Since 2007, they’ve trusted Marlabs to put the wind beneath their wings.
Global airline catering is extremely complex: millions of meals, hundreds of prep kitchens, thousands of ingredients to source and track, and 24/7 operations around the world. Not to mention a perishable, highly varied product that must be brought to the gate on time, made simple and error-free for flight attendants to put on tray tables, and carefully tracked and monitored on the ground and in the air.
Luckily, new digital solutions and capabilities that can make operations smooth, predictable, and more user-friendly continue to emerge. Our client, a world-leading catering company, has been quick to adopt them.
And we’ve been with them with them on every leg of their digital journey.
Our client needed practical digital solutions focused on major operational pain points and the biggest opportunities to reduce costs and waste, improve transparency, and meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs). And they wanted “digital without disruption”—looking to Marlabs to design, implement, and support a range of advanced capabilities without compromising existing operations.
Starting with relatively simple QA services in 2007, we’ve expanded our impact to include everything from cloud migration to advanced predictive demand models to developing the world’s first IoT-based “smart cart” in the airplane aisles. Here are just a few accomplishments in our long relationship.
Think about an operation where your product, sources, quantities, and destinations change every day. Where everything happens 24/7, in facilities around the world. Where thousands of SKUs must be manufactured to each customer’s unique standards and SLAs. Where delivery time is critical and products must be fresh, attractive, and tasty.
Now think of the information flow required to keep this operation humming. It’s got to be real-time. Integrated end-to-end—not just internally, but also with suppliers and airlines. It must translate airline orders into purveyor requisitions, as well as recipes for the kitchen staff and delivery schedules for logistics managers. It must develop galley plans for inflight services—and gather feedback on customer satisfaction and meal quality. Data has to come into Accounts Receivable for billing, Accounts Payable for paying, Sales and Customer Management for relationship management … well, you get the picture.
Marlabs has been the driving force behind developing, implementing, and supporting this rich, coordinated, real-time information flow, including:
Our client knew it was spending too much money on its physical data centers all over the world—plus, instability to and down time were wreaking havoc on customer relations and operational performance. So we migrated them to the Cloud in 2014, making them one of the earliest adopters of cloud technology.
And we helped them do it the smart way: with two-platform approach that maximized savings while also minimizing latency and maximizing global performance. Here’s what we did:
The results were everything they’d hoped for:
You know the metal meal cart that flight attendants push up and down the aisles? We’ve developed one with functionalities that go far beyond holding food trays and bumping your elbows, with real-time, IoT-enabled tracking at 30,000 feet of:
Now airlines and our clients have a way to ensure that all food has been kept at a safe temperature—and that only authorized people have accessed it. Airlines get the information they need to more accurately predict demand and fine-tune their orders, and our client gets instant feedback on passenger selections and satisfaction.
As more airlines switch from free in-flight meals to offering passengers the option to purchase a selection of on-board snacks. That means catering companies now must provision every flight with a dozen or more goods for sale.
Ask any passenger who asked for a particular snack box but was told, “sorry, we’re sold out”: accurately forecasting demand for in-flight items is critically important to customer satisfaction—not to mention airline and caterer revenues.
But it’s not easy to do, with thousands of flights a day, dozens of SKUs per flight, different geographic and cultural influences, and many other factors influencing demand. When we came into the picture, it was taking 6-9 months to develop forecasting models—rendering them, to all intents and purposes, useless.
So Marlabs got to work.
Using mAdvisor, our AI & cognitive computing platform, we have automated the entire process of data analysis and machine learning so that we can develop individual demand forecasts for each flight from each airport in the world. Here’s how:
Now everyone—our client, suppliers, and airlines—can use the same system to guide their decisions. It’s already reduced perishable raw materials inventor by 15%–which adds up to $47MM annually.
While the pandemic has dramatically reduced passenger traffic and inflight catering for now, our client remains focused on post-COVID opportunities. We’re working with them to further enhance their ability to predict, service, and gather feedback from airlines in real time and deliver the meals and merchandise every flight needs. We’re also helping them plan for digitally-enabled expansion into other hospitality and travel segments.
Our response to COVID-19