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Collaboration & Conversation Key to Successful OEM-Customer Relationships

May 3rd, 2012 · No Comments · Business Intelligence

PMMI members and their customers are working in tandem to address the complex issues that all face, areas including the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), operational efficiencies and training, and workforce development.

Recent presentations and meetings of PMMI members and their customers have reinforced the need for collaborative approaches to problem solving, particularly as OEMs strive to help end users manage the changes necessary to comply with FSMA-driven regulations.

“Knowing what your customers think, what their challenges are and promoting communication among processing and packaging leaders to facilitate solutions is a role that PMMI has embraced. Business intelligence studies, panel discussions, training programs, the Alliance for Innovation and Operational Excellence (AIOE) and the recent Top to Top Summit are just a few of the platforms we’ve put in place to open up discussion of best practices on a range of critical operational topics,” says Chuck Yuska, president & CEO, PMMI.

He adds, “In PMMI’s long range planning process, our members called out the importance of a two-way flow of communication along the packaging and processing supply chain — and verbalized the role we took on when we launched PACK EXPO in 1956.”

The resulting Strategic Vision Statement reads: “PMMI convenes packagers, processors, and their supply chain partners to facilitate innovation, foster connections, and develop business opportunities.”

Opening the Lines of Communication

At the April Top to Top Summit, PMMI members and executives from end-user companies participated in panel discussions focused on three primary subjects: Packaging Operations (training, service/maintenance, machinery attributes), Product Safety Regulations (product security, tamper-proof packaging, the Food Safety Modernization Act), and Globalization (markets, strategies, production issues). On each topic, they shared their perspectives and discussed opportunities for collaboration.

The discussions are summarized and analyzed in “Top to Top 2012,” a report for PMMI members.

Discussion about packaging operations centered around building strong end-user and OEM relationships with strategies driven by end-user company objectives. OEMs must take into account factors such as workforce development strategies, employee development and retention, downsizing of engineering staffs, increased machinery complexity and changing consumer demographics in the U.S.

“The overarching theme of this discussion was how necessary it is for OEMs to align with and be responsive to the business objectives of their customers. Suppliers need to know what their customers face, so that together, they come up with the best ways to address those challenges,” Yuska says.

Collaborative efforts can best identify and remedy operational and tactical areas in the end-user/OEM relationship These areas of interest might include FAT processes and reliability; cleanability in machinery design; delivery date integrity and installation; processes; machinery retrofit requirements; and courtesy visits and customer services and understanding “total cost of ownership” projections, etc

Product Safety & Globalization Keep Brands Going Around the World

Discussions on product safety primarily addressed the evolving regulations and implications associated with FSMA, but participants did examine other key topics, including:

  • Product safety and security in pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Establishing a common understanding of safety and security policies and regulations among OEMs, end users and other participants on the supply chain, and
  • Developing recognized “best practice” guidelines and standards for food and other categories.

“Once again,” says Yuska, “Success will come down to all parties understanding each other.”

Many end users entering foreign markets are looking to set up their production and market strategies in regions and countries that offer the best opportunities for increased returns on shareholder investments.

These end-user strategies will challenge OEMs to meet customer requirements globally, and to establish a realistic global strategy, develop an effective service network and understand the practices, culture, language and legal aspects of doing business with end-users in targeted countries.

While there are gaps in the relative importance of some issues between end-users and OEMs, the overarching theme of the OEM-CPG discussions during the Top to Top Summit is clearly on the importance of understanding each others’ view points and sharing ideas for working toward mutually beneficial solutions.

“Connecting customers and members to understand common issues and to outline potential solutions is an ongoing priority for PMMI. The industry benefits to a large degree by bringing the most important concerns and challenges to the surface in open and candid dialogue between manufacturers and their customers. It is recognized that agreement on remedies across the spectrum of issues is not realistic; however, having a platform to share those concerns and better understand mutual needs, expectations and requirements will foster innovation for competitive advantage,” Yuska says.

He adds that another venue for coming together with peers and finding solutions is PACK EXPO International 2012 (McCormick Place, Chicago; Oct. 28–31) with more than 1,800 exhibitors and  45,000 attendees spread over 1.1 million net square feet of exhibit space. For more information or to register, visit Packexpo.com.

PMMI’s Top to Top 2012 Summit Report is available only to PMMI members. For a copy, contact Paula Feldman, director of business intelligence, PMMI: pfeldman@pmmi.org; 703.243.8555.

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