Why a smart value chain is crucial to operational and business success

Australia’s ‘Top 100 Manufacturers 2019’, powered by National Manufacturing Week, was recently released with the $383.2 billion industry, which employs over 791,000 Australians, projected to achieve a growth rate of 1.2 per cent over the next five years to $405.8 billion in 2023-241.

Asahi Beverages, the Australian New Zealand business of Asahi Group Holdings (Japan) that was listed 41st on this year’s ‘Top 100 Manufacturers’, moved up three places in the past year and was one of 17 food product manufacturing companies (the leading category of this year’s list) that made Australia’s ‘Top 100.’

“Undoubtedly, there are numerous factors that contribute to a manufacturing company being a leader or ‘Top 100 Manufacturer’,” said Anna Reid, general manager of manufacturing of Asahi Beverages. “The fundamental attributes that have contributed to our business success and inclusion on this year’s list of leading manufacturers, include having a clear strategic plan, a strong record of consistent and profitable growth, continued strong investment across Australia to improve our manufacturing and distribution facilities, improving efficiency across all areas of the business, driving continued innovation across the business, differentiating ourselves from competitors to attract great talent and having an extensive portfolio of great brands that Australians know and love.

“We are proud to be manufacturing in Australia and manufacturing some of the nation’s most loved brands, including: Schweppes, Solo, Asahi Super Dry, Pepsi, Gatorade, Cottee’s cordials, Spring Valley, and Vodka Cruiser. Although we are a relatively young company, having been formed in 2014, we have a rich history through our various integrated businesses, which have been acquired by Asahi Group Holdings.”

According to Liam Harrison, senior industry analyst at IBISWorld, the fact food production and manufacturing companies are the leading category within this year’s ‘Top 100 Manufacturers’ is indicative of Australia’s export and trade largest contributors, with integration a pathway to success for many companies.

“It’s certainly no surprise to see the ‘Top 100 Manufacturers’ for 2019 dominated by companies operating within food production and non-metallic mineral production. Australia is renowned for its strong agricultural exports and mining, energy and resources industry. Vertical integration is also major factor for many of leading manufacturers in generating revenue or stabilising the impacts of volatility to their manufacturing division. For the majority of Australia’s manufacturers, the major challenges that exist are the threat of global competitors with well-resourced and integrated supply chains, substantial energy costs and high wage costs.”

For Asahi Beverages, the integration of its 2,100 people (across Australia and New Zealand) and emerging technologies to build a smarter value chain, as well as a firm commitment to innovation, has provided a platform to both compete and grow. Reid, who will be presenting on ‘Building a Smart Value Chain’ during the conference program at National Manufacturing Week, also shared Asahi’s approach of finding the right technologies to meet strategic plans and deliver value was also a key factor in operational success:

“We have taken a mature journey approach, with a focus on building strong foundations to leverage future development of our operations. This involved developing an adoption plan across our supply chain, looking beyond technology to new skills and IT infrastructure, while working to strengthen existing processes to support reliability. Major technological innovations are fueling significant change throughout the world, with the manufacturing industry embracing the inter-connectivity of new and emerging technology or ‘Smart Manufacturing’ and ‘Industry 4.0’.

“At Asahi, we’ve been building a strong collaborative partnership between our business’ information technology and operational technology functions to ensure we have the right infrastructure backbone. We’ve also focused on digitising our factories in a structured way to achieve data standardisation and optimisation, which offers real-time analytics. Additionally, the agile learning approach we’ve adopted, focusing on process improvement and deliberate experimentation, coupled with embedding a problem-solving mindset amongst our employee base, have also been key contributors to our success.”