How Managed Packaging Helped Clients Navigate COVID-19

International companies face new challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, many of which are related to supply chains.


Unexpected changes and supplier closures presented new challenges for companies without a crisis plan, and many organisations were caught off guard.

In contrast, companies with Managed Packaging programs were able to use Billerud’s expertise and flexibility to meet these challenges. Find out more about how Managed Packaging helped these companies, and how your organisation can prepare for crisis in the future.

Approaching the Crisis With Managed Packaging

Managed Packaging from Billerud offers custom packaging solutions to its clients, along with operational cost savings, packaging control and performance-driven sustainable packaging. This is accomplished with international teams and a flexible network of packaging producers in Southeast Asia. 

“Our clients have an assurance of supply through our vast network of suppliers across Asia,” said Lani Ernst, Billerud Global Account Manager. Clients can also rely on the agility and adaptability of Managed Packaging operations.

“When there are changes, we help companies by giving them a single point of contact,” said Johan Månsson, Billerud International Sales Manager. “We are always ready for clients if they have a very sudden change. We are able to communicate that to the supply chain in a way that it takes things off our clients’ plate.”

How Clients Were Helped by Managed Packaging

When the coronavirus hit, the Managed Packaging network was prepared for the unexpected. As the U.S. imposed tariffs and bans on some Chinese commerce, Billerud was ready with an extensive network of supply chain professionals and organisations throughout Southeast Asia to accommodate shifting supply and demand.

“A number of brands had to move their business to different countries and regions because of those bans,” Månsson said. “Our clients were ready, however, because they were already aware of our agility and our footprint.”

Ernst said maintaining communication was a key method to helping clients with crisis preparedness.

“To provide transparency to our customers on the status of our carton orders and deliveries, we provided weekly regional supplier readiness reports,” she said. “These reports had production capacity and resource status in addition to an open order report, which tracked our carton deliveries to their factories.”

Ernst said this communication is built into the Managed Packaging program.

“This level of communication is typical for us,” she said. “However, coordinating responses across our regions on a weekly basis during the early COVID phase was challenging and a great testament to our operations and sourcing team.”

Also part of the Managed Packaging program is expertise and adaptability, according to Mark Maxwell, Billerud Global Accounts Manager.

“Our design teams have a solid understanding of the manufacturing capabilities and raw materials within each region we serve,” he said. “so all of our solutions are design to be able to be produced in any of the regions.” 

How One Company Was Helped by Managed Packaging

As stores shut worldwide, e-commerce sales grew. By June 2020, global retail e-commerce traffic registered a record 22 billion monthly website visits. Companies faced a rapidly changing world, and Managed Packaging was there to help.

Managed Packaging helped an apparel company highlight a dramatic shift in its e-commerce sales, and identified a need for custom packaging.

“Suddenly, we had to provide for them a year’s worth of customer-facing custom product packaging in six weeks,” Maxwell said. “We had to provide 7 million units in a few weeks, when we had only supplied 6 million for the entirety of 2019.” 

But Billerud’s Managed Packaging program was ready for the challenge.

We had to source raw materials and revise schedules. It was a huge exercise in coordination,” Maxwell said. “The most important element was good communication with the teams in all regions. We had numerous calls throughout the many weeks.” 

“We went from 20,000 units a week to over 500,000,” Maxwell said. “The ramp-up was challenging, but we did what we could. As far as we know, but all of this was accomplished without any major disruptions.”

Lessons learned going forward for Managed Packaging

Billerud’s Managed Packaging program worked like it was supposed to, with affirmation that communication, experience and adaptability helped clients weather the storm.

“Communication and adaptability are key,” Maxwell said. “You can't rely on last year's forecast or last year's information, because anything can change. We've seen it this year.”

Managed Packaging’s range is also a vital part of a successful response to changing circumstances.

“We are local and global,” Månsson said. “We have bigger knowledge, in terms of trends and shifts, compared to a small local supplier in a specific country.”

Maxwell agreed. “We’re in Europe, we're here in the States, and then we have teams local on the ground in Asia. It is both local and global.”

How to Prepare for the Next Unforeseen Crisis

A Managed Packaging program can provide agility, resilience and cost savings. Contact us now to schedule a complimentary packaging review from Billerud. A packaging review is a multidimensional examination of your packaging and supply chain to discover packaging solutions and cost saving opportunities.

Also, find out five critical steps in the strategic packaging development process. Download our eBook, “From Concepts to Reality.”

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