Land O’Lakes Uses Visibility and Velocity to Combat Supply Chain Variability

Land O’Lakes, Inc. Chief Supply Chain Officer, Yone Dewberry, gave a keynote at FourKites’ aptly named Visibility conference in mid-September. He explained why real-time shipment visibility was so important in their supply chain.

Digital supply chains are being widely discussed, “but I’d say supply chain management has not changed at all. We are still moving stuff from point A to point B,” Mr. Dewberry asserted. Nevertheless, running a supply chain is tougher than it used to be. “What changed? Visibility, variability, and velocity. With more variability, you need to move faster. To do that you need more visibility.” While demand in one of their business units has always been hugely variable, variability has increased in the time it takes to secure trucks to move their inbound raw materials to factories and outbound products to customers.

Land O’Lakes certainly has a challenging supply chain. Land O’ Lakes is a member owned cooperative with revenues of $15 billion. The company is best known for Dairy Foods, particularly butter, but the company also has divisions devoted to Animal Nutrition and Crop Inputs (seeds/crop protection). When it comes to securing carriage, it is easier if you have predictable demand, use standard trucks, and have long lead times. That does not fit any of their businesses. The dairy business has huge peaks. 40 to 50 percent of butter is sold in two peak seasons, Easter and Thanksgiving. These goods need to be transported in refrigerated trucks. Getting refrigerated trucks during the busy season is tough.

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