Category Archives: Trending

Is there humour in your supply chain?

“Comedy is acting out optimism.” – Robin Williams

“Humour is everywhere, in that there’s irony in just about anything a human does.” – Bill Nye

We’ve probably all been exposed to Jim Carrey showing the funny side of a supply chain risk in the classic Ace Ventura… But here’s a few other examples you might not have seen.

These videos all use comedy to highlight (and in some cases, solve) problems in the supply chain – taking in everything from sourcing to logistics.

Supply chain blackhole? Better check the stock room…

A group of MBA students use skills learned in their Supply Chain class to point out the inefficiencies of the latest “green” bathroom remodel at ASU’s WP Carey School of Business.

Like any good MBA students, they don’t just point out the problem, they offer solutions…

Greg tries to outsmart Diego and find a cheaper Less than Truckload (LTL) freight solution in the pilot episode of Logistically Challenged.

Have you come across any other humorous examples? Highlight your video picks in the comments below.

Amazon’s Christmas logistics robot army

The robots are coming… and they’re bringing Christmas presents!

In its latest bid to boost productivity and expedite delivery, Internet retailer Amazon is deploying a robot army – yep, just in time for Christmas.

Various sources are reporting that squat, orange, robots have entered several of its U.S. warehouses. The addition of these wheeled droids will save workers having to traipse the factory floor and scour long aisles chockful of Amazon goodies (sometimes up to 20 miles a day).

The addition of the robots is expected to bring in an impressive productivity boost – making picking and scanning 300+ items an hour a reality (compared to 100 previously).

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told investors earlier this year that in total the company hoped to move 10,000 robots onto the factory floor. Such a move was only made possible after Amazon bought Kiva Systems’ material handling solution in 2012.

Would you use a social network that pays you to post?

Tsu (pronounced ‘sue’) is a social network and payment platform that shares up to 90 per cent of its revenues with users. With a $7 million investment behind it (led by Sancus Capital Prive), Tsu has already attracted the gaze of 50 Cent, Timbaland, and NBA’s Carmelo Anthony – but sadly no sign of a Kardashian or Grumpy Cat yet…

Tsu the new social network that pays you to post

What is Tsu?

So by now you’re probably wondering just what is this Tsu that I’m hearing so much about?

It’s a new type of social network (hang on, we’ve heard that one before… ello, Ello?), but this one’s differential lies in its modus operandi. You see, you (the member) own the content you post, not only that but Tsu will pay you for the privilege.

Get paid to use social network(s)

Yup, that’s the jist. While it’s something of an incendiary headline, the New York Times led with “The Social Network That Pays You To Friend”.

The more people looking at your content, the more sales revenue Tsu makes from ads served. If this were Facebook or Twitter any wealth generated would only serve to line their pockets – Tsu will instead give back a slice of the pie.

It’s a ballsy business model that’s for sure.

Tsu Tmi?

Too much information? Tsu also provides detailed analytics to its users, so they can chart follower count, views, likes, and comments on posts made. This is in stark contrast to the news that a researcher from University of Illinois has created a browser plug-in that removes all trace of numbers (or metrics) from Facebook. Why? To show (or perhaps prove) that when not hell-bent on seeking others approval, the quality of posts and comments improved, as did enjoyment levels.

Download Facebook Demetricator

Tsu does move to ban users who spam in order to preserve the community, and that stretches to invites too. Don’t go thinking you can bombard your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn friends with your member short code (required to sign-up and access the community), Tsu wants you to instead nurture ‘meaningful’ relationships through the network proper.

It’s not for me, but it might for Tsu…

There is now a playable warehouse and logistics simulator…

The game (available on PC via Steam) sees you progress through various timed-based scenarios to move goods around a supermarket, warehouse and production facility.

But this isn’t just any old logistics simulator, oh no. The official website makes a big deal of the Jungheinrich affiliation – that’s an actual Jungheinrich forklift truck you’re controlling.  The company is based in Hamburg, Germany and one of the leading international companies in the material handling equipment, warehousing and material flow engineering sectors.

The game offers would-be forklift operators a variety of quests, different game modes, and realistic physics. A handful of comments from YouTubers come from those within the forklift industry itself –  complete with lighthearted observations… The simulator is presumably designed to train-up new operators right?

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Talking point: popular discussions on Procurious

Over the last few months, there have been a number of topics and themes within our Discussion forum.

We don’t want this information to go to waste, so we have pulled together the key points from some of the most popular discussions that we have seen so far.

Most popular discussions on Procurious

What do you say when a supplier (existing or potential) asks you: “What budget do you have in mind?”

There were a number of different answers from the community, ranging from a response of “why do you want to know that?, where the buyer elicits more information from the supplier, before asking for a firm price quotation, to no suppliers would ask that because they know that they need to quote best price or the existing relationship is critical to both parties.

A number of key points were brought up in the answers. The response to the question being asked depended on:

  • The relationship with the supplier
  • What commodity is being purchased – a key commodity might have more of a discussion around a price that worked for both parties, than one that is a best price discussion
  • What quality is expected
  • When the question is being asked – is it during a negotiation, or as part of a tendering process

There was agreement in that most people wouldn’t reveal the budget, would give a figure that was a percentage of the total budget or wouldn’t answer the question, either at all or without more explanation from the supplier.

Links were given for further information reading on suppliers combating the response to this question:

Trying to improve how we do contract management at CnES. Where should I start?

There were a few answers to this question, but some that got a few of the members commenting about the quality.

Consensus was to design a framework both for the management of the contract but also the KPIs to be involved in the contract itself. The most highly rated response was Cristian Martin:

  • Agree how to categorize your contracts/suppliers so you maintain focus on the most important ones. (Krajic, ABC or both).
  • Agree the method of contract management and standardize it so that you can compare supplier performance (under performing contracts can be seen and understood across the business when the process is standardized. e.g. use only 10 KPIs on all contracts and all KPIs are marked 0-5 (a score of 30 means the contract is performing to specification, Higher recognizes excellence and lower means there are issues that need to be resolved.)
  • Standardize the reporting and ensure it is seen at senior level on a regular basis. (Provide a quarterly report along with your savings report and get the recognition for your hard work).
  • Provide the tools to contract managers for lower value/risk contracts to give contract managers practice and improve their skills in Contract Management so that when you work on contracts together, you can focus on the contract and not in their CPD.

Cristian went on to recommend that only 10 KPIs were used in his contracts. Not the same every time, but a maximum number of 10.

He also asked his suppliers as part of the tender process to suggest KPIs for the contract to establish a starting point for discussion.

How sustainable procurement can be best defined?

This is common question across the profession at the moment and one that there is no real defined answer for. The top definitions given were:

  • To ensure that all procurement includes a requirement to maximise the benefits to the Outer Hebrides and the wider world that may arise from the purchase.
  • Preserving and cultivating the human resource of relationships
  • A process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis in terms of generating benefits not only to the organisation, but also to society and the economy

A key learning point given from the theoretical side of the debate was the concept of the Triple Bottom Line. This breaks Procurement activities into three distinct areas, all of which should be considered by buyers:

  1. Environmental Impact
  2. Economic Impact
  3. Social Impact

Sustainable Procurement is seen as a common buzzword, but not so common in practice, but there is evidence that it can provide value. Another point raised was why should there be a separate name for these activities – shouldn’t they just fall under the normal daily activities of procurement? What do you think?

To contribute to all of these discussions and more, head to https://www.procurious.com/discussions/

The Apprentice: A lesson in how not to market yourself

It’s been billed as the “job interview from hell”… 

To our UK, US, and AUS readers, any mention of The Apprentice will unilaterally  send shivers down your spine and cause a gleeful smile to creep across your face. For the rest of you, sit back and prepare to get schooled in the art of bad self-promotion…

The Apprentice (UK) - worst quotes

Every year sixteen of the UK’s most promising businessmen and women (see also: misguided marketeers/shifty salespeople/glamour-model in disguise) compete in a gruelling twelve week process to be named Lord Sugar’s Apprentice. It’s a format borrowed from the hugely popular US Donald Trump iteration. The difference being, the victor gets to to win the top prize: a business investment of £250k, with Sugar retaining 50% of the company.

With the exception of a winning handful, Lord Sugar (along with his two politely patient aides) observe these candidates through weeks of ingenious tasks to test their sales and negotiation skills, marketing savviness, entrepreneurial drive, and procurement acumen.

Are you often surprised by your own brilliance?

We’ve gathered some of the finest utterances to fall out of their mouths in the series’ 10-year history for your enjoyment. As you can see, if you get someone to talk about himself or herself – it has the tendency to bring out the very worst in people… If you plan on going further in your professional career, take heed, don’t commit the mortal sin of repeating any of the following!

“Everything I touch turns to sold” Stuart Baggs (2010)

“I can sell ice to the Eskimos” – Melissa Cohen (2010)

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the Moon” – Melody Hossaini (2011)

“I’m a ‘Great’ of my generation. I’m an innovator and leader in business. I take inspiration from Napoleon” – Zeeshaan Shah (2013)

“As a salesperson, I would rate myself as probably the best in Europe” – Jennifer Maguire (2008)

“I’m like a shark, right at the top of the food chain. I take what I want, when I want. I truly am the reflection of perfection” – Ricky Martin (2012)

“My first word wasn’t mummy, it was money” – Shibby Robati (2010)

“There are two types of people in the world: Winners and… I don’t know how to say the word, I can’t say it” – Ian Stringer (2008)

“I have the energy of a Duracell bunny, sex appeal of Jessica Rabbit, and a brain like Einstein” –  Luisa Zissman (2013)

Now we’ve armed you with inspiration, we want to hear the very worst examples you’ve encountered in your careers. Can you beat these?

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What makes people hide from social networks?

Ello. Is this the social network you have been waiting for?

This is what happens when social networks like Facebook and Twitter start to veer off-course – disillusioned programmers come up with something they think everyone wants: ad-free, and to some extent – private.

Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful.
Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful.

Going incognito

But what does this ‘simple, beautiful & ad-free’ new platform actually achieve? At this early stage it all reeks of being a bit too cool for school… You get the sense it’s been designed for those desperate to stand out, but in the same breath want to rebel against the system, damn the man. There’s rebellion bubbling beneath the monochrome swooshes, but everything is so hidden it’s hard to fathom what’s really going on.

You want to hide? Sure, you can do that (along with everyone else who’s desperately trying to suss out if their friends are there too). We’re as good as invisible – but this isn’t entirely the happy outcome everyone thought it would be.

“Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold…”

OK, maybe we’re overplaying Ello’s original modus-operandi here – but deep down it is still driving at the same thing.

Why is anonymity so important?

Beards. It does beards well. A number of the site’s founders sport impressive facial furniture.
Beards. It does beards well. A number of the site’s founders sport impressive facial furniture.

Social networks (by their very nature) are social. They are a not palm-laden solace for shying away from the wandering eyes of the world.

Many will surely (mistakenly) flock to Ello for peace of mind -after all, a few lofty statements go a long way… But on the face of it, it seems that Ello is no different: The information Ello collects includes your location, language, referring web site, and time spent visiting Ello.

Dig a little deeper and we note that users can however opt to switch this tracking off by visiting their settings page. With the best intentions this still won’t stop your browser from communicating/disclosing your activity to Internet servers the world over – albeit anonymously – so is there really such a thing as going dark?

On its ‘WTF’ page Ello reiterates that it respects a browser’s Do Not Track preferences, but notes such efforts are effectively null and void if you happen to use Chrome, or use services Google-powered search services or YouTube.

Did you manage to get an invite? You can add me on mfsmith20 and we can explore this crazy place together…

What do you make of it all: do you think that Ello has a worthwhile place in society? 

Would you trust your deliveries to a drone?

Google has just shown its secret ‘Project Wing’ drone-based delivery system to the world.

The fruits of the work  Google’s shadowy X research arm has achieved so far can be seen in the video below:

During a test-run Project Wing flew through the Queensland skies to successfully deliver supplies to Australian farmers.

To accompany the video Google provided the following:

“Throughout history, major shifts in how we move goods from place to place have led to new opportunities for economic growth and generally made consumers’ lives easier. From steam ships to the railroads, from the postal service to delivery services like FedEx and DHL, speed has reshaped society not only with greater convenience but also by making more goods accessible to more people.”

It continued: “Self-flying vehicles could open up entirely new approaches to moving goods – including options that are cheaper, faster, less wasteful and more environmentally sensitive than what’s possible today.”

The prototype is based on a single-wing drone design, and measures just 1.5m-wide (5ft). Four adjustable propellers control the drone through the flight, moving accordingly throughout its journey. In this example the goods to be delivered fit snugly in gap located in the middle of the wing.

Drone wars

For once Google isn’t first to the punch… Internet retailer Amazon has been toying with a drone delivery programme since it announced the ‘Prime Air’ service towards the latter end of 2013.

Of course, the fight for air supremacy doesn’t end with Amazon vs. Google… Aviation rules would need to be changed to allow use of unmanned civilian aircraft systems. What’s more, drones also fly in the face of dyed-in-the-wool privacy regulations, as many believe that drones have the potential to infringe on our base privacy rights.

And finally: Disney wants to use floating drones to power floating puppets… further proof (if it were needed) that the future is shaping-up to be pretty weird.

Google’s asking for interested parties to express their interest using this online form. Want to read more? The Atlantic has a comprehensive write-up about Project Wing on its website.

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?

Twitter experiment in favorited tweets reveals dark side of social networking

In my best Carrie Bradshaw voiceover, I have to ask: are we all just social network test-subjects?

A lot of criticism has been levelled at Twitter over its new, stealth, timeline experiment.

Matt Farrington Smith talks about Twitter favorites experiment

In an effort to engage newbies, Twitter has been sharing users ‘favourite’ tweets in the timelines of people they follow. The offending tweets appear as retweets, further adding to the confusion.

Let’s get this straight, we make the choice to actively follow people on Twitter that we have an interest in. We enjoy reading their tweets, along with any retweets they make. We don’t expect to start seeing tweets from accounts we have never followed appearing in our timeline.

I don’t really see the benefits of favouriting tweets, why favourite when a retweet proves more effective? But I appreciate there are occasions when all you want to do is stick a pin in something (or need to acknowledge a Tweet). For these reasons alone Twitter’s favourite function is tailored more towards private use, moreover than consumption by the masses.

Of course by their very nature social networks need to adapt and grow. Changes are inevitable, but many users have been left puzzled as to why Twitter didn’t provide a heads-up out of courtesy. In-fact the last time Twitter spoke about its experiments was back in 2013: https://blog.twitter.com/2013/experiments-twitter

At the time of writing there is no discernible way to turn this ‘feature’ off. Plus it transcends all Twitter-supported platforms, meaning you’ll encounter it whether you’re on mobile, tablet, or desktop.

Facebook’s psychology experiments

“I’m not a lab rat!” Just a couple of months back, the Internet was awash with similar cries from Facebook users after it was revealed that Zucks’ and company had secretly carried out experiments on a sample of 700k.

The experiments involved manipulating users’ news feeds to control the emotional expressions they were subjected to.

It’s possible to view this as part of a wider ethical debate – is Facebook really allowed to play with our emotions and purposefully make us feel sad?

Facebook makes 600,000 users sad

In its defence, Facebook did speak-up about the experiments. Adam Kramer, a data scientist at Facebook revealed:

“Having written and designed this experiment myself, I can tell you that our goal was never to upset anyone. I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my coauthors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused.”

He went on to explain the rationale behind such a study: “We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out”.

“At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook.”

Social networks are fragmenting over time

You could argue that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (and other networks of their ilk) are so far-removed from their genesis, they’re almost unrecognisable.

When Facebook changed the algorithm that determined how often posts by pages were shown in news feeds, many felt like they were being unfairly penalized.

The change involved Facebook prioritizing content that it deems more relevant to users, but it also means page owners need to now pay should they want to reach the audience they once reached.

Sometimes less is more. This is especially true when it comes to the unending torrent of crap that spews forth daily in our news feeds. Important updates from your nearest and dearest are now punctuated by promoted or sponsored messages.

In some ways this barrage of promoted posts/tweets/statuses are like the pop-up adverts of old. The difference being your ad-blocking software proves resilient to this scourge…

Acting as Community Editor for Procurious I should point out that we take upmost care when it comes to our users’ privacy.  If you want to be part of an ethical online network that values its members, and won’t enforce experimental changes on you needlessly – then you should really stick with us.