Tag: logistics

Dan Hazlett and Matt Gordon of Anheuser-Busch InBev are constantly trying to incorporate new technology into their supply chain to ensure fresher, better-tasting beer to the consumer. In this highlight, they describe the complexity of the beer supply chain, from breweries to distributors to retailers. They mention some of the challenges associated with shipping and inventory management, as well as some of the innovative technologies they are employing to improve the visibility of their payloads, from the breweries all the way to the retailers. This would allow them to take into account weather and traffic, and schedule more accurate loading and unloading times.

Some of the new initiatives at AB InBev are focusing on three main areas: scaling out the visibility capabilities to import/export operations, integrating tracking and planning applications across the whole supply chain, and developing smarter algorithms and predictive analytics. All of these efforts will enable AB to improve the efficiency of their already outstanding supply chain, and shorten the time between the brewery and your stomach.


For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

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A Boeing Center digital production

The Boeing Center

Supply Chain  //  Operational Excellence  //  Risk Management

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Technology is changing the landscape of supply chain at a breakneck pace, and organizations that are able to stay ahead of the curve often enjoy a significant advantage over their industry competitors. Digitization, cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence are all major factors in shaping operational strategy. These manufacturing innovations have given rise to a trend dubbed Industry 4.0.

John Stroup, President and CEO of Belden Inc., paid a visit to The Boeing Center to share his wealth of knowledge, and to give a brief history of Industry 4.0, aka the Smart Factory. He explained that Industry 4.0, a term coined in Germany, is the fourth major iteration in manufacturing processes. “‘Smart Manufacturing,’ ‘Intelligent Factory,’ and ‘Factory of the Future’ all describe an intelligent, flexible, and dynamic production facility, where machinery and equipment will have the ability to improve processes through self-optimization and autonomous decision-making,” said Stroup. The major improvements from 3.0 to 4.0 are the ability to automate complex tasks (even remotely) and the access to data across the whole supply chain that allows for greater flexibility and connectivity.

Stroup went on to discuss the key characteristics of the Smart Factory and how innovations in digital technology have improved existing business models and enabled new ones. Such innovative technology allows for improved productivity, flexibility, and decision making, all of which benefit manufacturers and consumers alike.

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

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A Boeing Center digital production

BCSCI

Supply Chain // Operational Excellence // Risk Management

Website  • LinkedIn  • Subscribe  • Facebook  • Instagram  • Twitter  • YouTube


For Anheuser-Busch InBev, it’s difficult enough to manage the most efficient beer supply chain in the U.S. As they acquire an ever-growing number of craft breweries, the complexity of their distribution increases dramatically. But with extremely accurate production planning and time-tested transportation methods, the largest brewer in the world is able to spread the joy of delicious craft beer to the farthest corners of the earth.

Chris Pickett, Senior Director of Tier 1 Warehousing & Transportation, paid a visit to The Boeing Center to talk about his role in AB InBev’s operations. He shared insights on effectively integrating craft beers into a macro beer supply chain, as well as managing load complexity and shipment quantities across brands.

Product mix complexity is managed by AB InBev using three main strategies. First, they use rigid cycle production to maximize output for each SKU. Second, they plan pallets using optimized order quantity, which helps them to meet wholesaler demand using the fewest number of shipments. Third, they build pallets using proprietary technology in the warehouse environment, ensuring the most beneficial product stacking patterns. All of these techniques allow AB InBev to manage an efficient supply chain, while maintaining an extremely high service level for their craft beer offerings.

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

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A Boeing Center digital production

Supply Chain // Operational Excellence // Risk Management

Website  • LinkedIn  • Subscribe  • Facebook  • Instagram  • Twitter  • YouTube




Boeing Center members had the privilege of touring Express Scripts’ automated prescription fulfillment center and analytics research lab on November 15. The new cutting-edge Technology and Innovation fulfillment center, located in north St. Louis, is one of five such facilities in the country and dispenses up to 110,000 prescriptions each day.

The center is operational 21 hours per day, six days per week, and is almost entirely automated, with the exception of a few humans (around 400 employees in various roles) to make sure that everything runs smoothly. And everything does, indeed, run smoothly.

Photo courtesy of Express Scripts.

Photo courtesy of Express Scripts.

Each pallet of prescription-filled bottles contains a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag that allows the contents to be tracked and sent to the appropriate location. Then, each bottle has its photo taken to ensure precision, and an ultrasound scan measures volume displacement. Before the scripts are shipped out, computer algorithms calculate “porch time,” or distance, traffic, and weather conditions used to determine how much ice and/or gel should be used if the package needs to remain within a certain temperature range.
These quality assurance measures and state-of-the-art technology result in a 99.996% accuracy rate when filling prescriptions bottles, which are distributed to over 70,000 pharmacies all over the United States.

Adjacent to the fulfillment center was the state-of-the-art analytics research lab. Using the data analyzed in the lab, Express Scripts saves its 85 million customers more than $2 billion each year. One way they are able to reduce cost is by negotiating prescription prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers and determining which medications will be included on their formulary, or list of drugs covered under a benefit plan. They also take into account the prescription price index (PPI), which they calculate using data on the number of prescriptions filled per year, as well as the cost paid by benefit plans and consumers. The PPI gives them further insight into price trends of name brand and generic drugs.

The lab also contained a prototype of a vending machine designed to dispense drugs on the spot within a matter of minutes. The machines will use demographic and location information to determine what drugs to stock, and contain a phone that can be used to call a pharmacist. Another innovation in the works is a laser system that etches custom messages on pill bottle caps. These messages range from reminders about renewing prescriptions to invitations to download prescription management mobile apps. The personalized messages are expected to be a welcome update to the age-old “Push Down & Turn to Open” caps.

We are grateful to Express Scripts for inviting us to their campus to see their cutting-edge technology, especially Jan Burkett who organized the event and Susan Lanctot and Kyle Amelung, our tour guides for the evening. Stay tuned to the Boeing Center digital network (@theboeingcenter) for more fresh supply chain content!

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