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

How to Justify a Supply Chain Planning System?

Posted by Cyrus Hadavi on Wed, Sep 30, 2009
SCP SelectionAlmost everyone understands the role that people, processes and systems play in running a modern day enterprise.  What they might disagree on is the importance of the role each one of these legs plays to holdup and grow the enterprise. The role of people and processes are given.  The Systems' role is the least understood aspect of the three. There are many managers who believe systems are all the same and as long as the basics are covered any additional sophistication does not add any value. We disagree! And here is why:
  • Systems enforce good practices and processes: Companies spend a lot of time and money to design business processes only to see them deteriorate very quickly as people and organization, as well as processes change.  Systems are capable of cross checking millions of variables in the business and point out inconsistencies, lack of proper data and information, or point out who has not done their part. They can check and monitor what we should be doing and how we are doing it!
  • Unlike people, systems are fast, very fast! How can you check across 3 continents, to provide reliable delivery information to an end customer when you have thousands of products, suppliers, customers?  In addition, systems are capable of analysis across millions of variables.  An example is a system for Multi-Echelon Inventory Planning where it can calculate the right level of inventories across multiple layers of the supply chain to ensure the desired service level.  It does not matter how many people you throw at this and how often they meet, they will not be able to optimize nearly as well or as fast! So how is that done now in most companies? Well just using their gut feeling and experience which might be good but it can be done better, and in most cases, a lot better. The right system for inventory planning can easily save millions of capital dollars and facilitate for much better customer service.
  • System tie processes together, for exmpale planning to execution, sales to operations, and forecasting to financials. Generally disparate spreadsheets are incapable of integrating these processes resulting in waste, delay and sub-optimal results.
  • Systems allow you to plan more frequently which results less inventories.  Systems can help us plan what to build, where to build, where to keep, what to keep and when to do it all-accurately.  And they can plan the entire supply chain in minutes, allowing multiple planning runs per day as the demand and supply conditions change. In the absence of the right system, inaccurate plans are done based on spreadsheets, once a week or month, resulting in excess inventory and lower customer service levels.
  • Systems keep people accountable, e.g. forecast accuracy by sales or customers, commit vs. actual in production, and supplier delivery performance. They also play an active role to point out where the excesses are and where the deficiencies lie.

Given the above, would you trust millions of dollars of your assets to just a spreadsheet?

There is a comprehensive eBook on this topic with a lot more detailed information.  To download please click on "How-to-Guide: Justify a Supply Chain Planning System".

Topics: Supply Chain, Supply Chain Planning, Inventory Planning, SCP System, Multi-Echelon Inventory Planning