What is More Effective – On-site or Remote?

March 30th, 2019

Lately, I’ve had quite the mix of on-site and remote events.  So, it got me thinking about on-site vs. remote. Which is better?  

  • Manufacturers’ Summit – I introduced the innovation awards and announced the winners at the recent Manufacturers’ Summit. Could this be done effectively remotely? In my opinion, no!
  • Global Strategy Session – I also recently participated in a short check-in session with my global growth group. After resolving my video difficulties so that I wasn’t blurry,  it worked out perfectly. There is no reason I should go across the world for 3 hours!
  • The Society for the Advancement of Consulting –  My business partner, Linda Popky (in Northern CA) and I have participated on multiple Zoom calls with members from the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Pacific Rim to collaborate on increasing member value and related topics. We find these to be ideal remote settings yet we also have in-person regional and global events. You might find me sitting in my car prior to a client meeting on a Zoom call with Australia & Germany.
  • Client workshop with facilities across the U.S. and Canada to implement planning process upgrades – the reason I write this from Minnesota in sub zero temperatures is that this workshop is best done in person. With that said, we have weekly interactions remotely to implement successfully in-between these workshops (which occur about every 6 months). Since MN was chosen for March, perhaps AZ will be in August 🙂
  • ERP Demos – since I currently have several ERP selection projects, I have participated in several demos. Some need to be done in person to ensure project success and others would be a waste of time to attend in person. It depends!
  • Aerospace & Defense speech – the picture shows that clearly I presented in person. Although they record the session for members to listen to afterwards, the value is far more significant with in-person interaction!

One tip to implement this week:
Don’t just assume remote or in-person is always better. The answer is: “It depends”. If you are bringing together cross-functional participants in a workshop-like setting, perhaps you should invest in travel to get together. On the other hand, if there is an expert who can participate remotely to contribute as needed, that also can be value added and cost effective.

Don’t just do what you’ve always done. I used to drive 60+ miles each way to clients for a few hours frequently. Sometimes it was exactly what I should have done.  Other times it was because I defaulted to doing what I typically do. Then one day, I tried to call or do the meeting via Zoom, and I realized the value was equal yet the wear and tear was now non-existent! Thus, I always ask myself about what will achieve the desired outcome. Sometimes remote is better.  Other times, in-person is better. Use common sense.

Assuming you decide to test out the remote option, there are a few items to keep in mind:

  • Act as though you are sitting in a meeting, and don’t allow distractions to take over.
  • Make sure you keep ambient noise down
  • Use video to your advantage so that you can show each other items or emphasize your communications with non-verbal language.
  • Test out technology in advance
  • Just give it a try. What’s the worst that will happen?

And, keep in mind that in-person still provides value. The higher tech we become, the higher level of touch required!

 



2019 Predictions Report: What to Expect and Where to Focus

March 26th, 2019

I’m thrilled to launch our 2019 Predictions Report, “Manufacturing & Supply Chain in the New Normal: 2019 Predictions from Manufacturing & Logistics Executives” discussing what to expect and where to focus.

We assembled this based on these types of questions:

  • How do we increase profitability in today’s new normal environment?
  • Do we see growth or recession? Or something in the middle? What should we do?
  • There are so many technology options with the promise to transform entire industries. Should we be pursuing? Which ones?
  • Customers expect quick delivery with changes along the way (even while intransit), excellent on-time-delivery (OTD) results and more. Where should we focus?
  • Trade wars and global sourcing – what to do?!
  • How is it trending in our industry? Are there any hot buttons, like talent?

Discussions with several manufacturing and logistics executives and experts are included in the report. Feel free to pass on this link to colleagues and friends to get a free copy of the report.

With that said, since you are already on our newsletter list, here is a direct link just for our newsletter subscribers.

Thank you to our clients and colleagues who participated with their predictions and advice! Please share your feedback. We would love to gain your insights, concerns etc. We’ll incorporate into our upcoming interview and article series.



Students & the Future of the Profession

March 22nd, 2019

In the last few weeks, our APICS Inland Empire students have been on fire! As the president of APICS Inland Empire and Chair of the MCIE (Manufacturing Council of the Inland Empire) Innovation Awards, I am absolutely thrilled to announce:

Cal Poly Pomona Global Student Challenge

Cal Poly Pomona Global Student Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harvey Mudd MCIE Innovation Award

Harvey Mudd ASCM_ APICS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling optimistic about the future of our profession? Absolutely!

One tip to implement this week:
Who wouldn’t love to send this newsletter? We are on a roll! It certainly gives us hope and excitement about the future of our profession. As an APICS Inland Empire chapter, our Board of Directors and members collaborate closely with many student chapters (CSUSB, Cal Poly, UCR) student teams (Harvey Mudd, University of LaVerne, Drucker) and community colleges (Norco). Often, we learn more from the students than vice-versa.

Not only are they “go-getters” but they also have technical skills and can present powerfully to a mock board of directors. These students know that to succeed, they need to do things differently, think about things differently and stand out from the crowd. After all, innovation isn’t for the faint of heart! It requires failure and persistence, just the qualities that go into resiliency.

Interested in joining us? We would love to have additional participation with our students. One way you can get started is to join us at our spring executive panel and networking symposium for discussions on the topic “Talent Transformation: People or Robots?“. We always learn just as much as we share. Speaking of which, if you have a top notch executive or expert to recommend for our panel, please contact us.

 

 



Trump Signs Order Prioritizing AI Research

March 18th, 2019

According to the White House, President Trump signed an executive order directing the U.S. Government to prioritize artificial intelligence in its research and development spending. The focus is on ensuring that AI develops in sync with U.S. values and that training for the future workforce is prioritized. This is a culmination of meetings with Google, IBM and Microsoft and reflects the  commitment to focus on leading edge technologies. From an industry point-of-view, this focus is applauded.

The talk is that AI will transform entire industries. There is no doubt that without a focus on advanced technologies and the associated training and workforce efforts, you will be left in the dust, similar to looking for a payphone along the side of the road. Whether in a meeting with CEOs or the consortium for supply chain and advanced manufacturing excellence or at a client focused on increasing demand, AI is a part of the discussion.

I just so happen to be attending a Microsoft Dynamics Day to stay up-to-speed on the latest technologies.  AI has already arisen as a key topic and focus area. Microsoft is building AI into their tools. Here is a press release explaining AI in the recent release of the software. Of course, Microsoft is just an example as every leading edge technology player has at least some level of focus on AI.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
There is no doubt about it. AI will impact every industry in some way, whether directly, through suppliers or customers or in terms of service and cost expectations. I never recommend jumping on a bandwagon blindly. After all, how many companies outsourced when it was “the craze” and now regret that decision because it didn’t make sense when looking at the full picture? Plenty! On the other hand, you must be informed and consider the options and implications for your business.

There are many opportunities to learn about AI and its potential impacts so that you can integrate in your strategy. For example, our APICS Inland Empire chapter‘s upcoming Executive Panel and Networking Symposium will be on the topic, “Manufacturing & Supply Chain Talent Transformation: People or Robots?“. Join us for this education and networking opportunity. However, this is just one option. Ask your CEO group. I see this as a valuable benefit from collaborating with peers! Contact me if you’d like a referral. Attend a trade or industry conference. Read industry magazines and the Wall Street Journal. Pay attention to the news related to your industry, your suppliers, your transportation partners and your customers. Talk with an expert and/or ask your expert to assess your situation and provide recommendations.

In our view, keeping key technologies such as AI top of mind is part of creating a resilient supply chain. Without a doubt, those with a resilient supply chain are far more likely to succeed in these changing times. To learn more about how to create a resilient supply chain to navigate disruption and achieve peak performance, check out our new series or contact us for customized expertise.

 

 

 



What do UPS, Shamrock Foods, Amazon & a 3PL Have in Common?

March 14th, 2019

In touring multiple facilities, ranging from package shipments to cold storage food service delivery to the e-commerce behemoth to 3PL organizations, it despite the conversations that take place about labor costs and other daily concerns, the #1 concern across the board is transportation costs. The numbers support this sentiment. According to CSCMP, transportation costs are 65% of total logistics spend.

Logically, it also makes good sense. No matter your business, materials, parts sub-assemblies and/or products need to arrive at your facility. Often, especially in industries such as aerospace, the parts make multiple trips around the area (unless you are unlucky enough to require sourcing outside of your local area) for outside processing services such as anodizing and painting. Lastly, every work-in-process part or finished good must go to the next stop along the way to the customer such as a final assembly customer, your distribution center, your customer’s distribution center or the end customer. That makes for quite a lot of transportation, often involving multiple modes of transport from air freight to ocean freight to rail to trucking.

Given these alarming statistics about transportation costs, the question becomes: What can we do to proactively manage these costs as well as reduce the impact on the environment? After listening to several experts on these tours and experts from Georgia Tech, APICS (learn more about the critical importance of logistics in our APICS-IE CLTD, certified in logistics, transportation and distribution certificate program) and CSCMP SoCal (at the state of the industry event), a few ideas emerged.

  1. Collaborate with strange bedfellows:As recently published in an I’ve Been Thinking article, collaborating with strange bedfellows can achieve 1+1+1 = 25 minimally. In terms of transportation, there is no doubt maximizing the space used in your truck, container or plane is vital. Why not collaborate with another business to increase your utilization?
  2. Take the holistic or systems view: It is quite challenging to see the forest for the trees as the old slogan goes. We have all been there! I have worked with clients for extended periods of time and found myself with this same issue.  So, I have to deliberately shake it up to maintain the systems or bird’s-eye view. For example, don’t worry about saving a few pennies on a non-essential element of your transportation infrastructure when you are missing the key point that your mix of modes of operation or something like that is costing you millions.
  1. Utilize technology that focuses on the critical transportation factors: In every case (at every tour, event and in every conversation), leveraging technology where it makes sense came up. Certainly, artificial intelligence is the new craze since it has the potential to transform entire industries including logistics. However, robotics are being considered even in industries such as 3PL where they never were previously due to the nature of managing different customers and products. Of course, IoT is prevalent in the world of logistics and transportation as well as topics such as alternative fuels and automation. And what about the basics of a solid ERP system and TMS (transportation management system)? Don’t panic over the horror stories. Contact us if you want to overcome them.
  1. Be customer friendly:Interesting how often being customer friendly arises, no matter the industry or size company (small family owned to private equity backed to large complex organizations).  With rising truck rates and a shortage of drivers, if you aren’t a preferred shipper, you might just be out of luck no matter how much you spend. What does it take to be a preferred shipper? It depends on your business, carriers, locations and more. However, it starts by thinking about what is important to your carrier (not you). Are they looking for flexibility? A quick turnaround time? Fast payment? Good treatment for their drivers?

Since transportation costs are, at minimum, 65% of your total logistics spend, it requires further thought. With the vast amount of technology options available, the best approach is to start with your foundation (your ERP system) and ensure it is stable. Once you have a scalable base, find the ‘right’ technology for your situation to maximize the value of your logistics infrastructure. However, remember the 80/20 goes back to people. What are you doing to develop strategic partnerships and to ensure you are customer friendly and a preferred shipper? Given the impact, don’t leave this to chance or make assumptions. We all like to think we are preferred but what can we do to take it an extra step further?

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

Systems Pragmatist

 The Sheer Relevance & Impact of Transportation (a Billion Here, a Billion There)The Resilient Supply Chain: Should We Invest in Technology?