Supply Chain Management

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Every day, there are billions of dollars’ worth of products moving through the global supply chain. And every day, there are thousands of concerns, complaints, and lawsuits being filed due to order problems, suspected fraudulent or knockoff items and damaged goods. Each complaint needs to be investigated and the truth of the complaint established or negated. This is a time consuming and costly part of supply chain management-particularly in a Global setting. The Middlemen Normal trade transactions usually require a middleman such as a bank or finance company. This adds even more complexity, resolution time and money to the process. Today, there is a growing interest in the direct, user-to-user e-commerce interface using blockchain technology. Enter, Blockchain Blockchain technology is a way to establish the “truth” as it relates to each step in the movement of goods. Blockchain refers mainly to the technology of encryption to assign validity to each…
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Future of Supply Chain
“By 2021, one in 10 warehouse workers in established economies will be replaced by autonomous mobile robots.” Gartner Report 2017 However….. While there is some shock value to the above statement, reality takes it down a few notches. The report goes on to say in less bold type that: “By 2021, three out of five factory-level AI initiatives in large global companies will stall due to inadequate skill sets.” So, as with most new technology hype, why would companies invest in what promises to be the future of Supply Chain? I can see it now: a team of highly paid Robotic technicians huddled around a frozen robot while other workers are called to unload and stock inventory shelves. Big hourly cost. So, how do we know when to actually adopt and invest new AI-related technology? Do we listen to the sales pitches of AI vendors as they point out the…
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Industry 4.0 Technology
In a recent survey, 76% of manufacturers said they would increase their investment and use of smart devices or embedded intelligent into the manufacturing processes within the next few years. In the same survey, 66% of the manufacturing CEOs expect to increase profitability through the use of new technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) within the next five years. According to these results, Industry 4.0 is being adopted far and wide. So, what do they know that you don’t? Advances in Technology are happening at a rapid pace, and it takes special attention to not only understand how new technology functions but also how it can actually help. Indeed, is it hype or help? From a CEO’s point of view, how new technology works is secondary to how adoption could impact the company and its bottom-line. What to consider before adopting Industry 4.0 Most investigations have shown there are…
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Doug Sartain
It’s important to keep your drivers happy and your fleet happy as this infographic about the high cost of employing (and losing) a truck driver shows. Here’s how I help fleets perform and maintain loyalty: Make the driver part of the solution, and not part of the problem. I ask drivers for their input on what the company can do better. When they have an idea, I run with it as long as it does not negatively affect a customer, company policy, cost control, safety etc. I always say, “I will let a driver win a battle as long as the company wins the war”. So even if I do not agree with the idea, I will implement it as long as it is not detrimental. If the idea works, I let everyone know which driver thought of it. You can never take credit for an idea that is not…
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Hands of a formally dressed man chained together
The biggest challenge I encounter in achieving supply chain excellence is that many organizations believe they are powerless when it comes to working with their suppliers.  The typical beliefs I encounter are: “we aren’t big enough to have any leverage”, “we can’t control what our suppliers do”, and “implementing a Lean supply chain will increase our costs”.  Interestingly, most organizations feel the same way toward managing their customers as well.  It is this victim mentality that prevents many companies from achieving operational excellence. The root cause of these limiting beliefs usually comes down to two critical factors: 1) not fully understanding what a Lean supply chain actually is, and 2) not understanding how to “sell it”, in other words, how to demonstrate how it will help the supplier to be more competitive and then use that as part of the negotiating process. To overcome these limiting beliefs, I focus on…
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businessman writing Supply Chain and drawing some sketches
My perspective is that obstacles to supply chain operational excellence occur in business when there is a lack of alignment between people’s measure of success.  In most organizations communication is a fundamental area that almost always requires work and improvement. In those undergoing significant change this comes to light and is amplified, creating confusion and other feelings that often get in the way of the improvement process.  Ensuring that the entire value stream is aligned and that ownership is established with a minimum of silos is critical to success in achieving operational excellence, not just improvements. I like to refer to what we most often experience in this regard as “islands of success in a sea of waste”.  Unless there is alignment which is often associated with Hoshin Kanri or Strategy Deployment, there will be a lot of good work that can go to waste because of the communication and…
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7 Stages of Becoming a Disruptor
The word disruption is so overused in business it threatens to become jargon which is never a positive fate for a term as important as this one. The people overusing the word and jargonizing it are usually using it wrong. If you understand what it means precisely, takes the following six points seriously to heart and do what you do best — much more aggressively — you can transform your organization into a disruptor. The Actual Definition of Disruption Disruption: something that changes the game entirely. In business, it’s a product or service that has a staggering effect on events, activities, processes, and people in a marketplace. It’s what happened to the world when regular people could buy cars, radios, televisions, VHS players, cell phones — commodities that changed the way we live our lives, and that we had never had before. It’s what happened when we could go online…
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Supply chain workers
Achieving supply chain operational excellence is not an easy target, you need to combine a variety of different factors together; attitudes and competencies, robust processes, and the right technology are just the minimum requirements. The most difficult obstacles I come across are related to the partial achievement of these three aspects, the most common relating to people, their attitudes, and competencies. How to improve the competency of your staff? Measure their progress and motivate their behavior toward excellent performance. Many programs and tools exist: skill matrix, gap analysis, focused training programs for competence upgrade, and so on. The measurement of a higher set of competencies must then be correlated to the superior process performance in terms of output and throughput. A systemic approach helps to reach excellence, a set of proven tools and methods – with the right commitment of top management and superior consultancy performance – are the key…
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Bored and tired businesspeople
The Wharton School maintains there are three reasons to hold a meeting. Period. To: “Create a forum—an opportunity for individuals with different values, ideas, and experiences to share their perspectives.” Make decisions and set “direction for the organization or unit.” Build and/or make a team stronger through “developing collective capabilities.” Period. They further maintain (as do we), that meetings should never be held: For information exchange, or Soapboxing (telling rather than exchanging). Period. If you are holding meetings for the two purposes directly above. Stop it immediately. If you are holding meetings for any reasons other than the top three listed, you are: Wasting precious productive time, Wasting precious financial resources (check out this meeting cost calculator), Encouraging unproductive behavior, Forcing everyone to multitask (especially during the meetings), and Diminishing employee respect and loyalty. Inc.com published these alarming (U.S. only) statistics: There are 25 million meetings held each day, That’s…
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Young woman gossiping to her male colleague at the
The bad news is you can’t control all the communication that takes place in your organization. But, you have to try. In the article, Executives: Get Top Performance from Your Contractors and Remote Teams by Communicating Culture, I wrote about how important it is that your workers at home, in other countries, and even in other states are made a part of your company’s culture through communication. Conversely, if that communication doesn’t have ground rules and adherence to them, misrepresented or misinterpreted voice and digital communication can cause catastrophic breakdowns in relationships and processes. This is what you need to do — (and DMAIC the system regularly: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, or you won’t keep control): All the news that is important to share with your peers and employees (both good and bad, internal and external) should be shared by you, not anyone else. Kick the email habit…
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