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Unilever Outbound and Inbound Logistics

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Lovedelia
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Case Study udy Case Study

How Unilever uses
Logistical Expense Data to Drive Continuous Process Improvement
Unilever, a global marketing leader that employs 13,000 across North America, is known for its iconic brands including Dove personal care products, Lipton, Popsicle, Skippy,
Slim-Fast and Vaseline. Unilever partners with Cass to provide freight bill processing and payment services, as well as related business intelligence.

Improved Process. Real Results.

Unilever Profile
Look inside the average household’s cabinets, and you’ll surely find Unilever brands. Each day, around the world, more than two billion consumers use Unilever products. Unilever works to create a better future every day by helping people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others.
In the United States, Canada and the Greater Caribbean (Trinidad & Tobago, Dominican
Republic, Puerto Rico) the portfolio includes brand icons such as: Axe, Becel, Ben & Jerry’s,
Bertolli, Blue Band, Breyers, Caress, Country Crock, Degree, Dove personal care products,
Hellmann’s, Klondike, Knorr, Lipton, Omo, Popsicle, Promise, Q-Tips, Skippy, Slim-Fast,
Suave, Sunsilk and Vaseline. All of the preceding brand names are registered Unilever trademarks. Unilever employs nearly 13,000 people across North America – generating nearly $10 billion in sales in 2009.
Since its founding more than a century ago, Unilever continues to evolve. While many of its iconic brands have endured for decades, Unilever thrives through strategic acquisitions, divestitures and continuous improvement initiatives. In 2000, Unilever acquired Bestfoods.
Other acquisitions include Slim-Fast, Ben & Jerry’s and the Amora-Maille culinary business in France. Through divestiture and brand consolidation, Unilever cut its brands from 1,600 to 400 by 2001. DiverseyLever, Elizabeth Arden and Unipath were sold. In 2009, Unilever announced its offer to acquire the personal care business of the Sara Lee Corporation in

For more than twenty years,
Unilever has partnered with
Cass to minimize expenses and improve overall efficiencies. Today, Unilever is not just a global marketing leader, but a global leader in corporate citizenship as well. Unilever has committed to sourcing raw materials such as palm oil and tea from sustainable, ethical sources. In 2009, for the 11th year running, Unilever was named foods sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes – the only company ever to achieve such an accolade.

The Unilever-Cass Partnership
Unilever relies on Cass Information Systems as a provider of outsourced logistics expense management services including audit and payment, accounting (with accruals) and related business intelligence services. Additionally, Cass manages inquiries from Unilever’s suppliers related to invoice and payment status. Cass is able to customize its systems and processes to meet Unilever’s very specific business requirements in this area.
The Unilever-Cass partnership is characterized by:
(1) Delivery of best practices
(2) The value of the data
(3) The scalability of Cass’ operations

Best Practices
Crucial to the success of Unilever’s global growth strategy is its ability to effectively integrate newly acquired businesses into its operations. For more than 20 years, Unilever has partnered with Cass to minimize expenses and improve overall efficiencies as well as help the organization execute its integration of new businesses. Over the years, Cass

has worked with Unilever during several major integrations, such as re-engineering business processes to combine its Household & Personal Care division – Unilever HPC
North America – with its Food Division. Cass also was instrumental in supporting the integration of Unilever’s North American ice cream business.
“Each time we go through an integration, we evaluate each unit’s processes, systems and tools and select best practices to unify operations. Our goal is to produce the best business results through consistent standards of operation,” commented Wendy Herrick, director of logistics NA. The systems that Cass has delivered for logistics expense management have been tested through four such post-integration evaluations, consistently emerging as the best-practice leader, producing the best business results for Unilever.
In logistics expense management, Unilever’s best practices include use of:

Electronic invoicing – Cass processes invoices from Unilever’s transport providers and other logistic service providers. While Cass processes both paper and electronic invoices for Unilever, the majority of invoices are received via electronic data interchange (EDI). Cass works proactively with Unilever’s service providers to continue the progress toward eliminating paper in favor of electronic formats.

The systems that Cass has delivered have been tested, with
Cass consistently emerging as the best-practice leader.

MatchPay system – Cass has implemented its MatchPay system to process invoices for Unilever’s outbound as well as inbound shipments. “MatchPay” refers to a process in which the invoice gets matched against other authoritative source records for verification.
For outbound shipments, Cass receives shipment records on a daily basis from
Unilever’s SAP system. A unique bill of lading number is assigned to each shipment record by SAP. Cass processes these records utilizing Ratemaker®, the Cass rating engine, to first generate a “pre-rating” so that Cass is in a position to provide
Unilever’s accounting group with accruals. Later, when invoices arrive, Cass authenticates and audits the invoice against these records. A similar process exists for Unilever’s inbound shipments: on a daily basis, Cass receives Unilever’s records


for inbound shipments from its Lean Logistics Transportation Management System
(TMS). A unique shipment record is assigned by the TMS system. When the Unilever service provider presents an invoice, Cass can match the invoice data against these authoritative records to systematically audit and process the invoices.

Reliable business intelligence – Data integrity is the key to every project involving logistical cost analysis. While many businesses aren’t able to retrieve reliable “paid data” from their own systems, Unilever is able to rely upon data from the Cass system for its logistical costs. Cass maintains a data warehouse of all Unilever’s logistical expenses – for all modes. CassPort® is the Web portal that provides access to the data, along with reporting and analytical tools. In an average month, more than 350 Unilever employees log into the site, making thousands of visits to access their data and reports. Unilever uses many of the standard reports available as well as customized reports it develops using its own nomenclature. For example, its inbound shipments are categorized as:
• Vendor to Co-Packer
• Vendor to Plant
• Vendor to Vendor
• Co-packer to Plant
• Plant to Plant

The most obvious business result is tighter cost controls that lead to reduced expenses. How Unilever Derives Value from its Expense Data Assets
For all Cass outsourced expense management relationships, the most obvious business result is tighter cost controls that lead to reduced expenses. A less obvious factor in the value proposition is the value of the data assets. In other words, Cass automates most aspects of invoice management, and through the entire process, large amounts of expense data are collected, managed and developed into business intelligence. Unilever makes valuable use of the data for continuous process improvement. Specific uses of the data include (1) general analysis, modeling and planning, (2) further expense reduction projects and (3) logistical supplier performance evaluation.

Continuous Improvement Project that Achieved Savings!
CassPort® furnishes vast amounts of information that can be analyzed at a summary level as well as at very granular levels of detail. Unilever’s transportation operations team recently decided to analyze their transportation costs by “drilling down” into

Unilever logistics staff log onto CassPort regularly to retrieve expense data, carrier performance data, and more.


accessorial charges. “The data from Cass empowered them,” Randall Ledet, group transportation manager, said. After reviewing the data, the team set a goal of saving a targeted percentage of total accessorial spend. They questioned charges and challenged themselves to identify further savings opportunities: “Where can we reduce unloading charges?” “How can we save on detention?” Overall, they used the data to create further process efficiencies and managed to hit their goal. Without visibility of these detailed charges, such continuous process improvement would not have been possible.

Accurate Data Facilitates Better Business Decisions
In 2008, Unilever reconfigured the dry portion of its warehousing network, which triggered the need to obtain new rates from its logistical service providers. Many businesses don’t trust the paid data; they rely on estimated rates. Unilever has relied on the accuracy of the actual paid amounts coming from Cass. This, in turn, allows the company to make the correct concrete business decisions when implementing and monitoring key projects.

Cass Supplies Reliable Data to Track Supplier Performance
Unilever works closely with its logistical service providers and shares substantial information to drive better business performance. Unilever’s Transportation Business
Center (TBC) portal is accessed by Unilever transport service providers to view Key
Performance Indicators (KPIs) developed to track the metrics meaningful to Unilever.
“We recently created one monthly scorecard for all service providers within TBC so the provider can see its metrics relative to everyone else’s. Cass plays a critical role by providing accurate cost data, which is a key element of the supplier scorecards. Good, accurate score carding is an important tool in driving continuous improvement.”

Cass plays an important role in keeping
Unilever out of the dayto-day role of managing routine supplier invoice inquiries. Unilever’s service providers access CassPort® to gain information about the status of their invoices as well as to download reports. CassPort® offers several customized reports so that a service provider can monitor invoice status and view payments it receives from Cass. Payment data can be sorted so that the service providers can access data just related to Unilever shipments as well as total payments made by Cass for all shippers (Unilever as well as the provider’s other clients served by Cass).
In addition to CassPort®, Unilever’s service providers receive support via a Cass-operated call center; however, the vast majority of inquiries are managed online. Cass plays an important role in keeping Unilever out of the day-to-day role of managing routine supplier communications, so Unilever staff can address more strategic relationship issues. Service, Cost and Scalability – A Key to Unilever’s
Selection of Cass
Unilever strives to move goods at the lowest possible cost, which keeps the logistics professionals involved in continuous optimization efforts. Unilever is at the forefront of the industry, creating best practices that many other sophisticated organizations have yet to attain. To do so, Unilever partners with Cass and other best-in-class software and


service providers. In selecting these partners, the emphasis is on service, cost and scalability. After all, Unilever is always planning ahead for growth, and its partners must be able to support the business.
Cass has the ability to successfully manage the top three criteria required by Unilever.
Cass has been a long-time partner of Unilever and continues to bring together the people, processes and automation that help the company eliminate redundant processes to manage logistical expenses. Unilever is a model client for Cass – an organization that understands the value of business intelligence, embraces best practices in expense management and strives for continuous improvement overall.

Visit for additional case studies and white papers.

Cass Information Systems (Nasdaq: CASS) is North America’s largest and leading provider of freight audit, payment and business intelligence services. Clients include Ford Motor Company, Emerson, The Hershey Company and Restoration
Hardware. In 2013, Cass paid more than $23 billion to logistical providers on behalf of its clients.
US: 314-506-5500
Europe: 011 31 6310 10480
©2014 Cass Information Systems, Inc.

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