Bringing a fresh pitcher of milk to your family’s breakfast table may seem simple, but for the ten-thousand farmers who own Fonterra, a global dairy nutrition company, it’s a life’s work. A tightly managed dairy supply chain helps customers get products they need them. And Fonterra’s team of intelligent digital workers work behind the scenes to keep the supply chain flowing.
When shoppers walk into the grocery store, they expect to find their weekly supply of milk and butter. They may not realize that milk products are in many other items they love to purchase, like cake batter and crackers. In addition to supplying fresh milk to New Zealanders, Fonterra supplies powdered milk products to food producers around the world. Keeping those products fresh and flowing through the supply chain is critical to Fonterra and its customers. When extra dairy products are available, the planning team looks for opportunities to “re-classify” the inventory to fulfill a similar customer order. To re-classify a single inventory item, employees must quickly propose a solution and conduct 38 checks in company systems to make sure the replacement product meets customer and regulatory requirements. At least 30 of these requests come in each day. A delay means customers don’t get what they need and Fonterra is left holding on to inventory for too long, which ultimately leads to supply chain waste and lost revenue.
Enter “Arnie, The Terminator Bot,” a Blue Prism intelligent digital worker brought in to tackle this important task. Named by Fonterra’s dedicated operations staff, Arnie rapidly conducts all of the necessary regulatory checks to ensure that the best products end up in customers’ hands. As Arnie works through the required 38 checks, he opens multiple applications, extracts the required reports and applies logic to determine if the product can be reclassified. He’s not afraid to ask for help and will email his human colleagues if he needs more information before determining if the product can be shipped. The result is a speedy process that eliminates inventory delays. Arnie completes two hours of work in 10-20 minutes without errors. So far, Arnie has delivered cost savings of more than NZ $180,000 per year in working capital interest costs and has improved the speed and accuracy involved in Fonterra’s decision-making process.
“Fonterra has been able to create value across its business with the deployment of intelligent automation, including reduced error rate, and faster decision-making thanks to information being generated in a timelier fashion.” – Tina Short-Tupaea, Head of Intelligent Automation, Fonterra