Category: The Resilient Supply Chain

The Future of Manufacturing

May 30th, 2020

 

I was on a panel of a webinar, The Future of Manufacturing with Andrew Zanelli, president of VCC, Michael Knight, president TTI Semiconductor Group, and Seth Denson, co-founder of GDP Advisors. It was a lot of fun, and we talked about the coronavirus, reshoring, cost leadership, innovation, and other topics. Are you interested in what the future might look like and how you can position your company and career successfully?                                         

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

There is no doubt there is a renewed interest in reshoring and sourcing manufacturing closer to the customer. All panelists agreed that labor cost has reduced significantly in terms of relevant factors to consider in evaluating manufacturing and supply chain strategy.

  1. China’s labor costs have continually risen, leading progressive companies to move to Vietnam and other Asian countries to chase lower labor costs if labor is a significant factor in total cost of their products. Mexico is gaining steam as well as the latest statistics show their fully burdened labor costs are often lower than China.
  2. Advances in technology have reduced the labor component in the total cost of products, sped up the turnaround time and enabled greater customization on demand. Robotics, additive manufacturing, automated equipment, autonomous vehicles are just a few of the advances.
  3. The time component is increasing in importance in today’s environment where Amazon-like customer service is the norm. Lengthy lead times will lead to a loss in customer demand.
  4. Although cash is always king, during the pandemic, it has risen in importance. Product tied up in the supply chain which is typically 3 months minimum for Asian supply to the U.S. equates to dollars tied up that cannot be invested elsewhere.
  5. There is a higher likelihood of disruption the further away production is from customer demand and the more steps to the supply chain (such as ports, trucks, sailing through unfriendly waters).

Whatever was true last quarter or last month is no longer true. Continually reevaluate your end-to-end supply chain requirements. I’ve addressed this topic as well as your strategy, priorities, key trends, and your restart recipe for success in my eBook,  Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. If you are interested in a rapid assessment, please contact us.

 



Are You Developing Close Relationships with Your Customers?

May 17th, 2020

During turbulent times, relationships move faster than at any other time. Will they move in a positive direction or a negative one? That is the only question. In fact, customers will be reevaluating what they buy and when they buy it. Consumer behaviors are evolving and business buying behaviors are evolving. Are you in the loop with your customers as to what is top of mind? Listen to our conversation with an expert in creating customer loyalty on our Navigating Through Volatility webinar series on creating a Forever Transaction.

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

As a customer, I have less patience with slow response when I need it the most. Our customers are no different. On the other hand, a few suppliers stand out in my mind in making my life easier and being ahead of the curve. I will remember that as the pandemic winds down. Identify your top customers and make sure your relationships are moving rapidly in a positive direction. In fact, it is appropriate to drop low priority or unprofitable customers. Otherwise, your key customers might not gain the value they would otherwise.

Look for opportunities to provide value. Ask questions to understand your key customers’ current situation and what would help. Simply look for opportunities to help your customers be successful. If you can offer help and/or ideas, it can go a long way! Don’t worry about expanding business during your conversation. Provide value and your customers will be more successful. When your key customers are successful, you’ll be more successful as well. I’ve addressed this topic as well as your strategy, priorities, key trends, and your restart recipe for success in my eBook,  Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19 

Please share your stories, challenges, ideas and successes. Contact us and please join in our free webinar series and listen to our archives.



Leadership As We Emerge from the Pandemic

May 6th, 2020

“Whatever You Are, Be a Good One.” – Abraham Lincoln

All bets are off. No matter what type of leader you were pre-pandemic, your opportunity is now. Relationships move faster during times of crisis than any other time. Simply become the leader you know you can be. Everyone has the potential. Use your strengths. Gather your team to build on that strength. Move forward.

 

Be Calm

During these unprecedented times, there is substantial emotional turmoil. Start with self-management. Demonstrate calmness. Communicate clearly. Be patient, yet firm. Be upfront and tell people what you can tell them and tell them what you cannot tell them. Do not avoid them. People will make up a situation worse than reality every time. Instead, be upfront. Let them know that they will be the first to know when you know or are able to communicate. Establish trust and hold it closely.

Offer Resources & Communicate Frequently

Offer information and resources to help employees, customers, suppliers and other partners navigate these volatile times. Even the strongest of people should consider EAP (Employee Assistance Program) resources. Make sure that resources are communicated clearly so that employees can take advantage of what is available. Keep communicating – even if there is no news.

Read our eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19 to hear about additional strategies to lead, keep your teams moving forward, and engage your people in the future. There is ZERO doubt that leadership will make or break not only employee and customer engagement but also bottom line business results. As my HR mentor used to say, “It begins and ends with leadership.” Thanks to Debra Daniels-Smith as I couldn’t provide nearly the value to clients without her valuable counsel when I was VP of Product Supply for a mid-market healthcare products manufacturer.

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JIT Might Not Be What it is Cracked Up to Be?!

April 2nd, 2020

Just-in-time might not be what it is cracked up to be! Certainly, the coronavirus impacts should give us reason to question this rule at face value. Are you running so tight that you only have one bin, pallet or small supermarket to keep your facility running? If so, the question extends to your end-to-end supply chain.

Let’s assume you are a critical manufacturer struggling to produce key items during this coronavirus pandemic. Your suppliers should not be on lockdown since they support a critical infrastructure business; however, that doesn’t mean you’ll be fine. There are many considerations to review:

  1. Source of supply: Are your suppliers located in Asia and unable to staff during the peak of the coronavirus? Do you know what type of delays you’ll experience? Do your suppliers have contingency plans?
  2. Your suppliers’ suppliers: Even if you have a good handle on your suppliers, do you know the status of your suppliers’ suppliers? In an interconnected supply chain, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Who is your weakest link?
  3. Your transportation infrastructure: Even if your suppliers have product, can it get to you? Within what timeframe?
  4. Backups: No matter how well you’ve planned, the question is whether you have backups for critical materials/ ingredients that will ramp up rapidly as needed. Hopefully your supply chain is diversified geographically.
  5. Your customers: Are you in lockstep with your customers so that you are proactively managing demand or are peaks and valleys a surprise? Of course, the coronavirus was unexpected but the degree you fully understand your customers will determine your reaction time to changes in demand.
  6. Positioning of inventory: Do you have critical inventory positioned throughout your end-to-end supply chain?
  7. Your digital supply chain: Are you able to see into your extended supply chain? It could provide quite a benefit at this point.
  8. Additive manufacturing & robotics: Are you able to keep running with less people, socially distanced people and/or print on demand?

Using JIT (or any concept for that matter) without taking a 360 degree view is a bad idea! The cousin of JIT is lean manufacturing. I gained the attention of Wiley by writing that lean is just uncommon common sense (which of course simplifies it in order to make a point), but perhaps it is something to think more about. Have you put all these trendy concepts through a common sense filter? How about a risk filter? Let’s hope so! Otherwise you can be in a critical business and still not producing and running customers out of stock.

What is the answer? It depends! If you have put thought into your supply chain strategy upfront, considered risks, diversified your supplier base, invested in quality checks and top talent, and treated your employees well, it is likely your version of JIT will prove successful. On the other hand, if you saw JIT as a way to reduce inventory and were short-sighted in looking at your end-to-end supply chain and treating your employees and partners as trusted colleagues, you will likely suffer.

Getting ahead of the curve might be the only avenue to success. Consider creating a resilient supply chain and future-proofing your supply chain. Stay tuned and read more about it, and If you are interested in discussing a supply chain assessment, please contact us.

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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.