Tag: Technology

In order to reduce operational costs and maximize beer freshness, Anheuser-Busch InBev is constantly identifying new tracking technologies to help them stay on top of their shipments. Many carriers have their own digital portals showing the location and route of their trucks, but since ABI contracts with hundreds of different carriers, the time and complexity needed to manage shipment logistics requires a different solution.

As a result, they’ve developed an application that allows logistics managers to log into a single portal and see real-time tracking on all trucks.  Unlike other existing portals, ABI’s aggregates many different carriers’ data feeds in a single user interface. In addition to seeing where the trucks are, they can also see what routes they’ve taken to get there, the contents of each truck, and the estimated time of delivery. The application is available to wholesalers as well, allowing them to plan ahead for the unloading process.

Navigation in phone. Isolated 3D image

The technology also allows ABI to utilize a tracking technology called “geofencing.” As soon as a truck crosses these virtual fences, a sensor pings their distribution centers and lets them know its exact location and the time it arrived at that location. It also gives them insight into their operational efficiency (i.e., how quickly the trucks are being unloaded and turned around).

By using these technologies, ABI is able to have greater visibility of its supply chain on a granular level. They can then take this information to identify the most efficient carriers and negotiate rates.

In the video above, Dan Hazlett and Matt Gordon of ABI describe some of the innovative technologies they are employing to improve the visibility of their payloads. This is a highlight of their presentation at the 2016 Boeing Center Industry Conference at Washington University.

By Evan Dalton

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

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In her presentation at the 8th annual Boeing Center Industry Conference, Natacha Alpert, innovation lead at Caleres, spoke about the future of the fashion industry. She described how technologies such as 3D printing and body scanning are being used to manufacture consumer products with a high degree of customization, as well as how Caleres is using 3D digital design to decrease lead times and drive strategy.

According to Natacha, 3D printing, design and scanning are the new roadmap to the future.  She believes within the next five years, the footwear industry will experience a paradigm shift that will help improve the way consumers shop and, subsequently, will change how we will look at manufacturing design in the future.

For more supply chain content and cutting-edge research, check out our social media network [@theboeingcenter].

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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!


Students visit Oracle in San Francisco.

The unusually stormy and turbulent weather that shook the plane (almost to pieces as we were about to land) was enough of a sign that this trip to San Francisco would be very unique. Indeed, it turned out to be a very inspiring, exciting, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

We, 17 students from Olin Business School, were headed out to meet technology giants such as Facebook, Uber, Oracle, and Intel. We were hopeful that meeting alums at these firms would provide us the much-needed knowledge of what it takes to break into the world of Top Hi-Tech firms.

Students at Intel

Olin students visited tech giants like Intel, Oracle, and Facebook during their trip to San Francisco. The trip was sponsored by the Weston Career Center.

We started off at Intel, where a couple of alums took us around the office. Then, they provided us a detailed overview of how Intel manages its complicated operations spread across various continents. Personally, hopping onto a corporate jet to reach another office while also avoiding the painful TSA checks is a big enough incentive to be at Intel.

This was followed by a candid conversation with an alum from Uber, who hit home the point about the enormous scale at which technology firms are disrupting traditional business models. What was most interesting was his perspective on how we could set ourselves apart from the competition by building up great data analysis skills, with the industry having access to mammoth amounts of data collected through analytics.

Day 2 started off with an early-morning trip to Oracle, where we were introduced to the world of Exadata, the machines that are behind almost all of the financial transactions that take globally. We were then walked through Oracle’s strategy for entry into the world of Cloud Services, and how Oracle aims to be the best of the best in cloud services.

What was most interesting was his perspective on how we could set ourselves apart from the competition by building up great data analysis skills.

We rounded off the trek with a trip to Facebook’s coveted headquarters at Menlo Park. Learning how Facebook is bringing the world closer, through machine learning and various initiatives to promote free internet, was an eye opener. We closed the proceedings with an inspiring speech from an alum on how, in spite of all the odds stacked against her, she managed to break into the world of technology by staying true to the dream and keeping at it no matter what obstacles came her way.

By the end of the trek, we completely understood the passion and the innovative culture that defines the technology industry, and we walked away with a lot of new friends. Even before getting on the plane to St Louis, I had already started planning for the next trek in the Fall of 2017. I would want to do the trip over and over again; not just to witness the world of technology transforming the world, but also to cherish the delicious fresh donuts at Fisherman’s Wharf along with a lovely walk at North Beach!

Guest blogger: Sagar Sameer, MBA ’17

CATEGORY: Career, Student Life

If you’re headed to a luxury ocean-front hotel or resort for spring break, be sure to ask the poolside staff if they’re wearing uniforms designed by Lori Coulter. Olin alum (MBA’99) and innovative swimwear designer, Coulter launched one of the first made-to-measure retail apparel concepts to successfully integrate 3D body scanning, mass customization, and computer aided design to create a fully digital and automated supply chain. (more…)