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Dirk Holbach, Corporate Senior Vice President and CSCO of Laundry and Home Care, Managing Director of Henkel, discusses the effect technology has had on the supply chain


he Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. Technology is an enabler and it is having an increasingly prominent effect on how

manufacturing companies and their supply chains operate. Henkel is a leading solutions provider in 04

three core areas: Adhesive Technologies, Beauty Care, and Laundry and Home Care. Over the past few years, the firm has experienced rapid transformation and has its finger on the pulse of the latest technological innovations. Overseeing the company’s worldwide supply chain for Laundry and Home Care is Dirk Holbach, Corporate Senior Vice President Global Supply Chain. Holbach has worked for Henkel in a variety of roles for almost his entire working life. Having joined the company as Junior Manager of Corporate Purchasing in 1996, he became responsible for purchasing at Laundry and Home Care in 2004 before transitioning into several different roles prior to moving into his current position in July 2015. As part of Holbach’s current role, he is responsible for the end-to-end supply chain


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Increasing Productivity, Quality and Safety at Henkel – at Scale A key partner to Henkel’s digital transformation is Parsable, the leading Connected Worker Platform for enterprise industrial companies. Parsable is a software platform that helps the world’s largest industrial and manufacturing companies arm their frontline workers with the necessary tools to thrive in today’s digital-first world. In addition to Henkel, its customers are top global companies in the manufacturing and energy industries, including consumer packaged goods, resources and chemicals, packaging and building materials, and automotive and aerospace. Parsable is one of Henkel’s partners to help digitise Henkel’s operations. The Parsable Connected Worker Platform transforms static, paper-based standard operating procedures into dynamic work instructions, including multimedia voice, text, video and photos, as well as real-time team collaboration. Given that 72% of tasks at a factory are still performed by humans, according to a recent study by research firm A.T. Kearney, Parsable provides companies with new data and insight into human work so they can improve productivity, quality and safety – at scale. “They’re primarily focused on supporting companies through digitalisation on the shopfloor. Although a relatively new partner, we’re currently evaluating various opportunities to build on their preconfigured platform,” said Dirk Holbach, Corporate Senior Vice President Global Supply Chain Laundry & Home Care, Henkel. Parsable underwent an intense deployment at Henkel during 2019. “We’ve been pioneering this new market, called connected work, which provides modern digital tools to industrial workers,” says Lawrence Whittle, CEO of Parsable. “The consumer packaged goods market is an increasingly active area for us and it ultimately led us to Henkel, who is clearly one of the biggest players in this space on the global stage.” In order to establish a mutually beneficial and longlasting partnership, Whittle believes transparency is

Overview of Connected Work and the Parsable Platform

essential in order to achieve success with some of the world’s biggest companies. “You have to be able to align with each other; otherwise, technology companies can’t survive,” he says. “We’ve invested a ton to ensure that we’re not only delivering an easy-to-use, softwarebased platform to help frontline industrial workers do their jobs better and more efficiently, but also that we support and even drive the key business objectives of our customers.” “Ultimately, our goal is to improve the overall operations at Henkel,” explains Whittle. “In order to achieve that, there is a clear objective around productivity, safety and quality. At the moment, there’s a demographic shift in the industry. It’s vital that you capture the knowledge of employees that are at retiring age and leaving the company, and transferring that knowledge to the new generation. While there’s a real necessity to drive efficiency, quality and safety, there is also a requirement to understand a new way of working and recognise a new type of worker that really needs these modern, digital tools.” The Parsable Connected Worker Platform currently has users in more than 130 countries, and is available in 14 languages.



for Laundry and Home Care, and in 2018 the business unit accounted for

“Introducing digital for digital’s sake doesn’t make any sense”

€6.4mn sales. Within Holbach’s business unit, Henkel has six regional hubs, as well as 33 factories and 47 warehouses under his remit. Despite being founded in 1876, the DAX company is still majority owned by the Henkel family, and Holbach believes this really sets his

— Dirk Holbach, Corporate Senior Vice President, CSCO of Laundry and Home Care, Managing Director, Henkel 08

organisation apart from its competitors. “It provides us with a different strategy: the Henkel family has shown its continued commitment to the company, enabling us to operate with a long-term perspective. We have a strong company

Henkel: Operating a long-term approach in manufacturing CLICK TO WATCH



09 culture, and our shared values help us to create sustainable value for future generations,” he explains. “Our portfolio is diversified because we have two consumer goods businesses and one that’s focused on industrial markets. It’s certainly a unique mix.” Holbach understands that the journey to achieving digitalisation is a continuous one and not something that can be accomplished overnight. “In 2013, we began to invest in our digital backbone, which led to us connecting all our factories together through a standardised approach,” explains w w w.he nkel. com

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More and more companies collect huge amounts of data and want to turn them into money. But where are the obstacles to achieving that? When it comes to data monetization, most companies only scratch the surface. This is because the use of data can only be imposed to a limited extent. Instead, companies need to get as many people as possible excited about using data. Analytical competence is often confined to the IT or BI department, employees are not trained in working with data or do not have the right tools to use data easily and sensibly in their daily work. The fact is, the more employees and managers are used to working with data, making decisions based on facts and playfully drawing new insights from data analysis, the more likely it is that companies will develop ideas on how to make money with data - be it in the form of services or even entirely new business models.

In other words, it is necessary to build a data-driven corporate culture. But what does the path to this end look like? A culture of analysis begins with empowerment. Employees must be empowered to explore data themselves and answer their own questions. This also includes a certain degree of trust managers must have in their teams when dealing with data. Modern BI tools also help to curate and purposefully manage data. This way, everyone gets access to the data they need without jeopardizing sensitive data and governance regulations.

What role do technologies like AI play here? If companies want more employees to work with data, they need to make access as easy as possible. Technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and AI can help. NLP - the ability of computers to understand human language - lowers the entry barrier for professional analytics. With our Ask Data feature, users can formulate questions about

Henrik Jorgensen Country Manager DACH at Tableau Software.

their data in natural language. When people can interact with a data visualization like a personal assistant, it allows more people across all disciplines to ask deeper questions about their data, thus increasing the overall acceptance of data analysis. With the use of AI-based data analysis, we are now going one step further and making statistical knowledge more accessible. For example, the new Explain Data feature can be used to explain statistical outliers. This allows users without specialist knowledge to quickly expose the 'why' behind their data by simply clicking on the data point in a visualization. Explain Data evaluates hundreds of patterns and explanations within seconds, taking all available data into account. Innovations such as these foster a culture of curiosity and strongly promote a data-driven corporate culture.




Holbach. “I’m always looking at the

consumer goods (FMCG) business, we

business benefit for implementing

primarily think in relatively short cycles,”

technology because introducing digital

explains Holbach. “If the end user has

for digital’s sake doesn’t make any

no benefit from a specific technology

sense. It’s important that new technol-

then they’ll stop using it. You can’t intro-

ogy helps solve business challenges,

duce new technology for the sake of it

such as ensuring that processes

— there’s no point. We’re still adopting a

become faster, cheaper and more

vertical approach and are continuously

agile.” Implementing technology that

trialling new technology in several

serves a purpose is a key pillar to

different pilot locations.” However,

Holbach, and he believes that harness-

Holbach understands the challenge of

ing new processes and systems that

change management and the process

aren’t sustainable has no long-term

involved for a successful culture shift.

value to Henkel. “As a fast-moving

“There’s a whole transformation of the



Dirk Holbach With more than 20 years of experience in Supply Chain, Operations, Purchasing and Sales, Holbach has held various roles on a local, regional and global level at Henkel. His special focus has been on supply chain strategy and organization development, network optimization, continuous improvement and post-merger integrations. Holbach holds a Master’s degree in Business and Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Information Science. w w w.he nkel. com

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Henkel: Connecting factories together through a standardised approach CLICK TO WATCH




business to consider and it’s vital that

last ten years. “It’s become part of our

you give employees the time to under-

DNA and is anchored into our mind-

stand and embrace new technologies

set,” explains Holbach. “Our products

and provide targeted support and

are used millions of times every day

trainings,” he affirms.

around the world, and we recognise

Henkel has five core values that it

the potential impact we can have by

centres operations around: customers

developing sustainable innovations.

and consumers, financial perfor-

We’re designing more and more of

mance, sustainability, people, and the

our packaging to ensure it’s 100%

foundation as a family business. As a

recyclable, reusable or compostable

result of the company’s sustainability

as well as using recycled materials to

drive, Henkel has reduced its specific

produce it.” The company was one

energy consumption by more than

of the first organisations to publish a

50% in its Laundry division over the

formal sustainability report more than w w w.he nkel. com



Bioprocess control Raw materials control Quality control

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he says. “This means that you then have less resource consumption to produce

“We’re designing our packaging to ensure its 100% recyclable as well as only using recyclable materials to produce it”

it, ship it, and it subsequently allows the consumer in the final phase to use our products in a more sustainable way.” Another one of Henkel’s core values is people. The importance of having a team in place that is aligned to a common objective is at the heart of the company’s drive. Henkel places considerable value on its recruitment drive,

— Dirk Holbach, Corporate Senior Vice President, CSCO of Laundry and Home Care, Managing Director, Henkel

as well as ensuring it retains the talent it already has. “People are key. As part of our digital journey, I’ve built up a small, centralised regional team that

28 years ago and has a clear forwardgoing ambition: to triple the value it creates through business activities relating to its environmental footprint by 2030 – compared to the base year 2010. With a more sustainable approach at the forefront of Holbach’s strategy, he maintains that his company is continuously seeking to reduce the amount of packaging in its products. “Compaction is a major trend in our industry at the moment. By taking certain chemicals out of a product, it makes it more compact,” w w w.he nkel. com


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works on a range of pilot use cases as

learnings that will enable training on

well as the implementation across all

the capabilities that are relevant today

our sites,” says Holbach. “Our recruit-

and in the future.”

ment strategy is to ensure we have a

Following the influx of technology

solid mix between data scientists and

such as data analytics, artificial intel-

traditional engineers with an under-

ligence (AI) and machine learning

standing of our businesses. We must

(ML), Holbach believes in operating

ensure that all of Henkel’s employees

proactively rather than reactively in

have the opportunity to upskill them-

a bid to differentiate from its peers.

selves, by having access to digital

“Technology has helped to redefine w w w.he nkel. com

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Henkel: Developing trust essential to success CLICK TO WATCH



21 the business frame that we operate

systematically started to collect an

in,” he says. “We’re only now starting

increasing level of real-time data.

to embrace AI and ML but it’s an area

A member of Holbach’s team,

we’re looking to do more in. We’re still

Sergey Afanasyev, International Digital

in the testing stage with a lot of new

Transformation Manager at Henkel, is

technology and it’s important that

focusing on two key pillars: connected

we’re continuously looking for new

workers and digital upskilling. “I like

opportunities that will accelerate our

to encourage digital collaboration

current processes. We have to always

between the people using mobile

see how far we can push the bar.” With

technologies as well as helping build

technology’s influence on the manu-

and develop the skills that employees

facturing sector showing no signs of

need today because of the digital

slowing, the plethora of data at com-

technologies already in place,” explains

panies’ fingertips should be embraced.

Afanasyev. He believes that new

Over the past few years, Henkel has

technologies such as AI, ML and Big w w w.he nkel. com

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H E N KE L PART N ER Q U O T ES Clevertech: “We’ve worked with Clevertech for many years. It’s a well-established business in packaging our goods and making them ready for shipment. It has a real drive to add digital capabilities into its products and is an important partner to us.” Micro-Biolytics: “The partnership focuses on chemistry analytics. We’ve been working together for a number of years and we are continuously trying out new ideas and concepts.” Aveva Solutions: “The company is part of Schneider Electric and the home of Wonderware. It’s a special and long-term partner. Wonderware is the platform we use to connect all of our IOT together and the partnership is crucial to us.”

Parsable: “It’s primarily focused on supporting companies through digitalisation. Although a relatively new partner, we’re currently evaluating various opportunities to build on their preconfigured platform.” Tableau Software UK: “Tableau is now owned by Salesforce and is an important piece of our digital infrastructure. It’s our visualisation and analytics tool and enables us to review all our data in supply chain and manufacturing.” O9 Solutions: “It’s a very fast growing company and we’re checking how it can support us in our end to end planning process.”

Zaptic: “It’s a newer player on the market with a no code platform to connect the shop f loor workforce with digital instructions and daily management workf lows. We’re now testing Zaptic’s solutions in

TEMBO: “TEMBO is more of a traditional technology supplier and we’re collaborating in the complexion of our product. It helps supply machinery for unit dose and is based in the Netherlands so we can work very closely together to

our operations.”

expand our capabilities.”

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Together creating the next

Data should be embraced to achieve a competitive advantage. “These tech-

“I like to encourage digital collaboration between the workers and paperless operations”

nologies allow us to unlock values and data that we acquire through our digital backbone technology that ultimately brings us a competitive advantage,” says Afanasyev. “Technology itself is agnostic. It’s important to us that we only leverage technology that is true to our vision and strategy.” Henkel has developed key, strategic

— Sergej Afanasyev, International Digital Transformation Manager, Henkel

partnerships with a range of firms including Clevertech, Micro-Biolytics, Aveva Solutions, Zaptic, Parsable, Tableau Software UK, o9 Solutions

Henkel: Zaptic and Tembo CLICK TO WATCH



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Year founded

€20bn+ Revenue in euros

53,000 Number of employees


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and TEMBO. Holbach has a clear idea of what he looks for when seeking to establish a mutually beneficial collaboration. “There must be long-term and sustainable benefits on both sides of the partnership for it to be successful,” he explains. “It’s important that there is a level of openness that develops trust over time. This is especially true when times are volatile, and it is where you see the true value in dedicated partners.” With the manufacturing space set to continue to transform as the digital age continues to take shape, it’s vital 28

that companies adopt an agile and lean approach to ensure they don’t get left behind in a competitive and dynamic

“It’s important that there is a level of openness that develops trust over time” — Dirk Holbach, Corporate Senior Vice President, CSCO of Laundry and Home Care, Managing Director, Henkel


market. Holbach is confident of what he anticipates the supply chain space to look like over the next few years. “It’s clear that we’re only at the beginning because I believe that data relevance is only going to increase further,” he says. “There will be greater visibility and transparency in the supply chain over the next few years and we must be ready.”

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Henkel Henkelstrasse 67 40589 DĂźsseldorf T +0049 211 797 0

Profile for Business Chief Europe

Henkel Global – March 2020  

Henkel Global – March 2020  

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