If you want an educational demo of our network design solution using our LogicNet Plus XE product, check our video on YouTube.
The video gives you an introduction to the concepts of network design and takes you through a case study. The focus of this video is on traditional network design-- locating the optimal number, location, size, and territories of warehouses.
IBM recently came out with its annual "Next Five in Five" report highlighting five innovation predictions for the next five years. One article that picked up the story pointed out:
IBM, the world's largest provider of computer services, is one of the
few big corporations investing in long-range research projects and
invested $5.8 billion in research and development last year, accounting
for 6.1% of revenue, according to the company's financials.
This investment in research helps benefit our supply chain clients. For example, IBM recently came out with a new study and white paper, "New Rules for a New Decade: A Vision for Smarter Supply Chain Management." SupplyChainDigest picked up the story and provides a nice summary in addition to the IBM material. The study found that supply chain visionaries have significantly better financial returns by more quickly predicting demand and optimizing and analyzing their supply chain to take advantage of this in closer to real-time. The chart below summarizes the key capabilities of different types of supply chain organization. Of course, there are significant advantages to getting your supply chain to the "Planners" level.
It is increasingly important to have the analytics
that enable better decision-making, says Douglass. But an area where
supply chain managers need to improve is scenario planning— assessing
different alternatives based on risks.
“It’s like having different playbooks with different response profiles for different contingencies,” Douglass explains.
Overall, IBM is investing heavily in supply chain thought leadership to help our clients run better supply chains.
More and more, managers recognize that their business needs multiple supply chains.
As an example, Supply Chain Management Review (Nov 2006) reports on a example that highlights a classic trade-off:
Victoria’s Secret has created two different supply chains for the two sorts of products it sells.Its supply chain for high-fashion items like lingerie has been designed to get products into it stores as quickly as possible to maximize sales of short-lived, high-margin goods; its supply chain for basic items like socks has been designed to products on its shelves at the lowest cost.
In this case, you can air freight one set of products and ship the other set by ocean.The high-margin, high fashion items easily absorb the extra transportation costs while the low-margin, low cost items can easily absorb the extra inventory carrying cost.These products might also flow through different distribution points within the network.
Optimization-based supply chain planning tools can help create the best design and plan for each of these supply chains.
What is interesting, though, is that managers no longer have to figure out how many supply chains they have and then come up with the right design for each one.
The advances in the planning tools now allow the managers to use optimization-based tool to help figure out how many supply chains they should have and what they should look like.This process can lead to interesting new insights into the business.
For example, you benefit from unique supply chains based on product, on different seasons, on different brands, on where the product comes from, on different regions, on different customer segments, on different channels, and so on.
Creating different supply chains can lead to significant increase in overall profit margin, increase in customer service, decrease in cost, and an overall improvement of the supply chain’s ability to meet the firm’s strategic goals.
To monitor and manage this additional complexity, more firms are relying on a tighter integration with operational data.This allows you to make adjustments in real-time. Gone are the days of looking at the design of your supply chains once every couple of years.
All of this taken together means that firms gain a competitive advantage by carefully determining their supply chains and staying on top of them.
1. You can find savings with network modeling. The team quoted that they were able to find $10M in savings just in the initial modeling. In fact, the speakers stressed the tremendous value in just building a baseline model. This allows you to uncover savings, but to also challenge preconceived ideas.
2. Sensitivity analysis is valuable. After narrowing down choices, the team did analysis on the impact of higher oil prices and carbon emissions to rank the solutions.
Bob Ferrari noted that this work can be done with remote teams:
The combined project team performed this task over three months on a
virtual basis, without the need to meet face-to-face until just before
final recommendations. This was an important reinforcement that a
virtual team process can work, with selection of both the right
players, and a single point-of-contact for each constituency.
The speakers also mentioned that through the years they were able to build various models that focused on different parts of their supply chain from distribution to manufacturing.
Last week, IBM hosted another Connect to Win event for business partners at it's northern California IBM Innovation Center. The event focused on business analytics and featured IBM Distinguished Engineer Jeff Jonas, a dynamic and highly sought after speaker. Among his many accomplishments, he is known for developing the technology used by the Las Vegas gaming industry featured in the book "Bringing Down the House", the recent movie "21", and numerous documentaries on the Discovery Channel, Learning Channel and the Travel Channel.
Following the keynote by Jeff Jonas, IBM hosted a panel discussion. Some 30+ partners came to learn how to leverage analytics in their offerings, and naturally a wide spectrum of analytics sophistication was represented, generating a vibrant discussion on everything from Smarter Planet to Artificial Intelligence to Decision Management.
The panel was made up of:
Jeff Jonas, IBM Distinguished Engineer, Chief Scientist, IBM Entity Analytics Group
Jeff Kreulen, Senior Manager, Senior Technical Staff Member, Services Oriented Technologies, IBM Almaden Research Center
Thomas Dong, Senior Product Marketing Manager, ILOG Optimization and Analytical Decision Support Solutions
Daniel Mannisto, CEO, Applied Analytix (IBM Business Partner)
During the panel discussion I had the opportunity to first share IBM's vision for business analytics, using an adaptation from Tom Davenport's book "Competing on Analytics", to explain why, how and where IBM has invested $14B since 2005 in business analytics. Several partners thanked me afterwards for presenting this visual, as it provided them with a blueprint for how they might evolve their own analytics capabilities.
In fact, this gave me an opportunity to define a new software category for many - Advanced Analytics, which applies statistical and mathematical techniques to provide forward-looking capabilities, beyond the insight commonly extracted from historical data and information. It can be viewed as a subset of Business Analytics, and provides an interesting convergence opportunity, between the IT-based "analytics" world, and this emerging world previously reserved for specialists in statistics and Operations Research-related disciplines (Management Science, Industrial Engineering, Financial Engineering, Systems Engineering, Applied Mathematics, etc.). As the business world evolves its analytics agenda beyond business intelligence and performance management capabilities, the desire to not only look back in time, but forward in time as well, is driving awareness for Advanced Analytics - and creating many opportunities for SPSS and ILOG Optimization at the point of business impact.
To learn more about Advanced Analytics for a Smarter Planet, start here:
We've recently written an educational book on network design. This book is aimed at both those who do network design projects for a living and for use in the classroom.
For those who do these studies, you will develop better intuition on how these models are solved and new ideas for modeling your supply chain. It can also be a good guide for people who are new to the discipline within your organization.
For those of you who teach, this book will introduce your students to the topic and provide them with a wide ranges of realistically sized models to work on. You can use with the IBM ILOG LogicNet Plus XE software from the academic initiative to allow your students to learn the topic with the use of commercial software.
Gartner RAS Core Research Note G00172071, Andrew White, 17 November 2009
"This research updates users on IBM’s overall supply chain management (SCM) product strategy, which has matured in terms of positioning and product management/strategy since its most recent Ilog acquisition in 2008. We highlight the finalized IBM SCM product portfolio, and highlight how this rationalized portfolio aligns with the SCM trends IBM exposed in its most recent Executive Survey, which also aligns closely with Gartner’s research."
To read the note visit: http://imagesrv.gartner.com/media-products/pdf/reprints/ibm/external/volume4/article31.pdf
If you’ve paid much
attention lately, the topic of “smart supply chains” is currently in vogue. But what is a smart
supply chain, exactly? And are you trying to build one at your
company?The idea of smart or
intelligent supply chains has been around for some time – more on that in just a
bit. However, part (but by no means all) of the recent reanimated discussion
about smart supply chains has come from the efforts of IBM, which has made
“smarter” supply chains one of its key marketing messages.
report IBM released last year summarizing surveys and interviews with hundreds
of senior supply chain executives (promoted in many venues since then, including
SCDigest), IBM said that “To deal effectively with risk and meet your business
objectives, we believe supply chains must become a lot smarter,” and called on
Chief Supply Chain Officers to start building to that new vision right
now. Read the full story online at SCDigest.com.
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.
As banks and financial institutions start to emerge from a prolonged financial downturn, they face a host of challenges. Disruptive forces continue to ripple through the finance industry changing the market and impacting the businesses, such as:
• New regulations • New capital requirements
• New technologies
Optimisation technologies have become key tools in making important business decisions that increase competitive advantage. Optimisation, through the use of advanced mathematics and computer science techniques, is used to assist organisations with solving their complex business problems. The models which capture trade-off between optimum resource allocation and risk minimisation are gaining increasing importance in Banking, Portfolio Construction, Asset and Liability Management, Trade Settlement and Clearing and Cash Management. Recent developments and growing applications of quadratic optimisation, stochastic optimisation and robust optimisation in these domains and the role of modelling systems and solvers will be presented and discussed.
BENEFITS OF ATTENDING:
Understand the role of optimisation in financial analytics and gain an understanding of the leading issues of financial analytics Learn about the latest thinking and practices in the domain of Portfolio Optimisation and Asset and Liability Management Learn how companies have been able to use optimisation technology to help determine how to most effectively allocate capital, balance business risks, uncover novel solutions for their customers and gain insights into their toughest challenges for maximum return with limited risk
There's a big difference between impulse buying and purposeful buying. Most of the Retail customers we met with at NRF 2014 were focused around products designed for purposeful buying behaviors and how to create a seamless customer experience in a very fragmented omni channel world.
"Impulse" product lines are very different - they appeal to the emotional side of consumers. So, how will specialty retail brands compete effectively in an increasingly digital, e-commerce world? As automated checkout and online purchasing increase, how can these Retailers continue to exploit the emotional "buy" when products like candy, for example, are no longer in front of us as we shop? From a retailer's point of view, impulse items bring in high margins—50 percent or better on some SKUs—and have a quick turn over rate (homechannelnews.com/article/impulse-item-guide). How can they make up for this loss of revenue? Thoughts on this?
At the 2011 annual CSCMP conference, Walmart's Greg Forbis spoke to a full session about Walmart's inbound supply chain. SupplyChainDigest reported on the talk. Here a a paragraph from their article that represents the challenge and opportunity:
"He also said that Walmart's vast transportation network, including some
6500 dedicated trucks and an amazing 56,000 trailers, covering almost
every area of the country, could reduce total transportation costs
because its network density and buying power may result in lower costs,
especially in terms of using vendor freight to reduce empty miles
travelled, or produce better consolidations. He noted, for example, that
Walmart has about 12 consolidation DCs that combine less-than-truckload
shipments from vendors into full truckload shipments to its stores. "
During the talk, Mr. Forbis mentioned the use of optimization to help with this problem.
This is a great example of how optimization can help firms. When you have an almost unlimited number choices, optimization technology helps you sort through the possibilities. This is especially true with transportation optimization. We have previously discussed how deceptively difficult routing problems are (click here and here for more information).
With Inbound logistics, the optimization is even more difficult. For example, you may need to find routes that pick up from multiple vendors and make drop-offs at multiple distribution centers. Most routing optimization focuses on outbound routes from a depot to stores. A nice advantage of IBM's Transportation Analyst is that engine is based on the Constraint Programming engine that gives you the ability to model inbound logistics and find great solutions that you otherwise would not find.
We often find that when we compare the results of an optimization run to the current plans, the optimization can find solutions that meet all the business rules and time constraints (which are not always met in the existing routes) and reduces the cost.
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.
If you’ve ever tried to build an application that business decision
makers can use, you know that having a good model of the system you want to manage
isn’t enough. And while you need the best optimization solving technology, line-of-business
managers and executives demand more. They want to see the data supporting the
decisions, they want to try what-if scenarios to validate the proposed options,
and they want planners and schedulers to collaborate across the corporate
organizational lines. And if you want to deploy your solution, you need to
satisfy a bunch of requirements and standards from your IT department.
The Design Guide addresses these issues with concrete
guidance and practical examples derived from IBM’s long experience developing
and deploying analytical decision support solutions in many organizations.
Going beyond how to formulate good models, the Guide shows you how to design
data integration, business user interfaces, client/server architectures, taking
advantage of IBM’s ODM Enterprise to streamline development. The Guide
illustrates the steps using a concrete example derived from a real-world
logistics application. Plus the Guide explores two detailed case studies, one
in manufacturing and the other from insurance.
Need to convince your management that optimization can work
for your organization? The Design Guide can give you the credibility you