Shipment Scheduling Dilemma
As director of engineering at Ultriva, I constantly see new requests for our Supply Chain Management Software. Clients ask how is the best way to accommodate the business rules for shipments and scheduling. I love getting these requests because we can accommodate the customer without writing custom programs. Let me explain.
Scheduling activities by calendar, while dealing with internal or external commitments, is very important for our manufacturing clients. Typically, the schedule needs to pay attention to Business specific work days, work hours etc. Typical scheduling is in general interval based. Input time is adjusted by interval, and then the outcome is optionally adjusted by Business work days/ work hours. For example, if the lead time is five business days then when a purchase order is released, the delivery date is adjusted to five business days from purchase order creation date.
Some businesses have complex scheduling rules such as if part A is in by Morning 10 AM, then it is fulfilled by Close-of-Business (COB) on same day or else it is fulfilled by COB next day. It is difficult to define such rules simply by interval. Ultriva software solves this problem by supporting a rule based scheduling.
For example, if the buyer releases an order before Monday then the supplier would ship the goods by same week Wednesday. However if the order is released between Tuesday and Wednesday then the supplier ships the goods by Friday.
Ultriva supports these complex conditions by an easy-to-use rule wizard. This extremely user-friendly wizard lets any business users create these complex conditions without writing any additional programs. Actually, when this wizard is engaged behind the scene, it is Ultriva software that generates a business rule condition that get evaluated at run time to arrive at the results (see image below).
One of our customers recently asked me the following question:
We are setting up Milk Runs to various regions in the Midwest and one possibility is a run that picks up at some suppliers every week and includes other suppliers only every other week. The other suppliers are just far enough away that it less impact to hold an extra weeks inventory than make the side trip to pick up parts. Is it possible to create a shipping rule for shipments that will take place every other week?
I answered, of course, yes, Ultriva supports this. With a simple two steps of our built-in wizard, a business user can create a rule that would solve this complex problem (See image below).
In this example, the customer would select the rule template "Ships Every <X> days". Then they would enter "from date" and "every 14 days" and click save. That’s it. No complex custom programming.
In a typical business solution, it takes custom programming to solve these situations and it is time consuming plus it could create additional problems when the customer wants to upgrade their software to next version. Ultriva’s solution is to let the customer address the issue via our software architecture rather than produce custom coding.
This specific example is just one of the many powerful features of Ultriva’s core infrastructure. I hope to write about more of these examples in the future.
Pushparaj Shanmugam, Director of Engineering at Ultriva