Key to its continued development, Inland’s customized innovation process is driven by a tradition of inquiry and problem-solving. The company has always been attuned to uncovering emerging technologies and new opportunities through well-timed investment in capabilities such as smart packaging and advanced variable data printing. That’s why working collaboratively with top-tier supply chain partners to create best-in-class solutions is a critical part of the company’s innovative process. However, pre-production was notoriously a very manual process that often resulted in bottlenecks.
“Our combo and gang-run process essentially involved our planners looking at a set of demand orders and, through tribal knowledge and years of experience, picking and choosing what they thought would be best,” says Willie Spindler, Inland’s Business Analyst and Programmer. “We had some calculators built to do the math for them and if the numbers didn’t look right, they’d try something else. It was a lot of just guessing until we got to what we wanted.”
As business flourished, this trial-and-error approach created challenges for Inland’s growth. Inland was gaining new customers while also managing even faster growth in new jobs. Inland needed to take a closer look as new customers demanded shorter runs and more SKUs, putting a strain on pre-production process.
“Things that work when you’re smaller don’t work when you have double, triple, quadruple the orders. As production ramped up, the amount of manpower we would need to force jobs through was daunting,” says Spindler. “My chief concern was ensuring that, from order to production, the amount of effort required is as minimal as possible.”