Tim Merkle, Group Manager, Advanced Analytics
Steelcase builds to order from an expansive collection of 50,000 configurable products and 25,000 service parts. The manufacturing facilities distributed throughout North America produce products varying from seating, work surfaces, case goods, architecture walls, and integrated technologies.
The uniqueness of each order and the overall variable demand across the highly-inconstant product mix has stressed Steelcase’s industrial system. Amplifying the problem’s complexity, the sales order view was significantly different from the manufacturing view, as a single item can be manufactured across multiple suppliers and Steelcase manufacturing facilities. The planning teams were seeking opportunities to improve the assembly and validity of weekly plant capacity forecasts. The legacy forecasting process was not sufficient.
Partnering with global operations, the advanced analytics team developed a multi-phase sales and operations execution system for U.S. manufacturing to compile and prepare historical data, execute 75,000+ hierarchical statistical forecasts, and post-process the outputs into more than 900 manufacturing work centers for capacity management. The solution’s modular design is complete with data extraction, preparation, forecasting, diagnostics and delivery.
The extended forecast horizon is 2.3 times longer than the legacy forecasting process, encapsulating extended lead times for all long-distance supply-chain materials. The system was designed as a holistic data-driven analytical solution where all inputs and output data are maintained with sufficient archives with run-time reduced by 87 percent. Improved data and forecast management processes allow for previously unavailable forecast quality metrics and traceability for exploration using descriptive and diagnostic analytics.
Furthermore, this solution strengthened the partnership between advanced analytics and global operations, as the forecast processes are no longer black-box with diagnostic forecast quality metrics and trends available to operations along with trusted advisors from advanced analytics. Through this strong partnership, the data and forecast design within this solution has been extended into follow-on solution designs across Steelcase.