Drax enlists the support of Crimson & Co to help improve its planning processes

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Energy firm Drax, which supplies up to approximately eight per cent of the UK's electricity needs, is enhancing its business processes following the successful implementation of a new Advanced Planning Scheduling (APS) system.

Completed in September 2016, the new platform will allow Drax to dramatically improve planning and supply chain capabilities across its organisation.

Drax employs approximately 1,400 people operating across three principal activities – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production. It owns and operates the UK's largest power station in Selby, North Yorkshire, and has converted from burning coal into becoming a predominantly biomass-fuelled electricity generator, driven by its use of innovative technology and sustainably sourced compressed wood pellets.

As part of this transformation, Drax has been forced to significantly enhance its supply network, building the necessary infrastructure that allows the transfer and transport of compressed wood pellets from pelleting plants to the power station. At the same time, it needed to develop an effective planning system to ensure this new supplier network could be managed in the most efficient way. Historically, the company has maintained its networks through legacy systems and Excel based documentation, but this was not conducive to the long-term efficient operation of the business, as it looked to diversify its operations and optimise value.

In sourcing an effective planning system, Drax approached global supply chain consultancy Crimson & Co. Crimson's expertise in providing detailed insight into planning and scheduling capabilities meant Drax could make an informed decision when selecting the APS system right for its organisation. As part of this process Crimson initially carried out a detailed analysis of Drax's business in order to understand its core strengths, challenges and processes. From this a procurement assessment was undertaken to determine each system's ability to support Drax. This process incorporated a stringent selection exercise encompassing case studies and reviews of APS systems currently live, site visits and data analysis and scenario testing to compare the systems across each vendor.

Once completed, Crimson provided a detailed assessment outlining the specific capabilities of each prospective solution and their ability to aid Drax in making its final decision. From this Drax selected Quintiq, a provider of on-premise and cloud-based supply chain and operations planning & optimisation software to supply it with a robust and efficient APS system.

Graham Backhouse, Head of Supply Chain & Logistics from Drax states that the need to have confidence in their planning processes is critical to future growth: "Drax is in the midst of an unprecedented transformation moving towards a smarter, cleaner and more efficient way to generate electricity. Implementing such a change is incredibly complex. We have invested a huge amount of time and resources developing and establishing the necessary technological and supply chain framework to support our biomass fuelling operation. Once in place we needed to implement a planning system to ensure it operated as efficiently and effectively as possible."

Owen Tucker, Planning Manager and the Drax project lead said "Crimson & Co has a strong reputation as a global leader in supply chain consultancy. Through their expert consultation they were able to quickly understand our business and, critically, what we needed from an APS system. The selection exercises then carried out were incredibly thorough and provided us with the confidence to know we had all the right information when choosing a system. As a result of that Quintiq were selected and were able to carry out their implementation seamlessly, coming in both on time and in budget. We are incredibly pleased with the results so far."

Dave Alberts, Director at Crimson & Co suggests more and more businesses are understanding the benefits of having effective planning processes in place to support their business strategies: "The role of the supply chain is increasingly shaping and supporting business strategies across the organisations. Within this planning is essential, and that is why APS systems are so important.

"The complexities of supply chains coupled with external, often unforeseen circumstances mean organisations can simply no longer rely on dated, legacy approaches to planning. APS systems are proven in reducing overall costs as well as providing greater ability in addressing complex decision making – by simply ignoring it you are potentially cutting growth prospects and erasing competitive advantage. Drax is a fine example of an innovative business recognising these benefits and acting on it to gain market advantage."

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