A Data-Driven Inventory Control Policy for Cash Logistics Operations: An Exploratory Case Study Application at a Financial Institution


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A number of market changes are impacting the way financial institutions are managing their automated teller machines (ATMs). We propose a new class of adaptive data-driven policies for a stochastic inventory control problem faced by a large financial institution that manages cash at several ATMs. Senior management were concerned that their current cash supply system to manage ATMs was inefficient and outdated, and suspected that using improved cash management could reduce overall system cost. Our task was to provide a robust procedure to tackle the ATM's cash deployment strategies. Current industry practice uses a periodic review system with infrequent parameter updates for cash management based on the assumption that demand is normally distributed during the review period. This assumption did not hold during our investigation, warranting a new and robust analysis. Moreover, we discovered that forecast errors are often not normally distributed and that these error distributions change dramatically over time. Our approach finds the optimal time series forecaster and the best-fitting weekly forecast error distribution. The guaranteed optimal target cash inventory level and time between orders could only be obtained through an optimization module that was embedded in a simulation routine that we built for the institution. We employed an exploratory case study methodology to collect cash withdrawal data at 21 ATMs owned and operated by the financial institution. Our new approach shows a 4.6% overall cost reduction. This reflects an annual cost savings of over $250,000 for the 2,500 ATM units that are operated by the bank.