What challenges and opportunities do co-packers face in today’s market? To help answer this question, Nulogy hosted a webinar titled Head of the Pack: Insights From Leading Co-Packers on Staying Ahead of the Curve. This webinar featured three industry-leading contract packaging providers to discuss strategies and technologies that have helped them stay ahead of the competition in today’s volatile market.
I had the privilege of moderating the discussion panel, which featured:
- Alejandro Cordoba, CEO, Maquilas del Bajío
- Kim Egan, Executive VP & CFO, GH Manufacturing
- David Freed, CIO & Head of Sustainability Strategy, MSI Express
Maquilas del Bajío is a contract packager serving a number of global consumer brands, with three locations operating in central Mexico.
GH Manufacturing is a contract packaging provider operating in Ontario, Canada for more than 20 years, and a specialized converter of high-quality polyethylene bags on wickets.
MSI Express is a contract packager and manufacturer delivering services to Fortune 500 food & beverage companies, with 15 facilities across six states in the U.S.
Amidst ongoing challenges such as labor constraints, rising costs, and customers’ increasingly complex requirements, the panelists offered valuable insights into successful approaches for responding swiftly to dynamic market conditions, reducing operational waste, and enhancing customer satisfaction.
During the discussion, the panelists identified three key areas of optimization for co-packers.
1. Evolve your data flow to support customer needs
With rising costs and inflation impacting all parties in the supply chain, customers of co-pack providers are increasingly looking for greater collaboration from their partners in the following ways:
- Greater data visibility – Customers are seeking more granular visibility into order statuses, delivery times, and fulfillment deadlines among their trading partners. This additional visibility can help customers stay on top of order planning and better manage their network capacity, resulting in faster response times to the Bullwhip Effect in their supply chains.
- Modernized data integrations – Following up on the previous point, ensuring modern and scalable data integrations are appealing to brand manufacturing customers. Accurate, timely, and automated data flow can strengthen order collaboration between parties, and is increasingly becoming a requirement for the largest consumer brands.
- Outsourced capabilities – Some customers are looking to outsourced partners to orchestrate more of their supply chain operations, such as vendor and supplier management. Just as the demand for complex co-packing can be a growth opportunity, there are similar business opportunities to companies that can manage these outsourced supply chain functions through strong data flow processes.
For all the panel participants, data collaboration has proven valuable in maintaining and growing customer relationships, and ensuring that they stay top of mind as strategic partners to their customers.
2. Manage market complexity with shop floor digitalization
All three panelists agreed that digitalization plays a critical role in ensuring efficient and accurate co-pack operations, especially in the face of ongoing labor constraints and complexity of customer demands. On the labor front, the value of a digitalized shop floor lies in enabling staff to do their most productive work by unburdening them from the manual, day-to-day tasks that encumber their schedules.
The panelists also recalled the state of their operations before Nulogy, when production tracking and management was done manually, leading to long lead times or even delays in data entry. After implementing Nulogy, they are now able to harness real-time information about their production lines and order statuses, which in turn enables them to lower administrative costs and increase their order capacity, as well as improve their ability to fulfill more complex orders.
Digitalization also enables co-packers to operate with more flexibility while maintaining high quality and production levels. The panelists emphasized that this system of working cannot be replicated by competitors that aren’t using the same systems.
As a result, a digitalized shop floor becomes a competitive edge.
3. Ensure that technology serves the people
The previous two themes dovetailed into the topic that was arguably the most important: change management, or how technology is adopted at all levels within the organization.
All panelists believed that strong team communication was vital to onboarding a new system and showing how it can bring value to staff and their roles. They emphasized that any newly onboarded technology needed to be in service of the people on the floor, because “implementing a new system won’t matter if staff aren’t willing to use it.”
A major success factor in change management, the panel further explained, is being able to reframe the value of software: for the staff on the shop floor, their priority isn’t about feeding data into internal systems or effectively running reports—it is about getting orders out the door. Software needs to be able to make them better and faster at achieving that goal, and making their lives easier by reducing the busy work and paperwork in their day-to-day roles.
Finally, the panel stressed that even in a successful environment, change management is an ongoing process of continual improvement, because every person in an organization can always learn more, and every organization has room to improve and grow.
Learn more about how digitalization can benefit your bottom line
Digitalization is a business strategy that can benefit all parties involved with an organization: from internal stakeholders such as executives and shop floor staff, to customers and even vendors and suppliers.
In a market where delays and demand changes can come suddenly and without warning, it is more crucial than ever to leverage technology to ensure your co-pack operations are nimble enough to respond while maintaining the high level of service for which you’re known.
Thank you again to our panelists for sharing their time and experience with Nulogy. For more co-packing insights from industry leaders, watch the full webinar.
To learn more about how Nulogy can help optimize your shop floor’s efficiency and profitability, visit our Shop Floor Solution page.