Chief Supply Chain Executive, Westfall Technik at Westfall Technik & Arkestro
There’s an old saying, which in a world awash with ‘Big Data’, has taken on greater meaning: ‘All models are wrong; some models are useful.’
But forward-thinking companies are working on how to tame overwhelming amounts of data, with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up processes, save on spending and find new opportunities for business growth.
These industry leaders include Las Vegas, NV headquartered Westfall Technik. The growth trajectory of Westfall-Technik has proven to be compelling for customers and the markets alike. Accelerated by the significant platform built through the acquisition of 17 companies over approximately a 4-year timespan, the company has seen continued solid organic growth from their customers in their target markets of healthcare and consumer packaged goods and continues on their new customer acquisition journey.
Westfall’s portfolio of healthcare-related products features medical devices, pharmaceutical delivery systems, diagnostic tools, consumer health products, and a range of services that also includes the moulding of plastic parts used in COVID-19 diagnostic rapid testing for both home and clinical use.
VP and Chief Supply Chain Executive David Schultz joined Westfall in February this year. He is responsible for the global supply chain across the entire enterprise, covering a broad range of critical responsibilities, including all areas of procurement and supply chain functions.
“Westfall is a company that's made over 15 acquisitions in the last four and a half years. This activity, along with significant organic growth has resulted in explosive expansion, with several hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue,” explains Schultz. “And, as all those companies were brought together, I was approached by the CEO of the organisation who said ‘We need somebody to come in and put this all together, make this all work as a cohesive unit.’ And that’s now my major goal: to bring all those operating units together and build teams of people who can use the right intelligence.”
Tackling the challenges of volatility and complexity
Among Schultz’s early business decisions was the introduction of a Predictive Procurement Orchestration solution provided by San Francisco-based Arkestro for use across the entire Westfall enterprise.
“I first met David at a Chief Procurement Officer event, where he was chairing the conference and giving a talk about the state of the market and some of the changes that he was seeing,” says Arkestro Founder and CEO Edmund Zagorin. “I saw that we had alignment in terms of how we perceived the market landscape. One of those key points of alignment was that there's so much volatility and complexity that it can be really challenging to deliver business impact fast using any digital solution that requires widespread user adoption as a dependency to be successful. That's something that we take really seriously, so David and I got to talking, ultimately finding that we had vision lock.”
Zagorin has a background in quantitative network analysis and strategic sourcing consulting. He and his team launched Arkestro to help large enterprise procurement teams solve tough supply chain problems, drive continuous process improvement, and – in his own words – be their supplier's best customer.
Westfall is also an Arkestro Corporate Alliance Partner and will advise on the functionality of new Arkestro products and capabilities. Westfall recently joined the Association of Plastic Recyclers’ Demand Champions Program and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Global Commitment for a New Plastics Economy.
The Arkestro platform embeds preferred outcomes into any organisation's system or process, which practically means pre-populating validated data about the supplier, the pricing and commercial terms of a transaction. It accomplishes this using an AI model that simulates a procurement cycle before it happens and then sends recommendations on quotes to the suppliers. Arkestro also routes more purchases to preferred suppliers (including suppliers that align more with ESG and risk objectives) and the price recommendation functionality saves significant time and resources.
“It’s that old expression,” says Schultz. “‘All models are wrong; some models are useful’ – we would say that all models are wrong, some models are useful, but the Arkestro model – used in partnership with our customers – is the best way to get a tangible business impact.”
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“AI has the potential to revolutionise supply chain management by enabling better decision-making, improved efficiency, reduced costs and better sustainability initiatives”