Marcel Koks, Infor’s food industry strategy leader, looks at how brewers can optimise their tank scheduling capabilities, underpinning more efficient, timely and profitable operations
An ever-shifting product mix combined with ongoing disruption and fluctuating demand mean that the pressure is on for brewers to optimise operations wherever possible, creating agile, flexible and responsive organisations that can achieve that all-important advantage in a highly competitive marketplace.
Key to this is precise demand and supply planning to realise that crucial balance between supply, production and demand. An increased focus on sustainability in the industry makes planning and scheduling even more complex. Factors such as waste water reduction, the use of high value by-products, using less packaging and switching to recyclable packaging, are just some of the priorities brewers are trying to build into their planning and scheduling too.
A core component of precise demand planning is efficient and effective tank scheduling, taking into account all constraints and parameters to fulfil demand as efficiently as possible, having the right tank capacity available at a granular level, underpinning efficient, timely and profitable operations.
A complex process
As we all know too well, tank scheduling is a time-sensitive process. Add to this the complexity of the various specifications, as well as the often inflexible schedules of customers and suppliers, and it is not hard to see why effective tank scheduling becomes increasingly difficult. There is also the need to plan for the variations in supply, and other considerations, including, mixing, hold time, fill rate, cleaning, etc. Accuracy is key too, taking into account precise flow-in and flow-out speeds, for example, and the need to separate batches for traceability requirements.
Spreadsheets no more
So complex are the variables at play in the brewing industry that successfully managing tank scheduling using spreadsheets and manual methods is no longer enough. Optimising tank scheduling results in an efficient, agile and responsive business that is able to deliver the right products, on time and in the most efficient way possible.
The need to be flexible and forward-thinking is a must, applying tools that enable the constant monitoring, adjustment and visibility into supply, factoring in the demand for each of the different finished products to enable the business to optimise tank scheduling in-line with business needs. At the same time, full visibility into how and when tanks are being utilised is also key, enabling planners to precisely plan and schedule tank utilisation.
Technology is key
The technology is available to do this, replacing error-prone and time-consuming manual processes with systems that are capable of processing the inordinate amounts of data we are all faced with to come up with the optimum approach for tank scheduling.
For example, it is possible to adjust tank schedules and optimise schedules to not only meet customer specifications but to optimise tank capacity for different batch sizes too. Taking into account different recipes, including relevant regulatory standards, is another aspect that can be automatically applied with the right tools in place. Similarly, when transitioning from an organic to a non-organic product run, it is possible to schedule tank utilisation to allow for maximum efficiency in cleaning, ensuring minimal downtime and maximum tank availability.
New visibility into schedules can improve collaboration for changeovers, maintenance and cleaning, and it is possible to better control the flow of different products, scheduling tank operations so new batches can be utilised most effectively. The ability to model different scenarios and automatically create optimum tank schedules makes sure the right tanks are replenished or depleted on time, with accurate forecasting allowing quick adjustments based on supply and customer demand.
With the right tools in place, brewers can make use of data from across the supply chain to optimise tank scheduling. The right tools can create the optimal tank schedule in the most efficient, timely and profitable manner possible, ensuring that tanks are always ready, optimising operations and stealing that all important march on the competition.