and her team spend their days focused on continuous improvement of international operations. “I’ve worked in international logistics for 20-plus years, but that’s one of the things I love about it, is that it’s always changing, whether we’re going through a global ocean bid to negotiate rates, or partnering with our procurement team to drive service improvements. We’re looking at trying trying to balance that and looking at what the market dynamics are and how Whirlpool can best leverage our global network.” By leverage, she means the ability to take advantage of freight moving both to and from destinations.

“That’s really a benefit for Whirlpool, because we’re exporting products as well,” explained McMunn. “We export to all of the different regions the products we make here in the US and in Mexico.”

This makes our company a ‘shipper of choice’ with ocean carriers because we can actually send back some of those containers full rather than empty, and the carrier can make revenue on that. On the domestic side it is referred to as ‘backhaul.’ On the international side, a different term is used: ‘match back.’

For someone unfamiliar with logistics, it’s a process with a lot of moving parts that can sound overwhelming. “It’s interesting and it’s always complex, but we love it,” said McMunn. “Making sure that we have the right processes in place—I think there’s always going to be exceptions—but how do we minimize those exceptions, and then if there’s a risk, what do we do to mitigate that risk?”

The logistics team needs a good understanding of what happens when changes are made anywhere in the supply chain. “There’s a ripple effect and we need to know what the ramifications are down the road; down the supply chain,” said McMunn. This takes the efforts of multiple teams at Whirlpool all working in chorus with each other.

“Our team really has the opportunity to work cross-functionally. On any given day we might work with legal, procurement, or sales, and I think our team does a really good job of making sure that at the end of the day we’re always thinking about ‘One Whirlpool’ and trying to provide whatever special subject matter expertise we may have to help us as an organization really land on the best solution.”

One thing is certain — it’s not a job for the faint of heart. “I haven’t been bored in 20 years,” joked McMunn. “That’s part of what I love about this job, is that every day is not the same.”