Tag Archive: volatility

Resiliency & Innovation Go Hand-in-Hand

February 22nd, 2019

With the high level of volatility and disruption that is commonplace in today’s business environment, creating resiliency has become a must. What we’re seeing is that creating resiliency and an innovative culture go hand-in-hand. If we find a resilient team, they are also innovative, and if we find one that is fixed in nature, it is very unlikely to be resilient. Do you have an innovative culture?

Innovation is very misunderstood. It doesn’t require “new” in most cases.  It is rare to find something completely new unless you are in certain industries such as the pharmaceutical industry.  Even Apple didn’t create the original idea behind the iPod which has now been incorporated into the iPhone.  It actually came from the Sony Walkman (remember those?). At that time, no one knew they needed to walk around with music. We have come a long way, and Apple has made that easy!

Since the Innovation Awards at the Manufacturing Summit provide a good example of different areas of innovation, I thought it would be beneficial to list them below to spur thinking:

Take a quick look at the video as well which talks to the innovation awards.  Of course, these are just those recognized at the Manufacturing Summit currently (and we are always interested in feedback and ideas).  There are many more categories. Perhaps it will stimulate a few ideas though.

innovation for project successInnovation doesn’t have to be complicated and complex.  What unexpected successes have you had?  Can you find ideas in those?  I just returned from a global consulting strategy group meeting, and one of our members did exactly that to spur one of his companies forward from struggling with intense competition and no way to stand out from them to rapid and significantly more profitable growth.  I am confident that this same type of success can be found in almost every client. Are you looking?

We can help you with that. Contact us if you’d like to discuss further.

 



What’s Ahead for Business?

January 26th, 2019

Thinking about our clients, colleagues and trade association/ trusted partner contacts from across multiple industries and company sizes, four overarching themes emerge in response to the question, “What’s ahead for business?”.

 

 

  1. The Customer Experience: It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about manufacturing, logistics, healthcare or services, the customer experience is of paramount importance. This is quite different from customer service! The customer experience relates to how the customer feels after interactions with you and your firm. Whether you achieved perfect OTIF (on-time-in-full) or not, if the customer doesn’t want to do business with you, you haven’t achieved a superior customer experience. What will you do to up the ante?
  2. The Holistic View: Although this is a common thread in our client conversations, it isn’t commonplace. Having a Holistic View has become a “must” as the global marketplace is more interconnected than ever before; systems and technology are more connected with everyday interactions; and, the customer and profit go hand-in-hand. Clients who address a singular topic such as running a kaizen instead of looking at the holistic view of what will dramatically improve their business performance will be left in the dust. Are you looking at what your executives or board are asking about or are you taking a step back to look at your business from the holistic view?
  3. Volatility is the New Norm: The stock markets and business performance are becoming less and less related to one another.  Yet, both are volatile. There is uncertainty in global trade, government shutdowns, the impact of artificial intelligence and robots, natural disasters like the California fires, what the disruptors such as Netflix and Uber will do next and much more. Are you thinking about how to create a resilient end-to-end supply chain?
  4. The Coming Power of Manufacturing and Supply Chain:No matter your industry, you better pay attention! For example, according to a Healthcare Finance article, by 2020, supply chain expenses will eclipse labor as the new number one cost in healthcare. Also, according to a Chairman at the City of Hope, the cure for several types of cancer is within reach but will be cost prohibitive unless manufacturers figure out how to produce in volume and less expensively. Certainly, Amazon is turning the world upside down, creating an entirely new relevance to the art of maximizing service, inventory and margins simultaneously. Re-shoring is on the rise, additive manufacturing is uniquely positioned to transform industries (customized, immediate products on demand) and bringing the customer closer to the source is a recipe for success. Do you still see manufacturing as outsourced to China or as a force?

Our most successful clients will be thinking about these trends to integrate into their strategy, their customer conversations and their employee and partner plans. Are you positioned to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the risks? If you would like an expert to assess your situation, contact us.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

Do You Have an Eye to the Future?

Disruption, Innovation, Global Trends & the APICS-IE Symposium 

 



What’s Ahead for Supply Chain?

January 18th, 2019

To think about what’s ahead in supply chain, it is important to put it in perspective with what’s ahead in business.  Read our article, What’s Ahead in Business? for details on the key trends impacting business:

  • Importance of the customer experience
  • Taking the holistic view has become a “must”
  • Volatility is the new norm
  • The coming power of manufacturing and supply chain

Given these trends, we predict our most successful clients will be thinking about these themes in the end-to-end supply chain:

  1.  Manufacturing is the Place to Be: Manufacturers are uniquely positioned to thrive. I have to say, I love that manufacturing is getting its due. According to NAM, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.89 is added to the economy which is the highest multiplier of any economic sector.  
  2.  Distributed Inventory Management will be Key to Manufacturing Success: In today’s Amazon-impacted business environment, the customer expects rapid, low cost delivery. Given that the “last mile” has also become “last minute” with customers changing their mind frequently, predictive, distributed inventory management has become a differentiator.   
  3.  Additive Manufacturing will Rise to the Top: Customers want customized products on the fly. Yet, distributors cannot stock everything near every manufacturer, end user and the like. 3D printing can achieve this goal.
  4.  Customized, Rapid Delivery with Amazon-like Service and Efficiency is the Norm: In addition to additive manufacturing, re-shoring and near-sourcing (locating close to customers) are viable solutions to achieve Amazon-like service. The question is how to be efficient, cost effective and visible while serving customers.
  5.  Amazon Prime for Manufacturers is More than a Pipe Dream:  Subscription based models are becoming relevant to manufacturing, just as to Netflix and ERP systems. According to my friend, colleague and author Robbie Baxter, the membership model is just as relevant in manufacturing in transitioning from a one transaction/one-way communication to an ongoing relationship with the customer with a constant stream of feedback.  
  6.  We are Moving to a Digitized Supply Chain:  To address customers’ elevated expectations while continuing to make a profit, manufacturers and supply chain organizations are moving to a digitized supply chain. Artificial intelligence, IoT, the smart factory, robots and more. Don’t embrace technology as a fad.  Instead, embrace technology as a way to achieve a result.
  7.  To succeed, We Must Create a Resilient Supply Chain: Disruptions and volatility abound. Customers expect more. Boards expect more. People are harder to find and retain. Creating a resilient supply chain enables a proactive response to the current environment.

What will you do to get ahead of the curve in the New Year?

  Did you like this article? Continue reading on this topic:

The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain

What’s Next in Supply Chain?

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?



The Resilient Supply Chain: Video Interview on Global Competitiveness

October 26th, 2018

To kick off our supply chain resiliency value series, we are excited to share an interview with Mirna Elnar, CEO Acura Spa Systems Inc.  Thanks to Mirna for sharing her expertise at the  APICS Inland Empire Executive Panel & Networking Symposium panel is Spring!   

Mirna is responding to a question related to supply chain resiliency.  In essence, the key question for manufacturers is how to be competitive with overseas manufacturers in low cost countries.  Clearly, we are NOT likely to be competitive on cost (especially labor cost) alone.  However, all is not lost!

In her comments, Mirna provides several ideas and strategies for how to navigate these rough waters successfully.  

                                                   

Success Responds to Resilience and Repetition
Our most successful clients build innovation into their daily routine.  It is no accident that they are the most resilient as conditions change.  In today’s Amazonian environment which is full of volatility and changing conditions, resiliency has become a “must”!

Mirna also gave a compelling story about exporting to Brazil.  Instead of giving up when she found out the tariffs were unfair, she devised a way to collaborate with a company in Brazil and find a win-win opportunity.  We walked away thinking if she could turn an unfair advantage into an opportunity, why aren’t we looking further for these innovative ideas?

 



Imports & Exports: Which Companies Dominate and What are the Related Impacts?

June 28th, 2018

 

According to the Journal of Commerce, the U.S. imported double the amount of its exports (measured in TEU). In 2017, imports increased 6% whereas exports increased 1%.  This is quite an accomplishment since China (the top market for U.S. exports) announced an importation ban last year that cut across the various types of the top U.S. export, waste.

 

  

So, who do you think was at the top of the import list?  
Walmart!

The Details
The largest segment of import is retail at 3.5 million TEU.  The next largest segment is foodstuffs at 700,000 TEU.  This is quickly followed by household goods around 645,000 TEU, conglomerate at 606,000 and auto parts and automobiles at 453,000.

On the other hand, the top exporter is America Chung Nam (largest exporter of recycled paper).  Thus, the largest segment in export is recyclables at 1.1 million TEU, followed by agricultural goods at 630,000 TEU, paper and forest products at 521,000 TEU and chemicals at 310,000.  

What is projected this year?  It appears to be shaping up to be the strongest international and domestic demand conditions in at least a half-decade.  It isn’t all rosy though.  There are plenty of concerns about tariffs and a tight trucking market. According to Wolfe Research, shippers expect a 5.2% increase in truckload rates and a 3.4% bump in less-than-truckload rates.  These are the highest expectations in the history of Wolfe’s survey.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Well, clearly growth and volume are robust (just like in manufacturing).  However, there is plenty of concern about potential disruptors (such as Amazon) and volatility.  Thus, we must stay on top of trends and likely impacts – and focus on agility. Are you able to respond rapidly to changing market conditions or will you be left in the dust?

We can expect freight challenges.  How significant is freight to your bottom line?  For example, when I was a VP of Operations for an absorbent healthcare products manufacturer (adult diapers, hospital underpads), freight was a BIG concern.  Although our product wasn’t heavy, it was definitely bulky. Thus, we focused a lot of attention on how to collaborate with customers and transportation partners on innovative programs. We invested efforts into product and packaging redesign that would reduce the size of the boxes while meeting/ exceeding customer expectations and more.  Aside from cost, tight transportation capacity might translate into late deliveries.

Do you have transportation partners or vendors? Perhaps you better take a more strategic view….