Adapting to Change | What If Simulators for Supply Chain Ops

Adapting to Change | “What If?” Simulators for Supply Chain Operations

Lixar I.T. Tech

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, many of us have had to change the way we live. This includes how we work, how we socialize, and how we pass the time. With things still in constant flux and rapidly changing, anxieties build as people try to predict what they will need from one day to the next to stay safe, healthy, and comfortable. A potential shortage of supply for any good, essential or otherwise, can be concerning. 

Consider the toilet paper rush at the onset of the outbreak. Consumers emptied shelves across retailers, leaving manufacturers struggling to feed that demand. Almost overnight, standard procedures ended. Adjustments had to be made for rising quantities for shipping, and in some cases, for factories going completely offline, no longer contributing raw materials or producing finished goods. However, manufacturers that had already integrated advanced analytics into their operations were better positioned for the unprecedented spike in demand, and were able to adapt quickly and continue sourcing, producing, and shipping their product. 

Under any volatile circumstances, of which COVID-19 certainly ranks high, the only way to stay afloat is to be as prepared as you can be for any outcome. Advanced analytics and “what if?” simulators allow businesses to test various scenarios and responses, so that the potential risk of significant supply chain disruption can be mitigated.

The Benefits | Employing “What If?” Scenarios Effectively

Employing “What If?” scenarios is a crucial step in being truly data-driven, and leveraging advanced analytics. This unlocks your potential by allowing you to test various outcomes and challenge your assumptions. What this means for supply chain operations, is that you have the ability to ask critical questions about possible disruptions at any point in the chain.

By employing a specific “What If?” scenario, you can drill down for short and long-term outcomes, and be better positioned to adapt to unexpected circumstances, making the unforeseen foreseen. For example: What if demand suddenly increases? What if that plant closes? What if workers can’t return? What if supply is too much in one area and completely depleted in another? 

In understanding what impact this could have on your business, you can drill down into other meaningful questions, such as:

  • Will machines have to be run more frequently to meet new demands? 
    • As a result,  will certain parts of the machines degrade faster?
      • If so, where should maintenance schedules be optimized to reduce downtime?
        • How can I leverage AI to  automate this process?

By testing these outcomes, and challenging your assumptions, you can be ready to deal with a wider range of scenarios, including changes in costs, regulations, routes, supply, and demand to name a few.

Use Case | Adapting to New Scenarios

We recently worked with a client to provide a number of advanced “what if?” simulators designed to analyze the hypothetical impacts of various new scenarios within the supply chain. These included:

  • What if a plant closes?
  • What if a supplier plant closes?
  • What if a plant is acquired?
  • What if a new capability is required?
  • What if we partnered with companies in other industries?

“What If?” simulators are a two step process: 1) run the scenario for potential outcomes; 2) leverage ML/AI to find the probability of each outcome.

In these cases, we were able to provide outcomes for all scenarios based on a large volume of up to 15 years worth of historical data. When it came to questions of mergers and acquisitions, we needed to incorporate ML/AI. Our team built a predictive model that we trained on historical data, and ran against future opportunities to provide the likelihood of all potential outcomes.

Using all of this data, we developed a suite of PowerBI dashboards for all scenarios, allowing users to experience the data in a hands-on way. Users can interact with the simulators by clicking through different scenarios and testing various outcomes, so that when it comes time to make a decision, it is backed by reliable numbers.

Getting Started | HeroPath

In a volatile market, wherein supply chain disruptions are becoming ubiquitous, the value in these insights cannot be  overstated. Having this capability means you can stay ahead of the curve, and be better positioned to adapt to change quickly and with confidence.

If you’re looking to get started with advanced analytics, our modern data platform, HeroPath can help get you where you want to be, fast. In just weeks, you can be set up to ingest, transform, and visualize data across your entire organization. The solution is customized to your specific business challenges and budget, only taking in data that will provide meaningful insights, and using tools that are scalable, so that you always have what you need, when you need it — no more; no less. No matter where you are on the data maturity spectrum, whether you’ve just gone digital or are headed towards being entirely data-driven with advanced analytics, HeroPath has you covered.

Join Us at Our Next Informal Q&A Meeting to Learn More

Join us on Thursday, May 7 from 2-3pm at our Informal Q&A Meeting with Michael Rogers, Lixar Data Scientist Leader. He will address how supply chains can stay ahead of the curve during this time of unprecedented disruption.  He will share a short presentation and demo after which the floor is open for questions, conversation and discussions.

Join Us Here:

If you missed our last Q&A session, Insights are Critical, you’re welcome to watch it here: Lixar | Q & A Meeting | Insights are Critical Learn Why

Staying Ahead of the Curve_ Mitigating Supply Chain Vulnerability and Disruption with Michael Rogers


Michael is a Data Scientist with in-depth knowledge of data analytics; data visualization; statistics; and big data capture, curation, and manipulation. He is passionate about solving data problems and giving companies meaningful insights to help them adapt, progress, and succeed.

For more information about our data and AI services, including HeroPath, please contact us at