3 Bottlenecks that Plague Consumer Packaged Goods Companies and How to Fix Them
Rob works for a global consumer packaged goods company which produces beauty and cosmetic products that are sold in retail stores around the country. Within the company, his principal responsibilities include research and development for skin care products, including both sunblock and various lotions. Recently, the Vice President of Product Development had tasked him with designing a new line of eco-friendly skin care products and packaging to be released to the market as soon as it was ready.
However, while reading the newspaper one morning, Rob noticed that his competitor had already launched an eco-friendly product line similar to the one that he was working on. By releasing first, the competitor gained first mover advantage, as well as the ability to solidify their brand as eco-friendly within the minds of consumers. Rob realized that by the time he finished their product line, the company would be playing catch-up.
As Rob sat at his desk pondering the situation, he wondered how the other lab was able to develop and release a product so much more quickly than his own team. Thinking through the process, he identified the following three bottlenecks within the development process:
- Manual Lab Notebooks – During the research and development process, lab workers recorded their results by hand within a lab notebook. This caused a bottleneck because more time was spent recording results than analyzing them.
- Disparate Databases – Another difficulty Rob’s team faced on the project was that key electronic information was stored in different formats and spread across different databases. The information in question included ingredient lists, supplier testing results and consumer research. However, there currently was no easy way to ensure that the data was consistent. A bottleneck occured because somebody had to spend time to gather and unify all of the data from the different databases.
- Chemical Tracking – Rob’s final note was that the team had trouble with consistency within their chemical supply chain. The main problem was ensuring that the required chemicals were available to researchers when they needed them. This caused a bottleneck because the entire process had to come to a halt if the right chemicals were not available to researchers.
Rob’s problem is not new and many research labs within the consumer packaged goods company face similar problems every day. More importantly, the solutions to these problems are available for implementation today and include the following:
Electronic Lab Notebooks
Some of Rob’s problems would be solved if the company implemented an electronic lab notebook. With an ELN, results and notes can be recorded in an electronic format. Since the data is electronic, it is easy to share with others and it becomes searchable. It also reduces the time researchers spend recording results manually.
In addition, ELNs can also help reduce the difficulty of working with different databases. Interfaces can be setup to transfer the data between databases and directly into the notebook. This also reduces the time personnel spend polishing and interpreting data.
Chemical Inventory System
Rob’s final problem regarding chemical management can be solved with a chemical inventory system. This system would be able to tag and track the specific location of chemicals within the laboratory. In addition, it would help track the inventory lifecycle and inform purchasers regarding times to reorder. Reducing fluctuations in the chemical supply will help reduce any bottlenecks caused by chemical tracking.
If Rob’s company had implemented these solutions, they would have been able to reduce or remove the bottlenecks and get their products out to market faster. If you would like more information about these products and how they can help your company, please visit our website today.