Category: Supply Chain Briefing

Why Supplier Management is More Important Than You Think

June 17th, 2019

Supplier management has been a theme this week. I taught a CSCP (certified supply chain professional) class session about supplier relationship management and SRM software recently. An attendee had a great example of the impact of poor quality.  Her company was sending an entire container load of product back to Asia with defective parts.  This was bound to have negative impacts on the customer. After all, they were already delayed.  Now, they were spending another month on the water to start over again. That led us to discussions on backup suppliers.

Next, I spent quite a bit of time on webinars and calls one day talking about the critical importance of supplier lead time, reliability, safety stock, lot size and how these factors impact our ability to maximize service, profit and cash flow. And, I presented to APICS Ventura on “The Resilient Supply Chain” We had intriguing discussions on the trends of vertical integration, supplier consolidation, allocation of key materials (and how consumer products are gaining priority access with the leftovers being allocated to industrial companies), the impact of tariffs on sourcing, and several more topics.

The bottom line of each of these discussions is that proactive management of suppliers is of ever-increasing importance in today’s Amazon impacted business environment. If you don’t have what you need, when you need it, where you need it, in good quality, and within cost guidelines, you are likely to lose vs. your competition. And, this includes last minute changes! Do you consider your supplier your partner or someone to negotiate with and gain an advantage over?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
It is NOT all about cost. Of course, the hot topic on executives’ minds is how to achieve scaleable growth, so profit and cost are important topics.  Yet, smart executives realize it is quite easy to sacrifice the future by saving pennies in the present. Similar to the mistakes made several years ago when it didn’t matter whether it made cost-sense or not (ie. Boards were demanding outsourcing regardless of the financials), many Boards are demanding supplier concessions without looking at the extended supply chain impacts. Instead, stick up for looking at total cost and taking the value viewpoint! Of course, this means you’ll be focused on costs but it won’t be your sole focus.

We talked about several scenarios where you had to invest financially upfront in order to achieve longer-term success. For example, we talked about keeping a more expensive backup supplier and giving them 20% of the volume. Boards and private equity backers weren’t too happy with the extra cost yet this risk mitigation technique saved the day on more than one occasion. When the material went on allocation, the main supplier struggled or the ports/transportation infrastructure broke down, those who planned for the inevitable bump in the road had uninterrupted supply from the backup supplier and satisfied customers while the competition fell further behind. Are you thinking about your suppliers like a cost or a partner?  You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.

 



Blockchain Service Has Gone Mainstream

June 11th, 2019

Although according to most experts, blockchain hasn’t lived up to its promise yet especially in comparison with IoT, robotics and more, it has just gone mainstream. Of course, who else but Amazon has just made blockchain service platform generally available. Undoubtedly, that will disrupt many of the techies running around to be the first at blockchain! With that said, big names such as IBM have poured a lot of resources into blockchain, so it is likely to go somewhere. For example, IBM and Syniverse just completed a pilot program for roaming solutions using blockchain technology.  And, IBM has interesting projects going with Nestle, Volkswagen, and Albertsons (the world’s 2nd largest grocery chain).

Have you thought about how blockchain might impact your industry?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
There has been a lot of hoopla about blockchain for several years although progress has been slower than many other technologies. Regardless of how popular, it is important to understand key technologies that might impact your industry or your supply chain partners. Certainly, in blockchain’s case, it is relevant to industries where a chain-of-custody might be needed such as food. That is why two of the companies mentioned above relate to food, Nestle and Albertsons. Yet it doesn’t matter if you relate to food or another blockchain-related industry, it is quite likely your industry or your supply chain will be impacted in some way. For example, you might use the same supplier or transportation system.

The bottom line is to stay abreast of what might impact your industry, company, customers, suppliers and related geographies. Thinking ahead will enable you to take advantage of opportunities and successfully navigate around barriers. You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.

 



Amazon Adds In-Garage Delivery Option

May 20th, 2019

According to Good Morning America, Amazon is adding in-garage delivery options to its already vast array of delivery options – in-home and in-car. I remember when I first started working after college receiving a package was an ordeal! I was lucky if I could go to the post office on a Saturday to get a package or have to take a vacation day just to get the package. How insane that sounds!

Now, we can receive packages in-car (I would have loved that at the time because I could go to the parking lot at work), in-home (hard to imagine but even Walmart has been testing putting groceries away in the refrigerator with in-home delivery) and now in-garage if you don’t want people in your house or if you have pets you worry about. You can control the garage door opener from your phone and see the package being delivered for peace of mind. Talk about convenience!

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Consumer products companies are evaluating all sorts of convenience-related delivery options to ‘win’ the race for shopping convenience. That’s why we also see Amazon tents popping up around the country as Amazon gets into the transportation business and needs last mile facilities. What will be next?

At a minimum, get up-to-speed with the latest strategies in e-commerce and logistics. LMA Consulting was a sponsor at the e-commerce and Logistics Summit recently, featuring keynoters from UPS, Georgia Tech and more. Check out these types of events to at least be aware of what’s happening in the industry and think about what types of piloting you should perform at your company.

Can you work with select customers to determine what type of service would go “over-and-beyond” for them? High-quality products and great brands are no longer enough. You better add top notch service into the mix to succeed!

You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.



Pepsi’s Innovations with Artificial Intelligence

May 10th, 2019

Artificial intelligence appears to be taking over the world. I read a fascinating article in Forbes about Pepsi’s innovations using artificial intelligence.  It is quite clear that those executives who are thinking about how to lead this effort will leave the rest in the dust.

For example, Pepsi is working with the University of the Pacific to have a Snackbot deliver snacks and drinks from an app to 50 locations across campus for no fee! Quite an intriguing idea. It delivers rain or shine.

Similarly, in Pepsi’s Frito-Lay factory, they use lasers to hit chips and listen to sounds to determine texture. And this is just the beginning of how AI can relate to process control.  They also used machine learning and a vision system to predict the weight of potatoes which led to millions in savings.

There seems to be no limit to the number of ideas and ways to utilize AI. Have you thought about what you can do in your operation?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
You better get up-to-speed quickly! One way to do this is to join our APICS-IE chapter and our symposium on “The Talent Transformation: People or Robots?“. We have an amazing lineup of panelists including a robotics expert, the world’s leader in GIS mapping software, and more.

You can also read mountains of articles on-line, ask colleagues, attend conferences, network with industry professionals and much more.  The key question is as follows: Are you exploring these technologies and what can they do for your business?

These types of advanced manufacturing and leading edge technologies are becoming quite accessible. But that isn’t enough. Are you involving your team in the process and providing opportunities for education, testing of new ideas and for failure? Otherwise, write all the checks you want; however, it will fall apart when trying to integrate these technologies into your organization in a smart way to achieve a value-added end result. Just pose the question – how can we create a resilient yet automated end-to-end supply chain? No doubt, you’ll circle back to this topic!



Walmart & Costco Moving Towards Farmer-to-Shopping Cart Strategies

May 1st, 2019

 

Walmart & Costco Moving Towards Farmer-to-Shopping Cart Strategies

The squeeze continues. During my Aerospace & Defense speech recently on the Resilient Supply Chain, the concept of vertical integration arose as Boeing and Airbus are expanding and squeezing the middle in a noteworthy fashion. Similarly, according to Journal Star Walmart and Costco are moving to eliminate the middle man by moving towards farmer-to-shopping cart strategies.

Walmart started bottling milk in its new Indiana facility. This move eliminated Dean Foods and their 100 dairy farmers and replaced them with 30 farmers and cooperatives. Walmart is controlling the entire supply chain from farm to shopping cart including transportation, a vertical integration strategy rarely seen to this extent and scale in agriculture. Similarly, Costco established a chicken farm to grow, slaughter and distribute chickens in Nebraska, eliminating suppliers like Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride. Both of these initiatives could create significant disruption as well as opportunity.

Are you staying comfortable, waiting to be disrupted or taking the proactive approach to create disruption?

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

Getting to the top and/or to a comfortable position and riding the wave isn’t a viable strategy if you wish to be around for the long-term. Stay up-to-speed on what is going on with your industry, competitors, customers, suppliers, region and more. Don’t hide your head in the sand. Instead, choose to take the realistic yet optimistic view and turn it into reality.

In addition, start looking at how to build an agile and resilient end-to-end supply chain. There is no telling when your supply chain might be squeezed or something will change. The more agile and resilient you become, the more successful you’ll be! If you’d like some tips for managing disruption, take a look at our resilient supply chain series.