Reaching for a stronger supply chain

Reaching for a stronger supply chain

With decades of growth and a global reach across more than a hundred countries, Glanbia PLC is a major force in the food industry, branching into several sectors from dairy to nutritional supplements. It is also a company at the top of its game, ranked as one of the leading producers of cheese, isolate whey protein and sports nutrition products in the United States.

But even a leading business cannot grow complacent: continuous improvement is vital, and Glanbia is on a journey to make its supply chain leaner and more efficient every day.

Building a stronger supply chain in the cloud

As a way to streamline its supply chain operations and build in efficiencies, Glanbia is in the process of integrating an upgraded transportation management system (TMS) through 3PL and technology companies. Already successfully partially integrated at Glanbia’s operations, the company is now working to implement the program across its divisions nationwide.

As a cloud-based system, TMS can be accessed anywhere in the world through smartphones and tablets, allowing trucks to be routed and pickups to be requested from anywhere with an internet or LTE connection. Supplying analytics and KPIs, the program also doubles as a business intelligence suite to help Glanbia optimize its processes and create new efficiencies.

The TMS system will support the company’s SAP-designed CRM and ERP systems to provide a more holistic form of top shelf customer service, from materials suppliers to the end customer. “TMS eliminates the need to install and maintain many different facets of transportation systems,” said Andy Weisel, Procurement Center of Excellence executive at Glanbia. “It puts all the information in one source.”

Glanbia also continues to upgrade other technologies and processes, applying better SAP implementation across all business units, including business intelligence tools, spend & processes analysis, and waste removal. Glanbia uses eProcurement tools for RFIs, RFPs and eAuctions along with integrated contract databases that alert us to expiring supplier agreements. Meanwhile, the Glanbia Performance System utilizes a lean/six sigma operational excellence-based quality and performance management systems, which will outline a journey to zero losses in the future. 

Searching for further efficiencies

With its transportation management system underway, Glanbia is now turning its sights to streamlining and optimizing other facets of its supply chain. “We are in the late stages of tender  for our proposed supplier information management system (SIM),” said Weisel, explaining the need for Glanbia to develop a more direct portal for interface between suppliers and the company’s procurement and cross-functional teams. “We would like to further the supplier performance measurement vision of SIM by bringing together in dedicated supplier dashboards all the pertinent KPIs for that supplier. This will support our SRM efforts for our operations and for customers looking for the whole gamut of information,” he said.

From specifications and forecasts to invoice submission and order management, additional technology can optimize vital processes by allowing companies and their suppliers to have further insight into available stock and transport and the timing of orders and delivery. A more centralized and automated system can increase transparency internally and with suppliers, thus cutting down on mistakes and lost time related to material orders. Glanbia looks forward to the integration of this technology as a next step along its road to supply chain optimization.

“It’s more efficient, and it’s also a way of getting the right data in the right place at the right time,” said Weisel. That efficiency translates to savings for Glanbia, suppliers and end customers. The transparency afforded by such an implementation will also strengthen communication and synergy between Glanbia and its suppliers through analytics and performance metrics.

“The metrics keep suppliers up to date on how they’re performing against the average of all our suppliers,” said Weisel. “It allows us to segment our suppliers, and it’s also a communication portal between the supplier and Glanbia. There are no secrets—they’ll know exactly where they stand. I think it will raise expectations for the suppliers and make them better, as well as making us more efficient on invoices.”  

A company coming together

As Glanbia continues to grow, it is also consolidating. In a bid to further its pursuit of efficiency, the company is integrating three B2B ingredients business units into one organization called Global Ingredients, which will have a single customer interface and standardized systems and processes

 Along with this shift comes a reshaping of the organization structure for maximum effectiveness.  This will see regional sales structure and a new product category management function be supported by strong centers of excellence, including procurement operations.

“As well as providing day-to-day support to our plants on the operations side, the new procurement structure will have a dedicated team that focuses on longer term solutions across product categories,” said Weisel. “We’ve done this with our vitamins and amino acids categories already, along with our transportation and packaging side, and we plan to roll it out to all indirect and direct spend. Developing sound cross-functional strategic sourcing teams will lead the business to future growth opportunities.”

Improving on an executive level

As another means to improving business practices, Glanbia is active with the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) organization in order to develop the leadership tools needed to grow leaner and keep improving. 

“We are delighted with our membership of the CEB. They provide great training resources thst we have utilized this year across Glanbia,” said Weisel. As the category managers participate in different training courses, they apply what they’ve learned at a practical level for the benefit of the company.

“Our headquarters-led initiative used a “Voice of the Supplier” survey with our top 30 SAP vendors to really understand how they viewed Glanbia, which helped shape our vendor engagement and improvement plans. They also provided training and access to global best practices to apply to our businesses,” Weisel said.

“We’re looking at internal relationship management, and how procurement internally sells the value and benefit we can add to the business. Through our supplier relationship management, we continue to build strong relationships with suppliers, which leads to strategic category management and more innovation opportunities,” said Weisel. “These are just some of the areas we’re focusing on with the CEB to help Glanbia fulfill its ambition to be a global nutrition company and set truly world class practice.” 

Andy Weisel