Redwood Helps ORBIS Transform Logistics into a Competitive Advantage

ORBIS, a world-class leading manufacturer of reusable plastic and metal packaging products used to sustainably move products in the supply chain, faced tough logistics challenges, like many other manufacturers. Based in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, the company operates 12 plants across the US, Mexico, Canada and Europe that produce reusable packaging products such as containers, pallets, racks and crates. ORBIS ships its packaging globally to automakers, food and beverage manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, retailers and other customers. The company sends about 300 shipments daily, 1500 weekly and more than 80,000 annually.

In 2020, the ORBIS global logistics team decided to embrace technology innovation to help master those challenges. “We knew our logistics processes were not ‘broken,’ but that we could plan and execute better, easier and more efficiently with available technology,” says Mike Heindselman, Senior Director – Global Logistics, at ORBIS. “We spent time investigating new and emerging technologies in the logistics and supply chain space, as well as a best-in-class partner that could get them up and running with minimal internal IT resources and investments. That search led us to Redwood Logistics.”

A team of experts from Redwood implemented MercuryGate transportation management system (TMS), then used the proprietary RedwoodConnect platform to integrate the new TMS with existing systems and data — including an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, carrier and supplier systems, market intelligence platforms, scheduling tools and visibility tracking software. The result is what Heindselman likes to call a “logistics technology ecosystem” that spans every logistics process at ORBIS, while also connecting the team to external partners in real time.

The Power of a Technology-Enabled Ecosystem

“When we were imagining the digital transformation, the initial scope and scale were much narrower than what we have today,” Heindselman notes. “ After developing our new approach, we’re confident that we’re now a leading-edge company in managing logistics, beyond just our industry. For instance, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in some of the solutions we’re integrating is incredible. With Redwood’s help, we’ve basically gone from Model T functionality to Space X.”

By creating this ecosystem that includes advanced technology solutions, real-time data, and AI- and ML-enabled optimization engines, ORBIS makes decisions based on facts, not intuition or guesswork. With a TMS connected to other key systems, ORBIS has end-to-end visibility, minimizing uncertainty and disruptions. Process automation enables the ORBIS logistics team to accomplish more with fewer resources, minimize non value-added work and manual interventions, and elevate employees to more strategic roles.

Heindselman notes that the logistics environment at ORBIS had become too complex to optimize without advanced digital solutions. “Technology improves efficiency, capacity, throughput and planning accuracy,” he points out. “It applies real-time market intelligence to our logistics processes, removes bias, promotes collaboration, and supports speed and agility.”

Becoming a Partner of Choice: A Key Differentiator

For Heindselman, the real value of the Redwood collaboration is that it transformed an undervalued service into a strategic edge for ORBIS, in its work with both customers and suppliers.

“We know modern logistics is complex, but we want to make it easy and seamless for our trading partners,” he says. “We want our customers and suppliers to recognize ORBIS as a preferred partner because we make logistics hassle-free for them. We believe that, if we are viewed as a shipper and receiver of choice, then it can help differentiate ORBIS from our competitors.”

“We don’t think our customers are going to buy our products solely based on our logistics ecosystem, but we do think our commitment to collaboration, innovation and integration represents a real advantage for both customers and suppliers,” Heindselman emphasizes. “We like to think of it as removing the stones from their shoes. We’re making daily logistics processes automated and invisible — something they don’t really have to think about.”

As ORBIS adds new trading partners and technology solutions, they easily become part of its living, breathing ecosystem. Redwood designed the technology architecture to scale and extend as needed to support future growth. That makes the company’s return on investment both short- and long-term in nature.

Recently, the global logistics team at ORBIS won the internal President’s Excellence Award to recognize its dramatic transformation.

“We truly believe that, by partnering with Redwood to create an advanced technology ecosystem, we enhance and improve our customers’ and suppliers’ experience, while increasing efficiencies,” concludes Heindselman. “That’s an outcome that both ORBIS and Redwood can be proud of.”

Redwood was honored to be presented with the ORBIS
Innovation Award for our dedication to providing outstanding value to their business!