Startup Tackles Inventories

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2004-02-16 Print this article Print

Consumer packaged goods manufacturers facing Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s increasing demands to plan and replenish inventory on a near-daily basis can look to a new company for assistance.

Consumer packaged goods manufacturers facing Wal-Mart Stores Inc.s increasing demands to plan and replenish inventory on a near-daily basis can look to a new company for assistance.

JRG Software Inc., which makes build-to-consumption production scheduling software, will announce its company, which has been in stealth mode since 2001, and its namesake Performance Manager and Factory Scheduler products next week.

"The major driver for our applications is the impact that Wal-Mart is having on the industry," said CEO Jonathan Knight, in San Mateo, Calif. "For many CPG manufacturers, its 30 or 40 percent of their business. Theyre under tremendous pressure to get better and better margins, but they cant simply stock lots of goods. They have to be able to take orders and fulfill quickly."

With second-tier automotive suppliers facing similar pressures from their carmaker customers, JRG will look to provide a version of its software for that vertical market next year.

At its core, JRGs software incorporates an adaptive learning algorithm that enables it to learn best practices from a users input, said Knight. "Its where you take a whole ton of data and write a system that extracts data over time from individual users. The system learns best practices in planning and scheduling from the user," he said.

Factory Scheduler, currently in Version 2.8, is a graphical production scheduling system. Central to Factory Scheduler is a Graphical Planning Board interface, which provides planners with a picture of their schedules and enables them to either make manual adjustments or have the system generate the most cost-effective schedule.

Monterey Pasta Co., of Salinas, Calif., makes fresh gourmet pasta that is distributed throughout the United States and in some international markets. Until 10 months ago, the company did all its retail distribution planning and scheduling on a manual basis, using Microsoft Corp.s Excel. Dan Brown, vice president of operations, turned to JRG for help with upgrading his systems and implemented JRGs Factory Planner.

"Weve grown so much over the last five years. We have a lot of SKUs that we manage, and we were having a hard time doing that on a daily basis," said Brown. "[Factory Planner] will tell you what you can do in a day. ... Scheduler helps us to manage our inventories. Its helped us to have more efficient runs and schedule our weekly runs better."


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