Sep 22, 2023

Adapting Quickly to Disrupted Operations with APS Software


Dr. Ashok Erramilli, CEO of Optessa Inc, will share how systems can adapt quickly to provide real-time decision support, predictive analytics, and prescriptive recommendations to help manufacturers respond faster to disruptions.

Event Summary

Question: What is production scheduling software? Give us a high-level overview of what it is and how it works.

Answer: Production scheduling software, and I'm now going to use the more general advanced planning and scheduling software helps manufacturers decide what to make, where to make it, and when to make it.

Question: How customizable is this advanced planning and scheduling software?

Answer: The real challenge that is not is to do whatever customizing is necessary, but not having to invent completely new solutions every place you go.

Question: Can share some examples with some clients of how you've seen, this software transform their manufacturing business? What are some of those benefits that are allowed?

Answer: If you can have a system that generates plans and schedules while eliminating or minimizing any broken rules and constraints, you automatically have a very low-cost solution and that will save you huge amounts of money.

Question: What are some other examples that you see APS software supporting when it comes to enabling business strategy, in addition to the technical side of things?

Answer: Making the most of the available capacity you have, and giving you the flexibility to react to orders as they come along, and by making your operations more efficient, you can significantly reduce the time to delivery.

Full Transcript

Damon Pistulka  00:04

All right, everyone, it is Friday. And you know what time that means. I'm going I'm getting all out of order here today. And that means it's time for the Manufacturing eCommerce Success show. I'm one of your co-hosts, Damon Pustaka. We got Nicole Donnelly right over there. We got Curt Anderson down over there. And today, we're going to be talking with Ashok from Optessa about adapting quickly to disruptive operations, and he is going to drop some golden nuggets. Today, give it to you Curt Anderson, take it away.

Curt Anderson  00:38

Damon. Hey, dude, I moved. I'm like, I'm down here. I'm usually up here, but I'm here today. So I feel it's a little different

Damon Pistulka  00:45

placement for him. Yeah, so yeah.

Curt Anderson  00:47

Hey, Nicole, how are you up there? I'm doing good. How are you doing? I'm doing good guys.

Nicole Donnelly  00:52

Ready? Bunch a little bit of a break. I

Curt Anderson  00:54

know you're old enough to know who Brady Bunch was. But I like it on here. How's the call? You're doing okay up there. You're

Nicole Donnelly  01:00

doing okay up here? Yeah. Okay. All right. Man, am

Curt Anderson  01:03

I'm thrilled man am I excited Damon? I couldn't even sleep a wink. I don't guys notice anyone do my hair today. I'm like so excited. We have Dr. Ashok Erramilli  CEO of Optessa about this handsome devil here. We've got this guy in the crowd. We're eight. Where's he? Here? He is John Marino Who is that guy? Thanks for making this. Alright, so let's dive in. So Damon. I don't know if we've done this once or twice. Right? I don't know if we've ever had a guest where you and I are the smartest guys in the room. I don't right. So today's not one of them. I know. I just want to give you a little background on Dr. Ashok. Okay. Are you guys, Nicole? Are you sitting down for this? Are you ready?

Nicole Donnelly  01:44

I'm bracing myself.

Curt Anderson  01:46

Now Dr. Ashok please correct me on anything I have. Okay. All right. Here we go. All right. One bachelor's degree in physics. Dr. Ashok do I have that correct? Okay. That is a second bachelor's degree in electrical electrical communication. So I Alright, so two bachelor's degrees, then that wasn't enough. So then he gets a master's degree at this. I don't know if you guys have ever heard of this couch is a really tiny. It's called yell yell. Oh, then Damon. Oh, and Dan Biggers here today. And then he gets a PhD at Yale University. So Damon, remember when I applied for my PhD and I? I didn't make it I you know, showcase. I've misspelled PhD and they wouldn't let me in. So, Dr. Ashok, thank you for joining us today. How are you? Welcome to the program.

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  02:35

Thank you so much. Good. Happy to be here.

Curt Anderson  02:39

While we are thrilled, I have a couple of things. Alright. So now it gets juicy. Here. I'm going to continue and Nicole, I know you have a ton of questions. But I just so I got I've got to just lay the groundwork of this, of who's in the room here today. So then he goes off. He's a visiting professor at the at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. So that was enough. So then he goes, he moves next door to the Royal Institute of Technology of Melbourne, Australia, because that was right near Stockholm becomes the CEO of Optessa. So Damon once again, we were just not the smartest guys in the room today. Dr. Ashok my first question for you today. Is this? What does it feel like? Always be the smartest guy in the room?

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  03:21

Well, I wouldn't say that. And my kids will tell me and my wife will tell me I'm not even the smartest person in the family.

Curt Anderson  03:29

Well, hey, we have at least we have that in common. So alright, let's dive in. Nicole, I know you have a whole list of questions here. Let's kick things off for Dr. Ashok.

Nicole Donnelly  03:39

Yes. Oh, my goodness, welcome. So much. Thanks for coming. Dr. Ashok so excited about this conversation. So we are talking today about APS advanced planning and scheduling software, and ACS and its role as an enabler of business strategy for manufacturers such a great, important topic right now. So let's talk a little bit about can you tell us a little bit about what is production scheduling software, for our listeners that you just give us a high level overview of what it is and how it works?

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  04:10

Sure. So production scheduling software, and I'm now going to use the more general advanced planning and scheduling software helps manufacturers decide what to make, where to make and when to make. You know, so you can think from the viewpoint of a large manufacturer, hopefully, they have a huge backlog of orders, and they have all these shiny leaving factories and facilities globally. And they need to figure out, you know, how am I going to execute? How am I going to deliver on these orders? And it is not an easy question by any means, because, you know, a manufacturer there to deal with lots of questions. So there's, for example, a lot of challenges, like supply chains, right? And we've all heard about supply chain pain as it's called supply chains are long, convoluted, and increasingly kind of volatile, demand, always volatile, right? Who can look into the future. And then on top of that, you have to deal with their own political plan, labor capacities and issues. So all of this points, the fact that making stuff, he has a highly constrained business, right? So they have to deal with these constraints. And if you think about the math and science are constraints is optimization. And so what we do, or what is that when you put we put in a lot of these, the latest and greatest optimization methods to optimally deal with these constraints. Now, another aspect of scheduling is that it is what's called computationally intractable. I mean, it's, that's what they say, is NP hard problems. So as K size of the problem increases, it becomes increasingly impossible to calculate times. So increasingly, there are a lot of AI and machine learning. And these kinds of techniques also brought into the mix. So APS uses, you know, the latest and greatest in optimization, AI and machine learning to solve this very complex problem. So manufacturers.

Nicole Donnelly  06:20

Oh, I love it. I love what you said there about APS helps manufacturers know what to make, where to make it and when to make it. Right. Correct. That was such a great simple way of explaining just a PSR you're absolutely right about there's just so many constraints, and it's such an eye Namic situation, right? Supply chain shifting all the time. And so to be able to have something a software that can really help manage and handle the dynamic, you know, nature environment of making something, you know, as simple as my cup mazing, all of the things that go into that,

Damon Pistulka  07:00

and actually goes up, the complexity goes up so much, because if you're making the same end product on five different factories around the world, and your supply chain is global, and you know, one critical thing and it hoses you I mean, it just like, Okay, you have these three, this supplier is got something I had a fire or whatever. Now, how does that ripple effect through all the different factories and where do they have inventory and moving that all around? Like? Yeah, like you guys are trying to calculate is is incredibly difficult. Yes.

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  07:31

When you think about manufacturing, right, I mean, it is a very underappreciated vehicle, or something as complex as a car or an iPhone can be made for the price it is.

Curt Anderson  07:43

Yeah. Well, I had I, I had a tour, I have to chime in Nicole. I had a tour yesterday of the kazoo factory, the original Yazoo factory, and Dr. shook this is a very complicated process, I was actually helping to manufacture these. And so we might dig into that later, Nicole. But anyway, let's, um, Nicole, keep going on the questions. I know, we're going to do a hard stop at the top of the hour, I'm going to pull up we've got a bunch of hellos coming at you hook. A lot of friends from around the world are saying hi, that, well, I'm going to pull up some friends. But go ahead. Let's dig into our next question here.

Nicole Donnelly  08:15

Yeah, I mean, I think we've touched on just the complexity. And I think another really important point is just how customizable this software can be and should be. And so maybe you can talk a little bit about that? Sure. Because obviously, every environment is going to have their own unique constraints, very specific to the operation to the product, etc. So how customizable is this advanced planning and scheduling software? Let's talk there. And then a little bit about how you tailor it specifically to the unique needs of each industry, and tight factoring ops.

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  08:48

I can't wait to turn the question bit on its head. But the one of the challenges of production scheduling software is the devil is in the detail. Unless you get all the details, right, you come up with a worthless schedule that really cannot build. And we'll get into details, then you get into the details of the vertical or the manufacturing technology. And you can really get lost in all the differences in things going on. And so I've been to factories where you have two parallel assembly lines, making the same exact product, but the business rules that govern them are completely different. And that is the nature of the beast. So historically, what's happened is a tendency to customize and over customize. So the idea is that, you know, every plant then felt they had to have their own solution for every technology, every assembly line, and it kept coming up with his very custom solutions which were in their environment, but he couldn't really be taken to a different environment. So the challenge really is to come up with a handle purpose system that can handle all the differences out of the box. Otherwise, we would have a business, right? If we had to go around customizing everything everywhere, we you know, we'd be very limited. So that, you know, that is the great challenge in designing great APS software is that out of the box, you should be able to support the extreme range of functionality that you might see, like what an automaker cares about maybe nothing like what a semiconductor manufacturer came so, or what food and beverage or aerospace and idea is, actually, so our perspective is there's a code science or planning and scheduling, that applies universally. And so we try to solve the problems at that core abstract level. And then we are able to apply to solve the full range of problems handle any detail that's relevant. So that the flip side of it, which is that there has been a tendency to over customize, and we want to get to a point where cards off the shelf, we will be able to deliver solutions without too much customized. Now, there's always some customization involves, like integrating with, you know, the other factory systems. So that is inevitable, because every factory may have a different set of IT infrastructure. And the other point also is that you may have you know, of course, if some business processes are different, so you need to be able to configure workflows and so on around tours. Yeah, but but that's the real challenge that is not is to do whatever customizing is necessary, but not having to invent completely new solutions every place you go.

Nicole Donnelly  11:46

Yeah, I love that. I love what you said about it being a general purpose system that can handle things out of the box, I think, isn't that like the dream for any type of software solution? Like how can we limit the amount of customization that needs it's expensive, it's prone to having issues if it breaks, right? If some part of it breaks, and it's going to break down?

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  12:06

And upgrading and maintaining and upgrading? Yeah, 100 different things is a bit expensive.

Damon Pistulka  12:13

And if you're out of the box solution to has the variability that covers, you know, 95 98% of the use cases, it's so much better, because like you said, you go through an upgrade, okay, you're just the variables are just updating in the in the new software, that's all you got to do. But when you put those custom pieces on something like this, it really, I mean, it just exponentially increases your difficulty in upgrading and your cost to maintain.

Nicole Donnelly  12:42

Yeah, I think you make a good point about the cost to maintain because just think about like the team internally, the IT team that has to maintain it and all of that and the resources that that requires for the manufacturing facility. And you know, the goal, obviously is how can we limit that investment of resources as much as possible. So it's, you know, simplifies the process. So

Curt Anderson  13:04

a real quick again, Nicole, we've got some great comments coming in here. So shook, you're getting all sorts of hellos and warm greetings, great discussion. Good points. Good comments. So guys, keep those comments coming. If you're just joining us, we are here with Dr. Ashok CEO of Optessa, and we're having a great conversation. So keep the comments coming. Let us know where you're coming from. David. We've got folks all over the world here today. So this is the call what's next on our on our schedule of great questions.

Nicole Donnelly  13:31

Well, I think it would be really lovely to hear from you as Chuck, like what are some of the key benefits of advanced planning and scheduling software that you're seeing, like maybe you can share some examples with some clients of how you've seen this, this software literally transform, you know, their manufacturing business? What are some of those benefits that are allowed?

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  13:51

So one thing I should say is that the rich dates this is one area where ROI is very quick. If you think in terms of planning and scheduling, having to adhere to all these constraints as business rules are talked about, effectively, anytime you have a plan or schedule that breaks one of those rules or constraints, it adds to the cost. And if you can have a system that generates plans and schedules, while eliminating or maybe minimizing any broken rules and constraints, you automatically have a very low cost solution. And that will save you huge amounts of money. And in the general categories that you know people want our customers tell us in terms of where they get benefits, for example is Article filament. So you can increase the percentage of orders that are fulfilled on time, but any delayed orders could be lost business, you know, extra explanatory costs and so on. The other point is lean operation If you want to get the most out of your existing infrastructure, existing capacity, and by, for instance, be very efficient, both in terms of manpower or inventories, you got to save a lot of money. These days, a big concern is supply supply chain instability, ready coping with all the volatility, volatility in supply chains and API software, can you help me do that? And I can get into a little more detail how it does that, then we can, of course, I mentioned about optimization will help you maximize the usage of your plant capacity. So if you think of these are billion dollar plants, right, and if you can improve capacity utilization by 1%, we're talking 10s of billions of dollars. So that's another thing, then I would say, you also give manufacturers a lot of flexibility by giving them the ability to react very quickly to changing demands. And what does that work. And last but not least, historically, this has been a kind of very manual way of generating plans, schedules, PPG, spreadsheets, and so on, it takes forever. Whereas with modern API systems, you know, you can generate this in minutes. So that it saves a huge amount of time, and also allow you to react quickly to changing market conditions. So all of these add to literally millions of dollars of savings. And conservative estimate, what our auto plant customers say is that the mid to large auto plant can save anywhere from four to $5 million a year, using software like ours. And that is a conservative estimate, I believe. Yeah.

Curt Anderson  16:44

Yeah. I'm sure GM I'm sorry, what? What was that number? I didn't hear you.

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  16:51

per plant foot 5 million

Curt Anderson  16:54

$5 million per year. The Call if you don't want to chime in with a quick question, if you don't mind here, so shocked. Remember, I'm not the smartest guy in the room. So I might just not this might not be the smartest question. If I'm Should I not be using like Excel or spreadsheet? Is that what you're trying to say? I'm just teasing. I'm just kidding. I

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  17:17

don't care about $5 million per year. Sure. But yeah, yeah.

Curt Anderson  17:22

Who needs that 5 million? Yeah. Because I want to I want, you know, Excel is on the cheap, right? I can get cheap, I don't need that fiber.

Damon Pistulka  17:34

Well, the thing is, is that's five fiber $5 million in profit, right? Because your costs are covered, your costs are covered at that point, this is just running things better. Because as as you say, if you have a little tick, like an automotive plant that stops your line for 10 minutes, right? And that happens a few times a year, that's a big deal. If goodness forbid that there is something that you know, you don't have motors or something to do that. And when you look at these facilities, now, they are literally built so that they all the different kinds, because each model is going to have a different motor and some configuration. If it's not there in that line that have to wait for it. It's not like it just oh, well, you know, because it's moving. And the savings are incredible, just per second, they can say right, have slowed.

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  18:29

And, and the thing is, yeah, and the neat thing is, is the savings cardboard, not by investing in new plants and new facilities are buying a lot of thing, it just software, just organize your operations better. And it is. So those who say, sorry, call, you're saying,

Nicole Donnelly  18:46

Oh, I was just saying and we're just talking about Damon's examples. Just one constraint, right? That's just one constraint. And so the beauty of this is that you can take so many constraints that you have in your facility, and be able to optimize, there's for you to be able to do that manually, is incredibly time consuming and the amount of error that can happen. But that you have a software that can take just just a huge number of those constraints talking about the complexity, of course, the larger your ability that just multiplies in terms of how much optimization and how much money you're going to save time factoring.

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  19:22

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And one thing I wanted to say is that so these are tactical benefits, right? I mean, makes your paint shop run better, for example. But what is and I think people generally get it, that that's working smarter and being better in your operations to receive your money. What is perhaps not so appreciated, is the fact of the strategic benefits that production planning and scheduling software can bring you and those benefits. I can get to that yet but that is also a significant benefit. It's you

Damon Pistulka  20:00

because if you strategically can figure out a way to deliver your product as complex as an automotive in something where listen, if we have, we have a capacity for X amount of customers custom autumn cars out of this facility every month, you could fill those up or somebody could literally order one week and get delivery in two weeks or a week or 10 days. The faster you do it, the more you're going to drive, brand loyalty and everything else. It's a strategic decision, because those tools allow you to do those things that no one else can.

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  20:30

Correct. Exactly. Yeah. And increasingly, what I think, hopefully, it's coming clear to me is great as the systems are in terms of helping with the day to day operations, the excellent vehicles for business transformation.

Nicole Donnelly  20:51

Let's talk more about that. What specifically would you say Ashok? You know, Damon made a really great point about just from a branding perspective, being able to deliver on time or even early consistently helps from a strategic perspective. What are some other examples that you see APS software supporting when it comes to enabling business strategy, in addition to the technical side of things,

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  21:14

right. So suppose you have an overall business objective, to reduce your time to delivery from the time you get an order to the time you execute on it, and I think you already touched upon it. This is that by by making the most of the available capacity you have, and giving you the flexibility to react to orders as they come along. And by making your operations more efficient, you can significantly reduce the time to delivery. So that's one strategic kind of that we see. Other examples, I think I saw one of the comments talked about supply chain issues, and on stabilizing supply chains, right? So the change is inevitable. That's what happens, right? I mean, things go things happen, stuff happens. And how do you deal with it. So one of the meetings that every time something changes, you have to replan reschedule, but what you don't want to do is come up with a completely new plan or new schedule. When if you do that, you cause havoc append on the supply chain. It's called this bullwhip effect. So what we can do is try to handle the whatever event that caused this change, but try to stay as close as possible to the existing plan or schedule. And what we found is that that stabilizes the supply chain makes your life much easier for your suppliers down the line. And then you get into things like leveling or Heijunka, which is one way of reducing inventories across the entire supply chain. Now, historically, everyone knows the Toyota Production System, then if you tried to make everyday look like every other day, every hour in your manufacturing, like every other hour, every week look like every other week, then you have a very smooth and stable supply chain very even flow parts to the entire supply chain. Now, it's easy to do if you have a small number of parts. But if you have hundreds and hundreds or 1000s of parts, then you need a very sophisticated API system that can do this leveling, or Heijunka across all these features, and the benefits of that are immense. And you will see reduce inventories based food operational supply chain. So that's under strategic benefit, you could probably do this supporting supply chain. The third is increasingly we're getting into digital transformation. I think you folks have heard of industry for all. There's got to be IoT, the ML the blockchain is hyper connectivity, the factory floor, all these things are enabling the next industrial revolution. And so you're getting all this data from the plant, right? What do you do with it, and if your system is ideally positioned to deliver value on that, so just think about it, you have a plan or schedule that you've done a day in advance of production, then you go to your factory, and the factory is trying to build according to that. They get some bad news, the sub parts haven't come in some machine is broken down, or someone has changed their order, God forbid. So they could many things go wrong between the time you make the plan and the time you execute. What do you do at that point, right now execution is left to the factory floor. They have to cope with these disruptions to the best they can. But going forward digital transformation, you can actually close the loop. You can connect a planning system to an execution system. And a system like ours can actually track what's going on on the factory floor and say this is what a plan but this is what I'm seeing as the difference between what I planned and what I'm seeing In, maybe I should replan or reschedule. And I can do it in real time these days. And that's the goal, right? You can close the loop, you can. So on the factory floor, you always have an optimal plan or schedule to execute, you know, you don't have to deal with something and, you know, trying to, in a very suboptimal way, deal with these disruptions. So I think that's another example of enabling business observation enabling industry for objectives. So

Curt Anderson  25:31

great, we got a nice comment here from Louis Good point, time to deliver reduction is key to staying competitive. So I know we're coming into

Damon Pistulka  25:38

town. We're getting close. We're getting close to

Curt Anderson  25:41

time here, guys. So again, we're here with Dr. Ashok, you want to please follow him on LinkedIn. Go to Optessa. They have an amazing amount of information on their website. John McLean was in the crowd here connect with our dear friend John McLean. Oh, the cold Do you have any other questions? Or do I do I have to I have a good question left for Ashok?

Nicole Donnelly  26:03

I think you I think I have lots of questions for Ashok but I think we're gonna have to save it for another day.

Curt Anderson  26:10

I think we're gonna have to have you come back. I do. Have I have one question. We're going to close it out. I have one question for you. I like to laugh. I love asking that in the beginning. But I wanted to save it for the end today. I'm, you're a special guests. We appreciate you more than you can imagine. Before we let you go today i have so if anybody just came in I just Okay. Two bachelor's degrees. A master's degree PhD from Yale, Mr. Smarty Pants. I'm just teasing Dr. Ashok, I'm just teasing. When you were a little guy growing up, okay. You've become just an officer says, you know, you've you really you're changing. You're changing the world, right? You're making a major difference. You're doing some great work. We're familiar with your team. You're doing a great you're you've built an amazing team with John and all sorts of other folks that we've met. When you were a little guy growing up. Who was your hero? Who was your heroes little guy growing up that that just inspired you to do such great work in your life.

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  27:12

Actually, my plan as a kid was very different. I grew up in India, and I grew up idolizing a lot of cricketers, and actually wanted to be a cricketer, but became aparent that has no talent whatsoever. So, the second option was to get into these candidates. That's how I ended up.

Curt Anderson  27:39

Yeah, everybody. Yeah, I was gonna be shortstop for the Yankees team, and I don't know what you're gonna do. Yeah. All right. Tell it limited. Be Oh, who was looking back on your life? Who was a big inspiration to you as a young man, you know, little boy, teenager school age, what kind of led you to pursue this life of academia into entrepreneurship? Who was your hero?

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  28:03

Well, I would have to talk about my dad, who was a PhD in physics nice. And he worked with the at that point, only Nobel Laureate in physics India had. So he was very smart man. He published a great many papers, and he was an inspiration to me with all my brothers as well.

Nicole Donnelly  28:24

Wow. I bet he's just so proud of where you are and what you've been able to how you've been able to have such a wonderful impact. That's wonderful. What a way to carry on his legacy.

Dr. Ashok Erramilli  28:35

Thank you. Yeah.

Curt Anderson  28:36

Appleton thought hey, and Damon. I didn't think you know, a shirt. These guys tease me because I'd like to talk a lot. So somehow we pulled it off. We are at the top of the hour. Guys, how about if you've been sitting? If you've been hanging out with a sort of past 30 minutes? How about a huge round of applause for Dr. Ashok for just doing such great things. Again, please connect with him on LinkedIn, check out up Tessa they are doing just wonderful work in the auto industry, all sorts of different industries, improving efficiency, and so no disrespect for those folks using Excel. You know, Hey, God bless you. You know, get out of the dark side, get out of the dark ages and come on to the good side of thing. So

Nicole Donnelly  29:17

being in a dark room and having the windows open and all the light come in.

Curt Anderson  29:20

That's right. That's right. Just all the light just it's like angels are singing trumpets are playing so Hey, guys, we'll let you run Happy Friday. Go out and just be someone's inspiration just like a hook is here today. Nicole, thank you for leading the charge and even parting words. You want to close us out for the weekend.

Damon Pistulka  29:39

I'll close this out today. Kurt. Thanks so much, Dr. Shep, for being here today and explaining a lot about APS systems and just how the impact they really have on on manufacturers. Thanks so much. Thanks everyone that was was commenting today. The comments are rolling. Thank you for continuing to come back dropping your comments and listening to us every week. We will be back again another week next week excuse me in another week yes that is next week but thanks so much for being here everyone have a great weekend

Curt Anderson  30:10

thank you guys thank you

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