All posts by Procurious HQ

How To Start A Discussion Topic On Procurious

Today we’re going back to basics and revisiting one of the most popular areas on Procurious – namely, Discussions.

How to start a discussion topic on Procurious

At the time of writing over 400 discussion topics have been started on the site, with a colossal 1700+ answers from the Procurious community.

For those yet to dip their toes into the Discussion waters we present a few quick tips so you can start creating topics with ease.

Select a Topic

First thing’s first, begin by selecting a topic that best represents your chosen Discussion area. We’ve provided quite a broad selection to choose from, including: Technology, Sustainability, Supply Chain, Professional Development, Procurement, Industry Groups,  Indirect and Direct Categories, Big Ideas and Lifestyle.

Select a Subtopic

Depending on your topic of choice you’ll be presented with corresponding subtopic options here.

Now comes the important part…

Look to the ‘Ask a question or start a discussion’ field. We recommend beginning your question here, but limit it to a maximum of 20 words. Why? We display the very latest Discussions on the Procurious Community page – you can see an example here.

Procurious Discussion

Because of this, resist the urge to pop a URL in here. Instead pop it in the optional ‘Add more details’ section if you feel a URL is relevant to your Discussion.

Please note that this isn’t a place to post ‘sales-ey’ or promotional messages.Your job here is to encourage lively and thought provoking debate.

Then all that’s left to do is hit ‘Post’ and your Discussion will be live and appear on Procurious.

How to contribute to a Discussion

Once you’ve headed to the Discussions page and chosen a Discussion that takes your fancy, click ‘Answer’ to add your reply and don’t forget to hit ‘Add Answer’ when done.

How to upvote a reply

Whenever you reply to a Discussion, other Procurious members can choose to ‘upvote’ you. Answers/replies that are deemed the most worthy by your fellow community members will likely get the most votes and appear at the top of the Discussion. No pressure…

Obviously please refrain from openly abusing the platform or fellow members – we rely on you (the community) to report any inappropriate posts or sales pitches, which neatly takes us too…

Reporting a Discussion

You can choose to report a Discussion topic or individual reply by clicking the ‘Report’ prompt located next to the offending item.

Share a Discussion

Want to encourage more Procurious members to weigh in? Just click on ‘Share’ to promote the Discussion topic in your Community feed.

5 Recommendations To Get The Haulage Industry Back On Track

Shortage Of Drivers Puts Transportation Industry At Risk.

5 recommendations to get the haulage industry back on track

Comensura has revealed to Procurious that the UK transportation industry could become gridlocked due to a growing driver shortage.

Newly-published research claims that a shortage of UK driving staff could bring £74bn transportation industry to a standstill.

Half of specialist driver recruiters cite a low candidate availability, coupled with the rising demand that creates a staffing gap in the sector. Around half of recruiters claim that the time it takes to fill a driving role has increased by over a week compared to 12 months ago, suggesting that the increasing lack of candidate availability is consuming more time for the sector and reducing efficiency.

The situation is being compounded by an ageing workforce (the average age for an LGV driver stands at 53) and the high costs (£2000) facing young candidates applying for their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC).

Over half of recruiters also say that it is a challenge finding drivers able to do manual work: another factor that dissuades young people to enter the profession, in addition to uncomfortable working conditions, such as lack of lavatory facilities, and the lifestyle impacts of long and difficult shifts.

Commenting on the findings, Jon Milton, Business Development Director at Comensura, said: “The entire logistics industry is worth more than £74 billion to the UK economy and employs around 2.2 million people in over 196,000 companies, so it’s playing a big part in helping our economy recover. It seems vital that the sector attracts more young people and equips them with the skills to become competent professional drivers so that it isn’t held back in the future by a lack of skilled workers.

Comensura has therefore set out five recommendations that it believes will better help businesses narrow the gap between the supply of drivers and demand:

  1. Find a balanced pay rate: Establish what the average pay rate is for drivers and try to match it for your staff. But equally, determine how much you can afford to pay them. By finding a balance between the two, you can attract candidates while not paying them over the odds. 
  2. Look at the long-term: Forecast your needs over the next 12 months, taking into account workers’ holidays and times when demand is high. 
  3. Consider the company’s wider picture: Ensure that you have realistic expectations of your drivers and don’t promise your clients anything that the driving staff can’t deliver. 
  4. Contact recruitment agencies promptly: Procure the candidates you need as early as possible to maintain a constant flow of staff. 
  5. Look within the organisation: Instead of looking externally for candidates, see if there is anyone internal to fill the vacant roles. Carry out in-house training to make individuals who already work for you suitable, which you may be able to do by gaining support funding.

ISM CEO Tom Derry on Innovating From Your Supply Base

ISM CEO Tom Derry speaks to Procurious
ISM CEO Tom Derry speaks to Procurious

Last week Procurious was fortunate enough to catch up with Tom Derry, the CEO of the Institute for Supply Management. In this, the first-part of our three-part interview, Tom discusses the changes he’s witnessed in the function over recent years and highlights the unique opportunities that make procurement and supply chain such great fields to work in.

Procurious asks: For those of us that aren’t familiar with ISM, perhaps you could provide some background to the organisation and its goals.

Tom Derry: ISM is the world’s first and largest procurement and supply chain network. We’ve recently celebrated our 100th anniversary. We specialise in providing training and development for the procurement and supply chain community.

We provide customised training to organisations to guide them through their procurement and supply chain strategies.

While we’re based in the US, we are a truly global organisation. The second largest group of ISM certifications holders are in China, followed closely by South Korea. Our global growth is impressive with more than 50 per cent of certification now coming from outside of the United States.

Procurious: You’ve held the role of CEO at ISM for three years now, how have you seen the profession progress over that time?

Tom: There are a couple of obvious themes here. The first is that, it’s true that the role of procurement and supply chain professionals has become more strategic. Companies are competing more and more on the basis of how well they run their supply chains. I think it’s fair to say that the 20th century was the century in which marketing was the driving force behind organisational success. More recently, we’ve seen the ability to outcompete in the supply chain space as the critical factor for achieving business success. This is particularly true in our increasingly globalised economy.

Another shift I’ve witnessed is a move away from our focus on pure cost reduction. Over the last 30 years, as global economies have developed, manufacturing has become more globally distributed. The clear motivation for this was to find lower cost producers, lower labour costs, labour inputs and lower cost of materials. It was obvious that, for a time, we were all focussed on cost reduction. We’ve done a great job of capturing that opportunity but now it’s time to shift our focus.

Now, we need to focus on how procurement and supply chain can impact the top line. The answer appears to be through the innovation that lies within our supply bases.

A major change in the way that companies are doing business today is in the way they are organised. Today’s firms aren’t vertically integrated any more. If you’re going to get innovation in a modern business, it’s going to come from your supply base.

Some companies still do it the old fashioned way, but the new model is – we are a marketing company – we’ve got a brand and we don’t manufacture anything – we outsource manufacturing.

In this model, innovation really does have to come from the supply base. To that end, there needs to be a shift away from beating-up suppliers on cost – towards working with them on generating innovation and growth.

Procurious: Now looking to the future, what is it that most excites you about the procurement and supply chain profession? Where do you think our opportunities lie?

Tom: If I was 25 again, I couldn’t think of a field that I would personally find more fascinating than a corporate career in procurement and supply chain.

Here’s an opportunity to be based in almost any region you choose. You’ll learn new cultures and dramatically impact the success of the business that you work for. You’ll be working on some of the most interesting and creative projects your firm is involved in.

In other professions, like accounting, you have a strong understanding of what you’ll be doing every day. In supply chain, one day you’re going to be making the business case for locating a manufacturing facility in a new location. The next day, you may be dealing with political risk and its impact on operations in a given geography or getting an opportunity to talk to a prospective new supplier with some amazing new technology. So you’re really on the forefront of the business, both in its current positioning and also in the way it plans for the future.

This means that new skills need to be deployed. The level of business acumen has to be much higher than it was historically. You have to understand how markets are moving and what is happening with the commodities you source and the services you buy in a global context. You have to understand the trends of foreign exchange. You have to understand where your company is headed, and what markets you want to compete in in the future and position your company to be able to do that in three to five years.

In the past, procurement and supply chain have been seen as backward looking functions. It was our job to get the most effective pricing put in place to support the existing legacy business processes. Now we are thinking about and acting on the future of our businesses. Business acumen, understanding and strategic planning are three skills that I believe are critical for successful procurement professionals.

Look out for Part 2 of our interview with Tom Derry next week.

Spotlight on Logistics and Transportation – The Unseen Supply Chain

Logistics and transportation services can sometimes be overlooked in the supply chain and seen as something that ‘just happens’. However the reality is that they play a vital role in the successful working of all businesses.

Logistics and transportation news

A greater focus from organisations can be critical for ensuring continuity of supply and saving time and money from disruption. However, organisations also have to contend with outside influences, as these news stories indicate.

Channel Disruption Headaches

Logistics organisations in both the UK and France are counting the increasing cost of Operation Stack after another weekend of disruption. Although cross-Channel services returned to normal yesterday, some lorries were forced to wait up to two and a half hours to cross the Channel on Saturday.

A combination of migrant activity and industrial action in Calais was to blame for the delays this weekend, making it a total of 21 days in the past 3 months that Operation stack has had to be enacted. And logistics companies are beginning to feel the pinch, with costs estimated at £750,000 per day.

James Hookham, Deputy Chief Executive of the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said, “Given the value of goods lost and the subsequent cost to business, these figures show that Operation Stack is not just an issue for Kent and the south east of England but a serious national strategic problem.”

The knock-on effect of disruption to the UK economy for tourism, holidaymakers and businesses in Kent is estimated at approximately £250m per day. In order to try to mitigate further disruptions, a multi-agency meeting was held last week to discuss the issue and make recommendations to the UK Government.

US Port Report

From disruption European ports to a report on disruptions at major US ports. Earlier in the year, Procurious reported on the strikes at ports on the West Coast of America, which forced the shutdown of 29 ports and caused a flotilla of vessels to be anchored off the Californian coast.

Now, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has released a report on the future of all American ports. The report outlines the requirement for investment in the port system to ensure an “efficient and reliable international ocean transportation system and the relevant supply chain”.

With US ports becoming busier and hubs for movement of increasing volumes of international freight, the report offers an overview of the causes of potential issues, as well as solutions that could be implemented.

It is hoped that the measures will help to ease congestion and get the ports operating as smoothly as possible. Download the full report here.

Concerns over New Transportation Bill

Still in the USA and there are increasing concerns over proposed changes to the trucking industry outlined as part of a new transportation bill from the US Senate.

Amongst the proposed changes are a lower age limit for interstate drivers (from 21 to 18) and a measure preventing the public from seeing federal safety rankings for trucking companies. This comes at a time when an investigation by FOX News has shown that one company, Davis Transfer, has had vehicles involved in three fatal accidents since 2014.

There are concerns that these proposed measures would adversely impact health and safety in the trucking industry with potentially more relaxed monitoring of driver logs.

Mazda and CEVA Partnership

Finally to Australia, where Mazda Australia has awarded two new contracts to CEVA Logistics, making them their sole national provider of transportation services.

CEVA, one of the world’s leading supply chain organisations, already hold contracts for transportation to dealerships from docks and storage and processing of vehicles in New South Wales and Queensland, will add the states of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia to their books.

Casey Fisher, MD of CEVA in Australia and New Zealand, said her organisation was delighted with the growing relationship, seeing it as “confirmation that our past performance and future plans are meeting their needs.”

Have you got any logistics or transportation headlines we have missed? Tell us about your success stories by getting involved on the Procurious website.

To round off, here are some of the other major headlines in the procurement and supply chain profession this week.

UPS said to be in talks to buy Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion

  • United Parcel Service Inc. is in talks to buy Coyote Logistics LLC for about $1.8 billion, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
  • A deal for the Chicago-based provider of transport-management services could be reached as soon as this month, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. No agreement has been reached and discussions could still fall apart. Coyote is backed by New York-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which first invested in the company in 2007.
  • A deal between Coyote and UPS would be the third-largest logistics deal this year, as the industry goes through a wave of consolidation amid rising consumer demand. In April, FedEx Corp. agreed to buy Dutch parcel-delivery company TNT Express NV for $4.8 billion. Later that month, XPO Logistics Inc. agreed to acquire European counterpart Norbert Dentressangle SA in a deal valued at $3.53 billion including debt.
  • Representatives for Warburg Pincus and Coyote declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Atlanta-based UPS.

Read more on Internet Retailer

Supply chain professionals still not fully represented at board level

  • Almost 60 per cent of logistics professionals in FMCG feel underrepresented at senior board level. A poll by The Grocer of over 150 industry professionals at the Scala Annual Logistics Debate 2015 revealed the majority feel their function in logistics is not accurately represented within the rest of their company.
  • “Influence at this level is now needed more than ever as companies have the opportunity to make, or not make, critical decisions about how they operate their supply chains,” said Scala senior consultant Simon Eagle. “The companies that are successfully innovating in collaboration and demand driven are those in which logistics have significant ‘share of voice’ and this requires board level representation.”
  • However it would seem that the voice of those in supply chain and logistics is more audible than in recent years.“If you’d have posed that question three or four years ago, you would have had an even higher percentage,” said independent logistics consultant Paul Nixon.“I think the function is better represented today and people perceive it to be better represented. As the likes of e-commerce and business to consumer fulfilment continues to grow for many retail businesses the supply-chain and logistics efficiency and effectiveness will continue to grow in importance and representation.”

Read more at The Grocer

World Bank approves new procurement framework

  • The bank said the framework, which comes into effect in 2016, would allow it to “better respond to the needs of client countries, while preserving robust procurement standards throughout bank-supported projects”. The framework replaces the previous one-size-fits-all” procurement policy with one that is tailored to the needs of individual projects.
  • The changes will:

    • Allow contract award decisions to be based on criteria other than cost, such as quality and sustainability, for the first time.
    • Increase support to help countries develop their own procurement systems.
    • Allow the use of procurement systems from development partners or national agencies in certain circumstances.
    • Speed up the process as reviews of contracts will be limited to those with the highest risk and biggest value.

  • The bank said it would “allocate resources to provide hands-on help to fragile countries, small states or others in the greatest need to assist them in procurements financed by the bank”. The bank’s procurement system covers a portfolio worth around $42 billion (£26.9 billion), comprising more than 1,800 projects in 172 countries.
  • Hartwig Schafer, vice president for operations policy and country services at the World Bank, said: “A portfolio this size needs a modern and nimble procurement approach that gives our clients the best value for each dollar that we invest.”

Read more at Supply Management

Gibbs S3 officially certified as an EMB (Ethnic Minority Controlled Business)

  • Gibbs S3 has become the only corporate-level business to be officially certified as an EMB (Ethnic Minority Controlled Business) by MSDUK, the country’s leading non-profit membership organisation driving inclusive procurement.

  • The certification comes as Gibbs S3 celebrates record growth in its 10th year of business, with revenue growing 38 per cent to reach £41.58m, and on track to hit £46m this year. The company has also previously been certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) by WEConnect, the leading global supplier diversity initiative connecting women-owned businesses with multinational corporations.

  • Minority-owned businesses have established a clear track record in providing stronger value to their customers. Companies with established supplier diversity programmes that include SMEs and EMBs generate 133 per cent better return on their buying operations, according to research from leading strategic consultant The Hackett Group. Companies working with smaller and more diverse suppliers were also found to spend 20 per cent less on their buying operations and secure significantly greater value.

Bottled Water Makes A Splash As Popularity Soars

It seems that bottled water is making quite a splash…

Bottled water is on the rise

As summer temperatures invariably rise, keeping effortlessly cool and on top of your hydration game is certainly a challenge.

In these health-concious times more and consumers appear to be shunning the carbonated drinks of old, in favour of healthier bottled alternatives.  If researchers are reading the market correctly it’s time for us to fight the sugar cravings, as the well-publicised links to obesity, not to mention dehydrating effects of our favourite sugary beverage mean the signs this year suggest sugar is out and h20 is very much in…

This comes just as Coca-Cola has revealed its second-quarter results. The numbers show that its North American carbonated drink volumes rose just 1 per cent, compared with a 4 per cent increase in noncarbonated drinks, including double-digit growth in its Smartwater range.

According to beverage industry experts contributing to a report into the market conditions within the United States, taste-makers are convinced that the popularity of bottle water will soon make it the non-alcoholic beverage of choice.

However the report also observes: “The market for bottled water is also being roiled by a number of disruptive forces, even in the midst of this generally upbeat view of the bottled water category.  For one thing, as supermarkets stock their shelves with loss-leading cases of plain bottled water, simply competing on the basis of volume and price no longer seems to make sense to marketers of major brands.”

Flavour of the weak

The research highlights another potential area of resistance too and that concerns flavour. With consumers attempting to rationalise their lack of enthusiasm for the liquid saviour by bemoaning its lack of flavour.

In order to answer these detractors, marketers are introducing new bottled water products in an assortment of vibrant colours, exotic flavourings and fashion-forward packaging. Another relatively new innovation that could help boost the bottle’s appeal are water enhancers. Introduced by Kraft Foods in 2011, water enhancers can completely transform your otherwise plain water into something that little bit more exciting.

According to a marketing executive with the DASANI brand, around 20 per cent of households buying bottled water also buy liquid water enhancers. As liquid water enhancers multiply in terms of numbers and innovative characteristics, they are likely to play a major role in shoring up the bottom lines of major beverage marketers.

The report too highlights the buying power (and influence) Millennials hold over the fate of the bottled product, commenting: “While consumption of premium European sparkling water brands has long served as a status symbol for urban elites, premium still water packaged in designer bottles has become the fashion statement du jour for more and more Millennials and GenXers.”

The Rise And Rise of Amazon Continues – Now Bigger Than Walmart

It looks like Amazon’s ballsy initiatives have paid off after all… as the online retailer announces earnings surge.

Amazon's earnings skyrocket making it bigger than Walmart

Amazon has announced a whopping 20 per cent uplift in second quarter sales.

News outlets are reporting that the jump means Amazon was valued as high as $267bn (£172bn), that eclipses Walmart’s market value by $32bn (£21bn) – making it the most valuable retailer in the United States.

It’s been a busy twelve months for the online retailer as Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com reveals:

“We unveiled Amazon Business, opened Amazon Mexico, launched Prime free same-day, rolled out our ninth Prime Now city, broke our Black Friday record with the first-ever Prime Day, received 11 Emmy nominations for Transparent, debuted six new kids pilots, brought Echo to general availability, introduced the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service, opened FBA Small and Light, continued to double down on our fastest growing geography — India, launched 350 significant AWS features and services so far this year (ahead of last year’s pace), introduced AWS Educate, and entered into agreements for new solar and wind farms — enough to exceed our 2016 goal of 40 per cent renewable energy.”

In the past few days Amazon also announced it had sold more units on Prime Day than the biggest Black Friday ever. It saw more new members try Prime worldwide than any single day in Amazon history, with customers placing orders of 34.4 million items across Prime-eligible countries. Prime Day was also a great savings day – members globally saved millions on deals. Customers ordered hundreds of thousands of Amazon devices – making it the largest device sales day ever worldwide.

Prime Day could become an annual event

Despite commentators on social media critically panning the initiative, Amazon Prime Day was heralded as a “a huge success” by Greg Greeley, Vice President, Amazon Prime. “Customers worldwide ordered an astonishing 398 items per second and saved millions on Prime Day deals. Worldwide order growth increased 266 per cent over the same day last year and 18 per cent more than Black Friday 2014 – all in an event exclusively available to Prime members. Going into this, we weren’t sure whether Prime Day would be a one-time thing or if it would become an annual event… We’ll definitely be doing this again.”

“Prime Day was a record-breaker globally – it surpassed all of our expectations,” said Alexandre Gagnon, Country Manager for Amazon.ca. “This week has been the busiest ever for Prime signups and we saw more members shopping on Amazon.ca on Prime Day than on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. We can’t wait to do it again next year.”

Amazon Prime has an estimated 44 million U.S. customers, according to a study by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, a Chicago investment-research firm. That’s up from about 41 million at the end of 2014.

But it’s not all about Prime. Taking from the call to investors, the Wall Street Journal observes: “Amazon showed big growth in its cloud computing division, and rising operating costs suggest that the company is still investing in building its supply chain. Amazon is building sprawling warehouses in places like Kenosha, and pushing its bid to get anything to pretty much anyone in the U.S. in two days or less.”

You can view the full earnings call over at the Amazon Investor Centre.

Suppliers Are Key to Disruptive Innovation

A new study shows there is increasing focus on Supplier-Enabled Innovation (SEI) among global sourcing and procurement executives.

Procurement Leaders new study sheds light on disruptive innovation

New research by Procurement Leaders has detailed that procurement is a key enabler of corporate innovation thanks to the connectivity it enjoys with suppliers and key business stakeholders.

According to the Chief Procurement Officers polled, procurement is engaged in a new role that takes responsibility for connecting capability in the supply base with stakeholder and consumer need. In doing so – it opens the doors to the benefits of Supplier-Enabled Innovation (SEI).

“Tapping into the enormous capability of the thousands of suppliers with whom we do business is perhaps the single largest opportunity procurement has,” said John Paterson, Chairman of the Procurement Leaders Advisory Board and the former Chief Procurement Officer of IBM.

The Procurement Leaders Supplier-Enabled Innovation Compass explores 22 different activities that can be used to unlock innovation from suppliers; and found that connectivity with suppliers and consumers and the use of technology are key enablers to success.

Key findings include:

  • Trail-blazers in SEI put a large emphasis on the time procurement spends with its key suppliers.
  • Procurement must better understand consumer needs and aspirations if it is to successfully deliver results through SEI.

Procurement must see innovation as a formal, disciplined process if it is to achieve success, yet only 34 per cent do.

Jonathan Webb, Head of Strategy Research at Procurement Leaders and the report’s author, said: “We knew procurement had a significant role to play in helping to build the future product pipelines of their companies. Now we know how they should go about it, and the future potential is huge when you understand that some of our members expect more than a third of their product pipelines to come from SEI.”

The research involved quantitative research and in-depth interviews among members of the Procurement Leaders community.

Do you count yourself as a member of Procurement Leaders? Procurious has just added functionality that allows you to display a Badge on your profile page. Click here to add your Procurement Leaders Badge now.

3D Printing – The End of Outsourcing?

From golf clubs to firearms, pharmaceuticals to trainers, 3D Printing is disrupting the manufacturing process of an increasing number of products. But what are the long-term implications for the supply chain as a whole?

3D Printing - The End of Outsourcing?

It’s a common misconception that 3D printing is something new. Although the processes and thinking for it have been around for a number of years, it’s taken a while for the technology to catch up and allow wider functionality and usage.

As a procurement and supply chain professional, this opens up a world of possibilities – a world of potential cost savings as a result of lower manufacturing costs and a centralised supply chain. Of course this isn’t going to happen overnight, but organisations can start to think differently.

The End Outsourced Manufacturing?

Manufacturing in particular has the potential to see a big change. The advances in 3D Printing can allow certain products to be made in house, instead of being outsourced to ‘low cost’ countries. While good news for organisations bringing more jobs back home, it doesn’t provide a rosy outlook for countries like Mexico and China, traditionally strongholds for low-cost manufacturing.

By bringing manufacturing closer to home, it also gives organisations an opportunity to reduce risk in their logistics, reduce lead-times and make savings on transportation costs. Plus, there’s the lower carbon footprint of global activities as an added bonus. This is all illustrated in this neat infographic.

3d printing supply chain infographic

In the pharmaceutical industry, manufacturers are using 3D Printing to improve medicines delivery systems for patients. Printers are being used to produce pyramid-shaped pills, which provide a more rapid drug release than cylindrical pills, and layered tablets that dissolve quicker and more efficiently.

While these processes are still in their infancy, manufacturers are hopeful that technology and science will work hand in hand, lowering production costs, enabling local production and, in the long run, reducing the end cost for patients.

Changes in the Supply Chain

Beyond enabling organisations to bring manufacturing back to a local setting, lowering logistics and transportation risks and costs and even maybe reducing globalisation as a whole, there are other impacts in the supply chain to think about.

Organisations will be able to produce prototypes of designs much faster than before and facilitate testing by being able to print on site. Organisations will also be able to print packaging materials, more tailored to certain products, as well as tools, jigs and other aids for manufacturing.

Finally, the requirement to hold inventory can be reduced by having designs for applicable products and other parts held on a hard drive, ready to be printed on demand, rather than physically stored in a warehouse.

Beware the Magic Bullet

A word of warning, though. As great as all this sounds, there are still risks and issues that need to be considered with 3D Printing.

Protection of copyright and security of patents is a big deal when all the designs are held on a hard drive that could be hacked from outside the organisation. Some organisations have taken steps to protect their intellectual property, but can you be 100 per cent sure you’re safe from cyber attack?

On the environmental side, although footprints are lowered for transportation, the need for printers to run continuously to be cost-effective means increased energy usage and costs. This would lead also to increased carbon footprints for local factories.

Finally, with greater efficiencies in the supply chain, reduced transportation requirements and potentially fewer warehouses, where does that leave the supply chain manager? If parts are going to be printed on site as required, there isn’t going to be the need for someone to manage an end-to-end process.

Best learn how to use the printers then!

Do you work in an industry that’s seen an increase in 3D Printing? Do you work with printers – have we missed any big benefits? Let us know and get involved in the discussion! 

Meanwhile, we’ve been very good to you again this week and rounded up all the stories you need to be reading in procurement and supply chain.

Tapping into the ‘big data’ that can help Greek supply chains to be more agile

  • Supply chain platform provider GT Nexus has begun tapping into the big data that has accumulated in its system to help shippers, carriers and forwarders provide “assurance of supply”.
  • In an interview prompted by the possibility of a Greek exit from the Eurozone, GT Nexus’s EMEA director of marketing, Boris Felgendreher, said the Greek crisis bore all the hallmarks of major disruption – the sort that shows the limitations of supply chain planning.
  • “This sort of situation puts a premium on being agile, in respect of companies being able to move from one sourcing location to another, and that is always difficult. This particular disruption has an added element in that it is financial,” said Felgendreher, alluding to the fears of a ‘Grexit’ and the problems Greek companies have with making and receiving payments.
  • And although Greece itself has accepted the terms of its bailout, a number of Eurozone countries have still to ratify the deal, meaning the threat of a Greek exit persists. However, Mr Felgendreher explained that a recent development by GT Nexus could offer firms a way to circumvent these issues through a “fusion of the physical and financial supply chains”, following an agreement between the platform developer and trade finance solutions provider SeaburyTFX.

Read more at The Loadstar

UK food supply chain on the brink

  • Much of the UK’s food supply market is on the brink of collapse as the UK’s largest supermarkets continue to slash prices, according to business recovery specialists Begbies Traynor.
  • The recovery firm said that delaying payments to suppliers means that the food retail industry has never been tougher for the UK’s smallest food suppliers, independent grocers and farmers.
  • According to Begbies Traynor’s Red Flag Alert research for Q2 2015, which monitors the financial health of UK companies, the UK’s food retailers continue to experience rising ‘Significant’ financial distress, increasing 38 per cent to 5,258 struggling businesses over the past year (Q2 2014: 3,804), 97 per cent of which (5092) are SMEs. However in reality the UK’s food supply chain that keeps these stores stocked is by far the biggest loser.
  • During Q2 2015, the UK Food and Beverage Manufacturers, which include many of the food suppliers and farmers that supply the major UK headquartered supermarkets, witnessed the highest year on year increase in ‘Significant’ distress of all sectors monitored by the Red Flag research, rising 54 per cent, with 1,622 companies now struggling to make ends meet; up from 1,052 at the same stage last year.

Read more at Fresh business thinking

Mercedes revamps supply chain, logistics to trim costs

  • Mercedes-Benz aims to reduce logistics costs by about 20 per cent per vehicle as the company invests hundreds of millions of euros in a sweeping global reorganisation of its supply chain network.
  • The automaker has increased production outside of its German home over the past decade but many of the components used in its cars are still sourced from Europe. The shift has increasingly stretched its supply chain because of the distances parts have to travel, placing a bigger strain on a system that is already trying to cope with record demand.
  • Logistics is a “very significant” cost position, according to Mercedes production and supply chain boss Markus Schaefer, who said supply chain costs can exceed manufacturing costs in some of the division’s lower-wage plants.
  • “With more than 30 vehicle derivatives each built from several thousand parts, the complexity is immense,” Schaefer told reporters in Speyer, Germany, where the carmaker last week opened a 90 million-euro consolidation center. Here components from European suppliers will be consolidated and repacked more efficiently for shipping abroad to Mercedes plants in China, the U.S., and South Africa.
  • Mercedes may establish similar centers in growth regions like China and North America, the company said in a statement.

Read more at Automotive News

McDonalds vow to end deforestation in its global supply chain

  • McDonald’s, the world’s largest chain of hamburger restaurants, has recently announced a huge global commitment on deforestation across the company’s expansive global supply chain.
  • The commitment builds upon McDonald’s Framework and longstanding leadership in the area of sustainable sourcing. The pledge encompasses all of the company’s products and focuses on beef, fibre-based packaging, coffee, palm oil, and poultry for which the company will begin developing specific time-bound sourcing targets in 2015.
  • McDonald’s will continue working collaboratively with a broad range of stakeholders, including suppliers, governments and NGO partners, to develop long-term solutions designed to combat deforestation around the world.
  • Francesca DeBiase, Senior Vice President of McDonald’s Worldwide Supply Chain and Sustainability, said: “This commitment to end deforestation demonstrates another major step for McDonald’s as we work to increasingly embed sustainability throughout our global business. Making this pledge is the right thing to do for our company, the planet and the communities in which our supply chain operates. We’re excited to continue collaborating with our supplier partners to achieve our goals.”

Read more at Supply Chain Digital