Driving value home: 3PL insights from the ’Dome
On a warm evening in July, Nulogy and the IWLA invited supply chain leaders to the Rogers Centre for a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians.
On a warm evening in July, Nulogy and the IWLA invited supply chain leaders to the Rogers Centre for a game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians. As the Jays warmed up for the first inning, attendees buzzed with industry discussions on value added services (VAS) for 3PL providers: what’s the best way to introduce VAS into your facilities? How do you handle labor resourcing? How important is quality control?
To gain deeper insights, I hosted a panel discussion with Brandon Townsend, President of Promotional Print & Packaging, and Nick Trajanopoulos, Director of Operations at Nova Pack, and asked for their thoughts on these issues.
Here are three key takeaways from the discussion:
Both Townsend and Trajanopoulos agreed that many companies underestimate the scope and complexity associated with incorporating contract packaging into their service offerings. “Jobs that sound relatively easy—such over labeling, filling, and display building—are actually complicated,” Townsend explained. “Within co-pack jobs, we could be handling BOMs of 80 to 100 items, all while managing lot codes and multiple vendors.”
“There are a lot of variables involved on the co-pack side, and it’s beneficial to have staff who can build out the infrastructure on that side from the beginning,” Trajanopoulos added. “Regulatory controls have also been tightening recently, so it’s important to have someone with a co-pack background to help build the foundation of your production workflow.”
Labor was another prevalent discussion topic during the evening. “Staff are the heart and soul of every company. Given labor shortages and other ongoing issues in the industry, how can companies save costs by retaining staff?”
“Staff hiring is almost our largest spend,” Townsend said. “At Promotional Print & Packaging, we rate and assign line staff to jobs appropriate to their skills. This way, we ensure efficient lines while matching workers with their strengths. As well, we use Nulogy to help us plan and optimize the production planning process to compare expected versus actual results, and then evaluate those results for continual improvement. We believe all of these efforts help keep our staff engaged.”
“By sourcing from just one temp agency, we are able to help them understand our business in order to source labor more effectively,” Trajanopoulos said. He added that properly managing co-pack production resourcing is key to retaining trained workers. “Co-pack jobs are unique and continually fluctuating in requirements,” he said. “In order to manage that fluctuation, we do our best to retain our existing staff, and that means minimizing the number of staff we have to cut to match production demand. When you cut staff, you lose a lot of time and resources spent training them according to your SOPs. That has an impact on your bottom line.”
Quality control was also a regularly visited topic for the evening. I asked the panelists for their thoughts on how best to incorporate and maintain regulatory practices.
“Quality has risen more in importance over the last three years compared to the last 10, so visibility and transparency are a big deal for us,” Townsend said. He added that the quality control process at Promotional Print & Packaging manages a combination of regulatory requirements, customer requirements, and internal best practices. “We invite customers to cycle counts and spot checks, and we ask for input into our production schedule. We try to offer as much visibility into our inventory as we can. The more audits you go through, the higher your operating standards become.”
As a company that specifically serves the pharmaceutical industry in Canada, Nova Pack has extensive experience with quality procedures. “What’s really important to us is having quality embedded in our culture,” Trajanopoulos said. “It’s not just a couple people at the company talking about it: it’s everyone from the line staff to the CEO. It’s important to set up a culture where quality is everyone’s responsibility.”
Each speaker offered a final remark to close the evening:
Brandon Townsend: “The more services you can integrate into your operations and offer under one roof to potential customers, the more you will position yourself to become a vendor of choice.”
Nick Trajanopoulos: “In the field of contract packaging, there’s something different to work on every day. All the projects are customized and new, so it’s an exciting place to be. There’s so much room to grow as well. It’s an exciting opportunity to be able to help bring co-pack into the next generation.”