Published on 23-Sep-2009
"We’ve had nothing but success with IBM ILOG OPL Development Studio. It lets us develop fast and deliver excellent customer support. No doubt we made the right decision in going with IBM ILOG." - Steffen Lukesch, Manager Business Process Development, Südzucker A.G.
Südzucker A.G. is an international organization that processes agricultural raw materials to produce safe and high-quality products, particularly foodstuffs for the food processing industry and consumers. The company leads the market with a wide range of sugar products for home and commercial use. It also participates in related segments of the food industry, such as frozen food and fruit-juice concentrates.
One of Südzucker’s primary operations is the distribution of sugar beet seeds to farmers. Government regulations require the seeds to be traceable back to their point of origin. To comply with these regulations and ensure the safe distribution of the seeds, the company needed a planning and scheduling solution designed to assemble each shipment from the fewest number of seed batches.
To minimize the number of batches used to fill a shipment, Südzucker created the Seed Batch Distribution System (SBDS). It uses a mathematical model built and maintained with IBM® ILOG OPL Development Studio to capture the constraints of the problem—more than 10 warehouses and 20 seed types—to optimally fill the shipments necessary to satisfy thousands of orders from more than 20,000 farmers annually using an application based on IBM ILOG CPLEX.
Deployed in 2003, SBDS has been highly successful in helping Südzucker to meet government regulations and helps provide: Full regulatory compliance; Less batch splitting; Accurate order fulfillment
Just about anyone with a sweet tooth in Europe has probably eaten sugar from Südzucker. In addition to the traditional sugar segment, in which Südzucker is the market leader in Europe, a dynamically growing special products segment has been built up, incorporating functional food (Beneo-Palatinit/Beneo-Orafti), starch, portion pack items, bakery additives, deep-frozen products (pizzas), fruit additives and fruit-juice concentrates, and bioethanol. The group’s strategic objectives are to stay on a steady path of profitability while maintaining a sound balance sheet and financial structures. Südzucker concentrates on those activities in which it has a competitive advantage due to its existing core competencies. The group’s significant strengths include a close connection to agriculture, know-how in the sugar area and innovative power supported by its internal research infrastructure. Those new business activities which have been set up in parallel with the sugar segment have an affinity to the core business, enabling business risks to be kept within reasonable limits.
To comply with governmental traceability regulations and ensure the safe distribution of the seeds, Südzucker needed a planning and scheduling solution designed to assemble each shipment from the fewest number of seed batches. For each type of seed in a Südzucker warehouse, there can be several different batches, each with a different quantity of seeds. Ideally, only one batch should be used with each shipment, but this isn’t always possible.
The Seed Batch Distribution System uses a mathematical model built with IBM ILOG OPL Development Studio and run with IBM ILOG CPLEX. As data is entered for shipments, the application creates a solution that matches warehouse stock to the quantities requested. When only one seed batch per seed type is available at a warehouse, the solution is very simple. But when the application has to process multiple batches per seed type, the application has to find the best possible solution for minimizing the number of batches used to fill the individual shipments. With literally hundreds of batches, the complexity of this problem mounts quickly. The SBDS mathematical model applies data for the warehouses and the seed batches to efficiently and accurately fill each shipment with the fewest batches. This makes tracing the seeds back to their origin easier should an issue arise concerning the seeds.
With IBM ILOG OPL Development Studio, Südzucker’s experienced Operations Research developers were able to go from problem identification to finished application in less than 15 man-days. It took them less than five man-days to do the mathematical modeling, including all the revision steps. IBM ILOG CPLEX is the fastest MP engine on the market, and IBM ILOG OPL Development Studio was specifically designed to work with this engine. Combined, they result in powerful, robust solutions like the Südzucker implementation. The company now achieves a much higher level of safety for better ensuring the traceability of its seeds.
Products and services used
• IBM® ILOG CPLEX
• IBM® ILOG OPL Development Studio
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
IBM ILOG OPL Development Studio, IBM ILOG CPLEX
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