richie b

Richie Barter,
CEO Replan

“I am delighted to announce that Replan now enables manufacturers to create a single continuous plan that covers Production Planning and Scheduling across all time horizons within Supply Planning”

Why is this innovation valuable to manufacturers?

In the last two years, we’ve spoken to more than a hundred supply chain practitioners and decision-makers. It was eye-opening to learn that despite decades of focus and investment, S&OP, S&OE and Production Scheduling are still regarded as three connected but entirely separate processes often run by different teams. 

Plans get passed around between teams, then manually reworked as they are either too detailed, or not detailed enough, for subsequent phases. This impedes speed, visibility, synchronisation and collaboration, and promotes misalignment as various groups operate in their own silos of process, policies, systems, metrics and data. Several companies admitted to spending days, if not weeks, each month trying to reconcile various plans, only to have to start all over again the following month.

The one need that stood out consistently was for a deeper technology solution that better enables cross-functional alignment (horizontal alignment as Gartner defines it) and synchronisation across all planning processes (vertical alignment), whilst still balancing production capacity, inventory stock boundaries and customer service. 

Replan’s journey to a single continuous plan

With Replan’s digital twin, manufacturers of any size and complexity can confidently represent their supply chain at any level or combination of levels (hybrid) of product, resources, location and time horizons. You decide what makes the most sense for your business and stakeholders, not some technology limitation! Our AI-based algorithms consume that data, group and aggregate-disaggregate as necessary, and deliver plans within a reasonable compute time, providing a high level of automation and eliminating rework. Planning inputs and results are delivered in easy-to-understand user screens and reports, with flexible drill-downs (and ups) so that users can analyse plans at the levels that make most sense to them. 

Together, the detailed digital twin, powerful algorithms and flexible UI provide an unparalleled degree of visibility and consistency for planners across S&OP, S&OE and Scheduling horizons, whilst clearly respecting all of the planning situations actually occuring on the factory floor. 

We believe we’re the only supply chain software solution that continuously connects planning people, processes and data and empowers them to concurrently deliver one plan – in meaningful detail!

This single plan capability builds upon Replan’s core strengths, that I’ve discussed in past blogs:

    1. Facility Planning across every level of the production process
    2. Dynamic Production Wheel to promote operational cyclicity
    3. Accurate digital twin capturing the full breadth of planning situations
    4. Group planning and modelling
    5. Rapid scenario generation

Cracking the Hardest Nut

Historically, the mathematical solvers used in planning and scheduling applied classes of algorithms that required planners to choose between speed and accuracy of solutions. For us at Replan, the toughest problem to solve was to get to an algorithmic framework that delivers optimised plans within a meaningful compute or solve time, and using a realistic amount of compute resources. 

Almost all of the current approaches that strive for optimality use Linear Programming (LP) solvers with scheduler-level of detail providing a fast calculation of the schedule over a limited time horizon, typically over 1 to 3 weeks. When manufacturers attempt to stretch these algorithms over their full demand horizon, the solution time required by LP balloons to several hours or days, driven by the dramatic increase in complexity of the solution space. 

As a compromise, planners break the planning process into several steps, simplify their inputs to the LP solvers through the use of averages and assumptions, or choose to ignore operational constraints  and settle for a roughly-right answer in a reasonable time. When even that doesn’t work, planners fall back to their trusted spreadsheets, nullifying months or years of investment. Manufacturers have had to accept this fuzzier picture in the absence of a better alternative.  

With Replan, planners don’t have to compromise between speed and accuracy, and can start mothballing those spreadsheets. Replan’s algorithms rely on a logic-based-AI approach, utilising an LP only where required. The result is an optimal, fully constrained, feasible plan over the complete planning horizon, without averages and assumptions, solved in a reasonable time. A key step towards delivering on our vision to make planners’ lives easier, to have a consistent plan that respects and captures the operational realities across horizons! 

The future of supply chain planning is bright

We are excited to bring this innovation to the supply chain planning technology space and make it available to companies of all sizes. By creating the conditions for transparency, coordination and collaboration amongst planning teams, Replan eliminates manual reworking of plans and delivers a step-change in plan accuracy. Scenario planning becomes effortless as the full manufacturing complexity is captured at the most detailed level and aggregated or abstracted at the higher levels of decision-making, thus resulting in a single continuous plan.

We are only getting started. There is so much untapped potential in addressing these classical manufacturing challenges in new and innovative ways. 

We are actively increasing our network of partners globally. Read more about our Partnership Program here.

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