How DACHSER helps deliver Ricola’s cough drops around the world

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Logistics specialist DACHSER has been helping Swiss herb candy manufacturer Ricola find its feet in the global markets. 

In recent years, Ricola has seen strong growth, mainly due to increased exports and the group’s net turnover reached almost CHF 340 million in 2018. For over ten years now, the international logistics specialist, DACHSER, has been ensuring that deliveries to overseas customers always run smoothly. “In 2008, we were on the lookout for an experienced, reliable partner that would help us access markets where ideally it already had a presence itself, and that would give us maximum control over processes based on its network and IT capabilities,” explains Jochen Layer, vice president corporate fulfillment at Ricola. “We felt like we were in good hands from the word go with DACHSER, and that our needs were fully understood. That goes not only for our direct contacts in Switzerland but also for our contacts in the DACHSER branches in the Americas and the Far East, where a large proportion of our exports are delivered.” In the ten years that have passed since initiating the partnership, the ever expanding collaboration with the logistics provider has gone from strength to strength.”

The herb center in Laufen near Basel, SwitzerlandThe original Swiss cough drops from Ricola

Ricola, one of the most innovative confectionery manufacturers in the world, grows the herbs for its cough drops in Switzerland and processes them on site. The family run business, founded in 1930, is headquartered in Laufen near Basel and has subsidiaries in Europe, Asia and the USA. It currently produces around 60 types of herbal cough drops and instant tea specialties. The herbal specialties are exported to over 50 countries, mainly to the USA, Germany, France, Italy, Singapore and Hong Kong. Both the traditional and new recipes combine convenience, well-being and enjoyment. Over a hundred Swiss mountain farmers supply herbs to the company.

Layer stresses just how important process reliability is to Ricola: “We need to know that quality standards are maintained in compliance with the relevant standards along the entire supply chain,” explains Layer. It’s in the nature of the product. Layer explains how the cough drops—which Swissmedic, the Swiss authorization and supervisory authority for drugs and medical products, classifies as a simple medicine available without prescription due to their ingredients—need to be handled with special care when making their way from production into the markets. He describes how every step of the supply chain had to meet the International Food Standard (IFS) and also the strict standards imposed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food and OTC (over-the-counter) products in the US and Canada. “Hence our need for a logistics partner who is competent, reliable, and at the top of its game,” Layer says.

As part of a structured, methodical exchange, Dachser and Ricola are regularly looking into new ideas and innovations that could continue to improve the manufacturer’s logistics balance sheet and reduce costs. According to Samuel Haller, “not just by constantly optimizing what already exists, but by looking beyond our own horizons and interdisciplinary thinking to open up new perspectives and develop new potential”.

“We’re always looking at the bigger picture, at optimizing all our processes and continuing to develop the supply chain. Our aim is to have robust and absolutely reliable supply chains that enable maximum transparency along the entire flow of goods. We’re not looking for a revolution here, but an evolution geared to the respective market conditions.”

Taking a holistic view of joint efforts and not merely focusing on quick success fits well with the Ricola culture, which has always combined high quality with a down-to-earth nature and an appreciation of values.  “The basis of all company decisions is the uncompromising standard of quality that Ricola applies across all areas of the company.” Business success is not an end in itself, but should instead serve to take responsibility for the employees, the company, and the environment.

 “There was clearly a special cultural fit between Ricola and DACHSER from day one,” Layer and his counterpart Samuel Haller, country manager for the Air & Sea Logistics business field at DACHSER Switzerland, agreed. “Mutual trust, honesty, and a passion for innovation form the foundations of a long-term and sustainable collaboration; one that may well lead to us discovering new ways and means together further down the line,” Layer emphasizes. Listening to each other and being able to understand the different situations that might arise in order to then develop creative solutions time and again is a real asset to both companies. “Success requires empathy; it can come about only through understanding collaboration.”

DACHSER and Ricola has been increasingly in sync as they expand and continuously strengthen their transparent process and supply chain. In 2012, DACHSER took on the responsibility for supply chain risk management on behalf of Ricola. “This is a massive vote of confidence—and it also places us under a huge obligation,” says Bruno Zwiker, sea freight manager at DACHSER Air & Sea Logistics Switzerland. “Production might be running smoothly at our end, but if the containers carrying our goods get stuck somewhere down the line, production can come to a complete standstill in the target market,” Layer confirms. “It’s then that we need dependable partners who are clued up and can act immediately. This ability to act fast and come up with a solution is what we have found in DACHSER.”

Ricola and DACHSER are currently improving how they access core markets in Asia and North America as well as accelerating their ability to supply to Central and South America, which will now also be supported by a contract logistics hub in Panama.

The necessary efficient underlying IT processes are ensured by the transport management system Othello, which forms the digital backbone of the globally connected logistics services. “We offer our customers full transparency when it comes to transporting our products from Laufen to the United States. We also draw on a choice of carriers for secured transport capacity. This makes it easier for Ricola to regulate its stocks along the entire supply chain and to further minimize storage times between the end of production and distribution. And all from a single source,” Zwiker says. This results in the optimum use of the US as a base and safeguards Ricola’s market position thanks to a well-planned, swift supply.

Layer is pleased with how the collaboration with the logistics provider has shaped up since getting off the ground over ten years ago: “We have already taken advantage of so many business opportunities with DACHSER by our side. With our mutual, holistic understanding of logistics, we’ve continuously improved our processes and added value for our customers.” With an eye to Supply Chain Management 4.0, Ricola is now looking to further intensify its partnership with DACHSER through the increased digitalization and integration of processes. “This long-term collaboration based on partnership and trust would not be possible without our shared values and principles.” They are as integral to the partnership as the blend of 13 herbs is to Ricola.  

(The original piece was published on www.DACHSER.hk and was edited by The STAT Trade Times)

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