I2 Technologies last week continued to push its so-called closed loop supply chain vision to a mostly receptive audience at its Directions 2004 user conference in Florida.
The closed loop approach, first disclosed last year, bundles i2 supply chain, integration and analytical technologies and processes that can be used to cut costs, boost efficiency and help resolve glitches on the fly. Non-i2 technologies can be added to the loop using web services.
I2 chief exectuive Sanjiv Sidhu said the approach can deliver a full-scale, dynamic supply chain, whereas the traditional method simply creates a static forecast. "The concept of a plan is having accountability and being something you live in and die in to make it happen," he said.
Will Shiver, supply chain software engineer at apparel maker VF in North Carolina, said he's encouraged by the design. "They've caught up with us. We've been practicing closed loop concepts for some time, and now they've put a label on it and it has a face," he said.
VF uses i2's supply chain and demand management applications and recently completed a pilot of its Master Data Management data synchronization software, which it expects can enhance its closed loop processes. The MDM tool rapidly linked information from i2's Supply Chain Planner module to data created by a homegrown mainframe application to produce an inventory report. Previously, it took months to link the data sets, Shiver said.
Ravi Vancheeswaran, a planning director at ON Semiconductor in Arizona, wants to take advantage of i2's stated approach of selling applications as components. "At some point, we want to make the supply chain to be like Lego pieces," he said. Currently, ON runs i2's Six.One Demand Planner, Supply Chain Planner and Demand Fulfillment applications.
Miami-based logistics services provider Ryder System wants to further exploit functions in i2's Transportation Optimiser and Transportation Manager products.
For instance, Ryder would like to support ocean freighting operations, including the ability to handle steamship schedules, transportation product manager Ron Abrams says. In addition, Abrams said he would like to use the software to help Ryder meet unique customer requirements during backhauling and fixed-routing operations.