Category: The Strongest Link in Supply Chain

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?

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

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Celebrating Manufacturing Day & Its Impact

October 30th, 2019

In our Manufacturing month Profit through People newsletter, we discussed the relevance of manufacturing on the economy, jobs and quality of life. For example, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.82 is added to the economy which is the HIGHEST multiplier effect of any economic sector. Read our feature article to gain many other compelling statistics.

October is Manufacturing Month.  Specifically ,Oct 4th is Manufacturing Day. And, we are ready to celebrate our significant success. After all, for an industry the general public thought was dead and outsourced to China, it is far from dead. In fact, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 8th largest economy in the world!

There are many manufacturing events occurring during October. Take a look at a few of the options and consider how you can participate:

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
What is the impact of Manufacturing Month?

We could make the difference in not only our economy and quality of life but also on future leaders!
How can you participate in Manufacturing Day? Read through any one of the opportunities listed above. Or, why not start an event of your own? APICS Inland Empire teamed up with the University of LaVerne to offer production and inventory management education to high school students recently. These small steps can transform lives!

We are interested in what you decide to do. Send us feedback, pictures and ideas for continuing to spread the word on manufacturing. Manufacturing is a critical aspect in creating a resilient supply chain and so we thought we’d share a myriad of articles about manufacturing and supply chain to increase your success on our blog.

 

 



The Value of Export

October 18th, 2019

My colleague, Kusum Kavia recommended me for CIEDEC which is the Califorina Inland Empire District Export Council.  So, I attended a meeting as a guest. Export is a vast opportunity. Just consider a few facts:

  • 95% of potential customers are outside of the U.S.
  • 97% of exporters are outside of the U.S.
  • California is the #1 state in exports
  • Less than 1% of American companies export – this is quite shocking. The good news is our clients are clearly outside of the norm.
  • Canada and Mexico are the top two export countries.

Given these facts, looking at USMCA, the U.S. – Mexico – Canada agreement should be of keen interest. The CIEDEC has written letters of support to pass this agreement citing that it will better serve the interests of American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses; and, it supports mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in N.A. There were $43.6 billion of exports from California to Canada and Mexico in 2017.  The top exports were computer and electronic products, transportation equipment agricultural products, machinery and chemicals.

There is also a heightened interest in export based on Brookings research and the consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Excellence in the Inland Empire. We are excited about the future Are you exporting?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
There is vast opportunity for California manufacturers to export. There are tremendous resources available for exploring markets for your products and services, as well as help in getting started. We have several significant exporters in the Inland Empire.  They have grown their businesses faster and more significantly than the average.

This will be one of several topics we’ll address in our consortium for advanced manufacturing. If you are an executive interested in participating in an advisory capacity on the steering committee for this initiative, please contact me.

Additionally, our APICS Inland Empire Chapter will be addressing this topic as a part of our upcoming executive panel and networking symposium on “Collaborating for Advanced Manufacturing & Supply Chain Success“.

Think about taking one step forward in evaluating whether adding or expanding exports could increase your revenue, profitability and success. Of course, export also provides potential in distributing your dependence on domestic revenue and profitability.  So, it could be another leg in creating a resilient supply chain.



Hurricane Dorian & Your Supply Chain

October 13th, 2019

 

Hurricane Dorian certainly took over the news as it threatened devastation. I’ve included YouTube from USA Today of the storm. People were evacuating up and down the east coast. Although the impact on people’s lives is certainly more important, there is a dramatic impact on businesses, as well. As logical as it sounds for east coast manufacturers, distributors and other businesses to be impacted while preparations are underway and the storm passes, it also had a profound impact on customers, suppliers and their extended supply chains. Are you prepared to navigate these types of disruptions?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?When I was VP of Operations and Supply Chain for a mid-market manufacturer, a hurricane devastated Greenville, North Carolina, the location of our largest manufacturing facility. Luckily, since the facility used to be owned by P&G, they evaluated risks as a normal course of operations and the facility was on high ground and not affected.  Yet, the facility was closed and nothing could get in or out. That situation alone proved the importance of thinking ahead to key risks, managing proactively and creating a resilient supply chain.

An east coast issue is no longer an east coast issue. For example:

  • Do you use the same carriers that might be tied up on the east coast?
  • Are your servers on the east coast?
  • Do you have any suppliers or customers on the east coast?
  • Do you have suppliers who supply other customers on the east coast? Or do your customers have other suppliers or customers on the east coast? Most likely YES!

The bottom line is 80% of my clients are impacted directly (suppliers, customers, transportation partners) and 100% are impacted through their extended supply chain. At a minimum, don’t wait to think about disruptions until they are imminent. Build agility, flexibility and resilience in your business as well as within your extended supply chain. If there ever was a topic related to the resilient supply chain, this would be it! We have recently upgraded and added content to our resilient supply chain series.



Top Trending Client Request: Reduce Inventory

October 7th, 2019

More than 50% of client requests in the last several months have related to inventory. In fact, it seems to be a trending hot topic! In today’s era of the Amazon Effect where customers expect more and have ZERO patience to wait, there are challenges like a volatile environment with tariffs and concerns about space, costs and more, more inventory is needed to grow the business yet businesses cannot afford it. Learning how to reduce lead times and improve service levels while reducing inventory and costs is of utmost importance.

In partnering with several clients on just this topic, we’ve found the same ingredients to success yet the mix and proportions can be quite different. Several of the top contributors behind inventory success include:

  1. Demand planning: It turns out there is a lot to be said for fine tuning your demand plan (sales forecast). How well do you understand your customer requirements? We’ve seen that even in the best of clients, there is a gap between perception and reality. In 80% of our clients, there is a path to significantly improve the forecast with a direct correlation to inventory reduction
  2. Production &/or material planning: Not surprisingly, there is no ‘magic process’ that works for every client.  However, there are general themes that are identical. In every case, there is some sort of logical combination of master scheduling/material requirements planning (MPS/MRP) and kanban processes. How we figure out the right mix, proportions and formulas is the trick. It depends on the manufacturing/distribution type, people, processes, systems, customers, suppliers and related capabilities and more.
  3. Distribution planning: Similar to production and material planning, we’ve seen a significant opportunity with several clients to leverage a more proactive yet simpler distribution planning approach. The process will involve concepts from DRP (distribution requirements planning) and kanban. Often, this simple process can provide the visibility required to better manage inventory levels.
  4. Lead Times: Certainly, none of these can be viewed in isolation. Customer lead times will dictate the requirements of your network, whereas supplier lead times must be built into your planning processes. Distribution lead times and options (mode of transportation) could also make the difference between OTD (on-time delivery) or OTIF (on-time-in-full) and late delivery as well as profit and loss.
  5. Capacity: Understanding your capacity (skills, labor, machinery, space, and more) and how it relates to your requirements is of paramount importance. This process of aligning demand with supply across your organization and supply chain is termed SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning).

In our experience, clients can reduce inventory by 20-30% on average without negatively impacting customer service. In fact, we often find that a win-win-win can be created: improved service, inventory turns and cost/margins simultaneously.

Read more in an upcoming article I’ve written for Distribution Trends.  Feel free contact us to discuss your situation in detail.

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