Editor's note: This is the thirteenth post in our "Customer Voice" series where we capture and bring to you the direct voice of our customers to demonstrate their areas of PLM ROI. View the other posts below:
In the spirit of innovation
Having spent most of their 150-plus years in Italy and Europe, one alcoholic beverage company’s strategic acquisition of new brands and global expansion forced them to re-evaluate its product lifecycle management process and tools.
“Within the last 20 years, we had acquired so many different brands that it necessitated a change,” says the Director of Liquid R&D. “We were in so many different markets we had to rethink how we were managing formulas and assessing regulatory status.”
As the company looked for ways to cultivate local brands into new markets, growth opportunities sprouted up through the acquisition of specialty brands.
“Transforming local brands into global products gives you strategic access,” the Director says. “The brands aren’t just U.S.-based, they span the globe. That’s important from a regulatory standpoint.”
New markets meant new regulations to monitor and comply with, which tested existing processes. It was time to re-assess processes to align with the company’s new scope.
Fixing a fragmented environment
In 2004 the company had five distribution markets: three in Europe, one in the U.S., and one in Brazil. By 2018 the number of markets increased to twenty. Over that same period, the company moved from eight to eighteen plants.
“A lot of formulas used to be managed in independent systems that were part of a company when we acquired it,” says the Director. “It wasn’t truly harmonized or centralized.”
This was especially true for the company’s regulatory workflows. Moving into new markets made it difficult to keep regulations and formulas compliant.
“When it comes to large markets, like the United States, we’re knowledgeable, but as we expand, we rely on consultants.” says the Director. “As a result, we were spending a lot of money.”
The company had some very specific needs, driven primarily by issues with formulary and regulatory practices.
“We needed to control formulations and understand the regulatory status of formulas,” the Director notes. “The solution had to be dynamic and robust, improving the speed of liquid development with a better process and making comprehensive regulatory checks quickly.”
It was time to move away from the mistakes found in spreadsheets and reliance on external consultants for regulatory answers. The company needed a single source of truth to manage product lifecycle.
Scoping out a solution
“Being able to continue our expansion into new global markets was a driver,” says the Director.
Any solution selected would need a regulatory database that was dynamic and covered a variety of markets, supported different languages and units of measure, and offered a user-friendly interface.
“We needed a solution provider with a global footprint and a proven track record of rolling out their system,” the Director says.
Several factors had to be accounted for. Existing databases weren’t totally going away, and any new regulatory processes needed to work with legacy systems.
Four different solutions were considered.
“Our first choice was an expansion of existing tools, but that didn’t fulfill our regulatory needs,” notes the Director. “The second was very weak when interfacing with others and had a rigid regulatory database that would still require external consultants. The third was more of a regulatory database than a formulation tool and would never be able to support new product development. Selerant, the fourth, checked all the boxes.”
Devex PLM and the Regulatory Module allowed the company to interface with its existing systems, address regulatory needs, provide global coverage, support new product development, validate and generate labels and manufacturing instructions, and offer all the access and user controls needed to stay compliant.
Getting everyone onboard
Once a decision was made to move forward with Devex PLM a steering committee was formed to design an implementation strategy.
“Global heads of R&D, IT, Quality, and Compliance worked closely with Selerant and the larger IT team,” says the Director. “They helped us create a plan and timeline.”
This close partnership allowed the beverages company to improve several of their processes across the company’s technical centers.
“As we encountered some formatting issues onboarding, it revealed weaknesses within the other systems and our processes,” the Director comments. “There were lots of inconsistencies in the way systems were populating and uploading. This left us with a lot of partial information.”
Fixing these inefficiencies only furthered the value of a new PLM solution.
“Rethinking how we manage formulas and assessing regulatory status of our products brought us here,” says the Director.