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In 2001, the commercial and consumer equipment (C&CE) division of Deere & Co. started to realize that it had a problem when it heard from dealers that they were running out of garden equipment even before hitting the height of the spring sales season, the period in which C&CE was supposed to be taking in 65% of its annual revenues, then $2.53 billion. Yet, at the same time, the division decided it was also carrying too much inventory for its sales volume. Executives knew the system needed some serious automation. The question–with 100 product lines and a network of 2,500 dealers in the U.S. and Canada–was how and where to start.

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