Tag Archive: COVID-19

Inaugural LMA Futurist Award 2020: Corona Clipper

September 29th, 2020

Since our 10 year anniversary in 2015, we have been recognizing people who have contributed to our success with our LMA Advocate award. In the last few years, we have been thinking about starting a corporate award of excellence.  We wanted to make sure it was special and positioned with our most successful and proactive clients in mind. When COVID hit, it inspired the synthesis of these thoughts into our inaugural LMA Futurist award.

The LMA Futurist is to recognize the organization and leaders who go above and beyond “excellence”. Although excellence is certainly desirable, it is no longer enough. We must achieve excellence, resilience and see into the future in order to be proactive and strategic instead of reactive and playing catch up in the marketplace.  The LMA Futurist embodies these qualities, recognizing organizational leaders who think beyond current circumstances, prepare their organization for changing conditions and, of course, strive for efficiency and effectiveness in running the business. For our inaugural LMA Futurist award, I’m excited to recognize Corona Clipper and president, Steve Erickson.

Steve Erickson and the Corona Clipper team epitomize the LMA Futurist. It goes without saying that there is a constant persistence to strive for excellence – grow sales, increase profitability, accelerate cash flow, create customer engagement, lower costs and much more. And, they do not stop there. For example, early in the e-commerce world, Steve and the team were exploring options to expand their business and grow in this area. They took tangible, parallel tangible steps forward with research and explored options to grow Corona.com, as well as their business with Amazon, Home Depot and others. When COVID-19 hit, they were prepared to pivot with e-commerce.

In addition, they constantly reevaluate supply options in Asia, Mexico and other countries. So when the tariffs hit, they were already in transition in moving some volume to Vietnam. Thinking strategically never stops. How to successfully achieve customer responsiveness in product innovation and customer service while managing costs remains top of mind. I’m thrilled to recognize Corona Clipper and Steve Erickson with the LMA Futurist.

One Tip to Implement This Week:
Follow the lead of Corona Clipper. Here are a few insights into their success:

  1. Think multiple chess moves ahead of the competition: Easier said than done.  Yet, with education, examples, trials, practice and persistence, it is achievable.
  2. Innovate, innovate, innovate: The most successful organizations and leaders post-COVID will be those that innovate.
  3. Collaborate with the best: Surround yourself with experts and expertise.
  4. Remember that people are your #1 asset: We follow and prefer to do business with people, not companies. Your employees, customers, suppliers, trusted advisors….
  5. Stay current: Don’t follow fads.  Understand trends, capabilities, options and opportunities.

Consider these strategies if you are interested in achieving profitable growth and making an impact. Read more about these types of ideas to navigate and successfully emerge post COVID-19 in my free eBook Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. Please send your feedback and stories. I will incorporate them into an upcoming article, video or interview.

Stay safe & healthy.



Reshoring: Is It All Hype or Action?

September 20th, 2020

According to a Thomas survey about COVID-19’s impact on U.S. manufacturing and industrial production, 64% of manufacturers are likely to bring production back to North America. It has gone beyond talk to action. Clients and colleagues are seeing an increase in inquiries related to reshoring and expanding manufacturing capabilities.

Even before COVID-19, executives were interested in reshoring. The total cost has come into alignment (and is often preferred) in North America for non-commodity products. Tariffs exaggerated the situation, prompting executives to consider the investment of capital to repurpose, expand and build manufacturing capabilities. When inventory carrying costs, transportation costs, intellectual property costs, management and overhead costs, logistics costs and many others are considered, the equation often flips on its head. Excess inventory also ties up cash unnecessarily.

Although costs are relevant to remain competitive in the global economy, it is even more compelling when executives look at the customer side of the equation. In today’s Amazon-impacted, fast-paced environment, customers expect immediate delivery of customized products and services with the ability to change orders based on the latest customer and consumer requirements at the last minute. The last mile has become the last minute. In fact, customers not only expect to change orders while products are out for delivery, but they also expect easy returns and replacement products as a typical standard of service.

Continue reading….. on Brushware or LMA and watch our video on reshoring (also below).

Read more about product supply strategy and related concepts in our eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. If you’d like a rapid assessment and recommendations for your situation, please contact us.

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Your People During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Eagle Eye Strategic Focus



The Future of Technology

August 20th, 2020

Technology is a tricky topic. On one hand, almost everyone has put technology and ERP implementations on hold due to concerns about COVID-19 impacts and to conserve cash. On the other hand, it is the best time to gain employees’ attention and focus on upgrading technology to scale the business, create a superior customer experience and deliver bottom line results.

Kellogg or Post?
As I said in my eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19, the Kellogg vs. Post story from the Great Depression provides an excellent example to ponder. In the 1920’s, Kellogg and Post dominated the market for cereal which was still a relatively new and untapped market. Post reigned in expenses and Kellogg doubled its ad budget and pushed its new cereal. Even as the economy hit bottom, Kellogg’s profits rose 30% and they become the dominant player.  Do you want to be Kellogg or Post? The morale to the story is NOT about dollars invested. It is about the opportunities of investing resources (which can be simply in the form of employees’ focus) in future success.

Which Technologies Provide Immediate and Long-Term Value?
Of course, the answer depends on your industry, company, current infrastructure, your customers’ evolving needs, your suppliers’ evolving needs and more. Why not perform a rapid assessment of what makes the most sense for your business and take one important step forward? As I said in my eBook, Newton’s Law is relevant. Objects in motion stay in motion whereas objects at rest will stay at rest. You must take steps forward, no matter how small.

Let’s highlight a few of the more likely technologies to provide immediate value and long-term value:

  1. Further utilize & expand your ERP system: No one uses 80% of their system.  Most organizations utilize only 20%. Find the next 1% that will yield a significant benefit to your customers or bottom line. Clients are gaining significant value from this simple step.
  2. B2B customer portal/ B2C e-commerce: No doubt about it. The ONLY growth area across the board is e-commerce. In addition, what could be more important than visibility of orders for your B2B customers? Delays will result in lost opportunity!
  3. Business Intelligence (BI): We are overloaded with data. The issue isn’t having data, it is making meaningful decisions and formulating plans based on the interpretation of data. BI will bring meaning to your data that translates into customer and profit opportunities.
  4. Artificial intelligence (AI) & Human Learning: In today’s environment, predictive capabilities produce VASTLY greater results than simply analysis and static plans. Demand planning/ forecasting, predictive maintenance, cash flow forecasting, and the automation of tasks are enhanced with AI.
  5. CRM: There has never been a time when understanding, staying in touch with and being on top of evolving customer needs has been more important.
  6. Digital Twins: Virtual replicas of physical devices that technology gurus can use to run simulations before actual devices are built and deployed. Read a fascinating article about the applications in logistics.
  7. Systems to gain efficiencies: WMS (warehouse management), TMS (transportation management), rate shopping, MPS (master production scheduling)/ MRP (material requirements planning)/Inventory planning, replenishment including VMI (vendor managed inventory) and more.
  8. 3D Printing/ Additive manufacturing – If you can produce a customized product on demand close to customers, you win in today’s Amazonian environment. Either way, it speeds up R&D.

Read our eBook, Future-ProofingiManufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19 to read more about technology as it relates to successfully emerging and thriving post-COVID-19. Explore these concepts further as you start thinking through your technology roadmap.

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The Rise of E-Commerce & WMS Popularity During the Pandemic

Systems Pragmatist



Why SIOP is Critical to Thriving During & Post COVID

August 12th, 2020

COVID-19 has disrupted every business. Some are growing far faster than supply can keep up, while others have dropped like a rocket. Still, others have almost identical dollar volume yet double the number of orders at half the order size, creating significant disruption in warehousing, shipping and transportation. And yet others might have less severe changes in volume with certain customers thriving and others dormant – all creating mix disruption.

The supply side is no different. Previously reliable suppliers can be suspect at best. Previously high-quality, low-cost suppliers have skyrocketing costs as airfreight is required to keep customers’ satisfied. Risks have increased dramatically with the uncertainty of cash flow and long-term ‘institutions’ of the industry are disappearing overnight. With this high level of disruption across both demand and supply, misalignment has run rampant, costs are increasing and customers are frustrated.

SIOP (Sales, Inventory Operations Planning) Cuts through the Disruption
You know the story. The busier we get, the less we have time for improvement yet we spend double or triple the time to achieve the same outcome because we can’t set aside the time required to start or maintain an improved process. I’ve been there and am familiar with the excuses! With that said, STOP and look around you. You are on a hamster wheel with no end in sight. Implementing SIOP, even if simplified to what is achievable under current conditions, cuts through the disruption to stabilize your supply chain.

What is SIOP?
Quite simply, SIOP is about finding a way within your environment to realign demand with supply. You have to start with demand or you will forever chase your tail. To simplify the best practices across industries (aerospace and defense, building and construction products, food and beverage, healthcare products), geographies, company sizes that apply to manufacturing, supply chain, logistics and service organizations with supplies, you should focus on these keys:

  1. Proactive management of demand: Talk with customers.  Find out about your customers’ customers and every customer type within your channel until you get to the end customer (consumer, business using your product, patient). Ask about and observe evolving customer needs. Review historical trends.  And, put a stake in the ground with a starting point forecast. Outcome: typically 12-18 month rolling forecast
  2. Proactive management of internal supply: Talk with your internal teams. Understand changing capacity and staffing levels (manufacturing, warehousing). Realign temporary and contract assistance.  Understand your resiliency to changing demand (overtime, increasing staffing, efficiency improvements, maintenance and engineering support, etc.). Realign with R&D/product development requirements and your support resources. Outcome: typically a capacity plan (production, storage), high-level staffing plan and key decision plan (make versus buy, product/customer transitions, machinery and equipment plans) for at least as long as your longest lead item – 12-18 months.
  3. Proactive management of supply partners: Talk with suppliers. Find out about your suppliers’ suppliers capabilities, their likelihood to meet schedules, ability to meet cash flow needs and risk of shutdown (whether temporary due to COVID-19 or another disruption or permanent (going out of business)). Outcome: typically a sourcing and supply plan by key suppliers/ commodities for at least as long as your longest lead item – 12-18 months.
  4. Proactive management of your logistics network partners: Talk with transportation partners, brokers, 3PL/ 4PL partners and understand the extended supply chain, potential risks, possible options as disruptions occur, etc. Outcome: typically a logistics network and goods movement plan for at least as long as your longest lead item – 12-18 months.
  5. Take stock of inventory: Do you have strategic stock of critical items? Items without a robust backup supplier? Items in countries of higher risk of shutdown? Are you so busy running in circles that your slow moving and obsolete is expiring under your nose? Outcome: typically an inventory investment plan for 12-18 months.

Pre-COVID-19, clients went through a SIOP cycle with a monthly cadence. The typical processes included:

  1. Demand review meeting
  2. Supply review meeting
  3. Alignment of demand and supply (not always requiring a meeting)
  4. Inventory review meeting (often incorporated into the supply meeting)
  5. Executive SIOP review meeting (in some cases, quarterly made sense)

During COVID-19, we have taken these same concepts and adjusted to changing conditions. No two clients are alike in what makes sense to rapidly realign demand and supply and maintain this alignment.  Yet, there is one item in common across the board:

A weekly alignment on just the critical customers, internal resources, suppliers, logistics network partners and review of inventory

Read more about SIOP and related concepts in our eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. If you’d like a rapid assessment and recommendations for your situation, please contact us.

 

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Future-Proofing Your Supply Chain

Eagle Eye Strategic Focus



The Rise of E-commerce & WMS Popularity During the Pandemic

August 4th, 2020

According to Forbes, COVID-19 accelerated e-commerce growth by 4-6 years. Smart players are taking advantage of the opportunity. Only Amazon takes in more money than Shopify’s websites, and analysts are predicting a 75% annual rise in the next five years.

The ONLY item in common across all clients and colleagues across the board is the rise in e-commerce during COVID-19. In fact, it has been the only bright spot in many cases. As a result, there is an increasing interest in B2C AND B2B software to support improved customer satisfaction and efficient order processing and fulfillment. You do NOT have to sell to consumers to be interested in providing increased value to customers and increasing internal efficiencies!

On a related topic, warehouse management software (WMS) is also gaining in popularity. Not surprisingly, as e-commerce increases, smaller, more frequent shipments become commonplace. So, executives and supply chain leaders are thinking about how to effectively and efficiently handle this increased volume in the warehouse. It is a completely different model than pallet and case shipping in the traditional warehouse. Additionally, unrelated to e-commerce, as manufacturers and distributors work to manage costs to offset the negative impacts of COVID-19, they want to further utilize WMS systems to increase their efficiency and cost effectiveness.

One Tip to Implement This Week:
Although e-commerce and WMS are hot topics in supply chain management, they may or may not be relevant to your situation. The key is to be thinking about what is integral to creating a superior customer experience with increased profitability and cash flow. Does technology support your objective? If so, which technology?

If you have the opportunity to serve customers directly or the opportunity to encourage your B2B customers to place orders through a customer portal (giving them better visibility and accessibility), now is the time to launch a B2B/B2C software. Do a quick review of your situation so you have the facts to assess the best path forward but do not delay. Invest quickly and reallocate/expand resources to take advantage of the opportunity while the iron is hot.

An an example, check out the story of what e-commerce did for the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Similarly, the proactive ERP partners are pursuing WMS and related business analytics to provide extra value to their clients during these turbulent times.

If you are interested in a rapid assessment of your situation and/or an e-commerce, WMS, BI or ERP-related selection to support your growth plans, contact us.

If you are interested in learning more about these types of trends and impacts for manufacturing and supply chain, read my free eBook Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19.