Lessons From Superstorm Sandy

The Smart Forecaster

Pursuing best practices in demand planning,

forecasting and inventory optimization

The destructive impact of Hurricane Sandy has been both staggering and instructive. Our thoughts and best wishes for rapid recovery go out to all who have suffered personal or economic loss or damage. Now, in Sandy’s aftermath, we find ourselves thinking about accelerating recovery and planning for the next unforeseen event.

Our work with clients in the heavily hit mass transit sector presented a sobering view of damaged infrastructure, heavy equipment, and losses of essential inventory. Those most affected have seen a crush of work as inventory managers take stock of what they have, what they need and procure a mountain of replacement parts and products. This uniquely massive replenishment cycle presents all sorts of opportunities and considerations. For those who are still in this phase, and to help our collective preparation for the Next Big Event, here are a few thoughts:

Opportunity to immediately “right size” inventory

You may be in a position to receive a large, one-time infusion of funding for replacement inventory. It could be insurance money, federal relief or rainy day funds from your own treasury. Use the funding to establish the best possible inventory mix. Do not order to previously established Min/Max levels. Doing so may simply repeat excesses and shortfalls of the past.

A major event like Sandy presents a rare opportunity to transform your inventory. Start with an accurate demand forecast over the replenishment period, and generate safety stocks and reorder points that would address your critical needs. This can be accomplished in a matter of hours or days. Ordinarily, implementing optimal inventory levels may occur over several years, as excess inventory is gradually depleted. Now, however, you have a one-time opportunity to jump to the right answer. This shift can substantially reduce replenishment spending, freeing hundreds of thousands of dollars for other, more critical recovery uses.

Prioritize classes to be replenished

Be clear on what you need for crucial operations, and prioritize your replenishment. Which parts have long lead-times, and which are readily available? Obviously short lead-time items can be acquired in stages—getting just enough now, making funds available for the longer lead-time items.

Determine how much is “just enough”

This is where an accurate demand forecast, safety stocks and reorder point calculations come into play. Consider the service level you require—the likelihood that products will be on the shelves when you need them—which is really your tolerance for risk. Do this for each item, or class of items. This will tell you how much safety stock, in addition to your expected lead time forecast, you should have on hand. Iterating on service level-driven requirements will enable you to maximize the value of the replenishment budget at hand.

Statistical forecasting for intermittent demand vs. ‘rule of thumb’ methods

Now is the time to shift from ‘the way we’ve done it’ to the most accurate demand forecasting and inventory optimization process available to you. Greater forecast accuracy requires less safety stock—again, making inventory dollars available for other users. The greatest single category for improvement is intermittent demand. Most organizations do not apply solid statistical methods to this, instead resorting to the “heavy hammer rule”—have lots on hand because no one knows. Here is an area where SmartForecasts is especially adept, with a patented solution for forecasting intermittent demand. The resulting safety stock recommendations hit the service level goal nearly 100% of the time. Getting this right will save lots of spending now, and help minimize the potential for excess, obsolete inventory in the future.

Nelson Hartunian, PhD, co-founded Smart Software, formerly served as President, and currently oversees it as Chairman of the Board. He has, at various times, headed software development, sales and customer service.

Leave a Comment

Related Posts

Prepare your spare parts planning for unexpected shocks

Prepare your spare parts planning for unexpected shocks

In today’s unpredictable business climate, we do have to worry about supply chain disruptions, long lead times, rising interest rates, and volatile demand. With all these challenges, it’s never been more vital for organizations to accurately forecast parts usage, stocking levels, and to optimize replenishment policies such as reorder points, safety stocks, and order quantities. In this blog, we’ll explore how companies can leverage innovative solutions like inventory optimization and parts forecasting software that utilize machine learning algorithms, probabilistic forecasting, and analytics to stay ahead of the curve and protect their supply chains from unexpected shocks.

Electric Utilities’ Problems with Spare Parts

Electric Utilities’ Problems with Spare Parts

Every organization that runs equipment needs spare parts. All of them must cope with issues that are generic no matter what their business. Some of the problems, however, are industry specific. This post discusses one universal problem that manifested in a nuclear plant and one that is especially acute for any electric utility.

How to Forecast Spare Parts with Low Usage

How to Forecast Spare Parts with Low Usage

What do you do when you are forecasting an intermittently demanded item, such as a spare part, with an average demand of less than one unit per month? Most of the time, the demand is zero, but the part is significant in a business sense; it can’t be ignored and must be forecasted to be sure you have adequate stock.

Recent Posts

  • professional technician engineer planning spare parts in industrial manufacturing factory,Prepare your spare parts planning for unexpected shocks
    In today's unpredictable business climate, we do have to worry about supply chain disruptions, long lead times, rising interest rates, and volatile demand. With all these challenges, it's never been more vital for organizations to accurately forecast parts usage, stocking levels, and to optimize replenishment policies such as reorder points, safety stocks, and order quantities. In this blog, we'll explore how companies can leverage innovative solutions like inventory optimization and parts forecasting software that utilize machine learning algorithms, probabilistic forecasting, and analytics to stay ahead of the curve and protect their supply chains from unexpected shocks. […]
  • Uncover data facts and improve inventory performanceUncover data facts and improve inventory performance
    The best inventory planning processes rely on statistical analysis to uncover relevant facts about the data. When you have the facts and add your business knowledge, you can make more informed stocking decisions that will generate significant returns. You'll also set proper expectations with internal and external stakeholders, ensuring there are fewer unwelcome surprises. […]
  • Electricity problems. Repairman is working indoors with Software for spare partsElectric Utilities’ Problems with Spare Parts
    Every organization that runs equipment needs spare parts. All of them must cope with issues that are generic no matter what their business. Some of the problems, however, are industry specific. This post discusses one universal problem that manifested in a nuclear plant and one that is especially acute for any electric utility. […]
  • Correlation vs Causation Relevant to your demand planning businessCorrelation vs Causation: Is This Relevant to Your Job?
    Outside of work, you may have heard the famous dictum “Correlation is not causation.” It may sound like a piece of theoretical fluff that, though involved in a recent Noble Prize in economics, isn’t relevant to your work as a demand planner. Is so, you may be only partially correct. […]
  • Downtown Miami skyline panorama and with software guided lights on at duskSmart Software Customer, Arizona Public Service to Present at USMA 2023
    Smart Software CEO and APS Inventory & Logistics Manager to present USMA 2023 Session on APS supply chain transformation project and the role of inventory optimization technology in their new process. […]

    Inventory Optimization for Manufacturers, Distributors, and MRO

    • professional technician engineer planning spare parts in industrial manufacturing factory,Prepare your spare parts planning for unexpected shocks
      In today's unpredictable business climate, we do have to worry about supply chain disruptions, long lead times, rising interest rates, and volatile demand. With all these challenges, it's never been more vital for organizations to accurately forecast parts usage, stocking levels, and to optimize replenishment policies such as reorder points, safety stocks, and order quantities. In this blog, we'll explore how companies can leverage innovative solutions like inventory optimization and parts forecasting software that utilize machine learning algorithms, probabilistic forecasting, and analytics to stay ahead of the curve and protect their supply chains from unexpected shocks. […]
    • Electricity problems. Repairman is working indoors with Software for spare partsElectric Utilities’ Problems with Spare Parts
      Every organization that runs equipment needs spare parts. All of them must cope with issues that are generic no matter what their business. Some of the problems, however, are industry specific. This post discusses one universal problem that manifested in a nuclear plant and one that is especially acute for any electric utility. […]
    • Worker maintenance industrial machine robotic Forecasting Spare PartsHow to Forecast Spare Parts with Low Usage
      What do you do when you are forecasting an intermittently demanded item, such as a spare part, with an average demand of less than one unit per month? Most of the time, the demand is zero, but the part is significant in a business sense; it can’t be ignored and must be forecasted to be sure you have adequate stock. […]
    • Spare Parts, Replacement Parts, Rotables, and Aftermarket PartsSpare Parts, Replacement Parts, Rotables, and Aftermarket Parts
      Those new to the parts planning game are often confused by the many variations in the names of parts. This blog points out distinctions that do or do not have operational significance for someone managing a fleet of spare parts and how those differences impact inventory planning. […]