7 Digital Transformations for Utilities that will Boost MRO Performance

Utilities in the electrical, natural gas, urban water and wastewater, and telecommunications fields are all asset intensive. Generation, production, processing, transmission, and distribution of electricity, natural gas, oil, and water, are all reliant on physical infrastructure that must be properly maintained, updated, and upgraded over time. Maximizing asset uptime and the reliability of physical infrastructure demands effective inventory management, spare parts forecasting, and supplier management.

A utility that executes these processes effectively will outperform its peers, provide better returns for its investors and higher service levels for its customers, while reducing its environmental impact. Impeding these efforts are out-of-date IT systems, evolving security threats, frequent supply chain disruptions, and extreme demand variability.  However, the convergence of these challenges with mature cloud technology and recent advancements in data analytics, probabilistic forecasting, and technologies for data management, present utilities a generational opportunity to digitally transform their enterprise.

Here are seven digital transformations that require relatively small upfront investments but will generate seven-figure returns.

1. Inventory Management is the first step in MRO inventory optimization. It involves analyzing current inventory levels and usage patterns to identify opportunities for improvement. This should include looking for overstocked, understocked, or obsolete items.  New probabilistic forecasting technology will help by simulating future parts usage and predicting how current stocking policies will perform.  Pats planners can use the simulation results to proactively identify where policies should be modified.

2. Accurate forecasting and demand planning are very important in optimizing MRO service parts inventories. An accurate demand forecast is a critical supply chain driver. By understanding demand patterns that result from capital projects and planned and unplanned maintenance, parts planners can more accurately anticipate future inventory needs, budget properly, and better communicate anticipated demand to suppliers. Parts forecasting software can be used to automatically house an accurate set of historical usage that details planned vs. unplanned parts demand.

3. Managing suppliers and lead times are important components of MRO inventory optimization. It involves selecting the best vendors for the job, having backup suppliers that can deliver quickly if the preferred supplier fails, and negotiating favorable terms.  Identifying the right lead time to base stocking policies on is another important component. Probabilistic simulations available in parts planning software can be used to forecast the probability for each possible lead time that will be faced. This will result in a more accurate recommendation of what to stock compared to using a supplier quoted or average lead time.

4. SKU rationalization and master data management removes ineffective or out-of-date SKUs from the product catalog and ERP database. It also identifies different part numbers that have been used for the same SKU. The operating cost and profitability of each product are assessed during this procedure, resulting in a common list of active SKUs.  Master data management software can assess product catalogs and information stored in disparate data bases to identify SKU rationalizations ensuring that inventory policies are based on the common part number.

5.  Inventory control systems are key to synchronizing inventory optimization.    They provide a cost-efficient way for utilities to track, monitor, and manage their inventory. They helps ensure that the utility has the right supplies and materials when and where needed while minimizing inventory costs.

6. Continuous improvement is essential for optimizing MRO inventories. It involves regularly monitoring and adjusting inventory levels and stocking policies to ensure the most efficient use of resources. When operating conditions change, the utility must detect the change and adjust its operations accordingly. This means planning cycles must operate at a tempo high enough to stay up with changing conditions. Leveraging probabilistic forecasting to recalibrate service parts stocking policies each planning cycle ensures that stocking policies (such as min/max levels) are always up-to-date and reflect the latest parts usage and supplier lead times.

7. Planning for intermittent demand with modern Spare Parts Planning Software.  The result is a highly accurate estimate of safety stocks, reorder points, and order quantities, leading to higher service levels and lower inventory costs.   Smart Software’s patented probabilistic spare parts forecasting software simulates the probability for each possible demand, accurately determining how much to stock to achieve a utility’s targeted service levels.  Leveraging software to accurately simulate the inflow and outflow of repairable spare parts will better predict downtime, service levels, and inventory costs associated with any chosen pool size for repairable spares.

 

Spare Parts Planning Software solutions

Smart IP&O’s service parts forecasting software uses a unique empirical probabilistic forecasting approach that is engineered for intermittent demand. For consumable spare parts, our patented and APICS award winning method rapidly generates tens of thousands of demand scenarios without relying on the assumptions about the nature of demand distributions implicit in traditional forecasting methods. The result is highly accurate estimates of safety stock, reorder points, and service levels, which leads to higher service levels and lower inventory costs. For repairable spare parts, Smart’s Repair and Return Module accurately simulates the processes of part breakdown and repair. It predicts downtime, service levels, and inventory costs associated with the current rotating spare parts pool. Planners will know how many spares to stock to achieve short- and long-term service level requirements and, in operational settings, whether to wait for repairs to be completed and returned to service or to purchase additional service spares from suppliers, avoiding unnecessary buying and equipment downtime.

Contact us to learn more how this functionality has helped our customers in the MRO, Field Service, Utility, Mining, and Public Transportation sectors to optimize their inventory. You can also download the Whitepaper here.

 

 

White Paper: What you Need to know about Forecasting and Planning Service Parts

 

This paper describes Smart Software’s patented methodology for forecasting demand, safety stocks, and reorder points on items such as service parts and components with intermittent demand, and provides several examples of customer success.

 

    Smart Software’s article has won 1st place in the 2022 Supply Chain Brief MVP Awards Forecasting category!

    Belmont, Mass., December 2022 –  Smart Software is pleased to announce that Co-Founder Dr. Thomas R. Willemain’s article “Managing Inventory amid Regime Change” has won 1st place in the Forecasting category of the 2022 Supply Chain Brief MVP Awards.

    “Regime change” is a statistical term meaning a major change in the character of the demand for an inventory item. An item’s demand history is the fuel that powers demand planners’ forecasting machines. In general, the more fuel the better, giving us a better fix on the average level,  the shape of any seasonality pattern, and the size and direction of any trend. But there is one big exception to the rule that “more data is better data.” If there is a major shift in your business and new demand doesn’t look like old demand, then old data become dangerous.

    Read the MVP Award winner article here  https://smartcorp.com/inventory-optimization/managing-inventory-amid-regime-change/

    Supply Chain Brief brings together the best content from hundreds of industry thought leaders. This MVP Award recognizes the Most Valuable Post as judged by Supply Chain Brief’s audience, award committee, and social media. Smart Software has been recognized to provide the highest value to industry professionals and useful information that is strategic in nature. https://www.supplychainbrief.com/mvp-awards/2022-SCB-MVP-AWARDS/forecasting

    Dr. Thomas R. Willemain is Co-Founder and Senior VP for Research at Smart Software.  He has been a professor at MIT and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and is now Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  Tom was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the FAA and supported the Intelligence Community as Expert Statistical Consultant (GS15) in NSA’s Mathematics Research Group and later at IDA’s Center for Computing Sciences.  He holds degrees from Princeton University (BSE, summa cum laude) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MS and PhD), all in Electrical Engineering.

    About Smart Software, Inc.
    Founded in 1981, Smart Software, Inc. is a leader in providing businesses with enterprise-wide demand forecasting, planning and inventory optimization solutions. Smart Software’s demand forecasting and inventory optimization solutions have helped thousands of users worldwide, including customers at mid-market enterprises and Fortune 500 companies, such as Otis Elevator, Hitachi, WeatherTech, and Disney. Smart Inventory Planning & Optimization gives demand planners the tools to handle sales seasonality, promotions, new and aging products, multi-dimensional hierarchies, and intermittently demanded service parts and capital goods items. It also provides inventory managers with accurate estimates of the optimal inventory and safety stock required to meet future orders and achieve desired service levels. Smart Software is headquartered in Belmont, Massachusetts, and can be found online at www.smartcorp.com.

     

     

    Smart Software and 21 Tech Announce Strategic Partnership

    Belmont, Mass., October 2022 – Smart Software, Inventory optimization, demand planning, and forecasting software leader, and 21Tech, a well-established asset management consulting and implementation company, today announced their partnership to address the supply chain planning needs of Large Companies and State and Local agencies. 21Tech, LLC will sell and deploy Smart’s next-generation cloud platform, Smart Inventory Planning & Optimization (Smart IP&O™) as an integral part of its Enterprise Asset Management Practice.

    21Tech serves a diverse client base, including Fortune 100 companies, public transit agencies, utilities, and state and local agencies across the U.S. and Canada. They specialize in providing a comprehensive ecosystem for a client’s needs as it relates to asset maturity and thought leadership in asset management. This includes asset management process improvements,  system implementations, and managed services, where they employ proven methodologies in project management, business process re-engineering, and organizational change management to drive customers forward in achieving their goals. More recently, public and private sector organizations have realized significant benefits from replacing, supplementing, or enhancing their nice and/or proprietary in-house applications with top-tier commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) applications. 21Tech delivers highly skilled and in-demand technology resources for mission-critical projects.

    Smart IP&O is Smart Software’s integrated suite of web applications for collaborative demand planning, inventory optimization, and supply chain analytics. It operates as a transparent extension of the customer’s ERP and Asset Management system of choice, returning optimized demand forecasts, and stocking policies that balance costs and service level requirements across the distribution network.  Smart’s unique approach to planning intermittent demand is especially impactful for public utilities and transit agencies considering the prevalence of spare parts with highly sporadic, seemingly unforecastable usage.

    “Smart has proven that its inventory optimization and forecasting solutions are a key fit in the ecosystem of solutions needed to drive asset maturity for public transit and utilities. We see them as a strategic component in integrating with Hexagon EAM for our customers, and look forward to bringing this added efficiency to our client base” says 21Tech CEO Dilraj Kahai.

    “Maximizing the benefits our solutions can provide requires the expertise and perspective to consider requirements, set goals, and to develop the supporting business process that ensures adoption and benefits. These are the qualities that 21Tech brings to the table and we look forward to our joint success” says Greg Hartunian, President and CEO

     

    About 21Tech, LLC. 

    21Tech was founded in 1996 to provide technology leadership and services to government and commercial organizations. 21Tech’s Enterprise Asset Management practice provides software evaluations, implementations, integrations, enhancements, and support services. Additionally, 21Tech’s strategic consulting services provide leading practice process design, assessment, and asset management maturity roadmap services to help ensure its clients realize full benefits of its asset and inventory management software investments. As a corporate member of the Institute of Asset Management, 21Tech ensures its services and solutions align with recognized, international standards, as they deliver to customers in the U.S., Canada, and worldwide. 21Tech can be found at www.21Tech.com  and its transit-specific asset management solution can be found at RapidTAM.com

     

    About Smart Software, Inc.

    Founded in 1981, Smart Software, Inc. is a leader in providing businesses with enterprise-wide demand forecasting, planning and inventory optimization solutions. Smart Software’s demand forecasting and inventory optimization solutions have helped thousands of users worldwide, including customers at mid-market enterprises and Fortune 500 companies, such as Otis Elevator, Hitachi, and Disney. Smart Inventory Planning & Optimization gives demand planners the tools to handle sales seasonality, promotions, new and aging products, multi-dimensional hierarchies, and intermittently demanded service parts and capital goods items. It also provides inventory managers with accurate estimates of the optimal inventory and safety stock required to meet future orders and achieve desired service levels. Smart Software is headquartered in Belmont, Massachusetts, and can be found online at www.smartcorp.com.

     


    For more information, please contact Smart Software, Inc., Four Hill Road, Belmont, MA 02478.
    Phone: 1-800-SMART-99 (800-762-7899); FAX: 1-617-489-2748; E-mail: info@smartcorp.com

     

     

    Smart Software to Present at Community Summit North America

    Smart Software’s Channel Sales Director and Enterprise Solution Engineer, to present three sessions at this year’s Community Summit event in Orlando, FL.  

    Belmont, MA, – Smart Software, Inc., provider of industry-leading demand forecasting, planning, and inventory optimization solutions, today announced that its Channel Sales Director, Pete Reynolds, and its Enterprise Solution Engineer Erik Subatis, have been selected to present three sessions at the Dynamics Community Summit NA. They will explain how to plan using Collaborative forecasting, how to Maximize Service Levels, and how to Forecast Accurately during the three sessions.

    Smart Software will also be exhibiting at the conference showcasing Smart Inventory Planning & Optimization and bi-directional integrations to Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, and Microsoft Dynamics AX.

    Smart Software Presentations at Community Summit North America 2022

    • Maximize Service Levels and Minimize Inventory Costs
      • Session Date: 10/12/2022   2:00 PM -2:45 PM
      • Room Number: Tampa 2 – Convention Center, Level 2
    • Predict and Plan the Sales Cycle Using Collaborative Forecasting
      •  Session Date: 10/13/2022   9:00 AM -9:45 AM
      • Room Number: Sarasota 1 – Convention Center, Level 2
    • 5 Demand Planning Tips for Calculating Forecast Uncertainty
      • Session Date: 10/13/2022   10:00 AM -11:00 AM
      • Room Number: Osceola B – Convention Center, Level 2

     

    Community Summit North America is the largest independent gathering of the Microsoft business applications ecosystem of users, partners, and ISVs on the planet. Come by booth #1122 to learn about probabilistic forecasting and optimization methods that can make a big difference to your bottom line. Whether you are a seasoned Microsoft user looking for new ways to optimize your supply chain or are new to Dynamics Applications and want to understand how a planning platform can help drive revenue increases and inventory reductions, please stop by.

     

    About Smart Software, Inc.

    Founded in 1981, Smart Software, Inc. is a leader in providing businesses with enterprise-wide demand forecasting, planning, and inventory optimization solutions.  Smart Software’s demand forecasting and inventory optimization solutions have helped thousands of users worldwide, including customers at mid-market enterprises and Fortune 500 companies, such as Otis Elevator, Hitachi, and Disney. Smart Inventory Planning & Optimization gives demand planners the tools to handle sales seasonality, promotions, new and aging products, multi-dimensional hierarchies, and intermittently demanded service parts and capital goods items.  It also provides inventory managers with accurate estimates of the optimal inventory and safety stock required to meet future orders and achieve desired service levels.  Smart Software is headquartered in Belmont, Massachusetts, and can be found on the World Wide Web at www.smartcorp.com.

    Community Summit 2021 Smart Software Inventory planning


    For more information, please contact Smart Software, Inc., Four Hill Road, Belmont, MA 02478.
    Phone: 1-800-SMART-99 (800-762-7899); FAX: 1-617-489-2748; E-mail: info@smartcorp.com

     

     

    Smart Software to lead a webinar as part of the WERC Solutions Partner Program

    Belmont, MA, – Smart Software, Inc., provider of industry-leading demand forecasting, planning, and inventory optimization solutions, today announced that Greg Hartunian, President and CEO at Smart Software, will lead a 30-minute webinar as part of the WERC Solutions Partner Program 

    The presentation will focus on how a leading Electric Utility implemented Smart Inventory Planning and Optimization (Smart IP&O) as part of the company’s strategic supply chain optimization (SCO) initiative. Smart IP&O was implemented in just 90 days, enabling the utility to optimize its reorder points and order quantities for over 250,000 spare parts. During the first phase of the implementation, the platform helped the electric utility reduce inventory by $9,000,000 while maintaining service levels.

    Finally, the webinar will conclude by showing Smart IP&O in a Live Demo.

     

    Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC)

    WERC is a professional organization focused on logistics management and its role in the supply chain. Since being founded in 1977, WERC has maintained a strategic vision to continuously offer resources that help distribution practitioners and suppliers stay on top in our dynamic, variable field. In an increasingly complex world, distribution logistics professionals make sense of things so that people get their products and services, companies deliver on their commitments, economies grow, and communities thrive.

    WERC powers distribution logistics professionals to do their jobs, excel in their careers and make a difference in the world. WERC helps its members and companies succeed by creating unparalleled learning experiences, offering quality networking opportunities, and accessing research-driven industry information.

     

    About Smart Software, Inc.
    Founded in 1981, Smart Software, Inc. is a leader in providing businesses with enterprise-wide demand forecasting, planning and inventory optimization solutions.  Smart Software’s demand forecasting and inventory optimization solutions have helped thousands of users worldwide, including customers at mid-market enterprises and Fortune 500 companies, such as Otis Elevator, Mitsubishi, Siemens, Disney, FedEx, MARS, and The Home Depot.  Smart Inventory Planning & Optimization gives demand planners the tools to handle sales seasonality, promotions, new and aging products, multi-dimensional hierarchies, and intermittently demanded service parts and capital goods items.  It also provides inventory managers with accurate estimates of the optimal inventory and safety stock required to meet future orders and achieve desired service levels.  Smart Software is headquartered in Belmont,

     


    For more information, please contact Smart Software, Inc., Four Hill Road, Belmont, MA 02478.
    Phone: 1-800-SMART-99 (800-762-7899); FAX: 1-617-489-2748; E-mail: info@smartcorp.com