The Infosys global supply chain management blog enables leaner supply chains through process and IT related interventions. Discuss the latest trends and solutions across the supply chain management landscape.

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June 30, 2014

Automated Work Force Management - Part 1

In my last blog on workforce management I have highlighted some of common issues that a Service Provider organization faces in managing their field work force.  Issues like more time to analyse the work request, accurate assessment of the resource availability with the right skill set, lack of optimum utilization of resources, lack of visibility on the work execution, communication gap between field force and administrative office etc lead to high operating and administrative cost. Most of these issues can be addressed by brining automation and close integration between the key applications that caters to the end to end operations in Service Industries. Automated Workforce Management is an emerging trend in the highly competitive and price sensitive Service industry. The right level of automation can be achieved by tightly integrating various applications like Enterprise Asset Management, Scheduling, Mobility, GIS etc. that supports business operations and incorporate the required intelligence and automation within them

A typical workforce management cycle starts with the 'Service Request' where a helpdesk person analyses the request. Post validation and analysis helpdesk person checks if the right agreement is in place for the required service and then has to apply/determine appropriate SLA. A decision has to made if the service request can be addressed immediately or will require a work request. This decision would require accessing multiple parameters. Automation can be incorporated at this stage where the system takes appropriate actions (like apply appropriate SLA, send out e-mail to the requestor, check if the appropriate agreement is in place, raise a work request, cancel the service request , check for duplicate service request etc) based on the values present in the key fields (like Location, Customer Id, Priority, Asset etc) on the service request.

Another place where some automation can be applied is when the work request is generated. Based on source of generation of work request appropriate actions can be applied on the work order. For example if the work request is generated because a chillier may trip if continue to operate for another day then the system can directly assign the work request to appropriate field engineer / team bypassing the regular planning steps.

A regular work request undergoes analysis by a work planner who identifies the required skills and materials to fix the problem. Some level of automation can be incorporated at this stage where solution should have the capability to analyse the repetitive work requests and take defined actions based on the values present in some of the key fields on the work request. For example for a work request that requires to provide Service A to a customer B at location C the 'Asset Management' system should automatically identify the list of activities and type of resources and skills required to execute the work and send the details to the 'Scheduling' application. The 'Scheduling' application can recommend the appropriate field resource to execute the work based on multiple criteria such as - required skills, required time, duration of work, work location, work package, optimum utilization etc.. Once the recommendation is accepted the work planner or appropriate authority can proceed with assigning the work to the field force on their mobile device.

There are multiple business scenarios which could occur between work assignment to a field engineer and work completion. Watch out for my next blog that will cover these business scenarios and how automation can help in addressing these scenario in a more efficient way.

June 27, 2014

Oracle Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration - The Next Gen Supply Chain Intelligence

Oracle Fusion application is the next- gen suite of enterprise resource planning from Oracle, leveraging the features and functionalities taken from Oracle E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel product lines and the suite is built on top of the Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Oracle Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration is an integral part of Fusion Supply Chain Management, which performs the Centralized decomposition/disintegration to itemize intricate orders into separate, interconnected fulfillment design targeting the multi- network, division and partner fulfillment networks.

Fusion SCM_Modules.png












DOO works as a workflow for the order fulfillment all the way from manufacturing to customer that goes through the complex network of manufacturing, warehouse, distributor and to customer.  It acts as a central  hub to link all the other systems who needs to interact to feed or get or perform actions on fulfillment.  















Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration Features :-

               Multiple order capture systems

               Take your order feed in to DOO

               Orchestrate out where these orders should be fulfilled

               DOO talks to multiple fulfillment systems

               Extensive configuration options with 0 impacts on upgrades

               Based on Job Roles- Role Based User experience

               On- Premise, On- Cloud, Private Cloud, remote management  - Deployment Options

               Co-existence strategy with existing systems.


Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration Capabilities :-

               Proactive monitoring and determination of associated glitches in orders

               Centralized Decomposition rule to itemize composite orders into separate, interconnected fulfillment approaches to multi- Network, division and partner fulfillment networks.

               Central Monitoring of order visibility across diverse systems

               Jeopardy conditions and Exception management

               Pre- Integration  with oracle entry and fulfillment systems

               Single view of supply and demand across heterogeneous systems

               Extensible SOA enabled framework for flexible integration

               Supply and Demand cost and delivery metrics measurement on Embedded Intelligence


Busines Benefits:

ü  Multiple order Entry and Fulfillment System

                     Sits between demand capture and fulfillment suite providing central single point of commanding control of order fulfillment.

                     Fulfillment process visibility across multiple fulfillment systems


ü  Growing Acquisitions and Outsourcing  increasing multiple parties results in delayed business process operability or inoperability .

                     Provides a configurable fulfillment and supply chain solution

                     Adaptable redesign of the business process and application based on business needs.

                     Optimizes the correct supply chain solution for a customer and align businesses in support of those customer objectives


ü  Varied Middleware and integration options

                     Next gen technology stack Fusion Middleware provides  configurability of user interfaces or extensibility of backend tools .

                     Flexible Integration with extensible SOA Framework

                     Pre-Integration with Oracle order capture and fulfillment system.

                     Customer connector establishment for non fusion middleware integration options.


Distributed Order Orchestration Process In details:

DOO orchestration process is to provide a structure and categorization to initiate the fulfillment operations such as Shipping, Reservations, or Invoicing, which results in the completion of the sales order flow.

The definition of the business processes triggers the fulfillment of an orchestration order and its order lines. The invocation of these fulfillment services is done through an interface called Task Layer (TL) services. In addition to the Task Layer services, the process definition also includes planning details, change management parameters, and statuses that are visible on the DOO Workbench.

A typical Orchestration Process insight is provided in the diagram.







June 16, 2014

Lubrication Management - An Integral part of Asset Management - Part II

The Phases in establishing the Lubrication Program.

Benchmark: Understand the current lubrication system/practice before commencing the lubrication program. Define targets to be achieved and have a clear vision as to what needs to be carried out to have a successful program in place.

Design Phase: Identify the equipment, lubrication point to be lubricated and determine the actions/activities thatneed to be carried out. Action/Activitycould be designing and displaying lubrication chart, lubrication schedule, lubrication route, safety in applying the lubricant, procedure to apply oil whether it can be online or shutdown, provide the required standards for analysis of oil and train the personnel regarding proper& correct lubrication techniques (i.e., filtration, drains, oil sampling and top-ups). You also should ensure that the right lubricant is used in/for the right lubrication point. Though all these are defined it might still fail due to improper communication on the lubricants to be used.  This could only be mitigated by employing Lubrication Charts.

  • Lubrication Charts will guide the entire process and ensure a sustainable Lubrication system. These charts address key aspects, details and lubricant requirements of each part of application for the respective machines. They clearly lay the details of the points which require lubrication.  Below is the model lubrication chart.

Lub Chart.jpg

  • Lubrication coupled with Color coding has many advantages. Visual communication paired with good training will create an error free system. A technician lookingat the color coded chart and the color tag beside the machine would be able to use the specified lubricant. Color coding will also help in eliminating cross contamination of oil in machines which can compromise the effectiveness of a lubricant. Below is the sample color coded lubrication chart

Lubricant Consolidation: This is the byproduct of design phase where recommendation from OEM or lubricant consultant can be taken to use common oil wherever applicable. This is significant, as it gives a clear picture of the items that need to be procured, eliminates items from inventory that are unused or unnecessary, which in turn will reduce purchasing costs, zero the lubricant cross-contamination likelihood and will help the team (lubrication) understand which items/products are needed and why.

Storage and Handling: Proper storage and Handling lead to successful lubrication program. If proper storage isn't identified then there might be a risk of contamination and accessing the lube.  Proper labeling helps in communicating what it is all about.  Lubricant labels should be put up on lubricants (in storage area), equipment, grease guns, etc. From the lubrication chart displayed near the equipment will help the technician to have a look at the label on it, go to the lubricant room and find the appropriate matching label on the grease gun  or filter cart or top-up container. Ensuringthat their jobs become easier and safer.

Execution: Next step is to put into practice what we have developed. Overcome the hitches in practice and pave way for continual improvement.

Audit: Compare the implemented process with the initial benchmark to evaluate the outcome of lubrication program. Pave way for continuous improvement and redefine the bench mark to make it successful, this will ensure financial rewards and also re-enforce the fact that the decision to develop this lubrication program is worth the financial commitment.

Today, we have many good EAM systems/packages to capture all the types of maintenance activities and cater to most needs. Though, the industry is aware of the importance of lubrication, it still lacks at an execution level (especially lubrication), mainly due to improper planning and as a result we get to see frequent lubrication failure cases. This is only happening because lubrication does not feature as an integral part of asset management. This phenomenon can only be countered by monitoring lubrication management and building it as an integral part of Asset Management.

June 6, 2014

What's your KPI?

Asset Management, a key function, has a strong potential to influence the success of the mainstream business. However, it seems ironical that it has received little or no strategic importance. The scope of Asset Management had been limited to short or midterm goals which seldom tied back to the strategic business goals of the Organisation. Adding to this agony, very few attempts focused on identifying gaps in its orientation towards the overall business goals. One of the reasons for this loose integration I think is the overbearingness with self-centered KPIs. We all know the importance of Metrics, KPIs offers us exactly this. Firstly, it baselines the factors determining the success of an action and finally concludes with the actual measures on how one performed against these set yardsticks. Being comprehensive is very important while aligning the objective span across line of action contributing to overall success of a program. What limits this then? There are few challenges which I think needs to be accounted for

Give personal bias a rest: Devising a KPI is a challenging affair, overcoming bias adds to the challenge. It is very important to understand the underlying bias factor. There is a tendency to overly focus on parameters which ensures maximum equipment uptime. But, can a zero fault asset run a business successfully? Should we not worry about how effectively these Assets are made available to business?  My equipment billing, my equipment utilization, my inventory etc. are some of the parameters which invariably finds top slots among the Asset Managers, KPIs devised on these premise are naturally biased with little or no focus on achieving the overall objective of the business. For instance, opponents of lean philosophy, if not for other debatable aspects of lean, will surely bank on its ability to bring the focus back to the overall business value creation. Lean stunned the Manufacturing business with its disruptive ideologies and transformed the KPIs to a greater extent, the same applies here. If the KPIs has to work, then it has to work for the business and should not get limited to promoting individualistic goals.
Interact with your ecosystem, break the "Status Quo" cocoon: It's natural to like things working in a streamlined way, disturbing the flow of activities especially if things are smooth is not desirable. However, I think this very attitude has resulted in resistance among folks to look for change and eye beyond their comfort zone. This has also limited them to come up with something disruptive and something which goes beyond their departmental goals. For example, in the race to ensure a cent percent equipment uptime, managers hoard on expensive maintenance packages. The activity becomes so inward looking and so focused on meaningless targets that it loses the overall objective of the program and eventually gets shot down for lack of funds while getting labeled as an expensive cost center to sustain! Furthermore, a common problem is "fear of authority" creating resistance to oppose change, but trust me - "the authority" inherently loves challenges and fresh ideas even though such actions create conflicts. Subconsciously, we all love to experience disruption, it's just the fear to challenge the status quo that leaves us behind, don't think so? Try finding a movie script or a TV soap with all happy-happy events, there is a high probability that you might relate to what I am talking about. 
Master the Convincing Act: The first one to be convinced is yourself! If you are the decision maker who influences the direction in which the actions are swayed, it's important to be convinced that these actions are going to yield a comprehensive result and are in best interest of the overall business. Once fixed, it is important to allow the ideas to be percolated to the actual actioners so that they adhere to the metrics, however this cannot happen unless they know that their actions are yielding anticipated benefits. As an Asset Manager, it is important to align KPIs which will integrate the Business strategy to a smart implementation plan, a convinced actioner will do wonders in ensuring a seamless implementation! 
Be latest, context driven and improve continuously: A must thing I must say, gives you a chance to introspect and evaluate, something which is critical factor in success of any KPI. A continuous improvement plan will not only ensure the validity of the KPI in the changing business context but will ensure sustainable and credible model to follow.

Let's open up while defining our performance indicators, let's stop choosing some strong holds to thrive on , otherwise for all that you know, a high rate of success on an individualistic level might not do an overall good!


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