Tag Archive: capabilities

Automation or Autonomous?

August 16th, 2020

While leading a panel “Building Resiliency in the Supply Chain” with gurus from Georgia Tech, the leading experts in global logistics and associated research, several intriguing concepts arose.

My Association for Supply Chain Management group led a series of webinars on “Navigating through Volatility” including discussions with several logistics experts from distribution, the ports, transportation, technology and more. Many strategies for success arose during these sessions.

And, last but not least, both my top-notch trusted advisor network, ProVisors and our clients have brought strategies to light. A a result, it seemed prudent to share a few highlights.

Automation vs. Autonomy
Automation is definitely on the rise as organizations determine how to thrive post COVID-19. Statistics show that the automation market is expected to almost double in the next 5 years, and experts show that plans to automate are being accelerated. For example, the automation expected in the Inland Empire in the next 10-15 years will likely be compressed into the next five. On the other hand, automation isn’t all its cracked up to be! For example, when one part of the production line breaks down, you could end up with a pile up of product and waste at the bottleneck. On the other hand, will you be the last person typing on a typewriter? What are your automation plans?

The Georgia Tech experts made the case that automation is analogous to the typewriter. The new concept is autonomous so that machines and vehicles can operate independently of human control or supervision. Could these autonomous vehicles take on roles not previously possible, practical or cost effective? Almost all modes of transportation are candidates for autonomous vehicles. We typically think about trucking convoys, cars, drones and sometimes aircraft but are you also considering the impact of autonomous fork lifts, container ships, high speed trains, cranes, last mile delivery, cargo resupply and more? With the dramatic rise in e-commerce, autonomous drone resupply could be quite the win.

What are the Impacts?
Client examples abound. A small aerospace manufacturer automated a critical production process. Prior to automating this process, the area was a constant bottleneck. Work-in-process was stockpiled in front of the work station as high-skilled workers tried to keep up with the incoming flow of material. They ran as much overtime as feasible to try to keep product flowing to the next process step so that they could meet the customers’ ship date, but it was a never-ending battle with no end in sight. After automating the manufacturing process, the high-skilled resources set up the machines to run throughout the night autonomously. Suddenly, our client was running a three shift operation with the same resources, and customers didn’t experience delays. There was upfront investment in machinery and equipment as well as setup and education.  However, it paid back almost immediately with increased output and sales.

From a logistics point-of-view, WMS systems are gaining traction in the current environment. There are countless options for automation, as well as autonomous capabilities within the warehouse. For example, clients have installed conveyor systems which connect directly to the WMS systems and shipping systems which connects to ERP systems to manage order fulfillment processes. With the rise in e-commerce (and the number of small packages and associated labor requirements), automation can be even more relevant to the bottom line. In fact, there are several options to replace pickers with automated processes. The future will look to automation and autonomy. Will a drone resupply trucks that delivering e-commerce orders?

What Should We Do?
Get up to speed on the possibilities and potential of automation, as well as autonomous machinery and vehicles. As you hear about additional examples, think through the concepts, look for additional applications and brainstorm with colleagues on how these concepts could help your company and/or industry. The best ideas come from those who are willing to voice their ideas, test them under controlled conditions and move forward no matter the obstacles. Create this type of environment at your company, and soon suggestions for automation and autonomous processes will rise to the surface.

We discuss these types of strategies in our eBook on Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. Additionally, follow IEEP, APICS Inland Empire and LMA Consulting as we communicate progress on the consortium for logistics and advanced manufacturing success Check out our articles and webinars, and contact us if you’d like to brainstorm these concepts further.

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

Drones are More Than a Pipe Dream

The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain



Are Your Employees #1?

July 22nd, 2020

During this crisis, what we do and how we handle our employees will make our future success. I’ve heard stories of small businesses that closed and didn’t even communicate to their employees.  Conversely, I’ve heard about companies taking great care of their employees.

Which will turn into long-term success?

  • Who Should We Retain? If there ever was a time to make sure you keep your best and most valuable employees, it is NOW. Make sure you find a way to take care of your “A” critical players.
  • How Do We Handle the Shutdown? -There are lots of resources on our coronavirus webpage and upcoming webinars on how to handle the organizational development ,as well as the HR and compliance aspects of a shutdown.  Stay up-to-date.
  • How Do We Maintain Safety for Those Working? Of course, we have all heard about social distancing but how do we implement these changes in our facilities? We should be thinking and implementing whether we are running or shutdown because this pandemic is not going to be over quickly. What else should we do to ensure safety? Again, refer to our coronavirus resources webpage for ideas.
  • How Do We Ensure the IT capabilities and security required? Hopefully you have already have a top notch partner to assist. If not, contact one rapidly. Check out our trusted advisor resources for suggestions. There is much to think about to ensure your employees are able to work, are able to work securely and can still collaborate successfully. Also there is a webinar in the Thriving Through Ambiguity webinar series on just this topic.
  • How to Go Beyond the Basics?   Again, these types of articles and resources are on our  coronavirus blog articles and trusted advisor resources webpage. We MUST get beyond the basics to how we successfully navigate this pandemic and emerge rapidly to success. This will be the focus of our upcoming e-book as well.

Put your employees at the top of your to-do list and keep it there so employees remain a top priority.



The Economy & Where It Is Headed

April 20th, 2020

Since I dressed up for my webinar with Eileen Angulo on “Navigating Coronavirus Impact with our Employees,” it seemed a great time to do a quick video for I’ve Been Thinking on the economy and where we go from here. 

One Tip to Implement This Week:As I said in the video, consider how you can help. Turn your focus from panic and worry to creativity and innovation. Focusing on innovation is the best path forward if we’d like to turn our situations toward the positive, and it is certainly is what will turn the U.S. towards a positive future. Anyone can innovate. Perhaps we aren’t all as skilled as MacGyver in utilizing pencils and paper clips but we each have unique talents and capabilities. Spend an hour focused on innovation and let me know how it goes. To learn more about innovation,

Stay safe and healthy. We continue to post coronavirus resources, write blog articles on navigating coronavirus as well as “beyond lockdown” strategies, and we are sponsoring APICS Inland Empire‘s “Navigating Through Volatility” webinar series. Join us and learn more here. As an executive director of SAC, we are also hosting a “Thriving Through Ambiguity” webinar series with a nominal fee for non-SAC members. Let us know if you have topics you’d like addressed. We would love your feedback.



Is Your ERP System Scalable?

August 14th, 2019

erp successSince we happen to be working on 3 or 4 ERP system projects concurrently, the topic of ERP is top of mind.

Let’s start by saying upfront that we turn down ERP selection project requests. Not everyone needs a new system. Perhaps a process upgrade and better utilization of your current system will sustain your business for 3-5 years. If so, why divert attention? On the other hand, waiting “too long” will quickly spiral into disaster. How do you know which of these is your situation?

An ERP upgrade is one of the most significant initiatives a company can undertake, and the statistics aren’t good. 80% fail to achieve the expected outcome! Yet, if your ERP system isn’t scalable, hiding your head in the sand will lead straight to unmitigated disaster. Thus, it’s best to be proactive, diligent and strategic when it comes to this topic.

Selecting a system isn’t something to delegate to your IT person. Instead, it is something you must “own”. After all, if your system will support your resources so that you can grow the business with the peace of mind that your system will enable a high level of customer service with additional customer-friendly capabilities (such as a customer portal), support your #1 asset (your employees and partners) behind the scenes and allow your business to scale with minimal if any investment of time and resources, it suddenly becomes quite relevant.

The 80/20 of success relates to just two items:

  • Your critical success factors – what is unique to your company or industry and/or what drives customer differentiation and profitability
  • Your design and implementation partners – although the focus typically goes to the software, as with business, the 80/20 of success is with people and partners.

Having an ERP system that supports your business objectives is another key component of creating a resilient supply chain. If you’d like a rapid assessment on whether your ERP system will support your growth and business objectives, contact us. And please check out our resilient supply chain webpage.



Manufacturing & Supply Chain Expert, Lisa Anderson Considers ERP, CRM and Related Systems Key to Enabling Growth

May 7th, 2019

Originally published on ExpertClick on May 2, 2019

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA (May 2, 2019) –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc. considers internal and collaborative systems to be critical to short- and long-term growth for manufacturers and distributors. Systems must be able to support scalability and sustainability, enabling a resilient supply chain, superior customer experiences and peak financial performance.

“In today’s Amazonian environment, customers expect rapid delivery, over and beyond cradle to grave, collaborative service, 24/7 accessibility and last-minute changes. Executives are realizing their technology infrastructure must be able to meet and exceed these customer expectations while driving bottom line improvement” notes Ms. Anderson.

ERP, CRM, e-commerce, customer portals and related technologies are integral to success. “Many times, the systems are blamed for internal issues or challenges. Sometimes, it’s because they are out of date or a hodgepodge and don’t support the business.  Other times, the systems have the capabilities but are just not being used properly. We have seen clients ready to ‘throw out’ a perfectly suitable ERP system because they think the system is the problem rather than how it ties with the people and process” she continued.

Ensuring that the executive team is involved in ERP and system evaluations from a strategy viewpoint is critical.  “Since the system will impact market share, customer experiences and bottom line results, it is key treat ERP as a strategic priority,” she said.  Internal systems should reflect business objectives, cultural norms (entrepreneurial vs. approvals) and multi-department requirements and priorities. In today’s Amazonian environment, the only way to thrive is to leverage advanced functionality to automate, collaborate and utilize predictive analytics to make sound business decisions to set strategy,” Ms. Anderson concluded.

LMA Consulting Group works with clients on manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation that maximizes the customer experience and enables profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth, including ERP evaluation and selection. “ERP is a tough topic. Clients worry they are too small, or it will be too expensive. Meanwhile, the competition passes them. Using technology that supports a superior customer experience without breaking the bank is a “must”, regardless of size or industry” she concluded.

LMA Consulting Group just released the findings of manufacturing executive predictions for 2019:  “Manufacturing & Supply Chain in the New Normal” (available at no charge). 

About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson has been named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, a 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank,ranked in the top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, an inspiring collection of 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including providing a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.
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