All posts by Procurious HQ

Supply chains all mapped out

Thanks to the likes of Google Maps – you’ll find that source maps are becoming more and more commonplace on manufacturer’s websites.

Added to that, consumers are increasingly more savvy and want to be able to trace a product’s complete  journey – from humble beginnings to the very end of the supply chain.

Les 2 Vaches source map - supply chain
Les 2 Vaches maps out the supply chain for its organic yogurts

Ever wondered how yogurt gets to your door?

Head on over to the website of the French yogurt producer Les 2 Vaches and you’ll be able to see  where all the ingredients that go into the yogurt are produced or grown. Not only that, but the map also marks out the locations where ingredients are stored and prepared.

Clicking on one of the maps’ markers will reveal more details; for instance you can glean more about what happens at each site,  the routes between sites are also marked for extra visibility.

If you want more of a steer, look to the right-hand side of the map and deep-dive down down into an ingredient of your choosing.

(Oh, it’s all in French – but your modern browser should be able to translate it for you).

Loomstate t-shirt supply chain
Be sure to check out Loomstate’s interactive map

Shirty business

What about that shirt off your back? Loomstate has  created what it calls the ‘Loomstate Difference’ – an interactive map that follows the journey of the company’s newest tee, all 100 per cent grown and sewn in America.

It is Loomstate’s ambition to create the most traceable tee in the world – and by supplying the public with full transparency of its supply chain, along with creating sustainable business relationships, it looks set to achieve just that.

Where things really come from

Of course SourceMap has slowly been gathering info on product supply chains for years. The beauty of SourceMap lies in its use of crowd-sourcing, meaning smaller (sometimes perhaps less-known) producers are represented too.

Procurious’ eye on the news

Brazil nuts

Nestle looks to improve animal welfare

Nestle have pledged to improve animal welfare in their supply chain. The organisation has teamed up with World Animal Protection, the first major food organisation to do so, to improve standards and hold suppliers to account for practices such as battery farming, force growing, etc. and force them to improve welfare standards.

Nut prices go nuts

Nut prices in the supply chain for hazelnuts (52 per cent year on year increase) and coconut (74 per cent year on year increase) have shot up due to adverse weather conditions in Turkey and East Asia respectively. However, prices for both almonds and Brazil nuts have dropped from highs earlier in the year as production issues have been eased. (Just as an FYI – the largest producer of Brazil Nuts…Bolivia!)

Glasgow seeks next procurement superstars

City of Glasgow college has launched procurement and supply chain apprenticeships to encourage young people into a career in the industry. The apprenticeships will aim to replicate experiences in a real working environment and the curriculum has been developed, and is updated regularly, with help from procurement professionals.

Read more on all these stories over at Supply Management

Australia and Indonesia agree on cattle and beef sales

Australia and Indonesia have signed an agreement on cattle and beef sales to increase Indonesian food security. Australia are expecting a 77 per cent increase on levels of shipped live heads of cattle (currently 395,000 p/a) this year and will commit to providing proven breeds of cows, improvement in Indonesian abattoirs and redesigning of cattle transport ships.

Read more at Global News

And finally: let’s talk about online shopping…

Here’s a really interesting blog on why online retail isn’t the goldmine people think it is.

Read more on HBR

Procurement at 160bpm: fast cars and high-stakes deals

From car marque to bank brand…

A decision to lunch in one of Cincinnati’s most historic suburbs while on a buyer training mission could have cost Daniel Filipovic more than just the bill.

He and a couple of colleagues hadn’t realised that the restaurant they’d agreed upon was located in one of the most dangerous suburbs in the city.

“No sooner had we parked the car and got out, I was being complimented about how great my jacket looked by a couple of the locals – and not in the friendly sense. Needless to say we make a brisk walk back to the car and hastily made our way back to the hotel, thankfully still my jacket and myself intact,” Daniel says.

Daniel Filipovic
Daniel Filipovic pictured here with his jacket still intact.

“Really, we should have paid more attention to the abandoned buildings and bonfires prior to getting out of the car!”

It was quite an eye-opening experience for the Melburnian, who has a double degree in Commerce & Arts, with majors in Electronic Commerce and Public Relations from Deakin University.

“Although I’m not sure how much actual study I did during those degrees, those undergrad days were quite a blur, to say the least.”

After college, he started his career in engineering support roles, and eventually an account executive role, where he worked alongside procurement specialists.

An opportunity opened up to join the purchasing division at Toyota Australia as a buyer, and he grabbed it with both hands. He recalls flying out to Japan to present on Toyota’s transformation activity with colleagues as a major highlight for him. He’s been in the profession for seven years now.

“What I love about procurement is dealing with people first and foremost, being a direct link between the organisation and its key suppliers and building and maintaining long-lasting relationships.

“More specifically, I enjoy my role the most when procurement lead strategic sourcing activity that directly links and creates value to the organisation’s overall strategic plan.

“I believe we’re about creating value both internally and externally with our supply chain and getting the best return on investment. This may or may not be necessarily have to do with lowest cost, as some believe.

“As a profession, we have an active part to play in educating our suppliers through knowledge sharing, such as local and global benchmarking activity to ensure they’re aware what is best practice and why, to enable them to continually improve.”

The young father of two also runs an electronic music label with some friends and DJs live on radio, which he’s been doing since university and remains passionate about.

The great Cuban beer crisis of 2014

Oh where O my beero?

Cuba has run out of beer

If you’re popping open a can of ice-cold refreshment this weekend, spare a thought for the beer-deprived people of Cuba. The combination of a hotter-than-average summer and a shortage of malt barley has resulted in a perfect storm…

Cuba’s largest brewery – Bucanero, was said to have suffered from delayed imports of malted barley during the months of Jan-April. This shortage led to a sharp fall in production, and numbers haven’t been enough to sustain a healthy supply chain in what’s been Cuba’s third-hottest summer since 1951.

Bucanero produces four of the island’s main beer imprints, namely: Bucanero, Cristal, Cacique and Mayabe.

As a joint venture between the Cuban state and brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev – you could say Bucanero has something of a monopoly on beer in Cuba.

Cuban woman and dog
“Nope, no beer in here…”

Demand for beer has far outstripped supply, bringing vastly-inflated prices with it, as eager drinkers scour the island for the last remaining dregs. In-fact, figures revealed that Bucanero produced just 55 per cent of the expected output during the affected period. Other imported beers were said to be available to the thirsty hordes, but Cuba’s ‘paladares’ (private restaurants) have been quick to take advantage of the dry-spell.

Hip hops

Meanwhile in the United States: the hop industry is struggling to keep up with surging demand from the craft brewing community.

The average price for hops has grown from just $1.88 a pound back in 2004, to $3.59 in 2013. But craft brewers use more of the hoppy stuff than traditional breweries (1.25 vs 0.2 pounds), thereby putting a strain on hop supplies.

Walmart pimped-up its fleet – capable of massive loads

Now that’s what I call a truck…

The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience concept truck is the latest in the retailer’s fleet efficiency program.

The one-of-a-kind prototype offers a whole package of firsts. The tractor boasts advanced aerodynamics and is powered by a prototype advanced turbine-powered, range-extending series hybrid powertrain. It certainly sounds impressive, even if we’re not 100 per cent sure what it does…

The trailer is made almost exclusively with carbon fiber, saving around 4,000 pounds that can then be utilised to carry more freight.

Would this transform your transportation services?

Procurious announces #webringthedonuts campaign

Can we tempt you with a sticky, sugar-coated treat?

Join Procurious image

What’s not to love? (Apologies to all those diabetes sufferers out there).

We hope you’re enjoying Procurious so far, and benefitting from the discussions, learning resources, news, comment, not to mention the members who make-up this insightful, friendly community.

There are already a number of ways to introduce new people to the network, [here are a few handy reminders] but if you’re looking for an introduction on a bigger scale then our #webringthedonuts campaign could be just the ticket…

We appreciate how hard it is to commit to something (yet alone a new social platform), and actively engage in a community you have little-to-no knowledge of, that’s why our campaign acts an introduction to the network (and if it escaped your mind… mmm donuts).

Yup we’re hitting the road… Procurious is travelling the length of the breadth of the UK to connect with procurement teams (and those of a curious disposition), to brief you on the benefits of jumping onto the site and engaging with your peers. We’ll also provide you with a primer on social media, so you won’t be diving head-first into the unknown!

A few caveats apply: your team/department must be a minimum of 15 people strong, and availability of sessions will be subject to change (as will flavours of donut. Sorry).

You should allow 45–60 min for us to present and answer your questions.  A giant screen is always helpful too! But there’s no charge for our visit, so don’t worry about that.

So if you’re thinking of requesting a session, obviously we’d love to hear from you. Just drop our relationship managers a line, gather your troops, and we’ll #webringthedonuts.  See you there!

Donut make plans for 2015

But the Procurious roadshow won’t end in the UK… We want to come out and see as many of you as possible (in such cases donuts may be substituted for a local delicacy). So don’t feel left out, get in touch and we’ll adjust our sat-nav accordingly…

Supply chain risk drops to 18 month low

Enjoy this week’s news bulletin on your chemical-free Apple device, while enjoying a bowl of cornflakes, before washing it all down with some refreshing coconut water.

Popularity of coconut water

The rise and rise of coconut water

  • Once the drink of exotic holidays and childhood funfairs, coconut water is now the de rigueur beverage available in food emporia, bodegas and hotel minibars from New Delhi to New York. Indeed, in North America – the biggest global market for coconut water today – sales of the top three most popular brands went from almost zero in 2004 to nearly $400m by 2013.
  • Yet far from lifting coconut farmers out of poverty, we’re left in a situation whereby farmers receive about $0.12 – $0.25 per coconut and earn anything between $72 – $7,000 a year, according to Fair Trade USA. In contrast, the average serving of coconut water sells for $1.50 in the US, or £1.85 in a UK supermarket for a 330ml carton.

Apple bans hazardous chemicals from supply chain

  • Tech giant Apple has banned the use of two hazardous chemicals in its production line, after investors urged the firm to better protect the workers in its supply chain.
  • The firm announced in a statement this week that benzene and n-hexane would no longer be used in its production plants, though it insisted it had found no evidence that workers had been harmed.
  • In an open letter to Lisa Jackson, vice-president of environmental initiatives at Apple, investors, asset managers and businesses therefore demanded that Apple eliminate all dangerous chemicals from its supplier factories. The campaign group Green America also launched a consumer petition, urging Apple to better protect Chinese workers.

Read more at Blue & Green Tomorrow

Read the full feature on The Guardian’s Sustainable Business pages

Kenya eyes e-procurement system to curb corruption

  • In a move expected to curb corruption and improve transparency in Kenya’s public procurement, the Kenyan government has unveiled a landmark electronic procurement and payment system.
  • The system, e-procurement, was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta with the promise of helping the Government eliminate middlemen and corruption in its much-tainted procurement process.
  • It is estimated that weaknesses in public procurement, including vulnerability to corruption, are a global problem with approximately KSh34.9 trillion reported as being lost to bribery and corruption in procurement globally.
  • Deputy President William Ruto said: “The system is significant as it will eliminate gatekeepers, middlemen and brokers who have made procurement a nightmare.”

Read more on East African Business Week

Kellogg’s says it’s crunch time for supply chain emissions

  • Cereals giant Kellogg’s has announced that it wants suppliers to disclose greenhouse gas emissions as part of an ambitious package of new environmental targets.
  • The manufacturer of brands such as Corn Flakes and Pringles unveiled its Sustainability Report featuring new goals for 2020 to expand the use of low carbon energy, reduce water use and eliminate waste, alongside a commitment towards more responsible sourcing of the company’s top 10 ingredients and materials.
  • A Climate Policy statement also outlines how Kellogg’s will for the first time set and disclose a greenhouse gas reduction target for its entire supply chain by the end of December 2015, using a science-based method consistent with the goal of keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius.

Read more on BusinessGreen

Cases of ebola fever in Africa from 1979 to 2008.
Cases of ebola fever in Africa from 1979 to 2008.

Ebola outbreak and Ukrainian conflict have little effect on supply chains

  • Geopolitical and major disease risks have had less effect than widely believed on the world economy, with supply chains at their least risky levels for a year and a half.
  • According to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), supply chain risk dropped to an 18-month low in the second quarter of the year, having fallen for three quarters in a row.
  • The CIPS index attempts to take account of economic, social and political factors.
  • However, the group believes that there may be something of a downturn in the second half of the year, especially given the risk of an increasingly violent conflict in eastern Ukraine and frostier western relations with Russia.

Read more on City A.M.

Americans to manage MoD military procurement

  • Unions and industry insiders are up in arms because two US engineering companies have been asked to oversee the way in which the Ministry of Defence runs the £14bn arm that buys military kit.
  • The Independent can reveal that San Francisco-based Bechtel and Denver’s CH2M Hill have bagged the programme management contracts for the Bristol-based Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S). This agency buys and looks after everything from forklift trucks to Astute class submarines, but is being overhauled by the Government so as to get better value for the taxpayer.
  • Sources said around half of these experts will be flown in from the US. This would cost around £5m more than just using British staff, with the remuneration including food and accommodation expenses.

Read more on the Independent

Don’t forget you can register to receive daily Procurious news-alerts using our brand-new News service.

Is this the world’s most connected man?

Say hello to “the most connected human on Earth”.

Chris Dancy - the most connected man in the world
Copyright: Chris Dancy

The name Chris Dancy probably doesn’t mean much to you now, but after watching this video you’ll find it hard to pass him in the street…

Here Chris talks to The Wall St Journal candidly about how tracking his life has helped him, and whether he envisions a day when everyone will do the same.

Chris Dancy has been tracking his life for the past five years and is now often connected to as many as 700 sensors, devices, apps, and services at a time.  With these he is able to monitor, analyse, and optimize every minutiae of his person to alter the way his body works.

Chris is a fascinating (if bizarre) half-man, half-machine. However we can’t help but wonder if he’s gone a step too far. After-all, it is a hell of a commitment, and you wouldn’t want to be stuck behind him in the queue for airport security…

An education in supply chain management

This week we shine a light on Nils van de Winkel – a Procurious member who’s decided to incorporate the network into his studies. Without further ado we’re handing the floor over to Nils so he can tell you more about himself…

Nils van de Winkel talks about procurement in education

Procurious asks: What attracted you to the profession when you were originally settling on an area of study?

Nils: My interest in supply chain management and procurement in particular has been shaped by two key events during my business studies.

The first was the practical insights gained into the global workings of supply chain management whilst studying a semester in Indonesia for my bachelor in international business and management.

The second was an internship with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok where I was exposed to the aftermath of the 2011 monsoon floods. Many companies with direct or indirect links were adversely affected. Through information sharing seminars it became strikingly clear how companies with supply chain risk management processes accomplished to mitigate disruptions. 

Procurious: How much focus is there on supply chain management and procurement in general business studies?

Nils: In my bachelor program the main focus was on finance, marketing and intercultural aspects of global business operations. It has been more so during my master program that I have gained deeper insights into specific functions of supply chain management. Procurement in specific has not had a deep focus, however important areas such as negotiations and drawing up contracts has had a great deal of attention.

Most interestingly I found that in business studies Porter has an important place. His Value Chain model (Porter, 1985) has received considerable attention throughout both my bachelor and master degree. This model was mainly used to analyse a firm’s activities and compare these with competitors to identify competitive advantages and guide strategic planning. Procurement is depicted as an important support function together with accounting, financial planning and human resource management. Given the importance of the procurement function, as this model acknowledges, I find it surprising that there was quite little focus on procurement during my bachelor and master degree compared to finance, marketing and human resources.

Value Chain model (Porter, 1985)

Procurious: Tell us a little bit more about your thesis, and what you hope to achieve with it.

Nils: As part of the GGSB MIB program a thesis is to be completed during your second academic year whilst employed. As a result of the exposure from my internship with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce my research will take place within the field of supply chain risk management. The focus will be on the purchasing function and how these professionals contribute to risk assessments, creation of contingency plans, and risk management.

My goal is to provide an overview of how procurement professionals have evolved in their risk assessment, creation of contingency plans, and risk management over the past decade. In addition to this I hope to identify whether there been a shift in the importance placed on certain risk categories.

Why did you join Procurious?

Nils: [Procurious member] Matthieu Baril, a GGSB alumnus, introduced me to the platform and explained its potential. So far I’m definitely not disappointed. My belief is that the best way to learn is through the experiences of others. Procurious gives the ability to see what professionals are doing and on which issues they are focussing. These types of insights are difficult to obtain without a social network specified for this field. The exposure, ability to discuss and ask questions greatly enhances ones understanding at a speed that otherwise would not be possible.

How are you using online networks [like Procurious] to help in your studies? 

Nils: Firstly, in the beginning stage of my research in order to gain a practitioner’s insight into the risks that they feel are underestimated in their business and industry as well as how their perception of risks have changed over the past decade. This will help me frame my research and will ensure that the findings are of value to practitioners.

Secondly, in the later stages of my research I hope to test and validate my theories through interviews with business leaders. 

Procurious: Do you think it’s important to make a name for yourself in the social space?

Nils: Over the past year I have come across great examples of young professionals that have built strong personal brands through blogs and social networks, which set them apart in a competitive job market. Social networks have made it much easier to build a strong online identity to reinforce and market your knowledge and competencies. 

Procurious: Let’s turn this on its head… If you were the tutor would you make any particular recommendations to your students? 

Nils: In order to gain most from your studies it is important to relate theory to practice. As it is difficult to have a qualified job alongside full-time studies it can help to have discussions with practitioners as well as stay up to date with industry progress through company reports and other sorts of content.

One of these different content formats has been the valuable rise of online learning. There are great online classes such as Procurious’ Learning page that discusses a wide variety of topics, which can help in courses and general skill development.

So far I’ve already seen two master students that are using Procurious to gain insights from professionals. I hope to be able to reach out to people in time to come as well in order to gain a more thorough understanding of their approaches to risk management.

Procurious: Do you think enough is being done to promote procurement as a profession?

Nils: From the direction that I have come there was little promotion for procurement. Looking at my bachelor program today I see that supply chain management has received somewhat more attention. However, general business studies still tend to be more geared towards specific finance, marketing, and human resources functions.

Then again, there are a reasonable amount of programs specifically focusing on supply chain management where I presume that the profession of procurement receives ample focus. 

Procurious: How do you envisage securing your first job in procurement?

Nils: My goal is to gain hands-on experience and an understanding of how internal processes are created to assist in supply chain risk management. Through professionals I hope to come in contact with companies that place an emphasis on its procurement department.

Procurious: What’s your advice for younger students who show an interest in procurement and supply chain management?

Nils: Go out and talk to people. So far I have noticed that professionals in the field of procurement are very open and willing to share their experiences over a cup of coffee. Even through platforms such as Procurious it is easy to connect and have conversations with professionals from all over the world in order to get a deeper understanding of the specific activities in procurement. 

4 of the best productivity apps and websites

No matter how motivated we think we are, we all experience that productivity-lull – and it doesn’t just happen on Friday’s…

Thankfully we’re dosed-up on caffeine, and have ploughed headlong into the world of productivity apps and useful websites so you don’t have too.

Here are a smattering of our current favourites:

Best productivity tools: Slack messaging app

Slack

We’ve crushed on Slack hard here at Procurious HQ… We’ve had to tell Jack (Product Manager) off for making googly eyes at his screen, and the idea was to boost productivity!

Tony Conrad (founder of About.me) says the following: “I am basically in love with Slack. It took us less than 24 hours to get everyone on board (as you know, people are resistant to change), and it is amazing.” But this could come from any number of fresh Slack converts…

Slack brings all of your communication together in one place. It takes all the best bits from your MSN Messenger’s, Skype’s, and Lync’s, while leaving all the needless bloat behind. Its clean and uncluttered interface means nothing gets in the way of the meat and potatoes of

The best bit? Slack is completely free to use (for as long as you want), and with an unlimited number of people too. Go team go!
Yo app gets new features

Yo

Today we’re revisiting Yo – the simplistic, throwaway app has graduated to big-boy pants and somewhat surprisingly has attracted even more funding…

Remind yourself what we said about it first-time round. 

The #firstmovers among you may still have Yo installed – and if so you might like to know that its just received its first considerable update. But with it comes an extra layer of complexity, one we’re not entirely sure is needed.

Yo Link adds the ability to chaperone your ‘Yo’ with a URL – Or Arbel (Yo Founder) says this of the functionality: “News websites can now offer not only getting instant Yo notifications when a story breaks, but also attach the story itself and readers can open it in a frictionless and convenient way.”

Hashtags are also now supported.

The beauty (or madness, depending on who you asked) of Yo, was its purposefully limited offering. Has Yo’s visionary over-egged the pudding?

Best productivity tools: Timeful app

Timeful

Are you an iPhone user, and suffer from poor time-management? As luck would have it, we have the very app for you…  Timeful aims to take the weight off your heavy shoulders by helping you to get things scheduled and completed more effectively.

Timeful arrives in an already crowded market, but because it syncs with your calendars (Google, Microsoft Exchange, Apple iCal, etc.) it can use its intelligent time management system to help you make the best use of your time by suggesting things for you. The app also allows the user to add specific to-do items and ’habits’ they would like to turn into recurring activities.

What’s more, the more you use it, the better it gets. Over time, our algorithms will learn what you like to do and when you like to do it, which will help generate more accurate suggestions.

Android users fear not – a version is reportedly in the works, as is a web-based edition. So soon you’ll all have so much free time you won’t know what to do with it… Spend it on Procurious yeah?

Best productivity tools: Buffer app for iOS and Android Buffer

While we’re not playing around with the excellent IFTTT or Friends+Me services – we’re turning our eye to the equally-awesome Buffer app. It’s definitely worth a go if you find yourself juggling posts across multiple social networks…

By making Buffer part of your daily routine you don’t need to worry about lumping all of your social media updates together in one period. Just bash some posts out, save and schedule them to be pushed out throughout the day (or week).

Buffer will play quite happily with your Internet browser (Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are all supported), just install one of the browser extensions, then click the Buffer icon whenever you spot something shareable.

There’s integration with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (and more) under the hood, plus it offers both web and mobile access so you can post and schedule updates even if away from the computer.