Category: The Resilient Supply Chain

Manufacturing Adds the Most Jobs in the New Year

February 1st, 2019

According to Industry Week, manufacturing employment increased almost 300,000 over the last year!  This is after increasing around 200,000 the year prior – more than a 40% increase. This is much more significant than the numbers alone convey because, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.89 is added to the economy.  Manufacturing is hot and relevant.

Not only is manufacturing relevant to the economy, it is relevant to the customer experience.  Have you thought about how much more flexible you can be with your customers’ desires if you can manufacture on the fly? There won’t be a better time to ride this wave to success. Are you debating or jumping on?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Whether you are in manufacturing or related to manufacturing or impacted by manufacturing, you should pay attention. As manufacturing surges and takes on a new relevance in the economy and to your ability to provide a superior customer experience, you might have opportunities to grow and scale your business to new heights. Have you thought about how you’ll take advantage of these opportunities?  Will you be a follower or an innovator?

At a minimum, being informed about manufacturing and supply chain industries, latest trends and opportunities seems like a good idea.  Join an organization such as the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/APICS) and participate with classes, tours and webinars, read articles on the topic (there are hundreds, if not thousands, in the archives), listen to experts, pick up the Wall Street Journal or attend an industry event. Why not kick off the New Year informed?  Being informed is part of what’s needed in creating a resilient supply chain. For additional strategies to create a resilient supply chain, check out our new series:



The News is Paying Attention to Manufacturing: Are You?

January 21st, 2019

It wasn’t too long ago that no one talked about manufacturing. In fact, people thought it had moved to China.  Now, we see it in the headlines frequently. A quick glance in just the past few weeks yields:

  • Airbus is pulling out all the stops to try to make their 800 plane target before year end
  • Durable goods orders rose .8% in November
  • Manufacturing is key to New York’s job creation of 27,000 in energy storage
  • Manufacturing is driving Vietnam’s decade-high growth
  • China’s industrial profits drop for the first time since 2015

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

If you are in manufacturing or relate to manufacturing, pay attention!  There is plenty of opportunity to grow and thrive in today’s business environment. What are you doing to take advantage of the vast potential? It might be that time to take a risk and speed by your competition. Who else will be able to customize and deliver rapidly with a superior customer experience if not you?

Are you searching for these opportunities?  If you create a resilient supply chain, you’ll have a far greater chance to “see” the opportunities as they arise AND you’ll be well-positioned to take advantage of them.  Very few companies predict well but the best ones are agile and navigate quickly and successfully to achieve peak performance while the rest fall by the wayside. For additional strategies to create a resilient supply chain, check out our new series:



What’s Ahead for Supply Chain?

January 18th, 2019

To think about what’s ahead in supply chain, it is important to put it in perspective with what’s ahead in business.  Read our article, What’s Ahead in Business? for details on the key trends impacting business:

  • Importance of the customer experience
  • Taking the holistic view has become a “must”
  • Volatility is the new norm
  • The coming power of manufacturing and supply chain

Given these trends, we predict our most successful clients will be thinking about these themes in the end-to-end supply chain:

  1.  Manufacturing is the Place to Be: Manufacturers are uniquely positioned to thrive. I have to say, I love that manufacturing is getting its due. According to NAM, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.89 is added to the economy which is the highest multiplier of any economic sector.  
  2.  Distributed Inventory Management will be Key to Manufacturing Success: In today’s Amazon-impacted business environment, the customer expects rapid, low cost delivery. Given that the “last mile” has also become “last minute” with customers changing their mind frequently, predictive, distributed inventory management has become a differentiator.   
  3.  Additive Manufacturing will Rise to the Top: Customers want customized products on the fly. Yet, distributors cannot stock everything near every manufacturer, end user and the like. 3D printing can achieve this goal.
  4.  Customized, Rapid Delivery with Amazon-like Service and Efficiency is the Norm: In addition to additive manufacturing, re-shoring and near-sourcing (locating close to customers) are viable solutions to achieve Amazon-like service. The question is how to be efficient, cost effective and visible while serving customers.
  5.  Amazon Prime for Manufacturers is More than a Pipe Dream:  Subscription based models are becoming relevant to manufacturing, just as to Netflix and ERP systems. According to my friend, colleague and author Robbie Baxter, the membership model is just as relevant in manufacturing in transitioning from a one transaction/one-way communication to an ongoing relationship with the customer with a constant stream of feedback.  
  6.  We are Moving to a Digitized Supply Chain:  To address customers’ elevated expectations while continuing to make a profit, manufacturers and supply chain organizations are moving to a digitized supply chain. Artificial intelligence, IoT, the smart factory, robots and more. Don’t embrace technology as a fad.  Instead, embrace technology as a way to achieve a result.
  7.  To succeed, We Must Create a Resilient Supply Chain: Disruptions and volatility abound. Customers expect more. Boards expect more. People are harder to find and retain. Creating a resilient supply chain enables a proactive response to the current environment.

What will you do to get ahead of the curve in the New Year?

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

The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain

What’s Next in Supply Chain?

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?



How Resilient Are Your People?

January 17th, 2019

We would be remiss if we went too far down-the-path with supply chain resiliency without pointing out that the ONLY way you’ll have a resilient supply chain is if you have resilient people.  Similar to building a house, without a solid foundation, the best accessories will fail to “hold up” over the long haul without that solid foundation.  Your team is your foundation.  Would you be willing to have your business hang in the balance if your team’s ability to “hold it up” would make or break success?  Hopefully so!

Here are a few questions to think about to determine how comfortable you are with your foundation:

  • If your competition offered your employees slightly more money, would they jump ship without much thought?
  • Are your people willing to take a risk if they know the decision will help move the company forward?
  • Are your people willing to disagree with you?
  • Are your people willing to try new ideas, even if they fail?
  • If a customer presses your people about an issue, will they blame it on “them” or will they take responsibility to resolve the issue quickly regardless of whether it has anything to do with them?
  • If changing market conditions dictate they should follow a new course that isn’t popular or approved, will they bring it up?
  • What do they say to your customers and suppliers when you aren’t listening?

Every executive at our Harvey Mudd executive roundtables and on the APICS-IE executive panel pointed out the relevance of culture and your people on business success.  Technical topics are abuzz but the REAL buzz is who has the strongest team as they will speed on by the competition and be the most resilient as the economy turns, the industry changes, a disruptor emerges etc.  With this fresh perspective, it pays to think again about your team and the priority you give it.



The Resilient Supply Chain: Top Requests from Clients on Technology

January 11th, 2019

Next in our supply chain resiliency value series, we are sharing a short video on the relevance of ERP and e-commerce systems from the Manufacturing Summit’s panel “Amazon Effect: Pass or Play – the New Sales & Distribution Game and How it Affects Manufacturing”.

I’m responding to a question on what manufacturers and distributors need when it comes to systems and technology.  Every client in the last few years has requested a project objective that goes back to the overarching goal of scalable, profitable growth.  The trick is how to achieve BOTH a superior customer experience (with increasing pressure from disruptors such as Amazon and Uber) AND profitable growth. Of course, there is no easy answer, and it depends on a multitude of factors. With that said, there is an ever increasing need to scale with technology inclusive of ERP, e-commerce and more.

ERP has become much more of a strategic topic. It isn’t about blocking and tackling and using ERP to achieve tactics.  Instead, it is about whether a business has the technology and systems to scale in a scalable, profitable way.

Do your systems support your customers’ needs?  If not, you had better jump into the fray or the next disruptor will eat your lunch.  If your answer was, ‘yes but I have to do x, y and z to make it work,’ our next question is will this process be repeatable, reliable and profitable?  If not, perhaps you better think twice. It is likely your competitor will answer yes.  Lastly, have you thought about your customers’ needs a year into the future?  If you aren’t prepared to handle them currently, you are getting behind.

Our most successful clients don’t wait so long that they lag behind. Is it time for an upgrade?  You are most welcome to our free resources to determine whether it is  the ‘right’ time. As you debate the benefits vs. costs, keep in mind that as hard as it is to take the leap, the most successful executives are willing to take on prudent risk to make leaps forward.  Are you?

If you would like an expert to assess your situation to determine whether you should further leverage your current software, put the effort into upgrading or simply focus on people and process improvement opportunities, contact us.