We all use aluminum. It’s in food and beverage cans, bicycles, smartphones, boats, trains, vehicle chassis, and countless other products. To meet the constantly changing demand for this ubiquitous metal, Alcoa extracts bauxite from global mines and delivers the rock, as well as processed forms such as alumina, to global companies. Demand planners help ensure smooth operations by connecting the dots between sales teams and Alcoa’s customers who operate production facilities.
Until recently, Alcoa’s global demand planning and sales teams on six continents were spending too much time on manual data entry and analysis. “It was painful,” says Roberto Martin Garcia, global director of Supply Chain and Commercial Operations at Alcoa. “Every month, the process of updating the global forecast spreadsheets would start in the east and then move west, one country or state at a time, from Perth to Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Europe, countries in South America, and then on to Pennsylvania and Tennessee in the U.S.” If someone made a change to a file, they had to send the updated spreadsheet back to everyone. When spreadsheets were completed and reviewed again for accuracy, demand planners spent another day manually loading the data into a system. IT staff then spent four additional days processing the data into limited static reports.
Alcoa finds a solution that adapts instead of constricts.
After reviewing technologies that could help improve demand planning, Alcoa chose Workday Adaptive Planning. “Unlike the other products we looked at—which required us to modify our business to their software—we could configure Workday Adaptive Planning to meet the needs of our global teams,” Martin Garcia says. “The faster deployment speed and time to value we’d realize with Adaptive Planning also matched our requirements.”
Increases control over working capital.
Today, instead of struggling with manual processes, siloed information in spreadsheets, and forecasts that lack information about regions and financials, global teams have one source of truth about forecasts, financials, and trends involving customers, products, and all global locations. “Before, our system only put information together for Europe and North America—and we could not see actuals,” says Martin Garcia. “By using Workday Adaptive Planning for payables and receivables, we’ve improved planning visibility. We now know the breakdown of our working capital and can take proactive actions to maximize collections, and postpone payment obligations if that’s beneficial.
Tracks current global aluminum production data with forecasts.
Teams can now make critical business decisions based on current forecasts instead of data from a month ago. “It’s important that we deliver on what we’ve forecasted, so we use Workday Adaptive Planning to run updated forecasts each week to show the evolution of forecasts versus actuals over the course of a month—or longer—and how plans have evolved,” Martin Garcia explains. Employees can also easily explore forecasts using public dashboards, create their own custom reports using templates, and create “what-if” scenarios to navigate uncertainty and changed projections, such as when the pandemic cut customer demand and production capabilities, almost overnight.
Boosts aluminum demand-planning efficiency by 4x.
Global sales teams and demand planners are now saving at least two days each month on manual data entry and they receive forecasts two days faster than they did previously. “We’ve cut our processing time in half and we can do almost twice as much as we did before, so we are improving demand-planning efficiency by four times with Workday Adaptive Planning,” says Martin Garcia. “This means we can improve our competitiveness by having more time to analyze topics such as raw-material procurement strategies to boost margins, and potential price changes or strikes, so we’re always ready for the unexpected.