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EMEA LLamaCon 2017 Recap

By Michelle Newton  December 13, 2017

LLamasoft was thrilled to welcome over 120 customers and partners (and 30+ LLamas!) to Amsterdam for our second annual LLamaCon user conference November 14 – 16. There was a wealth of great content and learnings over the event as well as a fantastic venue. Here are just a few highlights.


In his opening address LLamasoft Co-Founder and Executive Vice President Toby Brzoznowski emphasised the need for a global approach for success. Today’s supply chains have an unprecedented level of complexity, and market volatility and change are creating myriad supply chain “what-if “questions, more and more of our customers take a global approach to managing their supply chain operations.

A Look Ahead at LLamasoft

Towards the end of Toby’s keynote, he introduced the LLamasoft product roadmap and our emerging 3-in-1 supply chain optimisation software platform. The Supply Chain by Design platform enables supply chain design, planning by design and supply chain visibility for continuous, end-to-end supply chain optimisation.

Product Interaction

Attendees had a number of opportunities to interact with the platform including, Supply Chain Guru Version X, Planning by Design – powered by SupplyChainPlanning.com, Data Guru and Demand guru. They were able to learn about them in the in the product keynotes and see them in action at the Solution Showcase and at various product led sessions including a LLamasoft modelling game and a Planning by Design Workshop where delegates were invited to design a Supply Chain app!

A Customer Keynote

Chris Warren, Global Footprint Director, ABInBev & Jon Nicholas, Professional Services Director LLamasoft took the stage to discuss how the Global Footprint Team operates at ABInBev.

Chris described how ABInBev have developed a globally consistent footprint methodology that is efficient and gives confidence across the business. This involves many steps such as producing a baseline; running a scenario with constrained capacity and unconstrained capability; and running a scenario with unconstrained capacity and capability. Everyone in the business understands the methodology which makes the results easier to understand. There are standard output templates to report the right information to the right level of management.

There are 9 geographic zones with 1 to 3 people per zone, plus an international team. They have a work calendar that fits with the business calendar, producing a 3-year plan, refreshing it for the following year, then validating it for implementation. They make full use of Supply Chain Guru, Data Guru and Tableau. Data Guru allows the streamlining of repeatable tasks: automating the building of Supply Chain Guru models and generating Tableau output. It is particularly useful in increasing the speed to get value.

Staff training is essential for success. Coaching is provided from the centre and there is zone to zone buddying. A handbook document describes the footprint approach and is a one-stop source of information. Templates help with data input and automation. Different time zones work against the team, so they have regional communities of practice to connect people.

The key message from Chris and Jon was that organisational alignment and commitment are critical. There is a need to build and sustain supply chain design capability and to continually identify and deliver savings.

Great Customer Content

Pepa Alvarado, CHEP – Designing the Optimal Reverse Logistics Network at the lowest cost.

Pepa described how CHEP move pallets, reusable crates and containers between producers and retailers. They have a multi-modal supply chain that is complex due to the need to rebalance stock between supply and demand over time.

They use both greenfield modelling and network optimisation with candidate sites. Greenfield modelling is a useful first step to profile the distance savings from additional plants before refining the solution. They sometimes run simplified optimisation models as well as detailed ones, with different levels of product aggregations.

Models are regional and will be regularly refreshed. For example, they built a model of the market in India, but needed to revise it when the basis of taxation changed. In Europe, the model is updated with new volumes and new scenarios to answer business questions as they arise. They try to have a single model for a region to prevent version control problems.

The modelling process had previously been automated with SQL code, but they are now moving on to Data Guru. Christian Lude, RS Components – Supply Chain Optimisation and Simulation playing hand in hand Christian explained that they are a global distributor for engineers, specialising in small orders. They have a range to 500,000 skus in 11 DCs.

The design team is based in Corby and Frankfurt and covers data modelling (using SQL), Supply Chain Guru modelling and business engagement. They have produced a strategic model looking at the best network. They look out over a 5-year time horizon, and are currently looking at Brexit scenarios

Although they have obtained a lot of value from the optimisation work, the full end-to-end supply chain is too complex to solve and doesn’t reflect customer orders and parcel packing. This led them to use simulation to validate the results of optimisation and carry out scenario modelling at a detailed level. With LLamasoft’s support they have built a full end-to-end simulation which reflects their SAP order splitting logic and JDA supply planning logic. These business rules were custom built using scripts. Output tables are extracted from Supply Chain Guru, summarised and costed.

This approach has given better calibration to actuals, easier to understand results and fast run times. Christian emphasised the need for stakeholder engagement, both internally and with the suppler. You need to think: what’s in it for them?

Phillip Kruger, Vector Logistics – The Perfect Storm – Navigating Turbulent Waters

Vector Logistics is based in South Africa and is part of RCL Foods, the 2nd largest food company in Africa. Vector is their logistics division, covering primary and secondary distribution, retail and food service. Their footprint includes South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

They face a lot of volatility and disruption. Cheap food imports, avian flu, drought and retailer centralisation led to a decision to downsize their chicken business. They carried out a network re-design and reduced 10 DCs to 4 hubs with regional cross- docks. They also reviewed their fleet size using Transport Optimisation, and adjusted delivery frequencies so that they were aligned to delivery volumes.

They have progressively increased their capability. In 2014 they used Excel, in 2015 they purchased Supply Chain Guru licenses, and in 2017 they migrated to version X using both network and transport optimisation. Future work is going to look at divisional synergies and multi-temperature deliveries. They are also going to automate data extraction to speed up the time to answer business questions.

Ilias Lalousis, Cisco – Reflections and Projections in Establishing a Supply Chain Design COE at Cisco

Ilias described the Cisco service network as being large and complex. They have 300 depots globally and need to provide high service levels, which results in high inventories. Customers take out service contracts, and damaged products are processed, sent to repair centres then put into stock.

A video was played to show how they explained to colleagues the reason why they brought analysis in-house.
In 2014 they had a vision of standardising their design approach into a repeatable process. They carried out a pilot project that was strategic, had accessible data but had limited scope, asking the question – do they have the right repair locations? They used experienced people that knew the business and could simplify using their knowledge. They had a passionate sponsor and the project was a success, which allowed them to start building a team.

The following year, they included other business functions and their methodology started to be recognised in the business. With hindsight, they could have spent more time considering project selection and governance at this stage.

In their third year they continued spreading across the business and built the team into 4 people. They tried branding the team to make it more recognised.

In 2017 they are in their alignment phase. They have the methodology but need to align more with the business. They are introducing data automation, carrying out maturity assessments and improving their departmental branding. Branding is seen as useful, to help people understand the function and to get credit for successful projects.

Even though they have developed an internal capability, they did use consultants to help establish their COE, and may use them in future for different types of questions.

LLamaCon is emerging into an opportunity to bring together our community of supply chain leaders across Europe to not only learn, but to network and get to know one another.

Thank you again to all who attended for making this LLamaCon the best yet, including our sponsor Miebach! We’re looking forward to welcoming you to the UK in November 2018.! Look out for details of the opening of registration next summer!