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In today’s dynamic supply chain landscape, organizations face unprecedented planning challenges. Our talk at this year’s CSCMP conference delved into the heart of the matter, highlighting the pressing issues and offering innovative solutions. The central concern revolves around manufacturers’ current reliance on manual workarounds and legacy systems, which, I believe, prove inadequate to meet the demands of modern effective supply chain management.

Tech not fit for purpose: Everyday we see manufacturers struggle with the limitations ofexisting technologies, including ERP systems and planning software. At CSCMP we discussed the potential of gae-changing technologies, most notably artificial intelligence (AI), to revolutionize supply chain planning.AI, with its capacity to handle vast amounts of data and to automate and optimize processes, is a cornerstone of future supply chain planning. We elaborated on the pivotal role of digital twins, emphasizing their significance as the foundation for optimization and automation.

Organisations are embarking on change in planning without understanding the scope of what could and could not be done: Our talk underscored the prevalent use of offline workarounds and the need for planners to swiftly adapt to the ever-present “tyranny of the urgent.” We dissected the planning process into short-term, tactical, and strategic components, with the short-term often taking precedence due to daily operational demands.

Operations and planning focus on the short term. The divide between those teams is forced by competing KPIs and the excessive use of the excel templates (static production wheels): We presented that the current interface between Ops and Planning entails a template cyclicity and sequence which is not optimal. We presented a three-step path forward, beginning with digitalization and the creation of a digital twin of the end-to-end manufacturing environment, followed by AI optimization to maximize benefits and drive out waste. This approach addresses the short-term focus and competition among KPIs by providing a comprehensive, long-term solution.

The importance of leveraging technology and AI to enhance supply chain planning was reiterated, promising efficiency and adaptability.

Embedding of templates with the planning lexicon (consultancies erroneously espousing this as best practice): a cottage industry had been created where organizations propagate template cyclicity and sequence as the way forward, perpetuating it as the best solution for manufacturers struggling to get control of their plans. However, organizations must wholeheartedly embrace change and technology to remain competitive. We highlighted how the use of digital twins promises to reshape the supply chain planning landscape, allowing organizations to navigate the challenges of today and tomorrow with confidence and agility, and achieving this by adopting an AI enabled dynamic production wheel.

AI enabling solutions thought impossible in the past, provide significant untapped savings and process enhancements once thought unimaginable: there is transformative potential of AI in supply chain planning. It holds the power to move supply chain planning into a more efficient and agile process, creating feasible and rapid solutions across manufacturing operations that are balanced from finished case goods through to all upstream processes including providing visibility of required inbound raw and pack materials. By streamlining tasks and calculations, it frees up planners to concentrate on driving decisions across all planning horizons.

Call to action with robust change management: we have given a call to action for organizations to embark on a comprehensive change management program to embrace enhanced ways of working for planning processes. They need tomake a step change in how they view and wield S&OP, the emphasis being to drive the right decisions at the right time. This program is essential to ensure that the adoption of better processes through technology is successful and that the organization can fully realize the benefits of these technologies.

In conclusion, organizations must recognize the limitations of current planning solutions and embrace the potential of AI and digital twins to revolutionize supply chain planning. Our discussion illuminated the potential of AI to redefine supply chain planning, offering a brighter and more efficient future for planners and organizations alike. As we move forward, the integration of AI and digital twins promises to reshape the supply chain planning landscape, allowing organizations to navigate the challenges of today and tomorrow with confidence and agility.

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