Subscribe to our blog
Posted 22 February 2023 by
Valérie Vandenbroucke
VP for Axon Technology

We already have an APS, why would we also need a digital supply chain twin? 

They may already be deeply embedded in supply chain management, but most companies fail to get the most out of their advanced planning and scheduling (APS) systems. In this blog post, I’m going to outline some of the shortcomings of APS solutions and how these can be mitigated through the addition of a digital supply chain twin to enhance the overall ROI of your planning technologies. 

The undeniable power of APS 

Having an efficient and well-implemented APS solution has become a true differentiator within supply chain planning over the past decades. Such solutions enable companies with complex and multifaceted supply chains to effectively plan with end-to-end oversight. This allows them to have greater confidence in organizing their manufacturing and distribution channels in an increasingly uncertain world. 

An APS can help supply chain managers improve the accuracy of demand forecasts, production plans and schedules. This minimizes inventory levels and improves on-time delivery rates, while also providing enhanced visibility across all stages of the supply chain. By automating planning and scheduling processes, an APS can also help to streamline supply chain operations and reduce lead times. Ultimately, this facilitates greater agility by allowing managers to quickly respond to unexpected changes in supply and demand. 

Every system has limitations 

The widespread implementation of APS solutions demonstrates that large companies derive great value from such systems, however, they do also have certain limitations: 

  • At their core, the quality of the plans proposed by APS solutions is entirely dependent on the quality of master data (flows, lead times, capacities, etc.). In practice, that master data is often outdated or based on a broad approximation of the real world derived from many flawed assumptions; 
  • The planning data used to inform the APS outputs is generally reviewed and updated with low frequency (at most once per year), meaning that the parameters are far from real time and can diverge significantly from the reality on the ground
  • Output plans can be highly error-prone because input data sources and formats are rarely standardized, leaving them vulnerable to broken links, mismatches and data translation errors that require constant manual adjustment; 
  • As a consequence, plan adherence is often much lower than anticipated, resulting in continuous friction between planning and execution and the need for constant manual intervention and last-minute firefighting. 

Together, we can do better 

A digital supply chain twin can help to plug many of the above gaps that leave APS systems exposed to performance and adherence issues. That makes tools like Axon the perfect complementary technology to further enhance and augment the value of your trusted existing planning solutions. In short, the result is a system that is greater than the sum of its parts. 

A digital supply chain twin bridges physical reality and planning simulations by building up a model based on real transactions and aggregating this to the planning level. By monitoring key supply chain parameters, it can also ensure that master data is in sync with reality, leading to outputs that are accurate and consistent between planning boards. With a digital supply chain twin, planners can conduct exception-based reviews of planning data, further maintaining a feedback loop to update plans with real-world information

Enhance the ROI of your APS 

Your APS system can use the end-to-end, 360-degree data and scenario-based simulations provided by a digital supply chain twin to generate more accurate supply plans and optimize resource allocation. Integrating APS with a digital twin can also empower supply chain managers to make faster and more informed decisions, allowing them to respond more quickly and effectively to unforeseen disruptions and demand changes. Connecting the dots across the supply chain also helps to enhance end-to-end visibility. This, in turn, facilitates collaboration between different internal and external stakeholders and helps to ensure that everyone is working from the same data and insights. 

→ By supplementing your APS with a digital supply chain twin, plan adherence will increase, resulting in a positive effect on inventory levels, costs and service delivery.

Boost your adherence plan by 30% & save millions in inventory cost with Axon.

Request a Demo