For the fourth time, The Silicon Review recognized Canon Business Process Services (Canon) as one of the 50 Smartest Companies of the Year. Canon continues to help clients succeed by enabling business agility, digital transformation and advancing their workplace experience. Canon solves these challenges by leveraging its skilled team backed by Six Sigma expertise and best-in-class technology. Another key to Canon’s approach has been the company’s flexibility in leveraging its people, process, technology and data resources to enable clients to improve their business operations in ways that are sustainable over the long term. One capability that makes Canon different is that it can tailor how it deploys these resources according to client needs: onsite at the client’s location as well as offsite and/or offshore at Canon Business Processing Centers.

A Reliable Business Partner

Canon knows that in a challenging business environment companies need a reliable business partner with proven experience. Industry recognition for its long-standing expertise is a Canon hallmark. The company was recently named to the Leader category of the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals’ (IAOP®) 2024 Global Outsourcing 100® list. The list defines the standard of excellence in outsourcing service delivery. This is the 18th straight year in which Canon has been named a Leader in The Global Outsourcing 100. Over the years Canon also earned additional IAOP Global Outsourcing 100 recognition by receiving top honors in distinguished IAOP judging categories, including “Programs for Innovation.” This category is particularly significant because it recognizes a company’s ability to implement specific programs and resulting outcomes that produce new forms of value for customers.

Dedicated to Delivering Results

According to Canon Business Process Services President Mark Walker, “Canon’s mission goes beyond helping clients maintain operations in tough business environments. It includes enabling them to automate, optimize and transform their businesses so that as opportunities for growth continue to open up, they are ready.”

Mr. Walker notes that Canon has a talented team of employees dedicated to delivering results for its clients. “There is a growing need for business transformation services as companies strive to become more agile and improve operations,” he adds. “For these reasons we continue to expand our business. This includes a special focus on innovation in key areas spanning digital transformation, workplace experience services, digital mail, and warehouse management solutions. Helping our clients optimize these and other strategic initiatives will enable them to maintain a competitive edge and be better prepared for the future.”

Canon Logistics and Warehousing Services

One service that has been recognized by IAOP in its Programs for Innovation category is Canon’s logistics and warehousing offering. As Mark Walker points out, “In today's competitive business landscape, focusing on their core business is crucial for all companies – particularly manufacturers – that look to grow competitively and drive innovation. Outsourcing logistics operations to a reliable partner can free up resources, boost efficiency and yield significant advantages.”

Case in point: When manufacturers focus on their core competencies and outsource the rest, they typically free up internal resources, lower operational costs, reduce labor expenses and have more time to focus on what they do best: manufacture products. Outsourcing also helps manufacturers access specialized skills they may not possess in-house, reach a wider pool of talent and leverage cutting-edge technologies.

Logistics and warehousing is a key function that, often with minimal or no interruption, can be delegated to a capable third party. The manufacturer that’s focused on production or the industrial distributor that’s dealing with high employee turnover rates can both benefit from aligning with an organization like Canon that can take on some or all of those responsibilities.

Ensuring a Smooth Handoff

Despite the potential benefits, however, there are reasons why some manufacturers don’t outsource non-core functions. Most of the apprehensions relate to the loss of control, the potential for communication challenges, hidden costs, cultural barriers and the inability to find the right partner. Other factors include the assumption that the handoff will be difficult or they’re concerned with the potential disruption to their operations.

According to Mark Walker, the “disruption” issues often stem from manufacturers incorrectly assuming that outsourcing will create major interruptions in their workflows and processes. Even companies that understand the value of outsourcing logistics, and are eager to get that non-core activity off of their plates, don’t always understand just how relatively straightforward the offloading process can be.

Six Key Steps to Ease Concerns

Canon takes six key steps to help ease the concerns of companies that are outsourcing logistics for the first time or that might have had a negative experience with a different provider in the past. These steps include:

  • Bringing in additional resources at no charge to the client to ensure a successful implementation. Canon’s years of experience enable the company to ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption to a client’s operation while starting the client on a path to continuous improvement.
  • Talking to companies about their goals to ensure good alignment with those objectives. During the months before implementation—even before Canon assumes management of any processes—the Canon team completes comprehensive groundwork and assessments. As Mark Walker points out, “When clients understand these and other factors connected with our tailored approach, they often feel more assured that the transition will be smoother than they might have thought.”
  • Taking a tactical approach to the rollout. A manufacturer’s first engagement with outsourced logistics and warehousing will not be Canon’s first rodeo. Over time, Canon has honed its rollout approach in a way that suits the needs of its diverse client base. It has also developed best practices that are applied to all future rollouts, thus reducing the risk associated with the process. Canon takes a tactical approach to these and other steps, along the way utilizing the company’s broad resources and capabilities to hit target start dates. There are many elements that go into a successful rollout, and the Canon team continuously strives to cover all of the bases for its clients.
  • Continuing to support clients post-implementation. “Outsourcing to Canon is not like turning an operation over to a third-party logistics provider and then hoping for the best,” adds Mark Walker. “After the transition, our solutions team will be back.” Canon’s Six Sigma and continuous improvement experts will also deploy all the staff needed (and more) to ensure that the job gets done right. “When companies hear these words they feel much more confident that the disruption and any related risk will be minimal, if there even is any,” says Walker.
  • Streamlining the transition process. Through hundreds of transitions and startups, Canon has developed the documents, systems, project plans and experience to quickly and seamlessly facilitate the steps required for a smooth outsourcing process. And, its teams can implement warehouse management best practices and provide clients with customized statements of work (SOWs), which eases their minds even further.
  • Addressing culture concerns. Outside partners do their best work when they integrate with their clients’ culture—that very important social “connector” that binds employees together and shapes their interactions with one another, stakeholders and customers. Canon is well aware of this and works to ensure good alignment with its clients’ cultures, knowing that any potential “culture clashes” could inhibit the success of even the best laid-out plans.

Enabling Manufacturers to Maintain Control

In addition to delivering these benefits, Canon offers an innovative approach – onsite materials management -- that allows manufacturers to boost plant productivity while maintaining control. When trying to find the right support resources to drive plant productivity and cost-effectiveness, historically manufacturers had two options.

One is to manage their operation in-house with staffing agencies. With this option, every decision is the manufacturer’s to make. Though this option supports seamless alignment with the company’s business objectives, it’s expensive and difficult to scale when the market changes.

The second alternative is to turn to a third-party logistics provider (3PL). This strategy gives the manufacturer more affordable access to comprehensive logistics solutions. The tradeoff, however, is the probability of losing some decision-making power and flexibility.

Now there is a sweet spot between these two all-or-nothing options: Canon’s tailored, innovative onsite materials management in which the manufacturer maintains the control. This option is designed to strike the perfect balance between the manufacturer and its onsite materials management service provider. The manufacturer gets the best of both worlds. This includes an expert managed service and labor provider that works onsite at the manufacturer’s location, contributing resources and expertise to the existing operation as needed — and only as needed.

This means that the manufacturer can maintain complete control. Canon receives, inventories, manages and distributes goods to the manufacturing floor so that the company can focus on producing its products more efficiently. Canon then takes on the critical role of preparing and shipping the completed goods.

Who is Benefitting from this Approach?

Here is one example of a company benefitting from this approach. After teaming with Canon, a global manufacturer combined Canon’s integrated warehouse management with its existing ERP system. The company then deployed a system of “mini supermarkets” that enable workers to access materials closer to where they’re needed. The move increased picking efficiency and lead times to production. In addition, by implementing a dedicated cycle counting team and inventory management program, the manufacturer achieved 99.8% inventory accuracy and cost avoidance of approximately $1 million annually.

A start-up biotech company provides another example. Partnering with Canon, the company was able to stand up a new warehouse to support its manufacturing operation and ship high-tech equipment within a matter of months. It used integrated warehouse management for site design, process mapping, scaling, management oversight and KPI development — ultimately ensuring production and shipping continuity throughout its rapid growth.

“The demand for manufacturers to advance their plant operations isn’t going to slow down,” notes Mark Walker. “Eventually, your warehouse will need to pivot. Canon can help your operation be ready with a customized, integrated warehouse management solution. Our goal is to enable manufacturers to make the shift and move forward on a path of continuous improvement.”

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