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Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

FMCG Manufacturing: 4 Frequent Flaws to Avoid

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Mar 02, 2022

One of the problems faced by senior leaders seeking performance improvement is that it all seems to take far too long. While structural changes cannot be rushed, there are many initiatives you can take to make changes in your supply chain.

What can you do to effect meaningful change sooner rather than later in Manufacturing?

The Enchange 6-Part Model

In a simplified view of the supply chain, the priority of FMCG leaders is to get their stuff in front of consumers but with so many hurdles, this is not necessarily easy. These are the 6 simple steps:

Step 1: Sourcing

Step 2: Demand Planning – Supply Planning

Step 3: Manufacturing

Step 4: Warehousing

Step 5: Transport

Step 6: The all-important Consumer Shelf


The approach helps people to understand the day to day operational difficulties and challenges experienced by colleagues along these 6 steps and what you can change, now.

  • What happens at the important handovers/pinch points?
  • What can go wrong at these interfaces?
  • How do you identify and solve problems?
  • How can you improve the data and information hand-shakes?
  • Four Frequent Flaws – Manufacturing

If demand planning is the brain and arteries are the logistics then manufacturing must be the beating heart of an FMCG company. Having managed large factories I may be biased but I certainly found manufacturing to be the most diverse and challenging of any of my roles. The constant need to supply the fluctuating demand day after day while juggling a myriad of routine and unexpected challenges requires special skills.

One of the common failings of factory managers is the reluctance to say ‘no’ and I fully understand this as the desire to provide top quality service is a prime objective. However, sometimes factory managers and their teams can be their own worst enemies…….

Here are four frequent Manufacturing flaws which you can avoid.

Don’t bend over backwards. An occasional refusal to reject a last-minute request to change production plans can be cathartic. Nobody outside of the manufacturing team will appreciate the knock-on effects last minute changes cause to factories, e.g. inventory, waste and the hidden disruption of future plans.

Also not to be forgotten is the effect on people. Colleagues constantly pulled this way and that – and frequently without recognition - cannot possibly operate to the best of their abilities.

Harmonise! Creativity is not reserved for marketing colleagues. Form a team to look at the potential benefits of harmonisation on the factory operation.

    • Do you need so many different pack footprints?
    • Do you need a different cap colour on every SKU?
    • Why are outer case configurations different for the same packs?
    • Why are pallet configurations different and low in utilisation?

You should challenge every single aspect of product design which contributes to inefficiency in manufacturing. Inevitably, sales and marketing may only pay lip-service to any initiatives you bring to the table but accompanied by a firm business case for the greater good of the business will be well received.

If they understand that a common outer case configuration saves X Euros or Y hours AND improves output reliability then change can happen, quickly.

Change changeovers. Unless you are in the luxurious but unlikely situation of a single SKU production unit then changeovers will be inevitable. Every single changeover is a generator of waste in product, time and overall factory resources. A lackadaisical approach to changeovers is a reflection on the professionalism of the factory and must be avoided.

That overall cost of a changeover must be known and measured every single time. Teams motivated to shave off seconds, minutes or even hours will deliver immediate benefits both for the manufacturing unit and the business. If your staff slope off for a smoke or a coffee when a scheduled run is complete, you are in trouble.

Make or Buy, why? Do not be afraid to say it would be better for the overall business to source a product from a 3rd party manufacturer rather than shoe-horn it into an already busy factory. Perhaps 3rd parties have more experience making a certain product or maybe you just do not have the capacity.

Should a new product generate only an incremental volume for the factory then you should consider if it is worth the effort. Consider flaws 1-3 above and reach a decision which is right for your situation. How many times have you tooled-up for the latest market-changer only to find your business selling BOGOFs to liquidate stock? Dip your foot in the water at a 3rd party and focus your internal operation on excellence.

If the new launch really kicks-in and volumes rise then the business case for taking the product in-house is a no-brainer.

What next?

In subsequent articles we will look at FMCG Warehousing and consider some potential focus areas for quick wins.

If you need to make supply chain change in the next 2/3 months and before the northern hemisphere summer season kicks in, we are just a call away.

Feel free to use any of our contact routes including Live Chat, if you have any questions about how the Enchange Supply Chain House can assist your journey to supply chain excellence. 

Read more articles on Supply Chain Excellence and Route to Market on our website where you can also subscribe to our frequent updates.


Tags: Dave Jordan, supply chain excellence, Manufacturing

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