The simplest definition is that event management is a triggering mechanism, according to Bob Ferrari, managing director of Ferrari Consulting and Research Group. It's important, he said, because, "in supply chain management, things happen very quickly."
Supply chain event management relies on planners to set parameters in the software based on manufacturing forecasts and production schedules. A planner can set up alerts when, for example, an order volume exceeds a certain percentage of initial forecast or an order response rate slips below planning estimates, according to Ferrari.
If a supply chain event doesn't happen on schedule -- say a shipment doesn't make its destination -- it can affect the manufacturing process in small and large ways – including actually stopping production. In the past, Ferrari said, "planners and operational people wouldn't find out about these things until they were too late. It prompted a need for this type of software."
Event management software is generally embedded in other supply chain applications, like execution, order fulfillment, transportation or planning tools. Manufacturers can also buy an event management engine to apply to an existing supply chain application. "It can be part of visibility tools," said Ferrari, and "you can embed the tools in business intelligence or dashboard applications."
Though event management software is nearly 10 years old, it's a technology that, until recently, was relatively dormant as a standalone product. "It didn't have as much traction and interest until the software providers embedded it in applications. Then users could see the real benefit," he said.
Globalization and a 7/24 manufacturing cycle have further pushed the adoption of supply chain event management software. "The ability for staff to be watchful of all the things going on gets incredibly prohibitive," Ferrari noted. If something happens at 3 a.m. an alert is going to be there first thing in the morning. "If things are going fine, I don't want to know," he said. But "things go bump in the night."
About the author: Christine Cignoli is a Boston-based freelance writer who covers IT infrastructures and storage technology. She is a regular contributor to SearchManufacturingERP. Contact her through her website.
This was first published in December 2009