Redefining Supply Chain Management
As demands are made on the quality and type of information available to the supply chain, manual processes and older automation systems can't keep pace. "The problem we run into is that each of our customers and vendors has proprietary business forms that are unique to the way each wants to conduct business," says Ron Nash, Quad/Graphics vice president of customer service and board member of papiNet NA. "With papiNet's structured messages, there's no need to negotiate and agree on data definition and formats with each trading partner."
Nash points to the industry's inability to plan and forecast the availability of paper. "Clients often have to buy more paper than they need, or order earlier than they want, because lead times on paper are broad," he said. "We think papiNet will provide total visibility to the entire supply chain. You can wait later to make decisions, buy closer to your real needs and ship later, etc. Everybody knows what's needed, when it's needed and where it's needed."
Already in the Works
Quad/Graphics began sending purchase orders using the papiNet standard to Stora Enso in June. And, more recently, standardized delivery messages were sent to UPM-Kymmene. "It's a good start," says Ziegler. "But, it's going to take awhile to fully implement the process. We'll be integrating these messages into our systems over the next one to two years. And, we'll encourage our suppliers to do the same."
Stora Enso already reports some improvement to its bottom line, which Kevin Shibilski, North American business-to-business project leader for Stora Enso, attributes to papiNet. "In the EDI model, we're charged every time information is sent or received over the value added network (VAN)," Shibilski explains. "Because the papiNet standards use XML, our VAN charges dropped 10 percent. Once our major customers get on board, they could easily drop another 50 percent."