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Description of the Frutado case (in English)

first published in OR News, 38, 2010, pp. 10-12


The Frutado Case Study - Interactive Learning Units for a Better Understanding of Advanced Planning Systems

Advanced planning systems (APS) are mere planning systems which very effectively complement established enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. A hierarchical planning structure is applied. If possible and expedient optimizing and meta-heuristic approaches, which are linked by input and feedback, are adopted at each planning level. While the significance of APS´ in teaching increases, the access to such systems is e ither not available or very time-consuming. Also the lack of background knowledge about technical data aggravates successful teaching of APS. For this reason an interactive learning software was developed which enables students to reach a better understanding of the possibilities and limitations of APS. Background knowledge about technical data is not needed because the developed learning units can be recalled without access to an APS.
The basis for the learning units is the APS of the SAP AG the SAP-SCM APO (advanced planner and optimizer). Compared to other APS the advantage of the APO is that many planning tasks of the supply chain matrix (see figure 1) are covered. Another advantage is the common use of the software and therefore its practical approach.

The Frutado company

For didactical reasons it makes sense to use case studies in order to explain the lectures´ content. Real case studies tend to contain too much data which are not relevant for the learning unit, whereas a fictitious case study offers the opportunity to just introduce certain applications which are needed in order to achieve the learning objects. This is why several universities (Augsburg, Chair for Production and Logistics, Prof. Dr. Fleischmann; Technical University Berlin, Department of Production Management, Prof. Dr. Günther; Technical University Darmstadt, Department of Production and Supply Chain Management, Prof. Dr. Meyr; Technical University of Denmark, Department of Management Engineering, Prof. Dr. Grunow; and University Hamburg, Institut for Logistics and Transportations, Prof. Dr. Stadtler) developed and implemented such a case study about the adoption of APS. The fictitious company of this case study, the "Frutado company", pictures a medium-sized drink manufacturer in Germany.

The Frutado company produces 19 different types of drinks some of which show a steady whilst others a seasonal demand. For both types there are products with a minor, medium and high average demand. The products are produced at three different sites of the Frutado company. Each site consists of one production plant and one distribution center nearby. There are two production lines at each site but not every product can be manufactured there. As each distribution center should have the whole range of products on stock the transport between the different centers is mandatory. The Frutado company pursues a typical "make-to-stock" strategy which is quite common for the drink industry.

The company supplies 60 customers with every product. Twenty customers are assigned to each distribution center.

The following planning tasks are considered in the Frutado case study: Generation of short- and medium-term sales forecasts - medium-term master planning - short-term production planning and scheduling - distribution planning - transport planning - available-to-promise/capable-to-promise.

Figure 2 illustrates coherences, input and feedback between the different planning modules of the applied APS.


Figure 2 illustrates input and feedback of each planning module

The respective planning tasks of the Frutado company, as well as the planning concept are described at the beginning of each learning unit.


Interactive Learning Units

For each planning task mentioned above a corresponding learning unit was developed, implemented in SAP-SCM APO and recorded with the "datango" software. This software generates a description of procedure by taking a screenshot of the particular application (here the SAP-SCM APO) after each entry. The resulting learning unit can be used supportively in lectures or for self-study. So called bubbles describe the meaning of the particular screen and the associated entry (see figure 3). A common internet browser is merely needed in order to replay the stand-alone approach.


Figure 3 Screenshot of a Learning Unit

Starting the educational software the user can either choose a learning unit by selecting it from the navigation tree or he can follow a recommended order which allows a logical adaption. After a description of the Frutado case study and a short general introduction to APS, the tutorial-folder contains the previously described modules. The module-folder are divided into sub categories which contain the learning units. Each folder and each learning unit includes a short description of the respective contents and the learning objective. Figure 4 shows the navigation overview of the learning software.


Figure 4 Navigation Overview

A simple-as-possible example of consistent planning is offered by the "basis-stream" which is limited to the essential planning tasks. A deeper insight into the effectiveness and the possibilities of a certain module is provided within the "in-depth-stream".

Currently a lot of courses regarding "advanced planning" are being held with the help of the Frutado case study. The students´ response is consistently positive and their feedback is used to continuously enhance its content. The SAP AG incorporated the learning units into their University Alliance Program and provides them for free via the University Center of Excellence to the associated universities. A textbook which complements the interactive learning units and gives theoretical support will be published in the summer of 2011.