Optiant Releases PowerChain Planner 2.0

Integrates strategic design with tactical inventory management to drive demand-driven supply networks, enabler says

Integrates strategic design with tactical inventory management to drive demand-driven supply networks, enabler says

Boston — October 3, 2005 — Supply chain planning solution provider Optiant has released an updated version of its PowerChain Planner offering, which provides manufacturers with a solution for designing and implementing operational strategies to adapt to changes in demand, business conditions and unpredictable events such as labor strikes or weather-related catastrophes.

Version 2.0 of PowerChain Planner, available immediately, can be integrated with manufacturing execution systems, including SAP environments, via the recently announced SAP-certified PowerChain Connector. Optiant said that the solution has the ability to drive the day-to-day engines of production, tying together the strategic stage — where decisions are made about where and how much inventory and associated inventory types should be placed to meet service level requirements — with the daily execution horizon that drives replenishment signals.

The solution offers supply chain planners, those on the front lines of operational management, the ability to determine and implement optimal inventory levels, even for components with highly volatile supply and demand patterns, according to Optiant. "With PowerChain Planner, manufacturers can rely on a seamless flow of real-time information from up and down the supply network, to modify inventory levels for each SKU for maximum effectiveness, as frequently as needed," the solution provider said.

Features in the latest iteration of PowerChain Planner include granular inventory target analysis and optimization across the entire supply chain: With large amounts of raw materials and increased SKU proliferation representing a significant challenge to planners and product champions, PowerChain Planner can help companies set inventory targets for tens of thousands of SKUs ensure the right levels at each location to satisfy committed service levels, Optiant said.

Elsewhere, the solution offers exception-based workflow, so that by flagging SKUs most prone to supply and/or demand fluctuations and undesired performance, the solution provides supply chain planners with a warning system, allowing them to focus critical resources where their expertise is most required for resolution purposes.

In addition, Optiant said that the new version includes automated demand profiling, with the solution drawing on order histories, historical forecasts and sales projections to establish demand parameters across complex, real-world situations such as seasonal products, new product introductions and end-of-life products.

Finally, version 2.0 includes user-generated decision-support metrics and reports to support the sales and operations planning teams with reports summarizing inventory plans, demand changes and product profitability, comparing before and after scenarios.

"The ability to fine-tune inventory strategy based on real-world constraints is a critical differentiator for today's most competitive manufacturers," said Matthew Menner, senior vice president of Optiant. "With PowerChain Planner, we give our customers fast and effective answers, which allow them to build and refine agile supply chains that maximize the return on inventory investments."

"Freeing up our planners and product champions to focus on more strategic product-centric initiatives, such as new product introductions and end-of-life transitions, means we are making the most of every resource," said Peter Smith, director of supply chain planning processes at Mass.-based Cabot Corp., $1.9 billion chemical manufacturer and Optiant customer. "With PowerChain Planner, we can plan and deploy inventories to better manage working capital while providing superior levels of customer service, a critical strategy to achieve our performance goals."

Optiant said that PowerChain Planner can be integrated into existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) or advanced planning systems for the transfer of key inventory planning data across the supply chain. PowerChain Planner also shares its data model with other Optiant solutions, including PowerChain Inventory, which addresses strategic supply chain configurations, and the new PowerChain Connector, which is intended to streamline communication between the PowerChain Suite, ERP and planning and execution systems.

Additional Articles of Interest

— Increased opportunities for customer interaction create new operational challenges for Sales, Marketing and Service — the Demand Chain. Organizations must look beyond technology to the true foundation of creating and managing demand. For more information, read the SCDExec.com exclusive "Trends in the Demand Chain."

— Learning the right things to say to your colleagues and your customers can help you win big for the Supply Chain. Read more in "The Price of Talk," the Final Thoughts column in the August/September 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— Eugene McCabe, architect of Sun Microsystems' Customer Fulfillment in Transit process, discusses the challenges and rewards of taking links out of the company's supply chain in "Anatomy of the 'Zero Touch' Supply Chain," in the August/September 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

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