Optimising inventory management

The founding team "Crateflow": Markus Heidt (left) and Daniel Antonatus (right) contribute their expertise in data science, business administration and software development to the start-up project.
(c) Thomas Koziel / RPTU

Crateflow enables accurate AI-based demand forecasts.

A key challenge for companies is to control overstock and understock while developing a supply chain that is resilient to disruptions. To address this, companies need demand forecasts that accurately predict factors such as inventory levels, order quantities, production capacity and procurement strategies. To achieve this, the founding team “Crateflow” at RPTU is developing an AI-based software platform. The project is funded by an EXIST start-up grant from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and the European Social Fund. The team will present its prototype at the Rhineland-Palatinate research stand (Hall 2, Stand C36) at the Hannover Messe from 22 to 26 April.

Markus Heidt uses a case study to explain how companies can benefit from precise demand forecasts: “Imagine you need a more spacious car because your family is growing. You research the brand you trust, find the right vehicle and then find out from the manufacturer that the delivery time is more than 12 months. This is frustrating and leads you to buy the car from another manufacturer who can deliver more quickly. From the manufacturer’s point of view, this means that a customer is lost because production cannot keep up with demand”.

With their data-driven software, the two founders aim to fill this gap and provide a tool to support demand and supply planning. With Crateflow, the two founders are developing a solution that provides accurate demand forecasts, enabling companies to adjust their inventory and production strategies effectively. This maximises both customer satisfaction and resource efficiency.

How does the Crateflow solution work? Prediction models that the founders customise to specific user scenarios serve as the infrastructure. The software initially requires company-related data as input, for example from an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. The software also receives supply chain-relevant information, such as raw material prices, container freight rates or current world events, via external interfaces. Crateflow uses a wide range of AI methods to analyse and link all this data into precise forecasts. “The basic version will still require companies to export data from their ERP system. Our long-term vision is to create a platform that companies can access directly,” says Markus Heidt.

The solution from Crateflow has special technical features: Taking into account external features as well as the integration of disruptions in real time allows companies to develop proactive strategies for supply chain management. Forecasting intervals also come into play, which enables supply chain planning experts to better understand the scope and uncertainty of the AI model. At any point in time, it is clear how confident the AI model is in a prediction. Crateflow does not provide a black box, but transparent and explainable data.
At the Hannover Messe, the founders will be presenting their latest achievements to interested companies and demonstrating the benefits of Crateflow based on initial results. “We are looking forward to the dialogue, especially when it comes to possible use cases and thus requirements for our software,” states Daniel Antonatus.

Background on the start-up project

Since February 2024, Markus Heidt and Daniel Antonatus, both with extensive work experience and degrees from the University Kaiserslautern-Landau and the former TU Kaiserslautern respectively, have been supported by the EXIST start-up grant from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and the European Social Fund. The start-up office at University Kaiserslautern-Landau and Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences is also providing consultancy for the team on their path to self-employment. The Chair of Entrepreneurship at University Kaiserslautern-Landau, headed by Prof. Dr Dennis Steininger, is also supporting the founders with specialist expertise and providing them with premises. The Digital Hub Worms complements this support with additional resources and expertise that are available to the founders.

Questions can be directed to:
Markus Heidt
Phone: +49 17620203286
E-mail: markus.heidt@crateflow.ai

Daniel Antonatus
Phone: +49 17661333036
E-mail: daniel.antonatus@crateflow.ai

Klaus Dosch, Department of Technology and Innovation, is organizing the presentation of the researchers of the RPTU Kaiserslautern at the fair. He is the contact partner for companies and, among other things, establishes contacts to science. Contact: Klaus Dosch, E-mail: dosch[at]rptu.de, Phone: +49 631 205-3001

https://rptu.de/en/newsroom/press-releases/detail/news/hannover-messe-2024-bestandsmanagement-optimieren-crateflow-ermoeglicht-praezise-ki-basierte-nachfrageprognosen

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Julia Reichelt Universitätskommunikation
Rheinland-Pfälzische Technische Universität Kaiserslautern-Landau

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