AutoScheduler is a company that accelerates the capabilities of existing Warehouse Management Systems to help organizations solve challenges such as on-time in full (OTIF), dock schedule conflicts, and inefficient workforce allocation. To learn more about the company, Pulse 2.0 interviewed AutoScheduler CEO Keith Moore.
Keith Moore’s Background
Even though Keith Moore grew up in supply chain management, he did not start his career in that field. Moore received an engineering degree from the University of Tennessee and went to work for National Instruments in Austin, TX. From there, Moore quickly decided he wasn’t the cream of the crop in pure hands-on-keyboard engineering, but had a knack for product management and communication so he moved into a product manager role. While Moore was at National Instruments, he had the opportunity to work on really compelling problems with innovative companies like SpaceX on developing their self-landing rocket control systems or Intel on reducing the power draw of a smartphone not in use.
During this time, Moore learned that data acquisition and control systems were generating massive amounts of data, but nearly nobody was using it effectively. And a new technology was emerging to try and handle that data known as machine learning so Moore decided to join a small Series A startup working to commercialize these technologies called SparkCognition. During Moore’s time at SparkCognition, the company delivered countless projects and products for companies in oil & gas, manufacturing, financial services, and even insurance while he received a few patents along the way and the company ballooned from a few people to over 300. Eventually, SparkCognition became a Silicon Valley unicorn.
“However, when you’re a pure-play AI company, everybody gives you their hardest problem. As a product person at heart, I wanted to do something vertically that could deploy to thousands of customers from the exact same codebase. During my time there, I learned all of the ins and outs of growing a business, so I started talking with my dad Tom about if it would ever make sense to work together on our own,” said Moore.
Idea Behind AutoScheduler
How did the idea for AutoScheduler come together?
“The first version of AutoScheduler came about after a consulting engagement for P&G over a decade ago, and that project spawned an initial codebase that became the first version of AutoScheduler. The challenge faced was that most distribution centers struggle with continuity between shifts, with planners often having different theories of how work should be executed to maximize productivity and minimize cost,” Moore explained. “This variability resulted in ‘work whip’ where the next shift felt like they were constantly cleaning up the mistakes of the one before. Initially, AutoScheduler was designed as ‘one plan to rule them all’ across a site, but it quickly evolved into much more than that. AutoScheduler the company came about when my Dad Tom and I decided it was time to take a capability battle-hardened at P&G and expand it out to the rest of the market. This happened in 2020, and we haven’t looked back since with the level of growth we’ve seen.”
Entrepreneurship In The Moore Family
Before Moore get into true entrepreneurship, it became important to understand that “working hard” was the most emphasized trait in the Moore family growing up. And the line of thinking was that there are always people smarter, faster, and stronger than you – but the ability to outwork anybody is a controllable trait.
“Every morning before school (which started at 7:25 AM because it was out in the country), I was out taking care of horses and mucking out stalls. Every weekend we’d be bush hogging (which is mowing on a tractor), digging a trench, or working on something that needed fixing. It’s easy to get used to working hard when it’s the expectation,” Moore added. “Besides that, I was certainly the only kid among my friends who had to put together a full business plan and PowerPoint presentation about why we needed to get a puppy, why I needed my own car, or why I should be able to go on a trip with friends. The first time I remember doing it I was around 11 (I wanted to start breeding), which is a heck of a head start on an MBA.”
Challenges In Building The Company
When I asked Moore about the challenges in building the company, he cited a famous saying that “the highs are higher, and the lows are lower” when you are starting your own company. That expression has been very true for them, but he would not say that the bumps and bruises along the way are anything unique that every other entrepreneur does not have to deal with.
“Getting new customers is always a challenge, and bootstrapping the whole way has been tricky since we’re always on a tight budget. That said, I’m very happy with where we are. It’s actually funny, but our working together even as a family is backed by a lot of research on factors that drive success. The fact that we’re family just means we get to see each other a lot more, which is a fantastic side-effect.”
What are AutoScheduler’s core products? AutoScheduler is known as a warehouse resource planning and optimization platform that dynamically orchestrates all activities within the warehouse in conjunction with a warehouse management system (WMS). Using capacity-constrained schedules, AutoScheduler will solve problems such as poor on-time in full deliveries, dock schedule conflicts, inventory shortages, inefficient workforce allocation, and the struggle to meet carrier appointment times. And AutoScheduler helps businesses manage what they need today to succeed while predicting what they need in the future to meet the increased demand in labor, space, and time.
Evolution Of AutoScheduler’s Technology
At first, the goal was to build a plan that taskers could use to make decisions. Now, AutoScheduler emphasizes the ability to move sites onto what is known as “AutoPilot”, which is automating much of the planning and tasking decision-making back into the WMS. Given the influx of technology into every aspect of our lives, it’s important to not just provide more information but to make decisions where possible and automate work so people don’t have to spend time on it at all.
Beyond that, AutoScheduler has increasingly added functionality to the core product. Recently, AutoScheduler introduced Make-n-Ship. And AutoScheduler Make-n-Ship (MnS) optimizes the loading of products straight off the production line onto the truck, orchestrating production, warehousing, and transportation planning simultaneously.
Moving production runs directly to the truck eliminates touches and reduces the need for storage space in the manufacturing site, which makes life easier for the manufacturing team and warehousing staff. Beyond streamlining inventory flow to customers, MnS also focuses on creating transportation requirements days in advance so “best-cost carriers” can be engaged.
Clients using Make-n-Ship free up 10% more space capacity and reduce production planning loads by 33%, increase floor productivity by 8%, increase container fill by 2%, and increase service levels by 4%.
– After the launch, AutoScheduler’s first big milestone was landing a customer beyond P&G. And the company was grateful to have General Mills join them in our early days and deploy the products around their network.
– Moving out of the “PoC” stage was another major milestone for AutoScheduler. As a small company, you often get stuck in proof of concept purgatory where all of your customers sign on for a quick and easy PoC, but it struggles to become a long-term commercial deal. The first $1 million multi-year engagement for the company was a big milestone.
Customer Success Story
“One of my favorite stories was the first time the company put a site on AutoPilot (i.e. actioning decisions back into the WMS). After the deployment and turning everything on, the company sat in the shipping office with the team of taskers and watched an automated system wave out work, allocate it, manage cuts, release it to the floor, and then continually prioritize that work. At the end of the week, the company did an evaluation of AutoScheduler and saw that a site that normally had over 1,000 escalations (manual changes in the WMS) each day ended with 30 total at the end of the week (99.6% reduction). Even more important, service levels never dropped!” reflected Moore.
When I asked Moore whether it was possible to share revenue metrics, he said that they are focused on bookings and revenue growth with the expectations of eclipsing 8 figures of new bookings in the next 12 months.
Total Addressable Market
Currently, Autoscheduler is focused on growth in CPG, Food & Beverage, Food Services, Grocery, and Retail – which combined have a pretty massive warehouse & manufacturing TAM. Globally there are millions of warehouses and AutoScheduler would like to help all of them make decisions in an effective manner.
Differentiation From The Competition
Currently, AutoScheduler has no direct competition even though some WMS vendors are starting to add some functionality to its core products. But no other company has the AI/Machine Learning algorithms and optimization engine Autoscheduler uses and the company thinks it provides the best answers.
Future Company Goals
Over the next 5 years, AutoScheduler will be working with over 50% of the Top 100 CPG organizations across over 1,000 sites. And Autoscheduler will help the biggest, most complex supply chains in the world revolutionize how they look at the core capability of warehousing and turn it into an organizational strength through optimized planning and execution.
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