Are Robots Good or Bad?

April 19th, 2017

According to the Material Handling & Logistics, robots are slashing U.S. wages and worsening pay inequality. That is certainly a provocative statement! According to new research by MIT’s Daron Acemoglu and Boston University’s Pascual Restrepo, one additional robot per thousand workers reduces the employment to population ratio from 0.18 percentage points to 0.34 percentage points and slashes wages from 0.25% to 0.5%. Regardless of the exact figures, it is certainly accurate that robots will replace certain types of jobs.

automation

Is this good or bad? It is for you to decide based on your circumstances. Technology and automation can keep you competitive and “save” higher skilled jobs since costs are reduced and so there is less incentive to move manufacturing away from the customer base to a lower cost location. On the other hand, robots will minimize the number of repetitive jobs needed. Are you continually building on your skills? And, are you supporting continual skills building in your workforce?

 

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

We are hearing more and more about technology, automation and robots. Thus, if you aren’t at least thinking about this strategy, you’ll likely be left in the dust. With that said, we are the first to say — do not automate for the sake of automation. Does it support a key need of your business? Will it help you provide a better customer experience? Will it help you be more competitive to grow your business? Think carefully before jumping for the sake of following the popular trend.

If you don’t have a high labor cost environment, will robots make sense? Perhaps not. Just like everyone and his brother jumped on the outsourcing craze several years ago and many later discovered it didn’t make sense in their case (often by learning the hard way with unhappy customers), think before you leap. Stay on top of the latest technology and search for business needs where this tool “fits the bill” to drive business results but do not blindly follow any person or crowd.



What’s Important in Technology?

April 18th, 2017
business intelligence

Technology is an integral part of managing your business and supply chain. Are you leveraging technology to improve your business performance?

It is quite telling that every executive panelist on the “Professional Pathways in Supply Chain” panel at the Drucker Supply Chain Forum (Walt Disney Company, Source Intelligence, Intelligent Audit and LMA Consulting Group) had a significant focus on technology. Supply chain and technology go hand-in-hand. Thus, what should we be thinking about when it comes to technology?

 

Although many technology topics arose, let’s focus in on three of the ones that pop to mind first:

 

1. Business intelligence – Every panelist agreed on the importance of business intelligence. In essence, how do you leverage data to see trends, make decisions, etc.? For example, Intelligent Audit is almost exclusively focused on capturing and using freight data. Transportation can be vital to service, cost and much more. Source Intelligence connects you to your supply chain — they offer a data collection and compliance solution. Certainly, this is all about business intelligence as well. Lastly, similarly, every one of my ERP selection clients has business intelligence as a top priority. Do you?


2. Cyber security – Not surprisingly, every panelist concurred on the critical nature of cyber security. You don’t even have to attend a special event to figure this out. If you read the news, you should be sufficiently concerned about security. 


3. Strategic use of data – Somewhat closely aligned with business intelligence yet broader in concept, the strategic use of data is becoming a hot topic. Imagine how much data the Walt Disney Company has in its archives and what you can do with such a goldmine. This topic is especially related to supply chain if you think about the data connecting your supply chain. Again, since Source Intelligence helps you connect to your supply chain, they are in the business of the strategic use of data. Are you considering how you can capture supply chain data and better leverage it to elevate your business performance? 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Technologies Transforming Supply Chains

Data, Data, Data

 



Collaborating on Economic Forecasts

April 17th, 2017

I met with the Claremont McKenna team that puts together the Inland Empire economic forecast last week. They are well known in the Inland Empire for being on the forefront of the economics forecast and finding ways to bring unique insights into the process. Therefore, they were interested in what I see in terms of outsourcing, nearsourcing, insourcing and other key trends in manufacturing.

economic trends

Economic factors can have a significant impact on your business. I learned quite a lot about this from my Director of Purchasing when I was a VP of Operations many years ago. It was simply amazing — and impressive — all of the economic considerations he assessed on a daily basis to stay on top of supply base trends and potential trends. And, that was just one aspect of the end-to-end supply chain. It is worth taking a few moments to think about economics….

One tip to implement this week:

Since economics can have a dramatic impact on our business, it is worthwhile to pay attention — at a minimum. Attend sessions on economics trends, read economic updates, and dig into the key factors that are most likely to impact your business.

Start by just identifying a few economic factors that are important to your business. Find sources to track progress of those factors — internet sites, trade associations, customers or suppliers, etc. Collaborate with your supply chain partners. Participate with local universities. The bottom line is to stay on top of the trends and be proactive as you see changes.

 

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

 



Tweaks to NAFTA & CEO Input

April 13th, 2017

According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump met with chief executives and promised pleasant surprises with NAFTA and talked about upgrading the federal government’s computer systems. According to the chief executives in attendance, innovative ideas emerged. I would love to be a fly on the wall in listening to this group of business leaders think through what could contribute to success.

supply chain

On the topic of NAFTA, there has been much speculation. Lately, the consensus is that there will be moderate changes proposed. How is your business related to NAFTA? Do you collaborate with customers and/or suppliers in Mexico or Canada? Are you prepared for likely tweaks?

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

As is apparent, there are no clear facts on how NAFTA will change; however, we can make some educated guesses. Will there be additional costs to bringing products and materials across the borders? Most likely. It certainly doesn’t seem as though it will be huge but sticking our head in the sand to this potential outcome doesn’t seem smart.

Take a look at your supply chain. How are you likely to be affected? What risks should you account for? Is there a way to prepare with minimal spending that will set you up to leverage advantages from the likely moderate changes to occur? Why not prepare for success? Don’t wait for clarity. Consider what is likely, gather your team and think through how to set your company up for success with the most likely outcomes.

 



LMA Consulting Group’s Lisa Anderson Participates in Material Handling and Logistics U.S. Roadmap  

April 12th, 2017

Material Handling & Logistics U. S. RoadmapLisa Anderson MBA, CSCP, CLTD and president of LMA Consulting Group, acted as a Roundtable Participant, providing input in the development of Material Handling & Logistics (MH&L) U.S. Roadmap 2.0. A collaborative business effort, The Roadmap’s purpose is to guide the industry through supply chain and logistical challenges—domestic and international–through 2030. Roadmap 2.0, which was released at ProMat 2017 in Chicago this month, focuses specifically on technology, consumers, workforce, and logistics infrastructure.

“Roadmap 2.0 is a comprehensive, well thought-out and insightful compilation of trends and technologies that will help provide a broad perspective of where supply chain is headed,” shares Lisa Anderson. “It should be required reading to keep the findings from these supply chain industry thought leaders in mind when setting strategy and considering future potential end-to-end supply chain disruptions. Undoubtedly, manufacturers and distributors will gain valuable takeaways from the Roadmap.”

Anderson was part of a community of nearly 200 strategic thinkers, including material handling and logistics practitioners, equipment and software suppliers, academia, associations and government. Participants sat in on roundtable events held August through November 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia; Trenton, New Jersey; Ontario, California; Tucson, Arizona; and Chicago, Illinois. After dividing into breakout sessions, attendees shared their insights on both recent and anticipated developments in the field. They also identified the core competencies that companies will have to develop within the next decade.

Industry members are encouraged to join the U.S. Roadmap for Material Handling & Logistics Group on LinkedIn and to follow @MHLRoadmap on Twitter.