Available to Promise systems (ATP) can have a surprisingly large impact on a manufacturer’s ability to maximize sales while delivering good customer service. Without an automated ATP system, constantly risk accepting orders that can’t be delivered or that result in another customer being let down.
However with the right approach to ATP they can give customers instant confirmation or clear alternatives, as well as helping the business make the best use of the inventory and production capacity available at each point in time across your supply network.
ATP – conquering the complexity
In process manufacturing businesses, there is a great deal of complexity in all the different production schedules and with stock constantly moving between locations. This can make it very hard to work out whether a particular product will be available in the quantities that a customer is requesting at a specific point in the future. If a customer is waiting on the phone for a response, the administrative work can be simply too time-consuming.
I-Plan uses an approach which makes ATP far more accurate and reliable, particularly in environments where different sales people are checking and allocating the same stocks: Its ATP system starts by checking against the agreed allocations/sales quotas. If the customer falls outside these allocations I-Plan will alert the sales person and give them options for trading quotas with colleagues.
I-Plan then interrogates inventory, production, logistics and sales systems and calculates what stock is on hand right now, what stock will be required to fulfill confirmed orders and how much stock will be replenished from scheduled production runs. From all of this data it can work out with a high degree of confidence what the product availability will be for the customer’s location at the requested delivery date.
I-Plan includes a sophisticated model of production and logistics, so can seek out options for delivering from any of your warehouses and production facilities, including the possibility of sourcing an order from multiple warehouses/plants. In checking availability, I-Plan works out the time required for transportation by road, rail and/or sea. The cost of each option is compared to find the best overall solution.
Freeing-up extra capacity
I-Plan’s production planning module builds contingency into its schedules, to allow for the variability in demand for different products/grades. When an order is received that would push demand above the original forecast, the ATP system can automatically draw on this extra capacity to accept the order. In these circumstances I-Plan updates its medium-term production schedules automatically, so that any extra orders are already taken into account when it comes to the fine-planning.
Working with your systems
For order inquiries which are received electronically through a website, client portal or EDI connection, I-Plan is easy to integrate, so it can perform all the ATP checks automatically. It can be configured to confirm/decline orders as soon as they are received or to pass the results to the sales team to check and action.
I-Plan has been designed to complement the functionality of ERP systems and its ATP operates entirely in the background. This means that sales staff use just the one ERP system for all the ATP checking and order entry, but with I-Plan providing sophisticated functionality behind the scenes.
Every minute of the day, at process manufacturers around the world, I-Plan is being used for ATP checks that result in more profitably utilized inventories and the most consistent, dependable customer service.