Tag Archive: workforce

When Is It Time to Upgrade?

July 5th, 2019

A Client Question
A client didn’t feel prepared to launch into an ERP system upgrade as they had just bought the business and had invested significant funds into the transition.  Yet, this client was also starting to worry about scalability and the risk associated with old technology. After all, this old technology was directly supporting their day-to-day business and customer experience. Although the CEO was reluctant, he agreed to an assessment of his ERP system and readiness.

The Answer
In their case, they needed to upgrade to modernize their technology infrastructure and gain additional functionality that is required to support their business growth and meet current standards. However, we found a way to make small key improvements to their ancient system to support enough progress to ‘buy time’ for the teams to gain an understanding of process disciplines required to support a successful upgrade. It also gave them time to educate the workforce.

During the next year, significant efforts were made to roll out process improvements and system functionality to standardize functions such as pricing and raw material ordering. About a year into the process, we “hit a wall” in terms of the ERP capabilities with critical functionality considered a “must” in supporting the business. Thus, we were prepared to make a quick selection of an ERP system and partner and eventually gained corporate alignment to pursue the upgrade to support continued growth and profitability.

Food For Thought
We are often asked to look at ERP systems that clients think they should throw out.  It turns out that that were perfectly fine and scalable, just poorly implemented.  We usually aren’t asked to look at ERP systems on their last leg where we had to make a strong case to executives to even look at the topic. And whether a new system was needed or not, the organization might not be prepared. Determining whether there is time to prepare or whether you should follow a rapid preparation route can be tricky. There are typically risks on both sides, whether you move too slow or too fast. Take time to assess what makes sense in your case. Be careful of ‘shark’ salespeople as there are tons in this field. It is quite confusing so that even well-intentioned executives and salespeople can mislead organizations. If you are interested in running your situation by us, contact us.

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ERP Selection: Why It Has Become a Strategic Priority



Are Robots Good or Bad?

April 19th, 2017

According to the Material Handling & Logistics, robots are slashing U.S. wages and worsening pay inequality. That is certainly a provocative statement! According to new research by MIT’s Daron Acemoglu and Boston University’s Pascual Restrepo, one additional robot per thousand workers reduces the employment to population ratio from 0.18 percentage points to 0.34 percentage points and slashes wages from 0.25% to 0.5%. Regardless of the exact figures, it is certainly accurate that robots will replace certain types of jobs.

automation

Is this good or bad? It is for you to decide based on your circumstances. Technology and automation can keep you competitive and “save” higher skilled jobs since costs are reduced and so there is less incentive to move manufacturing away from the customer base to a lower cost location. On the other hand, robots will minimize the number of repetitive jobs needed. Are you continually building on your skills? And, are you supporting continual skills building in your workforce?

 

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

We are hearing more and more about technology, automation and robots. Thus, if you aren’t at least thinking about this strategy, you’ll likely be left in the dust. With that said, we are the first to say — do not automate for the sake of automation. Does it support a key need of your business? Will it help you provide a better customer experience? Will it help you be more competitive to grow your business? Think carefully before jumping for the sake of following the popular trend.

If you don’t have a high labor cost environment, will robots make sense? Perhaps not. Just like everyone and his brother jumped on the outsourcing craze several years ago and many later discovered it didn’t make sense in their case (often by learning the hard way with unhappy customers), think before you leap. Stay on top of the latest technology and search for business needs where this tool “fits the bill” to drive business results but do not blindly follow any person or crowd.



US Roadmap 2025

October 17th, 2016
US Roadmap

It is critical for manufacturers and distributors to keep track of the rapidly changing factors that impact the supply chain including technological and workforce issues. The US Roadmap 2025 is a strategic study to weather and thrive amid current and future global disruptors.

The Material Handling and Logistics Association has taken the lead in updating the roadmap for supply chain and logistics for 2025. I participated in a strategy session focused on thinking about what is coming in ten years, what disruptors are likely to exist and how we should prepare to succeed in 2025. Southern California is #1 in both manufacturing and logistics; thus, there is much to think about to stay ahead of the curve and think about how technology, workforce, and other factors will affect logistics in the future.

For example, we discussed the impact – or lack thereof – of the Panama Canal. Although it is certainly an alternative, it might not be as much of a threat of the change in the origin of manufacturing. As manufacturing moves away from China, could different routes make other ports more viable? The advantage Southern California has is the sheer size and capability of the ports – they can handle big ships (which many others cannot), there is deep water, the equipment and infrastructure at the ports is available, etc. However, there are grave concerns about the 710 freeway coming out of the Long Beach port. Traffic and congestion is a big concern. What is likely to change in the next ten years? Can we collaborate with government? Will autonomous vehicles be commonplace? How about increasing truck traffic at night? There are many considerations to ponder.

It is wise to stay on the leading edge of what is of such critical importance to manufacturers, distributors, logistics providers and the economy. Think about attending local trade association events such as APICS Inland Empire’s executive panel and networking symposium on “Navigating the Global Supply Chain”. Read trade journals. Talk with colleagues. Ask experts. And join us at the Material Handling and Logistics Roadmap 2025 unveiling at ProMat in April 2017.

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APICS-IE Focuses on ‘Navigating the Global Supply Chain’

 

Lisa Anderson Invited to Participate in the 2017 U.S. Roadmap for Material Handling & Logistics