Tag Archive: Amazon

What is at the Cross-Section of Success?

March 4th, 2019

In thinking about the tours and events in which we’re recently participated, spoken or led, the audience represented a great cross-section of manufacturing and logistics industries, as well as company size:

  • Professional Women in Healthcare – spoke on the Amazon Effect
  • Aerospace & Defense Forum – spoke on the resilient supply chain
  • Anti-seminar themed Executive Luncheon – was a panelist on the topic of increasing demand
  • CSCMP state of the industry event – listened to the president of CSCMP discuss the latest statistics and timely topics in logistics
  • ProVisors manufacturers and distributors event – featuring a City National Bank expert discussing an economic forecast
  • The Founder of the UGG brand – talking about how he created the UGG brand and grew the company from the back of his van to what it is today
  • Tours of UPS, Amazon, Pacific Mountain Logistics, Shamrock Foods, Goodwill, Lifestream, ESRI and more.
  • Meetings with 9 academic institutions in the Inland Empire and surrounding areas
  • Harvey Mudd executive roundtable event –  M&A and preparing for sale
  • Webinars with APICS-IE on IoT and with the Society for the Advancement of Consulting on overcoming obstacles, leveraging PR and more.
  • And more…

So, what is at the cross-section of ALL of these tours, events and/or interactions?

The need for a resilient end-to-end supply chain!

What is in common is the sheer amount of volatility and disruption. Whether the disruptor or the disrupted, entire industries are transforming the way business is done. Some are preparing to have artificial intelligence and automation take over. For example, according to research performed at the University of Redlands, 60%+ of jobs are subject to automation by 2025. Others are dealing with massive benefits or disruption from changes in trade, depending on their role, while others choose to ignore the hoopla and are growing while everyone else is caught up in the chaos! And, this is just the beginning. Trade wars or not, many companies are near-sourcing, and looking at additive manufacturing and vertical integration.

What’s next? If you develop a resilient supply chain, the idea is you don’t have to worry because you’ll successfully navigate disruption to achieve peak performance. Contact us if you’d like to find out how to create a resilient supply chain.

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Ideas to Fill Peak Capacity Periods

February 27th, 2019

As we toured several e-commerce facilities such as UPS and Amazon, it became obvious that the sheer volume during peak season presents a huge dilemma. For example, UPS goes from 250-300 containers per night to 450 during peak season. Now that is quite a surge! Amazon has similar surges and stated facts such as 68 million orders on Cyber Monday.

Peak season occurs in other industries, as well. For example, building products companies tend to have a summer season since there are more issues to navigate in winter conditions. Since working with a large number of these companies, we’ve seen it range from a low of around 10-20% surge to almost 70% of the year’s volume sold during the summer. That can definitely be a challenge to navigate!

In this case, we are talking about labor but the same issues relate to machine capacity, storage capacity, transportation capacity and many others. We find that this area alone can achieve a significant return on investment as companies better align demand with supply. In fact, in 80% of our clients, these types of programs do the best job of achieving bold customer promises and profits simultaneously.

We have found several ideas to fill peak capacity periods. Of course, there is no one formula for success.  Each company has unique circumstances that require different solutions. However, a few ways to meet peak capacity include:

  1.  Hiring temporary workers for the peak season – of course, this strategy sounds like an easy win. If only it were that easy! UPS starts hiring seasonal workers prior to the holiday season in order to provide training. In 2018, they expected to bring on 100,000 seasonal workers. Over the last 3 years, 35% were hired into a full-time role after the peak season, creating an interesting enticement. Since every e-commerce related business needs seasonal workers, you need to provide some sort of benefit or enticement to fill these positions.
  1.  Overtime – of course, this is commonly used throughout manufacturing and logistics organizations. We’ve seen many aerospace firms running at high rates of overtime for many months, even years, in a row. It can be a tricky issue as employees become accustomed to higher paychecks, and the costs add up. On the other hand, people get tired and can get less productive and want a break. Counter-intuitively, it can also be the better financial decision given the learning curves associated with complex manufacturing roles. Of course, the answer is, “It depends”.
  1.  Hiring people with developmental disabilities – as our Inland Empire Economic Partnership leadership regional academy toured Goodwill and we have worked with clients such as Oparc, we have learned that people with development disabilities can be an ideal solution to fill peak capacity.  Thanks to Oparc for their research statistics: 1 in 7 people have intellectual or developmental disability, yet, only 19% participate in the labor force, leaving a significant opportunity to supplement the labor force. Studies show that these folks rate higher in reliability, productivity and loyalty. For example, a DuPont study showed that 90% of employees with Disabilities rated average or better on job performance. According to Walgreens, disabled employees had 40% lower accident rate, 67% lower medical treatment costs and 78% lower overall costs associated with accidents. And, Marriott shows a 6% turnover rate vs. 52% overall. It is worth checking this option out! Please contact us for a referral.
  1.  Partnering with companies with counter cyclical peak seasons – again, have you thought about partnering with strange bedfellows? Why couldn’t an e-commerce company with a winter peak season collaborate with a company in the building products industry with a summer season? In a way, the 3PLs follow this model. Having counter cyclical clients is an important aspect of maintaining a strong workforce as a 3PL.
  1. Outsourcing – one of the advantages of outsourcing and overflow capacity is that you can use it when you need it. Of course, you’ll pay a premium but it can still provide maximum value in several cases and meet the peak season requirements.
  1. Leveraging your extended supply chain – you never know what collaboration might make sense with your suppliers, customers and other supply chain partners until you ask. Explore the possibilities.

One thing is definitely true. You will not succeed during peak season if you wait until it hits to address your capacity shortfalls. Be clear on your strategy and make sure to build it into your plans. It isn’t all about peak season. Perhaps off-peak is “the time” to upgrade your infrastructure such as your ERP system, your business processes and to explore your customer collaboration opportunities. If you’d like an expert to weigh in on your plans, contact us.

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The Value of Collaborating with Strange Bedfellows

February 19th, 2019

The topic of collaborating with strange bedfellows has recently come up repeatedly. There can be significant value and strategic advantage created in collaborating with unlikely partners if there are clear objectives, trust and an open mind. Just think about Amazon’s collaboration with the U.S. Postal service. Amazon is clearly famous for rapid, same-day, even Sunday deliveries whereas the U.S. postal service is definitely not known for agility and speed yet they understand and are proficient with the ‘last mile’.

Kash Gokli & I host the Harvey Mudd executive roundtables, and the topic of collaborating with competitors as well as unlikely partners arose in our recent roundtable. In the ‘right’ situation at the ‘right’ time, it can maximize service and value. Also, I am a Board member of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership and member of the Southern CA Logistics council, and this topic of collaboration has come up on multiple occasions. We recently led a collaboration session with 10 academic institutions. Of course, they all compete from several respects yet there are opportunities for 1+1+1 = 25. And this is just the beginning. When it is put together with collaborations with industry and government, perhaps 25 can turn into 100 or 1000. Last but not least, I met with UCR students last night to encourage their involvement in manufacturing and supply chain and invite their participation in APICS-IE. We had this exact conversation about collaborating with their competitors (Cal Poly Pomona, CSUSB etc.).

Are you exploring collaborations with strange bedfellows?

One tip to implement this week:
Perhaps it is as simple as opening your mind to new possibilities. Think about the person or entity you would most want to avoid joining your collaboration. What if you gave it a chance? For example, I remember a distinct time a few years ago when I was involved with a group. Someone in the group brought up a new member who would be the last person I’d want to join our group. I felt like I was collaborating with a diverse set of people, and we were making great progress. I just didn’t like this person. Although I didn’t say it, I cursed my bad luck on the way home because I just wasn’t excited about collaborating.

Fast-forward several months and it turned out that the new participant added unique value that probably would not have occurred otherwise. Although I still wouldn’t want to have dinner with this person outside of our work together, I’m glad I gave it a chance or I would have missed out on fantastic benefits and a learning opportunity. We have all been there, and sometimes we are right to be hesitant. Can you achieve a shared goal? Is trust possible as it relates to the objective? Assuming so, I vote for exploring the opportunity. Perhaps it is the next Amazon/ U.S. Postal Service collaboration.

Collaboration goes hand-in-hand with resilience. In today’s marketplace, there is no doubt the resilient will thrive. If your key supplier or customer is devastated by a natural disaster, power outage or unexpected shutdown or other disruptor, have you thought about collaborating with strange bedfellows to serve your customers? You cannot wait until the issue occurs! Creating a resilient end-to-end supply chain is of paramount importance.

For more information, check out our new resilient supply chain series and contact us if you’d like to have an assessment of your organization.



The Global Logistics Landscape

February 15th, 2019

In the past two weeks, I attended the CSCMP State of Logistics event, am preparing for the Future of Supply Chain & Logistics reception event as part of the leadership team and have debriefed with LMA Associate, Elizabeth Warren who attended the State of the L.A. Port and the State of Long Beach Port events. To summarize, I’ll borrow from the Port of L.A.: “Busier, safer, greener”.

Still number 1 and 2 in the U.S., the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach increased volume last year to 9.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) and 8.1 million TEUs respectively.  With the threat of tariffs, there was a surge of imports around the holidays, creating record-breaking days in both locations and the second busiest month in history at Long Beach.

Significant progress has been made in terms of air emissions. From 2005 to 2017, diesel particulate matter has decreased by 88%; nitrogen oxide has decreased by 56%; sulfur oxide decreased by 97%; and greenhouse gas by 18%. In terms of targets, there is a goal to reduce greenhouse gasses by 40% in 2030 and 80% in 2050. Certainly, California leads the way when it comes to green and sustainability.

Logistics is around 7.7% of GDP or $965 billion. It has increased around 20% since 2006 yet decreased as a percentage of GDP by 30%. In comparison to other countries, we are far lower with Japan the closest around 11% and China the furthest around 18%. E-commerce is increasing around 15% per year, and it carries high supply chain costs around 25-30% of e-commerce sales.

All modes of transportation were up (airfreight, rail, trucking)! With that said, trucking is 76% of transportation spend and is the 100 pound gorilla. Rates have been on the rise, capacity is tight and shippers have to be more proactive. There are lots of technologies being explored but no near-term, viable solutions to resolve the issues. Again, similar to the ports, there are countless conversations about sustainability.

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

Global logistics is relevant to GDP and to every business that produces, distributes and sells products. Whether an aerospace manufacturer with multiple outside service steps all requiring transportation or Walmart, requiring a supply chain sourced both locally and from afar as well as grocery delivery on the customer side, without logistics, business will cease.

In today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace where quick turnaround, short lead times and frequent order changes are the norm, re-thinking your manufacturing and extended supply chain footprint is becoming a necessity. Whether re-evaluating make vs. buy decisions, re-configuring sales channel structures or revising inventory fulfillment practices, logistics is one component that can no longer be an afterthought.  

In our view, those clients with a resilient supply chain will thrive in this new normal business environment.

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’s Ahead in Technology?

January 30th, 2019

To think about what’s ahead in technology, it is important to put it in perspective with what’s ahead in business.  Read our article, “What’s Ahead in Business?” for details on the key trends impacting business:

  1. Importance of the customer experience
  2. Taking the holistic view has become a “must”
  3. Volatility is the new norm
  4. The coming power of manufacturing and supply chain

What’s ahead in technology lines up with these same themes. In order to achieve scalable, profitable growth, technology is an important enabler. The most relevant technology trends include:

  1. ERP Upgrades – More and more companies are realizing that their system infrastructure must keep up with business requirements and customer expectations. As tough as an ERP upgrade can be, it is one of the only ways to make the leap from manual, labor-intensive processes to providing a superior customer experience efficiently.
  2. E-commerce/ Customer Portals – Amazon. Alibaba. Customer collaboration. Need we say more?
  3. Business Intelligence & Data Analytics – We are overwhelmed by mountains of data. We are so anxious to gather data yet we don’t seem to have the appropriate information at our fingertips when we need it. That’s where data analytics comes into the picture. Beyond that, predictive analytics is gaining steam.
  4. Artificial Intelligence – Even my Mom counts on Alexa! In addition, who wouldn’t want a car that self corrects? Predicting customer patterns and behaviors is becoming more important. AI is set to transform many industries over the next several years.
  5. IoT– Smart factories. Smart homes. Connected devices and machines. According to NEWGENAPPS, 60% of global manufacturers will use analytics data tracked using connected devices to analyze and and optimize processes.
  6. Robotics & Automation – Robots may not be taking over the universe tomorrow morning, but they are working hand-in-hand with people to achieve many benefits – improve safety, increase speed and consistency, improve customer satisfaction, fill capacity shortfalls and and increase productivity.
  7. Autonomous Vehicles – Beyond self-driving cars and trucks, autonomous vehicles are used widely in manufacturing and distribution environments.

Are you thinking about which of these technologies will support your business objectives?  Or which are likely to impact your industry?  Consider technology as a key part of your strategy and plans. If you’d like an expert to evaluate which, if any, of these technologies will be relevant to your business, contact us.

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