Manufacturing & Wholesale Distribution

Increased productivity starts with standardization, automation, and digitization from The Lab

Wonky ERP implementations, inconsistent data quality, outdated KPIs, and lax process standards all create profit sucking inefficiencies across supply chain, manufacturing, and wholesale distribution operations. The Lab is the undisputed authority and trusted implementation partner of business process standardization, data-driven process improvement, and workflow automation for supply chain operations executives around the world.

Our standardization solutions can quickly reduce process cycle times, time-to-market, and time-consuming employee rework while increasing profitability. To learn more, take advantage of our thought-leading manufacturing and wholesale distribution articles, case studies, and videos below. Then contact us to book your no-obligation 30-minute screen-sharing demo to learn even more!

For two decades, the building-products division of this company dominated its competitors by getting its premium quality products specified for new institutional construction projects. These were typically bundled with 24/7 alarm-monitoring services, providing a single “one-stop shop” advantage for far-flung global networks of businesses. But a new trend emerged: Architects were allowing contractors to ignore the specs and use substitute products. Maintenance-service customers were doing the same. Competitors offered a 30-percent discount—while delivering in just five days, while the company struggled to deliver in three weeks. The “one-stop shop” was at grave risk.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential for monitoring, managing, and profitably growing your manufacturing company. Depending on what you want to accomplish, some KPIs can be transformational. With the right data and supporting automation, these “Super KPIs” give you the power to predict, preempt, and prescribe like never before. Get your free Manufacturing KPI Handbook today...

For nearly 30 years, The Lab has helped manufacturing & wholesale distribution companies—from national to regional to local—standardize their knowledge-work operations, wringing out new efficiencies, uncovering newfound capacity, and discovering opportunities to effectively apply the latest digital automation technologies. We’ve even standardized the process of standardization. We boast the world’s largest repository of utilities KPI definitions, benchmarks, best practices, pre-built dashboards, process map templates, and automation use cases. So we can, and do, make it happen fast.

The new COO was a recent external hire tasked with transforming this wholesale reseller of IT products into a national competitor. The sales team focused on large, global customers, but the executive leadership team (ELT) believed that the needs of smaller, national customers in North America provided a segment that the globally-focused sales team overlooked and struggled to serve profitably. This national strategy looked great on paper, but it depended on the ability to achieve more profitable execution than current levels. Consequently, the COO launched an internal analysis of the company’s past profitability and performance.

When competitors began to chip away at this branded-foods producer’s dominant market position by rapidly modifying products tailored more precisely to the emerging needs of consumers and distribution channels, senior management decided to improve its own Product Lifecycle Management capabilities. They quickly deployed PLM technology to replace the existing informal process that operated on a loosely structured mix of digital and hard-copy documents. However, performance nosedived soon after the new technology was launched. Find out how The Lab standardized and automated processes around the new PLM, yielding annual cost improvement of 12%, modification cycle time reduction of 40%, and formula-related production errors reduction of 90%...within 6 months...

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential for monitoring, managing, and profitably growing your wholesale distribution company. Depending on what you want to accomplish, some KPIs can be transformational. With the right data and supporting automation, these “Super KPIs” give you the power to predict, preempt, and prescribe like never before. Get your free Wholesale Distribution KPI Handbook today...

This U.S.-based family-owned maker of branded, snack goods, distributes across the North American market through both traditional CPG channels and, more recently, a direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel of growing importance. This project spanned everything from customer onboarding to order intake, sourcing, production, delivery, product promotion processing, and returned goods.

The company, a top-3 global tire manufacturer, was battling low-cost competitors who were overtaking the low-price end of the North American tire after-market. At the high-price end, effective marketing operations, high-quality product, and strong brand recognition kept these new entrants at bay. Even so, high-end customers pushed for lower pricing. Industry margins were so thin that a one-percent cost reduction could deliver a meaningful competitive gain in market share.

Changes in the healthcare industry demanded improved capabilities from pharmaceuticals companies. Customers wanted flexible ordering options, shorter cycle times, new packaging, increased service support—and lower prices. The company’s new ERP upgrades promised to enable this new flexibility, increase productivity, and deliver sustainable cost reduction. But it also delivered mediocre gains. Rapid turnover was only exacerbating operational issues.

This packaging manufacturing company’s most popular products—paperboard and corrugated boxes—were historically the low-price leaders and their customers included many of the world’s most recognized consumer brands. But now some of these customers—across a complex network of wholesalers, manufacturers, and converters—were complaining about the “total costs” of doing business with the company.

The following list is a composite, developed from The Lab’s experience with multiple clients and industries. No single client (thus far) has encountered all of these challenges in a single engagement. It is included here as a “heads up” to The Lab’s RPA sponsors at all clients in an effort to jointly address and preempt the most common causes of delay and misunderstanding for automation engagements.

Costly IT rollouts are never without snags, but the PLM system seemed to make problems worse. Cycle times for product modifications and updates increased by multiples. Formula-control capabilities eroded, creating issues with the global network of production plants, slowing product shipments, and impeding approvals by regulatory authorities. Product modifications were still possible, but the process now required numerous, inefficient manual workarounds.

Wholesale distribution is the world of razor-thin margins. Yet nowhere is this “razor rustier” than in the labor- and error-intensive world of invoice processing. You’ve got scores of vendor portals to navigate. Countless one-off iterations of invoice forms, formats, and file names. Each needs to be downloaded (by a person), read (by a person), and input into your core AP system…by a person. Until now.

Your consumer products wholesale distribution operation has literally hundreds of opportunities for robotic process automation or RPA. Inventory management, procurement, order fulfillment….you name it. You need to get automated, fast. Fortunately, there’s a quick, easy, and affordable solution just waiting for you: consumer products Wholesale Distribution RPA Six-Packs from The Lab!