A Day in the Life of a Profit Pointer: Production Schedule Expert, Karen Bird
My day started out ordinary: tea, checking emails, and weekly team meeting. Little did I know that I was in store for some mystery, detours, and redemption. It all started with a few email requests at the beginning of my day.
I checked my emails, and saw two pressing requests addressed to me. One was a problem importing planned orders from SAP into an Aspen SCM production scheduling model for my specialty chemicals customer in Argentina, and a separate request to add weekly gridlines to the planning board for a scheduler of the same manufacturer in Kentucky.
I shot a quick request to the Argentina scheduler and made tea while I waited for his response. Five minutes later, we jumped on a WebEx together. I quickly understood that during the weekly planned order (PLO) import from SAP, one product was not importing. Now, he had to manually add them.
Manual entry was not only time consuming—it is risky. There was a high chance of missing an order or two due to the large amount of data. A missed order becomes a missed shipment, which leads to halting an end customer’s production line.
I let the scheduler know I would get back to him as soon as I have an answer. First I had to run to another meeting.
I sent an Instant Message (IM) to the Kentucky scheduler who logged the other pressing request: “I got your request. I’ll get back to you ASAP.”
He replied: “OK!”
I jumped on my weekly call with Profit Point colleagues that support the same client. We talked about various issues. I also let everyone know that I had some active issues and might reach out for help. Lastly, I asked Deanna Wenstrup to invite some US schedulers to a training class that I will lead for LAR (Latin America Region) schedulers next week.
I hung up the phone, ready to tackle the Argentina PLO import issue. I ran a trace on the planned order import code to see if that would quickly identify the issue.
Then, I searched the code for the product in question looking for unusual behavior. And, finally, I had a clue in the Unit of Measure (UOM) field!
I shot an instant message to my colleague, Mark Rockey, to see if he had seen the UOM, “M”, used for this product. He hadn’t.
I sent some screen shots to the Argentina scheduler for his input on this potential root cause.
While I waited for Argentina, I focused on the Kentucky scheduler’s request. The schedule gridlines were currently set to weekly intervals. However, he required a non-standard gridlines setting.
I found very little in the documentation. I needed a little extra help. Thankfully, Profit Point has MMI Masters (team members who have worked with MMI models for 20+ years). I quickly posted a question to them.
After lunch, I received responses from MMI Masters, John Hughes and Mark Rockey. They gave me two options, which I emailed to the customer: (1) implement available code which will anchor time but not the week day, or (2) Profit Point will provide custom code to anchor both time and week.
The customer quickly responded that he would prefer to wait on the custom code. I added it to his minor enhancement request list.
Then, the Argentina scheduler pinged me on IM, and explained that the unit of measure, “M”, or meters, was in use by other products that successfully imported.
Frustrated with this dead end, I jumped back into the code. After what seemed like hours, I suddenly spotted a field called MRP Type (Materials Requirements Planning). I got a flash of inspiration and adjusted two fields manually to match a product that worked.
BINGO!! The planned orders came in.
I immediately sent a screen shot to the Argentina scheduler to let him know that I finally found the problem. Ten minutes later, I received a response simply stating:
You are a genius.
I received an email from Deanna confirming the attendance of the US schedulers at training next week. Now that I know it will be a mix of US and Latin American schedulers, I set to work on my training presentation.
I began working on a mockup of a Schedule Metrics report requested by the Global Innovation Manager of a customer. I let the customer know if he approves the changes then Jim Piermarini and I can begin SQL development work the following week. (In fact, it was approved two days later!)
I tested AspenTech’s recommended changes for an enhancement question that I had. Their recommendation solved my original question, but I found another issue which I documented and shared.
My day went on until 6 PM. I resolved another urgent issue in California. It’s these long and hectic days, when we resolve difficult and mysterious problems as a team, that makes me grateful to be a Profit Pointer!