ASK Power Improves On-Time Delivery to 99%
with Plex DemandCaster
After a period of rapid growth, ASK Power struggled to meet increased demand—and its ERP/MRP system couldn’t provide the detailed capacity planning the company needed to optimize production. ASK Power looked for a solution that could help it enhance service to its top 100 customers, whose lead times were often less than one month.
“With DemandCaster, our profit margin went from 2 to over 10 percent, our on-time performance to 99 percent, and our lead time from five to six weeks down to two to three weeks.”Steve Kase President & CEO
In 2009, ASK Power took advantage of an opportunity to fill a gap left by one of its competitors—and nearly doubled in size. As a result, the company began to struggle to maintain its on-time delivery and lead times, and project costing also started to rise. The company’s CEO realized that he couldn’t accurately calculate capacity planning to get a clear picture of how production could be optimized to meet the increased demand.
Gaining a Realistic View of the Business
“We could produce work orders and identify machines and the work centers involved with those work orders,” said Steve Kase, ASK Power President and CEO. “But we wanted to see if we’re overloaded on specific days on specific machines so we could move an order from one machine to another and regenerate the capacity.” Kase discovered that very few systems can do that as well as Plex DemandCaster’s capacity planning functionality; he decided to add it to his company’s ERP system. Using DemandCaster, ASK Power can get detailed shop floor control with visual capacity planning that forecasts 45 or 60 days out and regenerate planning according to the company’s machine layout on an as-needed basis. Daily updates from the ERP/MRP are automatically fed into DemandCaster for an updated, more accurate demand and supply plan.
“What is important to us is the ability to reflect our capacity and work center realities. Both infinite and finite capacity planning are really necessary to be able to ensure that you’re on top. We couldn’t find that anywhere but DemandCaster,” said Kase.
Delivering High Levels of Service—with Optimum Inventory
Another key area Kase wanted to improve was sales and operations planning to stay competitive.
Since ASK Power serves a variety of markets, it became difficult to serve these markets at a high level without building up stock. Each month the company would compile spreadsheets to determine optimum inventory levels but soon realized this was not accurate or sustainable.
With DemandCaster’s Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) module, the company collects
sales and order data from its ERP system and develops forecasts based on segments unique to its business. After reviewing available capacity, inventory, and scheduling, ASK Power can set inventory targets and plan supply accordingly. DemandCaster proved to be an excellent budgeting solution for the company’s operations.
"With DemandCaster, our profitmargin went from 2 to over 10 percent, our on-time performance to 99 percent, and our lead time from five to six weeks down to two to three weeks.”"
“We went from two or three inventory turns to as much as six—and reduced setup waste,” said Kase. “The S&OP features from DemandCaster impacted our delivery as well—I had one customer tell me that we went from not meeting their expectations in terms of delivery to exceeding expectations.”
Kase added that an unexpected benefit was the ability to merge with a French company and get it up to speed on the solution within 30 days, even after adding a new production facility for both planning and execution.
“This facility produces over 2,000 SKUs, and once we converted our ERP/MRP system to reflect those part numbers and their demand and history, we immediately were able to use DemandCaster S&OP to understand what kind of reordering practices we needed, and that was a nice surprise.
"On-time delivery is an important focus for us. In fact, a customer recently told me that four or five years ago we were not meeting expectations from a delivery point of view, and now we are exceeding expectations. I can point directly to DemandCaster for that."
Operating More Efficiently — and Profitably
According to Kase, ASK Power almost doubled in revenue between 2008 and 2015 with half the employees. In those seven years, the company worked hard to eliminate waste, reduce costs, and automate many of its processes. But Kase directly attributes his company’s ability to provide good service, shorter lead times, sales growth, and effectively manage inventory to DemandCaster.
“If you’re not doing S&OP, you’ve got problems. But, if you want to do it well and realistically plan for your capacity, you need DemandCaster,” said Kase.
"DemandCaster helped us substantially reduce setup waste on the shop floor, resulting in higher profitability and tighter inventory control. We went from two to three inventory turns to as much as five to six turns annually."