The Batch Planning feature of DemandCaster is an option under Planning Templates feature. Batch Planning is a means to bulk order items based on a variety of supply or financial attributes where the goal is to create a batch which falls between the MIN and as close to the MAX (if applicable) criteria as possible.
Here are a few real life scenarios where this feature may be applied:
- Volume such as for a shipping container - uses cubes as the calculation basis. For example, a company order goods from China that requires delivery in container loads
- Volume/unit based on a criteria such as number of units, yards, meters, and other units of measures. For example, an apparel company produces t-shirts and has a minimum buy quantity based on a particular color across all styles and sizes.
- Pricing such a minimum purchase price or pricing discounts based on volume. For example, a supplier has a minimum purchase value that needs to be fulfilled regardless of item mix i.e. purchase a minimum of $1000 worth of product.
- Weight such as a purchase by min or max weight. For example, a company purchases steel and requires a minimum weight to receive a discount.
Prepare Batching Criteria File
At present, the cost, units, and cube values are included in the item.txt and itemlocation.txt upload files. All these values and a few additional criteria may be added in order to aggregate purchasing using a file named containerizationcriteria.txt. Once this file is prepared it must be compressed and uploaded per the instructions found in the article Manually Uploading Data. Of course, if only cost, unit, and cube values are required and the values are included in the upload file, this new file is not needed.
The containerization.txt file format is:
- Column 1: Item Code
- Column 2: Cost
- Column 3: Length
- Column 4: Weight
- Column 5: Cube
- Column 6: Location Code (mandatory for multi-location business nodes).
The cost and cube values override the product/item location cost in the item.txt file. The length & weight are added as new product options but are not visible & editable in any DemandCaster UI. To change these values you will need to re-upload the file so we recommend saving the latest version of the upload file to make it easier to update.
Create New Planning Template
Once the ordering values are established, the next step is to create the purchasing/container criteria.
- Click "Utilities"
- Click "Planning Templates"
- Click "Add New"
Select Batching as the Template Type
There are two planning template options: Batching and Co-Product.
Enter Name and Basis of New Criteria
- Enter "Name" of the planning template.
- If the template will be applied to a sub-set of items, click "Filter Criteria" to select a list of items based on a filter of items or "Selected Items" to select a few items independent of a filter. All Items is applicable to all items with no filtering.
Click "Filter" Tab to Open the Filter View
In the example below we selected Supplier A as the basis for the filter.
Define Planning Template Criteria
Click on the "Criteria" tab to set the criteria for the template.
Click "Add New" to open the criteria option.
Enter the Criteria Requirements
In the example below, the criteria is unit based requirement with a buy based on a minimum of 1000 units across all items in the template. Please note that you may mix criteria i.e. units and cost as an example.
Click "Save" to save the criteria
Apply Criteria in Requirement Planning
There are two ways to apply the batching to a requirement plan.
The first is to check the Batching requirement during the requirement planning generation.
The second is to click the "Run Batching" button in the Planner Action screen.
- If the button is green the batching has been correctly applied. If red, there are errors that need to be addressed.
- Clicking on the "Select batch" drop down opens up the list of batches created that can be selected to view the specific items being grouped together.
- The Batch columns displays the Planning Template being applied against the item. The Planning Template will include a unique index number for each discrete batch in order to more easily see the number of batches created. When multiple batches are required in a planning period (i.e. a daily bucket or a weekly bucket) there is a second index to denote the number of batches required within the planning bucket.
- If you filter to view a batch via the "Select Batch" drop down the planner action updates to show the items included in the batch
- It also provides a summary of the order requirements for the batch against the planning criteria.
How Batching Works
For all items which were selected for the specific batch, DemandCaster does the following:
- Sorts the items by Business importance - A, B, C, D
- For each item DemandCaster collects all suggested orders ordered by the first available date of the requirement based on the item in the batch with the shortest lead time.
- DemandCaster then iterates within the planning horizon to fulfill the criteria by moving later scheduled suggested orders earlier as long as their lead time rules are not violated. In case the orders (from the first available date) exceed the maximum criteria, a second batch is created to fulfill all the requirements in a given period.
- For each date, the suggested orders meeting the criteria are batched together at the date for items following their priority ( A, B, C, D ).
If after processing all of the suggested orders the container has not reached its MIN criteria DemandCaster updates the quantities in a manner that proportionally increases the suggested orders quantity until reaching the MIN requirement.
DemandCaster uses both - Firm and Planned orders for the batching logic.
Assuming DemandCaster did not hit max straight off, the process tries to fill the batch to the maximum criteria. If a maximum can't be reached with all available orders, but the criteria is above the min, the batch is created as it is. If the minimum criteria can't be reached with all available orders, we increase the order sizes one by one until we meet the minimum criteria.
At times, if the first batch can't be filled to the minimum with other orders because of lead time restrictions DemandCaster will look to fulfill the minimum quantity with a single order which could be a very large order quantity. It does this because the one item is needed and can be shipped earlier due to its short lead time relative to the other items in the batch. The way around this is to have similar lead times for all the items in the batch. There could also be instances where one item has an enormous order quantity to fulfill the batching requirements if there are not enough orders available from the other items in the batch criteria.