In the article “Supply Chain Visibility: How Kimberly-Clark Cleaned Up Order Bunching” (March 30, 2023) for CGT Consumer Goods Technology Magazine, Lisa Johnson investigates how Kimberly-Clark tackled order bunching issues by leveraging AI and enhancing supply chain visibility, reducing daily variability by 40%.
Kimberly-Clark faced a critical challenge in its fulfillment operations, particularly related to order bunching, where order loads stacked up on specific days, causing disruptions. This issue impacted ten major North American distribution centers, affecting on-time delivery and labor across a portfolio, including well-known brands such as Kleenex, Cottonelle, Huggies, and Kotex.
The company identified the need for change and optimization in response to the fluctuating demand patterns, especially with lighter weekend workloads and spikes from Monday to Wednesday.
About 18 months after emerging from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kimberly-Clark decided to address these issues by enhancing both processes and technology.
The company acknowledged that merely adding new technology to existing processes wouldn’t suffice. Instead, they conducted a thorough analysis of their operations, revealing a crucial requirement to improve end-to-end supply chain visibility.
Kimberly-Clark’s VP of Global Logistics, Scott DeGroot, emphasized understanding stock availability, customer preferences, and distribution capabilities. They identified challenges in their planning systems for stock allocation and distribution, leading to the decision to partner with ProvisionAi.
This collaboration involved becoming the first end user of ProvisionAi’s AI-enabled tool, which automated distribution planning and deployment processes, enhancing scheduling and supply chain visibility.
The implementation of this solution resulted in a 40% reduction in daily variability, particularly in locations where production plants shipped to distribution centers.
The positive impact extended to on-time delivery, customer service performance, and a substantial reduction in North American distribution costs.
DeGroot highlighted the importance of earlier process improvements, ensuring visibility into the end-to-end supply chain.
The company invested significantly in end-to-end supply chain digitization, incorporating digital procurement methodology, concurrent planning ecosystems, real-time manufacturing, and warehousing execution systems.
Kimberly-Clark’s commitment to a responsive supply chain involves resources directed toward physical automation in warehouses and manufacturing sites.
In summary, Kimberly-Clark’s proactive approach, combining process improvements and advanced technology, addressed order bunching challenges and positioned the company for continued enhancement in supply chain efficiency and customer satisfaction.