Kruitbosch transforms its supply chain with data-driven planning
The bicycle industry has had some euphoric years but is now struggling. With a full pipeline and flattening demand, how do businesses navigate these market challenges to maintain strong margins?
“We had already adopted Slim4 to underpin our wholesale business, which supplies spare parts and accessories. The results speak for themselves.”
Bert Nieuwenhuis | Supply Chain Planning Manager
Kruitbosch, manufacturer of the popular Cortina bicycle brand and wholesaler of parts and accessories, has adopted a revolutionary approach to supply chain planning to better respond to demand volatility. Supply Chain and Procurement Manager Paul van Groningen and Supply Chain Planning Manager Bert Nieuwenhuis explain how Slimstock’s AI-powered platform is reshaping the business’ supply chain.
A revolutionary approach to supply chain planning
Kruitbosch’s new planning process consists of two main pillars: dynamic forecasting and adaptive supply chain planning. To secure the new planning principles digitally, Kruitbosch implemented Slimstock’s advanced supply chain planning platform, Slim4.
Bert Nieuwenhuis explains: “Good forecasting is a matter of collecting and analysing a lot of data. Among other things, we look at past sales, figures from market research and key economic figures on inflation and consumer confidence. Furthermore, we keep track of what our competitors are doing.”
“Once we have arrived at an initial forecast based on all this data, our sales department enriches the data with market insight. Our account managers have strong relationships with dealers and hear all kinds of things from the market. This can provide useful input. By helping us achieve a consensus-driven forecast, Slim4 provides a solid basis for supply chain planning,” the supply chain planning manager continues.
A digital platform for supply chain success
Nieuwenhuis explains: “We had already adopted Slim4 to underpin our wholesale business, which supplies spare parts and accessories. And the results speak for themselves.” However, within his business unit, which develops Cortina bicycles, spreadsheets were previously relied upon as the primary tool for supply chain management.
Paul van Groningen, Supply Chain & Procurement Manager, highlights: “Planning at different levels of granularity not only took a lot of time with spreadsheets. The system regularly crashed and was very error-prone. By automating the forecasting and supply chain planning process, Slimstock’s Slim4 platform helped us to become more efficient.”
Prioritising the products that matter most
Manufacturers need to make efficient use of the production capacity available. Therefore, Kruitbosch must strategically plan its long-term production requirements. However, in the medium term, the bicycle manufacturer must also consider what models and colours should be produced.
An essential tool for translating forecasts into production numbers is the ABC classification of the assortment: A-bikes sell in high volume and offer strong margins; C-bikes are strategically less critical.
Paul van Groningen adds: “With Slim4, we can drive profitability. By strategically differentiating service levels, we can ensure A-items do not go out of stock during the season. But we can also mitigate the risk of selling C-items at a loss in post-season.”
Creating a more agile operation
With the powerful forecasting capabilities of the Slim4 platform, the planning team can aggregate, segment and share demand insights as required. This allows Kruitbosch to create long, medium and short-term visibility, harnessing more effective supplier collaboration, all from a single data source.
Van Groningen: “Considering the anticipated demand, lead time, the current stocking situation and what is in the pipeline, the Slim4 platform autonomously generates optimal order advice. Furthermore, by allowing us to adapt our production plans, for example, determining the colour of a bike, right up to the point of production, we are far more responsive to evolving market conditions.”
Given the faltering market and congested supply chain, the bicycle industry faces a tough challenge. No one knows how demand will develop, but by adopting a data-driven planning process, Kruitbosch keeps a grip on its supply chain to ensure optimal returns.