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Continued from Packaging World, December 2003, p. 76

The data from Alberto Culver’s ProcessPoint PDM Editor leverages an industry-standard means of encryption called SSL (Secure Socket Layer). Data is available to all Alberto Culver manufacturing sites in the United States, in Puerto Rico, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Argentina, Chile, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, and Poland.

Process Point PDM is also currently used at three of the four development centers located in Illinois, California, and the UK. The design center in Sweden is currently evaluating the application of the PDM system to meet their business needs.

"This OSI software replaced another specification software package that wouldn't allow us to link all of our locations together via the Internet to gain access to our product and packaging material specifications," says Curt Funke, Alberto Culver’s divisional vp of global purchasing and packaging engineering. "It was a Windows-based system that operated on a local area network that other sites couldn’t tap into without us making a major financial investment."

With the new software, he says, “Each design center has a database that manages development of the specifications into which other plants in that region tap into." Funke explains. "Each manufacturing site now has visibility to the product specifications from the design center in its region and for the design centers in other regions."

The original goal of creating a web based product specification system by encompassing all product definitions in one centralized database have met Alberto Culver’s primary goal for the investment. Funke says, "Each location is now responsible for loading in the specifications for its own product formulas, packaging bills, and material specifications into the system. Before we had this program, we had a mixed bag of specifications in multiple formats, in various filing systems, with little to no consistency between locations. Specifications often had to be sent out to manufacturing sites from the design centers in hard-copy format. The ability to maintain current and accurate accounting of specification requirements with a business that was growing so quickly became a daunting challenge.”

Understanding PDM

“Product Data Management,” says Funke, “is fundamental to any business wanting to have electronic records and retention of material specifications and product definition.” The ProcessPoint PDM Editor allows Alberto Culver to ensure the best designs, processes, and distribution of information among its packaging engineers, designers, research & development, marketing, and quality assurance personnel, as well as its supplier and customer partners.

The company formed a core team of six people who determined that the ProcessPoint software could met the company’s needs with effort on both sides to fully build out to global functionality that Alberto Culver product development teams needed. The company initiated training in phases, beginning with its packaging engineers and R&D chemists, considered the core user groups. Lead team members, Ethan Fraley, Nickie Cipicchio, and Mike Bugajsky had the ProcessPoint client software installed on their desktop computers and then began the work on multiple pilot tests and integration tests to make sure the system was functioning properly before Alberto Culver went live. Then these three individuals personally trained all the users in the company at each of the plant locations during the last 12 months.

For security, the firewall-protected system was set up so that only certain users would have access to certain information. Once data is approved, it is "locked down" so that no one can make changes without special permissions. That enables different locations to access data simultaneously, with all users having real-time access to information. The information includes bill of materials (BOM), a sort of "recipe" for product formulations and packaging components. Examples are:

* A BOM for all the packaging components that make up primary packages

(including the cap and label).

* A BOM for all the packaging components that make up the secondary package

(including the corrugated box and sealing tape)

* A BOM that describes the packaging components required to package product onto a pallet (including boxes, pallet, stretch wrap, and bar-code label).

ProcessPoint also allows packaging and R&D engineers to develop "what-if" scenarios to anticipate results based on certain changes to formulas and how those changes might impact packaging and palletizing specifications. That’s especially important since packaging professionals are responsible for designing specific structures, packaging materials, and dispensing systems to enhance and protect products developed by company chemists.


As a consumer packaged goods company, Alberto Culver must be able to meet retail planogram schedules to get product into stores from demanding customers. Those schedules often leave little turnaround time for getting new products, promotions, and special packs to market. The company may only have four to eight weeks, for example, to build sufficient quantities of product to support a national or regional product launch. The process of preparing for a new product launch often involves multiple plants building launch quantities at different locations. Getting these locations visibility to the specifications has been critical to Alberto Culver meeting customer service requirements.

ProcessPoint is also helping Alberto Culver meet customer deadlines. "By having all our data in this system, we hope to be able to collect product information as required by the UCC Net," says Funke. “The UCC Net defines product content and how it is to be loaded into the Transora Data Catalog. Retailers use the Transora Data Catalog for accessing product information from CPG companies to expedite purchasing and sourcing of new and existing products. Having the new PDM system will enable Alberto Culver to quickly upload accurate data content defined by the UCC Net into the Transora Data Catalog.”

Funke says “There are several benefits that have come from the new Web-based Process Point PDM solution. First is that we now have all product specifications in one system with common material requirements clearly defined for our manufacturing sites and suppliers to follow. Second, is that the new system has improved our efficiencies and productivity in our design and product development centers. Giving all locations visibility to our specifications has reduced 10-percent of the time workers once needed to take out of their day to pull information to send to other locations.”

Finally, “the software also ties together all of the raw materials that are purchased globally by Alberto Culver and these requirements can be loaded into e-sourcing software for bidding purposes,” he says. “For example, we can pull all the bottles in our system, from all the different design centers, and put them out for bid on a regional or global basis. It’s helped us reduce our annual cost of goods by enabling sourcing professionals to leverage purchases from multiple locations using common specifications with our largest regional and global suppliers. We estimate that we have gained 20- to 30-percent in cost savings with our new PDM system. This is a fundamental technology platform essential for our business to build upon. Now that this system is in place and working, many more benefits will come through system integrations, giving us a competitive edge."

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