Stories | January 16, 2018 | Read Time: 4 minutes
Data Analytics in the Global Supply Chain
The fundamentals of agriculture haven’t changed in 10,000 years. Farmers have always planted seeds, depended on sunlight and rainfall, added fertility to the soil, and protected their crops from pests.
What has changed is the way technology allows us to rethink the fundamentals.
Farmers today are highly specialized and incredibly productive, aided by the most advanced innovations the industry has ever seen. They use mobile communications technology to manage up to thousands of acres at a time. They extract insights with the help of data analytics, producing food more efficiently and reducing their use of natural resources. And they appreciate the value provided by analytics, because it helps them make the most of their years of knowledge and experience.
Agriculture’s Embrace of Decision Support Tools
At Monsanto, and throughout the modern agriculture industry, leaders are finding innovative ways to leverage the value provided by data analytics, which can enhance our own collective knowledge and experience.
Specifically, our Global Supply Chain has successfully used analytics to improve its own efficiency and processes.
Our Objective: Unlocking Digital Yield
The Global Supply Chain at Monsanto is critical to the success of our enterprise. It is tasked with taking every ounce, seed, quart, pound, and byte of raw material we work with and converting them to a useful form.
Many in information technology use the term “unlocking digital yield” to describe this process. Every step, every input, and every decision presents an opportunity to achieve maximum efficiency. Each of these also provides a chance to reduce our use of our most precious natural resources, like land, water, and energy. Let’s explore three opportunities we have identified in recent years.
Case Study One: Advanced Seed Production
As a seed company, we are extremely focused on producing the highest quality seeds for our farmer customers, so they can grow the highest quality crops. Reducing seed loss along the way has long been a goal.
We introduced our Advanced Manufacturing technology to collect and analyze data from our fields and facilities. During fiscal year 2016, we piloted the program at our Grinnell, Iowa and Sinesti, Romania facilities. The results were pretty astonishing. By installing cameras to monitor conveyor belts in both facilities, we reduced seed loss from 5,400 bushels to just 30 bushels! Additionally, we saw modest improvements to our process for removing husks, experiencing a 2 percent increase in the quantity sorted on one husker line.
Case Study Two: Temperature Sensors in Corn Trucks
High temperatures over extend periods can damage or destroy corn seeds being transported to the processing facility. This is particularly troubling in warmer regions like Mexico and Brazil. We installed temperature sensors in our trucks to keep track of these conditions. Over 500 trucks were monitored, improving the protection of 5,000 loads of corn seed.
Case Study Three: Climate Smart Logistics
Our global supply chain coordinates more than 300,000 shipments every year, operating in 70 countries. This presents a tremendous opportunity for resource and fuel use efficiency. As part of our commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2021, we instituted the Transportation Management Solution (TMS). TMS includes a combination of real-time monitoring, automation of processes, analytics-based decision making, and standardization of tools and processes.
This allows us to consolidate some routes and optimize the efficiency of others. In Brazil alone, TMS helped us reduce our total vehicle miles by 1.4 million the first year. Our corresponding reduction in carbon dioxide emissions exceeded 2,500 tons.
The implementation of TMS has been so successful, supply chain is rolling out the program around the world.
“Next year, we expect noticeable reductions in CO2 emissions related to successful implementation and use of TMS in North America and Europe,” said Mark Malloy, Global Logistics Operations Excellence Lead. “Argentina and Asia will also implement TMS later in 2018, and we should see preliminary optimization gains for this fiscal year.”
No Time to Rest
While these examples are certainly encouraging, we plan to continue our journey down the road toward the practical application of data analytics. Along the way, we hope to improve countless processes and products. Helping the world’s farmers grow more food in the most sustainable manner possible is what inspires us every day.
Reduced seed loss, reduced emissions, improved operational efficiency, and satisfied customers.
These are the goals we are working toward now. Just imagine what we could create tomorrow.