Here at Profit Point, we typically put in a fair amount of effort up front to scope out a project together with our client. This typically helps us and our client to set appropriate expectations and develop mutually agreeable deliverables. These are key to project success. But another key element to project success is getting good quality data that will allow our clients to make cost effective decisions from the analysis work we are doing or the software tool we are implementing.
Decision support models are notoriously data hogs. Whether we are working on a strategic supply chain network design analysis project or implementing a production scheduling tool or some optimization model, they all need lots and lots of data.
The first thing we do (which is usually part of our scoping effort) is identify each of the data types that will be required and what will be the source of this data. To do this we start with what decisions are trying to be made and what data is required to make them successfully. From there we identify if the data currently exists in some electronic form (such as an MRP system) or whether it will have to be collected and entered into some system (say a spreadsheet or database program) and then figure out how the data will get into the tool we are developing.
Second, we try to get sample data from each data source as early as possible. This allows us to see if the assumptions that were made as part of the scoping effort were valid. There is nothing like getting your hands on some real data to see if what you and your team were assuming is really true! Often there are some discoveries and revelations that are made by looking at real data that require design decisions to be made to be able to meet the project deliverables.
Third, to help with data validation we find it extremely helpful to be able to visualize the data in an appropriate way. This could take the form of graphs, maps, Gantt charts, etc. depending on the type of data and model we are working on. On a recent scheduling project, we had the schedulers review cycle times in a spreadsheet but it wasn’t until they saw the data in Gantt chart form that they noticed problems with the data that needed correcting.
Identifying data sources, getting data as early as possible and presenting the data in a visualized form are absolutely required to make a project successful. Omitting any of these steps will at least add to the project cost and / or duration or possibly doom the project to failure.
Profit Point is helping several large chemical manufacturers upgrade their many Aspen SCM scheduling models with a goal to achieving long term support-ability in the new Aspen architecture of ver 8.5. An Aspen SCM (MIMI) Upgrade is no small undertaking, but we have been helping people manage, support, and enhance their scheduling models for over 20 years.
I have seen many Mimi scheduling models over the last 20 years, in many different businesses, and it is still amazing to me how well these scheduling models work. Their superior applicability is primarily due to creativeness of the their original modelers and their efforts to incorporate all the important aspects of the plants which they schedule, and most that I have seen have remained relevant and useful all these years. Their longevity is due is no small part to the flexibility of the scheduling environment which is Aspen SCM (AKA Mimi). This allows for many minor changes to the tool as equipment characteristics change or are upgraded, or as the business needs change, or indeed as the scheduler changes. This new version retains that flexibility which has made Aspen SCM scheduling models still relevant today.
In previous version changes, Aspen SCM has always been backward compatible; meaning that with nominal effort a newer Aspen SCM version would open an older version’s scheduling model. This was true up to ver 8.x released earlier this year. With this version, the older scheduling models, especially those that were developed in house, will not be able to function properly without a more substantial effort. Version 8.x brings a new XML based architecture and with it a new look and feel, more compatible with today’s applications. In addition, it has some useful new features that can make scheduling easier. Link here https://www.aspentech.com/products/aspen-plant-scheduler/ Aspen SCM remains, in my opinion, the best tool for the job of scheduling plants of all types and sizes. This new version is no break from that long history of being the best, indeed it has just been made even better.
With plants around the world, our customers trust Profit Point to upgrade their effective scheduling models to the latest version of Aspen SCM (Mimi) so they can enjoy many more years of effective scheduling at their plants.
We love doing this work. Call us if you are facing the same upgrade challenge, we may be able to help get you going.
September 4th, 2013 4:39 pm Category: Scheduling, by: Richard Guy
Can Pulling the Plug on a Legacy Application Be Pouring Money down the Drain?
It’s expensive to develop new business solutions. If an existing application continues to accommodate your business requirements, and the complete software application platform (licensing, service, and support model) presents a continued value proposition, then why change? What language the code is written in or how old the software package is matters less than whether you can sustain it, support it and maintain it.
For an example: Why is AspenTech’s supply chain management solution, Aspen SCM™, more commonly known as MIMI™, still used in production planning and scheduling at companies around the world? In this era of high tech rapid application development, you would think an interactive modeling interface that started its beginnings more than 25 years ago would die peacefully. But in this case, it’s not dead, it is still flourishing.
Since Profit Point supports a variety of MIMI™ users in the chemical, biotech, tire, and petrochemical industries we recognize its history of value, and it’s potential to change with the changing business climate. MIMI has allowed companies to take control of their production scheduling problems, and help them maximize throughput while optimizing resource investment.
Profit Point has evaluated and supported various supply-chain management solutions, and we continue to provide support for older MIMI versions used for production planning and scheduling. It’s the built in scheduling and task sequencing capabilities, and MIMI’s user-friendly interface and the ease which it can be configured to address a company’s specific business process requirements that makes it the ideal legacy supply-chain management solution. Furthermore, leveraging MIMI’s scheduling models to integrate with ERP systems, such as SAP, Oracle or others, streamlines the scheduling process with minimal human interaction. Even after 20 plus years of use, MIMI’s flexibility, configurability, ability to integrate with other databases and custom applications, allows it to survive. Add in MIMI’s ability to model a company’s business processes at a fraction of the cost to implement a new system, and you have a survivor. Aspen SCM™ or MIMI™ (Which by the way, stands for Manager for Interactive Modeling Interfaces) continues to outlast other scheduling tools
In our opinion, legacy systems can continue to provide exceptional value if nurtured with the right service and support resources. Pulling the plug on some legacy applications can be pouring money down the drain. These are resources that can be used in other areas.