The demand planners make the forecast adjustments, based on the decision-makers' feedback, throughout the monthly period, but they also update Wells Lamont's ERP system once a week, incorporating all the latest forecast changes. In addition, four or five times a month the planners capture the net unit changes for production and purchasing to make those departments aware of any impact on current plans within the lead time for different SKUs.
Bartok says the company anticipates a one-year payback period on the solution, and adds that Wells Lamont aims to quantify its return on investment by the end of the first quarter of 2005. "We actually expect to see double-digit forecast improvements in some of the product lines," he says. Partly as a result, the company anticipates seeing significant reductions in expediting costs, as well as increases in production and purchasing efficiencies as staff in those departments are fed more accurate forecast data throughout the course of the planning cycle.
Perhaps as important as these gains, Wells Lamont has leveraged the new forecasting engine to take much of the tactical, data entry-type work out of its planners' days and move them into a more strategic, value-adding role at the company. Bartok believes, based on a throughput analysis of the planning department, that the company's planning staff reduced its non-value-adding workload by as much as 70 percent, giving the staff more time to take action on the exceptions identified by the new planning solution. "We're getting the data out there to the decision-makers, we're making visible for them the product lines or programs that need action, and we're getting the results back," Bartok explains. And, finally, Bartok says that the implementation has allowed the company to achieve one other significant goal: "We wanted a process and tool that we would be proud of when sharing data with our customers," he concludes.