Tag Archive: environment

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?

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Systems Pragmatist

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

 



The Resilient Supply Chain: Does Your Environment Support Fear?

November 27th, 2018

In today’s Amazonian environment, customers expect rapid delivery (same day/next day is preferred regardless of industry), 24/7 accessibility, easy returns, innovative collaborations and much more.  Add disruptors popping up all over (such as Uber, Netflix and more), trade war impacts and technology disruptors to entire industries (such as artifical intelligence to the accounting industry), it is quite clear we are in a new ballgame.  One of the keys to successfully navigate this environment is to rely on your people.

When it comes to your people, if they don’t feel empowered, they will not take a leap of faith and bring up ideas, test theories etc.  In essence, they need to overcome fear to rise to the occasion. What is the environment like in your office? Here are a few questions to ponder:

  1.  Will employees be shunned if they go against the grain?  For example, if employees bring up an idea that isn’t popular or one that the manager thinks puts him/her in not-as-good a light, will they get shunned?  Before leaping to the answer of “of course not”, perhaps take a second look one or two levels below you. You might find a different answer than you wish.
  2.  Is failure celebrated?  Of course, we don’t mean multiple failures repeating the same mistakes but is a single failure/learning experience celebrated?
  3.  Would failure still be celebrated if it impacts month-end numbers? Unfortunately, that is when it will occur.  It is just luck of the draw.
  4.  Is it OK to help a project team?  For example, if an employee helps a project team that requires his/her expertise even if it isn’t relevant or supportive to his boss’s success, will it be OK?  Worse yet, if this person is busy (which will always be true), is it OK if he diverts a few hours to help the project team for the greater good even if it doesn’t help his manager?  Will the manager answer the same way if he didn’t know you were listening?
  5.  Do you provide tools and training?  Some employees will take the leap on their own whereas others want the extra support to feel qualified to provide ideas and advice.  Are you willing to invest in these?
  6.  Will you provide mentoring and support? Beyond tools and training, ongoing mentoring and encouragement is needed to facilitate the process.  Whether formal or informal, do you have a process in place that provides this support?

It is definitely much harder than it appears to have your employees overcome fear when you aren’t looking.  

Are you willing to invest time and money into this effort to enable the growth of your employees and the scalable, profitable growth of your business?

 



Disruption, Innovation, Global Trends & the APICS-IE Symposium

November 20th, 2018

Lately, I’ve attended various conferences and participated in a few events/ panels on a diverse set of topics with different groups (ranging from transportation to public policy to manufacturing and supply chain to consulting to universities/ students to women leaders).  Aside from it being a whirlwind of fascinating conversations, I’ve seen a few themes emerge across every one of these events – disruption, innovation and global trends.

In today’s Amazonian and Uberian environments, disruption is the new normal.  For example, at Mobility 21 (Southern CA transportation coalition), autonomous vehicles and Uber/Lyft type transportation/trucking concepts arose.  At the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/ APICS) international conference, the idea the IoT, artificial intelligence, Netflix type disruption and more arose.  And at the Society for Advancement of Consulting local event held at Harvey Mudd, almost 50% of the attendees were originally from out of the country and key discussions occurred around global trends and disruption.

Thus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t invite you to join us at the APICS-IE executive panel & networking symposium with an amazing panel discussing “Advancing Innovation and Navigating Global Trends” on Nov 3rd at Harvey Mudd in Claremont.  Click here to learn more and register.

One tip to implement this week:
Since disruption and innovation go hand-in-hand, there are many ways to think about this topic.  One suggestion is to gather your team and business partners/trusted advisors and brainstorm about what disruptions are likely to impact your industry.  Also consider which disruptions are likely to come down the pike. Understanding your environment and how you are positioned is a great starting point – and you’ll be better off than most organizations who might already be known in innovation circles to repeat this exercise on some sort of regular basis!

Additionally, join our unique networking and educational event on “Advancing Innovation and Navigating Global Trends”.  We have an amazing panel including the deputy executive director of the port of Los Angeles, the COO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Chairman/Dept of Surgery at the City of Hope, a senior executive in aerospace and a senior director of supply chain & operations.  It should stir up some really engaging discussions on innovation and global trends! The event is on Nov 3rd in Claremont, CA from 8-11:30am. I hope to see you there.  Learn more and register.

 



Considerations to Evaluate Your Business Model for 2018

January 11th, 2018

Do you Evaluate Your Business Model?
Most of us are so busy on a daily basis we don’t have time to think about our business models.  It is the rare client that questions their business model, let alone continually modifies it for success.  Do you question your business model on a yearly basis?

Why is it Important?
There are many reasons to re-evaluate your business models on a frequent basis.  How many of these impact your company?  

  1.  The global economy – Well, if you don’t see constant movement and change in the global economy – which is impacted by countless numbers of events and triggers, some predictable, some uncontrollable (such as the California fires and related impacts) and some multi-faceted and complex – we can’t imagine what bubble you are living in (and sometimes wish we could join you!).
  2.  Demographics Are you thinking about how the baby boomers are impacting your company?  No matter what you think, they are the largest generation ever and will have a profound impact.  Have you thought about what it means?
  3.  Social mores (customs and manners) – What is society thinking and how will it impact your company and personal career?  Do you think we are going back to dressing up in the work place or wearing jeans in a casual environment?  It was just a few years ago that virtual teams was the hot topic but millennials seem to enjoy engagement.  Speaking of millennials, do you think the environment and sustainability are important?  You bet!
  4.  Technology – Have you thought about the changing nature of technology, the latest trends and what is likely to impact your company?  Technology has the ability to obsolete entire industries if you have your head under a rock.  It also has the potential to provide an enabler to success if you keep your eye out.
  5.  Globalization – Not only are our devices connected (internet of things) but our countries are connected in ways you might never think about or take into consideration.  Certainly, currency differences are relatively easy to understand, although not to predict.  Yet, there are vast numbers of connections between countries, economies, politics, natural resources and much more.  Have you thought about what is changing in the globalization landscape?  For example, ten years ago, no one was fired for outsourcing to China (whether it made any sense or not).  What is going on today?  Near-sourcing is certainly a more relevant trend but only when considered in the global view.

Whatever your business model, it’s important to take time to evaluate and assess so that you are ahead, not behind the curve. Where are you?



Whole Foods CEO and Conscious Capitalism

November 9th, 2017

Whole Foods and Amazon
John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, was a keynote speaker at APICS 2017.   Of course, we were all interested because of the recent acquisition by Amazon and what it means for the grocery business.  What is telling is that John Mackey still works at Whole Foods and thought it made sense to partner with Amazon.   He stopped taking a salary more than $1 in 2006 and sold his business earlier this year, and so he certainly doesn’t have to work! 

Conscious Capitalism
John is passionate about conscious capitalism which also happens to be the title of his book – Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business .  He argues that both business and capitalism are inherently good and used some examples such as Southwest Airlines.  He said that business is about the real lives of real people. 

A few of the tenants of conscious capitalism include:

  1. Instead of profit maximization, purpose maximization – Thinking about higher purpose can yield interesting results.
  2. Stakeholder integration – Focusing the extended team on purpose maximization.
  3. Conscious leaders – It all starts with leadership!
  4. Conscious culture – Since culture is the set of beliefs that governs behavior, a conscious culture is the bedrock to ensuring success.

Creating Strong Business for the Greater Good
John is interested in creating strong businesses, moving capitalism closer to its higher potential and fostering a positive environment for all….a noble purpose.  Perhaps we should pay attention and consider themes that might be valuable.  After all, he grew Whole Foods from scratch to $16 billion!

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