Roberto Franchitti Executive Vice President, Tetra Pak Services, shares insights on how Tetra Pak Services is helping to maintain food and beverage production during the COVID-19 crisis.
"We have witnessed many crisis situations over the years, but they have been regional or managed nationally or within a specific geographic location. The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 crisis is that it's global – perhaps a once in a generation event," says Roberto Franchitti.
Right from the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, we were driven by our promise to Protect What's Good, we wanted to ensure that this health crisis did not end up becoming a food supply crisis.
Taking the early learnings from China, we quickly decided within the Tetra Pak Global Leadership Team that we would step-up and play our part to protect food supplies and help consumers get the food they needed.
From the Services perspective, there are two main challenges that our customers are currently grappling with: logistics and the radical change in consumption patterns from eating-out to eating-in.
On the logistics side, how do food manufacturers get their employees into the factories to work in a safe way and how do they get goods in and out and manage the critical distribution of food? Our customers need stability and large quantities of raw materials for the continuous processes they operate, so logistics are critical.
This means providing packaging materials, spare parts, equipment installations, technicians and field service engineers to support our customers everywhere to ensure the continuous flow of food supply. Without this support, our customer operations could stop.
With the change in consumption patterns, our customers are either needing to change formats, or to maximise output of certain product lines with high demands. Our services team are supporting customers by ensuring maximum up-time, output and production efficiency.
In order to help our customers to keep operating, we identified the risk factors for moving our people and materials and implemented corresponding precautions. We introduced health and safety assessments, new rules and guidelines, provided protective equipment and educated our people, providing them with the resources and information needed to protect themselves. We want to give employees all the means necessary to be safe when they work.
Even under these difficult operating circumstances we continue to support our customers; while we are a truly global company, we are also a truly local company. Our local engineers have long standing relationships and mutual trust with customers. We have the people on the ground to help our customers. At the same time, our local people are backed up by global support and resources when needed. But it is not only about people on the ground, we are also working hard to ensure that our customers get the spare parts and materials they need to continue their operations. Our parts supply teams are working 24/7 to achieve this and it's the same for our workforce conducting maintenance and training.
Fulfilling our vision of making food safe and available everywhere, means ensuring our customers get the spare parts they need to run their operations. Our Parts Supply Chain teams are working 24/7 to achieve this. Crisis teams have been built to ensure a continuous supply during the crisis. By proactively placing orders at our suppliers, we have managed to secure the needed stock. By leveraging our extensive supply chains and distribution centres to the fullest, we have been able to continue to ship spare parts around the world, including rush orders to customers.
Our administration centres have continued to work, with many employees transitioning to working from home, and with "flexible" working hours, to say the least but with no drop in customer service. We have managed to keep supplying spare parts, which is allowing customers to maintain production lines running.
What has been remarkable is how our parts supply chain team have adapted to the tremendous disruption in the global logistics and delivery systems, much of the world's air freight cargo flies on commercial airliners as well as using dedicated freight transport. However, with most international passenger flights grounded, capacity is severely reduced. We have continued to secure capacity because of the longstanding relationships we have with our partners and suppliers. In situations like this the value of strong partnerships becomes evident. Our solid relations with suppliers and customers, built on years of collaboration and trust are invaluable in these times.
There are parts of our Services which are very much "analogue". They are manual, physical tasks, like servicing a machine or replacing parts, so for those tasks a physical presence is unavoidable.
But even with this "analogue" aspect, digital technologies are helping us. For example, customer production lines are made up of many different pieces of equipment and filling machines.
It is not possible for all service engineers to know every single piece of every machine. For this reason, we have developed "Remote Support". Our people and our customers can connect digitally, via voice, video and even direct connection to the packaging equipment electronic control systems, with technical experts in other parts of the world to solve any technical issue that might arise. This is an example of Tetra Pak's local presence with global backup.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, we are expanding our Remote Support availability so we can continue to provide this vital service while observing travel restrictions and social distancing requirements. For some regions this means that we have increased the availability of local language and resource options within our Remote Support solution.
Even with this remote support, I think that our service engineers are true heroes going the extra mile, staying at our customers' sites to keep operations running.
Even before COVID-19, we were looking to the future, reducing our carbon footprint, finding alternatives to travel and increasing the roll-out of remote support. COVID-19 has given us the impetus to rapidly accelerate this.
After the crisis eases, I'm sure we will continue to send service engineers to customers, but we will have more remote support and less travel.
One thing that will not change after COVID-19 is our commitment to customers, consumers and employees. The things that made us strong before the crisis have helped us to manage during the crisis and will be even more important after the crisis: we want to continue to be part of the solution, to serve our communities and customers and above all, to protect what's good.