Global giant, Caterpillar used artificial intelligence to super proof its business against Brexit, within hours of the result.
Algorithms developed by computer scientists at Brunel University London form the mind behind the mechanisms steering the earthmover’s super slick supply chain.
Caterpillar used Brunel’s remodelling software, a highly sophisticated version of the type of technology that tracks mail order parcels, to predict the effects of market fluctuations in the hours after Brexit. The software now crunches big data throughout the firm’s global network of suppliers, assembly locations, dealers and customers.
“Within 24 hours, we modelled many different combinations of possible currencies and volumes and communicated to all the product lines that needed to act,” says Anthony Grichnik, innovation leader at Caterpillar Logistics. “We know competitors were chasing the currencies for some time, while our network was already changed.”
Getting machines, parts and tools to the right place at the right time is pivotal to profits. So workarounds are crucial to cope with even the smallest change in factors like currencies, taxes, fuel prices, accidents etc. Brunel’s computer scientists worked with Caterpillar to tailor-make the nimble formulae and test it using a real life data stream.
This helps Caterpillar predict and solve problems as they happen. It means the company can put the right number of products where they are needed, when they are needed in the most cost-efficient way.
“We give them the capability to make decisions very fast and make their supply network very profitable,” says Dr Tatiana Kalganova of Brunel. “We give them resilience, so if disaster strikes, they lose the least amount of money possible. This helps them plan their next step and shapes their business model.”
The technology Brunel developed saved the world leading company billions. “Four years ago, it took us weeks, using the most powerful computer to run this algorithm with this data – now we are talking about seconds,” Tatiana concludes.
Brunel University London,

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