Manufacturing Scheduling Software: From AspenTech MIMI to AspenTech SCM and Beyond

Manufacturing scheduling software

Times are changing – and so are supply chains and the manufacturing scheduling software that helps keep them humming.

Manufacturers, warehouses, retailers, distribution centers, and transportation providers are re-examining the way they approach business. The challenge is clear: to combat supply chain disruptions, implement new omnichannel fulfillment strategies, and help expand new markets and emerging brands.

Yet despite the real-time evolution in the logistics and manufacturing industries, many companies are still invested in legacy applications, such as AspenTech MIMI, which technically no longer exists, but is still used by companies around the globe.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jim Piermarini, CEO at Profit Point, about legacy applications versus newer solutions such as AspenTech SCM.  Jim and I are both super nerds on the topic of manufacturing scheduling software.

Understanding the Difference Between AspenTech MIMI and AspenTech SCM

When AspenTech acquired New Jersey-based Chesapeake Decision Sciences in 1998, its mission was to combine its manufacturing scheduling software, Plantelligence, with MIMI. This led to the rebranding of MIMI to AspenTech SCM in the early 2000s.

However, the rebranding was far more robust than a simple name change. AspenTech SCM is now on its 12th iteration, aptly named “Version 12,” yet many companies are still utilizing Version 7 or older.

When we spoke, Jim said comparing the old school MIMI to Version 12 of AspenTech SCM is similar to comparing a vintage BMW to a brand new BMW.

“Is it the same or is it different?” Jim posits. “From one perspective, a new BMW is totally different. It’s got anti-lock brakes, it’s got airbags, it’s got cruise control. The old BMW is a killer machine – it’s marvelous – but it doesn’t have all these new, whiz-bang features. It’s still a nice car, it still handles well, but it’s not the new thing.”

I agree with Jim’s assessment.  A lot of the older functionality from AspenTech MIMI is still there in Version 12, and they’ve just built upon it.   This includes the old scheduling algorithms and the inventory profile simulator.

However, AspenTech has upgraded its scheduling suite to a newer technology which is now XML-based.  This gives AspenTech SCM a new look and feel with the ability to add more features. Yet, it maintains the key benefits that legacy MIMI clients want, such as still being on-prem, single-user based, and thick client.  Many companies choose to implement Aspen SCM in a private cloud environment such as MS Azure.

Why Upgrade Your Manufacturing Scheduling Software to AspenTech SCM?

Before exploring the new features AspenTech SCM has to offer, it’s worth appreciating the value that a new UI (user interface) with better controls provides to the manufacturing scheduling software user.

“One of the things that schedulers like to do,” illustrates Jim, “is look at their inventory profiles. [With SCM], you can make these things called ‘inventory tiles,’ so you can constantly be looking at that inventory through a new window or monitor in the future. There are better ways for you to review your data; there is some advanced filtering… the latest version gives you the ability to slice and dice your data, and therefore make overrides as you need.”

Compare that to MIMI, where any additional data analysis had to be done outside of the software’s capability and functionality–this is a significant improvement.

Another reason to consider upgrading to SCM is standardization. Older versions of the software are no longer supported by AspenTech.  In fact, AspenTech SCM Version 10.1 went off support on November 30, 2021, and Version 11.1 will lose support on November 30, 2023.  Unsupported software is a very significant risk to any manufacturing operations.  A piece of software that fails and cannot be fixed can cause your whole production line to stall, produce too much, or produce too little.

Perhaps a larger consideration is that SCM allows for a significant amount of customization. “In AspenTech now,” Jim explains, “you can make a custom ribbon. Why is that interesting? Because your developer can put all the actions you need all in one convenient place – and they can make new actions and put them right on that ribbon and make them available to you on the planning board, for instance.”

Right out of the box, the user has a better starting point from which to configure. And it’s not just how you can configure it. It’s the ease at which you can configure, as you don’t always need a developer, you just need an AspenTech Poweruser.

When it comes to upgrades, they happen “over the air” because the upgrade paths are easier, which means you don’t have to reinstall everything from scratch.

AspenTech SCM users benefit from intermediate updates between releases in libraries, keeping them up-to-date with the current edition.

Manufacturing Scheduling Software: Reasons Not to Upgrade

For some clients, the adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is alluring, but the reality is that any piece of equipment is going to break eventually – and when it fails, it just goes. Even though the prospect of updating older versions before Version 8 seems daunting, it is worth it in the long run.

At Profit Point, we have helped dozens of our clients upgrade from legacy MIMI manufacturing scheduling software or MIMI Planning to the latest version of AspenTech SCM.  In doing so, we have also developed a series of very specific tools to help ease the transition.  While the upgrade from a pre-version 8 installation may seem insurmountable, we assure you it is not.   We strongly believe that making sure your manufacturing operation continues to run smoothly is well worth the effort to upgrade.

About Deanna Wenstrup

Deanna has 28 years of experience in production scheduling and planning, linear program and expert systems design, development, implementation, and interfacing to external databases.

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