Packaging Revolution exclusive interview
The 5 Step Supply Chain Optimization Process helps deliver winning reusable packaging applications, says Norm Kukuk, VP Marketing & New Product Development for ORBIS Corporation. ORBIS has honed the approach over time, and it now has become central to the way that the company looks at any particular reusable packaging project.
Simply put, Norm believes that the 5 Step approach results in improved flow and management of product throughout the supply chain, delivering overall cost reduction and sustainability gains. The process results in customized solutions, measureable ROI and improved sustainability and environmental benefits. Here are those steps:
1. Analyze. Norm notes that each customer is unique. While they may have similar key metrics such as productivity, occupational safety, inventory control, or food safety, depending upon the customer, they may weigh those specific variables differently. How they weigh those variables can lead toward the recommendation of different approaches, even where the same product might be involved. As part of the analysis step, physical touch points, pain points, bottlenecks and more are examined to determine how the process can be improved.
2. Prove. In this step, ORBIS makes recommendations to the client and reaches consensus based on the analysis in Step 1, in conjunction with further exploration with the client. For example, in automotive, the proposed solution might be a reusable packaging system that will totally eliminate expendable packaging. In a food application, the emphasis might be on total integrity of the process. In this case, ORBIS might recommend a plastic metal detectable pallet that can be used to ensure that no plastic particulate ends up in the product. “We are big on performing trials of proposed solutions as part of the proving phase,” Norm adds.
3. Design. Here, the proposed solution is refined and built for the project, governed by the client’s objectives and constraints. A number of considerations may be considered, such as cube efficiency in the trailer or on the production floor, parts presentation, ergonomics, compatibility with automated equipment, food contact requirements, and others. “We want to be unbiased as to what the best solution is,” Norm comments about the final design. He says that in some cases, the best solution may be a steel rack that ORBIS may not itself produce, and in this case it would source it for the client.
4. Implement. Norm believes that the implementation stage of a reusable packaging project is too often ignored or mismanaged. The goal, Norm stresses, should be to make the implementation as seamless as possible. For example, inventory of legacy and new packaging must be managed to ensure orderly flows both into and out of service. “At this point,” Norm offers, “it comes down to execution. If you don’t do it right, there are negative impacts for all stakeholders.” In the case of ORBIS, the company involves its engineering services group as part of the implementation service offering, to ensure a quick and successful transition to the new reusable packaging solution.
5. Evolve. As supply chains continue to change over time, new challenges emerge. It is important for the provider to work with the client to optimize reusable packaging as such systems evolve. One recent example for ORBIS was a retail distribution center. It had become increasingly automated, and it was determined that its operations would benefit from a new attached lid container that worked better in this environment. In another example, hours of service limitations for truck drivers led a food service distributor to explore options to manually unloading orders at customer locations, which were taking too long with the new requirements. ORBIS proposed palletized delivery as a way to increase the speed of delivery, so that drivers could still make the same amount of stops in a shortened work day. The 42×30” plastic pallet designed for this project now fits through the front doors of convenience stores, providing a solution to the problem of shrinking driver hours.
Process improvement is relentless, and Norm says that the goal of providers is to anticipate how such changes impact the success of established solutions. He observes that over time, such changes culminate in “tipping points” that provide fresh opportunities for further supply chain optimization initiatives.