Why packaging is critical to building resilient supply chains

We get it. Specifically solving your packaging supply chain may seem like a small piece to a much larger strategic shift to more resilient and agile sourcing priorities.

But, without packaging, companies can’t get their product to their customers. There’s just no way around it. And, packaging is one of the most diverse aspects to your supply chain in terms of the shear volume of suppliers and product lines to manage.

Historically treated as an afterthought, packaging has come into the spotlight with recent disruptions to supply chains that has left many companies scrambling to avoid out-of-stock situations of key categories.

Exasperating the macro conditions, packaging specifications and workflows are typically more manual than other procurement and business functions. When disaster strikes, many are left between a rock and a hard place. Identifying and qualifying packaging suppliers can take months (in the best of times). And, the manual nature of critical workflows makes it nearly impossible to pivot at the speed required to thrive in today’s supply chain environment.

Many companies are stuck beating on their current suppliers to meet tight deadlines, while there are raw material shortages and logistics disruptions squeezing their suppliers ability to deliver. This leads to a no-win situation - no matter how good your relationship is with your network, if the raw materials aren’t available, there’s very little that can be done.

What are the keys to building a truly resilient packaging supply chain? We’ve included suggestions on how to build a strong strategy and execute.

  • Identify where you are ‘at-risk’. This can mean many things but some of the main drivers of risk are single-sourcing (both partners and geographies), lack of data and extended supplier qualification processes.
  • Next, prioritize where you need to de-risk your packaging supply chain. You can’t boil the proverbial ocean - so breaking down risk by product line, geography, category or various other metrics is key to successful execution.
  • Implement tools that centralize your data and provide robust collaboration and workflow automation tools. Packaging takes more collaboration than most products. Using email and spreadsheets just doesn’t cut it at the pace of supply chain disruptions today. A tool that provides visibility across your entire supply chain is key. Approvals can delay delivery timelines more than most realize.

Make sure to start small. Packaging teams have executed cost-efficient programs beautifully over the past two decades. As things change rapidly, it’s time to shift to a risk mitigation mind-set, which requires teams to make uncomfortable adjustments to their strategies. Give your team the processes and tools to develop strategies that enable agility in an increasingly complex global packaging supply chain.

Craving more? Check out the next article: Artwork and printing when you can't travel

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