Category Archives: In The Press

Will augmented reality change the manufacturing industry?

According to recently published figures – only 17 per cent believe that augmented reality is going to change manufacturing in the future.

But first a primer: what is augmented reality?

Augmented reality in manufacturing

People often confuse augmented reality (AR for short) with virtual reality, the two are wholly different beasts but it’s easy to see the logic. Virtual reality transports the user into a carefully constructed 3D, virtual world. It’s a full-blown immersive experience – and it needs to be, in order to create and sustain the illusion. Whereas augmented reality relies on digital data being overlaid on a live view of the world outside. Text, graphics and sound fill your field of vision, adding a useful extra layer of data to your immediate surroundings. In technology terms we’re talking Google Glass and Sony’s Smart EyeGlass, rather than Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus.

Factories of the future

Today there is very little practical, real-world use of augmented reality in the field. Despite being AR is still very much in its infancy many industries and professions are wising-up to the benefits the technology can afford.

Not to mention, the use of AR could expedite training – negating the use of offsite sessions and bringing it in-house instead. Similarly it has applications within the medical world, providing the surgeon with overlays of essential patient information.

Boeing, BMW and Volkswagen are working on implementing AR into their assembly lines to smooth the manufacturing process.

There’s a strong case for the use of AR within the retail and commerce space. Want to see what’s inside a product’s packaging without opening it? You can do that, sure.

How about using it to help battle immoral practice in the workplace? Google Glass is now able to detect whether someone’s happy, sad, nervous, angry or excited with the help of an app. This could help boost productivity, ensuring workers remain in a healthy state of mind, and identifying emotional strain before it fully takes hold.

Incidentally SCM World currently carries a survey on the future of manufacturing – you can take part and submit your thoughts here. The results are due to be published in October, so we’ll be keeping a careful eye on this one.

Responsible sourcing: top 500 ranking

You can pack a great deal under the responsible sourcing umbrella – from businesses practicing sustainable procurement, specialists in environmental and ethical trading, thought-leaders in social impact, to those organisations sharing strategies and solutions.

The leaderboard is arranged by social media clout – those with massive influence undoubtedly sit nearer the top, indicating that meaningful interactions via social media channels count for a lot here.

The list is compiled by McClelland Media Ltd, and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer.

We’ve provided a small sample below, but we suggest you head on over to https://www.leaderboarded.com/responsible-sourcing to view the top 500 in its entirety.

You can pack a great deal under the responsible sourcing umbrella – from businesses practicing sustainable procurement, specialists in environmental and ethical trading, thought-leaders in social impact, to those organisations sharing strategies and solutions.  The leaderboard is arranged by social media clout – those with massive influence undoubtedly sit nearer the top, indicating that meaningful interactions via social media channels count for a lot here. The list is compiled by McClelland Media Ltd, and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer.   We’ve provided a small sample below, but we suggest you head on over to https://www.leaderboarded.com/responsible-sourcing to view the top 500 in its entirety.  See something missing? We’ve been told it’s possible to nominate organisations (or people) for consideration. Best visit the publisher’s website for more information.

We’d also recommend bookmarking the page, as it updates weekly every Friday.

See something missing? We’ve been told it’s possible to nominate organisations (or people) for consideration. Best visit the publisher’s website for more information.

Is shipping & the supply chain the ‘next playground for hackers’?

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is warning the maritime sector to be extra vigilant in light of increasing attacks from cyber criminals.

Do hackers pose a risk to the maritime industry?

For a bureau that has traditionally focussed its efforts on fighting piracy and armed robbery at sea, this new digital threat puts an entirely different menace in its crosshairs.

The IMB has been quoted as saying, “Recent events have shown that systems managing the movement of goods need to be strengthened against the threat of cyber-attacks.

“It is vital that lessons learnt from other industrial sectors are applied quickly to close down cyber vulnerabilities in shipping and the supply chain.”

This is cause for concern for the maritime industry especially as ships, containers and rigs are all connected to computer networks. If hackers find but one weakness, it can expose the entire network and make it open to exploitation on a grand scale.

Various cyber security experts have sounded off on this very subject during the past few months, and the media has been quick to pick up on it.  Reuters reported that a floating oil rig was compromised by hackers who tilted it onto its side.  The rig was out of action for an entire 19 days while harmful malware was removed from computer systems.

In Antwerp hackers gained access to port-side computers that enabled them to target specific containers, before making off with the booty and wiping away any telltale digital fingerprints.

The latest warning from the IMB quotes Mike Yarwood – TT Club’s insurance claims expert, speaking at the TOC Container Supply Chain Europe Conference in London. “We see incidents which at first appear to be a petty break-in at office facilities. The damage appears minimal – nothing is physically removed.”

Mike continues: “More thorough post incident investigations however reveal that the ‘thieves’ were actually installing spyware within the operator’s IT network.”

In scenarios similar to the incident in Antwerp, hackers tend to track individual containers through the supply chain to its destination port. Along the way the IT systems related to the cargo are infiltrated, resulting in the hackers either gaining entry to (or generating release codes for) specific containers.

The International Maritime Bureau is a specialized department of the International Chamber of Commerce.

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.

Supply chains need to take action to fight ‘fast fashion’

Young women working in a sweat shop

The fast fashion dilemma

The move toward ‘fast fashion’ is putting major pressure on those working in the procurement departments.

Fashion can cycle in and out of retail stores across the globe in a matter of weeks; putting those in procurement under constant pressure to ensure their supply chain is clean.

For many professionals working in this field, it’s a perpetual battle to balance the insatiable appetite for the latest dirt-cheap fashion with the constant demand that retailers stop the rag trade. Though perhaps not surprisingly, it’s pretty much impossible to find anyone willing to go on the record about how they tackle this issue to ensure their fast fashion supply chain is clean.

There are industry whispers that many procurement missions to places like China can result in more questions than answers. Often, a myriad of ‘agents’ acting on behalf of other sections of the supply chain make it extremely difficult for those in procurement to truly understand who they’re hiring, and whether they’re the sort of ethical supplier you’re hoping for.

This cry for help was found sewed into a Primark garment earlier this week.
This cry for help was found sewed into a Primark garment earlier this week. Darren Britton/Wales News Service

Most recently in Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warning about a dangerous dye found in jeans on sale in Australian stores.

Tests uncovered clothes with high concentration of the dyes, which sparked recalls of more than 121,000 items from retailers including Myer, Target, Rivers, Trade Secret and Just Jeans. A number of children’s clothes, including jeans from Myer, Just Jeans and Target, were included in the recall.

This situation will no doubt have caused major headaches for someone working in procurement, somewhere along the line. It’s also an example of why it’s so important for those in procurement to know where and how garments are being made.

After all, it doesn’t take much more than a few questions to be asked and some information to be shared on social media for a major brand to cop a beating over a supplier that’s possibly a long way down the supply chain.

However, some of the big brands have been working hard to clean up their act.

H&M, which is now in Australia, wants to prove to consumers that it’s doing the right thing. According to media reports, H&M has put a plan in place to avoid sourcing fabrics from endangered forest and also promote the use of fabrics that come from Forest Stewardship Council certified plantations. The company will also work to build traceable and sustainable production of these fabrics in its own supply chain.

For other major brands, the answer lies in innovation.

Stephen Denning, supply chain expert and author of the book Radical Management says brands like Zara have solved the problem of how to get disciplined execution with continuous innovation. “The way they lay out their factories, the design team is right in the middle of the factory, so that the whole process of learning from the manufacturers and vice versa is horizontal,” Denning was quoted as saying in The Business of Fashion.

People of Procurious, where do you stand on this “fast fashion” fixation? Make your voice heard and  leave your comments below.

Why are supply chain disruption and sustainability our hot topics of the week?

Marks and Spencer

Hello and welcome to your one-stop shop for everything Procurement news-related.

Find out which e-procurement organisation Selectica has acquired… UK darlings of fashion and homeware, Marks and Spencer (M&S) – talk about sustainability, and we learn which countries are most at risk from supply chain disruption.

So without further ado, lets see what’s been going on in the world…

Key Skills for Procurement
• Continuing the blog from the previous week, CPO Rising highlights skills that are required for procurement
• Business Consulting skills can help procurement professionals define scope, manage projects and capture requirements more effectively

Read more at CPO Rising

Iasta acquisition (USA)
• Contract management software provider Selectica has acquired e-procurement organisation Iasta in a deal worth US$7m
• Selectica plan to use the new acquisition to enhance their customer offering by integrating the contract management and e-procurement offerings for enterprises

Global Sustainability (UK)
• UK company Marks and Spencer plan to take their ‘Plan A’ sustainability scheme global
• Plan A 2020, will include new targets around worldwide sourcing principles around issues such as human rights and gender equality

Supply Chain Disruption (Global)
• The FM Global resilience index shows which countries are most susceptible to disruption in their supply chains
• Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Kyrgyzstan were named as the countries most susceptible to disruption
• Norway, Switzerland and Canada topped the list of nations most resistant to such disruption

Read more at Supply Management

Impact of Leadership (USA)
• Guest blog from Samir Patel (Director, GEP) on the Impact of Leadership on Procurement Organisations
• Emphasises the need for strong leadership in Procurement functions and alignment with the wider organisation when considering strategy
• Also gives some good recommendations beyond leadership for optimising the procurement organisation

Read more at the SIG Industry Blog 

Tips for Negotiation (USA)
• Some tips are offered for negotiating when you are in a weak position and how to make the best business case you can
• Tips include being fully prepared, asking questions and listening and keeping cool during the negotiation

Read more at Harvard Business Review

Procurement Focus (USA/UK)
• New study shows that procurement focus is shifting from just cost reduction to innovation and influence
• The Hackett Group study found that only half of the executives surveyed said that cost reduction was their key strategic focus for this year
• 69% of the organisations highlighted a focus on supplier innovation in the coming year

Read more at SDC Executive

Is procurement under attack on social media?

Social media when there's a procurement problem image

Social media can be an erratic and angry beast. One minute your company is being praised, and the next it’s under fire for a minor procurement program that’s somehow landed in serious hot water.

To stay out of trouble, make sure you are prepared for any social media crisis well before there’s any sign of trouble.

Start by working up to a worst case scenario by considering what could go wrong, recommends Sydney social media trainer Steven Lewis of Taleist.

Consider who is going to be called in from other duties to lend a hand if trouble hits, he says.

“The first step in handling a crisis is to be prepared for the eventuality in the first place. If you’re prepared, you’ll know who’s going to speak, what they need, and you’ll have your channels and processes in place and tested. Having thought about those things in advance frees you up to think strategically when dealing with the specifics of a crisis,” Lewis says.

Conduct a risk assessment on each of your processes so you know how they might be questioned or attacked, and by whom, Lewis advises.

“Create a tailored response to each process that allows you to give clear justification, preferably with supporting evidence. If, for instance, you’re accused of using a supplier who uses child labour, what policies, inspections or assurances from the supplier can you cite and what would your response be to an accusation?”

People expect their corporate citizens to have human qualities, so don’t be afraid to respond on with some emotion, he says.

Steven Lewis

If you don’t know something you’re being asked, say so.

“It’s not good for a clothing brand, for example, to say it’s never even considered there might be child labour in its overseas supply chain, but you might not have all the facts to hand immediately. But an empathetic response and a promise to investigate with a deadline will help.”

In this example, he suggests a response such as: ‘We care deeply about child labour too and we’d be horrified to find we’d supported it even directly.”

It’s important to respond online, he says.

“You need to be in the channels in which you’re being discussed. If you’re being attacked on Twitter, it’s not enough to put up a media release on your website. How will the people on Twitter know it’s there?”

Remember, a social media crisis seldom involves a rational exchange of views, he says.

“Essentially, you have to be prepared for the emotion of a crisis. If you plan to deal with the crisis only through the cold exchange of facts, you won’t put out the fire.”

Get your side of the story up quickly and in the relevant media, he says.

“You’ll likely have supporters and the more you can give them to share and get your side out, the better.”

However, be prepared to wear the criticism, he says.

“In social media as in politics, it’s often the cover-up that will get you. People don’t like having their comments deleted,” Lewis warns.