Category: The Strongest Link in Supply Chain

Request for Help & Creativity for Manufacturers

March 30th, 2020

Since I relate to several different manufacturing and supply chain organizations, I’ve seen several requests for our expertise. Thus, I am passing them all on so that we can help fight this coronavirus by pulling together our resources and expertise. We are in a new world and need to think innovatively and collaboratively.

Here are the top requests:

  • Thomas Link if you think you might be able to help manufacture critical products
  • Federal Government Request for volunteers who can donate , provide and/or produce large scale quantities of critical supplies
  • Survey for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership
  • Local contacts (Curtis Compton of San Bernardino County) are also interested in if you can help by retooling, repurposing, or supporting manufacturers of safety equipment.
  • CMTA survey – they will have surveys every so often on their coronavirus webpage.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Collaboration is no longer a fluffy topic. In fact, it can be the difference between life and death. And we all have the opportunity to have a meaningful impact. We just need to figure out how.

If you are in manufacturing, supply chain or technology, think about what you have to offer. Perhaps you can retool or repurpose. It is heart warming to see that several companies are already doing just that. Or perhaps you have unique skills that are portable to critical industries.  Perhaps you could help critical industries with your expertise. Perhaps you can help connect vital resources to critical industries. Put on your thinking cap and email us or use one of the links above to share your ideas.

And please remember, keep focused. Try not to panic. Look for solutions and don’t be deterred by roadblocks. We are constantly updating our coronavirus resources webpage and so please feel free to share the information and please keep us in the loop of any resources we should add. Feel free to contact us if we can help you during these unprecedented times.



Quoted in the Signal on Restocking Shelves Amid the Novel Coronavirus

March 29th, 2020

I talked with the Santa Clarita Valley Signal on the problems keeping shelves stocked amid the coronavirus lockdown. We talked about the end-to-end supply chain and what impacts the supply chain would have on how quickly the shelves would be restocked. See below for the reprinted article from the Signal.

In an effort to replenish empty shelves amid the coronavirus outbreak, Santa Clarita Valley stores have implemented changes they believe will help keep the products in the hands of customers, but it will take cooperation from the shoppers.

Consumers have scrambled at both the staple and mom-and-pop grocers in search of toilet paper, bottled water, cleaning products, medicine, and perishable and dry goods, as fear of COVID-19 continues to affect everyday life.

Rest assured, however, that stores, from Costco Canyon Country to Ralphs in Valencia, are restocking every day and that there is no supply shortage, many said Tuesday.

At Trader Joe’s on Bouquet Canyon Road, for example, refilling shelves is a daily occurrence, but “we don’t have a say of is what’s coming in,” said a store employee who did not wish to provide a name. “For instance, we might have a little less on eggs on a day than the day before by a couple of cases, but every day, we do get a shipment, seven days a week.”

Similarly, local destinations such as Stater Bros., Vons, Target, Costco and smaller shops, such as Friendly Market on Sierra Highway, said they refilled every day, but what was restocked varied based on what is currently available from suppliers.

Who and how distant their suppliers are can affect how swiftly stores restock, said Lisa Anderson, a Claremont-based manufacturing and supply-chain expert and president of LMA Consulting Group Inc.

“It really very much depends on your particular supply chain,” she said Tuesday. “Certainly, overall, there’s going to be some impact. However, right now it’s more of a bullwhip effect,” meaning consumer demands can cause companies in a supply chain to order more goods to meet the new demand.

Several retailers depend on China, where COVID-19 originated, for supplies, but major, direct disruption might be too soon to tell, said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corp.

“I think people are really dealing with the immediate matter at hand,” she said. “Some companies, since the China trade war, have begun moving or diversifying their supply chain but as the virus affects different countries, you don’t quite know how everything will play out, which creates a lot of uncertainty.”

In the face of uncertainty, retailers are working to control what they can, such as reducing store hours to allow for more restocking time and placing a limit on the number of items customers can purchase in one trip, in an effort to deter shoppers from hoarding.

While they restock, however, customers are asked to do their part, at least one company said Tuesday.

“Now the company is asking for help from its local communities,” Stater Bros. said in a statement. “Please refrain from purchasing items you won’t need for the coming week. Be assured we are working closely with our manufacturers and suppliers to replenish our store shelves daily.”

These efforts can help across the nation, but in the SCV with a huge community-feel presence, now’s the time to “pull together and share some resources that might go a long way,” said Anderson.

“It doesn’t mean that we should be going around standing next to everybody, but find a creative way to help someone out.”

For additional coronavirus information, resources and strategies, please visit the coronavirus resources section of our website.



Supply chain strategy: Modernization tips from Lisa Anderson

March 27th, 2020

As Published in:  Ratelinx

For business leaders looking to modernize their supply chain, the technology investment is the easy part: Evaluate solutions, calculate the ROI, make your business case, and take delivery. Sure, it can be tricky to get sign off on these tech investments, but it’s a business problem with a logical solution.

The more challenging part is preparing your organization to take full advantage of that investment. That means getting people on board, ready for the change, and developing new processes that take full advantage of the new tech.

“High tech must be accompanied with high touch,” says Lisa Anderson, supply chain consultant and President of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. “The most successful supply chain leaders will remember that people are their number one asset.”

We asked Lisa for her perspective on the current state of supply chain, the key trends that are driving change, and how you can prepare your team for what comes next. Read on to learn what she had to say.

Modernizing Your Supply Chain Strategy

The right supply chain strategy includes technological investments, process refinements, and a change management plan for your team. It should be detailed enough to act upon, but flexible enough to account for changing trends. Here’s how to get started.

Key Trends Driving Supply Chain Modernization

For most businesses, there are two factors that make modernization essential. First, there’s sustainability: Consumers are looking to buy from sustainable companies. That means companies are under pressure to not only work with sustainable suppliers, but to prove they’re doing so.

The second factor is perhaps an even bigger driver for change: The demand for near-instantaneous, free shipping for ecommerce. “In the next five years, customers will be expecting Amazon-like service levels at affordable rates, regardless of the high levels of disruption,” Lisa says. “Reshoring, near-sourcing, and sourcing reevaluation will be major concerns.”

Lisa predicts high levels of adoption for new technologies to meet these demands. “The use of technology such as artificial intelligence, IoT, predictive analytics and other technologies will enable meeting these customer needs while maximizing profit and cash flow,” she says.

 

“In these early stages, it’s important to focus in on the
most relevant data to drive decision-making. ” 

Getting Started with a Modernization Strategy

The actual nuts-and-bolts process of building a strategy is the same as solving any problem in your organization. “Start with the outcomes you’d like to achieve,” Lisa says, “then perform an assessment and gap analysis of your people, processes and technology. Assess your change management capabilities to achieve your outcomes. Finally, design the solution and build an implementation team.”

The process may be familiar, but knowing where to start can be a challenge. The first step should be getting a clear picture of your current supply chain. “Start simply and create a dashboard or availability screen that shows your supply chain status; however, remember that if you don’t pay attention to process disciplines, garbage in will result in garbage out,” says Lisa.

In these early stages, it’s important to focus in on the most relevant data to drive decision-making. But don’t try to boil the ocean: “Data plays a vital role; however, do not get sidetracked and overwhelmed with data. Start with your No. 1 priority, find directionally correct data and enable visibility,” Lisa says. “Once your team and supply chain partners understand this data, move to the second largest priority.”

Once you have your supply chain mapped out, you can start to implement solutions that will pay off in the short term and in the long run. A.I. and IoT initiatives have the potential for a quick win. Lisa says in her consulting work, she’s seeing “Artificial Intelligence and IoT used in predictive analytics and forecasting as top priorities. Getting ahead of customer demand drives significant supply chain value.”

Train and Hire the Right Skill Set

For Lisa, the human element is an often-overlooked, but crucial, part of supply chain modernization. “I’ve found that a more dramatic ROI can occur by aligning the people, even more than the data and the process,” she says.

When bringing in new talent, Lisa recommends looking for data science fundamentals. “Data analytics, the ability to leverage ERP systems and think through down-the-line impacts as well as tying business process to systems design are all part of the equation,” she says. “But we should also look at soft skill requirements, such as the ability to collaborate.” Collaboration, big-picture strategizing, and lateral thinking are all essential characteristics of a modern supply chain expert.

The ROI Potential of Supply Chain Modernization

Remodeling your supply chain is not without risks, and it’s a process that takes time and resources to ensure success. But the rewards are worth the effort. “It depends on the situation, of course,” says Lisa, “but it isn’t uncommon to see a five or 10:1 return on investment from supply chain transformation improvements.”



Coronavirus and Impacts in the Supply Chain

March 7th, 2020

I was talking with a Los Angeles Times reporter about the coronavirus a few days ago, and it spurred several thoughts about down-the-line impacts beyond the obvious. According to the Epoch Times, the coronavirus impacts will hit within the next few months. This makes perfect sense since lead times are typically between 2-3 months for our clients.  So, expect current shutdowns to have impact in a few months.  While you should obviously spring to action if impacted, you should be thinking about future-proofing your supply chain regardless!

 

 



Beware of New Data Law in China & Its Impacts

February 27th, 2020

According to the Epoch Times and International Business Attorney, John Tulac, China’s new cybersecurity law poses a big risk for anyone doing business in China. In essence, if you send data to or from China, your data can be audited at any time. It certainly is concerning from many standpoints such as intellectual property, trade secrets, and more. Listen to my short video on this new law and impacts to consider.

John and I talk about this law as well as many other topics related to doing business in China, alternatives to China and the new USMCA trade deal. Listen to our new interview in our Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain series. Undoubtedly, you’ll pick up a few worries along with ideas/ potential solutions. Let us know what you plan to do.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Many of our clients do NOT import from China.  So you might be thinking, why does this apply to me? If companies start leaving China in a mass exodus, you will certainly be in competition for new manufacturing options such as Vietnam, skilled labor in the U.S. and Mexico, technical skills to automate, use 3D technology, etc. And this is before thinking about indirect impacts. If the supply chain moves away from China, where will it move? There could be dramatic impacts on ocean lanes, political unrest throughout the world, raw material supply and supply and demand. We have never met a client unconcerned about these topics. After all, profitable growth is the name of the game!

At a minimum, no matter whether your supply chain relates to China, we recommend you re-think your manufacturing operations and extended supply chain. Are you dependent on any core suppliers? Are you spread too thin among suppliers? How are you selecting suppliers? And that is just the first topic in a line of many when re-evaluating your end-to-end supply chain. How about the broader topics of whether your manufacturing and supply chain is agile? Fast?

Start by re-evaluating your manufacturing and 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.