How MaxiaNET Improved Product Freshness and Quality Using Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility

maxiaNET’s “freshness fanatic” client, a southern California brewery, tasked the company with re- launching the brand in Mexico after previous partners were not able to preserve the high standards of freshness that the industry icon represents.

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maxiaNET is an international brand development and distribution company based in the United States that helps businesses create new revenue in foreign markets. It collaborates with 80+ partners across 25+ markets. maxiaNET helps brand owners, distribution partners, logistics providers, communications consultants, and retail partners to understand and invest in their core competencies, allowing us to bind them together in an efficient and competitive product delivery chain. maxiaNET offers fifth-party logistics (5PL) services across the Americas for market-leading consumer packaged goods. maxiaNET purchases and re-distributes products, managing all aspects of strategy, marketing, finance, logistics, compliance, distribution, pricing, budgeting, reporting, and risk mitigation.

Initial challenge

maxiaNET’s “freshness fanatic” client, a southern California brewery, tasked the company with re- launching the brand in Mexico after previous partners were not able to preserve the high standards of freshness that the industry icon represents. So, maxiaNET proactively sought out an innovative technology partner to honor its client’s requirement of 100 percent temperature control from production to consumer. The beer kegs were shipped over 1,800 miles of desert and scorching weather—a real challenge for ice-cold beer. Expanding brewery’s brand presence and commercial reach into a Mexican market not known for keeping beer cold required a data-driven approach. maxiaNET understood that if its client could not deliver high-quality, cold beer efficiently across the entire Mexican market, it would not be able to serve that part of the world.

Recommended solution

After considerable research and vetting, maxiaNET decided to partner with Controlant to implement needed real-time technology for its customer. The initial solution included  20 reusable data loggers, tracking up to 10 lanes. However, the loggers were only part of the solution; maxiaNET also gained access to Controlant’s cloud-based software and 24/7 partnership services.

Being more than just another technology provider, Controlant offered maxiaNET additional support and consultation throughout the pilot and lane validation process, including: 

• Proactive leadership – Controlant educated maxiaNET how to best monitor live shipments and ongoing storage conditions at the end-customers' sites within Controlant's cloud-based platform. Controlant also advised maxiaNET on best practices regarding responses to real- time alerts that suggested quality risks or operational deviations.

• Change management – maxiaNET trained and incentivized its supply chain stakeholders to comply with its forward-thinking operating procedures, including Controlant data logger handling, retrieval, and return.

• Continuous collaboration – Controlant and maxiaNET performed a "hands-on" final review of the shipment data to align qualitative insights from the field and quantitative insights from Controlant's IoT loggers. For one example, the image below illustrates where a supply chain partner accidentally put the product into a freezer for 12+ hours, causing a serious temperature excursion. These types of alerts are only seen when using temperature data loggers on each shipment—not just for lane or packaging validation.

Immediate results

When all the data was compiled from the validation study, maxiaNET received some surprising results. After carefully reviewing the information, the company decided to change shipping providers because maxiaNET saw its original third-party logistics company did not handle the product as required and communicated. End-to-end supply chain transparency using the Controlant system gave maxiaNET more accurate, honest, and timely methods for managing the brewery’s distribution in a high-risk market.

Using Controlant’s real-time visibility system, maxiaNET next revamped its sales and service model to have incentives for wholesale representatives, retail service auditors, and restaurant servers. From the ongoing data collected and analyzed within Controlant’s system, maxiaNET was able to verify the following:

• The beer kegs were stored and distributed within the appropriate temperature range.

• The product arrived where and when it was meant to be, and it was in the ideal condition.

• The sales representatives were taking a hands-on approach to delivering a high level of service by accurately communicating product condition.

maxiaNET also decided to utilize real-time monitoring technology in the long-term, having seen its value during 

the initial pilot. The cold, hard facts from the pilot study demonstrated that relying on real-time visibility to see the factors that impact quality and safety was the only way to ensure product control throughout the distribution process. The pilot with Controlant illustrated that solely depending on supply chain partners’ reporting after the fact did not allow maxiaNET to be proactive and quickly resolve quality and service challenges. In short, Controlant is maxiaNET’s trust—but verify—solution.

Still reaping the benefits

Because maxiaNET decided to maintain its relationship with Controlant, the company is seeing perpetual improvements 

to this day. The insights gained from the continued use of the Controlant system showed maxiaNET where to make the best distribution modifications that would have the most positive impacts on product quality and service levels.

"Trust is the right word when it comes to picking a technology partner. A brand owner's ability to protect the integrity of the brand is measured by the consistency of the consumer experience with that brand. The biggest threat to product uniformity is the last mile. That is where we stay vigilant and invest our resources. It's a good thing we like beer because we spend a lot of time with our retailers getting to know their operations and sampling the quality of their products.

"We have an inverse 80/20 Pareto rule; we put 80% of resources into the bottom 20% of volume. The reason is that the bottom 20% of our portfolio attracts larger partners. In our business, a strong referral account provides more long-term value than any single cash flow account because it has a multiplier effect on our pipeline. Growth is easiest when we have happy partners that speak for us in the market. One of my favorite interview questions is, 'How do you get a new business partner to trust you in the first meeting?' The answer: overshare. I apply that to our supply and distribution chains. How can we best overshare information with our supply chain? The answer: Controlant."

• Data-driven decisions – The gathered insights allowed maxiaNET to make significant logistical and personnel enhancements for future shipments. It changed or modified lanes, packaging types, temperature specifications, operational procedures, distribution and sales representatives, and communication protocols.

• Better planning – Big and reliable are not always the best options in logistics. Desire and flexibility determine which partners will meet its client’s high standard for control, communication, and timeliness. maxiaNET selected a new trucking company with more flexible handling capabilities and services.

• Save time – Real-time monitoring revealed excessive

back-and-forth between distribution partners. maxiaNET established better lanes and processes to minimize the need for continuous coordination and transfers.

• Better use of resources and funds – A more narrow sales structure proved to be a more straightforward and cost-effective plan, as it offered a path to critical mass in less time.

• Long-term consistency – Introducing tailored incentives for customer and consumer-facing staff improved work performance and increased enthusiasm for the brand.

More efficient and consistent markets – Retail sites, as opposed to restaurants, offered a more manageable path for the beer brand’s success because retail management displayed a greater appreciation for incremental improvements in the supply chain and attention to detail. The brand integrity translated into more value within this channel.