Learn how Domtar leveraged Cloud Inventory® to eliminate manual processes and achieve total inventory visibility

About Domtar

Domtar is a forest products company based in the U.S. and Canada. Since its founding in 1848, the company has become the largest integrated manufacturer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America and a leading manufacturer of papergrade, fluff, and airlaid nonwoven materials. Domtar sells its pulp (compressed wood fiber) to customers who make paper towels, toilet paper, and other paper-based products.

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The Challenge

Domtar’s pulp business was starting to distribute a lot more inventory than it had been before. However, because the company didn’t have a system in place to track that inventory, it was struggling to scale operations to keep up with demand.

“We had a well-developed manufacturing system, and we had a good system for sales and invoicing, but we did not have an inventory system in between,” Rob Tice, Senior Logistics Coordinator at Domtar, said.

Domtar’s inventory was being held in third-party warehouses that, for security purposes, did not have the Domtar network installed. Instead, each warehouse used its own on-premises inventory software. However, while Domtar was getting the data security it wanted, its disparate systems made it difficult to achieve complete inventory visibility.

Warehouse teams were also completing many inventory processes by hand, which was contributing to Domtar’s lack of reliable data.

“As we were looking at our outside warehouses, we found that there were a lot of manual processes in place—anywhere from simple spreadsheets tracking inventory to hand-writing inventory details to be entered in on shipment manifests,” Tice said.

These manual processes led to a lot of human errors. Systems often lacked up-to-date information regarding what was on hand, meaning Domtar could not always provide its customers with factual inventory information.

To achieve complete inventory visibility, Domtar knew it needed to abandon its on-premises solutions. The company set out to find a system that could track real-time inventory data, be accessed from the cloud, and provide accurate information to all necessary parties.

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The Solution

Domtar wanted a user-friendly product that would allow warehouse teams to do their jobs without too much interference or delays in operations.

“We wanted to make sure they had a fairly seamless way of going about their business while also getting all of the information in and out that we needed,” Tice said.

The Domtar team was also looking for a solution that was customizable and could integrate with any ERP.

“We started talking to different companies about what options we had in terms of trying to get better track of our inventory at our warehouses to avoid some of those issues we were having,” Ken Koury, Manager of IT, Logistics, and ERP Operations at Domtar, said. “Through our analysis, we came up with a unanimous conclusion that Cloud Inventory® [by Nextworld] was the right solution for us.”

Why Domtar Chose Cloud Inventory

One of the main reasons Domtar chose Cloud Inventory was its history and capability with inventory tracking. It could also be implemented with little disruption to Domtar’s warehouse teams and with little overhead.

“We didn’t want the overhead of installing the [internal] Domtar network within our third-party warehouses,” Koury said. “Cloud Inventory was a great solution for us in terms of allowing us to have relatively low overhead at the beginning. We could bring up warehouses much quicker than we had in the past.”

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Another reason Domtar selected Cloud Inventory? Its customization capabilities. Domtar would be able to configure the platform to its unique needs.

“We had some very specific needs in terms of the data we required,” Koury said. “Some of the other solutions we looked at were not as customizable, and the ability to adapt to that kind of data was a big help to us.”

Domtar also selected Cloud Inventory because of its ability to integrate with any ERP. No matter which enterprise systems its warehouses were running, Domtar would be able to seamlessly implement Cloud Inventory into each one.

The Results

Domtar implemented Cloud Inventory with little disruption to its warehouse teams. To meet network security requirements, Domtar’s third-party warehouses are now connected via the cloud but can still operate independently.

Because Cloud Inventory doesn’t require an on-premises set-up, Domtar can bring up warehouses much quicker than before. This was especially beneficial shortly after Domtar started implementing Cloud Inventory in late 2019.

“The benefit of having a cloud solution is we were able to remotely roll out quite a few locations during the pandemic in 2020,” Tice said. “We could mail ahead any of the equipment that was needed so we could work [remotely] with the teams on-site at the warehouses, have them set up the scanners, and we could do remote training on the systems.”

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Upon implementation, Domtar leveraged Cloud Inventory’s customization capabilities by tailoring the system to its specific needs, including the unique way the company weighs its products.

“We did an initial rollout, and we did some customizations on the system as needed,” Koury said. “At this point, we haven’t had to make any changes at all, and that’s been great.”

And, because Cloud Inventory can be managed from the cloud, Domtar doesn’t need to have a specialized team on staff to oversee customizations or any other part of the system.

“As a manager in applications operations, I’m used to systems where we customize them, and we have full teams that are managing the development of those systems. With Cloud Inventory, we really don’t have to do that,” Koury said.

Cloud Inventory by Nextworld has also helped Domtar’s warehouse teams eliminate manual processes. The company can now capture inventory data at the point of activity by scanning product as it enters and exits the warehouse. That data then gets automatically entered into the Cloud Inventory system, where it can be accessed by all necessary team members.

Since the same cloud solution is implemented in every warehouse, any team member can look at the same data from any location.

“If [someone] comes to me with a question, we can look at the same data or transaction log to figure out what may have happened or why something did or didn’t happen,” said. “Previously, where things were at a more manual state, we were just having to guess. It’s been a lot easier for us to work through and troubleshoot any issues that may come up.”

By implementing Cloud Inventory, Domtar achieved complete and accurate inventory visibility. Its planning team can clearly see what inventory is on hand, what’s in transit, and what’s actively being worked on.

“They get real-time inventory data that, as they’re planning replenishment orders or looking at sales orders [to see] whether we’re going to meet ship dates, they have that information readily available to them,” Tice said.

Cloud Inventory has given both Domtar and its third-party warehouses access to reliable inventory data. As Domtar continues to evolve, Cloud Inventory can support its growth with easy-to-adjust customizations and seamless ERP integrations.

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