Future-proofing Your Supply Chain

February 21st, 2020

Disruptions abound in supply chain circles. Just consider any of the following recent events: the tariff war, global unrest, the Coronavirus, natural disasters such as the volcano in the Philippines, the Hong Kong protests and more.

We have never had a client that could claim that 100% of the extended supply chain (from suppliers’ suppliers to customers’ customers) was inside the U.S. So, we have to be prepared to navigate these types of disruptions and the related impacts.

Disruptions certainly go beyond your physical supply chain. What about your human capital, technologies (accompanied with processes) and strategies? Refer to our article on future-proofing your skills gap and assess which risks might be on the horizon in your industry.

When it comes to technologies, there is no doubt that emerging technologies are gaining steam and are starting to transform supply chains. Just consider the application of collaborative robots, automation, RPA (robotic process automation), artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain, and predictive analytics to name a few. Big name companies are dropping big dollars into these technologies. When thinking about strategy, remember strategy is no longer a multi-year exercise. We must be thinking in terms of strategic sprints. Who knows what will happen beyond a year out!

Several high-level categories should be assessed as you think about your supply chain:

  1. Sourcing – Are you sourcing from China? Is this a viable path forward to source 100% from China? There are increased risk factors to consider. Listen to an interview I conducted with John Tulac, international business attorney, on future-proofing and doing business with China. It is time to reevaluate your supply chain footprint.
  2. Logistics – There are significant disruptors transforming this industry, ranging from e-commerce and the the Omni-channel to robotics, additive manufacturing and the digitization of the supply chain. If you aren’t incorporating these impacts in future-proofing your supply chain, you will be left in the dust. These are concepts of focus for the consortium for logistics success in the Inland Empire to enable companies to stay informed and keep up with the fast pace of change.
  3. Manufacturing – Industry 4.0 is transforming manufacturing and changing the landscape. It will be a pivotal year that separates the winners vs the losers as advances are made. See what the National Association of Manufacturers’ Leadership Council sees as critical issues
  4. Demand & Supply – There is no doubt, there is a keen interest by business owners, executives and private equity leaders on creating predictable demand and forecasting sales. The more we understand our demand plan, the better our operational performance, supplier performance and customer performance. Read about SIOP (sales, inventory, operations planning) and how it can help future-proof this area.
  5. Inventory – As the disruptions abound and executives fear a slow-down, the proactive management of inventory and advanced collaborative programs are gaining in relevance. Pick up some tips and strategies in our recent article ” Inventory Management as Fashionable as Automated Intelligence for Distributors” for ACHR News.
  6. Metrics & Predictive analytics – Keeping a pulse on performance should remain a top priority while forecasting what will be needed.

Getting ahead of the curve might be the only avenue to success. Consider creating a resilient supply chain and future-proofing your supply chain. Stay tuned and read more about it, and If you are interested in discussing a supply chain assessment, please contact us.

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Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Gauges Last Decade Advancement to Position the Next

January 31st, 2020

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – January 29, 2020 –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert,  Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc., reaffirms that advancements in manufacturing during the 2010’s has positioned manufacturing for exponential growth in the 2020’s. LMA Consulting Group works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation to maximize the customer experience and enable profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth.

“There was so much advancement going on in manufacturing during the last decade that it is almost a blur.  The Amazon Effect, Skills Gap and Digital Revolution have all uniquely impacted manufacturing and the supply chain,” Ms. Anderson comments.

The Amazon Effect has pushed manufacturers to accommodate ecommerce-like orders – more frequent and smaller.  Rapid delivery has also become the new normal.  “The Amazon effect highlighted the need to raise the bar on the customer experience. 24/7 accessibility, customized product and service with a quick turnaround and easy returns have become commonplace, creating a shift in inventory strategy and an increased interest in advanced manufacturing,” she said.

The Skills Gap has grown over the last decade, exacerbated by the low unemployment rate.  “Manufacturers are in a perfect storm, the Baby Boomers with a significant knowledge-base are retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day.  That, coupled with the advancements in technology that have changed the types of jobs in the sector, make it difficult to find the right people with the skill sets needed,” she noted.

The Digital Revolution transformed manufacturing. “There was little ramp up to 3-D printing, IoT (Internet of Things), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and Automation.  It was almost like one day they were proven and appeared.  This took many by surprise and was a little intimidating.  Yet, those who have taken time to integrate digitization into their organization are already seeing results,” she said.

In 2020, the customer experience and future proofing manufacturing and the supply chain will fast-track proactive manufacturers to stand ahead of the competition and position them for exponential growth. “There are opportunities to export. And, while in the last decade we thought outsourcing overseas was the answer, the trade wars and tariffs along with recent requirements that China put into place has been giving manufacturers pause. Future-proofing requires looking at the business at 360° and driving change,” she concluded.

Ms. Anderson was recently appointed to the Department of Commerce, District Export Council of the Inland Empire. Her collection of 2020 Predictions from Manufacturing & Logistics Executives will be released in February 2020.

About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson is a recognized Supply Chain thought leader by SelectHub, named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank, a top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.             ###

Media Contact
Kathleen McEntee | Kathleen McEntee & Associates, Ltd. | p. (760) 262 – 4080 | KMcEntee@KMcEnteeAssoc.com   



Amazon Kicks off the New Year by Creating Disruption

January 30th, 2020

According to a Bloomberg article, Amazon kicked off the New Year by creating disruption. They have abruptly stopped buying products from some of their wholesalers, looking for ways to bypass wholesalers or push the cost to down the chain and increase profit. If your business depends on Amazon, hopefully you have been future-proofing your manufacturing and supply chain operations.

If not, you might be in a world of hurt! With that said, if you are heavily dependent on any one customer or supplier, you are in a risk-ridden situation.  It makes me wonder whether FedEx’s move away from Amazon was brilliant or whether they took on too much risk moving away from Amazon. Listen to a recent video where I refer to this topic. Are you taking these types of strategic questions into account in your 2020 plans?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Although the impact is obvious to wholesalers cut off by Amazon, the impacts are more widespread than that. Will Amazon be able to go direct to manufacturers? Will they be able to increase profits by squeezing their supply chain without impacting service? What happens, if that isn’t as easy as it appears? Will customers just wait? Are they getting too big or will other e-commerce players have an opportunity? It will be interesting to see.

In addition, no matter if you are related to this industry or not, it will impact you! If new players become involved, the manufacturing and logistics footprints will evolve. Will you be ready for opportunities? Undoubtedly, we will be impacted by changes in logistics infrastructure, rates and service requirements. The question is whether we will let this happen to us or if we will proactively address it. It might be too late to future-proof against this particular move by Amazon, but there will be countless more changes coming by Amazon as well as many other disruptors. Will you be ready to navigate changing circumstances and market conditions for a positive customer and bottom line impact or not?

At a minimum, continually re-evaluate your supply chain road map and think through related impacts. These topics certainly relate to our new LMA-i, LMA-Intelligence series including the Amazon Effect, the Resilient Supply Chain and Future-Proofing and contact us if you’d like an assessment path-forward plan to accelerate your bottom line and customer performance.



The Often Overlooked Value of Reverse Logistics

November 7th, 2019

While recently at the Association for Supply Chain Management International Conference, I attended a session related to reverse logistics that contained several ideas for how to achieve significant savings and customer value through reverse logistics.

What I thought was even more compelling were examples of innovative ideas that a friend of a colleague discussed that will provide superior customer service AND a significant margin improvement with a common sense idea gained by collaborating with her team. It again proves that results go to those who take the time to listen, observe and collaborate to test new ideas.

One example related to shipping boxes: This aerospace manufacturer received complaints from their customer that they didn’t want hefty shipping boxes as they had to dispose of them. However, there are legal and security requirements that had to be addressed.  So, a creative solution was required.

A team brainstormed ideas and developed a way for the customs officials to look inside the crate without breaking into the crate and created a way to return and reuse the crates also saving the customer disposal costs. Collaboration was a key theme as the supplier, customer and internal team were involved. As this top notch manager commented, there are countless numbers of these types of opportunities out there if we just listen, observe and collaborate.

When is the last time you have visited your shipping operation to ask for common sense ideas that can achieve a dramatic return on investment? Even more importantly, the team feels a part of an important success.

Turning to the e-commerce world, according to a presentation by the Reverse Logistics Association, returns are 25-35% for on-line sales vs. 8-9% in stores. What a dramatic difference! And, of course, handling these returns is inefficient. Traditional labeling is the limiting factor in achieving higher throughputs. Have you thought about your labeling recently? Who knew it could become a differentiator!

When looking at reverse logistics related to food, collaboration was again a key theme. Costa Farms resolved cart and rack issues with both the customer and supplier by moving to consolidated rack return. The idea of collaborating across supply chains is just gaining momentum. For example, as a part of the consortium for logistics success in the Inland Southern California, we are collaborating with Georgia Tech. They are bringing collaboration of strange bedfellows across Southern CA to the table as a way to create a win-win-win for each company involved as well as the environment and more. Stay tuned for the latest trends and ideas emerging from this supply chain consortium over the next few years.

Perhaps the common theme is to pay attention to collaboration opportunities and reverse logistics. There can be a significant hidden opportunity in this topic.

Why not focus attention and see what can be achieved with some common sense and collaboration?

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The Amazon Effect Won’t Die!

October 4th, 2019

We have been writing countless articles about the Amazon Effect for many years as customers have the upper hand. In essence, if you cannot provide rapid, customized service with easy returns and ‘extra value’, you will be left in the dust. The needs aren’t going away. If anything, Amazon continues to raise the bar. Several companies such as FedEx, Walmart and others have announced same day and next day delivery. Target is redesigning stores and pick up areas so that customers can conveniently pick up purchases same day. Walmart is evaluating delivering groceries inside a customers’ home while they are at work. And, Costco has established a chicken farm to grow, slaughter and distribute chickens in an effort to eliminate the middle man for quicker, cost effective deliveries. However, this isn’t just about B2C and traditional e-commerce companies typically in industries such as consumer products and food and beverage. B2B companies expect Amazon-like service as well! Behind every B2B company is a person who expects B2C customer service.

Executives are still intrigued by the Amazon Effect. The reason executives still care is because it is getting harder and harder to remain competitive and profitable. For example, at the Manufacturing Summit, we recorded a series of videos from an Amazon Effect panel talking about these issues. Countless CEOs are expressing concerns about how to navigate these troubled waters. On the other hand, there are a few who are taking advantage of the situation to stand out from the crowd by becoming the disruptor instead of the disruptee. Which are you?

The Amazon Effect also teaches us that innovation is cornerstone to success. Not only does Amazon continually innovate and test new ideas, but some of these new concepts ‘stick’. As the founder of Netflix said, it isn’t that you set out to get the idea for Netflix and it is success all the way. The reason we are still talking about 3M and the famous sticky pad innovation is that it doesn’t happen that often, and 3M sets aside time and money for innovation as a part of their culture. Thus, we must get comfortable with trial and error. Of course, the error part is the problem. No one likes failure. Yet, it is just a part of the process. In fact, if you aren’t failing, you won’t succeed. Even Amazon fails. They test new markets, are willing to lose money and shut down programs. We just don’t hear about them as often as we hear about the latest and greatest new service or drone delivery! Are we really pushing the envelope far enough?

Have you thought about whether you have a culture that supports innovation? Check out our video series on innovation to gain some ideas. Gather your team to brainstorm out of the box ideas. Ask an expert to poke holes. Deliberately stimulate debate and organize trials. In essence, why not encourage maverick behavior within reasonable guide posts so that you set your team up for a “win”?

If you are interested in an Amazon Effect assessment with ideas to break from the mold, check out our free resources and/or contact us.

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