Optiant Updates PowerChain

Version 4.0 aims to help manufacturers get products to market faster, cheaper

Boston  September 17, 2002  Solution provider Optiant today rolled out version 4.0 of its supply chain design and optimization software suite, adding features intended to help manufacturers improve key financial metrics by better leveraging inventory and supply chain strategies in moving products to market.

While manufacturers are under enormous pressure to deliver products to market faster, cheaper and in multiple variations, these same companies face the challenges of managing multi-dimensional supply chains, which typically include layers of component commonality, a mix of in-house production and parallel outsourcing, and global distribution operations.

"The challenge for manufacturers today is two-fold: Get the products on the shelf while still driving internal savings," said Jim Lawton, vice president of product management for Optiant.

The solution provider says its PowerChain solution, which is available immediately, can assist companies in designing and implementing "high-performance" supply chains to support such complex manufacturing environments and real-world challenges.

PowerChain gives various supply chain stakeholders a Web-based solution to model the stages in a supply chain, optimize the configuration based on their unique parameters and evaluate decisions on both departmental and organizational needs. Potential users might include procurement and materials directors, sales and marketing professionals, or financial officers.

The solution also lets sales and operations planning (S&OP) teams fine-tune their supply chains to balance supply and demand variability, with the goal of closing the gap between forecasts and production. PowerChain drives S&OP teams to integrate contractual service-level obligations and corporate inventory budgets to define an optimal inventory strategy. Users can design the best possible combination of service levels to satisfy the requirements of tier-one customers, balance service levels for tier-two and -three customers, and still meet inventory investment budgets.

In addition, users can leverage the solution's time-phasing templates to implement inventory strategies that address the distinctive performance requirements of different phases of the product lifecycle, helping to mitigate the risk of missing upside revenue opportunities during the initial ramp-up and reducing exposure to costly inventory obsolescence at the end-of-life phase.

Finally, Optiant says that the solution's multi-stage sensitivity analysis lets business users determine the effect of cycle time reduction strategies, such as changing internal manufacturing practices or shortening supplier lead-times, in terms of key financial metrics. This ability to weigh complex alternatives in light of larger business objectives potentially can give manufacturers the flexibility to choose the most appropriate supply chain design.

"The new time-phasing capabilities will allow us to model our supply chains with even more precise inventory targets for new product promotions and seasonal demand spikes," said John Neidermire, director of international supply chains at data storage company and Optiant customer Imation. "And the service level optimization feature will help us serve our best customers even better."