Machine learning is a powerful technology that is being increasingly used to improve data analysis in a wide variety of areas. At ToolsGroup, we have focused on employing our innovative machine learning engine specifically for supply chain planning, and especially to improve demand forecasting. Here are a few areas where this technology can be found embedded in our products:
- Promotion forecasting
- Extreme and complex seasonality forecasting
- New product introduction (NPI) forecasting – including launch profiles and ongoing baseline demand
- Incorporating climate and weather data into demand forecasting
Within our machine learning engine we incorporate deep learning technology that allows our models to “learn” from existing data and accurately identify future demand trends. It leverages the knowledge, experience and skills of planners and other experts in a highly efficient and effective way, working like an intelligent assistant that helps them do their normal jobs much more effectively. It produces clear business logic that can be dynamically adapted and easily aligned with business policies and procedures.
Supply chain planning suites have traditionally used deterministic models for their advanced planning and scheduling logic. But real-life supply chains experience uncertainty from every direction, and especially from short product life cycles, product promotions and long supply lines. This makes deterministic models insufficient to meet the needs of the realities faced by supply chains today.
SO99+ is the only supply chain planning platform that incorporates uncertainty modeling across a range of supply chain planning functions, from demand forecasting to inventory and replenishment/master planning. It offers a new approach where the variability of the supply chain is integrally modeled in the planning and optimization functions, across the end-to-end supply chain. In addition, this uncertainty modeling provides the ability to handle intermittent or “long tail” demand patterns which are becoming more common due to SKU proliferation and rapid replenishment cycles.
Large companies are under pressure to find the next bucket of cost savings. Smaller fast-growing companies are looking to avoid the cost of increasing headcount required to service their growing businesses. All are looking to automate their planning functions, particularly short-term forecasting where fast-moving daily decisions require processing lots of data that are beyond human capacity.
Our highly autonomous software insures that your planners are focused on the most productive and the highest value-added activities. Rather than a manually-intensive decision support tool, SO99+ is a solution to which planners can delegate much of the number-crunching, data manipulation and other grunt work. The result is dramatic improvements in planner productivity, such as a single planner managing the replenishment of 8000 points of sale, or a single planner managing an entire global brand across 350 different products in 150 countries.
Many “integrated” software suites have been assembled from independently acquired products built on disjointed models. Passing data from one module to the next contributes to bullwhip effect and often introduces scalability problems. Most importantly it creates shortcomings in the ability to precisely and correctly model the demand and supply chains.
In contrast, the uniqueness of the SO99+ platform stems from being designed from the beginning as a single unified model for an end-to-end planning process.
All of our solutions are built from the same detailed coherent model of demand and supply. Rather than thrown together and dressed up to look the same, our solutions were all born from the same DNA. The net result is an end-to-end process that minimizes the bullwhip effect, scales easily, and provides deep insight into demand signals, inventory behaviors and supply chain volatility. ToolsGroup’s solution components can be implemented independently, but are completely interlocking from the ground up, creating a tightly connected, high efficiency supply chain planning platform.
Many of our customers are SAP users who deployed ToolsGroup’s best-of-breed supply chain solutions to complement their SAP suites. They found that SAP APO or IBP don’t give them the technology they needed to achieve a step change improvement in supply chain performance. For them, ToolsGroup offers an attractive supply chain planning and optimization option.
We have also seen hundreds of small to medium size business (SMBs) start with a basic planning solution, but then face increased manual intervention and firefighting as their business complexity grew. They couldn’t get beyond their system’s limited abilities to manage demand volatility, improve forecast accuracy, or simplify their planning process. Our SO99AX product was specifically developed for those companies who want to dramatically enhance their supply chain performance. It combines three important supply chain planning functions; demand planning, inventory optimization and replenishment planning, all in a tightly integrated platform that is also Microsoft Dynamics AX compliant.