Many Industry professionals, when asked this question, would assume the co-packer only gets involved at the end of a projects life cycle and although that can be true for some jobs its becoming more important for companies to approach the co-packer at a much earlier stage, and sometimes even before they’ve begun the manufacturing process.
Contract packers have always been an integral part of the supply chain, ensuring products make their way to the shelf in both the timescale required, within budget and in the condition retailers expect, but what if you get to the point where you’ve manufactured a product, have retailers lined up and then can’t find a suitable co-packer to oversee the final stages of your project.
It sounds impossible to think that you’d get to this stage and not be able to find a suitable supplier, but many things can influence the end of the supply chain. One thing nearly all co-packers have in common is the increase in demand for their services during the lead up to the holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter. Brand owners and project managers are generally aware of this trend and can use their knowledge and skills to ensure their supplier has the capacity to handle their project but placing additional work load on an already stretched work force can sometimes cause issues that can normally be avoided. Obviously it’s not always possible to plan so far in advance that everything runs like clockwork such as when demand for a product outweighs manufacture and this is where having a partnership with your supplier really comes into its own. By working in partnership with suppliers and not simply seeing them as a means to an end, you encourage more trust in the relationship and this often results in a sustainable partnership that can react to market conditions much more flexibly and result in significant achievements for all concerned.
Another problem than can arise as a result of last minute planning is the difficulty in actually finding a supplier who is set up to handle the job with the necessary equipment, systems and work force in place. Most co-packers will specialise in certain sectors whether it be pharmaceuticals, toiletries, confectionery etc, and will have the appropriate equipment and certifications in order to work those sectors, so doing your homework prior to approaching these suppliers can be time saving and result in a smooth running project. Generally if you have a partnership with an existing supplier they would be open to discussing procurement options for equipment to tender for most contracts but this again is something which takes time and should be considered in great detail and from the outset.
The diverse nature of the packaging Industry as a whole tends to mean that most projects have a bespoke time frame and keeping within those constraints is specific to that individual job. Working with co-packers from the early concept stage can ensure that all parties are aware of their responsibilities and the time frame their expected to work towards giving everyone the chance to plan ahead and ensure your project gets completed in the most efficient and manageable way.
Tim Britt – Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org
Sales and Marketing Manager
Brand Packaging Services
Staff at Brand Packaging Services have been working tirelessly for the last 4 weeks to ensure completion of one of their biggest customers Christmas Projects. A delay in receipt of components whilst a container was being held in Customs pushed the schedule back by approximately 4 weeks and a demand from the retail sector meant that the projects time frame was cut from an estimated 12 weeks to less than 4. Production Manager Sean Giles says “Working a 12 hour shift 6 days a week for 4 consecutive weeks has certainly proved our commitment to complete all our projects in time and within budget for our customers. We recognise the pressure that the supply chain works under at this time of year and will always do whatever’s necessary to ensure we meet our customer’s deadlines”
Tim Britt, Sales Manager at BPS said “From a purely customer service perspective the work that’s been carried out by all members of the BPS teams including the Warehouse, Production and Office staff is of the highest standard and working under extreme pressure they’ve shown a genuine desire to pull together to complete the work and secured our position as one of the leading suppliers of Packing Fulfilment within the Industry”
Tel: 01353 661 440
Can Contract Packers have an influence on the materials used in the supply chain?
Contract Packing is evolving – even as we speak companies are looking at ways in which they can improve their systems, customer service, increase their volume and reduce their costs of production through efficiency measures. There’s nothing new in this you might say, but the high interest in sustainability from both the business sector and the general public gives the impression the Industry must look at its influence on companies who are interested, if not devoted to the issue of sustainability.
From a sales perspective it’s always been a case of working with your partners in order to fully understand each other’s requirements but nowadays it seems that it’s just as important to work in a consultative manner in order to incorporate the knowledge from within the Industry and identify the possible pit falls of ignoring the sustainability issue. Granted the bigger players in Manufacturing can spend the money needed to develop their own departments dedicated to focusing on the big picture but is this a realistic and viable option for the smaller more independent manufacturers, producers and retailers.
With Trade associations covering 85% of businesses involved in the supply chain supporting the code of practice for optimising packaging and minimising waste, the Industry organisers obviously work hard to raise awareness, and with manufacturers and retailers always looking to tailor the type and amount of material needed to provide the right protection for the much greater resources typically invested in products, it’s important to remember the Contract Packers role in this process. As Co-Packers we’re primarily responsible for putting components together and bringing the product to the shelf in a saleable condition and sustainability is fundamental in helping to achieve this; but we can also use our experience in the Industry to recommend suppliers of appropriate materials, building on our existing relationships with partners and even place ourselves in position to work on a consultancy basis when the planning of product and packaging design is just in concept.
By recognising the importance of the issue and responding in a pro active manner, such as looking at our own internal energy usage and sourcing the appropriate materials for individual projects we take more responsibility within the supply chain and reflect the importance of sustainability as a whole.
Co-Packers can, and do have an influence in the materials used in the supply chain and are certainly playing their part in the evolution of packaging. As a result of working towards highlighting the benefit of sustainability – economically, environmentally and socially we can ensure we meet the needs of the manufacturers responsibilities and by demonstrating our desire to be involved in the sustainability of their products can continue to evolve as businesses whilst sustaining our own direction and development.