The Vetipak factory in Oss has a new and superfast mixing line that offers endless possibilities. This line has a new elevator and servo-driven counters, enabling us to mix as many as eight product types in at least sixty packs per minute, and eventually even eighty. Head of Technical Services, Niels Kanters explains.
Co-packing meets product development
Part 1: the credo
Anyone who has worked with Vetipak for some time is probably familiar with our credo: “Involve us as early as possible in your product’s development, because that's when we can provide the most effective help.” We’re now seeing this is happening more and more often, and with excellent results. Time for a two-parter. This time, we’re speaking with Mark van der Burgt, our CCO, and next time with Nestlé’s Julie Navarro.
Mark, let's get right to the point: where did this credo come from?
“I can best illustrate this using an article in the Financiële Dagblad. In a nutshell, it came down to the following: ‘The supply chain has gone bad, and is likely to remain that way for some time: there’s too little cooperation, too many links, too much waste.’ As far as I’m concerned, that hit the nail on the head. But I refuse to resign myself to that. After all, I know what a difference it can make to everyone if we share knowledge and information early on in the supply chain. Actually, we should be consulting with each other right from the very first steps of product development.”
But Vetipak is a co-packer, isn’t it?
“Yes, I often hear that. But today’s co-packer – and certainly the copacker of the future – also explores themes that are important throughout the chain, such as efficiency, cost management and sustainability. As far as Vetipak is concerned, being successful in the supply chain means backward integration, as well as proactively and collaboratively looking ahead in the process, thus adding value. So that’s what we’re focusing on. In addition, we have so much knowledge internally that could help achieve results for these kinds of issues that I would almost be ashamed if I kept that knowledge to myself.”
It's much more about the
soft values inherent in a collaboration...
That does sound very noble...
“Not if you consider it from the standpoint of our motto, ‘Making the difference together’. But you're right – we naturally also reap the commercial benefits. Everyone does, for that matter – even the environment. Our packaging technologist Rens van de Rakt can significantly reduce a product’s CO2 emissions, as long as he is called in on time. And it’s the same in a whole lot of other areas.”
Can you list the main benefits?
“That varies between customers and between products, of course, but I'll give you some of the benefits of integrated collaboration that actually always apply:
- Smarter innovation
- Less use of materials
- Reduced failure costs
- Shorter time to market
- Better scalability
- Lower total cost of ownership
A shorter time to market?
“It may sound contradictory to add a party and still have a shorter time to market. But in practice, we’re often the ‘speedboat’ for the client, which is by comparison a ‘tanker’. Our operational speed and flexibility keep up the momentum.”
The last thing you mention is costs... that's ultimately what it's all about, right?
“They are often the leading factor, yes. But something interesting happens here. You can fight tooth and nail at the front end for 0.1 cent more or less, but by choosing a smarter design for the supply chain, you can make much better progress much faster. Plus, you build a sustainable partnership that enables you to continue improving in all those other areas.”
“...they then really pay off
in terms of hard figures”
That seems pretty clear! But what does it cost the client?
“Actually, only two things: time and trust. The client just needs to take the time to brief us thoroughly on the ‘what’ – what exactly we’re going to bring onto the market. Then we consider the ‘how’ – how we can do this as quickly, cost-efficiently and sustainably as possible, et cetera. So I don't think the word ‘cost’ is exactly accurate here. It's much more about the soft values inherent in a collaboration. They then really pay off in terms of hard figures.”
Next up: the story of Nestlé, which committed several years ago to involving Vetipak early in the development of new products.
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