Lexmarker wins Supply Chain Innovation Award from University of Kentucky


By Lisa Doctrow

A longtime member of Lexmark’s supply chain team has been awarded the third annual Commonwealth Supply Chain Innovation Award from the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics.

Brad Fruth, manager, worldwide customs and compliance, received the award at the college’s 2017 Supply Chain Forum held Feb. 23 at the Woodford Reserve Club in UK’s Commonwealth Stadium. This recognition honors individuals and/or organizations that have demonstrated operational excellence in supply chain management as evidenced in a recently completed supply chain improvement project.

Fruth won the award for the Inbound Container Optimization project, which was designed to optimize shipments of printer service parts from China to Lexmark’s European distribution center in Belgium.

Project overview

Before the project launch, about a dozen China suppliers that provide service parts to Lexmark would each send weekly shipments to our European site — with each shipment in a different container, typically only partially filled. From both a cost and operational-efficiency perspective, the process was not ideal.

To optimize the process, Lexmark created a cross-functional team, led by Fruth.

After a few months of planning, the team — working with logistics partner Kuehne + Nagel, one of the world’s leading third-party logistics companies — launched a pilot of the project last April to consolidate the weekly shipments of service parts. All shipments now arrive at one port in China, where they’re put together into containers — filling them completely and reducing the number of containers being shipped to our European site to two to five per week.

“We’re basically ride-sharing,” Fruth said. “Instead of four people driving individually to work, they’re all riding in one car, so to speak.”

Not only is this saving money for Lexmark  — an estimated annual cost savings of 17 percent — but also time. The container sharing has reduced the cycle time (the time it takes for the parts to be picked up at the vendors until they arrive at our distribution center) by three days.

The pilot was so successful it has now become “business as usual” for Lexmark.


“I’m honored to have been part of such a tremendous effort and to receive an award for it on behalf of our supply chain organization,” said Fruth, who has worked in Lexmark supply chain for 17 years. “This project was successful thanks to the efforts of our talented cross-functional global team and valued partners — all focused on a common goal to optimize our inbound supply chain and improve customer delivery and experience.”

Read UK’s news release about the award.