Use Your Initiative

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Best practice sharing and networking are certainly right ingredients to foster innovative thinking. As indicated in this column last month, the ELA will be giving emphasis to the key topics at the top of the supply chain community’s agenda and ‘collaboration’ is high up on that list.

An interesting practical example of collaboration can be seen in the CPG Industry with the Global Upstream Initiative (GUSI) which has been adopted by a significant and growing number of leading CPG companies.

At the end of 2004 the Global Commerce Initiative, located in Cologne, Germany, initiated a new working group and incorporated the already-active Global Upstream Supply Initiative (GUSI). Since then GCI, together with the working group and GS1, has successfully designed a process model and supporting XML message standards for manufacturers of consumer product goods and suppliers of packaging, ingredients and raw materials. The aim of this model and message standards is to provide tighter integration of supply chains without the need for costly and time-consuming IT integration projects with every partner, and both the model and messages are now being implemented across multiple countries around the world by many companies.

The central product of GUSI is its process model, known as the Upstream Integration Model (UIM). This model defines a range of common business processes and supporting technical standards and information flows for various scenarios. The model, being built up in a modular way, offers a collaborative approach to both supplier and manufacturer-initiated ordering processes and addresses the most common variants of them (SMI – supplier managed inventory, TOM – traditional order management, and synchronised planning).

Since the beginning of 2005 the first pioneers have been aligning their processes according to the UIM and have been using the GS1 XML messages. They have shared their experiences with the wider GUSI team and these have formed the basis of an Implementation Guide. The guide instructs companies on how to adopt and use the various UIM process variants in connection with the GS1 standard messages in an optimum way.

Among the members of the Working Group who are actively implementing GUSI are companies such as Unilever, Smurfit Kappa, P&G, Nestlé, Crown Europe, IFF, Danisco, Novozymes, National Starch, Tetra Pak, Quest, Loders Croklaan, Symrise, Givaudan, Firmenich, Alcan and many more. By the end of 2006 around 150 connections will be made using the GUSI model.

Any supplier or manufacturer, who plans to start electronic data exchange, will find GUSI to be a robust, practice-oriented and capable model which uses the global message standards from GS1. The adoption of electronic messages as an ‘electronic loop’ offers new possibilities for transparency regarding inventory and demand management within the supply chain – and can therefore lead to optimised processes and real savings, particularly when companies want to realise a multiplicity of electronic connections.

As all connections will follow the same GUSI scheme, generally no further capital investments in hardware or
software will be necessary.

Using a single standard model, GUSI enables companies to realise scaling effects by decreasing costs. Usual cost and time intensive projects regarding the development of individual interfaces per connection will be avoided.

To Know more about GUSI go to or email If you are interested to share other practices around collaboration please contact us at ELA.

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