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Quickly and consistently meeting rapid changes in demand volumes
DHL Supply Chain is helping Mars to improve labour productivity with semi-automated machinery for secondary packaging. The system, used in a DHL-operated warehouse in JiaXing (Zhejiang province), packs Mars’ confectionary items into retail containers more than 12.0% faster than previous manual processes.
For the past 23 years, DHL has worked with Mars to provide agile end-to-end supply chains that support how they meet unrelenting consumer pressure for new products and packages.
Introducing automation to the secondary packaging process represents a particularly noteworthy step to helping Mars quickly and consistently meet rapid changes in demand volumes and consumption patterns amongst Asia’s consumers.
The DHL automated system deals only with secondary packaging, which involves distribution of already-wrapped items into larger packs or sets.
With more than 500,000 sets being processed every year, Mars’ China operations were a prime candidate for supply chain automation. The high production volumes meant that automating the Mars packaging process could deliver particularly significant productivity dividends, while also guaranteeing extremely consistent product quality and availability for consumers, even as Mars continues to scale up the range and market reach of its confectionaries.
DHL also sought to improve operational scalability during seasonal fluctuations in China’s labour market, particularly during Mars’ four-month high season when labour requirements can reach almost five times the ordinary levels.
Apart from its improvement to labour productivity, secondary packaging automation has also significantly reduced the number of staff required per machine, as well as minimising many of the quality-control issues, such as incorrect set quantities, product mishandling and package defects, associated with fully-manual packaging during peak demand.