Jul 17 2014

When it Comes to Packaging, Paperless Manufacturing is an Art. Literally.

packaging_as_art_manufacturingYou’re in the store, shopping for a household item. You scan the shelves quickly, see the brand you’re looking for, and grab it. Or perhaps you don’t have a specific brand in mind, and you’re attracted by the package design. Either way, you’ve just shown how important the package can be to a product’s success.

To enterprises that sell their goods on consumer store shelves, or even online, packaging is a vital part of the sales process and is integral to the brand itself. For some products and customers, the package is the product! That’s why companies spend so much time reviewing, refining, and managing their packaging art and copy. (In some cases, the packaging can actually become a highly desired piece of art, such as the image at right!)

But, manufacturers may be spending a lot more time than they need to, and not getting the results they want. That’s because packaging, for a global producer, is so highly complicated and collaborative. It crosses boundaries into different regions, cultures, languages, and laws. That package you see in the U.S. will be in a different language in other countries, with different labeling requirements. There will likely be subtle cultural differences too.

Yet somehow, global companies need to achieve consistent look and feel wherever possible. And when a product package needs to be varied for a specific region, the variation must be managed and implemented in a strategic way to protect and grow the brand.

Getting everyone properly involved in development and review, and then translating their decisions onto the actual packaging art as part of the manufacturing process, is a slow and often painful process.

Enter a company called Barilla, a global leader in the pasta industry. The company sells some 1,500 brands in more than a hundred countries! To get their packaging art under control, Barilla has implemented a paperless solution that streamlines the artwork and label creation process, and provides each of its stakeholders with secure, digital access to all the elements of the package including copy, logos, and designs.

Every stakeholder is able to collaborate from idea generation to validation, working from the same master label. The final artwork can then be moved seamlessly into the packaging production systems around the world, with complete confidence that it is reviewed, accurate, and up to date in every instance.

Marco Rossi, IT Business Process Support Director at Barilla, says, “No more working on outdated samples and making decisions that have to eventually be rescinded, which drove our costs up and our response time down. With this solution, we can digitally exchange ideas faster, more intuitively, and with few to no packaging recalls.”

None of this should be a surprise. Manufacturing Execution Systems are already used by many enterprises in product manufacturing to enable material synchronization, manufacturing efficiency, quality and compliance, in support of accelerating innovation and new product introductions.

If a manufacturing execution system can operate as a paperless solution to deliver these benefits for product design and production, then why not for packaging art as well? It’s the logical next step in the transition to paperless manufacturing.

You can read more about Barilla and paperless packaging art in this press release.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/07/when-it-comes-to-packaging-paperless-manufacturing-is-an-art-literally/

Jul 15 2014

The Relentless Pressure for Supply Chain Agility

agile_supply_chainAs most of you are probably well aware, Gartner publishes a Supply Chain Top 25 list every year, representing those companies that have best mastered the skill, precision and art of managing their supply chains. This list is a big deal, and is revealed each year at a special conference held in the spring, usually at a nice resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

According to Gartner, in order to make this list, a manufacturer must typically have achieved:

  • Harmonized foundational processes, data structures and solutions across their global supply chain while driving next-level, tailored performance through advanced capabilities, such as end-to-end segmentation, cost-to-serve analytics, multitier supply chain visibility and supply network optimization
  • A cross-functional team composed of sales, marketing, supply chain and IT to design a holistic new market strategy, and enable local operations supporting new geographies and products for your business groups, and
  • Set aspirational goals and connect the dots between the work people do every day in the supply chain and its contribution to the societies within which they live, building engaged supply chain talent that can lead business growth

These are no small feats! A minimum requirement to achieve this level of enterprise agility is a set of IT systems that work seamlessly across operations – crossing functional boundaries as well as the typical silos of plant-based operations.

Apple’s Remarkable Performance

In order to even earn a ranking on this list, one might view you as a “rock star.” To achieve the #1 spot consistently, on a year-over-year basis is truly magical. Apple has achieved that level of supply chain performance, with 2013 metrics combined with a vote by Gartner analysts and their peers that placed them at the top of the heap:

  • A three-year weighted ROA of 22.3%
  • An average of 82.7 inventory turns
  • A three-year weighted revenue growth of 52.5%

Trouble with Apple’s Core?

According to a recent article in the Telegraph (“Apple’s supply chain in trouble?”), challenges may now be getting much harder for Apple to retain its lead. The article stated that that the ‘iPad Pro’ – a larger version of the iPad, equipped with a 12.9-inch screen – may now be shelved (it was), and that the sapphire-screened iPhone 6 may now be in trouble due to a challenge within their production or supply chain operations (another accurate prediction).

Alas, this is not the first time Apple has had challenges to overcome – their gorilla glass story is well documented. As the story goes, Jobs flew to Corning, New York to meet with Corning CEO Wendell Weeks and explained that he wanted the iPhone’s screen to be made of glass, but that it had to be durable and he needed enough of it within six months to be produced for all the iPhones he was planning to sell. Corning delivered with a production break-through, in time to deliver the new iPhone that was unveiled in early January of 2007.

No Easy Path

Manufacturing leaders must continually re-evaluate their production processes, challenge their suppliers to do the impossible, and then adapt their business processes on an enterprise wide scale so to keep up with all this change. Couple these obstacles with a continual need for new product introduction that is stunning, innovative and ground breaking, and then you too can be an Apple.

Given this deeper dive into what it takes to top the Gartner Supply Chain Top 25, it is even more remarkable that Apple once again retained the top spot in 2014. This year, their metrics included:

  • A three-year weighted ROA of 20.5%
  • An average of 69.2 inventory turns
  • A three-year weighted revenue growth of 31.2%

Clearly these figures are less than the score from last year, further indication of the continuing challenge to manage the supply chain. Yet, these figures were better than all the rest – so Apple continues to shine.

The only question now is who can de-throne the king?


Gordon can be found on Google+ .

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/07/the-relentless-pressure-for-supply-chain-agility/

Jul 08 2014

3 Operations Habits of Highly Successful Manufacturing Companies


As activity in the global manufacturing sector continues to grow post the financial crisis of 2007-08, successful in-house operations rest on a few basic factors: keeping costs low, morale high and productivity up. The latest research shows that smart executives build a culture of communication, innovation and respect at their facilities. Learn what experts say you should be doing to help your manufacturing outfit prosper:

1. Embrace Innovation and Open Communication

Pennsylvania State University conducted a study entitled, “Review of Innovation Practices in Small Manufacturing Companies.” One of the key findings researchers Anthony Warren and Gerald Susman discovered for successful manufacturing firms was an open flow of communication between management and employees, along with interdepartmental cooperation.

PBR Pty., an automotive components manufacturer that participated in the study, is a company that excels in a highly competitive industry. Management knew that existing technology and resources may not put them in the best position to maximize profits. The company developed partnerships with other firms to handle issues that would otherwise need a dedicated development team and months of planning to accomplish in-house.

Leverage continuous process improvement and streamline as many processes as possible by establishing relationships with specialty firms. Maintenance on assembly lines is a near-daily occurrence, and it shouldn’t stall production any longer than absolutely necessary. Your parts supplier, for instance, should be able to provide parts in a matter of hours. O-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber calls this “maximizing your advantage.”

Furthermore, consider cloud-based computing solutions to facilitate data storage and security and other functions that would require IT personnel.

2. Offer Fair Wages and Benefits

Employee retention was second only to cost control as top concerns for manufacturing companies, according to a survey by MetLife. Nearly all workers said they’d be interested in more benefits as further incentive to stay on the job.

Your product will only be as good as the workers you have to produce them, and happy workers are productive and content ones. Find out the median and average wages of workers both in your region and industry. You can also find information on what benefits similar companies offer employees and how to make said options available to your employees.

A great benefits package is instantly negated if employees don’t know how to access it. The MetLife survey also found that 70 percent of employees who said HR effectively communicated benefits to them are satisfied with their packages. Contrarily, only seven percent were satisfied when communication was lacking.

3. Respect

The industrial manufacturing firm Armstrong International has not laid off one single employee in its 109-year history. David Armstrong, the company CEO, told Manufacturing.net that his company even prospered during those rough recession years of 2008 and 2009 while many other closed their doors. He credited one simple, yet often overlooked aspect of his company culture for its sustained success: respect.

Recognize individuals for their hard work and accomplishments. These accolades can then be repeated during company meetings and social activities to reinforce a culture of mutual respect. Provide workers with clean bathrooms, dining areas and adequate parking spaces. These little things boost morale and help workers develop pride in what you’re trying to accomplish.


In the end, the expression “the more things change, the more they stay the same” comes to mind. Despite all the technological advances and productivity improvement applications that are now prevalent, organizations are still run by people. If you want to improve your operational efficiency, then a good place to start is how you treat your people. Those with respect, trust, and a sense of belonging will pay considerable rewards to how your organization operates in the future.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/07/3-operations-habits-of-highly-successful-manufacturing-companies/

Jun 27 2014

Working at Scale: Which Production Method is Right for Your Business?

batch_process_flow_manufacturingWhen it comes to manufacturing, there are a number of production methods, with each offering a range of benefits depending on product type and market size. All businesses operate differently so it’s important to know the differences between the various production methods to ensure that you are choosing the most suitable and most cost-effective solution. More importantly, it is important to realize that while one production process might work best today, a different one might be better tomorrow. Successful manufacturers understand the need for flexibility with how their operating processes are designed, as well as how easily their IT systems can adapt to potential future changes.

One-off, or Job Production?

Most manufacturing operations for new products begin with a one-off production prototype. This is the most labor intensive process as the product will be unique and untried. They are often produced by hand or with minimal use of machinery and each product is usually finished before the next one is started. Most manufacturers will only use this as a test to ensure that the product works before beginning to produce them in larger numbers.

However, there are companies where each product is different and therefore must continue to be produced this way. For example, blast and paint manufacturer Airblast AFC produces custom blast rooms based on each client’s requirements, meaning each room has to be built differently. This is also true of personalized items like wedding cake figurines and made-to-measure items like designer clothes.

Digital manufacturing strategies provide new ways to improve efficiency within this prototyping stage. Sophisticated modeling capabilities of these types of programs can simulate material properties, how well parts will fit together as well as what processes are involved by the workers to complete the production process. While this type of process can have significant cost savings for large production runs, it can also add value for truly one-off products if waste can be reduced and fewer materials are consumed.

Batch Production

Batch production involves the manufacture of a group of products at the same time. This type of production method is useful for small companies as it can reduce the initial capital outlay. This means that if the batch is unsuccessful then the manufacturer can cease production without incurring large losses. It also offers the manufacturer the ability to produce several products in different variations.

For example, a production process could be used to make a batch of 500 white t-shirts and then reconfigured to make a batch of 500 blue t-shirts. However, this also has its drawbacks as the production line must be stopped and reconfigured between each batch.

Flow Production

Flow or mass production eliminates the problem of downtime associated with batch manufacturing. However, this method is only cost effective when producing large quantities of identical items, so is often beyond the reach of new businesses or those operating in niche markets. The concepts of mass production are applied to various kinds of products, from fluids and particulates handled in bulk (such as food, fuel, chemicals, and mined minerals) to discrete solid parts (such as fasteners) to assemblies of such parts (such as household appliances and automobiles).

Flow production is often largely automated, requiring only a few staff to monitor the process. Producing such large quantities means that the price of each unit will be exponentially reduced. But because the process is mostly automated, it is difficult to make changes once it has been set up and is therefore only suitable for thoroughly tried and tested products. Herein lies one of the greatest challenges to manufacturers today – how do you ramp up quickly to high flow production while still being capable of responding quickly to change? The answer lies within what systems are in place to accommodate change.

A famous example of this scenario is that of the Ford Model T, which was made very affordable thanks to mass production. But, Ford couldn’t respond to customer demand for variety, meaning that they ultimately lost market share to General Motors who were more flexible.


Each of these production methods offers a number of advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right method can make the difference between success or failure. The savings offered by flow production may be tempting, but if the market is not large enough or you are not agile enough, then you will just end up with huge stockpiles.

Likewise, you may try to be cautious and choose to only make a small batch and end up having to inflate the retail price to cover costs, making it too expensive for the market. The best advice I can give is to research each process thoroughly and to make sure that the production method you choose is proportional to the nature of the product and the size of the market.


Ella Mason can be found on Google+.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/06/working-at-scale-which-production-method-is-right-for-your-business/

Jun 24 2014

Apply a Profit Imperative to Traceability Regulations

profit_imperitive_traceabilityWhat follows is a transcript of a podcast recently recorded [hear the podcast recording].

Today we will be talking about The Profit Imperative of New Approaches to Traceability Regulations. I am Debra Gray, and would like to introduce Rick Gallisa, Industry Director for DELMIA Apriso and Julie Fraser, Principal at Iyno Advisors. So, let’s get started. I’ll kick it off with a question to Rick.


Debra: Regulated industries have always had to provide traceability and genealogy. Why is this issue pressing now?

Rick: You’re absolutely right Debra; it always has been a pressing issue. The reason it’s becoming a more pressing issue today is with regards to mandates coming out of regulatory agencies. If you look at the Life Sciences industry, you have the ePedigree initiative around Pharmaceutical and Biotech. You have the Unique Device Identifier initiatives in Medical Device manufacturing. And, oh by the way, both of those have many counterparts in many parts of the world with different governments. In Food & Beverage, you have the Food Modernization Act that was put into law in 2011. And, even in Aerospace & Defense there’s been a spike of counterfeits that have been found in highly sophisticated defense and intelligence systems. All of these things have recently escalated and heightened the sensitivity to counterfeits and the need for higher level of traceability for consumer protection and defense. Those are really the reasons why it’s taking off now.

Julie: Yes, governments have sprung into action with many new regulations, and the thing that you hinted at is that each government takes its own action, so may have a slightly different mandate. Companies need to comply with each of these and “oh by the way,” they need to do it for every product or every variance of a product, so it’s an exponentially more complicated than if you think about just one product or one regulation. So, what’s really what’s been going on is that companies are complying with a lot of regulations for every single product.

Debra: No wonder companies are complaining about all these new regulations. Sounds like it will cost them a lot of money to comply.  How can companies understand that impact?

Julie: I recently wrote a paper explaining that traditional approaches to traceability can make you compliant but they are very, very inefficient. We advise people to consider not only the costs of these traditional ways of doing it, but also some of the soft costs and to go beyond looking at the really obvious costs and include some of the more hidden costs – there are a lot of them to managing quality and traceability and the soft cost of traceability failures are another thing to consider – they’re difficult to calculate but they are very real and really the failures in quality are the impetus behind the regulations.

Rick: At DELMIA Apriso, we saw this coming across these industries we’ve been discussing for the past several years and have developed some very robust solutions that help our customers with better traceability and genealogy tracking. Not just within their four walls of a given manufacturing site, but across their entire global manufacturing operations. And, increasingly more and more with their collaborative partners that these manufacturers are embracing to help with expanding their reach into new markets while lowering their costs. The supply chains are becoming increasingly more complex, which really adds to the challenge.

Julie: It is a huge challenge. Really, every company has a unique information technology landscape. So, companies need to do due-diligence. You really need to identify your systems of record and ask a realistic question: “Are they capable of handling traceability and containment as an end-to-end process?” In many cases, we suspect the answer won’t be “yes,” but you have to realize that profitability is going to be impacted both by the processes to comply with these mandates, and any failures that might result from a lack of traceability and containment.

Debra: Thanks Rick and Julie for sharing your views on why this issue is critical now.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/06/apply-a-profit-imperative-to-traceability-regulations/

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