IBM is committed to Analytics and a Smarter Planet and this solution fits nicely with this strategy:
For example, it allows retailers, CPG, chemical, wholesalers, transportation and manufacturing companies to make smarter facility location decisions, smarter territory assignments, smarter sourcing and production planning decisions, and smarter seasonal build strategies.
Many customers confronted with unprecedented risk and volatility in their business, now use IBM ILOG LogicNet Plus XE as a regular part of their business to make better decisions . Ever expanding Integration capabilities makes this easier to achieve.
The new release continues with our tradition of providing industry leading features combined with ease-of-use. Some of the new release features include:
- Enhanced capabilities for modeling manufacturing processes and inventory
- Enhanced ease-of-use though new mapping capabilities, and expanded reporting.
Derek Nelson, the product manager had this to say:
"Early response to the new release has been very positive. The improved ease-of-use and ease-of-integration is helping LogicNet Plus become a standard part of many company's on-going planning processes. Furthermore, this release features some innovative new technology. We are excited to see the continued IBM investment pay off with a substantial new release for our customers. As always, if you have feedback on the product, we would be happy to hear from you."
Correctly positioning and buffering inventory can help you create a more flexible supply chain with lower costs.
In the military, it is common practice to pay suppliers on a "cost plus" basis. Effectively, this makes all the suppliers a "make to order" location. That is, the suppliers can only make product when there is a firm order. There is no mechanism for the supplier to make product in advance, sit on safety stock, and provide faster service.
Keeping helicopters flying is not trivial. They are made up of many parts and operated in tough conditions. Many of the key parts(drive shafts, sycn shafts, blades) require many sub-components and must be made with specialized materials in a high-precision manufacturing environment.
The supply chain for these key parts can be very long (measured in many months), and it is expensive to keep enough of these items around as spare parts.
With the current system, each key part had to either be stored in inventory as safety stock (waiting to be needed) or the the military had to wait for the supply chain to produce another (creating a backlog of demand and a helicopter that was grounded). Neither alternative was great.
A better solution is to optimize the placement of strategic buffers in this supply chain. The chart below on the left shows the existing supply chain. The yellow box on the right represents the customer (the military) and a key part. The gray boxes to the left represent all the steps in the supply chain needed to make this particular part. You can see the complexity of the supply chain. In the baseline, the entire buffer is held by military, represented by the red bar.
In the optimal case, the suppliers hold buffers. These buffers are seen by the red bars. The inventory optimization identifies where and how big these buffers should be. Now, the military can keep the helicopters flying with much less money tied up in working capital (or worse, with many helicopters not being able to fly).
Of course, implementing this solution is not trivial. Contracts with the suppliers have to be re-worked to allow them to create and maintain the safety stock buffers.
Here is excerpt from the review on the MIT Press website:
Simchi-Levi identifies the crucial element in a company's success: the link between the value it provides its customers and its operations strategies. And, he offers a set of scientifically and empirically based rules that management can follow to achieve a quantum leap in operations performance.
Flexibility, says Simchi-Levi, is the single most important capability that allows firms to innovate their operations and supply chain strategies.
David Simchi-Levi is the founder of LogicTools which is now part of the IBM ILOG Optimization and Supply Chain Solutions group. He is still actively involved in IBM.
This group offers solutions in network optimization, inventory optimization, detailed production scheduling, routing, container optimization, shelf space optimization, and other areas that can help companies implement the ideas from his book.
Yesterday, IBM published its 2009 annual report. In the Letter From the Chairman, IBM lays out its growth opportunities for 2010. It lists fours strategic areas for investment. Analytics and Smarter Planet are two of those four areas.
For Analytics, there is great amount of data available and organizations who take advantage of this information will unlock tremendous value. The letter notes:
IBM is moving quickly to capitalize on this promise. We have built the industry’s premier analytics practice, with 4,000 consultants, mathematicians and researchers, as well as leading-edge software capabilities
Of course, this fits with the opportunity IBM sees with its Smarter Planet initiative. In fact, the letter points out some benefits retailers have seen.
Four leading retailers have reduced supply chain costs by up to 30 percent, reduced inventory levels by up to 25 percent, and increased sales up to 10 percent. They’ve done so by analyzing customer buying behaviors, aligning merchandising assortments with demand and building end-to-end visibility across their entire supply chain.
A good example of how this IBM strategy comes together is through our shelf space optimization solution. In this solution, we help retailers place their products in the right place in the store-- from how the store should be laid out, how much space should be given to each products, and where the products should be on the shelf (for example, determining which products are at eye-level). This solution leverages our advanced optimization capability (to determine the placement), our advanced statistical capability (to predict and analyze detailed sales data), and our rules technology (to maintain the system since different regions and stores may be unique in their requirements).
"There’s no question that your customers are in charge. They
have more information, more access, more influence. They’re savvy, and
Building on Smarter Commerce Global Summit in San Diego last year,
and the recent Summit in Madrid, the footprint expands with a Smarter
Commerce Summit Orlando 2012!
Smarter Commerce Summit 2012 provides business executives and
practitioners, with the insight and resources to effectively connect
with today’s customers. An event like no other, it combines over 150
business and practitioner breakout sessions comprised of new technology,
best practices, industry perspectives and visionary thinking, all to
help you optimize your business. It is the single largest gathering of
experts and peers for discovering new solutions to today’s most complex
As a supply chain professional, you will get a lot out of the conference's many talks and keynote sessions. If you are an ILOG customer, some talks that may be of direct interest include:
The Supply Chain Revolution: GE Healthcare Uses Optimization to Manage their Global Supply Chain: Best-in-breed, smart and adaptive supply chain networks are the next
major wave of innovation in supply chain management. Learn how several
groups within GE Healthcare are using ILOG Optimization solutions to
make ongoing intelligent supply chain decisions. By building optimal
distribution networks and service strategies, GE Healthcare and its
relevant business units are reaping the benefits of a more competitive
and agile supply chain, resulting in better margins and profits. Join
this session and learn how you can do the same.
Managing LTL Decisions with Optimization: Over the last six years, a team of experienced and committed supply
chain and outbound specialists have leveraged optimization and analytics
to significantly transform the CNH North American Distribution network
making it one of the most efficient networks in the Industry (as
measured by the North American Service Part Conference) both in terms of
service to the customers (internal and external) and in terms of costs
Inside Scoop: Examining IBM's Supply Chain Roadmap and Strategy: When all participants are aligned, the interconnected supply chain can
cost-effectively keep supply and demand in balance--however, volatility
is on the rise. Join us as we discuss our strategy to deliver solutions
that effectively manage global volatility, optimize your supply chain
network, create an inventory and logistics strategy, execute global
logistics, detect risks early and help you react quickly to avoid
inventory issues and lost sales.
Reinventing Decision Making with Optimization. Optimization can be an intimidating concept for business executives.
This presentation explains in business language, beginning with the kind
of bottom-line results you can achieve, what optimization is, what it
uniquely adds to an organization's decision-making capability, and how
you can go about exploiting its potential.
Making Your Business Work Smarter with Optimization: Companies
across the globe are using optimization technology and solutions to
increase ROI and achieve deeper insights into business efficiency and
competitiveness. Join us to learn how optimization is being used across
a spectrum of industries for strategic advantage, and how you can
achieve the same results for your organization.
Is Product Bundling Right for your Retail or CP
Optimize your Supply Chain While Juggling Multiple Objectives: Learn how the powerful optimization techniques developed by IBM can
improve the efficiency and results of network design analyses, and find
out how you can achieve multiple objectives while still getting more
value from your supply chain.
Creating a Global Inventory Hub to Support the Right Plan, Right Promise and Right Fulfillment: Large, global manufacturers have a major challenge in deciding how much
inventory to keep, where to keep it and how to accurately promise it to
customers. On the one hand, companies want to stay as lean as possible,
yet on the other, they have to ensure that customer service levels are
met. In this session, we will discuss how IBM Order Management can be
used as a unified hub to manage inventory across business units,
stocking locations, business units and even different systems of record
(ERP or WMS). The IBM Inventory Planning and Flow Analyst solution
complements the Order Management hub by determining what the optimal
safety and cycle stock levels should be given different assumptions
about demand patterns, variability, and more.
Using Analytics in Supply Chain Optimization: Find out how a leading company is using optimization analytics in
inventory placement, network design and truck routing, along with a
sustainability analysis engine and profit and loss simulation. Join this
session to see how they have been able to achieve dramatic results in
their supply chain operations.
Manage Suppliers and Mitigate Risk: The uncertainty, volatility and fast-changing environment of a global
marketplace creates challenges all across the supply base. Techniques to
mitigate and counter risk, create transparency on global supplier base
and manage supplier relationships are key development for the today's
CPO. Join this session and to learn how companies can qualify, evaluate
and optimize suppliers to improve overall supplier reliability, drive
innovation, encourage competition and rationalize the supplier base.
Learn how to ensure corporate responsibility and increase sustainability
in the supply chain, and to effectively manage the end-to-end supplier
Supply Chain Visibility: Applying Analytics to Integrate and Optimize the Supply Chain: Visibility is a top challenge for supply chain executives.
Multi-enterprise supply chain visibility is a key capability for
reaching new levels of effectiveness and efficiency and enabling a more
end-to-end approach to optimization. In this session, you will hear
IBM's point of view on supply chain visibility and get best practices
for collaborative supply chains. You'll also learn about the advanced
analytics capabilities IBM clients are using today--and within IBM's own
supply chain as well.
The Executive Guide to Optimization:What does the optimized organization look like and why should this be
top-of-mind for the executive decision maker? Steve Sashihara, President
and CEO of Princeton Consultants discusses best practices for
recognizing optimization opportunities and how to ask for them.
Workin' on the Railroad with Maintenance Optimization:Learn how to get the most value from your railway assets by improving
internal processes to help ensure resources are not wasted.
Creating a Smarter Supply Chain with Analytics:What if you could reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction by
managing, controlling, and predicting inventory levels, while
synchronizing global communication and collaboration with your customers
and suppliers? Learn how your organization can become smarter by
attaining insight from your information to make better decisions. You
will also discover the growing role analytics plays in every aspect of
Is Your WMS Future-Proof?:We live in a constantly changing world. And that is especially true for
businesses with acquisitions, mergers, new channels, partners,
outsourcing, and more. How easily your business can adapt to such change
is, to some extent, determined by how quickly your systems can change.
Have you invested in solutions that allow you to be flexible enough to
change as rapidly? Learn how IBM Sterling WMS can future-proof your
business to provide you the flexibility to be able to respond to change.
ILOG Supply Chain applications for network design, inventory optimization, and transportation optimization
ILOG Optimization solutions for unique scheduling and planning applications
Sterling TMS for SaaS for transportation management
Sterling Order Management and Supply Chain Visibility for distributed order management and visibility. This, for example, enables retailers to better handle their multiple channels and gain control of their supply chain
Emptoris for strategic supply and contract management
DemandTec for trade and promotion management and optimization
Cognos and SPSS for supply chain descriptive and predictive analytics. For example, Cognos and SPSS have been deployed for value added S&OP.
If you want an educational demo of our network design solution using our LogicNet Plus XE product, check our video on YouTube. Click here for the link.
video gives you an introduction to the concepts of network design, shows you the software, and highlights the some of the powerful capability like multi-objective optimization. The focus of this video is on
traditional network design-- locating the optimal number, location,
size, and territories of warehouses.
IBM recently launched a national television ad on Smarter Commerce. It is definitely worth a quick view.
For supply chain professionals, what is interesting is this ever growing importance of the supply chain in meeting your firm's strategy. As the ad points out, once new trends are spotted, you need to make sure your production and distribution capabilities are flexible and robust enough to meet the new demand.
This is where supply chain optimization can help. It helps by making sure you can re-optimize production plans, distribution plans, and that you have strategically placed inventory within your system. Often, this means that you have positioned key raw material components so you have maximum flexibility (click here for a white paper on the role of inventory optimization).
Since last year, there is a lot that is new with IBM's supply chain software solutions. If you are at the conference, make sure you meet up with us. We have several talks, a large booth, and are happy to set up a session with you.
Come see our talks:
Tuesday, October 4 at 10:00 am “’Smarter’ Commerce: Closing the Gap Between Planning and Execution” in the Supply Chain of the Future I track (Michael Watson, Ph.D IBM; Gene Nusekabel, IBM). Location: Hall B, Supply Chain of the Future Amphitheater I
Tuesday, October 4 at 3:00 pm “’Smart’ X-SCM Tools: Keys to a More Risk-Tolerant Supply Chain” in the Current Issues II track (Richard Douglass, IBM; Stephan Dean, Ryder; John Tomcala, Johnson Controls) Location: Room 109B
And, be sure to stop by our booth to get more details on our software solutions for the supply chain:
Learn what is new with network design and optimization, inventory optimization, and transportation optimization
Learn about our hosted TMS and Supply Chain Visibility solutions
Learn about how all of this fits into IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative. IBM has identified several big new trends that will have a big impact on business and the supply chain.
If you will be at the conference, please let us know.
Deciding where to locate your manufacturing plants or where to make a product can have significant impact on your overall cost and your ability to serve your customers. However, this is not a trivial decision and depends on many factors.
Over the last several years, the press has reported on the move of manufacturing from the US to China. However, two recent in articles in The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek, show that the issue is much more complex.
Both articles point out that rising wages in China erode the labor cost advantage. And, the rising cost of commodities and especially oil, tip the scales even further. Both articles indicate that there will be a speed up in new manufacturing capacity being built in the U.S.
Certainly, moving production to China was not the answer for many firms. The Wall Street Journal article points out that rising productivity has allowed US manufacturing output to actually double from four decades ago. And, many firms chose to keep manufacturing in the U.S. to protect intellectual property, to be closer to the market, or to minimize inventory investments.
At the same time, over just the last five to ten years, we have seen firms build manufacturing capacity in China for the China market. So, as consumer demand increases in China, more manufacturing capacity is needed to service these markets. This new demand must be accounted for in decisions on where to locate manufacturing capacity.
Deciding where to locate manufacturing capacity becomes even tougher when you factor in the impact of taxes, inventory, and risk.
So, how should you determine where to locate your manufacturing capacity? The answer is not simple, but should consider the following:
An analytical tool to consider all the cost impacts (labor, transportation, raw materials), tax implications, inventory implications, and service levels.
A analysis of the amount of flexibility. Some questions include: Should plants make all products and service their local markets? Should plants be more focused to increase productivity? How much flexibility should we have?
A risk analysis. How much risk are you willing to tolerate? What is the cost if something happens to one of your facilities? What is the cost of building redundancy in the supply chain and is it worth it?
Product analysis to determine what to make where. Even within a fixed network of plants, you have choices in what should be made where. By doing this correctly, you can significantly improve your performance.
This type of analysis is not a one-time event. You have a chance to mold your strategy everytime you make a capital investment in your supply chain. And, the more facilities you have, the more opportunities you have to adjust your supply chain when market conditions change.
An important part of merger and acquisitions is the value created when the two supply chains come together. For example, MillerCoors reported on the progress toward their $750M savings goal on May 4, 2010:
"Supply chain integration continues to proceed on schedule. The brewery
optimization project is nearing completion, as product moves are more
than 90 percent complete."
Without a analytics modeling tool, like IBM's LogicNet Plus XE (click here for a video introduction), it can be difficult to properly merge the two supply chain. Each firm has unique products, unique manufacturing locations or vendors, unique warehouses, unique customers, and different business strategies. By modeling and optimizing the supply chain, you can evaluate the various trade-offs, understand where there is true overlap, and understand where separate supply chains are still needed. This modeling process allows you to accommodate the two businesses, deliver savings, and avoid creating a situation where the costs go up for both firms.
MarWrigley spoke at CSCMP about their modeling experience and noted the value in just getting a baseline model built. That is, as part of the merger process, there is value to seeing the combined supply chain in one place.
Whirlpool mentioned the importance of getting off to a fast start. Often a merger is known about long before the two firms can legally talk to each other. Therefore, it is important that you start as soon as it is legally possible. The investment community usually expects to see some quick savings.
In some firms, the supply chain modeling team is often an input to the acquisition process. Some firms model potential acquisition targets to approximate supply chain savings. And, this type of analysis can help determine if part of the business should be spun off.
If you are going to be at SCOPE East in Orlando in April (17-19), 3M and IBM will be doing a talk. And, the IBM supply chain group will have a booth at the event--- we will be under the Sterling booth.
Here is a description of the talk:
"Applying Supply Chain Analytics: Benefits of a Central Group"
This talk addresses the value firms can achieve by deploying
advanced supply chain analytics and how a group should be structured.
We will use case studies and recent events (like the run up in oil
prices) to highlight the value from analytics such as network and
inventory optimization. 3M will discuss how they are organized to
deploy this capability.
Hu (Tiger) Liu, PhD, CSCP, Supply Chain Specialist for Manufacturing & Supply Chain Services, 3M and Michael Watson, PhD, ILOG Supply Chain Solutions Leader, IBM
In 2008, after undergoing a grueling third-party logistics provider
(3PL) selection process, Navistar chose San Mateo, Calif.-based Menlo
Worldwide Logistics, the global supply chain management subsidiary of
Con-way Inc., to support it in improving its global logistics network,
including managing global transportation providers and regional
warehouses, planning lead times, and modeling net landed costs.
He reports that one of their goals was a 25% reduction in supply chain costs. He reports that at "the end of the partnership’s second year, we will have achieved
11-percent cost savings, out of the 25-percent goal we set for the next
When discussing the reasons Navistar selected Menlo, he mentioned their "global coverage, cross-network planning, and optimization capabilities."
This is a very interesting article discussing the challenges of building a new global supply chain from the ground up. It is also interesting that modeling net landed cost and optimization capabilities were mentioned as key factors in the transformation of the supply chain. This mirrors some other findings that leading supply chains are relying on optimization-based technology to help drive improvements.