Digital (packaging) in the supply chain
What does Digital in the Supply Chain mean? We get asked all the time by our clients “we want to go Digital in the Supply Chain”… really, what does the client mean?
Well, to put our perspective to it there is the “translation” of the request. Our response is typically “Do you want to be more Agile?”…. “Ah yes, they say that’s what we want but what does Agile mean?”
In the dynamic world we now live in there is digital this and digital that and even before 4G is working wholesale there is the cry for 5G….HAS THE WORLD GONE DIGITAL MAD?
What’s really required is a coherent and effective delivery of Agile thinking and performance; increase efficiencies despite the drive for the current trends of personalisation and customisation which are behind all the brands; Nutella to Marmite, Coke to Vodka. How to deliver that uniqueness in the product offer?
Up until relatively recently there was the ability to digitally print labels, nothing too complex, just flat panel labels. Since then the growth in ceramic tile, laminates, fabrics, electronics and more printing …….and so it goes on. What we at iDi Pac Ltd are passionate about doing is taking this excellent technology into newer and more exciting areas by integrating the supply chain needs through to product delivery and that often means that the entire packaging system needs some, if not all, its components.
So, as a small example we are working on a project currently that has the fabulous brief of asking for personalisation on a pack and product line that has little ability to forecast outputs accurately; seasonality and country variations put paid to that….all on a system that up until today hasn’t been a major area of development for short run capability.
The client would like to adopt a make to order approach, they would like to run at line speeds and then have quality that meets the demanding retail environment…….and by the way the shippers and POS materials need to be equally bespoke and flexible in their designs and manufacturing capability. It’s a jigsaw of capabilities and design! The materials are in the main thin (ish) films that are used in a complex supply chain………..we can’t say more just now!!
What we chose to deliver had to meet the client brief of being cost effective, Agile principles integral to the manufacturing process, that we should minimise capex spend and deliver true bespoke capability ……. The plan is working, the developments are proving challenging yet achievable, the back office systems are integrated into an excellent and responsive artwork system that is currently delivering best in class performance for change control complete with traceability, best in class turnaround times and with the added benefit of feeding digital capable systems; print, publish and despatch, truly Agile performance.
Fundamentally the project has adopted the principles of Agile thinking and applied it across the entire SC; forecasting processes through to artwork origination, approvals and controls through to manufacturing systems and capabilities that deliver the functionality within the pack solution that has been “tweaked” to accept the digitalisation of the pack.
Personalisation and customisation, they are achievable IF you consider the whole SC. Move from the parochial thinking into a holistic and innovative view to create that vision, technology can deliver at that point!!
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