Nurturing a Strong Supply Chain Organization

What is a world-class supply chain? What does it look like from the outside? The inside? Is it achievable or merely a lofty goal only attained in our dreams? At Douglas, we’ve researched this subject extensively and have come to a simple conclusion: The journey toward a world-class supply chain will never end. It’s the pursuit of excellence that brings the satisfaction of achievement and accomplishment. And as soon as a supply chain team believes they have achieved “world-class” status, their downfall is certain.

Nonetheless, I keep telling the team that when we are invisible to the organization we will have arrived. No one will know we exist when all parts with no defects are delivered (exactly when and where they’re needed) at a great value. We might move mountains and rearrange the stars in the sky to get a part delivered on time, and no one will even know. And that’s okay. It’s our job to provide what is required on time; receiving accolades is not the goal.

For the Douglas supply chain team, the mainstay of our journey towards world-class is a firm commitment of one of the Douglas Values, Continuous Innovation & Improvement, which says, “We challenge the status quo and strive for excellence in all our work.” With this value at the forefront, the supply chain team continuously pushes the limits of our skills, abilities and the tools available to us.

Strategy for Goal Achievement

Persistence and focus is reflected in our eyes; we will not let our guard down on the journey. To this end, Douglas Machine has a three-pronged strategy to keep our attention on the goal.

First, building and sustaining a strong team cannot be understated. A cohesive and well-functioning team makes everything happen. The telltale signs of such a team are full knowledge and understanding of its shared vision and goals, which carries through to individual goals (line of sight to corporate goals). In addition, the team is exceptionally trusting of each other—with strong collaboration between team members and colleagues across the company.

Second, during the journey we need to know if we are heading in the right direction; the sign posts are clear metrics. The old adage “you get what you measure” is absolutely true in the world of supply chain management. Without metrics for both internal performance and supplier performance, the environment would be chaotic and directionless. No one would know if we are doing well or poorly, if we are heading in the right direction or if we are going backwards. Solid metrics keep everyone focused on what is most important.

The third strategy is incrementally raising the bar on performance, never accepting the status quo. For high-performing teams, however, there comes a time when raising the bar on performance is like a tractor pull. The further down the track the sled is pulled as the weight moves upward and forward, the more difficult it becomes; every inch is a strain. Yet, we press on, pushing higher and higher, even if the improvements seem small. For Douglas, we are now measuring on time performance down to the hundredth of a percent. With each improvement, even a few hundredths, we celebrate and focus on the next hundredth. The last thing we want to see is a decline of any fraction of a percent. We have other key metrics as well, such as purchase price variance, cost of poor quality, supplier consolidation goals and more.

In addition, the value the supply base brings to Douglas Machine is outstanding. We have developed strong relationships with key suppliers ensuring the supply chain is strong and healthy, able to withstand headwinds and overcome obstacles. They are, essentially, an extension of Douglas Machine with the innumerable hours invested preserving all facets of the supply chain.

Douglas Machine: Your Partner for Innovative Packaging Solutions

So, what is the current status of Douglas Machine’s purchasing team? Have we arrived at world-class? No. Are we on the right path? Emphatically, YES! It’s a journey, one that will never end. There will always be one more step, one more process improvement, one more emerging technology to utilize, one more idea to try. Perhaps one day there will be a time when the entire organization ceases to believe there is a purchasing team making the dream a reality.

At Douglas, we owe a considerable portion of our success to our strong supply chain. As a global leader in automated secondary packaging solutions for paperboard, corrugated and shrink film, Douglas works hard to ensure you receive a customer-driven experience when selecting the right secondary packaging solution for your particular needs. In all areas of the industry, case & tray packers, shrink wrap systems, cartoners, sleevers, multipackers and palletizers, Douglas is ready to partner with you. Our employee owners will provide you with friendly, responsive service and uncompromising customer support from the start of your experience through the life of your machine. Contact us today to learn more about Douglas Machine and how we can position your organization for success.