People & Robots Can Co-Exist Successfully

May 23rd, 2019

We held an engaging executive panel discussion at our APICS Inland Empire spring symposium on the topic: “The Talent Transformation: People or Robots? There is quite a lot of hoopla in Inland Southern California as this geography is larger than all but 24 states (and soon will take over Lousiana) with a strong manufacturing and logistics base.  Yet, the threat and opportunity of automation is close at hand. According to a University of Redlands study, most large metropolitan areas are subject to losing 55% of their current jobs due to automation. In Inland Southern CA, that number expands to 62%. What will this mean? Disaster or opportunity?

According to a robotics expert with a background in industry, Carnegie Mellon and Harvey Mudd, the CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP), a Director at Honeywell and a recruiter and practice lead at Aerotek, we can rest assured that people and robots can co-exist successfully. Of course, this assumes we are proactive in thinking about automation, retraining and educating our workforce and providing the insights and collaboration opportunities such as the executive panel event.

We had some probing questions from the manufacturing and distribution professionals in the audience, but it was unanimous that a solution exists. We also talked about Middle Harbor which is a high-tech area of the ports. This has proven more challenging as negotiations have put some people out of a job yet still getting paid for it. With that said, there were many examples of success with business growing 3-fold while the company doubled the workforce and more. Hiding under a rock is definitely not the route to success. Instead, be a part of the collaborative effort.

As a Board member of IEEP and a supply chain expert, I am helping to lead a consortium for advanced manufacturing and logistics success to address just this topic (resulting from the Brookings study research). If you are interested in staying in the loop with updates, please email me. I’ve created a special interest list for this topic.

The students from Harvey Mudd presented some exciting robotics research they are conducting with industry on how to successfully navigate cluttered workspaces (as most manufacturing and distribution clients require). Much progress is being made.  And, robots aren’t going away. There are many positives in terms of consistency of quality, replacing competitive motion tasks, reducing workers compensation and labor risks in addition to cost savings. With that said, there are also some challenges to overcome such as what happens when technology goes wrong (like with the Boeing 737 Max). There is always risks to mitigate and people who are overlooked. The panel discussed the Challenger disaster and the employee who warned ahead of time to the technical glitch.

What are you doing to evaluate technology from a strategic standpoint? Will you be left in the dust? Grocery stores might have been a bit complacent before Amazon bought Whole Foods. Are you complacent? On the other hand, please don’t follow fads. When everyone thought outsourcing was great and Boards insisted on following the trend no matter the total impact, several companies outsourced and were sorry later when service went down and costs weren’t saved. If you’d like an assessment, contact us.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on this topic:

Profit Through People

The Talent Transformation: People or Robots?

The Resilient Supply Chain: Do You Have Resilient Employees?



Amazon Adds In-Garage Delivery Option

May 20th, 2019

According to Good Morning America, Amazon is adding in-garage delivery options to its already vast array of delivery options – in-home and in-car. I remember when I first started working after college receiving a package was an ordeal! I was lucky if I could go to the post office on a Saturday to get a package or have to take a vacation day just to get the package. How insane that sounds!

Now, we can receive packages in-car (I would have loved that at the time because I could go to the parking lot at work), in-home (hard to imagine but even Walmart has been testing putting groceries away in the refrigerator with in-home delivery) and now in-garage if you don’t want people in your house or if you have pets you worry about. You can control the garage door opener from your phone and see the package being delivered for peace of mind. Talk about convenience!

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Consumer products companies are evaluating all sorts of convenience-related delivery options to ‘win’ the race for shopping convenience. That’s why we also see Amazon tents popping up around the country as Amazon gets into the transportation business and needs last mile facilities. What will be next?

At a minimum, get up-to-speed with the latest strategies in e-commerce and logistics. LMA Consulting was a sponsor at the e-commerce and Logistics Summit recently, featuring keynoters from UPS, Georgia Tech and more. Check out these types of events to at least be aware of what’s happening in the industry and think about what types of piloting you should perform at your company.

Can you work with select customers to determine what type of service would go “over-and-beyond” for them? High-quality products and great brands are no longer enough. You better add top notch service into the mix to succeed!

You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.



Let’s Manage Inventory for Our Customers

May 16th, 2019

inventory managementAmazon is propelling this age-old topic into a new realm. Since the CEO of the Ontario Airport Authority used the phrase “last mile” has become “last minute” on a panel I facilitated last year, I have shamelessly reapplied his brillant quote.

If customers don’t even know what they want, how can we? Interestingly, we have found that many customers, even the seemingly most confused and  volatile ones, have a pattern to their demand. If we take a holistic view of their demand and inventory planning processes from beginning to end and from high level to the minute detail, solutions emerge.     

One strategy that has proven quite effective is to “remove the middleman”, the customer himself. Instead, with access to demand information direct from the customers’ customer or end user, you can not only manage the extended supply chain inventory better for a happier customer but you also can improve margins, efficiencies and cash flow to boot.

In consumer products circles, this strategy often termed, vendor managed inventory is usually dictated by the “big guys”.  In aerospace, it is also expected but termed differently, customer based ordering, min max and other names. It is also common in healthcare as we won “supplier of the year” for two years in a row because of what we accomplished with VMI for Cardinal Healthcare when I was VP of Operations at PaperPak. We decided to make it a strategy for key customers at PaperPak, even though Cardinal is the only one who requested it. Should you consider a strategy like this to get ahead of your customers’ demand?  It is just another aspect in creating a resilient supply chain. Check out our series on the topic.

 

 



We Are All Salespeople

May 13th, 2019

Do you think of yourself as a salesperson? For most of us, the answer is probably ‘no’; however, every successful executive, manager, professional and person is a salesperson.  

Last week, I participated in a consulting conference, and our Society for the Advancement of Consulting ambassadors (pictured here) filled the role of salesperson to spread the word on the value of SAC. We had a great time and many value-added discussions. I find the key to ‘selling’ is actually providing value; not selling people products and services they do not need!

When I think back, I have always been in sales even though I thought I had no idea whatsoever about sales at the time. The way I got my first job was talking about the value of a senior project and how it was applicable to performing a planning role. I had NO idea that this was actually selling but it is how I successfully landed a great job out of college. Early in my career, I found system settings that would make our Coca-Cola facility’s process better, and I had to sell IT and others on why they should support this change. Later at a plastic injection molder, I had to sell management on why we should focus on certain inventory initiatives.

Lastly, as a VP of Operations of an absorbent products manufacturer, I absolutely spent 90% of my time selling my team on how they were valuable to the vision, suppliers on how they could have a part on creating a win-win, customers on how we could create collaborative vendor management inventory initiatives that would increase their service and profit (which would also improve our revenue growth, inventory and efficiencies), the Board of Directors on why we should focus efforts on material projects to drive profitable growth (even though they wanted me to focus on reducing labor costs instead) and the list goes on. In consulting, 80% of project success (partnering with the client to make sure results occur) relates to selling and positioning. After all, doesn’t it all stem from successfully navigating change?

Think about your career and daily job responsibilities. I bet you are selling every day as well!

One tip to implement this week:

The key to success in sales is to provide value. As I read in a book by my consulting mentor when I decided to start consulting, selling consulting services is simply finding ways to provide value to clients by helping them to increase the value of their businesses. Somehow, increasing the value of businesses sounded FAR simpler to me than selling people on hiring me as a consultant (after all, who budgets to hire a consultant?), and so I went for it (and am celebrating my 14th year anniversary in May).

Of course, it isn’t exactly that simple; however, it is absolutely true. The crux of all sales is in providing value. Think about when you purchase products and services. Why do you purchase? I used to think I was quite logical and not influenced by typical sales techniques; however, it is human nature that logic makes us think and emotions make us act. Although I am never tempted by clothes (except as I know I need to look decent to be successful), I realized I spent quite a bit of money on education to be successful in my consulting practice. Clearly, I saw the value and ‘went for it’. How can you show value more often in your job, your company, and of your products and services?



Pepsi’s Innovations with Artificial Intelligence

May 10th, 2019

Artificial intelligence appears to be taking over the world. I read a fascinating article in Forbes about Pepsi’s innovations using artificial intelligence.  It is quite clear that those executives who are thinking about how to lead this effort will leave the rest in the dust.

For example, Pepsi is working with the University of the Pacific to have a Snackbot deliver snacks and drinks from an app to 50 locations across campus for no fee! Quite an intriguing idea. It delivers rain or shine.

Similarly, in Pepsi’s Frito-Lay factory, they use lasers to hit chips and listen to sounds to determine texture. And this is just the beginning of how AI can relate to process control.  They also used machine learning and a vision system to predict the weight of potatoes which led to millions in savings.

There seems to be no limit to the number of ideas and ways to utilize AI. Have you thought about what you can do in your operation?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
You better get up-to-speed quickly! One way to do this is to join our APICS-IE chapter and our symposium on “The Talent Transformation: People or Robots?“. We have an amazing lineup of panelists including a robotics expert, the world’s leader in GIS mapping software, and more.

You can also read mountains of articles on-line, ask colleagues, attend conferences, network with industry professionals and much more.  The key question is as follows: Are you exploring these technologies and what can they do for your business?

These types of advanced manufacturing and leading edge technologies are becoming quite accessible. But that isn’t enough. Are you involving your team in the process and providing opportunities for education, testing of new ideas and for failure? Otherwise, write all the checks you want; however, it will fall apart when trying to integrate these technologies into your organization in a smart way to achieve a value-added end result. Just pose the question – how can we create a resilient yet automated end-to-end supply chain? No doubt, you’ll circle back to this topic!