Tag Archive: drones

Drones are More Than a Pipe Dream

December 2nd, 2019

In reading an Cnet article on drones, it is clear drones are more than an Amazon pipe dream. In fact, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that he expects at least one U.S. city to have have the ability to control hundreds of unmanned aerial systems by 2028. NASA is using a “grand challenge” incentive program to improve the technology’s maturity, and there are many key companies working on drone technology. Of course, Amazon is one.  They are joined by folks like UPS and Uber Elevate. Drones soon will become a reality.

One of our clients makes drones for military use, and they have a “mini Cal Tech” feel. The future will be in the hands of those who can transform technology into practical applications, improving the customer experience and the bottom line simultaneously. Are you thinking about how drone technology and other technologies might impact your industry, your company and your employees?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Certainly, there are a vast number of challenges in flying commercial drones especially in dense population areas like Los Angeles. However, as NASA says, with the brightest minds thinking through how to bring this to a reality, it will occur. The only question is whether you will be surprised and left in the dust by the impacts or whether you will be positioned to thrive. We plan to ensure our clients are thinking ahead to be squarely in the “thrive” category!

Drones might seem unrelated to our immediate future and to our business. However, if we receive anything or ship anything, I imagine drones might be relevant. Perhaps we should re-think the impact. And, more importantly, it isn’t the drones themselves.  Instead, it is the technology and that translation of technology into practical applications. Whether it is autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, blockchain or another buzzword, the key question is whether we are thinking about our vision and objectives and how we can leverage technology to accelerate our progress towards these objectives. Now that is worth something!

Since we are unveiling another LMA-i, LMA Intelligence category of Future Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain, this is quite relevant to preparing to successfully navigate your future. No matter what happens in the volatile global marketplace, if you are set up to thrive no matter the conditions, you’ll come out ahead. Stay tuned for article archives related to future proofing, just as we have for the Amazon Effect, the Skills Gap and the Resilient Supply Chain.



Amazon Is Going to Australia!

May 24th, 2017

Amazon has announced plans to go to Australia in a big way — of course! This has many Australian retailers unnerved while simultaneously providing Amazon with a new beachhead for its global distribution network. And, it appears as though Amazon might have a supportive regulatory environment for testing deliveries via autonomous drones and road deliveries since there are vast remote areas for potential deliveries. It certainly seems like Amazon is a company to watch…

Amazon expands to Australia

I asked my Australian consulting colleagues about this announcement, and their response was “Bring it on!”. Retail prices have been higher for quite a while and so it should definitely stir the pot. According to the Wall Street Journal and a Citigroup Inc. analyst, Amazon’s sales could grow 8 fold medium-term in Australia — definitely not pocket change. Undoubtedly, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

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

As we have said repeatedly, we live in a global business environment and so we must stay abreast of trending factors. Amazon’s strategy to gain a beachhead in Australia is noteworthy. Additionally, their continued focus in looking for ways to test drones and other technologies keeps innovation as a priority. And, certainly not to be overlooked, their ability to create disruption remains alive.

Disruptions are becoming part of the new normal. The key is to be aware of potential disruptions and incorporate them into your strategic discussions. What happens if Amazon becomes a player in the UPS and Fed Ex world? Once drone deliveries are proven, how will that change the landscape?

And, from the other viewpoint, ask your team — what disruptions might you initiate? Push the envelope a bit and think outside of the box. In my experience, the only way to pursue this path successfully is to start by creating a culture of innovation in your company. Have you thought about how to do that?

 



The L.A. Times & Automation

April 10th, 2017

supply chainI toured the Los Angeles Times last week and was impressed with the automation. Although newspapers seems like an old business, it was impressive in pure size and volume with minimal people. The business sprawls 2400 acres and is run with 200 people. There were robots to move huge rolls of paper through the facility. There was automated equipment that brought the papers from the machine to the next room over where it was compiled into stacks. We were fortunate to go inside a paper machine and see just how fast the paper ran by (although the example below was stopped at the time).

automation

Certainly, the LA Times invested in automation. However, when I asked that question, the answer was that most of this technology wasn’t new. I find this is true with clients as well — it’s interesting how often what can seem like ‘old’ technology can provide vast improvement to the status quo. Have you looked for opportunities lately?

One tip to implement this week:

As much as we love to talk about the latest and greatest technology such as artificial intelligence or drones, the majority of the time there is a vast opportunity to implement technology that might be less exciting and/or considered ‘older’ but one that will improve productivity, profitability and the like. Have you looked at your already-existing assets for new uses?

For example, I’ve implemented vendor managed inventory or collaborative inventory planning with customers many times throughout my career because it provides a win-win in HUGE proportions. It isn’t new but it achieves significant results — shorter lead times, better service, lower costs, less inventory, etc. What can you do in your business that would achieve a similar result? Think about automation. Push the envelope in thinking. And, remember, some of the best ideas come from unlikely places and with unlikely tool sets.

 

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”