Adjusting operations for global expansion
Well-known brands in the food, beverage and consumer products industries turn to Plastipak for high-quality containers and packaging innovations. Since its founding in 1967, the Michigan-based business has experienced steady growth in the U.S. and internationally. With this growth comes new relationships and requirements, particularly as the packaging provider expanded to additional sites in Europe and Brazil.
Following acquisitions, increased volume and complexity of EDI transactions stretched Plastipak’s lean IT team. Over a relatively short period of time, the volume of EDI documents quadrupled—from 15,000 to 60,000—with no indication of slowing down. Albert Israel, global IT director for Plastipak, expects transmission requirements to reach more than 100,000 documents as new opportunities emerge. “We saw the company expanding in other areas around the world. It was very difficult for us to manage through our in-house EDI system,” he said. “Handling all of the EDI standards, all of the time zones, it was becoming more and more challenging.”
Primarily, Plastipak aimed to reduce the points of failure within its B2B program. Without direct integration to the company’s SAP® enterprise application, the process to translate, transfer and send files to the value added network (VAN) followed a winding path. Failures were common and troubleshooting proved an involved process. To address the challenge, Plastipak explored in-house and cloud-based solutions.
B2B contained in the OpenText cloud
Plastipak now connects with business partners through OpenText B2B Managed Services, providing the technology and expertise for automating supply chain transactions.
The packaging supplier considered several factors before moving B2B management to the cloud, focusing on cost efficiency and business agility. It selected OpenText for its global network, affordability and reputation. “We looked at three companies,” Israel said. “It all boiled down to the stability of OpenText in terms of its market share, the pricing and how well it is known in the e-commerce world.”
B2B Managed Services bolsters the capable but small IT team at Plastipak with enabling technologies and the management expertise to leverage them.
A direct connection to Plastipak’s ERP application reduced points of failure compared to the previous B2B process. “We have a dedicated VPN Tunnel between Plastipak network and B2B Managed Services. It connects directly into our SAP,” Israel said. “The bottom line is we wanted to have the least amount of failures in this whole process. In the first month we almost had no failures at all. That was a huge improvement from where we were.”
Efficient integration and streamlined onboarding helps Plastipak keep pace with corporate growth: “Taking on more trading partners is very easy for us with OpenText B2B Managed Services,” Israel said. The packaging company simply places a request with OpenText, initiating a standard process of creating a new map, a copy, or adding a partner.
B2B Managed Services also helps Plastipak meet expanding customer demands in a global economy. For a recent European acquisition, customers requested capabilities for an EDI standard established in Europe, but not in the U.S. “With our previous infrastructure, we would not have been able to support it,” Israel noted. “Initial testing with OpenText was quite positive, so we were able to manage the standard without much customizing.”