Supply chain providers continue to face pressure from their customers and regulatory bodies to address challenges in cost management, compliance, and competition. Contract packagers, contract manufacturers, and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are driving their businesses to continuously innovate and adopt emerging technologies in order to stay competitive.

According to the Nulogy ( educational content survey, the top goal for contract packaging providers in 2016 is the improvement of site efficiency. 53% of businesses surveyed ranked site efficiency as the main challenge for the new year, above improving quality control and compliance (38%); inventory accuracy (38%); and scaling and lowering costs (35%).

When it came to identifying the biggest roadblocks, however, respondents were split. Forty percent believe the greatest obstacle is the ability to see real-time production efficiency, while 40% also agreed that assessing the profitability of each line/job/customer is a key concern. Other challenges identified include the following:

• Streamlining the quoting/estimating/costing process (38%)
• Reacting nimbly to last-minute customer requests (36%)
• Improving customer service and communication (26%)
• Preparing sites for regulatory audits (22%)

“There are a lot of changes in supply chain management that are affecting the way contract manufacturers and packagers conduct business," says Jason Tham, CEO at Nulogy. “Results of this survey reinforce that gaps in operational efficiency, quality control, and customer service still exist in the industry. This is aligned with our mandate to enable our customers throughout the entire supply chain process with real-time production visibility, improved inventory tracking and traceability throughout the production process to ensure regulatory compliance. The findings of the survey validate Nulogy’s commitment to driving the industry toward guaranteeing these outcomes.” 

The survey also asked participants to prioritize areas of improvement and education toward attaining their business goals. Companies are most eager to learn the following:

• Profitability and operational efficiency (61%)
• Business growth (41%)
• Quality and compliance (40%)
• Technology as a process enablement (39%)
Implications and Considerations
• Businesses require solutions that enable them to track their production efficiency in real time based on accurate, actionable data.
• Contract packaging providers need more visibility into their job orders, such as past production data, to ensure they can quote accurately and operate profitably.
• Tracking products and ingredients throughout the production process is critical. To ensure excellent customer service and communication — and to respond to last-minute order changes — contract packaging providers should use tools that interconnect all their sites, as well as their partners and customers.

The Nulogy Educational Content Survey was conducted to determine the hottest contract packaging topics for 2016. More than 350 industry providers in North America, Europe, and Latin America were surveyed, including contract packagers, manufacturers, suppliers and third-party logistics providers. Verticals represented included food, beverage, drug and pharmaceutical, cosmetics, electronics, health and beauty aids, household products, industrial, medical devices, and promotional.