Nestlé Waters Canada is innovating to keep its supply chain efficient
FROM THE MM&D JULY/AUGUST 2011 PRINT EDITION: Nestlé Waters Canada’s facilities in Hope, British Columbia and Puslinch, Ontario were singled out earlier this year by parent company Nestlé Waters North America when both were recognized with awards for supply chain of the year, logistics excellence and quality excellence.
The two bottling sites and the company’s distribution facilities in Hope, Puslinch, Chilliwack, BC, and Laval, Quebec provide bottled water to a network of more than 145 retailers across Canada. The company has introduced a number of innovations into its supply chain to continue to meet consumer and customer demands, and to produce an environmentally friendly product. In fact, the company has diverted 67 percent of its bottles across Canada from landfill sites.
Canadian Food Chain spoke with David Thorpe, director of supply chain for Nestlé Waters Canada, to discuss those innovations and the inside workings of the company’s supply chain and logistics.
Canadian Food Chain: Have there been recent developments in your supply chain?
David Thorpe: We prefer to only handle product once to prevent damage, so we’ll put it right onto a truck and go directly to our customers. About 30 to 35 percent of the time we’re able to do that. It’s called direct line load, and we’ve been doing it for four or five years. You’ve got to be flexible to supply customers this way. And you’ve got to have excellent quality systems. You’re not putting product on hold, doing additional inspections or waiting for testing. It’s a very competitive market out there so it’s critical to create an efficient model and reduce costs.
The idea came from one of our smaller factories in North America that didn’t have a lot of space to store products. The staff needed to come up with some creative ways to deal with their customers. And it does save a lot of time and money.
CFC: What other innovations have you been working on?
Thorpe: We continue to work on lightweighting and reducing the amount of plastic in our products. We used to make a half-litre bottle that was close to 20g of plastic. Now it’s down to 9.1g, the lightest bottle in the industry today. We also introduced recycled PET (rPET) packaging last year in our Montclair brand. The 500ml bottle is 100 percent rPET and the others are 50 percent rPET.
CFC: Has your supply chain changed over the years?
Thorpe: Twenty years ago the industry was about large-format, five-gallon and one-gallon bottles. Then in the early- to mid-’90s people began looking for alternatives. That’s when the business changed the most. And when companies like Walmart and Costco really boomed they changed the supply chain landscape. These companies wanted to be as efficient as possible, so they wanted to get the most products on a trailer. They challenged us from a supply chain standpoint and they’ve helped grow the business to where it is today. From a supply chain standpoint, packaging is what has changed the most with lightweighting and the challenges that come along with that.
CFC: How have your customers changed in terms of supply chain needs?
Thorpe: Traditionally we would take our product and ship it to a warehouse or distribution centre for our customers. Now they want us to go directly to their stores, which saves them money and time.