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Preventing Disruptions with External Data — How Martinrea Got Predictive

Martinrea International Inc., one of Canada’s largest auto parts manufacturers, is a global leader in the design, development, and production of lightweight structures and propulsion systems for the automotive industry. When recent global issues threatened to disrupt their supply chain operations, they needed a technology solution that would provide increased visibility into all layers of their supply chain and enable them to make quick decisions in order to mitigate risk and maintain production and delivery.

The Situation

The Russia-Ukraine war has had a significant impact on supply chain operations across the world, causing slowdowns and shortages in nearly every industry. The cost of downtime is highest in the automotive industry, with every lost hour costing manufacturers US$1.3 million.

With many manufacturers and suppliers starting to appear on sanctions lists, preventing them from importing goods from certain countries, Martinrea knew the risks posed by a supply chain disruption were too significant for a ‘wait-and-see’ approach; they would need a data-enabled approach to proactively identify possible disruptions and put mitigation measures in place. The alternatives they faced were materials shortages, missed SLAs, business interruptions, and even a possible shutdown.

To fortify operations and ensure consistent delivery, Martinrea recognized an urgent need for N-tier visibility: going beyond their immediate network and offering insight into all layers of their supply chain. This next-level transparency would help prevent unplanned downtime, thereby protecting the company’s profitability and providing them with up-to-the-minute insight into their supply chain that they could communicate to their customers, building trust and transparency at every interaction.

The Solution

Leading the charge, EVP of Procurement and Supply Chain Operations at Martinrea, Megan Hunter, enlisted the help of experts in data: data catalogue provider, ThinkData Works, to manage external data, and data analysis leader, Palantir Technologies. Together, they designed and implemented a Supply Chain Resiliency Platform that would allow Martinrea to collect, analyze, and act on data about their suppliers, and suppliers’ suppliers, powering informed decisions about how to effectively manage their entire supply chain.

“Without external data, we were stuck in a holding pattern, only being able to react to problems instead of heading them off. That didn’t sit well with us,” said Hunter.

“ThinkData Works and Palantir gave us the full picture of our supply chain network. Armed with this insight, we can make proactive data-driven decisions to prevent any major disruptions.”

Martinrea formed its partnership with ThinkData Works and Palantir through Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing supercluster programme, NGen, Canada’s Global Innovation Cluster for Advanced Manufacturing, allowing them to quickly adopt the same data and analysis solutions deployed at multinational banks, federal governments, and other highly complex and sophisticated environments. They knew their business would be in good hands.

ThinkData Works and Palantir worked with Martinrea to create data products and an analysis platform that would solve for their specific needs. Here’s how it worked:

Diagram of how Martinrea achieves external supply chain visibility with the ThinkData Works platform

ThinkData Works used their data catalogue technology to connect to and standardize external data from multiple sources, comprising dozens of metrics and intelligence vectors (including shipping manifests, weather data, and geopolitical events). This flowed into Palantir’s Foundry platform to manage analysis, alerts, and overall visibility, as well as AI-enabled prediction layers. The Supply Chain Resiliency Platform provides Martinrea with a competitive edge that would help them determine how to proceed with each supplier and every link in their supply chain.

Using this technology, Martinrea successfully identified 50 suppliers that had sanctions imposed on them, effectively extending their analytical scope beyond direct suppliers and into second- and third-degree relationships. The new data and insight at their disposal also allowed them to find alternative sources to ensure business continuity and instil confidence in their strategy going forward.

Most businesses were in crisis mode already; a speedy implementation was key to the effectiveness of the solution. Martinrea needed quick, reliable, and realtime insights to make critical decisions that could affect the livelihood of the business. From start to finish, the ThinkData Works and Palantir teams moved swiftly, yet strategically, to implement the best solution to the given challenge based on their industry-leading technology and expertise.

The Supply Chain Resiliency Platform also enables Martinrea to plan for the future by mixing in their internal data to create a digital twin of their ecosystem. They simulate supply chain disruptions, create back-up plans, and analyze and optimize their processes, giving the company access to insights they wouldn’t get by operating in a reactionary mode with a closed system of intelligence.

The Results

Together, Martinrea, ThinkData Works, and Palantir use external data and machine learning to address a real-world problem that could have had a catastrophic impact. At the outset of the engagement, Martinrea estimated that the outcomes of this implementation would result in more than US$40 million in annual value from avoided disruptions and optimizations.

“Even within the first few months of deployment, we’ve seen a massive return on investment,” says Hunter.

“We’re tracking millions in savings and efficiencies already, and we’re confident that it will only get more effective.”

Beyond that, by having increased visibility into their supplier network, they could adopt a proactive vs reactive business model, leveraging data to predict potential issues and pivot early to prevent business-impacting delays. This would give them an advantage against their competitors who struggled to meet their KPIs while managing risk on the fly.

Enhanced predictability also put Martinrea in good standing with its customers. At the sign of any slowdowns, the company could proactively communicate with its customers and give them assurance that the issue was being monitored and resolved, something that wouldn’t be possible without on-demand access to real-time insights.

Perhaps the best return on investment for the company, however, was having a repeatable model that can be employed anytime there is a significant global event.

“It’s a game-changer for the business,” said Hunter. “Data is at the centre of our new business continuity strategy. We can now rely on the Supply Chain Resiliency Platform to help us mitigate risk and identify process improvements, and that will serve us for many years to come.”

Interested in how ThinkData Works can support your data and digitization efforts? Book a demo to get time with our specialists.


Originally published in The 2022 World Manufacturing Report

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