Josephine Coombe, Managing Director of Nulogy in Europe, discusses the role of digitalisation in the supply chain and the importance of increased collaboration between contract manufacturing and co-packing partners.
Even if we put the impact of Covid-19 to one side, the days of predictable consumer demand and stable retail channels are long gone, and today’s manufacturing supply chains need agility and resilience to keep up with volatile market conditions. Market trends and consumer preferences are constantly changing and evolving, and suppliers of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) are therefore increasingly relying on their external manufacturing and co-packing partners to help bring products to market quickly and cost-effectively. However, many of these suppliers lack the ability to collaborate effectively, shackled by the limitations of manual and outdated systems.
The fact is that in times of increased complexity of development processes and supply lines, manual and time intensive processes will not provide FMCG brands with the levels of support and innovation they need. Legacy systems, spreadsheets and old-style trading of phone calls and emails create a mountain of non-standardised data, meaning FMCG supply chain leaders often have a total lack of visibility and control over their production and order progress.
Shining a light
Digitalisation provides a clear path through all this confusion. Cloud based platforms such as Nulogy, operate at brand, co-packer and strategic levels. Multi-enterprise collaboration becomes a reality through their use and bridges the gap between brands and their external manufacturing and packaging networks. Real-time data is seamlessly shared, workflows streamlined, milestones and KPIs easily tracked with shared accountability between the FMCG and their supplier – all of which allow this ecosystem to bring consumer products to retail customers with increased speed, flexibility, and reliability.
Production metrics can also more easily be managed and optimised, enabling brands to drive continuous improvements in external performance. And although many FMCG organisations may already have internal ERPs in place, a collaborative solution is able to complement these pre-existing systems and seamlessly integrate with both internal systems and external suppliers, who can simply plug into the brand’s software.
There are many benefits of this approach, from increased responsiveness and reduction in risk to optimisation of resources and improved sustainability. This is why Nulogy is leveraged by many of the world’s leading brands including L’Oréal, P&G, Mars, and Church & Dwight to both optimise and accelerate global supply chain performance.
Delivering for contract suppliers
In the same way that brands are not dependent on external suppliers having to invest in the same platform to facilitate their digitalisation programme, contract packers and manufacturers can similarly choose to employ software independently of their clients. In this situation operational solutions are tailored specifically to enhance all the key functions in a co-pack day-to-day environment, be it inventory management, production planning and job estimations.
For contract packers and manufacturers, digitalisation is the key to enhancing efficiency, improving profitability, and ensuring quality. The availability of real-time data on performance tracking and material management means they can gain better visibility of their operations, ensuring lines are hitting targets and stock count is accurate. With precise information at their fingertips, suppliers can also improve labour proficiency and reduce inventory write-offs from lower material obsolescence.
Major US based food packer, Bell-Carter Packaging, has seen Nulogy’s co-packing software deliver value on the shop floor as well as at the strategic business level, illustrating how digitalisation is a hidden gem of opportunity for those looking to stand out from the competition and unlock strategic growth.
In the UK, Marsden Packaging, based in Blackburn, UK, specialises in primary and secondary packaging services for the food and pharmaceutical sectors and has been using Nulogy’s software to power its operations in the UK for over five years. Alongside the overall flexibility of the platform, Marsden has seen efficiencies and sustainability benefits come from the use of Nulogy by improving workflows and making the business a more efficient production unit through avoiding costly waste.
Ultimately, a multi-enterprise supply chain network – unified through digital transformation – can deliver both a raft of operational and financial benefits and, just as importantly, also strengthen relations between FMCG brands and external suppliers. By sharing data and working together to fulfil orders, mutual trust is built. All sides can achieve their objectives, and this generates a ‘win-win’ situation in this critical part of the supply chain as it meets the demands of a constantly changing world.