Flowlity wants to digitize supply chains

The French start-up arrives on the Belgian market with an innovative solution. It uses artificial intelligence to optimize inventory to respond to an increasingly volatile economy.

Their ambition is neither more nor less than to become a “world leader” in supply chain planning. The French Jean-Baptiste Clouard and Karim Benchaaboun launched their logistics solution based on artificial intelligence in 2019. They have just raised five million euros to develop Flowity in northern Europe, and in particular in Benelux. “We are in the phase of recruiting and structuring the sales team, specifies Jean-Baptiste Clouard, 34, who worked 10 years at Dassault Systèmes. We should be operational by June. But we have already customers in Belgium, such as the Saint-Gobain plant in Bastogne.”

Their ambition is neither more nor less than to become a “world leader” in supply chain planning. The French Jean-Baptiste Clouard and Karim Benchaaboun launched their logistics solution based on artificial intelligence in 2019. They have just raised five million euros to develop Flowity in northern Europe, and in particular in Benelux. “We are in the phase of recruiting and structuring the sales team, specifies Jean-Baptiste Clouard, 34, who worked 10 years at Dassault Systèmes. We should be operational by June. But we have already customers in Belgium, such as the Saint-Gobain plant in Bastogne.” Saint-Gobain is one of the first companies to bet on the technology of this young start-up. In the customer portfolio, there are also groups such as La Redoute and Bosch. Why did such players, who have been managing supply chains for decades, fall for Flowlity’s solution? “Supply chains are built on a deterministic model, designed for highly standardized products. In caricaturing, it was the Ford, model T and black in color, explains Jean-Baptiste Clouard. Since then, the ranges and models have expanded and sourcing has gone global, so there is a lot of volatility in both demand and supply. Sourcing models, based on cost optimization, have not caught on. this volatility into account. They have proven to be very fragile.” Flowlity aims to offer a “more resilient” solution, helping companies have the right stock in the right place at the right time to minimize out-of-stocks and, conversely, costly overstocking. So what is this more resilient solution? Flowlity uses artificial intelligence to take into account the real activity of the various actors throughout the supply chain and thus integrate the needs of each other. If a distributor is planning a promotional campaign, his suppliers are often informed late. The risk is then that it is too late to inflate production accordingly and that this causes stock-outs. Flowlity’s intervention makes it possible, according to its promoters, to better synchronize all the links in the supply chain and thus to gain in agility and responsiveness. “We play the role of trusted third party in an economic world that still operates very much in silos”, sums up the CEO of Flowlity. The results would be eloquent since this solution would have enabled La Redoute to reduce its stocks by 40% and Camif (a furniture and household linen sales site) to reduce its stock shortages by 10 points. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the fragility of these supply chains. A perfect opportunity for a new player like Flowlity which launched just a few months before the outbreak of the epidemic. “Since then, we have been witnessing a reconfiguration of supply chains, analyzes Bernard Piette, the director of the Logistics in Wallonia competitiveness cluster. Companies are repositioning their stocks in a different way and this movement is not going to stop. Logistics is the management of the flow of materials, money and information. The latter is the key element for positioning oneself well.” And this is precisely the element targeted by Flowlity, which wants to optimize the flow of information between the links in the chain in order, in the long term, to succeed in “automate and digitize all the flow of materials between companies”. Its turnover quickly took off. It has tripled in 2021 and everything indicates that it will be the same this year. Flowlity, which keeps its results jealously secret, is however not yet profitable. “We could be, assures Jean-Baptiste Clouard, but our option is that of rapid growth to capture the market. We prefer to invest massively in improving our tools and in recruitment than aiming for a break now. -even.” Flowlity’s workforce should reach 35 people by the beginning of the summer. The start-up is therefore betting on the Benelux for the next stages of its development. “It’s a dynamic market, open to digitalization and innovation, confides Jean-Baptiste Clouard. For a French company, there are far fewer barriers to entry than if one aims, for example, the market of the Germanic countries.” During its fundraising at the start of the year, Flowlity also welcomed the arrival on board of Fortino, the investment fund created by the former boss of Telenet Duco Sickinghe and dedicated to digital companies. This investor should be able to open a few doors for Flowlity. The arrival of a new player, who is moreover just as ambitious, is undoubtedly an excellent thing for logistics in Belgium. But “he does not arrive in the desert”, underlines Bernard Piette. Logistics in Wallonia has indeed contributed to the emergence of innovations based on artificial intelligence in recent years. This is for example the case of e-origin, the platform which automates, and therefore speeds up, customs declarations. Flowlity’s solution is interesting not only in financial terms but also in environmental terms. A more precise anticipation of logistical needs first limits “unnecessary transport”, those which bring you urgently but sometimes from very far away components whose absence would block an entire production chain. It then makes it possible to better calibrate the packaging and avoid the use of oversized boxes. “It’s good for limiting the carbon footprint, for example to optimize the filling of trucks, but also for the customer experience, adds Hanh Nguyen, marketing manager at Flowlity. The customer wants packaging adapted to the package he receives, he thinks about the ecological impact of his purchases.” Finally, Flowlity contributes to reducing the waste of perishable goods by avoiding overstocking upstream of the distribution chain. “There is a lot of optimization to be done on this side, specifies Jean-Baptiste Clouart. Half of the food waste comes from there, from the upstream of the chain. It is not linked to the consumer.” The company is carrying out this work with Les Comptoirs de la Bio, a French site selling fresh produce. “It’s shadow work, an addition of small things – even if reducing a distributor’s food waste by 20% is already not bad – but in the end, the impact in terms of CSR (corporate social responsibility, editor’s note) is important, concludes the CEO of Flowlity.I add to this the financial aspect: the capital, if it is no longer immobilized in useless stocks, can be assigned to something else. ”

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Flowlity wants to digitize supply chains


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