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o9 Solutions and Supply Chain Insights With LKQ Europe Reveal Significant Supply Chain Planning Improvements

After testing outside-in supply chain planning concepts via Project Zebra, LKQ Europe realized a 17.3% increase in forecast value add and reduced impact from the bullwhip effect

o9 Solutions, a leading enterprise AI software platform provider for transforming planning and decision-making, and analyst firm Supply Chain Insights announced that LKQ Europe captured significant supply chain planning insights as a result of the company’s participation in a pilot program designed to test outside-in planning concepts through Project Zebra. Co-founded by o9 and Supply Chain Insights, Project Zebra is an open-source industry effort to define and activate outside-in processes to prove the value of outside-in supply chain planning processes.

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“For some time, I had been convinced of the power that outside-in planning could have on our supply chain”

LKQ Europe is the region’s leading automotive aftermarket distributor, providing various spare parts for cars and vans at approximately 1,000 branches located throughout 20 countries. In Germany, where the Project Zebra pilot took place, LKQ Europe operates 180 branches served by a central warehouse that manages approximately 1.4 million individual SKUs.

The Project Zebra research focused on using outside-in market data to improve the company’s demand and supply sensing capabilities and create a more agile and profitable supply chain. The study also tested how bi-directional orchestration versus the more traditional approach of multi-tier inventory optimization could improve LKQ Europe’s inventory buy plan.

The results of the pilot far exceeded LKQ Europe’s expectations. When the company incorporated o9’s machine learning capabilities and market-driven data into the process, the Forecast Value Added (FVA) improved by 17.3% – giving LKQ Europe unprecedented insight into market signals. LKQ Europe also captured significant insights by measuring the impact of the bullwhip effect as part of the Project Zebra pilot program. With the bullwhip effect, very small variations at the demand level can become distorted and amplified throughout the supply chain. The higher the bullwhip effect, the higher the likelihood companies will experience issues that include expedited shipment costs, excess inventory and lost sales. Using o9’s predictive analytics and external market signals, LKQ Europe reduced the bullwhip effect on its business from 48% to 37%. Through Project Zebra, o9 built a solution to measure and quantify the impact of bullwhip amplification on supply chains by leveraging a bi-directional simulation model.

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“For some time, I had been convinced of the power that outside-in planning could have on our supply chain,” said Nicole Miara, Digital Transformation Lead, LKQ Europe. “Our participation in Project Zebra was quite the eye-opening journey. This wasn’t a software or IT project but rather a business implementation project that came with a fantastically diverse group of data scientists, business leaders, and supply chain professionals who are part of the Project Zebra think tank community. The outcome of the pilot has led us to rethink the orchestration levers that can be pulled in the future to make better supply chain decisions based on market, supplier, and channel data.”

“With only 3% of the market willing to adopt new approaches to solving supply chain problems, Project Zebra attempted to break through the loggerhead of traditional sales approaches for commercial engagements to implement yesterday’s solutions. Supply chain leaders need to question the outcomes of traditional planning by testing and learning through efforts like Project Zebra. Congratulations to LKQ Europe for its work as a supply chain innovator,” said Lora Cecere, Founder of Supply Chain Insights.

Fred Baumann, Vice President, Global Industry Solutions at o9 Solutions, said, “We applaud Nicole and her team at LKQ Europe for putting their confidence in Project Zebra and trying something completely new. We focused on using market-driven forecast data that incorporated inflation signals, as well as logistics signals around lead time predictability and variability to help LKQ Europe better sense their customers’ and suppliers’ reaction to changing market conditions and visualize the impact on their business early on. This important research has the potential to set the global standard for how companies use data to forecast demand and make supply chain decisions.”

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