The Importance of Solution-Based Collaboration in Contract Packaging

The manufacturing world we live in today has automation doing pretty much anything that is repetitive. At the very least, that is the goal of the manufacturer. However, manufacturing as it relates to contract packaging is only a piece of the supply chain. There are many parts to the contract packaging supply chain requiring organized teams of skilled professionals in specific areas providing solutions for economies, quality, safety, speed to market, and continuous improvement, just to name a few. These teams are the foundation for the collaboration necessary to generate the solutions for clients and their customers.

The contract packaging supply chain is extremely complex with many moving parts…packaging design, quality certification, supply chain management, material procurement, packaging printing, quality verification, shipping coordination, assembly, and finally, distribution. These steps are necessary to deliver a branded finished product possessing the quality factors, as well as delivering on the speed to market, customers and retailers expect and require in this fast paced environment we live in.

The complexity of the contract packaging supply chain creates the need for problem solving teammates… or change-makers. These change-makers have an ability to see patterns around them, identify the problems and challenges associated with the task at hand, solve the problems, organize teams and continually adapt as the situations change. Typically consisting of operations engineers, manufacturing engineers, maintenance engineers, packaging engineers, estimators, quality, customer service, logistics, and IT, each teammate is trained and skilled at their specific function creating a sum bigger than individual contributions. Contract packaging with all its complexity requires each teammate to provide solutions from the start with a disciplined continuous improvement approach. What the trade refers to as end-to-end solutions.

However, none of these people resources matter if they work alone or in silos. You can have the best and most experienced team, but if the teams are not working together and communicating regularly, then quality of solutions will be disappointing and the process slow at best. The complexity of the contract packaging supply chain requires what I call solution-based collaboration. That is, to make the teammates collectively part of the process, collaborating from beginning to end and ongoing.

Solution-based collaboration starts with a lead or point person. This person communicates with the customer and supplies the team the information to create the solutions. Information necessary for the change-makers to effectively do their job, but also to be a part of the process. This creates ownership and a sense of pride. Effective collaboration will produce quality solutions, speed up the process for the customer, and create efficiencies and the value add that differentiates the one-dimensional players from the real full service providers.

At Outlook Group solution-based collaboration is part of our culture. Our change-maker teams take pride in communicating and working together. Combining a contract packaging solution-based collaborative culture with in-house print capabilities is the foundation for a simplified supply chain with the following benefits:

  • Fewer people to work with, since component manufacturing and assembly manufacturing are done in-house, not by a third party
  • Lower freight and storage costs with all manufacturing done in-house
  • Workforce flexible to volume

Overall, fewer moving parts equates to a simplified contract packaging supply chain and delivers better quality, increased speed to market, and cost savings. Solution-based collaboration is the engine that moves a process from beginning to end.

 

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Jim Holland - Outlook Group

Author – Jim Holland
Director Contract Packaging & Fulfillment
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