- Artificial Intelligence – it certainly has the power to transform entire industries. If that alone doesn’t prompt you to pay attention, it seems like the attractiveness of predictable demand just might. There are vast implications for the supply chain. Our 2020 predictions document will discuss this further.
- Internet of Things – we have embraced the internet of things in our personal lives with step counters, Apple watches, self-adjusting cars, and more. There is definitely ample opportunity in manufacturing and supply chain as well. Think of tracking shipments with GPS, monitoring storage conditions of products to name a few.
- Blockchain – although all reports are that there is a long way to go and it will require a collaborative effort, the big firms are dumping money into blockchain, it came up in our 2020 predictions and seems to be hailed as transformative. Thus stay alert!
- Additive Manufacturing – Who cares about all these sourcing decisions with lengthy lead times (causing cash flow delays), risks of IP and trade secret theft, and hidden costs and burdens related to a BUNCH of factors out of our control if we can produce customized product on demand next to our customers?
- Physical Internet – As a part of my role with the consortium for advanced manufacturing and logistics success as a part of IEGO, I am reminded of the importance of the physical internet. GA Tech’s research is quite intriguing. It combines many of the concepts into a way to share infrastructure such as freight and warehouses.
Tag Archive: sourcing
My recent episode from my new video series related to “What’s Happening?” in manufacturing and supply chain addresses reevaluating production outside of the U.S. There has been a lot of activity lately impacting sourcing decisions. Just consider the new phase 1 trade deal with China, offset by a very worrisome law that went into affect in China in December related to data privacy (and lack thereof!) and a BIG win for manufacturers with the new USMCA trade deal with Mexico and Canada. Are you staying up-to-speed on these essential changes and trends?
Our most successful clients are on top of it! In fact, they are typically ahead. In today’s Amazon-paced, customer-centric world, it is no longer an option. You must be proactive just to survive. Get out of your chair and attend a key industry event, join us at our next Harvey Mudd executive roundtable to discuss the digital transformation and related impacts and network with peers, say yes to participating in the latest economic forecast event or the like. In addition, read highlights about the latest technologies and how they might impact your industry, seek out experts who can help you think through the top priorities in today’s Omni-channel world (whether related to you or not; you’ll pick up valuable insights to apply regardless), take your trusted advisors to lunch and ask them for their insights and more. The bottom line is you must be informed, proactive, collaborative and agile.
When it comes to thinking about your supply chain strategy, don’t get side tracked with all the hoopla. As Roy Paulson said in our 2019 predictions document (my favorite quote), “As a view looking forward in these auspicious times, expect to see more talk of tariffs, threats and waving of hands, all the while, those of us in exporting will be busy making deals, signing contracts and getting business done.” I cannot tell you how true this statement is across the board. Thus, instead of getting into debates and moaning about your current situation, put a plan in place to thrive amidst the chaos.
As it relates specifically to China, China alternatives and our North American neighbors, watch our interview with John Tulac, international business attorney to learn more. We had a great time talking philosophy and throwing out issues and ideas on how to navigate China. I’ve committed to sharing widely to get the word out. I believe fully in being upfront and proactive, and I hope you’ll join with us in spreading the word of caution. This topic also squarely fits with our new theme on future-proofing your manufacturing operations and extended supply chain. Contact us to discuss further.
As Published in: Ratelinx
For business leaders looking to modernize their supply chain, the technology investment is the easy part: Evaluate solutions, calculate the ROI, make your business case, and take delivery. Sure, it can be tricky to get sign off on these tech investments, but it’s a business problem with a logical solution.
The more challenging part is preparing your organization to take full advantage of that investment. That means getting people on board, ready for the change, and developing new processes that take full advantage of the new tech.
“High tech must be accompanied with high touch,” says Lisa Anderson, supply chain consultant and President of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. “The most successful supply chain leaders will remember that people are their number one asset.”
We asked Lisa for her perspective on the current state of supply chain, the key trends that are driving change, and how you can prepare your team for what comes next. Read on to learn what she had to say.
Modernizing Your Supply Chain Strategy
The right supply chain strategy includes technological investments, process refinements, and a change management plan for your team. It should be detailed enough to act upon, but flexible enough to account for changing trends. Here’s how to get started.
Key Trends Driving Supply Chain Modernization
For most businesses, there are two factors that make modernization essential. First, there’s sustainability: Consumers are looking to buy from sustainable companies. That means companies are under pressure to not only work with sustainable suppliers, but to prove they’re doing so.
The second factor is perhaps an even bigger driver for change: The demand for near-instantaneous, free shipping for ecommerce. “In the next five years, customers will be expecting Amazon-like service levels at affordable rates, regardless of the high levels of disruption,” Lisa says. “Reshoring, near-sourcing, and sourcing reevaluation will be major concerns.”
Lisa predicts high levels of adoption for new technologies to meet these demands. “The use of technology such as artificial intelligence, IoT, predictive analytics and other technologies will enable meeting these customer needs while maximizing profit and cash flow,” she says.
“In these early stages, it’s important to focus in on the
most relevant data to drive decision-making. ”
Getting Started with a Modernization Strategy
The actual nuts-and-bolts process of building a strategy is the same as solving any problem in your organization. “Start with the outcomes you’d like to achieve,” Lisa says, “then perform an assessment and gap analysis of your people, processes and technology. Assess your change management capabilities to achieve your outcomes. Finally, design the solution and build an implementation team.”
The process may be familiar, but knowing where to start can be a challenge. The first step should be getting a clear picture of your current supply chain. “Start simply and create a dashboard or availability screen that shows your supply chain status; however, remember that if you don’t pay attention to process disciplines, garbage in will result in garbage out,” says Lisa.
In these early stages, it’s important to focus in on the most relevant data to drive decision-making. But don’t try to boil the ocean: “Data plays a vital role; however, do not get sidetracked and overwhelmed with data. Start with your No. 1 priority, find directionally correct data and enable visibility,” Lisa says. “Once your team and supply chain partners understand this data, move to the second largest priority.”
Once you have your supply chain mapped out, you can start to implement solutions that will pay off in the short term and in the long run. A.I. and IoT initiatives have the potential for a quick win. Lisa says in her consulting work, she’s seeing “Artificial Intelligence and IoT used in predictive analytics and forecasting as top priorities. Getting ahead of customer demand drives significant supply chain value.”
Train and Hire the Right Skill Set
For Lisa, the human element is an often-overlooked, but crucial, part of supply chain modernization. “I’ve found that a more dramatic ROI can occur by aligning the people, even more than the data and the process,” she says.
When bringing in new talent, Lisa recommends looking for data science fundamentals. “Data analytics, the ability to leverage ERP systems and think through down-the-line impacts as well as tying business process to systems design are all part of the equation,” she says. “But we should also look at soft skill requirements, such as the ability to collaborate.” Collaboration, big-picture strategizing, and lateral thinking are all essential characteristics of a modern supply chain expert.
The ROI Potential of Supply Chain Modernization
Remodeling your supply chain is not without risks, and it’s a process that takes time and resources to ensure success. But the rewards are worth the effort. “It depends on the situation, of course,” says Lisa, “but it isn’t uncommon to see a five or 10:1 return on investment from supply chain transformation improvements.”
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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Supplier management has been a theme this week. I taught a CSCP (certified supply chain professional) class session about supplier relationship management and SRM software recently. An attendee had a great example of the impact of poor quality. Her company was sending an entire container load of product back to Asia with defective parts. This was bound to have negative impacts on the customer. After all, they were already delayed. Now, they were spending another month on the water to start over again. That led us to discussions on backup suppliers.
Next, I spent quite a bit of time on webinars and calls one day talking about the critical importance of supplier lead time, reliability, safety stock, lot size and how these factors impact our ability to maximize service, profit and cash flow. And, I presented to APICS Ventura on “The Resilient Supply Chain” We had intriguing discussions on the trends of vertical integration, supplier consolidation, allocation of key materials (and how consumer products are gaining priority access with the leftovers being allocated to industrial companies), the impact of tariffs on sourcing, and several more topics.
The bottom line of each of these discussions is that proactive management of suppliers is of ever-increasing importance in today’s Amazon impacted business environment. If you don’t have what you need, when you need it, where you need it, in good quality, and within cost guidelines, you are likely to lose vs. your competition. And, this includes last minute changes! Do you consider your supplier your partner or someone to negotiate with and gain an advantage over?
What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
It is NOT all about cost. Of course, the hot topic on executives’ minds is how to achieve scaleable growth, so profit and cost are important topics. Yet, smart executives realize it is quite easy to sacrifice the future by saving pennies in the present. Similar to the mistakes made several years ago when it didn’t matter whether it made cost-sense or not (ie. Boards were demanding outsourcing regardless of the financials), many Boards are demanding supplier concessions without looking at the extended supply chain impacts. Instead, stick up for looking at total cost and taking the value viewpoint! Of course, this means you’ll be focused on costs but it won’t be your sole focus.
We talked about several scenarios where you had to invest financially upfront in order to achieve longer-term success. For example, we talked about keeping a more expensive backup supplier and giving them 20% of the volume. Boards and private equity backers weren’t too happy with the extra cost yet this risk mitigation technique saved the day on more than one occasion. When the material went on allocation, the main supplier struggled or the ports/transportation infrastructure broke down, those who planned for the inevitable bump in the road had uninterrupted supply from the backup supplier and satisfied customers while the competition fell further behind. Are you thinking about your suppliers like a cost or a partner? You’ll find more information on these types of topics on our resilient supply chain series.