PerfectBlend Software

Introduction

PerfectBlend is a Windows-based software product specifically designed for the coal mining industry. PerfectBlend handles the complex calculations involved with determining the lowest-cost blend, when parameters such a BTU, Sulfur, Moisture and Ash have limitations that must be honored, and when there is a multitude of coal products to choose from. You may also want to look at the sample screens that have been provided. Because these screen graphics are nearly 150k in size, they have been placed on a separate document.

Product Description

Cost Driven! That's the key on how you'll be able to save thousands of dollars on every blend you produce. It's possible... and now it's easy with PerfectBlend, a new software product that operates under Microsoft Windows. It's purpose is to calculate the optimal blending ratio for coal when you have a variety of stockpiles available and multiple targets (orders) to fill.

PerfectBlend will handle up to 100 targets and up to 1000 stockpiles within a single blend! It will also uniquely optimize the usage of processing facilities and determine lowest cost delivered product (when freight costs are known)! Figure 1 shows the Main Screen.

This is not a hunt-and-guess blending program. PerfectBlend actually calculates the lowest cost blend. When PerfectBlend is done, there is not another penny to be squeezed out of the blend. You can have the confidence that nothing better is available from your combination of products.

Targets & Parameter Limitations

Each target may have up to 8 limiting parameters. Each parameter may be a minimum, a maximum, or both. specifying both a min and a max allows you to work with targets that have a window of acceptance on any or all parameters. Also, each parameter name is user-definable. Figure 2 shows the Configuration Screen and Figure 3 shows the Target Input Screen.

Stockpiles & Processing

Many times a coal may not be usable in it's raw state; it must receive post-mining processing (such as washing). The number of combinations become mind-boggling when you also consider optional processes or 2-stage processes. Should this product be blended with some other products? Or should it be run through process #1 first? Or should it be run through process #1 and process #2? Then there is process #3... As you can see, the combinations are enormous when you consider that each of your product has the same options.

PerfectBlend handles the processing questions with ease. By simply entering in the specs for a processed product (and its associated cost and yield). PerfectBlend will calculate precisely how much of every product should be used raw, how much should be run through process #1, how much should be run through process #2, and how much should be run through process #3. PerfectBlend even keeps track of the yield percentage of each process to ensure that no stockpile is "over-consumed"!

PerfectBlend will even ensure that the capacity of your processing facility is not exceeded. Simply enter in the maximum capacity of each of your processing facilities (up to 3), and PerfectBlend will see that those capacities are not exceeded. If you are committed to using a processing facility, you can also enter in the minimum usage required for each of 3 facilities, and PerfectBlend will calculate the lowest cost blend possible, while honoring that minimum usage commitment. Figure 5 shows the Stockpile Input screen.

Premium / Penalty Optimization

If you have orders that assess a premium or penalty based on some quality parameter, PerfectBlend will optionally optimize for highest margin, rather than simply lowest cost. If you are accustomed to working with a variable product cost (determined by the component costs of the products), you can well imagine the complexities that arise when the selling price is also a variable. PerfectBlend can determine whether it is most profitable to ship a product that earns a premium, or if it is most profitable to ship a product that will be penalized. Although it is usually most profitable to ship a product that will earn a premium, the mix of component products that you have to select from may indicate otherwise.

PerfectBlend will determine to what extent you should be going for a premium or penalty, according to what will produce the highest margin for you. And since PerfectBlend will handle multiple targets simultanously, the entire scenario will be optimized for the highest possible margin.

Most users have found that using PerfectBlend's Premium/Penalty option will increase their bottom line by at least 25 cents per ton!

The actual entering of data for premium/penalty data is handled by a pop-up screen available from the target input screen. Each parameter may have premium/penalty data associated with it. A variety of calculation methods are accomodated. Figure 4 shows the Premium / Penalty Input Screen.

Each parameter may have a premium, a penalty, or both associated with it. In addition, the user may select whether the premium (or penalty) comes into effect when the weighted-average for that parameter rises ABOVE a threshhold or when it dips BELOW a threshhold.

The calculation method for each premium (or penalty) is very flexible. It can be a lump sum amount, or it can be a variable amount. For those contracts that have a "deadband" of quality where no adjustment is made, a provision for a starting point for calculations is provided. For those contracts that have multiple stage variable adjustments, up to 3 stages may be entered. And finally, if the contract places a dollar cap on the amount of overall adjustment, this is accomodated also. Admittedly, entering premium/penalty data can be confusing, but PerfectBlend provides a "Price Test" button that allows the user to enter a hypothetical blend and have the premium/penalty calculations performed instantly. This allows the user to immediately test his data input without going through a lengthy blend, only to find that an error had been made during data entry.

Prior to the introduction of the Premium/Penalty optimization feature in PerfectBlend, the user had to go through many trial blends. With each trial, he had to adjust the min and max on each parameter affected by premium or penalty, adjust the selling price, then do a trial blend. After several hours of trials, most users are able to improve their margin. If, however, there were multiple targets involved, then each of the targets would "fight" for certain products, and the number of hours required to find the optimal blend approaches infinity. Since most users don't have an infinite number of hours to spend on such things, a compromise was usually made after "some improvement" was found. With PerfectBlend, the results are optimal, and it is presented in a very finite period of time.

Freight

The freight costs involved with moving coal from the mine site to the customer is usually a sizable portion of the cost. When multiple orders for geographically separate locations can be blended from multiple stockpiles (also geographically separated), the blend calculation becomes several magnitudes larger. PerfectBlend can handle it! Simply use FOB mine-site for each stockpile cost. Then use the freight option to enter in the various freight costs from each mine location to each of the possible customer locations. Figure 6 shows the Freight Input Screen.

PerfectBlend will calculate the absolute lowest cost blend, FOB customer location! Again, this is an actual calculation with no guessing and no compromising. Not a single penny will be left on the table.

Exclusions

PerfectBlend also provides a means for target-dependent stockpile exclusion. This is invaluable if the user has a stockpile that is pre-committed to a specific order. By excluding that stockpile from all targets except the desired target, PerfectBlend will finish out the target at the lowest possible cost. Figure 7 shows the Usage Exclusion Screen.

Interactive & Friendly

Blending is often an interactive process, where a trial blend is calculated, a few changes are made, and then another blend is calculated. This process is repeated until the user is satisfied with the blend. PerfectBlend was designed from the ground up for this interactive usage. Targets may be included or excluded from a blend with a simple click of the mouse; stockpiles are just as easily included, excluded, or marked for "Use All" in a blend.

Blend results are presented in an extremely concise format. The targets are listed as column headings, while the stockpiles are shown in rows. At each row-column intersection is shown the tons of that stockpile required for that target. Each tonnage value is color coded for another dimension of information; if the value is red, then that stockpile is totally consumed; if the value is blue, then some (but not all) of a stockpile has been used; if the value is black, then none of that stockpile was used. Figure 8 shows the Blended Results Screen.

PerfectBlend makes use of background colors also. A stockpile that was marked as "Use All" will be shown on a yellow background. A stockpile-target value that was "Excluded" will be shown on a black background.

A simple mouse click changes the results from tons to either percent-of-blend or cost. Another click changes it back to tons.

Just as easily, the user can click on a target column and pop up a weighted average screen for that target. The selling price, blended cost, and margin are calculated and shown, along with the weighted value of each quality parameter. Color coding is again used to draw the user's attention to any parameter that has hit a limit. Figure 9 shows the Stockpile Usage Screen.

Click on a stockpile ID and a pop-up screen displays everything that is known about that stockpile. Any coal selected for processing will also have the raw tonnage requirements calculated. Figure 10 shows the Weighted Average Screen.

A final feature for those users doing interactive blending is the ability to display any stockpile parameter directly on the Blended Results Screen. The user can select any or all of 11 columns of information to be displayed with each stockpile. This information is shown in a gray color, so it is not confused with any of the "calculated" data. Each of these columns may be "dragged" into whatever column position the user prefers.

Output Options

Printed reports are very extensive. All information shown on the screens are also available in printed form. Most reports are customizable so that only relevant information is printed. Spreadsheet users will appreciate the CSV option. This option sends the report to a CSV file (comma separated values) that is easily imported into any spreadsheet. When the blend is determined to be satisfactory, the user may click on the "Subtract Tonnages" option. Each stockpile is reduced by the proper amount as indicated by the blend. As complicated as it sounds, PerfectBlend just as easily lets you bypass the features that you don't need. It helps you get your job done quicker and more accurately than ever before.

Excel Spreadsheet

PerfectBlend can import stockpile and target data from your Excel spreadsheet. It can also save the results of the blend calculations back to the same Excel spreadsheet. If you normally use an Excel spreadsheet to track production, sales, etc., it is no longer necessary to re-key the data into PerfectBlend. PerfectBlend now is capable if importing that data directly into the software. A sample Excel spreadsheet is provided it aid in configuring your spreadsheet.

The Very Best Possible

With PerfectBlend, you can rest assured that you have done the very best possible with the resources available to you.

PerfectBlend Levels, Features, & Prices

New PerfectBlend licenses are Level 5 only. Existing Level 4 licenses will continue to be supported and renewed. Sales of Level 6 licenses have been suspended for the immediate future.

Every new license is authorized for 1 year. You are advised that this product will cease working upon expiration of the license period unless extended by renewal.

An Evaluation License is available to any qualified buyer. The Evaluation License is free and is usually granted for 10 days. A full-time Internet connection is required for the Evaluation License, as authorization is verified upon every startup during the evaluation period. To obtain an Evaluation License, download and install PerfectBlend. On the licensing screen there is an option to Request Evaluation License. Simply follow the instructions on that screen.

PerfectBlend Levels & Features
Product
Level
Maximum
Targets
Maximum
Stockpiles
Force Usage
Option
Processing
Option
Freight
Option
Usage
Exclusion
Premium Penalty
Analysis
License Price
Annual Renewal
4
30
1000
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
not available
$500 
5
100
1000
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
$10,000 
$1,500 
6
100
1000
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
On Hold 
n/a

Features and prices are subject to change without notice.

 

 

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