Sustainable Practices in an Evolving Supply Chain
How do you build a sustainable supply chain that’s constantly evolving? Very carefully. It requires continuous attention, adaptability and a willingness to view processes from many perspectives – the customer’s, distributor’s, transportation partner's and Novus’s.
Cutting out 50 miles of travel might save Novus on fuel costs, but if that change makes it more expensive for the customer, it’s not sustainable. Novus’s goal is to search for win-win opportunities.
“We consider where our customers’ supply chains are now and where they are going to be in a few years, so we can be prepared to adapt to the changing market,” said Brittany Pham, Logistics Senior Manager at Novus International. “We build a map of the most efficient path for each product to follow, keeping in mind increased supply chain costs and biosecurity concerns as the two key factors that continue to drive change in supply chain management.”
Biosecurity Is at the Forefront for Everyone
When it comes to biosecurity, everyone has their own gauge of what it means and how to handle it. Keeping track of customer protocols and balancing customer requests are critical to success.
“If we plan a delivery to customer A and then customer B, but customer B wants to be the first delivery, then we need to balance those biosecurity requirements because we can't ask a customer to change their protocol,” Pham said. “Our goal is to comply with customer protocols while taking a sensible but sustainable approach that helps ensure the product's safety and security upon arrival.”
Novus has built strong partnerships within the supply chain, including with Bulk Transport Company, the dedicated carrier of ALIMET® for more than 20 years. The drivers work hand-in-hand with the Novus team, documenting specific delivery procedures in a reference manual.
For products sold on pallets like bagged or dry formulations, it’s a much more complex supply chain challenge because they typically deliver via common carrier. This product may change trucks and drivers two or three times before delivery.
“Unfortunately, customers bear the burden of biosecurity in this scenario,” Pham said. “If customers want to control how product is coming onto their property, they’ll likely need to invest in onsite equipment to sanitize trucks and provide drivers on their property with items like boot covers.”
AIMS® – Sustainability at Work Every Day
A sustainable supply chain platform Novus developed is called AIMS® - Automated Inventory Management System. The simplicity of the program has made it easy to set-up, use and see success.
ALIMET, Novus’s liquid HMTBa, is stored in bulk tanks at the customer location. Pressure sensors are installed on the bottom of customer tanks. The sensor is connected to a remote telemetry unit that reads individual tank pressure. Once a day, Novus receives a reading from the tank, letting them know how much inventory is in the tank. A specified drop in pressure is converted to a usable measurement of pounds of ALIMET used.
“After a few weeks of readings, we can identify usage rates and predict how quickly more product will be needed,” Pham said. “It also helps us identify and alert customers if we see anything out of the ordinary like an equipment malfunction or incorrect formulation.”
Novus’s dedicated fleet drives about 3.3 million miles a year, making about 9,000 ALIMET deliveries to 430 customer tanks in the U.S. and Canada, but not all customers take full truckloads of product. AIMS’ forecast algorithm calculates inventory, and based off historical usage patterns and set parameters, it uses predictive analytics to identify when more product will be needed. AIMS allows Novus to bundle deliveries together to build a full truckload and make more efficient routes.
“Because we don't haul anything but ALIMET in these trucks, you would expect only a 50 percent loaded mile metric because the trucks would be loaded on the way to a customer and empty coming back,” she said. “But with AIMS’ ability to bundle deliveries and identify clusters of customers who need product, we run about 58 percent loaded miles. This equates to about 280,000 fewer miles and 35,750 fewer gallons of diesel fuel each year.”
Cutting down on miles also means less wear and tear on vehicles and less maintenance. Fewer trips to customers also reduces biosecurity risks. All of which help create a cleaner, more sustainable supply chain.
“The ultimate compliment is when our customer says ‘we don't even think about ALIMET because we know you are taking care of it,’” said Pham. “It's one less burden for them to think about every day, and it’s great to know customers appreciate how mindful we are trying to be.”
Heat Stress and Oxidative Balance Can Affect Reproduction in Your Beef Herd
Only a few months ago, temperatures were cooler and calving season was underway. Now breeding season is almost over and temperatures are on the rise, but it is the time to prepare your herd for next year’s calving season! How your herd fares in the summer significantly impacts performance during breeding and calving the following year, and one of the biggest determining factors is how animals combat heat stress.
Heat stress and its sister, oxidative stress, can negatively impact reproduction in your breeding herd. It is critical to make sure both breeding females and bulls get adequate protection against oxidative stress. Normally, oxidative stress is a natural component of life and metabolism whereby Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are generated and subsequently neutralized by certain enzymes and vitamins that naturally occur and act as antioxidants. Under heat stress, core body temperature rises and more ROS are produced than can be neutralized by the normal metabolic routes. When this happens, animals go into oxidative stress. The extra ROS due to heat stress will damage actively growing cells like those involved in reproduction.
AGRADO® Plus is a proprietary blend of antioxidants that help beef cattle combat the effects of heat stress by helping the body neutralize excessive ROS. When AGRADO Plus was added to the ration of breeding heifers in Florida during the summer (Figure 1), there were significantly more pregnancies in those heifers receiving AGRADO Plus than heifers not supplemented. Heat stress increases early embryonic mortality, thus reducing overall fertility.
When breeding bulls were supplemented with AGRADO Plus, MINTREX® organic trace minerals and ZORIEN® selenium yeast (Table 2), the supplemented bulls had lower body temperature, larger scrotal circumference and higher levels of SOD (superoxide dismutase; an enzyme that neutralizes ROS), clearly showing that bulls fed AGRADO Plus can better manage the negative effects of heat stress and will assist in better sperm production.
Providing your breeding herd with AGRADO Plus will help both breeding females and bulls achieve their genetic potential for reproductive efficiency during periods of heat stress.
Novus Is With You When It Matters!
Novus International will be at Florida Cattlemen’s Annual Meeting this week in Orlando, Florida! We are looking forward to seeing our customers and sharing with attendees more about our products like our chelated trace minerals, MINTREX and MAAC® as well as our premium antioxidant, AGRADO Plus. It’s the season for heat stress, so come by booth #96 and hear our research-proven strategies to help alleviate heat stress for your herd this summer! See you there!
Getting to Know Brittany Pham
What is your official title at Novus?
Logistics Senior Manager, NORAM
How long have you been with Novus?
8 ½ years
In your current role, what is the most interesting thing you do?
Managing resources (20+ vendors, $15M budget) to meet challenges facing Novus and our customers in the North America supply chain.
Which product of Novus’s is your favorite?
What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
Not taking the safe route – taking roles outside my area of expertise, particularly in an industry/function that is male-dominated.
What is the oddest or hardest question a customer has ever asked you?
How to handle a mixture of ALIMET and a non-methionine liquid when another supplier inadvertently unloaded into the incorrect tank.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the animal agriculture industry today?
From a logistics perspective, managing costs during a time in which multiple variables are making a lean supply chain more challenging (aging drivers, cross-contamination and bio-security concerns, transparency to consumers). These issues are manifesting in multiple ways such as consumer pressure to know where their food products have been and government regulatory action (FSMA).
What would be your first move if you were tasked with helping the industry overcome that challenge?
Identify what is feasible to address at the company level (ex. customized bills of lading) and what must be addressed at the industry level and engage industry groups accordingly.
When you are not promoting Novus products what do you like to do?
Read, swim, and travel (domestically and internationally)
If you could go to dinner with any three people dead or alive, who would you choose?
Abraham Lincoln (I hail from Lincoln, Illinois – the original town christened by Lincoln)
Queen Elizabeth I (She succeeded in a time where women didn’t have opportunity for success)
Emma Watson (She is leading the HeForShe movement to continue the fight for gender equality globally)
If you had to choose only one book for your library, what would it be?
Bossypants, A Game of Thrones, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Poisonwood Bible, The Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre, Little Women
This is the most painful question I’ve ever answered.
What is your favorite beef/dairy/pork/poultry product to eat?
Cheese: it goes great on just about everything and is also a perfect food by itself.