The Supply Chain Analysis Pro gave Katun, a specialist in consumables and parts for printers and photocopiers, insight into the necessary steps to improve the company’s readiness for the rapidly changing market. Among other things, BLMC identified a significant lack of clarity about the corporate strategy and the associated sales and supply chain strategies. Marco van Nieuwburg from Katun explains: “If there’s no clear sales strategy, the customer can demand anything – at the expense of efficiency and effectiveness in the DC.”

Katun is a supplier of cartridges and other parts for printers and photocopiers. The quality of the parts is close to – and sometimes even better than – that of the A-branded products. It is a very dynamic market, continues Operational Manager Marco van Nieuwburg. “Competition is increasing all the time, and we’re noticing that some customers are opting for lower prices rather than the high quality that we offer. That’s placing new demands on the operation at our European distribution centre in Gorinchem, the Netherlands. Availability is becoming more important, which is why we now also offer 24-hour deliveries. Besides that, we’re also continuously adding more value, such as by supplying private-label products.”

Van Nieuwburg was picking up more and more signals that the logistics organization was misaligned with the changing market, so he decided to subject the organization to BLMC’s Supply Chain Analysis. “It’s a good instrument to show us where our organization currently stands by giving us a baseline measurement for our supply chain,” says Van Nieuwburg.

Uninhibited answers

The Supply ChainAnalysis comprises an extensive questionnaire. The answers provide input for a number of interviews with people from various areas of the company. In Katun’s case, three BLMC supply chain specialists interviewed 12 people in the space of just two days. “Those people included the key stakeholders, such as the general managers of the various regions and the global supply chain manager. The managers of the DC were interviewed too, as were the coordinators and supervisors who are responsible for picking & packing, goods received and transport,” continues Van Nieuwburg.

The feedback from all the interviews revealed that everyone felt comfortable and secure enough to answer all of BLMC’s questions without inhibitions. “That’s an important prerequisite for a reliable outcome of the Supply Chain Analysis, which is why we took the time beforehand to explain why we were doing the analysis and what we hoped to achieve with it.”

Lack of clear sales strategy

BLMC presented the findings during a meeting with everyone involved. Van Nieuwburg: “The Supply Chain Analysis confirmed a lot of things we already suspected, but it was good to see that many of those things had also been picked up on by people on the workfloor. The analysis was a good excuse to reopen the discussion of those issues with one another.”

The most important conclusion was that there was a lack of clarity about the corporate strategy and the associated sales strategy and supply chain strategy. Whereas the management believed that everyone understood the strategy, the reactions from the rest of the organization proved otherwise. “Everyone in the DC works really hard to meet customer expectations as successfully as possible. But if there’s no clear sales strategy, the customer can demand anything – at the expense of efficiency and effectiveness,” comments Van Nieuwburg.

Combination of science and experience

BLMC’s final report outlined both the current situation and the desired situation. It included recommendations on the next steps to be taken, and the necessary projects in support of them. Van Nieuwburg: “We’re sticking to that project plan, and are currently working on concretizing it and forming the relevant project groups.”

Van Nieuwburg has nothing but praise for BLMC’s approach: “The questionnaire is rooted in science, which I personally consider to be very important. The scientific component is then supplemented by the experience of BLMC’s supply chain specialists. It’s that combination of science and experience that works so well.”