How Optimizing Your Supply Chain Creates Value For Customers

In SAP’s blog post, author Richard Howells explains how to enable an intelligent supply chain through digital business planning. Read the full article to learn more.

The global supply chain is experiencing a level of disruption that has never been seen before. Some manufacturers have ceased production completely, some have seen greatly reduced demand, and others have seen a huge increase in demand. Every manufacturer is impacted by this crisis in some way and, for many, this poses an existential threat.

It has been calculated that UPS and FedEx alone move 11.6 billion packages every year. And with omnichannel sales and direct-to-consumer orders on the rise, this number continues to rise year over year. But have you ever wondered where all these packages come from – not what’s inside the packages, but the actual packaging itself?

There is a good chance it comes from Cascades Containerboard Packaging, a division of Cascades. Cascades produces, converts, and markets packaging and tissue products composed mainly of recycled fibers. With 25 units operating across Canada and the United States, Cascades is the largest manufacturer of containerboard in Canada and the sixth-largest in North America.

On the Road to Customer Centricity

Customer centricity means centering everything you do around the customer. This requires a fundamental shift in not only how you interact with your customers, but also how you align your supply chain and other business processes to better serve and delight your customers.

To enable this, Cascades sought to optimize its supply chain. What the company needed was more consistent planning processes, faster planning cycles, and better user engagement across a multi-echelon supply chain with external distribution centers mostly managed by third-party logistics providers (3PLs).

But the company’s preexisting system presented obstacles. These included day-long data latencies, a reliance on Excel documents to share forecasts with customers, and no relationship between sales and operations planning (S&OP) strategy and tactical operations.

To move forward, Cascades needed to:

  • Drive fact-based decision-making with end-to-end supply chain visibility and access to a single source of trusted data
  • Facilitate faster planning cycles and consistent processes for sales and operations planning
  • Improve collaboration and user engagement across functions

Cascades introduced an integrated business planning solution to power monthly and weekly planning processes and enable easy collaboration and quick resolution of issues across functions.

Tangible Business and Sustainability Benefits

With integrated business planning technology, Cascades has realized numerous tangible benefits. These include:

  • Driving the S&OP process to align all stakeholders and pilot the business through the mid/long-term horizons
  • Reducing costs thanks to increased visibility and improved collaboration
  • Improving planning security supporting sales to new markets
  • Increasing efficiency with maximized production capacity and faster access to relevant information for both internal and external users
  • Improving decision-making with the aid of more-accurate and granular data and forecasts at the SKU and ship-to level

In addition, Cascades reduced the time spent on data collection by 90%. With less working capital required to support the planning process, employees and salespeople are now free to focus on more value-added tasks such as customer service. And when it comes to the goal of increasing sustainability, the solution has helped Cascades optimize freight, reduce inventory, and make better decisions that help minimize waste.


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