Supply chain management in companies utilizing SAP is a system that requires a lot of understanding of both how SAP works and how the supply chain in question functions. Depending on the complexity of the supply chain, management can become an even harder task than it already is. Due to this fact, a lot of companies have started using demand-driven supply chain management, and SAP supports the use of this through a manager called Camelot. Camelot Demand-Driven Lean Planning Suite (CLS) comes as an integrated package that can be used alongside SAP, tapping into SAP's powerful tools and management services while offering a wholly new way of doing supply chain management that deals with predictive planning and adaptation on the fly.
The Issues Affecting Supply Chain Management
In any company that has a complex web of supply chain interdependencies, managing them can be a gargantuan task, even without the added tool of technology. While theoretically sound, supply chain management paradigms don't translate very well to real-world equivalents, mainly because they depend on best-case, sanitized inputs and don't deal with the constant changes and curveballs that real life throws at the system.
Any attempt at changing, modifying or even revamping supply chain management procedures can create a domino effect in terms of complexity, leaving the system in a state far more unworkable than it initially was. For a long time, this meant that even though a system was broken and poorly understood (usually because it has been implemented by multiple generations of managers with their own ideas on how things should function) there was never really any drive to innovate since the attached problems of innovating just weren't worth the time and effort.
Additional issues that plague supply chain management include the inability to fully interface with a company's asset management system (usually a program like SAP) in order to seamlessly extract data from the system as well as an inability to update the system and schedule changes to distribution networks or source networks easily. Most of the workarounds developed to deal with the shortcomings of the current SAP system for supply chain management revolve around the use of spreadsheets that temporarily store and visualize data, but these methodologies are a stopgap method at best. The dream of a properly functional supply chain management add-on for use with SAP has been realized with the implementation of Camelot.
Lean Planning and What It Means for the Process
The concept of lean planning focuses on predictive analysis - artificially dealing with regular supply and demand by adding a buffer layer to inventory systems to cope with the expected values of these variables. This way the demand of the product in question impacts the buffer which can then be replenished, allowing for some leeway in coping with the demand for a particular product over time. The buffer system encourages smoother production planning, making for a far more streamlined system. Camelot uses a system termed Demand-Driven Rhythm Wheel Planning (DDRWP) which utilizes a cycle to model production and consumption. This model can be used alongside an implementation of SAP's cyclic approach to production in order to level out spikes and sags in the production and distribution schedule over time. By introducing DDSCM to SAP, we create a system that makes for a much shorter time period between production and distribution, as well as a dynamic method of adapting to possible supply and demand challenges.
Automation through Parameters
The true power in Camelot's suite comes from its ability to use existing parameters in order to calculate its own. By allowing Camelot to interface with SAP, we permit it to develop its own buffers which can then be implemented in the inventory based on the current cycle time, frequency of distribution campaigns, and the volume of production as a base starting point. Additionally, depending on current demand, Camelot can extrapolate to suggest projected buffer numbers for unique case scenarios where increased demand is triggered. All in all, this makes it a useful and powerful add-on to SAP.
A Solution to an Eternal Problem
Camelot provides one of the few solutions for supply chain management out there that has the ability to adapt to adverse conditions quickly and seamlessly. Due to the way it deals with the problem of demand across multiple avenues, it can acclimate itself through its calculations to increase or decrease buffers as necessary when dealing with a potential spike in demand. This ensures that the supply chain remains unbroken, even through larger demand spikes. As a solution, it's far more elegant than any spreadsheet-based solution so far and provides us with a unique method of managing the supply chain in a way that cuts down the time it takes to respond to potential impacts.