Josephine Coombe, Managing Director of Nulogy in the UK, talks to The Keswick Enterprises Group about leveraging the operational benefits of software across its two co-packing businesses SGL and APS. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many companies to re-examine their working practices. Remote operations, digitalisation, and increased automation, for example, have come very much to the fore in recent months, as logistics providers adapt to the demands posed by the pandemic and new social distancing requirements on the shop floor.
Nevertheless, none of this is an entirely new concept. The potential for software to provide a competitive advantage has long been recognised by forward-looking business. As far back as 2016, for example, SGL Co-packing, part of the Keswick Enterprises Group, was already looking to modernise its systems and improve the visibility, flexibility and service provided to its customers.
At the time, SGL was using a combination of legacy solutions, integrating manual processes with a variety of spreadsheets and systems to meet the needs of its customer base across the dry food and general merchandise sector.
“We knew that we had an opportunity to drive improvements across our operations by having greater visibility and access to our data,” said Gavin Withers, Director at Keswick and lead in the Group’s co-packing activities. “The question was how to access this and what system would be best for our needs.”
Gavin and SGL turned to Nulogy, having been informed of the benefits of the Nulogy platform by a Canadian co-packer contact. The software was introduced into SGL with the specific objectives of delivering greater control of stock and improved access to quality records.
“Rather than select a more generic ERP system that would need to be adapted to our needs, we chose to work with Nulogy because of the company’s complete focus on our sector and knowledge of the processes we worked to,” said Gavin.
“The benefits could be seen almost immediately and from the start the software truly delivered for us. We had far greater knowledge of our stock and its location and from this we were able to meet customer orders more effectively and efficiently.
“And having been involved in a number of system changes throughout my career, this change was very much at the smoother end!”
Following the success of Nulogy’s software at SGL, when the Keswick Group acquired the leading contract packer APS in February this year, moving to Nulogy’s software was an obvious decision.
APS is a well-established market leader in contract packing, working with blue chip brands since its formation. Similar to SGL, the business had also been using a combination of manual processes and legacy ERP systems and so saw the opportunity to improve traceability and visibility of materials and labour productivity across its operations.
David Howes, operations director at APS, said: “To successfully execute our growth strategy for the business, it was clear that we had to modernise our systems. Nulogy presented a clear vision of the benefits available from digitalisation through its cloud-based solution.”
What could not have been anticipated at that time, however, was the arrival of Covid-19 and the huge impact the virus would have across nearly every aspect of daily life. Certainly, the national lockdown presented challenges for the introduction of the new software. However, Nulogy was able to implement the solution entirely remotely, working closely with the team at APS and handling the change management process from APS’s legacy systems through a combination of video-based conferencing and its robust online learning platform, Nulogy University.
”While we had some concerns about migrating virtually to a new software system during a pandemic, the team at Nulogy made the transition possible with continued support and guidance throughout,” confirmed David.
One of the results of the pandemic is that many FMCG-focused contract manufacturing and packing providers have had to adjust and evolve their operations. Recognising this, Nulogy moved quickly to ensure its software not only provides robust labour management, inventory and traceability controls, but also allows contract packers to better manage infection control protocols on the shop floor. It is this working to solve the issues that its customers face that makes Nulogy the ideal partner for so many co-packers.
Certainly, many co-packers and third-party logistics providers are now realising that FMCG brands are increasingly seeking highly collaborative and responsive external supply chain partners, meaning that a robust digital backbone for co-packing operations is increasingly a competitive advantage.
Nulogy’s software delivers this and helps companies such as SGL and APS reap the benefits to deliver the agile performance required to meet their customers’ operational and quality standards, even during these uncertain times.
“We are currently operating at peak volumes and the system is working well,” said David. “As soon as things settle back a little, we will review what we have learnt so far about the system and then seek to exploit it further, with the support of Nulogy.”
As Gavin concluded, “We have received continued support from Nulogy throughout our dealings with the- company over the years. It is a two-way partnership and Nulogy always embraces our feedback. Working together in this way, we will continue to remain agile and fully responsive to our customers’ needs.”