Category: The Strongest Link in Supply Chain

Drones are More Than a Pipe Dream

December 2nd, 2019

In reading an Cnet article on drones, it is clear drones are more than an Amazon pipe dream. In fact, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that he expects at least one U.S. city to have have the ability to control hundreds of unmanned aerial systems by 2028. NASA is using a “grand challenge” incentive program to improve the technology’s maturity, and there are many key companies working on drone technology. Of course, Amazon is one.  They are joined by folks like UPS and Uber Elevate. Drones soon will become a reality.

One of our clients makes drones for military use, and they have a “mini Cal Tech” feel. The future will be in the hands of those who can transform technology into practical applications, improving the customer experience and the bottom line simultaneously. Are you thinking about how drone technology and other technologies might impact your industry, your company and your employees?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Certainly, there are a vast number of challenges in flying commercial drones especially in dense population areas like Los Angeles. However, as NASA says, with the brightest minds thinking through how to bring this to a reality, it will occur. The only question is whether you will be surprised and left in the dust by the impacts or whether you will be positioned to thrive. We plan to ensure our clients are thinking ahead to be squarely in the “thrive” category!

Drones might seem unrelated to our immediate future and to our business. However, if we receive anything or ship anything, I imagine drones might be relevant. Perhaps we should re-think the impact. And, more importantly, it isn’t the drones themselves.  Instead, it is the technology and that translation of technology into practical applications. Whether it is autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, blockchain or another buzzword, the key question is whether we are thinking about our vision and objectives and how we can leverage technology to accelerate our progress towards these objectives. Now that is worth something!

Since we are unveiling another LMA-i, LMA Intelligence category of Future Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain, this is quite relevant to preparing to successfully navigate your future. No matter what happens in the volatile global marketplace, if you are set up to thrive no matter the conditions, you’ll come out ahead. Stay tuned for article archives related to future proofing, just as we have for the Amazon Effect, the Skills Gap and the Resilient Supply Chain.



Food & Beverage and Future Proofing Your Business

November 27th, 2019

As I have been thinking about the food and beverage industry (and process manufacturing) and future proofing your business, I see several examples of proactive clients and colleagues future proofing their business.

As this is my latest, hot-off-the-press LMA-i, LMA Intelligence topic, I thought we’d explore a few trends related to food and beverage.

First, the industry as a whole does provide some level of future proofing because it is more recession proof than other industries. After all, we all need to continue to eat!

Next, since I talked to several attendees of the PMA’s (Produce Marketing Association) Fresh Summit, I was intrigued with the level of technology and complexity. For example, one apple expert (spanning multiple tiers in the supply chain) was keeping up with an incredible amount of detail with crops in a database as it was integral to the view 9-12 months into the future and how he could navigate for success. In essence, he was using predictive analytics to position his company for success in his specialty area. He also mentioned keeping up with technology to evaluate trade-offs to handle the skills gap, costs and more. He was keenly focused on future proofing his extended supply chain. Are you?

Technology and sustainability continue to pop up when looking at future proofing. For example, according to PMA CEO Cathy Burns, the top 5 trends include conscious capitalism, a focus on emotional health and megatrends shaping the industry (which both link back to produce and floral), and how corporate sustainability and technology matter.  Also, certainly all of the largest food and beverage companies are exploring the ‘right’ technology and systems upgrades to improve performance. They know that in order to future proof their business, they have to lead the pack with technology that will return value to their customers, investors and employees. And NONE of these higher level concepts are unique to food and beverage!

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
First, how are you up-to-speed on what is happening in your industry, technology impacting your industry and what you need to do to successfully future proof your company? If you don’t have a plan that is part of your daily, weekly or monthly business cycle, you better re-think your plan!

Next, are you trying to navigate on your own? You certainly are less likely to succeed. I also talked with additional experts who had a clear strategy of partnership and collaboration to maximize impact and minimize risk. Of course, you must choose wisely. Similar to a ‘bad spouse’, a bad partner is definitely worse than no partner at all. Yet, I’m seeing more executives realize that as much as they require more control and even vertical integration to control the customer experience and associated costs, they also need to find ways to make 1+1 = 22.

In today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace, the fast prevail. How can you leverage your extended supply chain and network for exponential success?

And, of course, a big part of future proofing your business goes back to creating resilience. Check out our many articles with ideas to create a resilient supply chain on our blog. Why not pick 2 or 3 ideas and run by your trusted advisors and collaboration partners…

 



The Often Overlooked Value of Reverse Logistics

November 7th, 2019

While recently at the Association for Supply Chain Management International Conference, I attended a session related to reverse logistics that contained several ideas for how to achieve significant savings and customer value through reverse logistics.

What I thought was even more compelling were examples of innovative ideas that a friend of a colleague discussed that will provide superior customer service AND a significant margin improvement with a common sense idea gained by collaborating with her team. It again proves that results go to those who take the time to listen, observe and collaborate to test new ideas.

One example related to shipping boxes: This aerospace manufacturer received complaints from their customer that they didn’t want hefty shipping boxes as they had to dispose of them. However, there are legal and security requirements that had to be addressed.  So, a creative solution was required.

A team brainstormed ideas and developed a way for the customs officials to look inside the crate without breaking into the crate and created a way to return and reuse the crates also saving the customer disposal costs. Collaboration was a key theme as the supplier, customer and internal team were involved. As this top notch manager commented, there are countless numbers of these types of opportunities out there if we just listen, observe and collaborate.

When is the last time you have visited your shipping operation to ask for common sense ideas that can achieve a dramatic return on investment? Even more importantly, the team feels a part of an important success.

Turning to the e-commerce world, according to a presentation by the Reverse Logistics Association, returns are 25-35% for on-line sales vs. 8-9% in stores. What a dramatic difference! And, of course, handling these returns is inefficient. Traditional labeling is the limiting factor in achieving higher throughputs. Have you thought about your labeling recently? Who knew it could become a differentiator!

When looking at reverse logistics related to food, collaboration was again a key theme. Costa Farms resolved cart and rack issues with both the customer and supplier by moving to consolidated rack return. The idea of collaborating across supply chains is just gaining momentum. For example, as a part of the consortium for logistics success in the Inland Southern California, we are collaborating with Georgia Tech. They are bringing collaboration of strange bedfellows across Southern CA to the table as a way to create a win-win-win for each company involved as well as the environment and more. Stay tuned for the latest trends and ideas emerging from this supply chain consortium over the next few years.

Perhaps the common theme is to pay attention to collaboration opportunities and reverse logistics. There can be a significant hidden opportunity in this topic.

Why not focus attention and see what can be achieved with some common sense and collaboration?

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

What is the Supply Chain?
Warehousing Strategies for Success
The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain


Celebrating Manufacturing Day & Its Impact

October 30th, 2019

In our Manufacturing month Profit through People newsletter, we discussed the relevance of manufacturing on the economy, jobs and quality of life. For example, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.82 is added to the economy which is the HIGHEST multiplier effect of any economic sector. Read our feature article to gain many other compelling statistics.

October is Manufacturing Month.  Specifically ,Oct 4th is Manufacturing Day. And, we are ready to celebrate our significant success. After all, for an industry the general public thought was dead and outsourced to China, it is far from dead. In fact, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 8th largest economy in the world!

There are many manufacturing events occurring during October. Take a look at a few of the options and consider how you can participate:

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
What is the impact of Manufacturing Month?

We could make the difference in not only our economy and quality of life but also on future leaders!
How can you participate in Manufacturing Day? Read through any one of the opportunities listed above. Or, why not start an event of your own? APICS Inland Empire teamed up with the University of LaVerne to offer production and inventory management education to high school students recently. These small steps can transform lives!

We are interested in what you decide to do. Send us feedback, pictures and ideas for continuing to spread the word on manufacturing. Manufacturing is a critical aspect in creating a resilient supply chain and so we thought we’d share a myriad of articles about manufacturing and supply chain to increase your success on our blog.

 

 



The Value of Export

October 18th, 2019

My colleague, Kusum Kavia recommended me for CIEDEC which is the Califorina Inland Empire District Export Council.  So, I attended a meeting as a guest. Export is a vast opportunity. Just consider a few facts:

  • 95% of potential customers are outside of the U.S.
  • 97% of exporters are outside of the U.S.
  • California is the #1 state in exports
  • Less than 1% of American companies export – this is quite shocking. The good news is our clients are clearly outside of the norm.
  • Canada and Mexico are the top two export countries.

Given these facts, looking at USMCA, the U.S. – Mexico – Canada agreement should be of keen interest. The CIEDEC has written letters of support to pass this agreement citing that it will better serve the interests of American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses; and, it supports mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in N.A. There were $43.6 billion of exports from California to Canada and Mexico in 2017.  The top exports were computer and electronic products, transportation equipment agricultural products, machinery and chemicals.

There is also a heightened interest in export based on Brookings research and the consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Excellence in the Inland Empire. We are excited about the future Are you exporting?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
There is vast opportunity for California manufacturers to export. There are tremendous resources available for exploring markets for your products and services, as well as help in getting started. We have several significant exporters in the Inland Empire.  They have grown their businesses faster and more significantly than the average.

This will be one of several topics we’ll address in our consortium for advanced manufacturing. If you are an executive interested in participating in an advisory capacity on the steering committee for this initiative, please contact me.

Additionally, our APICS Inland Empire Chapter will be addressing this topic as a part of our upcoming executive panel and networking symposium on “Collaborating for Advanced Manufacturing & Supply Chain Success“.

Think about taking one step forward in evaluating whether adding or expanding exports could increase your revenue, profitability and success. Of course, export also provides potential in distributing your dependence on domestic revenue and profitability.  So, it could be another leg in creating a resilient supply chain.