Case study: Supplier intelligence tool helps food producer improve profit margins

by Chris Farkas

One goal of all data projects we work on is to increase a company’s “business intelligence” — that is, they help our clients make smarter decisions.

But one of the sometimes unheralded benefits of our work is the time it saves our clients’ team members in manually crunching data and building reports. This time savings might be hard to calculate as part of an official ROI study — but there’s no question it has tremendous value.

In a recent case study about our work with Plum Organics, we share how we created a sophisticated supplier intelligence tool to help the company define the most cost effective and timely way to produce goods to meet channel demand. The solution included an Excel front end to input manufacturing data, cloud-computing resources (using AWS) where the data lived, a custom software script and a linear optimization algorithm and that could crunch the numbers and, ultimately, an automated production plan.

That production plan used to take team members a week to manually build – after implementing some nifty automation, it took only a few hours.

“This project fundamentally changed how we did our jobs,” said Mary Tham, director of planning at Plum Organics, “giving us the insight and confidence to make better decisions every day.”

With a reliable, automated process in place, team members could use the expertise they were hired for and spend their valuable time solving business challenges — rather than building reports from scratch.

Project highlights

In addition to saving team member time, here are some of the Plum Organics project highlights:

  • Reduced planning cycle time by ~30%, and resource requirements by more than 35%
  • Eliminated data errors and need for most manual overrides of plans
  • Increased profit margin by minimizing costs, while reducing spoilage and lost sales
  • Enabled “what-if” planning capability

DOWNLOAD CASE STUDY


Looking to automate some of your reporting?

If you’re thinking about ways to improve your reporting or how you can harvest your data in new ways, we’d be happy to help. Contact us and we’ll set up a time to talk.

Chris Farkas is founder and CEO of eAlchemy.