Like the drummer on a dragon boat, scheduling sets the pace of a manufacturing operation. It helps to keep all the participants churning in sync, driving production forward and unifying everyone’s individual efforts. Paddles hit the water in unison, a couple dozen arms dig deep, and off they go.
So once upon a time, you decided to make that crucial investment in a quality, out-of-the-box Supply Chain Management solution – a good drummer. And once you’d implemented AspenTech, it changed everything: Complex production scheduling was simplified; customer deliveries got faster and more reliable; lead times dropped. Things were moving; things were smooth; things were good.
So what’s different now? You’ve still got AspenTech and its tools at your disposal, but operations are hiccuping more than you’d like; bumps in the road are happening more frequently; maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but the SCM solution just doesn’t seem to be paying the dividends it did a while back.
The drummer seems a little off.
We’ve got good news: Your SCM itself probably isn’t the problem. More likely, there have been incremental operational changes over time that are having a cumulative effect – and that just means it’s time to take a look at some of the factors which affect AspenTech’s ability to perform at its best.
Signs That It’s Time for a Check-Up
- Actual production is consistently running faster or slower than the AspenTech schedule, which means you’re constantly having to adjust operations.
- Scheduling conflicts with equipment that’s shared across production lines. Your SCM scheduler should be resolving these, so they’re often a sign that it’s time to dig deeper.
- Asset utilization is lower than expected or trending downward. If you’re expecting a piece of machinery to be running 90 hours a week, but it’s only running 65, there could be a variety of issues at work, but a faulty schedule is likely a culprit.
- Lack of assigned or tracked data responsibility when it comes to who’s accountable for taking care of the data that feeds the SCM system. This is almost never intentional: Everybody can’t know everything – but it’s vital to be aware of exactly who knows and is responsible for what, and how to make sure that important information isn’t lost in personnel shifts.
When these things happen, they lead to mistrust in the automated scheduling system, and people begin supplementing the scheduling process with old-school spreadsheets. Teams who put more stock in spreadsheets than in the automated system you’ve installed can’t collaborate nearly as well because they’re always second-guessing the automatically-generated schedule.
Here’s What We’ll Do
At Profit Point, we’ve got experts in optimizing AspenTech to help you get back to getting the most out of your SCM solution. Here’s what we’ll do:
- Review the data sources for accuracy, completeness, and integration. What decisions are you trying to make, and what data is required to make them successfully? Quality data is a key element to success, and we’ve built our reputation on identifying the most relevant data types from comprehensive sources, and on making sure that information is accurately delivered to the AspenTech tool.
- Take corrective action on any identified data source issues. Remember those shared equipment conflicts we talked about earlier? Here’s where we’ll address things like equipment mapping and cycle times, to make sure that information is being correctly applied to scheduling evaluations.
- Examine your processes for inconsistencies and knowledge gaps. Maybe someone didn’t really map the processes when they put the model in; maybe the process has changed over the years and as new people came in, they made scheduling changes that weren’t documented or incorporated in the scheduling tool. It happens as people advance, retire, or move on from companies, taking their institutional knowledge with them, unless specific action is taken to preserve the best data practices, and ensure that incoming employees are properly trained. Without the right guidance and knowledge of their data sources, new team members will fall back on generating spreadsheets. We’ve seen cases where people literally don’t know where the source data for the scheduling tool is coming from: Is it any wonder that this leads to a schedule nobody trusts?
- Provide training based on best practices. We’ve seen a lot of supply chain transformations and been through countless different situations, and we have a team who understands the goals of supply chain directors but also communicates effectively with the hands-on personnel about their pain points. This is what we do. And we love it.
One of the things we’ve learned is that this data ‘health check’ isn’t just for your AspenTech implementation. It can be applied almost anywhere in a supply chain system, from planning to network design. Difficulties are often directly traceable to problems with the data used to make decisions – there’s a reason the computer science term ‘garbage in, garbage out’ is familiar to everyone.
We can help clean things up, give your AspenTech SCM a clean bill of (data) health, and get your drummer and team back in that driving rhythm that moves everybody forward together.