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Customer Story

Armor Express Uses Predictive Supply Chain Analytics to Help Protect More Lives

Armor Express took predictive modeling to the next level with real-time data feeds that inform supply chains—saving $500k through inventory optimization.

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Armor Express Key Stats

Industry: Manufacturing 
Department: Supply Chain 
Region: Arlington, VA, United States

Saved through inventory optimization

Of data points analyzed

Customers and suppliers better served

Protecting lives one piece of equipment at a time



They say not all heroes wear capes. For the men and women who put their lives on the line serving in our emergency services and armed forces, it’s body armor instead - designed to protect the wearer from blades, ballistics, and shrapnel. And tasked with manufacturing this essential life-saving equipment is Armor Express, one of the world’s leading designers, manufacturers, and suppliers of defensive armor systems.

But consider for a moment the components that make up defensive equipment. From the armor plates themselves to various buckles, webbing, and Velcro straps, each vest can contain up to 15 different items sourced from different suppliers worldwide.

For Armor Express, without the right data, matching raw material orders with customer fulfillment can be a significant challenge. It can risk over- or under-purchasing and unnecessarily long lead times. “Our supply chain used to work off a spreadsheet and the knowledge in people’s heads,” says Jeff Gordon, Director of Procurement, Warehousing, and Analytics at Armor Express. “It meant we often bought the wrong amounts of raw materials. And because there was no structure or accountability in place, we didn’t really know these issues existed. If you get orders wrong in our world, peoples’ lives are put at risk.”

If you get orders wrong in our world, people's lives are put at risk.

From manual spreadsheets to predictive data analytics in a matter of months

 

While Armor Express had to trial several different data platforms as part of its due diligence, Gordon knew based on previous experience there was only one solution that could make the grade. “We trialed solutions like Tableau and Data Miner, but I was already convinced of Alteryx’s capabilities and performance,” says Gordon. “Having used the platform to transform inventory in a previous role, I knew Alteryx would help me create the fastest solution in the best interests of our customers."

Gordon's first job was to build workflows that could identify current open orders and build a solid strategy going forward. But keen to push the boundaries of what’s possible, Gordon reached out to the Alteryx Community for help creating predictive models. “The Alteryx Community is awesome,” says Gordon. “I was immediately put in touch with Mark Frisch at Marquee Crew, an approved Alteryx Partner with a track record of helping customers get the most from the platform.”

Together, Gordon and Frisch built predictive models in the Alteryx platform that blend product SKU data with customer orders and manufacturing output. "While we worked on the predictive model together, Jeff and Armor Express take full ownership of it, running with it to develop new innovative capabilities, such as tracking discontinued lines demand," says Mark Frisch, Founder and CEO at Marquee Crew. "This capability is unique to Alteryx. They wouldn't have achieved the results they have with any off-the-shelf platform."

The new models even provide valuable demand and production data to Armor Express’ suppliers, helping them manage the supply of raw materials with greater accuracy. “Our model in Alteryx is constantly making predictions based on thousands of variables — from product data to raw material supplies,” explains Gordon. “The data we get back is highly accurate, and when it’s combined with our procurement and manufacturing teams’ knowledge, it’s a powerful combination.”

With several stakeholders across the business needing easy access to data-driven insights in Alteryx — from executive leadership to procurement and production leaders — Armor Express has also integrated the platform with Microsoft Power BI, enabling decision makers to quickly visualize key datasets on demand.

“Getting stakeholders to focus on raw numbers can be a challenge,” says Gordon. “But with accurate and easily accessible insights in Alteryx, we’ve supplemented our peoples’ gut instincts with the true state of play, empowering them to make the right decisions at the right time.”

$500,000 savings off the bat — and counting


His team can use forecast data to make educated guesses about demand and adjust the supply chain. For example, if a line is discontinued, it can predict which products customers will choose instead. The predictive model Gordon has built in Alteryx is so successful — helping cut $500,000 of inventory from day one.

 

With predictive analytics now doing the heavy lifting, Gordon and his team have gained the freedom to improve order lead times, helping maintain excellent customer relationships and even win new business from their competitors. “The main benefit of using Alteryx is the knowledge it gives you,” says Gordon. “We can now put our people in the right roles to help fulfill orders quicker and meet the same high standards we’re known for.”

The main benefit of using Alteryx is the knowledge it gives you. We can now put our people in the right roles to help fulfill orders quicker and meet the same high standards we're known for.

Taking predictive modeling to the next level with real-time data feeds 

 

This is just one example of Armor Express’ commitment to transparency. Even the company’s suppliers have noticed the difference, with one commenting that Armor Express now provides the best model and buy plan in the industry.

 

“If you’ve got curiosity, you’ll be successful with Alteryx,” says Gordon. “We’ve taken the guesswork out of manufacturing. I’ve got more people coming to me with analytical questions. Our internal conversations have flipped from 'what do we do?' to 'how can we do it better?'.”

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon

Director of Procurement, Warehousing, and Analytics

Armor Express

Mark Frisch

Mark Frisch

Founder and CEO

Marquee Crew

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