The challenges faced by supply chains during and following the pandemic have been repeated so often as to be cliché. What’s less discussed is that whatever you may think of the economy, manufacturing and distribution are exceeding pre-COVID levels and operations are back to normal. Sure, there are occasional hiccups from a late shipment, staffing issues, or an extreme weather event, but now those events are minor blips and not seizures.
At Kimberly-Clark, “it’s a reset moment.” That’s the way Scott DeGroot, the CPG giant’s vice president of global logistics, puts it.
As a maker of paper-based personal products like Cottonelle toilet paper, Scott paper towels and Kleenex, Kimberly-Clark was caught like everyone else by the extraordinary unpredictable spikes in consumer demand when the economy shut down. That was then, this is now. “The consumer is acting within normal demand, and while physical constraints aren’t gone forever, aside from the occasional issue, we’ve normalized the flow of goods,” says DeGroot.
Normalization is setting the stage for Kimberly-Clark to look across its supply chain processes for new opportunities to excel. “We want high levels of availability, and we want to understand where our costs are so that we can take steps to improve our margins,” DeGroot says.