Colbert Packaging Improves Inventory Accuracy, Reduces Costs and Meets Compliance Regulations
About the company
Founded in 1959, Colbert Packaging Corporation is a $65 million independent, privately held company with customers located throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe that include Abbott Labs, Anderson Packaging, Wrigley Co., Novartis and Blistex. Producing approximately 372 million boxes, and 15,000 tons of board each year, the company is also environmentally conscientious, recycling 5,700 tons of material annually.
Though the company has built a solid reputation as a manufacturer of the highest quality rigid paper boxes, Colbert realized a few years ago that to remain competitive, it needed to branch out from being a traditional carton manufacturer. The company added additional product offerings and today is considered a one-stop packaging shop that also offers a variety of folding boxes and paperboard specialty products.
As Colbert Packaging’s business strategy changed to capitalize on new opportunities, it was clear it also needed to update its manufacturing and financial systems to support the new growth and streamline production across its three plants.
The company’s existing home-grown systems lacked integration and were outdated. Managing inventory was done manually, which was time-consuming and often led to inaccuracies. With a lack of integration between its systems across multiple facilities, thousands of dollars of materials were unaccounted for, due to limited visibility into inventory. The company had no way to anticipate these problems, and customer orders often missed delivery deadlines because materials were out of stock or difficult to locate.
Overtime costs were also an issue. Previously, the company could not properly anticipate the resources required for various projects. As a result, the entire staff would work on a Saturday to ensure enough people to complete the job. Another major challenge was meeting compliance regulations. With a large percentage of its customers in the pharmaceutical industry, the company was audited every three weeks to ensure it complied with FDA regulations. With the lack of integration and visibility across its operations, it was difficult for the company to anticipate any potential issues.
"Before Radius® ERP, we were using a custom program. We would have to walk up and down aisles just to find inventory and we would have to go double-count everything to make sure it was right.”
Kraig Lang, CFO
In 2005, Colbert Packaging implemented ePS Radius – a suite of manufacturing and financial modules. According to Bill Snyder, vice president of operations for Colbert Packaging, “We chose Radius because unlike other solutions, it was developed specifically for the packaging sector. We were also impressed with Radius’ existing customer base and extensive knowledge of the packaging business.”
Colbert Packaging has implemented the full solution suite, including Estimating, Order Handling, Raw Materials, Purchase Ordering, Costing, Production Scheduling, Shop Floor Data Collection, and Financial Accounts, all of which feature EDI, bar coding, e-commerce and a wide range of management reporting.
The implementation was rapid and seamless, taking less than five months. “We didn’t need to make any modifications up front - the solution worked right out of the box. And the Radius professionals were terrific, a great group of people to work with,” said Mr. Snyder. “The system is extremely intuitive and easy to use. We have people using the system who have never used a computer. Also, our supervisors are now able to access the information they need whether they are in their offices or on the road - with access back to the people on the floor.”
Control of Inventory, Improved Accuracy, and Reduced Costs
Colbert Packaging has significantly improved its inventory control through automation. Prior to implementing Radius, the company had about $80,000 worth of materials that were unaccounted for. By the first year after the implementation, this number was down to $7,000, and today the company has achieved 99% accuracy.
Not only is this saving the organization money, it is also enabling the Colbert team to more accurately estimate projects as a result of the tight integration between scheduling, costing and accounting. “Today we have the same lead time,” explains Mr. Snyder, “The difference is that we now know immediately if we have the required materials in stock.
We are much better at managing delivery dates – we know if we need to push out a job, provide a customer with a revised time frame or change the order of the jobs to streamline operations. We are now able to predict things in the future, and as a result run a tighter business and provide better customer service.” Colbert has also reduced overtime costs because it now knows what resources it will need in advance of a project. Mr. Snyder notes, “Prior to Radius, we really didn’t know what resources we would need for a given job. For example, you would want the die cutters in before the finishing crew, but we had no way of knowing when we would need these people. So our solution was to bring in everyone at one time. Today we can anticipate who we will need and when we will need them.”