Why are existing planning and scheduling tools in ERP, MES, gantt charts, and spreadsheets so bad? This was the question Jeff couldn’t help asking himself over and over as he worked at an oil & gas manufacturer while drawing from his past experience from SaaS start-ups in New York.
At around the same time, Ulf was busy building simulations and machine learning models for his postdoc research in theoretical physics and for a high frequency cryptocurrency trading system.
Disgruntled by their situations, Jeff and Ulf joined Entrepreneur First, where they were roommates during the first off-site, then agreed to team up about two months later while chatting at a Ya Kun coffee stall in Clarke Quay.
Jeff and Ulf wanted to take a closer look at how manufacturers made production decisions through their plans and schedules. Shortly after, they visited their first factory. It was a smaller factory with about 50 CNC machines, making parts for oilfield service giants. They sat and waited towards the back of a plain walled conference room, with a projector on the table and the screen rolled down. Around 30 people slowly entered the room and a worker who looked to be the youngest and most junior connected a laptop to the projector. He opened a spreadsheet. For the next hour, the group went row by row, down hundreds of orders, discussing which ones should be prioritized, coming up with estimated completion dates, and highlighting the ones which are facing delays.
About a week later, Jeff and Ulf visited a publically traded multi-national bottling company, significantly different from the first factory visit in terms of operational size and vertical. And yet, it was as if they had déjà vu. As they waited in the conference room, around 30 people filed into the room, a junior member connected a laptop to the projector, and she opened a spreadsheet. Instead of going through orders, for the next hour, this group discussed their production plan for the next 2 weeks, including which SKUs to produce on which production lines and for how long, the cleanings required between SKUs, and checking how the projected output matched up with inventory levels, warehouse space, and demand forecasts.
It was at this point that Jeff and Ulf knew that there had to be a better way for manufacturers to make production decisions in plans and schedules. The decisions should be automatically generated and updated in real-time so that people across departments can easily explore tradeoffs, collaborate together seamlessly, and react quickly to make the best decisions. Furthermore, manufacturers shouldn’t have to deal with enterprise software with UI that looks like its from the 2000s, vendor lock-in, slow performance, and little to no support.
Synchronous was created to change the status quo of how production decisions are made, by bringing together really smart people to deliver the technology and services to make it happen. We set out to help manufacturers increase productivity with better production decisions in real-time.