Today (9 May) the consumer goods giant, which owns the Fairy, Bold, Olay and Pantene brands, opened a £25m service centre in West Thurrock, Essex, to streamline and automate processing and fulfilment of retailers’ orders.
Maurice Lee, supply chain leader at Procter & Gamble, said, “We want to make sure our products move through the supply chain with ‘zero touch’ where possible.
“We want to take a customer view of logistics and design our supply chain to reduce losses.”
P&G said the new service centre would be able to deliver the full product range to its retail customers “on one truck”.
Customers place an order via a P&G mainframe application called Cosmos. Account and inventory information is processed using SAP R/2 running on a mainframe at the P&G's European datacentre in Brussels.
The order is then loaded into the warehouse management system, which builds the customer order by signalling shuttle cars and conveyer belts over a radio network to retrieve pallets of products from the warehouse. The pallets are moved from the automated warehouse to one of 11 staging lines.
Lee said, “We could have bought a whole new system for the supply chain but that would have been very expensive.”
Instead, Tom Arundel, IT systems manager at P&G, began an 18-month project to link existing IT systems.
“The systems are all used elsewhere in the business, so we wanted to make the minimum of configuration changes,” Arundel said.
Although existing kit was not replaced, part of the £2m was spent on a new HP 9000 server.