Tag Archive: logistics

Supply Resiliency: Video Interview on Disruption in Logistics

December 4th, 2018

Next in our supply chain resiliency value series, we are excited to share an interview with BJ Patterson, President of Pacific Mountain Logistics.  Thanks to B.J. for sharing his expertise on the Manufacturing Summit’s panel “Amazon Effect: Pass or Play – the New Sales & Distribution Game and How it Affects Manufacturing”.   

B.J. is responding to a question related to supply chain resiliency on disruptions in logistics.  In essence, the key question is: How to maintain margins throughout the supply chain when:

1) We ship a single item vs. a pallet of items in terms of warehousing/material handling inefficiencies

2) Customers’ orders require many more truck trips than ever before

3) Truck space is at a premium and we are shipping a lot of air since Amazon-like shipments often have 1 item in a large box on a truck.  

Certainly, there are no easy answers.  However, we must be thinking about how we’ll create supply chain resiliency so we can thrive with these changing market conditions.

 


With an increasing frequency, supply chain partners are pulling together to find solutions to these types of challenges.  Moreover, the strategic use of data is at a premium. If you can better coordinate all of these ever-changing market conditions to gain visibility and efficiencies within your extended supply chain, you just might take the lead in your industry.  

Our most successful clients don’t wait for these disruptors to crush them.  Instead, they are always looking for potential disruptors and searching for solutions.  They take proactive approaches to take the lead position instead of disappointing customers in an era where the customer experience is of paramount importance.  

What are you doing to navigate these logistics disruptors? We are always interested in feedback and ideas to share.

 



The Ladies of Logistics & Global Trends

October 9th, 2018

Thanks to Elizabeth Warren for hosting the informal Southern CA group, the Ladies of Logistics (LOL).  We had a fabulous time and made amazing connections.  Where else can you go and see every key connection related to trucking, the ports, freight forwarders, logistics, global trade and all related parties (such as education partners, the media etc.)?  I had great conversations with old friends and I met new colleagues. Business is more successful – and fun- when we come together to celebrate and connect.

 

 

 

 

 

Where do you go to find out what’s happening with your industry?  When it comes to the global marketplace, there were insightful conversations at LOL with perspectives from the following:

  1. Recent graduates from the global public policy program at USC/University of Hong Kong
  2. Freight forwarders
  3. Several different roles related to the ports
  4. CSULB Center for International Trade & Transportation
  5. BCO (Beneficial Cargo Owner)
  6. Logistics industry professionals
  7. Public policy professionals
  8. And many more.  

I learned quite a few interesting trends which I’m planning to turn into episodes of my new series, “The Resilient Supply Chain”.  How do you stay on top of global trends?

One tip to implement this week:
There are many ways to stay on top of global trends (or any trends you’d like to keep track of that relates to your industry).  You can start immediately by implementing any of the following strategies:

  1. Attend a networking event such as LOL
  2. Read an industry magazine such as the Journal of Commerce.
  3. Participate with a trade association such as APICS-IE, ISM, CSCMP and more (all of which were represented at the LOL event). By the way, if you are interested in global trends, put APICS-IE’s executive panel & networking symposium on “Advancing Innovation & Navigating Global Trends” on your calendar.
  4. Ask your colleagues, customers and suppliers.  You’d be surprised what you can learn by asking a few key questions!
  5. Attend a chamber of commerce or related event that focuses on your area of interest.  For example, in Southern CA, the L.A. Chamber and the IEEP both focus on logistics.
  6. Do some interest research.
  7. And many, many more.

Just choose one and get started!

 



The Resilient Supply Chain: Global Trade Unrest

September 30th, 2018

In today’s Amazonian environment, the customer experience is of paramount importance.      Nothing else matters if the customer isn’t happy. Thus, all the conversations going on about trade really just come back to the customer.  What is the best way to service your customers?

 

 

In manufacturing circles, there are many elements converging to strengthen manufacturing in the United States:

  • There are lots and lots of customers in the U.S. and they all want products and services delivered rapidly (making it less conducive to producing half way around the world).
  • Customers change their minds frequently and last minute changes aren’t conducive to long transit times.
  • The new tax law has made the tax rates much more comparative to other nations.  
  • Deregulation has definitely made manufacturers more on par with other nations.
  • Technology improvements have made it more cost effective to produce in the U.S.

Globally Interconnected
Even though manufacturing is surging in the U.S., we live in a globally interconnected world.  Very few, if any, clients source 100% of all materials within the U.S. If you go to suppliers twice removed, you’ll definitely be in global territory.  Thus, global trade remains a key issue.

Tariffs
In logistics circles, there is a lot of concern about the impacts of tariffs on global trade.  Will customers still bring in the same level of imports? If not, how will that impact the ports, distribution centers and transportation?  

Interesting that it hasn’t slowed down yet. The ports are having a record breaking year. We’ve seen price increases start to occur as they are passed on to the next person in the supply chain.  However, the question remains – is this good or bad? And will it substantially change the supply chain in any way?

Global Trade
Certainly there are a lot of heated discussions surrounding global trade.  We have clients who are positively impacted because it just makes them more competitive and on par with the rest of their industry.  And we have clients who are up in arms because their raw material prices are increasing and they are concerned about how to pass it on to their customers.  Will this put them at a disadvantage vs. a competitor who doesn’t source from overseas? Or does it just even the playing field?

Strategic Questions and Decisions
Strategic decisions are beginning to be impacted as well.  For example, Ford decided to not produce a new small car in China.  With the 25% import tariffs, it no longer made financial sense. A few clients are thinking about whether to expand into Mexico and the U.S.  There is uncertainty with NAFTA . However, the experts believe something will carry forward. Perhaps with a resilient supply chain, the key is to not guess and focus on your customer.  If your customers are in the U.S., Mexico is closer to the U.S. than China. That is a fact that won’t change. One thing is definite – things will continue to change and evolve.

Have you built resiliency into your supply chain so you can successfully navigate ever changing business conditions?



When is it the ‘Right’ Time for a Supply Chain Network Assessment?

September 4th, 2018

Supply Chain networks that are not set up to support scalable, profitable growth have a high likelihood of negatively impacting your customers, impeding your growth and consuming far more resources than they were ever imagined to sustain.  What is ideally mapped out one year is likely to change the next in today’s Amazonian marketplace. Thus, assessing your supply chain network from your suppliers’ suppliers through your manufacturing and logistics networks to your customers’ customers with an eye to customers, cost and cash will undoubtedly yield results.  

What are some hints to know when it’s the ‘right’ time?

  1.  Renew your lease, buy or move? – As your lease comes due, it is a natural time to re-evaluate your supply chain network to make sure you are positioned ideally to support your customer base at maximum value for your customers and your organization.
  2.  Cost considerations – As you think about how to reduce your cost base, re-evaluating your supply chain network is a ‘must’.  Most likely, you can save a few pennies here or there.  But, for substantial savings, you may need to review your infrastructure.
  3.  Customer demands – In today’s Amazonian environment, customer demands are ever-increasing.  Is your supply chain network positioned to support your customers’ needs, delivery points and sales growth expectations?
  4.  Space constraints – As you start to think about space, it might be an opportune time to re-evaluate your supply chain network.  First, do you know how much space is needed to support your growth plans (and where)? Do you have the opportunity to maximize space?  Or should you re-position?
  5.  Insourcing/ outsourcing– As you think about whether you should insource, outsource (ex. 3PL) or utilize a combination of both, it is definitely an opportune time to evaluate your supply chain network and logistics infrastructure.
  6.  Supply chain partners – If you are re-evaluating key supply chain partners, it is likely a good time to do a quick assessment of your supply chain network.   

We have found that a supply chain network assessment can be valuable even if you decide not to change a thing.  Performing a quick review of customers, suppliers, operations and logistics infrastructure from a customer, cost and cash flow viewpoint can provide substantial benefit every so often.  Contact us if you’d like to talk further.



What Should We Be Thinking for the 2nd Half of the Year?

August 15th, 2018

As hard as it is to believe, we are almost half-way through the year.  As a result, we should be thinking NOW about what to stop, start and continue for the second half of the year.  I learned this exercise from my HR mentor (a P&G-trained guru) as we performed it with our team with great results (thanks Debra!).

Stop, Start, Continue  

Here are the questions to ask yourself and your team:

  1.  Stop – What should we stop doing?  This is actually the hardest. Not only do I find it hard to stop doing things I’ve included in my daily and monthly routines, my clients seem to find this quite challenging as well.  Are you selling to a customer and losing money? Or, does this customer always create some sort of hardship for your team? Is your team putting together reports because they always have even though they are no longer necessary?  Do you open them and make decisions based on them? If not, stop. Are you hanging on to that so-so supplier because you’ve developed a nice friendship even though they are no longer delivering or are at high cost? Perhaps you should have a discussion with them about it.
  2.  Start – Let’s assumed you’ve stopped something.  Now you have time to start something new. I am bad at this sometimes as well – just add, add, add but not stop.  Are you falling into that trap as well? I am going through my activities currently and making sure to stop more (or at least equal) to the start activities.  Start those activities that you think will yield an improved return on investment. Undoubtedly, there are several of these opportunities if you look. We find that our clients have many more ROI opportunities than they realize when we perform an assessment – every time without fail.
  3.  Continue – Thank goodness, not everything we are doing should stop or start.  Continue those activities that add value and contribute a result. Do you measure success by activity (time) or by result?  I definitely advocate for the latter – you’ll double your success.

Put it in Context with Market Forces
Although it is always a good idea to take stock of what you should start, stop and continue, it will be helpful to put it in context with market forces.  Here are a few questions/priorities to consider.

  • Amazon Effect – No matter your business, you are being impacted by the Amazon Effect.  Elevated customer expectations, immediate deliveries, 24/7 accessibility, easy returns and more.
  • Customization – Who doesn’t want a product or service tailored just for them?  We all would. I am an executive platinum status on American Airlines and they always offer me a complimentary meal as a thank you for my status.  It’s a small thing but I do appreciate it.
  • Resurgence of Manufacturing – Somewhat in response to the Amazon Effect and the desire for customization, executives are discovering it makes sense to locate manufacturing and last minute customization close to the customer.  For example, even though California is not the state anyone would think for manufacturing, it makes imminent sense when you consider that it is the 5th largest economy in the world. If only we could get CA politicians to support us!  
  • Additive manufacturing – What could be closer to your customer than 3D printing on the fly?
  • Logistics rules -Again, when considering the impacts of the Amazon Effect and customization, it is quite clear that warehousing close to the customer is also desirable.  However, there are vast cost pressures.  So, you need to be thinking about how to take performance to a new level.  The same is true with transportation – if you even can source a carrier. The last mile is certainly gaining a lot of attention. “Last mile. Last minute” is my new favorite expression.
  • Global – We are in a global world.  Are you making global considerations as well as local ones?

What else do you think we should consider?  Drop me a line as I’m interested. No matter what – give the second half of the year some thought and you’ll increase your chances of success.