Cream of the Crops
With several hundred locations in more than 70 countries, management at Bayer Crop Science needed greater visibility and access to the information that could help it make fact-based logistics decisions, boost asset utilization, and enhance on-time delivery.
Bayer Crop Science is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition.
Blue Yonder is a supply chain management company operating as an independent subsidiary of Panasonic. Founded in 1985, the company is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, with offices globally.
To reach these goals, the company partnered with Ernst & Young, LLC to implement Blue Yonder’s transportation management solutions. It has since improved asset utilization, eliminated millions of miles traveled along with the emissions they would generate, and improved operational efficiency.
Bayer Crop Science develops solutions that help growers maximize yields, secure harvests, and sustainably grow nutritious food and feed. Its two main business lines are chemicals and seeds. The chemicals business tends to have more of a local focus, while the seed business is international, with more shipments moving between different countries, says Johnny Ivanyi, global head of distribution excellence.
Rolling Out a TMS
When it began its partnership with Blue Yonder, Bayer Crop Science started with domestic over-the-road and rail shipments. About one year later, it started to deploy the Blue Yonder transportation management system (TMS) in some regions, says Terence Leung, senior director, product marketing with Blue Yonder.
In 2020, Bayer Crop Science began digitalizing and standardizing its logistics operations globally. As part of this effort, it started to leverage more of the functionality available through Blue Yonder’s transportation management solution in its locations around the world.
As of 2023, Bayer Crop Science had implemented the Blue Yonder transportation management solution in about 65 countries. Installations are in place across North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
Most locations can leverage the standard Blue Yonder TMS solution for about 80% of transactions, with 20% requiring some configuring for exceptions. Typically, the customizations are regional. For instance, legal requirements differ between Europe and North America, necessitating some customization.
Three elements were most important in the implementation, Ivanyi says. First was the customer experience and ensuring on-time delivery; second was simplifying the transportation function to achieve cost savings; and third was furthering sustainability efforts.
Among its other solutions, Blue Yonder offers an intelligent, real-time supply chain platform that provides a single view of supply and demand. Blue Yonder can cover end-to-end supply chain needs, including network design, supply chain planning, manufacturing, and scheduling. Its solutions can help organizations across various industries and of different sizes digitally transform their supply chains.
In fall 2021, Panasonic announced that it had completed its acquisition of Blue Yonder. “It’s a match made in heaven,” Leung says, as it marries Blue Yonder’s software with Panasonic’s Internet of Things (IoT) hardware. Blue Yonder also works with other global project and hardware partners.
Blue Yonder’s transportation management system handles transportation from procurement to execution, with a focus on optimization. “We optimize routing, asset utilization, customer service, and sustainability,” Leung says.
The software can help companies calculate changes in greenhouse gas emissions and the number of empty miles they’re avoiding by optimizing delivery routes.
Managing the Variables
To accomplish this, Blue Yonder relies on algorithms, as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that can incorporate multiple variables across different countries and routes. For example, the solution can provide advanced predictions of estimated arrival times, as well as granular carrier ratings.
The carrier ratings capabilities can handle multiple scenarios, such as identifying the carriers that can best handle shipments late on a Friday, or during weather events when it becomes necessary to make multiple stops. The solution takes into account the carrier’s history, learning from the transactions, so it can continually adjust its recommendations and provide a set of “fine grain ratings,” Leung says.
The TMS also offers dynamic pricing discovery, so shippers can instantly connect with carrier marketplaces to discover real-time market rates and capacity. They can review and choose the best freight rate across contracted and non-contracted carriers, and efficiently access additional carrier coverage to help manage spikes in shipment volume.
With this information, shippers can cut spot rates by up to half, and accelerate sourcing by up to 50%, Blue Yonder says.
Digitizing also can help organizations handle the complexity of omnichannel operations, where orders arrive via multiple channels and fulfillment has to handle eaches and not just pallets.
Another benefit of digitalization is that supply chain professionals can predict the impact of changes to the network, including sustainability benefits. They can also accelerate order handling and better manage disruptions. Through digitalization, “they can boost speed and delivery performance by reacting as a single supply chain unit,” Leung says.
Before its partnership with Blue Yonder, Bayer used multiple different systems and processes. Its Global Digital Logistics initiative is focused on standardizing systems and processes and leveraging Blue Yonder’s transportation management system.
At the start of Bayer Crop Science’s digital journey, the company created a community of about 30 subject matter expert employees across the globe, Ivanyi says. They’re able to share best practices and incorporate lessons learned from one implementation for future implementations.
Working with a third-party, Bayer also created and developed a digital learning series to help train people who were new to the system, Ivanyi says.
Redefine and Standardize
When implementing new solutions, it makes sense to redefine and standardize processes for the ideal digital state. “If you don’t have standardized process, you might break the digital chain,” Leung says.
For instance, an employee who continues to use a spreadsheet for transportation procurement negates the benefits of the automated solution.
During any technology configuration, a robust change management process can help encourage people to use the solutions being implemented. With Bayer Crop Science, the EY team assisted with change management, as well as the implementation, and making the business case for the initiatives.
The digital solutions currently being implemented are progressing from automation to also handling more strategic decision-making, Leung says. For instance, a system might identify exceptions and leverage artificial intelligence to recommend next steps for transportation or logistics operations.
By working with Blue Yonder to digitize its supply chain, Bayer Crop Science has experienced gains in several ways. “A main benefit is that all information is in one place,” Ivanyi says. Previously, the company’s varying systems and processes in different countries made it difficult to ensure it was serving all customers efficiently and effectively, to access enterprise-wide visibility, and to measure performance across units.
Moving to a single comprehensive transportation management system offers multiple benefits, Ivanyi says. It improves the customer experience, making things simpler and more productive. It enhances customer reception by using a TMS that is easy to adopt and has analytics behind it to show the benefits.
In addition, the system enhances sustainability by showing how reductions in miles traveled impacts carbon dioxide emissions.
The Blue Yonder TMS also enables companies to measure carrier performance against service level agreements. Machine learning capabilities can measure performance across granular scenarios, such as urgent requests. This additional data can help companies make better decisions about capacity and costs.
When it comes to getting shipments out the door, the Blue Yonder TMS streamlines that process as well. In the past, this operation often required working with multiple systems and placing calls to various departments, such as customer service, planning, and service providers. “Now, in a few minutes, the shipments can be moving,” Ivanyi says.
Finding New Uses
Bayer continues to find new ways to use the system. “The moment you have a system like a TMS, you start to play with it,” Ivanyi says.
Employees can review the metrics and be more proactive about making decisions to optimize their logistics operations. For instance, the solution can provide the optimal cost of an over-the-road shipment from one point to another, as well as how well it will meet service expectations. “When you start to get data, you can change behavior,” Ivanyi says.
The system also allows a shipper to connect with its logistics partners to change a route to make it more efficient. “With these metrics, you can be more proactive,” Ivanyi says.
Bayer Crop Science has been able to save between 3 and 5% in its transportation spend, boost asset utilization by 7%, and reduce empty miles traveled, the company says.
The company is looking at implementing the newest version of the TMS, which incorporates machine learning to improve decision-making and exception handling, across the globe.
Case Study: Planting the Seeds
With several hundred locations in more than 70 countries, Bayer Crop Science was looking for greater visibility and access to information that could help it make fact-based logistics decisions and boost asset utilization, reduce freight costs, and enhance on-time delivery.
Bayer Crop Science partnered with Ernst & Young, LLC to implement Blue Yonder’s transportation management solution.
Bayer Crop Science has improved asset utilization by 7%, eliminating millions of miles traveled, along with the emissions they would generate, and cutting between 3 and 5% of its transportation spend.
Bayer Crop Science is looking at implementing the newest version of Blue Yonder’s transportation management system, which incorporates machine learning to improve decision-making and exception handling.