- Greif’s Global Operations Group oversees our Enterprise Automation Strategy, continuous improvement, operational execution and business continuity processes and procedures. Our business continuity, automation and digitization efforts ensure we deliver on our vision of legendary customer service by consistently providing the highest-quality products and services at every Greif location, even under shifting business conditions, supply chain challenges, or following a natural disaster.
- Our Enterprise Automation Strategy plays a significant role in our business continuity efforts and delivers on our Build to Last Strategy, enabling Greif to reduce harm to our colleagues, become more cost-competitive and be better positioned to serve our customers.
- Digitization is essential to delivering on our One Greif goal and supports our ability to provide easy and transparent customer service 24/7.
Why Business Continuity, Automation & Digitization Matters
Business continuity touches every part of our corporate strategy and is critical to Greif’s success as a global organization. As part of our shift to One Greif, we remain focused on standardizing our products and services worldwide, ensuring we deliver on our vision of legendary customer service by consistently providing the highest-quality products and services at every Greif location. Automation and digitization are critical components in realizing this transformation. Through digitization, we can centralize and share information easily. We continue developing our automation capabilities, as it allows us to adapt our manufacturing processes and quickly respond to customer demands under shifting business conditions, supply chain challenges or following a natural disaster.
The Global Operations Group (GOG), assembled in 2022 and led by our Senior Vice President, Global Operations Group, oversees our Enterprise Automation Strategy, continuous improvement, engineering and capital deployment, operational execution and business continuity processes and procedures. The group establishes the structure and development of business continuity plans for each facility. All colleagues are impacted by business continuity and contribute to its success daily. When business continuity plans are required and implemented, the GOG is responsible for validating the effectiveness of the actions taken and developing and applying lessons learned from any event.
Our Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity program, established in 2017 in our Global Industrial Packaging (GIP) business, manages risk and business continuity through inventory and production redundancy capabilities, facility risk assessments and proactive labor relations. The program outlines a 25-step process to identify customer orders that may be impacted if a disaster impacts one of our facilities, alternative products that meet customer specifications and our facilities that can produce these products. In 2022, we conducted 14 random mock disasters to identify which customers would be most impacted and ensure program comprehension and ease of implementation. We review this program and our Disaster Recovery Business Continuity policy annually. Sales, customer service, operations, marketing and logistics colleagues administer the program in tandem with business unit leadership. The existence of the GOG will help us with our planned expansion and standardization of our business continuity plans across business units.
Greif’s global network of 188 production facilities allows us to manufacture products to the exact specifications at multiple sites, giving us the flexibility to shift production based on inventory, customer needs or in the unlikely event of a shutdown. Our centralized inventory management and robust Sales and Operations Planning processes (S&OP) enable us to monitor raw materials and finished goods across our facilities. We ensure that each facility sources raw materials from various suppliers to prevent production stoppages due to supplier delays or shortages.
Greif’s Enterprise Automation Strategy plays a significant role in our business continuity efforts and delivers on our Build to Last Strategy. Automation enables Greif to reduce harm to our colleagues, become more cost-competitive and be better positioned to serve our customers. We are also better positioned to recover from disasters due to our standard automation-enabled manufacturing processes and capabilities across different locations. In 2022, we identified 75 automation projects, and we will continue to assess, develop, pilot and implement these and other automation solutions across our business over the next few years. In addition, we have regular reviews of these projects and our strategy as needs evolve.
Digitization is essential to execute our vision of delivering legendary customer service across our global operations. Customers have high expectations for the quality and consistency of our products and services. Digitization allows us to share information quickly and reliably from one facility to another, strengthening our continuity as an organization and equipping each facility with best practices for customer service and product standardization. To that end, we began building a Customer Digital Platform pilot in 2022. This platform aims to identify aspects of the Greif-customer relationship that can be digitized. If approved, this platform will move into phase 2, enhancing our ability to save time and improve customer satisfaction. We will continue to devote significant investments into digitization, delivering on our One Greif goal and supporting our ability to deliver easy and transparent customer service 24/7.
To continue delivering on our commitments to our customers, we also leveraged our existing Natural Disaster Recovery Protocol. This Protocol requires all products to be co-produced at multiple facilities and that each facility must maintain an alternate supplier list for the facility’s top 35 materials. These supplier lists ensure continuity of supply even in the event of a natural disaster or other events impacting a supplier.
We also consider the risk of labor disputes to business continuity. We manage collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) on a two-to-three-year timeline, not simply when negotiations must occur. The minimum notice period regarding significant operational changes is one month. This notice period and the provisions for consultation and negotiation are specified within the CBAs. Our senior leadership uses a proactive approach to build positive labor relations with union leaders and members in each plant.
Goals, Progress & Performance
In 2022, we worked on an end-of-line automation project for our tube and core facilities. This automatic cart and pallet loading system utilizes a gantry-Carriage-Pusher Arm structured automation system to load tubes and cores onto carts and pallets, saving considerable time and reducing up to 55 percent of our total material and labor cost associated with this packaging process. In 2023, we will continue to work through remaining logistical and technical challenges as we incorporate this system in all 40 of Greif’s tube and core facilities.