Category: The Strongest Link in Supply Chain

What’s Going on in Supply Chain: Shark Bite Biz Video

September 8th, 2020

David Strausser, podcast host of Shark Bite Biz, and I talk about what’s going on in supply chain. We talk e-commerce, customers’ customers, suppliers’ suppliers, what our most successful clients are doing currently, the pareto principle and more. Listen to our episode (after a short advertisement).

 

       

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Although there are many steps every manufacturer or distributor should take during these unprecedented times, there are a few critical and common steps everyone should pursue. At a minimum, immediately address the following:

  1. Your customers’ customers – Understand your demand, changing buying behaviors, changing product and service needs, etc.
  2. Your suppliers’ suppliers – Understand your supply capabilities, your suppliers and suppliers’ suppliers cash positions, risks, ability to innovate, etc.
  3. Don’t forget your internal operations – The equivalent of your customers’ customers’ view of your operations, capacity, staffing flexibility, skills, etc.
  4. Frequent touch points – Demand and supply (SIOP), employees, customers and suppliers
  5. Sync up with your strategy – Are you still going in the “right’ direction? Think about rapid and agile strategy.
  6. Innovate – Only those that innovate thrive. During these unprecedented times, successful companies will pull away from the pack by innovating.

Read more about these types of topics in my eBook,  Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. Gain ideas and strategies to successfully emerging from coronavirus and thrive long-term. If you are interested in doing an assessment and rapid roadmap tailored to your company, please contact us about this new service offering.

Please share your stories, challenges, ideas and successes.



Digitization of the Supply Chain is Accelerating

August 28th, 2020

With COVID-19, the rise of e-commerce, and the pressures of profitability, Industry 4.0 and the digitization of the supply chain is accelerating. What was on track for 2030 prior to COVID-19 should be expedited to 2021 or 2022 to keep pace with needs. For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, Fed Ex is installing robots with eyes and brains that allow them to sense and respond. Smart companies are not only proceeding with technology plans but expediting them. What is happening in your industry? What should you be investing in and/or implementing to stay ahead of the curve in providing a superior customer experience profitably?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Undoubtedly, you should dust off your technology roadmap. Technology is never something to do simply to keep up with technology the competition is using.  Instead, think about what you need to simplify, automate and predict. Think about how to provide a superior customer experience and think about how to help your customers predict future sales and/or end customer needs. And think about how to increase profitability and efficiency. From this mindset, what technology would add value to your business?

Several clients are in desperate need of upgrading their ERP systems. Of course, it is easy to put off such a massive project and investment.  Ask yourself this question: When do you need the functionality to support your business? If you need it within the next year, you do not have time to delay! In addition, many clients need e-commerce, CRM, sales forecasting and other customer-related technologies. Do you think you have time to wait to provide extra value to your customers? I doubt it! Finally, we are also noticing that technologies that enable efficient manufacturing and supply chain operations are increasing in importance. As a result, predictive forecasting and planning systems, WMS and TMS systems and more are gaining in popularity. What makes sense for you?

Read more about these types of topics in my eBook,  Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. Gain ideas and strategies to successfully emerging from COVID-19 and thrive in 2021. If you are interested in doing an assessment of your current situation, associated risks and opportunities and how to navigate changing conditions, please contact us.

Please share your stories, challenges, ideas and successes.



Automation or Autonomous?

August 16th, 2020

While leading a panel “Building Resiliency in the Supply Chain” with gurus from Georgia Tech, the leading experts in global logistics and associated research, several intriguing concepts arose.

My Association for Supply Chain Management group led a series of webinars on “Navigating through Volatility” including discussions with several logistics experts from distribution, the ports, transportation, technology and more. Many strategies for success arose during these sessions.

And, last but not least, both my top-notch trusted advisor network, ProVisors and our clients have brought strategies to light. A a result, it seemed prudent to share a few highlights.

Automation vs. Autonomy
Automation is definitely on the rise as organizations determine how to thrive post COVID-19. Statistics show that the automation market is expected to almost double in the next 5 years, and experts show that plans to automate are being accelerated. For example, the automation expected in the Inland Empire in the next 10-15 years will likely be compressed into the next five. On the other hand, automation isn’t all its cracked up to be! For example, when one part of the production line breaks down, you could end up with a pile up of product and waste at the bottleneck. On the other hand, will you be the last person typing on a typewriter? What are your automation plans?

The Georgia Tech experts made the case that automation is analogous to the typewriter. The new concept is autonomous so that machines and vehicles can operate independently of human control or supervision. Could these autonomous vehicles take on roles not previously possible, practical or cost effective? Almost all modes of transportation are candidates for autonomous vehicles. We typically think about trucking convoys, cars, drones and sometimes aircraft but are you also considering the impact of autonomous fork lifts, container ships, high speed trains, cranes, last mile delivery, cargo resupply and more? With the dramatic rise in e-commerce, autonomous drone resupply could be quite the win.

What are the Impacts?
Client examples abound. A small aerospace manufacturer automated a critical production process. Prior to automating this process, the area was a constant bottleneck. Work-in-process was stockpiled in front of the work station as high-skilled workers tried to keep up with the incoming flow of material. They ran as much overtime as feasible to try to keep product flowing to the next process step so that they could meet the customers’ ship date, but it was a never-ending battle with no end in sight. After automating the manufacturing process, the high-skilled resources set up the machines to run throughout the night autonomously. Suddenly, our client was running a three shift operation with the same resources, and customers didn’t experience delays. There was upfront investment in machinery and equipment as well as setup and education.  However, it paid back almost immediately with increased output and sales.

From a logistics point-of-view, WMS systems are gaining traction in the current environment. There are countless options for automation, as well as autonomous capabilities within the warehouse. For example, clients have installed conveyor systems which connect directly to the WMS systems and shipping systems which connects to ERP systems to manage order fulfillment processes. With the rise in e-commerce (and the number of small packages and associated labor requirements), automation can be even more relevant to the bottom line. In fact, there are several options to replace pickers with automated processes. The future will look to automation and autonomy. Will a drone resupply trucks that delivering e-commerce orders?

What Should We Do?
Get up to speed on the possibilities and potential of automation, as well as autonomous machinery and vehicles. As you hear about additional examples, think through the concepts, look for additional applications and brainstorm with colleagues on how these concepts could help your company and/or industry. The best ideas come from those who are willing to voice their ideas, test them under controlled conditions and move forward no matter the obstacles. Create this type of environment at your company, and soon suggestions for automation and autonomous processes will rise to the surface.

We discuss these types of strategies in our eBook on Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. Additionally, follow IEEP, APICS Inland Empire and LMA Consulting as we communicate progress on the consortium for logistics and advanced manufacturing success Check out our articles and webinars, and contact us if you’d like to brainstorm these concepts further.

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

Drones are More Than a Pipe Dream

The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain



A Ray of Hope with Export

August 4th, 2020

As I participate with the California DEC (District Export Council) meeting as part of the Inland Empire DEC, I continue to be reminded of the vast opportunity of export. This is especially true during the pandemic as manufacturers innovate to be able to support critical needs in the U.S. and throughout the globe. For example, many Southern CA and Inland Empire companies pivoted in response to PPE needs, as well as other critical industries’ changing requirements. The Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles talked up the opportunities of export at the Southern California Supply Chain Summit conference, recently.

California exported $174 billion in 2019.  The Inland Empire is in the top 10% of all surveyed areas in export. The statistics are powerful.  If you consider 95% of all potential customers are outside of the U.S., we have vast potential to increase. Less than 1% of American companies export.  Opportunities abound.  And, fees for exporting services have been reduced during the pandemic. Opportunity is ripe!

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
As you perform a rapid strategic assessment during the pandemic to determine where to focus resources to thrive post COVID-19, potential to export should be on the table. There are vast resources available through the District Export Councils. as well as the trusted advisor network to aid in the process. Each business is different. Yet, we’ve seen unprecedented potential in export in a multitude of industries our manufacturing and distribution clients cover. I chair the Import & Export Advanced Manufacturers Alliance of the Inland Empire, as part of the path forward following a Brookings study in the region.

One of my favorite quotes of all time included in one of our Predictions documents was from Roy Paulson of Paulson Manufacturing, a significant exporter in the Inland Empire. He said, “As a view looking forward in these auspicious times, expect to see more talk of tariffs, threats and waving of hands, all the while, those of us in exporting will be busy making deals, signing contracts and getting business done.” Fast-forward to the pandemic, and Roy purchased additional machinery and equipment to rapidly increase output to support as many people, businesses and countries as possible with PPE.

Read more about these types of topics in my eBook,  Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. Gain ideas and strategies to successfully emerging from coronavirus and thrive in 2021.

If you are interested in doing an assessment of your current situation, associated risks and opportunities and how to navigate changing conditions, please contact us.

 

Please share your stories, challenges, ideas and successes.



What’s Going on in Logistics & the Upcoming E-commerce & Logistics Summit

July 30th, 2020

The most recent webinar in our APICS Inland Empire webinar series featured Frank Moullet from Shamrock Foods talking about distribution, food service and how they’ve navigated through COVID-19. We had an engaging discussion on how they made a sharp right turn pivot early on and why people remain critical to success.

 

       

The world is changing rapidly. E-commerce is rising rapidly as consumers gain comfort ordering for home delivery instead of venturing out to the store. Of course, this is creating ripples throughout the supply chain. Distributors are re-thinking inventory strategy. Almost every executive is realizing that agility and resilience are vital to success. According to a National Association of Manufacturers’ recent webinar with CFO and COO experts, automation is top of mind, as well.

Join me on July 22nd as I moderate a panel discussion, Building Resiliency in Supply Chain at the E-Commerce & Logistics Summit. There is a special rate for APICS members for $30. Use special rate code BODshares708.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
In manufacturing and logistics, we have been quite preoccupied trying to keep up with volatile demand and supply swings, let alone how to do that keeping profitability and cashflow intact. So, it makes good sense to take a few minutes and take a step back to listen to folks who have found paths to success and/or are piloting/researching new concepts that could “work” in your industry or company. I definitely recommend listening to our APICS webinar with Shamrock Foods Branch Operations Manager Frank Moullet and/or join us at the E-commerce and Logistics Summit.

Additionally, keep abreast of what is going on in your industry, your profession and within the end-to-end supply chain that will impact you. Read industry magazines, keep an eye out for noteworthy news and key trends. We address these topics as well as many others in my eBook,  Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. Gain ideas and strategies to successfully emerging from coronavirus and thrive in 2021. If you are interested in doing an assessment of your global supply chain footprint, associated risks and opportunities and how to navigate changing conditions, please contact us.