Tag Archive: technology

Digitization of the Supply Chain is Accelerating

August 28th, 2020

With COVID-19, the rise of e-commerce, and the pressures of profitability, Industry 4.0 and the digitization of the supply chain is accelerating. What was on track for 2030 prior to COVID-19 should be expedited to 2021 or 2022 to keep pace with needs. For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, Fed Ex is installing robots with eyes and brains that allow them to sense and respond. Smart companies are not only proceeding with technology plans but expediting them. What is happening in your industry? What should you be investing in and/or implementing to stay ahead of the curve in providing a superior customer experience profitably?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Undoubtedly, you should dust off your technology roadmap. Technology is never something to do simply to keep up with technology the competition is using.  Instead, think about what you need to simplify, automate and predict. Think about how to provide a superior customer experience and think about how to help your customers predict future sales and/or end customer needs. And think about how to increase profitability and efficiency. From this mindset, what technology would add value to your business?

Several clients are in desperate need of upgrading their ERP systems. Of course, it is easy to put off such a massive project and investment.  Ask yourself this question: When do you need the functionality to support your business? If you need it within the next year, you do not have time to delay! In addition, many clients need e-commerce, CRM, sales forecasting and other customer-related technologies. Do you think you have time to wait to provide extra value to your customers? I doubt it! Finally, we are also noticing that technologies that enable efficient manufacturing and supply chain operations are increasing in importance. As a result, predictive forecasting and planning systems, WMS and TMS systems and more are gaining in popularity. What makes sense for you?

Read more about these types of topics in my eBook,  Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. Gain ideas and strategies to successfully emerging from COVID-19 and thrive in 2021. If you are interested in doing an assessment of your current situation, associated risks and opportunities and how to navigate changing conditions, please contact us.

Please share your stories, challenges, ideas and successes.



What’s Going on in the Food Industry?

July 13th, 2020

After receiving a call from a CBS affiliate asking about what’s going on in the food industry, we thought it would make for an interesting deep dive. In addition, we have been working with companies from farm to table and from machinery equipment to logistics/food service distribution and grocery.  The coronavirus impacts have been vastly different. Whether you are related to food and beverage or not, you undoubtedly have some sort of connection or impact throughout your end-to-end supply chain. At a minimum, the concepts are the same, so take note.

Are you supporting grocery or hospitality?
The answer provides a night versus day response. Of course, grocery saw the largest increase in history early on during the coronavirus lockdown. People hoarded groceries, consumption increased (after all, virtually all consumption occurred at home), and manufacturers and distributors couldn’t keep up. Grocery sales saw an unprecedented uptick early on during COVID-19.  It has leveled out to be a slight increase. Due to a surge in coronavirus cases at meat packing plants, there was a lot of concern about a shortage of meat but it didn’t materialize in any substantial way.

On the other hand, companies that supply hospitality and restaurants saw a dramatic drop. One of my supply chain colleagues went to her local restaurant and brokered a deal for what she couldn’t find at the grocery store. Supply chains were completely out of whack. Channels weren’t agile, packaging was different and demand and supply were completely out of alignment! Clients and colleagues that served restaurants and the hospitality industry saw volumes go to 0 overnight. Let’s hope they had a diversified customer base. However, even if completely dependent on hospitality, the agile and proactive quickly turned left and found new opportunities.

Is Your Customer Base Diversified?
Customers with a diversified customer base have fared better than the rest. For example, our clients supported each of these types of customers:

  1. Grocery – Clearly, this segment was largely up
  2. Big box stores – Again, these stores at least kept operating. Volumes were down slightly but carried on.
  3. E-commerce – The one unanimous HOT SPOT across the board.
  4. Healthcare – Definitely down. No one was going to the doctor or saw medical professionals unless they had COVID-19
  5. Weight & body building – Again, down since no one was going to the gym.
  6. Starbucks & fast food – At first, these were down but they quickly recovered, depending on the product sold. For example, if it was a food product consumed in the store (not typically in the drive through), sales dropped.
  7. Restaurants & hospitality – DOWN, DOWN, DOWN

The Misalignment of Demand & Supply
By NO means could our clients assume their customers’ history would be a good indication of the future. In fact, in many cases, their customer supplied radically different customers.  So, it was really the customer’s customer that had to be understood. Getting in touch with our extended supply chain to better understand demand was a good start. Staying on top of changing and evolving needs was critical. Extending help to customers went a long way. The bottom line is to get on top of demand to the best degree feasible.

Of course, the supply base is experiencing the same level of unprecedented volatility. Thus, getting on top of supply is also essential. All-in-all, getting on top of demand and supply and continually re-aligning, readjusting, and addressing gaps (retooling, creating partnerships, repackaging and other innovations) minimized the level of supply chain shortages.

What is the Status of the Food Industry?
Supply chains are more local and somewhat resilient which helped clients adjust more quickly to the changing conditions. Also, several clients reduced the number of variations offered to better manage the process and/or to address a supply issue proactively. It seems to have been a successful approach. The bottom line is that there weren’t noteworthy shortages beyond the first few weeks of panic buying.

What Should We Do?
Smart and innovative clients are thinking ahead and taking the opportunity to evaluate..

  1. Customer preferences: Think about changing customer preferences and consumer buying behaviors to develop and/or adjust products and services to meet evolving customer needs and to fill gaps.
  2. Technology: Implement key technologies to better support improved operational efficiencies and a superior customer experience.
  3. Predictive Analytics: Design and build analytical models and dashboards to use understand how to better predict customer behavior and manage operational cost. Business intelligence, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence/ machine learning is offering great promise.

Interestingly, although this feedback was geared to food and beverage, the same types of situations were prevalent in other industries as well. In aerospace and defense, commercial aerospace took a nose dive while defense stayed constant. In building products, if your products supported at home improvement projects, demand was up whereas commercial real estate for retail is in sorry shape. In healthcare, if you are in PPE, you cannot keep up.  Whereas if you are in any field not directly related to coronavirus (such as elective surgery, cancer or a primary physician), you were twiddling your thumbs.

Who are your customers? Are you diversified? What risks exist? Evaluate your extended supply chain and future-proof your manufacturing operations and end-to-end supply chain. Check out our eBook and contact us if you’d like to brainstorm these concepts further.

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The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain

Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19



Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Forecasts U.S. Manufacturing Resurgence COVID-19 Showcased Technology and Innovation as Key Contributors

June 30th, 2020

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – June 30, 2020 –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert,  Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc., forecasts a resurgence of manufacturing in the U.S.  LMA Consulting Group works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation to maximize the customer experience and enable profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic turned the supply chain on end.  It forced manufacturers to rethink their strategy, their products and their future.  Those who took the time to identify opportunities and used this unique circumstance to leverage technology and innovate are already seeing results. Innovation has always been the key driver to manufacturing success.  We are now seeing it pay off, and, it’s just the beginning,” stated Ms. Anderson.

Innovation has opened not only new product possibilities for manufacturers, but also new relationships for cost reductions and improving the customer experience.  From suppliers and 3-D printing to transportation options due to reshoring, manufacturers have an abundance of opportunity for differentiation and growth.

“China has fallen from favor not only due to COVID-19 and the supply chain disruption, but also because of the arduous policies they implemented early in the year which essentially removed all protections of intellectual property and patents. There has been talk about doing more business with Mexico, but Mexico is best at assembly,” she said.  Manufacturing shifted to China and other countries due to high labor costs in the U.S.  Technology and robotics have leveled U.S. manufacturing costs.  “It clearly comes down to innovation and leveraging technology. U.S. manufacturers are strong and smart.  Sometimes it just takes an extra push or, in this case, an event to force out-of-the-box thinking,” she concluded.

Ms. Anderson recently recorded another video in her What’s Happening in Manufacturing & the Supply Chain series highlighting Reshoring.

 About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson is a recognized Supply Chain thought leader by SelectHub, named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank, a top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.                                        


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Media Contact
Kathleen McEntee | Kathleen McEntee & Associates, Ltd. | p. (760) 262 – 4080 | KMcEntee@KMcEnteeAssoc.com



The Future of Manufacturing

May 30th, 2020

 

I was on a panel of a webinar, The Future of Manufacturing with Andrew Zanelli, president of VCC, Michael Knight, president TTI Semiconductor Group, and Seth Denson, co-founder of GDP Advisors. It was a lot of fun, and we talked about the coronavirus, reshoring, cost leadership, innovation, and other topics. Are you interested in what the future might look like and how you can position your company and career successfully?                                         

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

There is no doubt there is a renewed interest in reshoring and sourcing manufacturing closer to the customer. All panelists agreed that labor cost has reduced significantly in terms of relevant factors to consider in evaluating manufacturing and supply chain strategy.

  1. China’s labor costs have continually risen, leading progressive companies to move to Vietnam and other Asian countries to chase lower labor costs if labor is a significant factor in total cost of their products. Mexico is gaining steam as well as the latest statistics show their fully burdened labor costs are often lower than China.
  2. Advances in technology have reduced the labor component in the total cost of products, sped up the turnaround time and enabled greater customization on demand. Robotics, additive manufacturing, automated equipment, autonomous vehicles are just a few of the advances.
  3. The time component is increasing in importance in today’s environment where Amazon-like customer service is the norm. Lengthy lead times will lead to a loss in customer demand.
  4. Although cash is always king, during the pandemic, it has risen in importance. Product tied up in the supply chain which is typically 3 months minimum for Asian supply to the U.S. equates to dollars tied up that cannot be invested elsewhere.
  5. There is a higher likelihood of disruption the further away production is from customer demand and the more steps to the supply chain (such as ports, trucks, sailing through unfriendly waters).

Whatever was true last quarter or last month is no longer true. Continually reevaluate your end-to-end supply chain requirements. I’ve addressed this topic as well as your strategy, priorities, key trends, and your restart recipe for success in my eBook,  Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19. If you are interested in a rapid assessment, please contact us.

 



IT/ Tech

May 13th, 2020

Does Technology Have a Seat at the Table?

Do you consider your technology leader an integral member of your executive team? If not, why not? Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, technology was starting to take over the world. With the acceleration of e-commerce, the expanded use of ERP systems, artificial intelligence applications to create predictable demand and automate repetitive tasks (and of course Amazon Alexa), the internet of things to connect objects and applications such as those used in autonomous trucks, blockchain to trace the chain of custody from farm to table across the globe and robotics to automate manufacturing and warehousing processes, IT was critical.

Now that the pandemic has hit, technology is playing an even more pivotal role. The world has gone remote. Users are gaining comfort with technology at a record pace. Additionally, because there are many complications in navigating coronavirus with employees (rules, regulations, social distancing protocols, and many more), executives are starting to see a greater advantage in proceeding more quickly with their technology roadmaps. By taking advantage of the opportunities to grow the business and improve the customer experience, employers can reallocate employees from repetitive tasks (which also can require close proximity to one another) to ones that will add value to the business.

Read our eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19 to dig into these concepts further as well as to debate whether to move forward with ERP upgrades or hold off to preserve cash and to be reminded of the critical importance of cyber security and protecting against cyber criminals. Also, one of our favorite topics is addressed, the MacGyver approach to moving forward with your systems infrastructure while navigating the slow ramp up following the pandemic. It is NEVER all or nothing. Invest smartly. Utilize already-existing talent and tools. You’ll speed on by your competition.

Join our Navigating Through Volatility webinar series to learn about how ESRI is using cutting edge technology and location intelligence to drive supply chain resilience and recovery. It certainly will stretch your mind when it comes to using IT/ technology to drive business value, and more importantly, value to the community. Perhaps it will inspire you to think about technology differently.

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