Customer Success

How Georgia Pacific gains data-driven visibility and process efficiency with Flexport

By the Numbers

60

Users globally across Production, Sales, Customer Service, and Logistics

45K

Emails reducted per year (about 6 per shipment)

100%

On-time customs filing

A paper-products leader powers digital transformation and customer experience

Overview

GP Cellulose, Georgia-Pacific’s packaging and cellulose business, produces paper pulp materials for a wide range of products such as baby diapers, feminine hygiene products and medical gauze, among others. GP Cellulose operates four world-class wood pulp mills in the southeastern United States and serves customers in more than 75 countries globally. Georgia Pacific is the number two exporter in North America, with GP Cellulose accounting for approximately 80% of its export shipments.

GP Cellulose’s logistics, production, and customer service teams struggled with disparate systems for managing international shipments. An overwhelming volume of emails and spreadsheets hampered productivity and afforded little visibility to mitigate errors and improve supply chain performance. At the same time, GP Cellulose needed clear, actionable data to better optimize performance internally and with its ocean transportation partners.

GP Cellulose partnered closely with Flexport to help drive its digital transformation initiatives, re-examining its existing processes and designing a solution for its stakeholders with Flexport’s technology platform. This created new visibility and efficiency across the supply chain, empowering 60 logistics analysts, customer service representatives (CSRs), and production leads at GP’s mills. With Flexport, GP Cellulose is realizing its vision of being the supplier of choice to its customers by communicating more easily, improving data accuracy, and accelerating the shipping process to 1,000+ unique delivery locations globally.

"Flexport has spent a lot of time understanding our current processes and helping design better processes for the future. They have a platform that allows us to stay completely up to speed on the status of our orders. Flexport has brought a different view of how to solve our international shipments and revolutionized the way we automate our communications."

Carter Nolan
Supply Chain Director

Choosing a New Way Forward

As leader of Georgia-Pacific’s Packaging and Cellulose Digital Core project (PCDC), Carter Nolan is seeking to standardize technology systems and processes for the division’s supply chain. “GP Cellulose is going through a digital transformation,” says Nolan. “Our vision is to identify and eliminate as many manual and low-value tasks as possible, so our people can focus on higher value work that improves the customer experience.”

One critical focus area for Nolan and the PCDC team is bringing together stakeholders across business units via one common process and technology system, with a new ERP at the core and edge applications that create greater visibility and efficiency with third-party vendors, such as freight forwarders, ocean carriers, and external warehouses, along with trade compliance.

Nolan and GP Cellulose were immediately drawn to Flexport’s digital-first approach. Nolan recalls: “One of the primary reasons Georgia-Pacific chose Flexport as a partner was that we needed to challenge our current processes. We have traditionally partnered with freight forwarders that were not as technologically advanced. With Flexport, we saw a way of making the international shipping experience a lot more seamless.”

By partnering with Flexport, GP Cellulose has been able to bring together its multiple mill locations across the southeastern United States, CSR locations around the world, and its logistics teams at its Atlanta headquarters — empowering everyone with a single source of truth to manage its international shipments.

From lost details to profound efficiency

GP Cellulose and Flexport’s digital transformation journey began with deep due diligence across GP’s global supply chain, from its production facilities in the U.S. to its sales and customer service locations in Hong Kong, Switzerland and Uruguay. Working with day-to-day stakeholders throughout the division, Flexport sought to understand GP’s current processes and how Flexport could connect systems, alleviate bottlenecks, and unlock growth.

“Flexport has been very proactive. Traditionally, our freight forwarders only took instructions from Georgia-Pacific,” says Nolan. “We were the main people driving the change management and improvement opportunities. Flexport has flipped the script on us.”

GP Cellulose and Flexport surface opportunities to improve visibility, efficiency, and accuracy in communications with external stakeholders. Prior to Flexport, communication was driven through thousands upon thousands of emails and spreadsheets, leaving GP Cellulose open to errors and making it difficult for logistics, CSRs, and production teams to track shipment status and keep freight moving seamlessly. With Flexport, GP Cellulose was able to consolidate that communication into the Flexport platform. As a result, GP Cellulose has reduced the number of emails it sends per ship by 6 – eliminating about 45,000 emails each year!

“Our traditional freight forwarders’ technology was not really helping. Minute details were just lost in emails with different subjects,” says Adriana Miranda, a member of Nolan’s PCDC team and formerly a GP international customer service manager. “[With Flexport’s platform], we can just look at an order number and then find the whole history of that order. All the documentation, everything in that platform. It’s helped us be more efficient.”

Georgia-Pacific international logistics analyst Robert Morrison adds, “A huge benefit of the Flexport platform is being able to break up communication silos. We’re able to communicate with our mills, Flexport, as well as our CSRs, all within the platform. We have all of the necessary [shipping] documents and can move through the process quicker.”

Enabling customer service and customs accuracy

Flexport has also made tracking exceptions and managing customer expectations far easier for GP Cellulose. Carter Nolan states, “We love the idea of the single source of truth on the platform, where the history of a transaction can be tracked from the very beginning. And it’s very easy for a user to track and trace what has changed on a shipment. That is a powerful concept.” As Jim Davis, the supply chain leader at GP’s Alabama River Cellulose facility, puts it: “It gives a story behind that order number in our system.”

At the same time, the Flexport platform has empowered GP’s customer service teams with the means to improve their productivity, as well as accelerate shipments. The Flexport platform communicates clear tasks in the process and provides real-time access to critical documents for those tasks, such as customs clearance. This new-found visibility and accessibility has helped GP Cellulose and Flexport to achieve 100% on-time customs filings.

Adriana Miranda shares, “Any delay in documentation delays [a customer’s shipping] process, and it usually costs them money. After we started using Flexport and working with the Flexport team, we noticed an improvement in the number of days it took us to give the customers their documentation.”

“Our customer service representatives spend less time looking for information,” adds Miranda. “The platform shows them what they have to be working on. They don’t have to go and search for it, it’s right there. The CSRs are very happy with the platform. They love it.”

Driving performance with data

Another way Flexport has supported the transformation of GP Cellulose is through Flexport’s Squads – its dedicated teams of operations and data experts. “They’re energetic, quick learners, and really open the door for our technology-based solution,” says Mae Yao, International Logistics, Senior Analyst. “[Our Squad] is using the data to manage the process. They provide visibility to all the parties involved to understand how their actions could impact the supply chain. They provide a great vision of what is possible.”

One critical area where Flexport’s Squads have enabled data-driven decision making is evaluating the performance of GP’s ocean carriers relative to their documentation, their timeliness of booking responses, and other key factors GP uses to assess their transportation partners. The data Flexport provides offers objective validation and empowers the logistics team to have richer, more informed conversations.

Logistics analyst Robert Morrison believes, “Working with Flexport has made us a better partner to our [ocean carriers]. When we approach our carriers, we’re able to bring them data behind the qualitative statements that we make. If we want to give them praise, we have the data to back that. And also, if we are having issues, we can speak to those issues using the data.”

Improving customer experience to be the supplier of choice

Central to the GP Cellulose digital transformation is enhancing the customer experience, delivering greater value to GP’s customers and helping to differentiate the GP Cellulose brand in a commodity-based industry. GP Cellulose is seeking to improve their customers’ ability to access data, receive a customer service response quickly, and resolve issues as soon as possible.

“Our main goal at GP Cellulose is to be the supplier of choice for our customers,” says supply chain lead Jim Davis. “One of the biggest benefits of Flexport is the ability [for us and our customers] to look in the platform and actually see the life of an order, from our production facility through transit to destination. We get the metrics we need to identify areas of improvement and always move closer to always being that supplier of choice.”

With Flexport, Carter Nolan looks forward to even greater improvements for GP Cellulose and its customers. “We are trying to revolutionize the customer experience. One of our visions at Georgia-Pacific is one-touch orders; Flexport is a perfect partner to help us achieve that. We are going to become more efficient. We’re going to find other ideas of growth and other areas of opportunity to streamline processes. We’re excited for what the future holds with Flexport. We’ve got a magical partnership.”

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