A looming curb on crop irrigation in Saudi Arabia, the result of depleted groundwater reserves, has forced commercial agriculture companies such as National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) to grow their livestock forage crops abroad.
NADEC, one of the largest dairy producers in the Middle East, says the company is using cloud-based technology to help it overcome the operational hurdles created by the ban, scheduled to go into effect in 2019. In addition to making this transformation possible, the technology is also helping cut costs
NADEC has started growing alfalfa and other crops for cattle feed in Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries. The crops are harvested and then transported back to the company’s homeland dairy farm in Saudi Arabia.
This has required NADEC to use new tools to communicate with shippers and fleet operators across different countries. But when it discovered that its outdated IT systems weren’t up to the task, the dairy moved its logistics applications and infrastructure into the cloud.
“With on-premises applications, it’s hard to collaborate with so many new business partners,” says NADEC CIO Anwar Hussain. Cloud applications, he added, makes it possible to easily track shipments, analyze delivery performance, and reconcile payments in real time.
From Crop to Feed Lot in a Distributed Partnership
New business processes were put in place. At alfalfa farms in Sudan, NADEC’s logistics partners load trucks with harvested feed for transport to the company’s dairy cow feed lots in Saudi Arabia. GPS tracking devices mounted on the inside windshields of each truck send data to NADEC’s Oracle Transportation Management Cloud. NADEC staff analyzes the capacity of each truckload, monitors the truck’s whereabouts, and then determines travel time from Sudan to Saudi Arabia.
Hussain says the cloud-based system helps NADEC identify the best shippers and determine the fastest delivery routes. Yet, what Hussain likes most about managing logistics in the cloud is that detailed information about the type of trucks, load capacities, fueling requirements, and all of the key performance indicators are accessible in one place and automatically updated.
“It used to require a lot more rigor,” he says, “to manually reconcile shipping requirements using our old, single-dimensional capacity planning system.”
Feeding More People with Fewer Resources
Key features of cloud applications, Hussain says, are its virtues for managing both vertical and distributed operations. Before moving to the cloud, NADEC’s supply chain staff used separate systems to run the dairy’s supply chain and financials applications.
In the cloud, these systems are completely integrated so NADEC can track orders and then sync its manufacturing cycles and distribution schedules with the delivery promises it makes to its customers.
“In the cloud, we can view all of our apps as a single system. It gives us a totally new way to manage our order-to-cash process,” says Hussain.
NADEC estimates that moving its applications infrastructure to the cloud has reduced operational costs by nearly 40%. “Building our own applications infrastructure in Sudan would have required us to hire a separate IT staff, purchase new hardware, and set up a data center facility,” says Hussain.
Instead, NADEC uses Oracle Infrastructure as a Service to manage its remote workloads in the cloud. “This would have taken six to eight weeks for us to set up ourselves,” Hussain says. Now, “we just flip a switch for more CPU power and can expand our business immediately,” he says.
For NADEC CEO Karim Manssour Dahbi, the cloud is critical for companies on the move. “When we’re able to make the best decision based on real-time intelligence, we’ll be able to benefit from each opportunity and respond immediately to changes happening in the market and within our operations.”
The forage crop ban is less than two years away, yet NADEC seems ready for the change. The dairy’s move to the cloud has allowed it to expand its operations abroad, helping ensure its new business plan based on international expansion will succeed.