A new age of disposition

I have just returned from this year’s BME Sales and Operations Planning Forum, which I had the pleasure of moderating and giving the keynote speech for. Throughout all the presentations, it became clear that the degree of IT support in the preparation and processing of the demand side and the supply side is increasing significantly.

IT in the planning and control of processes is not exactly something groundbreakingly new, and yet a new quality is being added to the process: Processes are becoming increasingly automated. While ERP and other planning systems have long functioned as a database with a user interface, work is now increasingly being done to automate processes and decisions. This is a trend that has intensified massively over the last five years. To put it somewhat pathetically, we are moving into a new age of planning and scheduling that is accompanied by a paradigm shift, comparable to the paradigm shift from the mechanical machine tool to the CNC machine. Just as the task of the machine tool has changed in a very short space of time from executing work to the abstract advance planning of parts processing in CNC programming, planning and scheduling work has also changed. The ERP system is no longer the instrument that first produces a sensible planning result or a suitable order proposal in the hands of the planner or scheduler. Rather, the planning decisions and rules must be thought through and set up in advance in such a way that the “machine” ERP system delivers a suitable planning and scheduling result of its own accord.

This development will require a significant rethink in planning and scheduling; more abstract forward thinking than operational intervention will be necessary, which will also increase the demands on abstract thinking and the theoretical knowledge of users.

This became clear in the presentation by Mr. Ehm from Infineon AG, who impressively demonstrated, among other things, the amount of e-learning and academic qualification Infineon invests in the further training of its employees in supply chain management.

In Sales and Operations Planning in particular, however, it is also clear that people cannot be replaced so quickly. The tasks are merely shifting to areas where today’s planning and scheduling technology will not be able to achieve anything in the foreseeable future.

Picture of Prof. Dr. Andreas Kemmner

Prof. Dr. Andreas Kemmner

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