BOC Gases is the industrial gases business of The BOC Group, the worldwide
industrial gases, vacuum technologies and distribution services company
operating in more than 60 countries. It produces atmospheric and non-atmospheric
gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide for use in a
wide variety of manufacturing applications. These applications span traditional
industries such as steelmaking, petroleum refining, and food freezing,
and also high-growth industries such as electronics, and wastewater treatment.
With a network of dozens of plants stretched across the continental US,
BOC is continuously assessing its monthly and longer-term sales and operations
planning (S&OP) process to assure uninterrupted supply to all its customers.
Previously, BOC had relied on periodic, high-level, spread-sheet forecasts,
based on a short-term historical view. These forecasts were not regularly
refreshed, and there was little understanding of underlying customer
demand patterns. In a very capital intensive industry where plant capacities
must be closely managed, identifying seasonal demand patterns is critical.
With a broad historical base to build from, distinct seasonality patterns
emerged that drove key decisions at periodic S&OP meetings. Built upon
an existing Data Warehouse environment, a multi-tiered forecasting hierarchy
was created that retrieved up to 36 months of historical monthly data
at the customer level to produce accurate 12 month forecasts.
Once created, the TimeTrends® data base is now automatically
refreshed each month with additional demand data, without manual intervention.
Further, the forecast horizon can be easily extended to quarterly and
annual timeframes, to support more strategic investment decisions.
Word of the benefits of TimeTrends in the US has
spread, and BOC Gases Australia recently implemented TimeTrends®
for bulk industrial gases business. Back in the US, TimeTrends
is now being designed to support specialized cylinder production
"Understanding product seasonality drives key decisions in managing
our plant capacity and deploying resources. TimeTrends
accurately predicts these effects, and has made our planning meetings
really come to life."
John MacMaster, BOC Gases
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