Can you postpone customisation to as late as possible in the supply chain?
There are a number of definitions of postponement, but the one we will use here is the delaying of customisation of a product until as late as possible in the packaging operation.
There are many examples of this:
- Filing blank bottles or cans for stock and labelling when fulfilling a specific order.
- BIB/BOB (blisters in boxes, blisters out of boxes) e.g. producing standard blisters for stock and packing into cartons at a later stage into market specific packs.
- Assembling different combinations of standard components to create a unique pack variant for a specific market.
In all cases it can be seen that the goal is to keep the product as standard as possible for as far through the packaging operation, and then only make it market specific at the latest possible operation, perhaps against a specific market order. This can present a number of challenges for most operations:
- Additional quality system control to manage intermediate handling and subsequent further packaging operations.
- With fill and pack lines it can be necessary to remove the product part way through the operation and then run it down the line again at a later time to complete the packaging.
- Hand packing can be required for the final assembly of small batches.
The design and characteristics of some products and components makes it very difficult to avoid making market specific until late in the process.
This is the thirteenth of a series of 20 blogs giving a view of methods to deal with packaging complexity. Please help me improve the thinking by adding your comments and share this with others who may have a view.