Tightly Executed Tech Transfer Prevents Supply-Chain Disruption for Global Confectioner

PROJECT BACKGROUND

A recognized world leader in the confectionary field made the difficult decision to outsource its gum base production. Gum base is an essential ingredient in chewing gum, binding all ingredients together to create the “chewy” texture. The company produced approximately 60 different kinds of gum bases for products sold in more than 180 countries worldwide. It was imperative that the transfer of gum base production not disrupt the supply chain.

With the home plant’s closure date already set, the firm had three years to identify an external production facility and execute the transfer, but the task proved more difficult than imagined.

  • Because gum bases had always been produced in-house, no one had ever documented the complex processes required to make them.
  • The firm had to determine whether to eliminate, combine, or “tweak” some gum bases prior to transfer.
  • Some production processes had to be reengineered to accommodate the new manufacturing site.
  • The company had to demonstrate an equivalency between products made at the original plant and at the new outsourced facility.


With only four months left until the company plant was to close, 50 gum bases were yet to be transferred. At that time, a key internal project leader moved to another department. Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. (IPM) was retained to lead the project to completion.

IPM’S SOLUTION

Team-building: employees were not receptive to an outside project manager. To enlist participation and earn trust, IPM formed a cross-functional team including R&D and global manufacturing organizations. IPM facilitated regular meetings, at which all team members had the opportunity to share information, raise issues and solve problems together. These meetings, along with follow-up documentation, ensured that everyone was kept abreast of project status, ongoing discussions, and critical project issues.

Because team members were spread across the globe, IPM acted as a primary point of contact and impartial source of information for all parties. This not only kept everyone “calibrated,” but prevented misunderstandings that easily could have occurred otherwise.

Process: Starting with the existing plan document, the IPM project manager created detailed project plans for each gum base. Key activity clusters included:

  • Equipment and documentation transfers
  • Production method transfers and validation
  • Process improvement and associated small and large-scale demonstration
  • Quality assurance documentation and batch release
  • Final site approval and start of production.


To ensure the project stayed on track, the team created—and followed—risk mitigation plans.

PROJECT RESULTS

The company transferred all 60 gum bases on time, ensuring an uninterrupted supply of product to global markets.