Tag Archive: manufacturing

JIT Might Not Be What it is Cracked Up to Be?!

April 2nd, 2020

Just-in-time might not be what it is cracked up to be! Certainly, the coronavirus impacts should give us reason to question this rule at face value. Are you running so tight that you only have one bin, pallet or small supermarket to keep your facility running? If so, the question extends to your end-to-end supply chain.

Let’s assume you are a critical manufacturer struggling to produce key items during this coronavirus pandemic. Your suppliers should not be on lockdown since they support a critical infrastructure business; however, that doesn’t mean you’ll be fine. There are many considerations to review:

  1. Source of supply: Are your suppliers located in Asia and unable to staff during the peak of the coronavirus? Do you know what type of delays you’ll experience? Do your suppliers have contingency plans?
  2. Your suppliers’ suppliers: Even if you have a good handle on your suppliers, do you know the status of your suppliers’ suppliers? In an interconnected supply chain, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Who is your weakest link?
  3. Your transportation infrastructure: Even if your suppliers have product, can it get to you? Within what timeframe?
  4. Backups: No matter how well you’ve planned, the question is whether you have backups for critical materials/ ingredients that will ramp up rapidly as needed. Hopefully your supply chain is diversified geographically.
  5. Your customers: Are you in lockstep with your customers so that you are proactively managing demand or are peaks and valleys a surprise? Of course, the coronavirus was unexpected but the degree you fully understand your customers will determine your reaction time to changes in demand.
  6. Positioning of inventory: Do you have critical inventory positioned throughout your end-to-end supply chain?
  7. Your digital supply chain: Are you able to see into your extended supply chain? It could provide quite a benefit at this point.
  8. Additive manufacturing & robotics: Are you able to keep running with less people, socially distanced people and/or print on demand?

Using JIT (or any concept for that matter) without taking a 360 degree view is a bad idea! The cousin of JIT is lean manufacturing. I gained the attention of Wiley by writing that lean is just uncommon common sense (which of course simplifies it in order to make a point), but perhaps it is something to think more about. Have you put all these trendy concepts through a common sense filter? How about a risk filter? Let’s hope so! Otherwise you can be in a critical business and still not producing and running customers out of stock.

What is the answer? It depends! If you have put thought into your supply chain strategy upfront, considered risks, diversified your supplier base, invested in quality checks and top talent, and treated your employees well, it is likely your version of JIT will prove successful. On the other hand, if you saw JIT as a way to reduce inventory and were short-sighted in looking at your end-to-end supply chain and treating your employees and partners as trusted colleagues, you will likely suffer.

Getting ahead of the curve might be the only avenue to success. Consider creating a resilient supply chain and future-proofing your supply chain. Stay tuned and read more about it, and If you are interested in discussing a supply chain assessment, please contact us.

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Future-Proofing Your Supply Chain

The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain



Request for Help & Creativity for Manufacturers

March 30th, 2020

Since I relate to several different manufacturing and supply chain organizations, I’ve seen several requests for our expertise. Thus, I am passing them all on so that we can help fight this coronavirus by pulling together our resources and expertise. We are in a new world and need to think innovatively and collaboratively.

Here are the top requests:

  • Thomas Link if you think you might be able to help manufacture critical products
  • Federal Government Request for volunteers who can donate , provide and/or produce large scale quantities of critical supplies
  • Survey for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership
  • Local contacts (Curtis Compton of San Bernardino County) are also interested in if you can help by retooling, repurposing, or supporting manufacturers of safety equipment.
  • CMTA survey – they will have surveys every so often on their coronavirus webpage.

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

Collaboration is no longer a fluffy topic. In fact, it can be the difference between life and death. And we all have the opportunity to have a meaningful impact. We just need to figure out how.

If you are in manufacturing, supply chain or technology, think about what you have to offer. Perhaps you can retool or repurpose. It is heart warming to see that several companies are already doing just that. Or perhaps you have unique skills that are portable to critical industries.  Perhaps you could help critical industries with your expertise. Perhaps you can help connect vital resources to critical industries. Put on your thinking cap and email us or use one of the links above to share your ideas.

And please remember, keep focused. Try not to panic. Look for solutions and don’t be deterred by roadblocks. We are constantly updating our coronavirus resources webpage and so please feel free to share the information and please keep us in the loop of any resources we should add. Feel free to contact us if we can help you during these unprecedented times.



Special Report: 2020 Predictions

March 12th, 2020

We received such a positive response to last year’s predictions report that we wanted to add to that value in 2020. It was an exciting process to see what CEOs, executives and thought leaders of manufacturing and logistics organizations think about the current trends, what’s coming, and most importantly, what to do to get ahead of the curve.

A special THANKS goes to our contributors. We’ll be discussing these topics much more in our March newsletter to build upon their predictions and ways we can THRIVE amidst the ambiguity.

For our Profit through People subscribers, we are pleased to provide a direct link. Feel free to forward to your colleagues and friends by sending them our download link.

A Few Highlights
Please pay special attention to my introduction (page 2). I believe we are at a critical juncture in our field. To succeed in 2020, manufacturing and logistics organizations need to become agile, proactive and even disruptive, to merely survive. The most successful organizations are going to do a deep dive into human capital, technologies and strategies that will achieve the trifecta – a superior customer experience, profitable growth and improved working capital, simultaneously.

With the promise of additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, IoT, robotics and blockchain, technology can play a pivotal role.  However, technology alone is NEVER the answer. Instead, it is the smart application of the appropriate technologies by top talent, aligned internally and across the extended supply chain and following a well-thought out strategy that wins the race.

I thought the insights, predictions and recommendations from our experts are worth noting – and taking action! We were careful to gain perspectives from manufacturing and logistics executives and thought leaders, spanning industries (from food and beverage to building products and logistics), specialties (trade, sourcing, technology, human capital, economic development and more), and size and complexity (from family-owned to private equity to large, complex organizations). I’d love to hear your feedback and areas you’d like to deep dive further.

We will continue our webinar series with future-proofing topics and thought leaders, as well as our video series of timely topics such as the coronavirus. We will continue to explore these topics in our blogs and newsletters, as well.

Please contact us if you’d like to discuss your situation and how you can future-proof your manufacturing operations and create a resilient supply chain.



Future-proofing Your Supply Chain

February 21st, 2020

Disruptions abound in supply chain circles. Just consider any of the following recent events: the tariff war, global unrest, the Coronavirus, natural disasters such as the volcano in the Philippines, the Hong Kong protests and more.

We have never had a client that could claim that 100% of the extended supply chain (from suppliers’ suppliers to customers’ customers) was inside the U.S. So, we have to be prepared to navigate these types of disruptions and the related impacts.

Disruptions certainly go beyond your physical supply chain. What about your human capital, technologies (accompanied with processes) and strategies? Refer to our article on future-proofing your skills gap and assess which risks might be on the horizon in your industry.

When it comes to technologies, there is no doubt that emerging technologies are gaining steam and are starting to transform supply chains. Just consider the application of collaborative robots, automation, RPA (robotic process automation), artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain, and predictive analytics to name a few. Big name companies are dropping big dollars into these technologies. When thinking about strategy, remember strategy is no longer a multi-year exercise. We must be thinking in terms of strategic sprints. Who knows what will happen beyond a year out!

Several high-level categories should be assessed as you think about your supply chain:

  1. Sourcing – Are you sourcing from China? Is this a viable path forward to source 100% from China? There are increased risk factors to consider. Listen to an interview I conducted with John Tulac, international business attorney, on future-proofing and doing business with China. It is time to reevaluate your supply chain footprint.
  2. Logistics – There are significant disruptors transforming this industry, ranging from e-commerce and the the Omni-channel to robotics, additive manufacturing and the digitization of the supply chain. If you aren’t incorporating these impacts in future-proofing your supply chain, you will be left in the dust. These are concepts of focus for the consortium for logistics success in the Inland Empire to enable companies to stay informed and keep up with the fast pace of change.
  3. Manufacturing – Industry 4.0 is transforming manufacturing and changing the landscape. It will be a pivotal year that separates the winners vs the losers as advances are made. See what the National Association of Manufacturers’ Leadership Council sees as critical issues
  4. Demand & Supply – There is no doubt, there is a keen interest by business owners, executives and private equity leaders on creating predictable demand and forecasting sales. The more we understand our demand plan, the better our operational performance, supplier performance and customer performance. Read about SIOP (sales, inventory, operations planning) and how it can help future-proof this area.
  5. Inventory – As the disruptions abound and executives fear a slow-down, the proactive management of inventory and advanced collaborative programs are gaining in relevance. Pick up some tips and strategies in our recent article ” Inventory Management as Fashionable as Automated Intelligence for Distributors” for ACHR News.
  6. Metrics & Predictive analytics – Keeping a pulse on performance should remain a top priority while forecasting what will be needed.

Getting ahead of the curve might be the only avenue to success. Consider creating a resilient supply chain and future-proofing your supply chain. Stay tuned and read more about it, and If you are interested in discussing a supply chain assessment, please contact us.

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Made in Vietnam

Forget About Reducing Inventory; Perhaps You Have the Wrong Supply Chain Strategy



Collaboration is NO LONGER a Fluffy Topic

February 16th, 2020

I facilitated an executive panel discussion on “Collaboration for Advanced Manufacturing & Supply Chain Success” with diverse viewpoints from transportation (Ontario airport), manufacturing (AMETEK Ameron), technology for manufacturing and logistics from the global leader in GIS (ESRI), and innovation, incubator and accelerator gurus.  It was a fascinating discussion on the value of collaboration, to innovate or not, robots or people and other controversial hot topics.

The key takeaways included the following:

  • The Value of Partners – Several panelists talked about the value of choosing your partners wisely. No one person and no one company can do it alone. In fact, we often collaborate not only with “usual suspects” but also with ones we might not suspect, such as our competition. When you can find a way to collaborate with competition where you both “win”, a powerful outcome will result.
  • Fail Forward – This was a powerful insight from one of the panelists. As I always say in speeches on innovation, you have to fail to be successful in innovation. Do we see our failures as ‘failing forward’? Or do we hide under a rock?
  • Robots or People? – We had a bit of debate. Will robots replace jobs? Absolutely! But can they also create jobs? Fill gaps left by the retiring baby boomer? Increase the quality of manual tasks? And enable far greater capacity? Absolutely!
  • Is all Innovation Good?  –  Of course not! Again, if a topic is a good one, it will stir up debate.  Wasting lots of time innovating for non-existent returns on investment isn’t a smart move. On the other hand, the pure nature of innovation will require failure. How do we navigate when to innovate and when not to innovate?
  • Is all Collaboration Good? Again, absolutely NOT! Wasting time collaborating when a quick decision must be made is worse than a waste of time. On the other hand, if we can turn 1 + 1 + 1 = 33, it certainly seems worth it. Just don’t think about your standard partners only. Why not industry groups, educational institutions, and more?

Take a few minutes to think about collaboration. What have you seen work best? Actually, back up. No one should just think about collaboration. Instead, we should be thinking about our end result. Where do you want to go and what do you want to achieve? Now, think about the best use of collaboration, innovation, technology and other topics that will accelerate success.