A call to action for process discipline

Packaging capabilities such as flexibility and speed are musts. But as brand owners focus on these areas, is efficiency getting lost in the shuffle

Based on the results of an exclusive survey Contract Packaging magazine conducted this spring with Packaging & Technology Integrated Solutions (PTIS), the answer, perhaps more often than we care to acknowledge, appears to be yes.

Here is what we know: Everyone across the value chain wants to get packaged products into shoppers’ hands more quickly, and presented in a way that will entice them to buy. Different corners of the value chain use different terms to describe their mission within this objective. Marketers call it “speed-to-market” packaging and emphasize stock that continually refreshes store aisles to grab the attention of fickle consumers. Those in operations often call it “quick changeover” packaging to reflect their focus on simplifying the complexity of production line starts and stops and produce the myriad SKUs as quickly and accurately as possible.

The survey, however, points out a challenge that continues to dog the collective corners of the packaging industry in meeting these dual objectives. The marketing and operations folks, more often than not, still aren’t talking to each other much.

Here is one nugget that the survey found (see our Centerpiece article starting on page 10). In general, small consumer packaged goods companies work more cross-functionally than the bigger ones. That finding hasn’t changed much from a similar survey we took in 2006. Smaller product manufacturers are more integrated and hence more nimble in working with vendors such as contract packagers in getting products to market faster and in the way that was intended.

The survey results signal a wake-up call for large product manufacturers. It’s time to use process discipline and focus on results, just as smaller competitors do.

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