thyssenkrupp Materials Services – a major materials distributor headquartered in Essen, Germany – services its customers from a network of locations spread across the world.
“We were looking for a way to optimize our entire delivery network,” says Christian Bernsdorf, head of logistics planning/SCM at thyssenkrupp. In response to rising costs to maintain stock levels and transport products, the company wanted to think outside the box and turned its attention to the possibilities offered by artificial intelligence (AI) in the cloud.
The idea was simple: build a cloud-based platform that could automatically analyze data and run simulations based on operational hypotheses. Building this tool was complicated and required the help of a reliable technology partner. thyssenkrupp found that partner in Avanade and together, we set out to build the solution that would come to be known as alfred.simOne.
“Avanade helped us choose the right technologies, define how we should use those technologies in combination, and get the concepts right. They helped develop our functional design and have been valuable partners and trusted advisers in so many ways. Together, we’re bringing big ideas to life.”
It was determined early on that a proof-of-concept of alfred.simOne would be built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform using PaaS (platform as a service) components and Microsoft Power BI for visualization. The power of the tool lies in its ability to run simulations – based on inputted network configurations – that process large amounts of data and intelligently analyze the results to see the impact on transportation costs and inventory levels.
In one test simulation during the development phase, it was discovered that centralizing a single product to a smaller group of sites could save thyssenkrupp half a million euros per year without sacrificing service.
While alfred.simOne has already begun running the simulations that will lead to operational optimization and cost savings, thyssenkrupp is looking ahead to the ways the platform will fundamentally shift the culture of the company into that of a data-driven organization. The project has showcased how a team of people from different backgrounds can come together to develop innovative solutions that will have a real impact on the way a business operates.
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