Category: Supply Chain Briefing

Will Technology Gain Critical Mass in Manufacturing in 2020?

January 6th, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to an Industry Week article, recent predictions say we are headed into the year where technology gains critical mass!  That is truly exciting for manufacturers as people and robots work in collaboration to achieve profitable growth and success. Of course, it isn’t all about robots but it provides a good visual for the conversation.

 

There are all sorts of technologies to consider including robots, collaborative robots, wearables, IoT, additive manufacturing, 5G, AI and more. By NO means should we jump on the next fad.  Yet, we should be aware of these technologies, the progress of the technologies and be ready to take advantage of opportunities. Your smart competition will be! When technology gains critical mass, not only will your competition have the edge but it will accelerate the rate of progress.  This means you will be left inching your way from the start gate when your competition passed you in the victory lap with profitable growth, superior customer experiences and happy employees. Are you considering your technological footprint?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Without a doubt, shift into high gear when it comes to getting educated on the technologies that support your industry and your supply chain partners. You do not need to throw bunches of money at this issue but gaining prudent proactive knowledge is a must. Understand your landscape and which technologies might provide an advantage in the marketplace. Be willing to invest in testing and trials.

Involve your team and extended supply chain partners in collaborating and brainstorming on win-win-win strategies to achieve key objectives. We live in a collaborative world.  We need to see our partners as partners – not vendors and the competition. From this point-of-view, in my ProVisors group of trusted advisors, the most successful members believe in referring business they could do themselves if they think it is slightly better off with their competitor. It is counter intuitive and ends up turning 1 + 1 into 4 with more business for all. The same will hold true with your supply chain partners.  With that said, being collaborative is not an excuse to be negligent. You have to watch out for cyber security and a host of other issues that could arise.

At a minimum, re-evaluate your technology roadmap.  Remember, this is identical to strategy in 2020. A strategy looking 5 years out is pointless, even a year out is suspect. Instead, you need a roadmap of guidelines with the flexibility to be resilient and the attentiveness to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. In essence, future-proof your manufacturing organization and extended supply chain.

Check out our new LMA-i, LMA-Intelligence series including Future-Proofing and contact us if you’d like an assessment path-forward plan to accelerate your bottom line and customer performance.



Is Vietnam the New China?

December 23rd, 2019

Possibly, and “it depends”! China has been moving factories to Vietnam since the early 2000’s, so it is certainly a place to consider. With the tariffs, global uncertainty, rising wages in China and social/political implications, Vietnam can provide a viable alternative especially for certain industries. Vietnam has lower wages, multiple ports, is friendly and has a growing and advancing manufacturing base. Of course, there are always challenges to navigate as well such as a lesser developed infrastructure and less high skilled resources available. The bottom line is that you should at least have Vietnam on your radar.

Some of our clients are sourcing from Vietnam in addition to other countries including China, Mexico and N.A. Similar to China, there is a stark difference between those with money and those working diligently to get by. The picture of the nice looking building is part of the Sofitel Legend Metropole is a fabulous hotel (and happens to be where Donald Trump & Kim Jung-un met), and the other picture is one of Hanoi’s city streets. The vast majority of people cannot afford a car (which is quite expensive in Vietnam, $25,000 for the smallest hatchback) , so there are motorbikes all over the place, driving in seemingly organized chaos. In comparison to China’s wages of $27.50 per day, wages in Vietnam are $6.70 per day. Yes, a stark difference for labor-intensive industries. While Vietnam may not be right for everyone, you should at least be aware of what the country has to offer in terms of sourcing opportunities.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Countless numbers of organizations outsourced to China 20 years ago.  Many have discovered it wasn’t the smartest decision. Perhaps labor intensity wasn’t high. Perhaps lead time requirements were quick and critical. Perhaps product was delayed at ports or the risks associated with the South China Sea are too great. Perhaps it never came out much ahead when looking at the total cost or perhaps it has evolved to more of a parity. In non-labor intensive industries, I’ve heard several executives re-think the decision. At larger companies with global business, they reoriented the China facilities to supply the Asian markets. In smaller companies, they were stuck for a period of time because they invested heavily including in capital intensive machinery and equipment. And in some cases, it was a brilliant decision.

Whether you have outsourced to China, Vietnam or anywhere else is not relevant. The key question to think about is the impact your decisions have on your customer, your skills requirements, your cost structure, your risk profile and more. So long as you are going into these decisions with your eyes wide open, you’ll be successful.

Perhaps you should also be thinking about backup plans and deliberately creating redundancy and diversifying your manufacturing base. Even if you don’t consider switching part of your base because you aren’t prepared to make this transition successfully, you should at least think about how you are sourcing growth and expansion. Should you build skills close to your customers? If you are in a labor-intensive industry such as apparel and home textiles (which are #1 and #2 in Vietnam), perhaps you should consider Vietnam. And, why not get ahead of the curve? Samsung is producing several phones in Vietnam.  There may be something to be said about being first to the party of using higher-skilled talent.

At a minimum, re-evaluate your end-to-end supply chain in order to future-proof your manufacturing operations and related supply chain components. Check out our new LMA-i, LMA-Intelligence series including Future-Proofing and contact us if you’d like an assessment path-forward plan to accelerate your bottom line and customer performance.



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…

 



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.