Sealed Air was enjoying rapid expansion for its TASKI floor-cleaning machines in Europe. To support this growth, the Charlotte, N.C., company was managing its own supply chain through a network of 19 warehouses in strategic locations. This network supplied Sealed Air's products to clients across Europe and supported more than 500 field engineers who provided after-sales support.
The rapid growth, however, made it increasingly difficult for Sealed Air to maintain a high level of after-sales service with its current infrastructure. Additionally, the company was facing heightened competition in Europe, further compelling it to implement a streamlined, responsive and cost-effective after-sales solution.
In order to deliver after-sales repairs and service, replacement parts were either sent directly to the customer site or collected by technicians from regional warehouses. This process caused significant pain points. It was difficult for technicians to retrieve the parts at the customer site – leading to significant delays – and if collecting from the warehouse, the workers would spend excessive time on the road. It also required high inventory levels across the network to fully stock all 19 warehouses.
To overcome these challenges, Sealed Air turned to UPS. After a comprehensive assessment of Sealed Air's supply chain and an exploration of logistics options, UPS proposed a solution that combined UPS Express® shipping services and the UPS Access Point® network to deliver parts to field engineers. France, a key market for Sealed Air's postsales operation, was selected as the pilot location.
The UPS Access Point network includes thousands of independently owned and operated neighborhood businesses, UPS locations and other convenient options. In Europe, the UPS Access Point network features more than 15,000 locations in nine countries, making it easy to ship or receive packages near home or work.
Meanwhile, UPS Supply Chain Solutions was able to provide warehousing, inventory management and order fulfilment services that allowed Sealed Air to consolidate its 19 warehouses into a single, centralized distribution center operated by UPS. Situated in Butzbach, Germany, this 35,000-square-foot facility serves as a hub, feeding replacement parts to field engineers as needed.
By shipping parts to UPS Access Point locations near the field engineers' homes or service routes, pickup and retrieval times were significantly reduced. Additionally, UPS offered different shipping speeds, including an overnight service with guaranteed early morning delivery. This allowed field technicians to order a part as late as 1 p.m. and have it in hand the next morning as early as 9 a.m.. As a result, Sealed Air has improved its customer response time and can seamlessly accommodate emergency repairs.
Sealed Air can also view a complete shipping manifest for all processed shipments and track the status of individual packages. This is possible through UPS's Quantum View Manage® application, which allows continuous monitoring of packages or shipments, with proactive e-mail notification of any change in the delivery process. Now field engineers can save significant time by not having to wait at the customer's facility until the spare parts arrive and spend less time on the road driving to regional warehouses. Field engineers in Europe can typically find a UPS Access Point location within a few miles of their home or the customer, making this solution entirely scalable to more countries beyond France.
Working with UPS allowed Sealed Air to realize substantial gains in both time efficiency and direct costs. The time spent by engineers collecting spare parts has been reduced by approximately 30 minutes per service order, allowing for more scheduled service trips each week.
The consolidation of 19 warehouses also allowed Sealed Air to reduce its inventory of replacement parts and save substantially on infrastructure and operating costs. Additionally, outsourcing these operations to UPS meant that Sealed Air only paid for the capacity it needed at any given time.
Given the success of the program in France, it is being considered for implementation in other European markets, and the main warehousing hub in Germany is now being expanded from 35,000 square feet to 43,000 square feet to support the company's expanded business needs.
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