What you should know about sustainable packaging

Sustainable packaging is becoming more important to business than it has ever been. Not only is a company’s eco-consciousness an important part of its brand, but more and more, customers are demanding not only sustainable products but sustainable packaging as well.

What makes packaging sustainable?

Packaging can be made sustainable or more sustainable in many different ways ranging from using less material, to using more ecologically friendly material to innovative design ideas and zero waste options.

Typically, sustainable packaging materials come from recyclable, biodegradable, or renewable sources. There are even packaging technologies that help prevent waste of the product itself by increasing shelf-life.

Generally speaking though, sustainable packaging should follow four basic principles:

  • Effective – protects the product as it travels through the supply chain to the end-user.
  • Efficient – packaging materials are used as efficiently as possible to avoid waste.
  • Cyclic – packaging materials are cycled through systems to minimize degradation or the need to use additives.
  • Safe – packaging does not pose a danger to human health or the environment.

The impact of unsustainable packaging

The packaging industry as a whole has had a negative impact on our planet, contributing to more than 23% of the waste that ends up in our landfills every year.[i] And this does not include the packaging materials that are thrown away as litter and end up along roadways and in our lakes, rivers, and oceans.

Chemicals commonly used to produce certain packaging materials such as Bisphenol-A (BPA)[ii], and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)[iii], have been linked to a plethora of health problems including infertility and cancer.

Considering the harmful impact that conventional packaging has had, it is no wonder there is such a push now to make packaging more sustainable!

How your company can benefit from sustainable packaging

In this article, we have already discussed the growing demographic that of environmentally conscious consumers that would prefer to do business with like-minded companies. To be frank, if you are not already starting to invest in sustainable packaging practices, you are already behind your competition.

Sustainable packaging can help you improve your bottom line in the future with the acquisition of more customers, but it can also help you improve your bottom line right now. Large companies such as Coca-Cola have adopted more resource-efficient designs and they are using more renewable and recycled materials. As a result of their investing in sustainability, the company reports saving approximately $180 million per year.[iv]

Sourcing sustainable packaging for your company

While it might seem like a daunting tasking, sourcing sustainable packaging materials is easier than you think. Here are a few tips to help get you started:

  • Consider switching to flexible packaging which reduces weight (and therefore fuel) during transport.
  • Work with suppliers that specialize in sustainable packaging and that avoid the use of toxic chemicals in their packaging.
  • Avoid over-packaging your products.
  • Use environmentally friendly links for printing.

There are many options for businesses when it comes to sustainable packaging, but with a little research and creativity, you can find the option that works best for your brand.

At Royal Supply Chain, we pride ourselves on helping your product move through all parts of the supply chain. If you require advice or assistance reducing your carbon footprint through the use of sustainable packaging, contact us today.

[i] https://archive.epa.gov/region9/organics/web/pdf/reducing_wasted_food_pkg_tool.pdf

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_chloride

[iv] https://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/aah-coke-refreshes-its-sustainable-packaging-strategy-2017-04-14

Five Signs It’s Time to Transform Your Company’s Supply Chain Management System

Your company’s supply chain management system is a critical component of your business success. It can lower your operating costs by helping your business run more efficiently while at the same time help you to improve customer satisfaction since your customers will be able to count on the fact that you have an item when you say you have it and that the customer will receive on time. When you consider all the benefits of an effective supply management system, it is easy to see how the right system can give you an advantage over the competition.

But just like all systems and processes in your business, you can’t simply set it in place and trust that it is going to be the best thing for your business indefinitely. As technology changes and as your business evolves, your supply management system will need to be upgraded so that it can continue to meet the changing needs of your business.

The following are five signs that it is time to transform your company’s supply management system.

1. You don’t have a supply chain management plan.

A supply chain management plan is different from a supply chain management system, but it is critical to have this plan to know what kind of features and functionality you need in your system. If you don’t have a supply chain management plan, your first step should be to develop one making sure that it is aligned with your overall business strategy as well as with the needs of your customers. In the future, referring to this plan will help you determine if changes to your supply chain management system are needed.

2. You are working with outdated data.

How do you know if the data you are working with is outdated? Well, if that data is more than two years old (often even less), it is outdated! It may be time to upgrade to cloud-based software that has regular automatic updates or to a program that lets all members of your team see and work with data simultaneously.

3. You aren’t customer-centric enough.

Does your supply chain management system adequately meet the needs of your customers or are there items you are under or over-ordering? Not having enough stock, or having too much stock hurt the profitability of your business. If your supply chain management system isn’t responsive enough to the behaviour of your customers, it is time for an upgrade.

4. Not enough collaboration.

With supply chain management, all members of the team must be on the same page from those working at the c-suite level to the order pickers in the warehouse. An effective supply chain management system should promote collaboration by showing every member of your team what actions need to be taken in real-time.

5. You need better communication with your suppliers.

Collaboration isn’t only important within your team but it is also critically important to have with your suppliers. If your supply chain management system doesn’t help ensure that you have excellent communication with your suppliers for order procurement and restocking strategies, then it may be time to consider incorporating another system.

Is your supply chain management system as effective as it can be for your business? If you have questions or would like to learn how you might improve it, contact Royal Supply Chain today.

Supply Chain & Logistics Trends for 2020

New technologies are impacting every sector and industry in the economy, but perhaps no sector has more to gain from these technologies than the logistics industry. This is because this sector is often overburdened with manual processes and outdated data management. And with the current trade uncertainties such as the introduction of the USMCA and tensions between China and the US, those with more nimble supply chain strategies and technologies may find themselves with a huge advantage over the competition.

This year, there are a number of supply chain and logistics trends that businesses will want to keep an eye on and perhaps adopt for themselves.

1. Artificial intelligence.

AI has been evolving within the logistics industry for several years now with solutions such as intelligent transportation and demand planning. But this is just a start. New technologies such as last-mile delivery robots and automated picking systems for warehouses are going to be increasingly popular this year and in years to come.

2. Digital twins

Another exciting development that you can expect to see more of in 2020 is digital twins. In the past, digital models could never quite replicate the physical object, and there were often unknowns such as when a part or component would wear out or how a customer might modify a physical object to suit their own needs. With digital twins, however, it is possible to interact with a digital model in the same way that you could interact with the physical object, and test things like layout, packaging, delivery times, etc. in a risk-free environment.

3. Real-time supply chain visibility

Supply chain visibility (SCV) will become even more essential for logistics companies this year. With real-time SCV, companies can respond immediately to ever-changing data such as weather, traffic and road and port conditions. This will allow these companies to optimize routes like never before. Additionally, though the use of IoT sensor technology, companies will be able to track individual packages, shipments and vehicles through real-time monitoring.

4. Blockchain

Blockchain has received a lot of hype in recent years and as a result, there has also been some fatigue around the term. But the blockchain concept has some definite advantages in the supply chain and logistics industry and the technology being developed has huge potential for the industry in the future.

Blockchain is simply an open ledger within a given network. This creates transparency of transactions since everyone in the network has access to the ledger and it eliminates the need for third-party involvement. Blockchain has the potential to make information sharing between companies and their shippers much easier as well as facilitate joint ventures between companies.

5. Data standardization

One of the traditional problems within the logistics industry is that data has often been stored in different ways and in different places, making any kind of standardization very difficult if not impossible. With new data standardization methods, however, these data silos will soon become a thing of the past. Thanks to organizations like the Digital Container Shipping Association (DSCA), we are beginning to see a much higher level of data standardization.

At Royal Supply Chain, we like to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry and aim to adopt new technologies when we believe they will be of benefit to our customers. If you would like to learn more about how RSC is adopting trends that can help your business, contact us today.

Strategic Logistics Planning: Why it matters

Most people when they think about logistics think about components such as warehousing and transportation. And while these things are critical, it is important to look at the bigger picture – to develop an overarching logistics strategy. This is the only way that you will be able to ensure your business has a high level of performance in the supply chain.

Your logistics strategy must be more than individual components such as transportation and warehousing. It must include your principles and goals for the organization that help you improve the organization’s performance and supply chain management. Your logistics strategy will also help to identify how you will respond to the ever-occurring change that is happening in the supply chain.

What should be included in a strategic logistics plan?

There are various components that should be part of your strategic logistics plan. These include the following:

  • Transportation – you must ensure that your current levels and modes of transportation are adequately serving your business.
  • Outsourcing – ask yourself which aspects of your logistics strategy could be improved through the help of a third-party logistics company.
  • Logistics systems – how are you currently managing your data? Are there other logistics systems that could improve your performance?
  • Competition – compare your logistics operations to those of your competitors. Are there any changes you could make that would improve your service to your customers and give you an edge over the competition?
  • Strategy review – finally, once you have a logistics strategy in place, you should periodically review that strategy to ensure that it is still current and relevant and meeting the needs of your business.

How to create a logistics strategy

Now that you have an idea of what elements to include in your logistics strategy, you must find a way to weave them all together. The following tips will help you ensure that your logistics strategy is an effective one.

  • Make connectivity a priority. Your logistics strategy should focus on keeping you connected to manufacturers, suppliers, customers, etc. Build in the appropriate technology and processes to effectively link your business to all stakeholders and mitigate the challenges of time and geography.
  • Find solutions that are flexible and configurable. Since the supply chain is always changing, it is important to find solutions that are flexible to your organization’s changing needs rather than solutions that will be a forced fit at best.
  • Use accurate data for decision making. With the current technology that is available, there is no excuse not to make decisions based on real-time, accurate data. Ensure that you have the necessary technology in place that provides accurate data and make decisions accordingly.
  • Adopt new technology strategically. When there is new technology that will improve your operations, do not be afraid to adopt it. Innovations such as track and trace, truck scales, and 3D printing are all examples of technologies that could help give you an edge over your competition.

If you want your business to stay relevant, having an effective strategic logistics plan is not only important but it is absolutely essential. For help with your strategic logistics plan, contact us today.

How Warehousing Can Help Make Your Business Succeed

As a business owner, chances are that you are always looking for ways to run your business more cost-effectively while improving the speed of your operations and your customer experience. Advancements in AI and automation can help to achieve this, but there is another option that is more low-tech that can add value to your business – warehousing.

What is warehousing?

When most people think of warehousing, they think of it in terms of large retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart who need to store massive amounts of stock. But warehousing is a strategy that can be employed in almost any business for storing merchandise – but also other items like office supplies and branded swag for giving away at trade shows.

In short, warehousing is the part of the logistics chain between manufacturing and consumption. It is also where information about the items themselves – how many are in stock, their condition, etc., is stored.

So how can warehousing help make your business more successful? Here are a few examples:

Save Real Estate.

Let’s face it. Commercial real estate is expensive. So, the less you have to clutter your business’s primary location with stock, the more useful workspace your company will have.

Save Money by Buying in Bulk

Since warehousing allows you to store items offsite, your business will have more room for these items. This means you will be able to make more bulk purchases – and reap the savings that come along with this. If your business has several locations, then you can order stock for all locations at once and have it stored at one central warehouse.

Lower the Cost of Shipping and Handling

Because warehousing centralizes your stock, it provides you with greater control of tracking inventory, orders, etc. This, in turn, helps you to lower the cost of your shipping and handling.

Protect Against Demand Fluctuation

Most businesses have busy periods as well as slower periods. Especially, if you are storing products that have longer lead times on orders, warehousing can serve as a buffer when there is fluctuation in demand.

Improve Customer Service

When a consumer orders an item, they generally expect to receive that item quickly and without error. This is especially true in the age of e-commerce. Warehousing helps to ensure that the item is not only in stock and ready for transport, but also that there is accurate information about the product so that the customer will not be disappointed by a delayed delivery or an error in shipment.

Allows You to Focus on the Bigger Picture

Warehousing makes the day to day (inventory, tracking orders, shipping and handling) aspects of your business much more convenient. This allows you more time to focus on the macro issues that face your business such as your strategic direction, expansion into new markets, and so forth. Your day to day operations become more automated, while you can focus on making your company grow.

If you are interested in learning more about how warehousing can help your business succeed – or about any other aspect of the logistics system – we would be happy to help. Contact us today for more information.

How a Warehousing System Can Help Your Business

Choosing the right warehouse management system (WMS) can be an important decision for your business. Not only will the right system reduce the potential for human error and improve your business’s productivity, but it can also be integrated with your third-party shipping service as well in order to provide a seamless experience for your customer.

The following are five ways that a warehousing system can help your business:

1. Enhance security.

A secure WMS will help increase information security by asking each user to log into their own account in order to make transactions. This helps to improve accountability, reduce missing stock, and ultimately improve the profitability of your business.

2. Process Optimization

Your warehousing system can also help you to optimize the management of your materials. Different systems offer different options and some let you choose from a menu of options. For example, you may choose to require that payment be received prior to delivery or you may choose that payment be based on delivery of goods.

3. Improved Visibility of Stock Availability and Customer Orders

Another thing that a good WMS does is that it improves the visibility of stock and customer orders by providing real-time data to your staff. For example, if a customer calls your helpdesk and asks if a certain item is in stock, an up-to-date warehousing system should be able to tell your staff member instantly whether it is available and how many you have in stock.  By the same token, if a customer calls to inquire about their order, the WMS should provide information on when the item has been shipped.

4. Reduced Operational Costs

A good WMS can also help your business reduce the cost of labour. Since your warehouse is now electronically managed and properly mapped, your business will require less warehouse labourers and the company will have more resources to hire people to fill other more productive roles.

5. Enables Demand Planning

When your business has an effective warehousing system in place, it will improve the experience of the customer by providing more consistent processes. It will help to ensure that customers are shipped the correct orders and the WMS can also use a best-fit algorithm in order to predict future demand.

The right warehousing system can not only help to improve the productivity of your business today, but it can also give you the flexibility you will need to scale up in the future. Before choosing your WMS, be sure to consider your business needs and determine if that particular WMS is going to be suitable.

If you are in doubt about which WMS to choose, you can also contact Royal Supply Chain for assistance.

Seven Supply Chain Management Trends That Are Changing the Industry

The supply chain is constantly evolving. Consider how far we have come since the early days of the assembly line to today where we utilize advanced robotics and even drones and autonomous vehicles. Here are seven trends in the supply chain that are changing the industry.

1. Digitization

Digital assets within the supply chain are redesigning the industry. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated technologies that continue to reduce the need for human input within the supply chain. Computing devices are managing everything from inventory to fleet routes.

As the supply chain becomes more and more digitized, we can expect to see even greater efficiencies in the future.

2.Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence will also continue to play a larger role within the supply chain. This includes devices like stock picking robots to deliveries by autonomous vehicles.

While once very expensive, the cost of such devices is coming down and as it does AI devices will become increasingly common in the supply chain.

3. Stronger Collaboration

As technology becomes more integrated, it will be more common and more essential for suppliers, shippers, and retailers to collaborate with one another. Through stronger collaboration, these partners will be better equipped to identify and mitigate risks within the supply chain.

It will help to avoid stock shortages as well as oversupply and can even help to generate referrals from happy customers.

4. Knowledge Work will Go Global

Almost half of the jobs within the supply chain involve knowledge work such as planning, analytics and procurement processing. Since this type of work can be done from anywhere in the world, this will allow for more global competition in the logistics industry.

Companies will be able to have their headquarters in one country while being able to perform their analytics and planning from other parts of the world.

5. Circular Supply Chain

Until recently, supply chains have been largely linear. In other words, products would go from the raw material stage to the end user and that was that. Modern logistics however now has an increased focus on a circular supply chain.

In this approach, used products are recycled back into raw materials to be reused or repurposed for greater sustainability.

6. Wearable Devices

Wearable devices are not just for people who want to “track their steps” – they can also be incredibly useful in the supply chain. Warehouse managers, for example, may use wearables to track inventory and collect data.  Wearables may also be used to monitor the health of drivers and warehouse workers (for example, to alert them of exhaustion).

7. Customer Segmentation

In order to serve customers in the best possible way, more companies are using a strategy called customer segmentation. This segments customers into various groups using highly specific data about what triggers each group to make their purchase decisions.

By using this direct-to-consumer approach, businesses can better target each customer and dramatically increase their profits.

At Royal Supply Chain, we pride ourselves on keeping up with the latest trends in the supply chain so that we can better serve our customers. Contact us today for help with your freight shipping needs.

Choosing The Right Shipping Method for Your Item

There are many different types of items, quantities and reasons to ship and there are several considerations that must be looked into when determining the best method to ship your item. Careful evaluation will determine the best solution and the most appropriate method of shipping.

MAIN FACTORS – There are 5 main factors that determine the best methods for shipping an item

1.  The geographic location that your item will be sent to.

2.  Distance.

3.  Budget restraints.

4.  Schedules and deadlines

5.  Types of loads being shipped

SHIPPING BY TRUCK – Shipping by truck is one of the most widely used methods of shipping in the world.  This method can work perfectly if it fits within your time sensitivity requirements and budget.  Shipping by truck can be the primary way of shipping but it can also be used in conjunction with other methods of shipping such as  the delivery of items to ports for loading of the items for delivery overseas by ship.

A truckload can be a partial load and is usually 1-12 skid spots. Tandem trucks can hold upwards of 42000 lbs.

SHIPPING BY SEA – This method is mainly used when the final destination is an international destination.  Most often these shipments are large loads.  This type of shipping is very economical as long as the shipment does not require fast shipping.  This method is good for shipping any type of item including liquids, dry goods and perishables.  Loads are packaged and secured in freight containers to provide ultimate security for the items being shipped.

SHIPPING BY RAIL – Global shipping can also include shipping by rail.  Shipping by rail is part of the global shipping chain because the items can be shipped by rail to end up at a cargo ship or plane.  It is recommended that the loads be in containers when shipped by rail.  Rail shipping can include refrigeration so perishable goods can be shipped using this method.  Liquids can also be shipped using this method by using tank cars.

SHIPPING BY AIR – If you are shipping items that are time-sensitive and have quick deadlines then shipping by air is your best option if the shipment is going to a global destination.  Shipping by air allows for strict inventory control, you will have inexpensive warehousing and insurance costs remain low.  Shipping by air is more expensive than other methods because it is much quicker.

There are several considerations when choosing your shipping method.  The experts at Royal Supply Chain are experienced and knowledgeable and can help you determine which method is best.  We will work with our customers to find the best solution for any shipping needs.  Contact us today for more information.