Converter Interviews Inform Supply Chain Challenges

To help our employees better understand what converters and plastics executives need in their supply, the Shell Polymers team spent hundreds of hours interviewing converters across the country. These interviews helped us hone in on what converters wished to see from polymer producers, so they can try to overcome their common supply chain challenges. Thanks to these conversations, we’ve identified several areas converters would like to see changes, including:

  • Streamlined supplier/customer communication
  • Greater flexibility to meet changing demands
  • Access to cutting-edge technology and technical expertise
  • Consistent polyethylene supply
  • Transparent logistics processes

Converters told us there’s an opportunity to make issues like delayed deliveries, last-minute orders, or operational hiccups - an unfortunate reality for the industry - more manageable by proactively communicating updates and incidents with them so they can respond accordingly. That’s why at Shell Polymers, we’re leveraging decades of team experience and the latest technology to build a business that emphasizes transparent communication and keeps customers in the know.

Enabling Supply Chain Visibility with Advanced Technology

These are exciting times for converters. With recent advancements, more technologies are becoming available that enhance competitiveness through increased productivity, reduced maintenance and labor costs, greater efficiency, extended equipment life, and more.

Not only does the latest technologies enhance production processes, it also unlocks data that enables suppliers to access previously-untapped operational insights, providing customers with more information on their orders - from development to delivery.

According to Forbes, “Transparency offers a host of benefits, from material flow tracking and schedule synchronization to an improved capability to balance supply and demand. Using these digital supply network innovations, businesses are driving supply chain efficiency and improved customer satisfaction and ultimately spurring increased demand.”1

Shell Polymers is integrating a robust notification system that proactively keeps customers up-to-date on the status of orders. This helps to reduce last-minute surprises and provides visibility into our operations. It’s just one of the ways Shell Polymers leverages technology to increase supply chain transparency.

In the wider Royal Dutch Shell Group, blockchain is being used to improve product tracing and transparency. In 2017, Shell set up a blockchain department that is exploring and building blockchain applications globally throughout the company in areas including exploration and production, mobility, and renewable energies.

Capgemini explains that “the transparent consensus mechanism of blockchain makes it possible to verify the validity of transactions and how information has been modified or created in the process.”

To help its customers from unwittingly buying counterfeit products, Shell Lubricants adopted a blockchain platform that tracks lubricants from production to customer. As the products move between parties, each can confirm they are receiving genuine products, and Shell can track and monitor supplies worldwide more securely and easily.

Adding a Human Element to Enhance Supply Chain Transparency

According to EY, approximately 90% of Gen Z prefer to have a human element to their teams, either working solely with innovative co-workers or with co-workers and new technologies paired together.2 At Shell Polymers, it’s clear that progressive technology can only take you so far. In this business, and in any business, it’s always the people that matter.

That’s why we’re pairing cutting-edge technology with our team of industry experts to help converters prevent operational delays, cut down on costly delays, and analyze data to offer customers a comprehensive view of the supply chain. These teams of passionate polymer professionals will help us forge new kinds of relationships in the polyethylene industry. With organized account management and customer service teams, customers can rely on personal relationships with a polymer manufacturer who cares about their business’s growth.

To prevent business objectives from being derailed by surprise issues, polyethylene suppliers need their customer service teams to foster personal relationships and give customers an inside look at their operations. By hiring team members who are tuned in to every facet of a converter’s business, suppliers can serve customers more reliably.

Amy Pfendler

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Meet A Customer Relationship Team Member

Meet Account Manager, Amy Pfendler. An experienced professional, Amy is committed to uncovering supply chain efficiencies, introducing creative commercial arrangements or streamlining ordering processes to offer a more transparent customer experience.

Building Customer Trust in a Post-COVID World

While building trust with customers has always been a necessity, cultivating trust-based relationships is even more important in the post-COVID world, where uncertainty and misinformation are abundant. In this current landscape, customers want consistency and reliable relationships with business partners who value supply chain transparency and collaboration and are impressed by above-and-beyond support from suppliers. On the other side, broken trust may have far greater consequences, as people and organizations renegotiate their tolerance to risk.

To do this, open collaboration between suppliers and converters, as well as supply chain integration will become increasingly necessary in developing strong partnerships. This involves sharing data, such as the flow of materials to customer demand trends, across the supply chain from the flow of materials to help improve supply chain efficiencies. To make an integrated supply chain a reality, companies will need to be transparent about their business systems to their customers and suppliers. By doing this, they will not only share data with their partners, but also responsibilities - building a strong partnership.

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