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Matthew Quinn

Once viewed as just the ‘blue pallet company,’ CHEP South Africa has grown into a supply chain solutions firm over the last 10 years.

As Matthew Quinn, new business development director for CHEP sub-Saharan-Africa, puts it, “Yesterday, building a better mousetrap held the key to business success. Today, having a better product or technology is simply not enough. Our customers stopped asking us for a better mousetrap. They were demanding more value and we needed to grow our business.”

An insider’s eye for value
Today’s supply chains are vastly more complex than their predecessors – with the warehouse being one node or touch point. These chains are longer (thanks to globalisation), faster (with just-in-time replenishment), more fragmented (through consumer choice), and they move along busier roads (due to increased competition and volume) to more retail channels than ever before (due to the growth of modern as well as online retail).

This level of complexity has put a tremendous strain on the efficiencies and agility of the best supply chains. As standardisation is the mother of efficiency in the supply chain, the standardising of platforms is one decision that can generate efficiencies throughout the entire route. What happens to that platform as it moves along the supply chain has been CHEP’s point of view for more than 60 years.

This deep understanding comes, in part, from the company’s ‘insider’s eye’. Going back to the humble blue pallet, it rides along the world’s most sophisticated and efficient supply chains, gathering information as it moves. This insider’s eye has generated insights into millions of experiences, efficiencies, and mistakes – insights enabled by moving more goods to more places for more customers around the world than any other company.

CHEP shares these insights with its customers in a solution called Value Chain Analysis. Taking a holistic view of the entire supply chain, Lean Six Sigma-trained experts map out the entire process to highlight pain points.

Value Chain Analysis provides customers with a complete view of their operations that transcends departments, silos, facilities, and regions. This view of their flow of goods allows them to really see what is going on – so they can generate efficiencies, safeguard product quality and improve overall operating margins.

As Quinn says, “Customers will often recover money they didn’t know was lost.”

As CHEP’s customers share and reuse their platforms, its people share and reuse the knowledge they glean from supply chains around the world. That’s the insider’s eye.

The defect detector
In the warehouse, pallets operate as one player across the whole operation. They do have a unique perspective – as they touch every point and nuance as goods flow through the storage and distribution facilities. From the start of the journey to arrival, through loading and off-loading, racking, storage and retrieval, to ordering, pick-up, and delivery; at each stage of that complex system, the pallet is present.

As they touch each aspect of the process, pallets have tremendous data-capturing potential. And it’s through the use of this information that CHEP helps its customers increase capacity while decreasing downtime.

These efficiencies are often measured in direct warehouse benefits. Faster inventory turns mean less working capital; faster pick rates result in a more efficient use of labour, and faster truck turnaround decreases dead-time. The pallet is the unsung hero of this flow, which results in more efficient yard and warehouse management processes. All these benefits combine to generate a greater return on the capital invested in your warehouse operation. This makes for one happy chief financial officer.

For modern, sophisticated supply chains, these problems will get more complex as incoming sources increase and retailer formats become more varied. This increase in variables puts a significant premium on the holistic view to protecting efficient flow.

The future will demand more automation within warehouses. From its experiences in the warehouses of the best multinational companies, CHEP has codified the learning into a solution called Automated Systems Optimisation.

Reversing bad habits
Often, companies find that they have allowed inefficiencies to creep into their supply chain processes over the years. This can include anything from how they store and maintain their distribution platforms to how they build their platform and trailer loads.

CHEP has developed software tools and testing procedures that help its customers weed out these problem areas and adopt more efficient practices. With its deep reservoir of learnings, it can apply the results of testing and analysis in ways that deliver meaningful improvements for its customers.

Through a solution called Unit Load Optimisation, for example, CHEP employs a three-step process that starts with software analysis, proceeds to lab testing and culminates with real-world field testing. This results in less product damage, lower platform, handling and transportation costs, and more efficient use of resources.

The same principles apply to Truck Load Optimisation – one of CHEP’s transportation solutions, along with Delivery & Collection, and Collaborative Transportation. Together, they help customers solve their transportation puzzles by making more efficient use of trailers and filling empty lanes. Fuel use goes down, CO2 emissions go down and cost savings go up.

Better for our customer, better for the world
By helping its customers use their resources more efficiently, CHEP ensures less time spent handling product, less product lost to damage, and less of the world’s precious resources wasted.

It is in this area that the company sees its future. For most companies, a green decision often means a compromise, be it product quality, speed, or profit. But there is no compromise when CHEP’s business helps to create a more efficient world; in fact, quite the opposite is true. The more efficient the company is at helping its customers move products, the more effective we will be at preserving the world’s precious resources.

CHEP strives to create a more sustainable planet. And, as a direct consequence, it is improving the business performance of itself and its customers.

CHEP is a proud sponsor of the SAPICS 38th Annual Conference & Exhibition at Sun City, 12 – 14 June 2016. Please visit our exhibition stand in Atrium 2, SunSky Village to learn more about our Supply Chain Solutions portfolio.

If you’re looking to improve your supply chain, let’s talk!

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