Founded from the director’s parent’s basement in 1975, AJ Produkter has grown significantly over the last 40 years to become a global brand in the furniture industry. Today, their extensive operations, encompasses a state-of-the-art showroom, 2 factories located Eastern Europe and 13 subsidiaries. To maintain the exceptional standards of customer service, the designer and manufacturer of industrial, office, industrial and school products turned to Slimstock to help increase the efficiency of their forecasting and demand planning process.
“This year alone, inventory levels have been reduced by over 20%.” Jenny Tinusson, supply chain manager at AJ Produkter.
The team at AJ Produkter have one focus: to help their customers create a better workplace. With a product range including everything from canteen furniture to storage solutions, the furniture specialist has built a reputation for offering the best quality products, at the best price. However, given the diversity and complexity of the assortment, anticipating demand was quickly becoming an unmanageable task for the planning team. Consequently, the business needed a solution that could provide their people with the insight required to make optimal inventory decisions.
Staying on trend
In the past, the team relied on their ERP system to forecast the demand. However, given that many of the items within their assortment form part of a wider bill of materials, their ERP solution alone simply did not offer the flexibility required to account for the complexities of their operation.
“Put simply, we had no confidence in the numbers. As a result, the planning team had to invest a huge amount of time and effort to manually amend the forecasts. Even then, this often meant our forecasts were based on little more than historic demand and our own gut-feeling,” stated Jenny Tinusson, supply chain manager at AJ Produkter.
Thanks to Slim4, Jenny and her team have been able to automate forecasting across the vast majority of the product range. By taking into account factors such as seasonality and evolving product lifecycles as well as relationships with other products within the assortment, the demand forecasting process is now far more scientific.
Jenny goes on to add: “Now that we have a more robust forecasting process in place, we can be more responsive to trends and take action sooner. Furthermore, with the time-savings delivered by Slim4, we can invest more of our time into the areas that really require our attention.”
Removing the guess-work from ordering
The combination of AJ Produkter’s two factories in Poland and Slovakia coupled with their strong relationships with suppliers based in the Far East enables the business to maintain full control over the process of going from an initial idea to design and production. However, in order to achieve the levels of availability customer expect while still keeping costs under tight control, Jenny and her team needed greater insight to optimise their ordering processes.
Through providing optimal order quantity suggestions based on inventory costs and the forecasted demand, Jenny’s team can make far more informed decisions when it comes to ordering. “In the past, our ordering process was based on a lot of guesswork. However, with Slim4, not only do we have visibility over the optimal order quantity we can now easily determine exactly what we need to order to maximise the value of every shipping container.
A more collaborative future
Through improving forecasting and order processes, AJ Produkter has already seen some impressive improvements. “Despite continuous growth, we have been able to increase stock turn by 60%. As a result, this year alone, inventory levels have been reduced by over 20%.”
The business is now pursuing further opportunities to further increase the efficiency of their operation: “We are now working towards enhancing both internal and external collaboration through sharing purchase forecasts across the business. With support from Slimstock, I have no doubt we will only build upon the success we have achieved so far.”
The Beverage distributor, Horeca Logistic Services (HLS) will implement Slim4 to achieve a higher level of service as to reduce operating costs. "In our current inventory system, it is not possible to align safety stocks and order levels with seasonal variations in demand," states logistic director, Patrick Verougstraete.
Horeca Logistic Services (HLS) is the largest independent beverage distributor in Belgium and supplies over 3,000 catering businesses and other companies across various branches. "Because of our national coverage, we can also service the needs of major chains such as Van der Valk Hotels, Le Pain Quotidien and Exki," explains Verougstraete. Due to its success and growth, the company's product range has doubled in five years to 3,000 SKUs, of which 2,500 are stocked.
Differentiation for seasons and locations
It became increasingly difficult for HLS to maintain the right stock levels. The business depended on Excel and a lot of manual work. Verougstraete:
“Growth in our range is not the only challenge we face, we also have to deal with seasonality and local variation in demand where certain drink as sold much more in one region than in another. This requires maintaining different stock levels during the year and per location, and our current method made that simply impossible.”
Better service, lower costs
With the decision to implement Slim4, HLS expect improve service to customers while simultaneously reducing inventory. Given that Slim4 has the capability to calculate optimal order quantities, the team can ensure suppliers deliver full pallets and trucks which, in turn, will help reduce logistics costs. “Furthermore, by improving our service levels, we will have fewer backorders and late deliveries.”
Consumers purchase more products online than ever before. As a consequence, the role of e-commerce in retail has changed radically. Regardless of whether you are an omnichannel business or pure e-commerce player, you need to maximise the profitability of your operation!
Optimise your E-commerce operations
Following the success of the E-commerce Excellence conference in Denmark, Slimstock, along with partners including Apport Systems, Element Logic, Port Nord, Crenua and Rejlers Embriq will be hosting another E-commerce Excellence 2018 conference in Oslo next month.
Focusing on the hidden factors behind all successful e-commerce operations, this event will highlight the importance of well-functioning IT structure that enables the complete optimisation of warehouse and logistics processes.
Develop a more successful online retail operation
Unless you have complete control of your warehouse, you simply cannot deliver customer orders on time, nor can you handle the return of goods or any of the other important processes that are essential in maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.
Throughout, this event, a range of industry experts will take the stage to share their experience of how to build more successful online retail operations that thieve in combination with your physical stores. Focusing on the importance of effective inventory management, Richard Evans, Managing Director at Slimstock UK will highlight how businesses can maximise availability while keeping supply chain costs under tight control!
Thursday 6 December 2018
DEG16 - Dronning Eufemias Gate 16, 0191 Oslo
Click here to find out more about the event and to register today!
To boost their market leading levels of customer satisfaction, Irelands largest distributor of premium automotive parts has taken the decision to implement Slimstock’s inventory optimisation solution, Slim4. As a company that is dedicated to ensuring the best possible customer experience, this move will further improve the automotive parts supplier’s already impressive levels of availability across their extensive range while also optimising supply chain costs.
J&S Automotive started out in 1977 as a humble motor factor based in the North of the city. Today, the automotive specialist has grown to offer the largest range of premium parts, tools & automotive services available in the Irish market. With over 100,000 parts in stock and partnerships with Europe’s leading OE manufacturers, J&S provide customers with an unrivalled level of choice and flexibility: a key differentiator which has contributed to the business’ year on year growth since its inception.
As part of the business’ commitment to ensuring continuous improvement across all procedures and processes, J&S will implement Slimstock inventory management to optimise their investment in inventory and to achieve further improvements in service levels. “We consistently strive to achieve zero lost sales and zero late deliveries for each and every customer. As our business grows, it is essential that we pursue every opportunity to further improve our customer’s experience,” explains Paul Flynn, Purchasing Director at J&S Automotive.
With the goal of eradicating out of stocks and enhancing overall availability, this project will better position the purchasing teams to make strategic supply chain decisions. Once implemented, Slim4 with provide the planning team with greater visibility as well as provide greater control over the ever-expanding assortment.
“As a company that strives to set the standard in customer care, we are excited to partner with the team at J&S automotive as they drive further efficiencies across their business,” concludes Richard Evans, Managing Director at Slimstock UK.
Plumbing and HVAC supplier, Wolseley Canada, selects Slimstock to improve in-stock performance for clients.
Slimstock, a global leader in providing inventory optimisation software, today announced they will be supporting Wolseley Canada’s effort to reengineer sales and operation planning processes to ensure optimum performance from over 220 stocking locations. Slimstock’s implementation consultants will partner with Wolseley Canada to ensure the full value of their solution’s business case is realised.
Eric Whaley, CIO of the plumbing, HVAC, Waterworks and Industrial supplier says; “We found Slimstock to be extremely knowledgeable, and that was valuable to our organisation during the selection process. They’ve already provided a lot of clarity on where our supply planning costs can be improved, and we’ve become laser focused on fixing the things that constrain our performance.”
Wolseley Canada’s focus is on improving response and efficiency of its supply chain. “We are the preferred supplier to building professionals across Canada,” says Whaley. “We want to make sure our clients receive the products they need to complete their projects on time, but we also need to mitigate working capital risk in our network too.” He continues, “To do that, we have to remove some of the manual friction with newer technology.”
Wolseley Canada was not seeing the results needed from other solutions. “Slimstock took the time to understand our operation and present us with a compelling business case. They are willing to stand behind their product and have provided very talented consultants to help us get implemented quickly. It’s very refreshing to see from a technology company,” says Whaley.
Slimstock’s North America President, Jos Crooijmans, says: “It has been a pleasure to work with a company that has been open with communication throughout the process and we expect great things to come. Wolseley Canada vetted many very competent vendors. It is a tremendous vote of confidence for us that they have chosen Slimstock.”
About Wolseley Canada
Wolseley Canada is a market leader in the wholesale distribution of plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, waterworks, fire protection, pipes, valves and fittings and industrial products. With its head office in Burlington, Ontario, the company has approximately 2,500 employees and 220 locations coast-to-coast. Wolseley’s team of sales and service specialists, an industry-leading e-business platform, and relationships with the best vendors and brands in the business, make Wolseley the professional’s choice across the country. Wolseley is also committed to being a good corporate citizen, while building and sustaining valuable community partnerships.
Since 2004 Wolseley has been a national sponsor of Special Olympics Canada, and has donated more than $3.2 million through corporate sponsorship and employee fundraising. Wolseley is also an active supporter of Habitat for Humanity. Wolseley Canada’s parent company, Ferguson plc is the world’s largest trade distributor of plumbing and heating products and a leading supplier of building materials. Ferguson plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: FERG) and on the FTSE 100 index of listed companies.
For Mayflex, ensuring their supply chain is capable of attaining customer service excellence is not just a priority, it is essential. In order to retain and build upon the business’ position as market leader, the supplier of infrastructure, networking and electronic security solutions turned to Slimstock as their trusted knowledge partner for inventory management.
From the state of the art distribution centre located in the UK, the business offers a full range of structured cabling, racks and CCTV products to name but a few. With over 98% of orders being fulfilled from stock on a next day delivery basis, the exceptional efficiency of the supply chain operation has helped Mayflex build a reputation for reliability. In April 2015, Mayflex was taken over by Sonepar; an independent family-owned company with global market leadership in the B-to-B distribution of electrical products and related services. Consequently, Mayflex has become a key operating company within the Sonepar Group.
As a business that continually reviews its systems and processes to ensure they offer the industry’s most effective means of demand fulfilment, Mayflex implemented Slimstock’s inventory management solution, Slim4, to drive further efficiencies across the business. “As the scale and complexity of our business grew, we turned to Slimstock to help professionalise our approach to inventory management,” explains Selwyn Smith, group purchasing manager at Mayflex.
“Slimstock’s supply chain expertise ensured that the implementation of software, process and mindset was swift, effective and well managed throughout.” Selwyn Smith goes on to add: “Above all, the team at Slimstock made every effort to ensure that the impact on our day to day operations was minimal.”
Following the successful implementation of Slim4, the team at Mayflex have much greater visibility over their operations: “We now have a reliable reporting tool that we can depend upon to offer clarity over our availability and inventory positions: Through providing timely insights into our operations which are both robust and intelligible, our entire business has benefited hugely”.
Since implementing Slim4, the converged IP solutions specialist has already achieved a 20% reduction in inventory days. Furthermore, through optimising their entire inventory management process, availability across the top performing product lines has increased to over 99.9%. “Ultimately, the success of this project has had a game-changing impact on both our competitiveness and efficiency,” explains Selwyn.
“Operational excellence is something that is never truly attained: there are always further opportunities to achieve additional efficiencies. With a winning combination of a highly skilled team, extensive project management experience, Mayflex is a great example of a company who refuses to rest on their laurels as they constantly strive to improve. For this reason, I see great synergy between Mayflex and Slimstock and I look forward to building upon what has already been an extremely effective partnership,” Concludes Richard Evans, managing director at Slimstock UK.
One of the world’s leading ferry operators, Stena Line, has taken the decision to extend the implementation of Slimstock’s inventory optimisation solution, Slim4, to optimise replenishment across the business’ retail operation. Following the rollout of Slim4 at the central distribution centre in Malmo, the ferry operator will now implement Slim4 across its network of onboard stores and border shops.
With 22 routes in Europe, Stena Line is one of the world’s largest ferry operators. Offering connections between 10 countries, in the last year alone, the ferry operator transported approximately 7.3 million passengers, 1.6 million cars and 2 million freight units across the waters of the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea.
The replenishment of the onboard shops, restaurants, cafés and bars of the vessels is managed by Retail & Food Services, a Stena Line affiliate. In order to focus more time on ensuring customer satisfaction, Stena Line will utilise Slimstock’s inventory management solution to improve in-store availability while improving operational efficiency.
“The decision to roll Slim4 out to their retail stores is a commitment to building upon their already impressive record for customer care. As Stena Line’s trusted partner for inventory management, we are proud to support them on their journey towards operational excellence,” concludes Eric van Dijk, CEO at Slimstock.
After another year of continuous growth, Slimstock UK is on the lookout for the UK’s top supply chain talent to join its ever-expanding team. As part of the recruitment drive, the inventory management specialist has decided to relaunch the infamous National Inventory Test in a bid to help promote a number of exciting supply chain graduate opportunities. Designed to challenge the knowledge of current students and recent Masters graduates, the online questionnaire will be relaunched for the third consecutive year in a row. Made up of 25 multiple choice questions, the National Inventory Test focuses on a number of key areas of inventory and supply chain management. The winner of the test will be offered an exclusive opportunity to win a job at Slimstock.
Developing young and ambitious talent
Designed to engage aspiring supply chain professionals, former winners of the test gone on to attain senior positions within Slimstock and now support the inventory processes of some of the biggest businesses in Europe. Richard Evans, UK Country Manager at Slimstock, explains: "Young and ambitious supply chain professionals play a crucial role in our business and as a result, we strive to attract and develop the most talented people we can find."
supply chain graduate opportunities: The winner takes all
The winner of this year’s National Inventory Test will be given the opportunity to win a position on Slimstock’s prestigious Top Talent Programme. This intensive development scheme is no ordinary internship or traineeship, and is not for the average student: Slimstock only select the most talented graduates.
During this three-year programme, you will follow an extensive development plan where you will be able to share and enhance your knowledge in order to accelerate your growth towards a leadership position. This programme will provide you with the supply chain skills and knowledge you will require in order to become an expert in the field of inventory management. Click here to find out more about the job on offer!
Take the test now…
The National Inventory Test was officially launched this month and will be available until April 1st. If you think you have what it takes to work at Europe’s leading inventory optimisation specialist, take the test now!
As we embark upon the new year, no doubt many of us are carrying a few extra pounds. The same holds true for businesses: there is always scope to trim down the excess inventory.
Holding high levels of obsolete stock is bad for business. However, removing these items from your operation is often easier said than done. Given that you have made a financial investment in these products, accepting that these items no longer offer any value can be a hard pill to swallow. So what can you do to “painlessly” remove obsolete stock from your operations while still keeping the potential financial impact to a minimum?
Eliminating waste takes great courage!
Based on the experience of the inventory analysts at Slimstock, of all the items in your warehouse, typically, 10% will never be sold. Given that these items are unlikely to bring in any revenue, why are you holding onto them?
Although writing off stock will come at the cost of your margins which won’t amuse the finance director or the board, it is totally necessary. After all, when you consider that you have already lost your original investment in these items, continuing to stock these products will only cost you more money!
Refine your assortment
To help you refine your assortment in 2018, we have outlined 4 simple steps to help you eliminate the obsolete stock which is holding your business back. Through following these tips, you will be able to minimise inventory costs and free up working capital: both of which will no doubt be music to the financial director’s ears!
Complete the form below to download the first part of our three-part series now!
Slimstock ask Nick Brouwer, team leader Supply Chain and user of Slim4 at the Nedac Sorbo Group, five questions: What's his role? What does he do on a normal day and what impact has Slim4 had on the business? What's his biggest challenge at the moment? And what are his ambitions for the future?
What is your role?
I supervise six inventory planners across various business units. On a corporate level, I manage the inventory and service levels. However, I also intervene in the case of emergencies or when things are escalated from a lower level. For example, a supplier recently increased the minimum order quantity to double that of our annual requirement. In such cases, together with my colleagues from purchasing, I get involved and we set up a discussion with the supplier.
My main goal within the Nedac Sorbo Group is to take planning to the next level. I want to ensure that the planners are making the absolute most out of Slim4. I also want to ensure that they only make fact based decisions instead of acting on gut feeling. I want to teach them to plan as efficiently as possible in order to focus more time on improving processes.
What does your working day look like?
Although I'm not a planner, I spend approximately three hours a day using Slim4. In the morning, I start my working day with a good look at the Slim4 dashboard. This provides me with detailed insights into how inventory levels develop on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. If I see any strange or unexpected peaks, I investigate the causes and try to solve them together with the planners.
I don't have a fixed daily routine. I have all kinds of appointments during the day and I'm involved in several improvement projects. I have meetings with suppliers on a regular basis. During these meetings we discuss ongoing issues and use Slim4 to help improve their delivery performance.
What's the impact of Slim4?
Our whole planning process relies on Slim4: we even generate our purchase orders within the system. These orders are transferred to our SAP ERP system from which we actually do the purchasing. What would happen if we didn't have Slim4? Well, we would have to look for another system as soon as possible. We might even have to resort to Excel as an alternative. Our company cannot function without a planning system.
Without Slim4 the planning processes would take an enormous amount of time. One of the biggest benefits is that Slim4 prioritises work for our planners and provides insight into exceptions and indicates how urgently an action needs to be taken.
What's your main challenge?
At the moment our main project is focused on integrating processes with our sister company, George East Housewares in the UK. We will try to bring both businesses together in order to manage stock in the same Slim4 environment. This improvement project is all about harmonising assortments between both companies. For instance, if a product is moving faster in the Netherlands than in the UK, it could be better to purchase stock from the Netherlands and vice versa.
In addition, we will conduct an in depth analysis of the entire product range in order to gain a clearer picture of our long tail. We will also dive into the processes and, where necessary, make organisational changes in order to help keep this long tail under control.
What's your ambition?
The role of supply chain team leader is still fairly new for me so for the next few years I want to develop myself further in this field. There's so much more to gain from Slim4 and I want our team to focus more time on core planning activities instead of dealing with side issues.
What I would like to be doing in five years' time? For me that's difficult to say. This year I will take the Slimstock HBO Minor course. For now, I think that's enough. I'm kind of a control freak: I like to address problems and I really enjoy it when we get things to improve. For this reason, this is exactly the job which suits me best.