Planning for the Next Five Years

December 1, 2017

Wood packaging in general, and pallets in particular, play a critical role in the supply chain. To ensure that they continue to play an important role in the future we need to plan ahead.

In my experience, December is often defined as the Planning Month, days set aside for reviewing this year’s performance and sitting down with staff to work on next year’s budget in terms of revenue and expense expectations.

If we look back on the past year and consider some of the trends that we are dealing with it can help us focus where we need to invest our time and resources in the years to come.

  • The low Canadian dollar is a dual edged sword; it helps drive business growth especially in our export oriented customer base but it also drives lumber product exports, increasing competition of raw materials
  • Timber markets –all of the indicators are pointing towards timber availability, timber quality and cost remaining a serious challenge
  • Raw material shortages – better management of procurement risk
  • ISPM-15 enforcement will continue to tighten with our trading partners. We need the knowledge to properly advise of our export customers,
  • Circular Economy and Extended Producer responsibility(EPR) legislation in our major markets will force us to document our recycling efforts 
  • Labour availability will continue to be tight while costs are escalating
  • Supply chain costs are under pressure - inbound and outbound logistics costs need to be better managed
  • Increased automation in manufacturing supports strong gains in demand for pallet manufacturing equipment
  • Softwood lumber dispute and the impact of duties

Part of the planning exercise is to look at what the business will look like over a five year horizon so that we can incorporate these ideas into our planning for following years. One component of that process is to consider whether we have the right people in place with the right skill sets to deliver the results we are looking for.

If we ask ourselves: what skills do you think will be the most critical in our business over the next five years? It might look something like this list below:

  1. Safety systems implementation
  2. The ability to maintain processing speeds, proper maintenance, change-over efficiency and operational uptime.
  3. Systems integration for new business or equipment operation software
  4. Global business knowledge on ISPM-15 regulations
  5. Supply chain management-managing inbound and outbound logistics
  6. Process improvement – Lean Manufacturing
  7. Material Sourcing and Demand Planning
  8. Sustainability reporting in support of client Corporate Social Responsibility objectives
  9. Sales and Marketing to drive business growth

A second step in the planning process is to look over the Profit & Loss statement to identify areas where the business is struggling and not meeting your internal Key Performance Indicators, such as labor rates, plant costs, on‐time delivery, safety, quality issues, and meeting sales growth targets.

Once you have gone through that analysis I found it a wise course of action to figure out just how the business should go about acquiring the skills you’ll need to take action in your planning process to prepare your supply chain for some the trends that will continue to present challenges to our industry. Actions would include:

  1. Investment for new processing technologies
  2. Retraining the workforce
  3. Recruiting for different skill sets to align for the future
  4. Partnering with vendors to better understand applications and business benefits
  5. Trialing new technologies

We follow a similar planning process at the association capably organized by our Office Manager, Lori Devlin, with support from the rest of the head office staff, Stephanie, Scott and Brian as well as the Board of Directors.

PO Box 280 ,Carleton Place, ON, K7C 3P4
T. 613.521.6468 or 1.877.224.3555 F. 866.375.1835
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