Supply Chain Brain at Summer Con 2014 – Ryan Dimond of Big Heart Pet Brands

Video Transcription

Jean Murphy:
Hello. Today I’m speaking with Ryan Dimond, manager of supply chain optimization at Big Heart Pet Brands. Welcome Ryan.

Ryan Dimond:Thanks.

Jean Murphy:
Tell us what Big Heart Pet Brands encompasses.

Ryan Dimond:Big Heart Pet Brands is a newer company. We used to be with Delmonte Foods which was your canned beans, your peaches, things like that. We recently fad sold that off to Delmonte Pacific so now we’re the largest stand-alone pet food company in the United States.

Jean Murphy:
What are some of your brands that we would know about?

Ryan Dimond:Milk Bone, Meow Mix, Milo’s Kitchen, Kibbles and Bits, so all the larger more well-known.

Jean Murphy:
Very interesting, very interesting. With the title of manager of supply chain optimization, what does that mean exactly? What is your day-to-day like?

Ryan Dimond:Day-to-day we do a lot of supply chain design. We’re really the hub and spoke within our supply chain reaching out to all the different functions; demand planning, PPIC which is what we call production planning inventory control, DC transportation. We have all the data in one spot. We’re really the only group that has all the data because of all the data modeling, so we get involved in a lot of projects not just on the optimization, but sharing of the data, a lot of lean projects, how do we optimize our supply chain and make it better.

Jean Murphy:
Do you have one supply chain for all of your brands, or are they all separate?

Ryan Dimond:We have one supply chain, especially now that we’re one stand-alone company. It makes it much leaner to operate, makes us more agile, and we use a lot of our software modeling to make sure we have a next gen, lean, agile supply chain with the divestiture of the company. We had previously bought another dog food company, previously. Our network’s always changing, and we have to be able to not even react to it. To be proactive so we don’t pin ourselves in a corner two, three, four, five years down the road with our supply chain and our capital investments that we make.

Jean Murphy:
Tell me a little bit more about the modeling and the technology you use to support that.

Ryan Dimond:We use LLamasoft’s Supply Chain Guru. It’s been a great tool for us so far. It’s a unique thing that we’ve done is we’ve brought it in house; we don’t use consultants things like that. We’ve really created a center of excellence where we’ve developed a lot of standardized processes and procedures which is one of the key things in supply chain design where a lot of people tend to have issues or fail.

There’s three components of it. Data goes in the model, the actual modeling, and then the outputs and then the selling of the results. We’ve standardized both ends of that triangle there. The front end, the gathering the data, we have a very smooth operation. We review our data with finance. Everybody who owns the data has to sign off to those DC costs, production costs, things like that, so when we get to the end there’s no going back and forth over numbers.

The middle piece, using the software, is actually very easy to do. We actually spend probably the least amount of time in that arena, because there’s more time to gathering data. You run your models, and we’re actually able to use the Cloud now, one of the things LLamasoft has, so you can run several set of scenarios. Instead of running it on your desktop, they run an hour or two, we can make seven or eight scenarios, send them to the Cloud, download them all so they’ll all run at the same time.

Then we have some standardized processes on the back end. We use some visual analytic tools where we’ve pretty much automated it and make it push button. We have standard templates to make sure we look at the different buckets of outputs that we have to make sure everything in the model behaves as we expected, and to keep that same cadence of output so when we review it with the senior leadership team … They’re used to seeing the same thing time and time again. The last thing you would want to do is people trying to figure out what you’re trying to tell them, and what they’re trying to see, and trying to figure out how those numbers match up. We’re very big on using essentially pictures that tell a story. All the mapping utilities that were within Guru and our visual analytic tools.

The visual analytic tools we are able to use multiple ways to look at the data using color, size, shapes, all in one view as opposed to … I’ve done this for a while. When I first started it was just Excel outputs, and then you sit in a room with a bunch of guys that used to look at the numbers, then they start figuring out the numbers. With this we already have all their questions answered for them so we go through that cadence every time. It’s been very successful for us to have that … I hate to use the term center of excellence because it’s kind of a catch phrase right now, but we’ve really standardized a lot of those processes and rigors. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been successful as a company.

Jean Murphy:
I’m sort of familiar with the network modeling. Tell me some of the other things you’re modeling like your … What are you doing otherwise? Transportation, or load optimization, or what?

Ryan Dimond:We use the tool for anything from risk mitigation, natural disasters, either what if it did happen, or if they do happen. Merger and acquisition. As we went through with the Delmonte the divestiture and buyout, so we’ve been very heavy on them and the activity. You can use it for integrated business process planning. What else? We’ve done quite a bit within just the pure … What DC, product flow optimization, things of that nature.

We’re actually … It’s gotten to be so ingrained with what we do, and everybody trusts the data so well now, we’re actually looking to help out with demand forecasting to help it build financial budgets because it’s the only place that has the one … We’ve built the rigors in so everybody trusts the data, and everybody actually comes to us to say, “Hey, what does the model have? I want to check my numbers.” We get all the different areas of supply chain to say, “What are guys doing? Make sure we’re in line with you.” Typically it’s somebody who is modeling designs, going out and saying, “Hey, what do you guys have?” We’ve really worked on that.

That was a hard thing for the senior leadership to accept at first. I told them we need to slow down the speedup. They wanted to come in, they want all these projects done. I said, “Well, we can get to that point, but we got to slow down first, build some of this automation, put some of the standards and rigors in of getting the data in the model and the production out.” Luckily they were patient enough with me to we got to that point. We’re now to the point we’re speeding up, and we’re depending on the answer. Sometimes we’re turning out answers within an hour, even sometimes under an hour depending on the size of the question. We still run our major projects, but we get some what ifs and we can turn it around before lunch time.

Jean Murphy:
That’s very impressive.

Ryan Dimond:It’s a great thing to have.

Jean Murphy:
Let me shift gears a minute, because I’m curious about trying to manage a global brand like you are. What is the role that the supply chain plays in really supporting the brands?

Ryan Dimond:The thing is with being a global company, we import/export, but we’re mostly within the United States, is the supply chain can be a differentiator, being a vendor to a retailer to a customer, to make sure your network is structured in a way where you can meet service goals. All your lead times, fill rates. Everything we do within this tool directly affects our customers, and it can help you differentiate yourself from that on top of the savings you have for the company.

We always talk about net zero growth, and what we do is … We’re able to save money from the bottom line, that the company can then use for other things; marketing, commercials, things like that. That’s where that supply chain piece comes in, and it becomes so important. It’s a big piece of … Not just the servicing the customers but also the costs to the company.

Jean Murphy:
It’s a great story Ryan. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Ryan Dimond:Thanks.

Jean Murphy:
I’ve been speaking with Ryan Dimond of Big Heart Pet Brands. Thank you for watching.

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