Kimberly-Clark streamlines order fulfillment & optimizes transportation

In an article by Bridget McCrea titled “Kimberly-Clark streamlines order fulfillment & optimizes transportation,” published on November 6, 2023, in Logistics Management, the global leader in personal care and professional products, Kimberly-Clark embarks on a comprehensive effort to digitize its supply chain. The company aims to streamline its transportation networks by leveraging machine learning and optimization algorithms, resulting in multi-million dollar savings annually.

Challenges in the Distribution Network

Kimberly-Clark’s North American distribution network, covering manufacturing sites, ten major distribution centers (DCs), and shipping points, faced challenges with order fulfillment. The company shipped 1,100 to 1,500 truckload equivalents daily, with orders often bunching up during the week, causing delays and increased operational costs

Identifying the Problem and Seeking Solutions

Recognizing the need for improvement post-pandemic, Kimberly-Clark aimed to enhance product availability and restore margins. An analysis revealed order-bunching issues caused by disparate systems that did not communicate. The company sought a technical solution to integrate planning, fulfillment, and logistics systems to address this.

Implementing LevelLoad: A Cloud-Based Solution

Kimberly-Clark engaged ProvisionAi’s LevelLoad, a cloud-based transportation planning and optimization application. Combining machine learning and optimization algorithms, LevelLoad facilitates real-time visibility and creates tailored transportation plans. This solution enables Kimberly-Clark to identify and move orders efficiently, bridging the gap between supply planning and execution.

Results and Future Plans

The LevelLoad pilot project yielded positive results, reducing daily variability by 40% and saving Kimberly-Clark millions in transportation costs. The success led to the expansion of LevelLoad across all North American distribution sites, achieving multi-million dollar savings annually. Looking ahead, Kimberly-Clark aims to apply AI-driven technology to optimize inbound freight movement and extend the concept of level loading to production schedules.

Advice for Supply Chain Optimization

Scott DeGroot, Vice President of Global Planning and Logistics, emphasizes the importance of understanding the business problem before seeking technological solutions. He advises organizations to prioritize business processes, identifying areas that need adjustment, whether in deployment, stock allocation, transport planning, or labor planning.

In conclusion, Kimberly-Clark’s strategic implementation of advanced technologies addresses immediate challenges in its distribution network and sets the stage for ongoing digital transformation across its global supply chain.

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