Nypro Inc. has 52 manufacturing plants around the world, but the company did not always have a strong focus on sharing those plants' best practices around the company.
Once the Clinton, Mass.-based injection molder and contract manufacturer expanded supply-chain capabilities, it began to provide its plant, region, segment and corporate tiers with the tools to implement best practices.
The effort started in 2004, when Nypro adopted a corporate strategy to build global systems on six core competencies, which included supply-chain management.
``Nypro is more complex than an original equipment manufacturer because of decentralization,'' said Rashid Shaikh, Nypro senior director of global supply chain.
Shaikh joined Nypro in 2001 with two decades of experience working with lean and matrix manufacturing and supply-chain organizations on three continents. He has two master's degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
Shaikh arranged to hire an analytical team of Boston University management students. He had the team compare Nypro's actual performance with its potential performance and then contrast that with similar footprints among customers such as General Electric Co., Solectron Corp. and Clariant AG.
Nypro - which employs more than 15,000 and has annual sales of more than $1.2 billion - believes its efforts have enabled the company to help its suppliers gain new markets, and customers benefit from volume contracts.
Nypro first used the purchasing model with major customer Dell Inc.
``We were able to reduce their resin costs 15 percent in 2002,'' Shaikh said.
As part of the project, Nypro settled on a number of preferred resin suppliers, including GE Plastics, Bayer Corp., Huntsman Corp., Total SA, Ticona, DuPont Co., Eastman Chemical Co., Taiwan Polypropylene, the Polyolefin Co., LG Chem, Chemie and Sabic.
Building on its success with resin purchases, Nypro extended into other avenues and set up flexible own/lease/rent contracts with machine, automation and tooling suppliers. In that arena, Nypro's preferred supplier contracts include those with Yushin America Inc., Wittmann Inc., Fanuc Robotics America, Milacron Inc., Netstal, Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. and JSW Plastics Machinery Inc.
Nypro's four global commodity managers are Jeff Miller for resin, pigments and plastic parts; Sean Carton for machine, automation and tooling; Kamran Rhran for electro-mechanical commodities; and Lily Khong for decoration commodities. Khong is based in Shenzhen, China; the first three are located in Clinton.
Each acts as an internal consultant, offering an understanding of technical issues, commercial markets, strategic supplier relationships and operational systems. In filling those positions, Shaikh sought individuals with strength in three or at least two of those categories.
Diane LaRoche in Clinton serves as Nypro's supply-chain system manager. Regional and segment teams work to create leverage, reduce costs and coordinate supplier service.
Working with a ``24-hour clock is a challenge,'' noted Greg Adams, Nypro vice president of engineering and technology.
``While it is a journey, we are never at the end of journey, but we can definitely see progress,'' Adams said.
Now Nypro is aiming for the next level.
``We try to find a balance: drive to global best practices and also be sharp in local execution,'' Adams said.
Change has occurred. ``Ten to 20 years ago, our supply chain was simple,'' Adams said. ``We made precision plastic parts in bulk.''
More complicated customer needs, however, have driven Nypro up the value chain, requiring capabilities in decorating, mechanical stampings and parts, electrical components, testing and packaging.
``In fact, we build up a fair number of products to their complete and final form,'' Adams said.
``We may fill them, put in consumer packaging and ship the product to retail centers without any direct customer involvement.''
Nypro offers supply-chain workshops internally - most recently for the global team from April 2-5 in Clinton - and through conferences.