The Resilient Supply Chain: Can You Get Trucks?

October 3rd, 2018

Are you able to find trucks?  This is quickly becoming a major question that needs to be answered.  Every driver has at least 12 options. Why will he/she take your load?  Are you attractive to carriers? That is the key question. After all, you can carry inventory so you are responsive (assuming you planned well and have the right inventory at the right place at the right time) but if you cannot deliver, it was all for naught.

According to the Journal of Commerce, truck rates are up in the low double digits half way through the year.  And, they are expected to go up to 15% before slowing down to 7-10% increase in 2019.  However, these rate hikes are quite the shock to businesses. Many clients are tell us that there are times they cannot find a truck, whether they pay 15% more or not. What are you doing to ensure you have a resilient supply chain?

Here are a few questions to ponder:

  • Do you view your carriers as partners or vendors? – Undoubtedly, if you view them as vendors, you probably aren’t delivering on-time or are paying double or triple the going rates.  
  • Do you have a backup carrier? – I learned this lesson from the Director of Purchasing who worked with me at PaperPak.  He kept a backup supply of our critical material so that if anything went wrong in the supply chain, he could “turn it on”.  This meant we were paying higher prices on an ongoing basis to keep this backup supply. Naturally, our board members were not happy about the increased cost.  However, he was “right on”.  Eventually there was a strike at the ports and our supply was delayed. Because we had been bringing in backup supply all along, we were able to turn up the production and cover our needs seamlessly.  Do you have a backup in place you are confident will be there when you need them?
  • Are you proactively partnering with your carriers? – When supply chain challenges arise, do you proactively collaborate with your carriers to resolve the issues?  Are you willing to think outside the box and try new and innovative ideas?
  • Are you an attractive customer? – How you treat people will either make or break success.  People tend to do business with people they know, like and trust. Are you finding ways to improve your customers’ conditions?  Remember you cannot just decide to become attractive when you need your suppliers. It is a way of doing business.
  • Do you need trucks at all?– Perhaps it’s time to re-think your strategy.  Should you consider rail, air or another method?  Can you partner with your customers or suppliers in a new way?  How about collaborating with competitors? Or, you could consider insourcing vs. outsourcing. 

Think outside the box and start early.  Waiting until there is an issue is no time to think about resolving one. 

It seems such a basic element to have trucks where you need them and when you need them.  Yet it often isn’t viewed as a priority.  Why not take stock of where you stand and put some thought into your path forward?

You’ll be more likely to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations with this proactive approach to supply chain resiliency.

 



Do You Give Back?

September 27th, 2018

We are all so busy that it can be hard to find time to give back.  Yet, the future of our profession, future leaders and our region is at stake.  Making this a priority during your day may not be as difficult as you think.

Choose a way that works for you.
Some people prefer to donate time.  Others prefer to donate money. And others donate expertise.

 I started this journey because one of my colleagues, Ellen Kane, who has to be one of the most helpful people I know (and therefore there is no way to say no to such a wonderful person) asked me to participate with the first APICS Western region student case competition (with just a hand full of students from three colleges).  Fast-forward 10+ years….  We led the competitions together with over 100 students from universities around the globe (from the western region of the U.S. to Canada to China and beyond).

To give an idea of the types of activities you might get involved with in your profession, community or with future leaders, here are the giving back priorities of LMA Consulting:  

1) Manufacturing/ Supply Chain Community

2) Southern CA Community  

3) Students and the future of the profession

  

 

 

 

 

Within these categories, here are some of the examples of our activities.  Hopefully they will prompt ideas for you:

  1. IEEP (Inland Empire Economic Partnership) and IEGO (Inland Economic Growth & Opportunity):  We focus on advancing supply chain and advanced manufacturing in Inland Southern California to contribute to the economy of the area.
  2. MCIE (Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire):  Certainly this group also has a focus on manufacturing in Inland Southern California to contribute to the economy of the area.  For MCIE, we lead the Innovation Awards and partner and recognize manufacturing in the region.
  3. APICS Inland Empire & Universities/ Colleges in the I.E.: APICS is the leading trade association for supply chain and operations professionals.  Our goal is to provide value to manufacturers and distributors in the area as well as to students/future leaders (Harvey Mudd, Cal Poly Pomona, CSUSB, UCR, University of LaVerne, Drucker & Norco College).  
  4.  Student internships & mentoring (Pomona College & the Drucker School): We also partner with students at Pomona College to provide internships in research and business topics and with students at the Drucker School to mentor women in supply chain.  
  5. University of LaVerne Board of Advisors:  As part of this role, our goal is to advise the business school, participate with the CEO Summit and contribute to the committee focused on advancing women in the business school.

One of the best pieces of advice we’ve received is to start small.  You can make a difference by giving back in a small way and expand where it makes sense for you.  There are no competitions when it comes to giving back. Do it in a way that makes sense to you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  Also, you might have completely different interests. For example, my business partner in the Society for the Advancement of Consulting contributes by volunteering for an association that focuses on diabetes.  I have colleagues who give back by taking care of aging parents.  

No matter your interests, it is likely to give you a bit of diversity in your life.



Let’s Spur Innovation

September 24th, 2018

Last month, I led a manufacturing roundtable on the topic of innovation.  Undoubtedly, if we want to be successful over the long-term, we must innovate. Problem solving only gets us back to our standard level of performance.  Although necessary, it will not be enough!  Instead, to exceed our customers’ expectations while enabling profitable growth in today’s Amazonian marketplace, innovation is a requirement.

Innovation is raising the bar to an entirely new level of performance.  It doesn’t require you to develop the next iPhone or 3M’s famous sticky pad.  In fact, the best innovators might not even think they are creative.  The great news is that everyone can innovate.  It doesn’t have to require significant investments.   What it does require is a culture that enables innovation.

An Innovation Culture
Here are a few “musts” when creating an innovation culture:

  1. Engage your people -You aren’t going to be successful innovating in isolation – at least not for long!  Involve your employees – view each employee as a valuable asset.  You never know what ideas can be unleashed if you have a culture of innovation that values each employee’s input and ideas.  Start here. Until your people are engaged, there is no point in going further.  How long do you think you’ll have happy, innovative customers with unhappy, not engaged employees?  NOT long.
  1. Engage your customers – One of our clients is creating an innovative culture.  They recently purchased a clay manufacturing company and are working to raise the bar.  The owners and executives value the input of their people and extend that to their trusted advisors, customers and suppliers.  I happened to be in Hawaii last month and my best friend wanted to see a pottery shop of an artist she really liked.  So I went along for the ride. When we arrived, I brought up my client because I thought the owner know of them. They were so excited.  They said they were a customer for life of Laguna Clay  (my customer) because they provided exceptional service.  They proceeded to provide input, ideas and much more. I took pictures and texted them back to my client. My client had engaged their customer in the innovative process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Provide opportunities– Next, provide opportunities for innovation.  Do you provide a “safe zone” for your employees, partners and others to collaborate and innovate?  Most importantly, you’ll have to set aside time for them to focus on this priority.  Beyond time, provide your vision and get the process started by spurring idea generation and give them a few guidelines.
  1. Stick by your commitment –  Innovation will create failures which is why guidelines are helpful so the failures can be isolated within a reasonable tolerance.  There is something wrong if failures don’t occur. Thus, be prepared for them and celebrate the progress. Don’t be disappointed, or worse, beat up your people. That will mark the end of their innovation.

Creating an innovation culture is “the” key to innovation. Start there. End there.  We’ll talk through more of the details in the middle in future editions (or feel free to contact us to help you accelerate progress); however, this is the 80/20 of success.  It’s well worth raising the bar of performance.



The Importance of Continual Learning

September 18th, 2018

Recently, we updated our website.  It prompted a lot of thinking about many aspects of business.  One is the importance of continual learning.  As you’ll see on our Continual Learning webpage, it is a priority.  With that said, I’ve noticed that the most successful people (clients, colleagues, fellow Board members etc.) have continual learning in common.  There is definitely something behind this trend!  It reminds me of one of our LMA Advocate winners, Valerie Ladd – her continual learning is quite impressive.  She never stops learning – and all with a positive attitude to boot.

 

 

 

 

When thinking about continual learning for LMA Consulting, we focus on three categories:

1) Future trends in business, the economy, the industry, our area of expertise etc.
2) Technology trends & disruptors
3) Local & global trends.

What are you learning?

One tip to implement this week:
There are countless ways to add or expand on your continual learning.  Instead of getting stuck in a sea of possibilities, just choose one or two and start there.  Don’t worry if they are the best ones or will provide the greatest benefit.  Just start!  Waiting for perfection is a LONG road….your competition will certainly pass you by.

With that said, if you’d like some ideas of where to go for continual learning, here are several that pop to mind:
1) Ask your mentor.
2) Talk with colleagues and ask what they are learning – or ask to learn more about their role and challenges.
3) Go to a trade association meeting.  For example, APICS Inland Empire provides programs, symposiums, tours and education to provide value to manufacturing and distribution professionals.
4) Go to an alumni meeting.
5) Attend a local chamber or business club.
6) Read the news, magazines and blogs related to your field.
7) Call a customer or supplier.
8) Join a mastermind.
9) Call a former colleague or manager.
10)  Attend a tradeshow.

What are you going to do?



Miniature Office Golf & a Pathway to Know, Like & Trust

September 14th, 2018

I attended a ProVisors social of miniature office golf last week.  We had great fun (thanks to James Valmonte and Kit Mac Nee for arranging such a great social).  As you’ll see, there was much creativity in setting up golf holes in an office setting.  I liked the hazards – especially the water holes! Although I can hang in there with scramble golf, I didn’t fare as well with mini office golf.  But who can complain about winning a  booby prize?

Regardless of golf skills, it was enjoyable.  It is also a great way to get to know colleagues better.  People do business, partner on projects and contribute to success of those they know, like and trust.  It happened while we were playing golf – a business referral transpired. When have you thought about getting to know, like and trust your colleagues, customers and /or suppliers?

One tip to implement this week:
You don’t have to be as creative as designing an indoor miniature golf event, but why not think about how to get to know, like and trust your colleagues, customers and suppliers better?  It is a progression. Clearly, you cannot like someone if you don’t know them.  And, you are unlikely to trust them if you don’t like them. Start at the beginning and think about ways you can really get to know your colleagues.  

Ask questions and listen.  Pay attention and take notes.  Have you noticed how you feel good when someone is taking notes on what you have to say?  

Next look for ways to create the situation such that you’ll develop a ‘like’ for your colleagues.  Miniature office golf is a silly activity that is entertaining.  Yet, it helps to facilitate the process of getting to know one another and ‘like’ each other.  There are also countless things you can do to improve your likeability. Start by thinking about the other person. Make it “all about them” and you are likely to be the star.  Brainstorm at least 3 ways and try one to start. See how it goes and modify as you go.

What do you plan on doing?  Let us know how it goes.