Consumer Brands Launches Supply Chain Disruption Task Force

Tom Madrecki
CBA's Tom Madrecki says enhanced visibility is key to a supply chain operating at peak efficiency. (FoodLogistics via YouTube)

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The Consumer Brands Association launched a new task force aimed at increasing visibility and easing supply chain pressures, the organization announced June 2.

The Supply Chain Health and Performance Task Force will be focused on supply chain pressures felt across the consumer packaged-goods industry. It is composed of 15 association member companies as well as transportation management company FourKites.

“It all connects back to visibility is the answer to many of the supply chain pinch points,” Tom Madrecki, CBA vice president of supply chain and logistics, told Transport Topics. “The greater degree that you have to what’s happening throughout the supply chain, then you’re able to better manage your costs, you’re better able to predict where are you going to have an issue ahead of time and have that more enhanced real-time visibility to everything.”

CBA explained in the announcement that the task force is the first step toward building a modern supply chain ecosystem that is resilient and can support the future of the consumer packaged-goods industry. The task force’s goal is to prevent costly dwell times and delays caused by disruptions by employing data sharing and bringing new visibility to supply chain routes.

“We’ve heard from many members, and they’re looking at 30 dashboards or they have like this report from this division in their company and then this other report, and they are consolidating things internally,” Madrecki said. “And so one of the aspects to this as well is just to really bring all that information in one place so that companies have the ability to make smarter decisions.”

FourKites will play a pivotal role in helping the association achieve those ambitions. The task force will leverage its data and machine learning capabilities to create an “air traffic control” system for supply chains. This setup will be designed to give members a real-time view to identify shared bottlenecks and inefficiencies within the supply chain.



“Demand shock from the worldwide reopening is straining global supply chains,” Priya Rajagopalan, chief product officer at FourKites, said in a statement. “We’re proud to work with Consumer Brands on an innovative platform that enables data sharing and transparency across organizations to alleviate critical pain points and maximize efficiencies.”

CBA found the coronavirus exposed supply chain vulnerabilities but also created opportunities to collaborate. The Contactless Delivery Task Force was launched by the association to mitigate health and efficiency issues through electronic transmission of data. This newest task force is taking those lessons but focusing instead on gaining better access to information needed to make smarter supply chain decisions.

“At the end of the day, a screen can only have so much information on it, but it’s about having the right information,” Madrecki said. “The emphasis being on getting more and more closer to real-time information about what’s happening throughout the supply chain. And then how that connects back to your systems and being able to manage everything from a transportation standpoint is a really big piece of this.”

Madrecki noted the companies involved in the task force are fierce competitors in the marketplace. So one of the big challenges is finding a balance when it comes to information sharing. On the one hand, information is the backbone of so much of what they do. But at the same time, being collaborative can help them better leverage that information so they have greater visibility into where capacity is at and how to better manage transportation costs.

At the end of the day, a screen can only have so much information on it, but it’s about having the right information.

Tom Madrecki, CBA vice president of supply chain and logistics

“The Consumer Brands Association has an interest in thinking about how do you resolve issues like the truck driver shortage or how do you help shippers to manage their transportation costs going forward,” Madrecki said. “So I think long term, one of the things that you might find is that there are opportunities to think about what existing tools are already out there.

“We have an [electronic logging device] mandate. There’s a lot of information already about where drivers are at any given time from a GPS standpoint and other things. So is there a potential to leverage some of those things to allow the market to better function.”

The task force already includes member companies Land O’Lakes, Accenture North America and The Coca-Cola Co, all of which understand the importance of information sharing.

“Every minute of reduced dwell time across the transportation ecosystem increases capacity,

which stabilizes costs,” Rob Haddock, Coca-Cola group director of planning and logistics, said in a statement. “Visibility of bottlenecks advances shipper/receiver of choice initiatives and supports analysis on where to target infrastructure investment. As the supply of drivers continues to diminish, we must focus on keeping trucks rolling via visibility and collaboration.”

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