Nimag takes control of KPIs with Slimstock’s AI Platform
Nimag, a leading importer of Suzuki cars, motorcycles and outboard motors, previously relied on its SAP ERP for supply chain planning. However, faced with increasing complexity across its spare parts operation, the business needed a more advanced solution.
Following a supply chain analysis, which revealed that Slim4 could halve the number of stockouts and reduce costs by 20% to 25%, the decision was made to go ahead with the system. Within the first month of go-live, the business benefits are already starting to emerge.
Sjoerd Norden, Project Leader at Nimag, explains: “Slim4’s powerful planning capabilities, in combination with its BI tools, have proved invaluable to us. We now have complete control of our critical KPIs.”
Nimag is the exclusive importer of Suzuki cars, motorcycles and outboard motors in the Netherlands. With a dealer network of over 180 branches, the business also supplies an extensive assortment of parts and accessories. In total Nimag’s range encompasses 200,000 SKUs, of which 25,000 are supplied from stock.
Nimag is a strategic partner within the Louwman Group, a conglomerate of sales and distribution companies specialising in the mobility, automotive and healthcare sectors. In 2019, a business-wide transformation project was initiated with the aim of creating more effective and efficient supply chain processes, as well as enabling data-driven decision making.
“Employees are empowered with Slim4.”
Sjoerd Norden | Project Manager
Highlighting the opportunity to create performance improvements throughout the spare parts and accessories division, Sjoerd Norden states: “We have been working with SAP at Louwman since 2013. However, we needed more advanced capabilities than the forecasting and replenishment functionality available within the existing ERP.
“Most of the decision rules for replenishing stock were based on the gut-feel of the planners. Consequently, this left the organisation vulnerable to errors. To minimise stockouts, we needed a solution that could create dynamic order advice based on smart, AI-enabled algorithms.”
Identifying the potential for improvement
“Our parent company, Louwman has been taking advantage of Slimstock’s supply chain planning platform since 2013. After seeing the results that Slim4 delivered for our parent company, we decided to adopt Slim4 to enhance our supply chain planning processes at Nimag,” states Norden.
As part of the process, Slimstock supply chain experts completed a deep-dive analysis to explore the improvement potential. By making data-driven supply chain decisions, the analysis revealed that the level of service to dealers could be significantly improved, while significantly reducing inventory. Furthermore, the investment in Slim4 would be recouped within a year.
The business case for Slim4 was approved, so the implementation process could begin. Norden shares: “Slimstock’s team clearly have a lot of experience and were well prepared to take the project on. They indicated exactly what they expected from us and where bottlenecks could arise. We could then take proactive steps to address them straight away.
“Given that we were able to utilise existing interfaces, we were able to save time and money during the implementation. We used that financial windfall to invest in Slimstock’s Business Intelligence,” adds Norden.
Rationalising the assortment
Within just one month of going live, Norden and his team could already see the benefits of the Slim4 platform. “We could immediately see that for many product groups, our inventory levels were out of balance.”
The Project Leader goes on to explain how Slim4 enables the planning team to make more strategic stocking decisions: “Certain items are sold in fixed quantities. For instance, screws are ordered in batches of twelve. If you only maintain a stock of five units, you would have to order more than you need. This item is essentially order-driven and may not require stocking at all. Slim4 helps us make informed decisions here. As a result, we can rationalise our assortment, while guaranteeing the availability of the right products.”
Continually tightening decision rules
Since adopting Slim4, the role of inventory planners has changed significantly: “All the planner team’s knowledge is now integrated into the system. Planners no longer have to decide for themselves when to order an item, and how much; this is now all done automatically by Slim4. All they have to do is to challenge the outcomes: to check deviations and enrich forecasts with market insights about future market developments.”
To check whether everything is running smoothly, Nimag takes advantage of the Business Intelligence tools. Nimag uses this to analyse, for example, how often a planner adjusts the automatically generated order advice. This may indicate that the decision rules need to be tightened or that, for example, the system can be further fine-tuned.”
A tighter grip on KPIs with BI
As far as Norden is concerned, Slimstock BI tools offer a valuable addition to Slim4. “Slim4 is very powerful for the operational part, but with BI we really keep control of our KPIs, and we can continuously improve. This fits in perfectly with the new path we have taken as a company.”
Norden expects that Slim4 will ultimately reduce stockouts by 50%, increasing sales revenue by 1% and reducing inventory costs by 20% to 25%. With Slimstock’s BI tools he can see whether he is on track.
“We also use BI for operational decisions, for example, about the division of tasks among planners. We do this based on an analysis of the future workload per planner, for instance, if one planner gets much busier than another,” says Norden.
“It now looks like the investment in Slim4 will indeed be recouped within a year,” he adds. “That is a fantastic result, but we are also proud to create a more professionalised purchasing process, where the available knowledge is secured, and tasks have become more transferable. This allows us to better empower our staff, who are increasingly difficult to find and retain, and we as a company are stronger for the future.”