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Fortune 500 Consumer Goods Co. in USA

Big data within the supply chain in a large global business normally conceals a substantial amount of duplicated items. These items almost always hide a significant saving which can only be unlocked through deep de-duplication and standardization.

Key facts:

  • Revenue: 15 Billion USD
  • Many well known global brands
  • Employees: 50 000
  • Materials in scope: 400.000 SKU's
  • Live with Refresh since 2013
  • ERP system: SAP ECC6 & SAP 4.7 & Others

Business Challenge

Big data within the supply chain in a large global business normally conceals a substantial amount of duplicated items. These items almost always hide a significant saving which can only be unlocked through a deep de-duplication and standardization initiative.

This particular customer is a household-name Fortune 500 foods company with many well known brands to be found in almost every home in the United States. The supply process spans from sourcing and farming, production and packing and all the way through to delivery of the packaged consumer unit at the supermarket.

Management was well aware of the potential for savings through standardization of all supply chain materials but their teams had struggled in the past to get to grips with the half-a-million different items being purchased, stocked or sold. Without software automation the project would simply not have been attempted.

The supply chain is further complicated from an IT perspective today by more than one purchasing and maintenance system with multiple versions of SAP running concurrently. The result is that the small central procurement team has to deal every day with hundreds of thousands of purchased line items from multiple suppliers.

As part of an in-house efficiency drive, procure-to-pay and warehousing savings had been targeted. It was hoped that a decent reduction in working capital and an increase in free cash flow could be achieved, enabled by software or services.

The software selection process involved multiple demos of Refresh desktop running everything from MRO spare parts to product packaging and raw material ingredients. The company was also comparing Refresh test results with an outsourced consultancy approach, as well as two large ERP offerings. After demonstrating the quickest potential for real savings on a complete test set, the global HQ in the USA signed up for the full global enterprise license of Refresh.

Some factors key in the selection of Refresh™ included:

  • Success in testing match rates on own in-house data
  • Low software integration / implementation effort
  • Ease of use, allowing the right people to do the job fast
  • Pre-built dictionary & standards ready to use on day one
  • Ability to be up and running one week after purchase
  • Excellent references from Fortune 50 customers in USA

The Solution

During the Refesh Kick-off workshop the standard Refresh extraction program was applied to the first ERP system – immediately analyzing two thirds of the business.  Refresh’s automated de-duplication algorithm then began identifying duplicated purchased items across all the sites, factories, packaging plants and distribution warehouses. All of this was done in just a few hours with the Refresh automated algorithm crawling the SKU database and producing a report potentially worth “millions in savings” in reduced inventory

Key Business Benefits

The project continues, but the company is immediately able to realize some large quick wins by combining stocks of duplicated items across the enterprise. The next phase will include using Refresh to re-describe items easily, and automate spend classification giving procure-to-pay a solid data foundation for continuous improvement. After the de-duplication algorithm’s success on the first part of the business, the project was extended to include the remaining third of the supply chain.

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