Supply Chain Planning Blog

In-Memory Computing—Only the beginning

Posted by Cyrus Hadavi on Thu, Jul 21, 2016

In-Memory_Computing.jpgIn a few recent sessions with industry analysts, we were surprised that we were asked if our software is in-memory computing! Given the fact that for over 20 years we designed our applications to have all the data in-memory for computation, our immediate response was: Is there any other way of doing it? The response was, yes, there are others which bring in the data from the database when they need it but now they are changing and they are getting orders of magnitude improvement in speed! This improvement in speed must have caught the attention of the analysts which brings us to the core subject of this article. There is more to speed of application than just having all the data in memory. The latter is the easy part. There are also some vendors, try to improve speed by abstraction and over-simplification. I am sure you are aware of quite few who deploy “Spread-sheet” type of capacity planning in their S&OP applications. That is forming weekly or monthly buckets with fixed lead-times! This approach typically either dumbs down how to deal with capacity, or ignores it altogether. It is the old method, with NO notion of product mix and real processing time, that has been around for decades but with a new user interface which makes it slightly more attractive. Therefore, any gain in speed is offset by a very inaccurate and unrealistic plan. In addition, it has no order level information OR any order level pegging functionality. You might as well use your spreadsheets since they give you even more control!

 

To gain real improvement in speed with proper representation of capacity of resources and equipment, deep modeling capability is needed and the mix of products must be taken into account. In addition, to IMC, one needs to have data representations and algorithms that provide real-time answers to very complex supply chains at order level. As an example, if one material is not available, does the system go back to search all over again for a new method of making or will it just backtrack one step to find an immediate substitute pegged to that order? If a resource is a bottleneck, will it look for a whole new routing or will it look for an alternative, process or equipment. How this data is represented and how the algorithms divide and conquer in parallel processing is what makes the application fast. Just using IMC is only the beginning, there is a lot more that goes into a comprehensive planning system that can analyze tens of millions of data points from material availability to resources and tools and skill levels, to say a few, in almost real-time.

Topics: Supply Chain Performance Management, Planning Data Integration, Supply Chain Data, Spreadsheets, Attributes, Sales & Operations Planning, SCP System, S&OP, Adexa

Worried About Integration Of Your Supply Chain Planning System?

Posted by Bill Green on Wed, Jul 28, 2010
Supply chain WorriesPlanning a supply chain is a complicated task and requires a lot of complex calculations.  However, it does not require a lot of different kinds of data.   This is an important point to remember.   In this blog posting I want to discuss what to worry about when it comes to getting data for your supply chain planning system, and what not to worry about.

Basically, planning calculations need to consider all kinds of different data elements at the same time so the system needs to utilize a data architecture that is separate from the ERP system’s.  This means that all planning systems, whether they are offered by an ERP provider or a Best-of-Breed provider, need to be bolted-on to the ERP system with integration middleware.  I know that even the thought of integration to an ERP system makes many IT folks nervous, but when it comes to supply chain planning systems the integration should not be the biggest worry.   

Let’s break it down; there are 3 data factors for IT folks to think about when a new planning system is being launched.  In the order of easiest to hardest, they are:

1)     Integration to ERP Transactional system

2)     Getting the planning data complete and clean

3)     Making sure the planning system will scale and be reliable 

Integration to the ERP Transactional System

This is the one that everybody spends most time worrying about, but it really is not that hard and it’s the easiest to get passed.  First, there are only about 15-20 data tables that are required for supply chain planning.  The ERP transactional system will only contain about 10 of the key data elements.  Things like process routes, resource alternatives, resource capacity and resource availability, demand planning hierarchies do not have strong representations in ERP transactional systems.  These need to be defined in the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) or the supply chain planning system, itself.   Second, there has been a standardization of the data integration in-and-out of ERP systems.  The data-exits have been set up and well documented.  Both Best-of-Breed and the ERP vendors use the same data-exits.  Third, there are standard interfaces for supply chain planning that have been standardized over the years in major ERP systems, like in SAP® and Oracle®. So to sum it all up, a small set of data needs to be interfaced using a method that has been worked on for over 10 years.  So, not much to worry about here.

Getting the Planning Data Complete and Clean

This is one of the factors to worry about.  You must pay attention to the Master Data Management (MDM) part of the application that comes with your supply chain planning system. The data for planning needs to be verified carefully to get the best results, so strong master data management is critical.  This means that the MDM part of the supply chain planning system needs to be able to identify errors in data, its structure, and also make sure its correct in context with other data.  The contextual checks are what make MDM for supply chain planning systems so important.  Basically, The MDM for planning needs to take the data from other systems and clean it up with input from the user.  It also needs to make it so that it is easy for the user to add data to the system that does not exist anywhere else.  Note that attribute-based master data management makes this easier, by enabling data definition based on product characteristics.

Making Sure the Data Structure Can Scale

This is another thing to worry about.  Even if the data is clean and complete, the system will not work properly if it is not structured to be efficient and reliable.  If the system is slow, the users will not be able to complete the needed steps in the process and will give up.  Make sure to check how the data is structured for scalability.  A point to remember, memory-resident cache is critically important for planning systems.  Understand how this is architected for all the planning modules needed.  Is there a single point of failure?  Can you add user-defined attributes in the memory resident cache?  Can you change the imbedded logic in the memory resident cache?  If the answers do not show that the system is scalable, configurable, and reliable, then the system will fail because the IT staff does not have the ability to change any of this. 

In summary, data integration between ERP and a new planning system is the easiest part of its implementation but most IT folks seem to focus most of their worries on it.  Maybe because its under the control of the IT staff to fix.  What you should really be concerned about is the part that is not under their control, which is the underlying power of the planning systems’ data management capabilities.   This has a big impact on the data runs and takes more effort to fix.  Even a bigger concern should be the questions related to scalability and configurability of data cache within it.  If that is not right you are dead in the water.  

About the Author:  Bill Green is the Vice President of Solutions at Adexa, for more information about him please visit http://adexa.com/company/green.asp    

 

For more information about different types of Supply Chain Planning systems visit: Demand Planning, Inventory Planning, or Sales and Operations Planning.

Topics: Planning Analytics, Attribute Based Planning, Supply Chain Data, Integration, Adexa

News: Semiconductor Leader Switches to Adexa SCP Systems

Posted by kameron hadavi on Tue, Jan 26, 2010

Semiconductor Supply Chain PlanningPress Release

Tuesday Jan. 26, 2010 

Los Angeles, CA., Adexa, Inc., the global provider of Supply Chain Planning and Performance Management solutions, announced today that Integrated Device Technology (NASDAQ: IDTI), a world-leader in semiconductor manufacturing for digital media, has selected and implemented Adexa's complete Supply Chain Planning suite of solutions, including demand planning, Available-to-Promise, Multi-Echelon Inventory Optimization (MEIO), operational planning, and plant planning.

"This initiative touched every major process running in our supply chain," Said Adhir Mattu, Vice President of Global Information Technology at IDT. "Our team initially focused on Adexa because it ran much faster than our previous supply chain systems, and was easier to use. But the biggest advantage ended up being their industry expertise and ability to leverage best-practices at all stages of this critical project."

IDT is currently maintaining and running all sales, marketing, and planning forecasts on the newly implemented solutions. Moreover, attribute-based planning capabilities are targeted towards further increasing the planning velocity.

"By replacing competing systems with Adexa, IDT bestowed a great deal of trust in us," said Cyrus Hadavi, President and CEO of Adexa. "This is yet another confirmation of our leadership in providing the most comprehensive and fastest solutions for our customers in this industry."

For full version of this press release click: http://www.adexa.com/news_events/default.asp?id=513

Contact us if you have any questions, click: info@adexa.com  

Topics: Supply Chain Planning, Demand Planning, Inventory Planning, Announcements, Adexa, Multi-Echelon Inventory Planning

Retune your supply chain planning from JIT to Available-on-Demand

Posted by Cyrus Hadavi on Thu, Nov 12, 2009
demand planningHere is a question for you, is JIT a push-system or a pull-system? For decades you have been lead to believe that it is a "pull" system, but in fact you are "pushing" to make parts available, thinking that the resource will need it or use it. Just because the resource used the previous supply does not mean that it will use the next. In other words, the past is not necessarily an indication of the future. You may have already known that, and may argue that just filling buffer-zones is the best way to minimize inventory, especially if the buffers are not owned by your company.  However, you are just passing the responsibility of holding the supply to some other point in the supply chain, along with the associated cost-of-capital that goes with it. Naturally, the buffers need to be able to handle the largest tolerable demand surge.  So, if the past demand is more than the future, then inventory will sit there until it is needed or written-off. 

With that in mind, I think it's logical to say that a JIT system that looks at historical demand is really a push-system, but we want to do better than that.  We want to be able to look to the future in order to have a real pull-system.  At the end of the day, JIT is a cost-reduction system to keep up utilization and reduce inventory levels in a supply chain that has fairly steady demand.  What happens if the demand changes all of a sudden? What if red-widgets are more popular than green ones, today? How fast can you propagate the changes by resetting all of the buffers?  Undoing the buffers is like pushing the proverbial tooth paste back into the tube!  It will stay out until you finally use it, or wash it down the sink.  Of course as long as the supply chain is simple, with a linear flow, flat demand, and just a few constraints, fixed buffer-based inventory planning will still work well.  But it will also come down crashing if you have tens of different products sharing resources, constant changes in demand patterns, or supply lead-times.  These factors, and many others, change the production "rhythm" to the market.  Should the supply rhythm on a certain product be bang-bang-bang-bang, or would it be bang-----bang-----bang---.bang?  Which rhythm would generate the most revenue and profit while satisfying your customers?  

In the final analysis, JIT is a system of Available-on-Supply and it pushes based on a fixed rhythm associated to the speed of a machine or inventory availability. In that case, you better prey the historical demand does not change.  Why would you want to be held hostage by your supply?!  So what should we do if we want a system that is Available-on-Demand, that is more responsive to changes in the market place.  A system like this would change the "beat" and buffer-allocations based on the actual demand, and would be more attuned to the market-whether it be bang-bang--bang, or bang-bang...bang-bang-bang---bangbangbangbangbangbang--------bang.   For each product you would have a different "bang" profile.  The combination of all the profiles sets the rhythm for your entire supply chain.  Hence, when you put it all together, the result is a beautiful orchestration of drum-beats harmonized to the tune of the market demand.

To dynamically re-tune and reallocate material, capacity, and buffers is not easy but it's being done by many best-in-class companies out there.  You basically need two critical components, visibility and control of your supply chain.  That means visibility into your demand, inventory levels, and the ability to quickly control your production capacity, and suppliers' capabilities.  It is not a near sighted system that only looks at one level down the stream.  You must understand what needs to be done in all areas of the supply chain as the demand conditions change. To have this kind of control over your supply chain, it takes some reexamination of your processes and advanced technologies in the areas of Demand Planning, Multi-Echelon Inventory Optimization, Production Planning, and Performance Management.  Demand Planning will focus on making sure you are getting accurate demand signals from the market, MEIO will help you manage the right buffers for the expected demand, Production Planning will control your supply flow to those buffers, and Performance Management will give you dashboard like visibility over all of these critical points in your supply chain.  Again, I have said this many time before, but it's very hard to do this with spreadsheets and pure experience.  So take a little time to see how advanced technology can help you in one or more of these areas and you maybe surprised how quickly you can retune your supply chain from JIT to Available-on-Demand.  

If you are interested in this topic, I also suggest reading: How-to-Guide: Justify A Supply Chain Planning System, or feel free to contact us at any time.  

Cyrus HadaviDr. K. Cyrus Hadavi is the president and CEO of Adexa, for more information about the author please click here.

Topics: Supply Chain, Supply Chain Planning, Demand Planning, Supply Chain Performance Management, Inventory Planning, JIT, Adexa, Multi-Echelon Inventory Planning

Demand Planning Search in CPG-- A Success Story!

Posted by kameron hadavi on Wed, Nov 04, 2009

Food & Beverege PlanningPaulaner is the largest brewery in Bavaria, Germany, and one of the most well-known brands of beer in the world.  Their biggest challenge in their supply chain had to do with the complexity they faced when it came to demand planning, in particular developing accurate forecasts.   So the Company went through a very intense selection process to pick the right solution, and we thought it would make for a good article to discuss the details of what Paulaner was looking for and how they found it.  It's important to mention that the selection process was managed by Dr. Michael Bell, a former academician, who was the Deputy Head of Logistics for Paulaner at that time, and now working with Coca Cola Corporation.  His deep expertise in the art and science of Demand Planning played a critical role in how this comprehensive selection process was lead a successful project.  

The goal of the project at Paulaner was to be able to accurately forecast the sale of the 250+ different beer types and sizes. Forecast accuracy is critical since Paulaner manufactures their beer in the heart of Munich and there is very little warehouse space to store finished goods inventory prior to sale to their customers. There are many factors that affect the sale of beer in Europe including the weather and special events such as holidays (like Oktoberfest), making the forecast of beer sales a very interesting task.

Demand Planning

Paulaner's selection process of a Demand Planning system started with research on the internet of 56 companies that sold such a systems. Of the 56 companies, 36 companies were sent questionnaires on forecasting and demand management capabilities to narrow the field of contenders to only 8 companies to take part in a forecast accuracy trial. When the selection process was completed it was Adexa's CDP system that was chosen for the task. The main reasons were the accuracy of the forecasting engine and the ease of use for the sales people that would need to manage the demand plan in the system. The implementation time was about 4 months with great results, especially in short and long term forecast accuracy.  For the official news release about the selection, please click: "Paulaner Brewery chooses Adexa's Collaborative Demand Planner to optimize forecasts, inventories, and capacity utilization".

To learn more about this project, you can download a post-implementation snapshot by visiting: http://web.adexa.com/demand-planning-for-paulaner-brewery-snapshot/ 

Or visit our Demand Planning page for more information about the products mentioned.

Kameron HadaviBy Kameron Hadavi, Vice President of Global Marketing and Alliances.  For more information about the author please click here.

 

Topics: Demand Planning, Beer, Food & Beverege, CPG, Adexa

The Key To Handling Your Supply Chain Planning Data

Posted by kameron hadavi on Tue, Sep 23, 2008

There are always new enhancements being added to the Adexa's Supply Chain Planning suite. Some of the new things that are going on are worth taking a special look at so that you can keep up on the latest key changes. In this posting we are highlighting what has been going on with Master Data Management.

This is a big area of new development at Adexa. One of the toughest challenges that a company faces is managing the data that is required for supply chain planning. The data may come from many different sources and lack the completeness that is required for a quality supply chain planning process. The data may need to be supplemented since it does not exist at any other source in the company. When various sources of data are brought together there may be inconsistency or data elements missing from the source location. Many times people are required to manage the data, and no systems exist that enables a person to view and manage exceptions in the data. All these considerations are addressed with Adexa’s Master Data Management Module. 

Visit us at http://www.adexa.com/ for more information, or click on: contact us if you have any questions.

Topics: Supply Chain, Supply Chain Planning, Supply Chain Data, Adexa