The Supply Chain Can’t Stop: A Story from the Front Lines at Ken’s Foods

It was Wednesday, March 11th and Ken’s Foods had a dilemma. They wanted their corporate teams to work from home but at least 60 individuals currently worked on desktop computers in the office, many had no access to personal computers, and a few of them didn’t even have Wi-Fi access in their homes. Solving this and other operational issues like VPN capacity, phone connections and getting the teams up to speed on virtual meeting platforms was only their first hurdle.

The bigger supply chain challenges were yet to come as the COVID-19 pandemic led to more widespread shelter-in-place requirements throughout the U.S and warehouse staffing issues compounded.

Ken’s Foods started out as a restaurant in Framingham, Massachusetts called Ken’s Steakhouse. When their salads and dressings became more famous than their steaks, they transitioned into a food manufacturer that has grown to a $1B+ business. Today, they produce and package over 1,000 varieties of dressings and sauces — including category leader, Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce — across 4 plants near Boston, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Las Vegas.

With no plants overseas, Ken’s Foods was spared the early supply chain ripple effect related to COVID-19 in Asia and Europe. That changed quickly however, as U.S. cities began to feel more of the impact from self-quarantine. The first signs of disruptions came from their Retail Grocery business unit that delivers to the distribution centers of grocery stores and chains. As retail sales spiked dramatically, getting replenishment orders to these distribution centers became quite difficult as receiving capacity was rapidly strained.

Like most companies in the food & beverage sector, Ken’s Foods has seen an increasing number of third-parties involved in the delivery network for their customer orders. So they might not have even been aware of some of the delivery disruptions if it wasn’t for having recently invested in Elementum. The Elementum initiative was spearheaded as a way to manage issues with customer orders more efficiently, collaborate better with their delivery partners, and proactively recognize when shipments were at risk. Deploying Elementum was such a success that they resolved over 200 logistics related incidents in the first month alone at a rate 8–10x faster than before.

Now, as Ken’s Foods faced the prospect of triaging a mounting number of COVID-19 related supply chain issues while their Sales, Operations and Supply Chain teams and delivery partner contacts were working virtually from their homes, an added benefit of Elementum came into play: you could log in from anywhere with just a web browser or your mobile phone because Elementum is a cloud-based platform.

The supply chain team quickly configured Elementum into a virtual “war room” and the single source of truth for Ken’s Foods for all issues related to COVID-19.

“Without Elementum, we probably wouldn’t even be aware of some of these [delivery] issues due to communication gaps caused by everyone suddenly working remotely.”
— Cari Talbot, Sr. Director of Supply Chain at Ken’s Foods

The Ken’s Foods supply chain team uses Elementum and incident data in the platform to run their daily war-room meetings, as well as executive review. Elementum helps drive clear action and accountability during the COVID-19 crisis as Ken’s Foods work with their partner network to triage delivery issues, rush customer orders when needed and make sure their employees working from home have what they need to be safe and successful. Because #SupplyChainCantStop.

“Every day, I pull up my Elementum Dashboard to review the open issues, status, and latest updates, and use that to drive the team.”
— Cari Talbot, Sr. Director of Supply Chain at Ken’s Foods

To Ken’s Foods, and to all the other unsung supply chain heroes out there, a heartfelt THANK YOU for keeping our important food & beverage supply stream running. We are here for you — ready to help. In the spirit of helping, we’re inviting any and all supply chain organizations to use Elementum Essentials at no cost for the rest of this year. Our customer success team stands ready to set up a virtual “war room” for any organization that needs the extra help, just like we did for Ken’s Foods. It takes less than an hour to do so, does not impact your IT team, and we promise to have you up and running within 24 hours.

Nader Mikhail
Founder and CEO | Elementum

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