Chicago — Coca-Cola Co. is the largest beverage company in the world, serving 1.9 billion — that's billion with a “b” — beverages each day, every day.
That's a lot of containers and a lot of caps and closures to produce.
As director of global closures and labels for Coca-Cola, Allison Lin thinks a lot about what goes into a successful development project.
Caps and closures are not getting any simpler, and that means people along the supply chain have to be more involved than ever for a successful new launch.
In fact, Lin doesn't even consider the traditional supply chain to be appropriate any more. These days, it's what she calls the supply web.
“The concept is instead of a supply chain that is linear, we are now working in a supply web that has multiple lines,” she told attendees at the recent Plastics Caps & Closures 2016 conference, organized by Plastics News in Chicago.
“Think about what you can accomplish if working together,” she said.
That means people throughout the process are encouraged to engage one another to help create success.
And lots of different folks should be involved in the supply web, Lin told the crowd, such as molders, university folks, regulators, raw materials suppliers, technology providers, brand owners, customers and retailers.
“We want all of these people to bring innovation to market, and we need to. If we don't have the right people and think of all the different touch points our products can have, innovation will fail at some point in your supply chain,” she said.
“Instead of a supply chain that is linear in nature and quite logical in terms of how goods flow through the supply chain, as well as the interactions through the supply chain, we are now working in a supply web that has multiple touch points, multiple links, multiple intricacies that go sideways, up and down, diagonal, all over,” Lin said.
The old supply chain approach would see discussion about innovation take place at one point along the way and discussion about customer needs separately take place at a different point, for example, Lin told the crowd. “There wasn't that holistic innovation and discussion throughout the supply chain,” she said.
“We're living in this complex world with multiple touch points, and that's really going to change how we partner in the future,” she said.
“Instead of thinking of it as a linear chain where you are only allowed to talk to the next portion of the chain, think about what we can accomplish if we work together as a web to solve some of the challenges that we're facing,” she said.