Tag Archive: Los Angeles freeway system

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).


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…”


Trump’s Transportation Nominee Kicks Up Infrastructure

January 17th, 2017

Trump’s pick for transportation secretary faces the least amount of scrutiny of any nominee; thus, it is very likely Elaine Chao will be approved. Her vision for transportation supports Trump’s vision — we need a heavy boost of infrastructure improvements because our current deteriorating roads, bridges, airports, grids, etc. will jeopardize the economy. The key is that she is seeking private investment to support these initiatives. Public-private partnerships are on the rise. Are you thinking creatively about financing the essential building blocks for your supply chain?

As one who drives the Los Angeles freeway system on a daily basis (nice aerial view of my driving complexities above), it is obvious we need improvements; however, we also do not have time to deal with anything but a quick delivery of these improvements. Can you imagine what happens when one of these connectors closes down during rush hour?

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

There are a few items to think about related to infrastructure. Let’s start with whether your business is dependent on infrastructure — and to what degree. I’d be hard pressed to think of a manufacturing or logistics industry business that isn’t somewhat dependent on infrastructure. In manufacturing (in its simplest form), we receive deliveries of materials and purchased parts (delivered over the road, via rail, to/from the airport, and possibly via the port), add value to them and deliver them to customers (again via several modes of transportation).

Next, think about whether your business supplies materials and services that could support these infrastructure projects? Perhaps you should expect a sudden jump in business — assuming you are prepared to successfully handle it. Or, do you also rely on these types of materials for your business? If so, could you suffer a shortage? What could you do to prevent suppliers from downgrading your importance if/when materials go on allocation?

And, given the significance of the private-public partnership, where else could this type of agreement take place? Or what other agreements will this likely spur on?