Learn How One Coca Cola Plant is Going Green in the Supply Chain

Meagan Douglas
Mon, Aug 29, 2016
Going green in supply chain management can help businesses reach sustainability goals.
Going green in supply chain management can help businesses reach sustainability goals.

More companies are restructuring their supply chain management processes to better meet sustainability standards. In this effort, industry leaders who have already established eco-friendly practices and successfully reduced their carbon footprints often pave the way for other businesses. One such manufacturer is Dunkirk's Coca Cola European Partners bottling plant.

A Past of Innovation
According to Digital Supply Chain, sustainability success is nothing new to this specific Coca Cola European Partners plant. In 2011, 2012 and 2014, the site was internally recognized with the Oscas Energy award. Additionally, the plant has dropped energy and water consumption by 27 and 15 percent respectively since 2008. It also reduced its packaging by 28 percent in the same time frame.

The plant's green past has set a precedent for the future, particularly in light of the Euro 2016 - the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) championship.

The Dunkirk bottling plant was tasked with creating the Panini Euro 2016 sticker bottles. According to the UEFA website, this campaign grants football fans access codes that enable them to trade online stickers with friends. Not only was this project time sensitive, but it required new manufacturing practices, meaning CCEP had to restructure its supply chain strategies.

Despite the higher productivity and increase in materials, the plant successfully completed the project while maintaining its sustainability standards thanks to effective planning. Specifically, it managed to deliver 260 million stickers on its PET bottles, which are made with recyclable polyethylene terephthalate, to six different countries.

The Panini sticker campaign is only one example of sustainability success at the Dunkirk plant. As Digital Supply Chain explained, revamping the logistics portion of supply chain management has also slashed its energy use. Though the move required an initial investment of $41 million, CCEP managed to move one of its can lines closers to customers, reducing the distance for deliveries to travel.

The Power of Data Collection
Much of this success has stemmed from data collection solutions, according to the plant's site manager, Etienne Van Poucke.

"We are using a real-time measuring system for efficiency, yield, water, electricity and gas consumption," Van Poucke said. "This monitoring and tracking system gives us the capability to manage our processes well."

This data has revealed insights about inventory, particularly the load sizes trucks carry as they travel from warehouse to customer. Now, CCEP ensures all automobiles take their full capacity, which resulted in major reductions in carbon dioxide output and miles traveled.

The Growth of Sustainability
CCEP's progress at its Dunkirk plant exemplifies the growing trend of sustainability in supply chain management across the globe. Fortunately, there are best practices companies can follow to meet this goals.

For example, business should avoid rushing initiatives, as taking things one step at a time can prove more effective. That is, companies can take action on one idea, then use data collection systems to measure whether it was a success. Based on those results, they can decide next steps.

Another major focal point for sustainability is supply chain logistics management. According to Supply Chain Management Review, opening the doors for online shoppers means products might be shipped anywhere around the world, requiring carbon emissions from airplanes, trucks and ships. Centralizing inventory by putting it on the shelves at a mall, on the other hand, is less involved. Not to mention, it can also reduce the rate of returns and save on lost sales, since consumers can handle or try on the product in person, giving them a more realistic perception of the purchase.

Sustainability efforts don't have to be as intricate as reworking logistics strategies. Even a simple switch from paper to digital can have huge benefits. According to the RFgen white paper "Adopting Enterprise Mobility in the Supply Chain: How to Go from Paper to Barcode Scanner to Tablet with Mobile Apps," beyond contributing to go-green initiatives, replacing paper with digital solutions can also increase data accuracy and boost productivity by 25 percent.

For this strategy, remote access to data is key. With a Mobile Enterprise Application Platform, employees in the field can easily scan barcodes or enter data through their smartphones or tablets. Many operational areas of the warehouse can benefit from this initiative, including manufacturing and work orders, inventory management, receiving and put away, and picking, packing and shipping.

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