Asia’s sugar heavyweight Mitr Phol utilizes cloud-native platform for supply chain efficiencies

01 Jul 2020 | Media coverage

Asia’s largest sugar producer, Mitr Phol, has selected Eka Software Solutions’ cloud-native platform to manage risk across its global hedging and pricing portfolios. The investment in this new technology was part of the Mitr Phol’s move to add more value to sugarcane in line with the Thai government’s growth targets in the coming years. Amid the coronavirus crisis, the need for streamlined digitized solutions is now emphasized across the agri-food sector.

“One the most critical differences is that it is cloud-native and consists of simple to consume and apply applications. Many agri-food businesses’ IT environments have grown up over time and often don’t integrate well with each other,” Manav Garg, CEO and Founder of Eka Software Solutions, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

“Rather than having to replace or do extensive integration efforts, the open nature of the Eka’s Cloud Platform allows for organizations to consume the applications they need and incorporate quickly through the open application programming interface (APIs) or pre-built connectors. Additionally, the cloud-model better supports remote workers [especially with the challenges around COVID-19] and allows for remote installs and better overall system management. Most systems in our space only offer limited cloud support.”

Following a review of potential solutions, Mitr Phol chose Eka’s cloud platform for its functionality, flexibility and ease of use. With six sugar mills located in Thailand and a total crushing capacity of around 20 million tons of cane per annum, Mitr Phol is the world’s third largest sugar producer. Prior to selecting Eka’s cloud platform, the business was using SAP’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and spreadsheets to manage its hedging and pricing portfolios.

“The existing setup could no longer support the complex pricing models of Mitr Phol’s growing sugar trade. They needed a solution that was easier to scale without incurring the cumbersome and expensive process of ERP customization to address Mitr Phol’s dynamic business needs,” Eka notes.

“Commodity businesses face unprecedented challenges today. Legacy systems have not kept pace with dynamic markets and unprecedented volatility, and businesses are adopting cloud to improve efficiency and decision making,” remarks Manav Garg, CEO and Founder of Eka Software Solutions.

Cloud-native platform performance
Through its leveraging of Eka’s cloud-native platform, Renewable Energy Group (REG) reduced reporting time from four days to 30 seconds with Eka’s applications. Eka’s applications eliminated manual reconciliations, enabling REG to view exposure “at the click of a button” instead of waiting for days for manual reports.

“REG used to take four days to create position and mark to market reports earlier because the users had to first pull information from disparate sources (CTRM system, inventory management system, and spreadsheets) into one place before they could even start analyzing the markets,” explains Garg.

“Four days is precious time in trading that should be spent in studying the market instead of creating reports. Their hedging decisions were often delayed because the market would move by the time REG had enough visibility into its true exposure. As a result, opportunities were missed, and the company faced higher risks due to delays in identifying market risk.”

Conventional processes operate on fragmented technology that obstruct flow of information. “The need for flexibility to quickly adapt to disruptions has never been more prevalent than today. The lack of visibility deprives businesses of the benefits of data – in-depth understanding of vulnerabilities and strengths, areas for improvement and seamless adherence to regulations. However, the key benefit businesses lose out on is the ability to make timely and more informed decisions, especially in disruptive times,” explains Garg.

Visibility could be the key to flexible supply chains in fast moving markets. “Real-time data helps businesses avoid the worst effects of disruptions. Businesses can know the moment a disruption occurs and respond quickly. Combine real-time data with advanced analytics, and they can simulate several scenarios using advanced analytics to evaluate the best option – does moving from truck to rail make sense? Does rerouting around a storm save time? Should businesses hold shipments for a day and wait for a storm to pass?” Gargmuses.

Need for supply chain digitization
As the COVID-19 situation has delineated, a lack of visibility across the entire supply chain can result in unprecedented breakdowns at both the demand and supply sides of the equation. Digital solutions have presented efficacies in helping address primary industry challenges pertaining to the pandemic.

“Organizations are unable to assess the risk profile from their supply base [including the supplier’s supplier] along with the extended ecosystem [logistics and financial partners] to respond rapidly. Compounding the situation, much of the required data is located across various systems and complex to understand and team members, who are now working remotely, lack the skills to take action,” flags Garg.

Another key challenge facing agri-businesses is the focus on cash management as the markets recover. While the spotlight before COVID-19 was on broader “transformation” efforts, the sudden slowing and even complete breakdown in key markets has brought with it an increased review on efficiencies and savings. Due to the limited digitization efforts, organizations are burdened with higher processing costs while reducing time the team can focus on higher value activities of working with suppliers.

Additionally, he flags that communications across the ecosystem occurs disconnected from actual information flows related to business processes, resulting in back-and-forth status updates and complex handoffs that diminish efficiencies and responsiveness to market dynamics.

“Ultimately the future for commodity management is digital. The cloud offers an ideal option because it not only provides a way to quickly adapt to unique and complex operations but also respond faster to disruptions as they occur. It also better supports the remote nature of work but allows for the broader inclusion and collaboration across the value chain,” concludes Garg.

This article was first published on food ingredients first.