Tag Archives: procurement news

Scan, Print, Wear – Does The Future of Fashion Lie in 3D?

3D Printing is disrupting yet another industry – fashion. But this time, the big companies are ahead of the game.

3d printing fashion industry

From parts for fighter jets, to prosthetic arms and legs, and concept cars, 3D Printing is being used to manufacture a huge variety of items. And with its use on the rise, it’s putting pressure on organisations to reassess their manufacturing and supply chains.

The latest industry to come into the sights of the 3D Printing revolution is one that might surprise you – fashion. It’s not strictly a new phenomenon (it’s been over a year since these items first appeared), but it’s worth noting for a couple of important reasons.

Firstly, unlike in other industries, the well-known clothing manufacturers are at the forefront of the efforts. Secondly, the consideration of what this might mean for the fashion industry in terms of manufacturing and intellectual property.

Introducing Liquid Factory

Last week, Reebok announced the introduction of ‘Liquid Factory‘, a brand new manufacturing process using the concept of 3D drawing. Using a liquid created especially for them, Reebok can literally draw a shoe, without the need to use a mould at any point.

Not only does this drastically reduce the speed of manufacture, but it also allows Reebok to innovate more freely in the design of their footwear. According to Bill McInnes, Head of Future at Reebok, it’s the first jump forward in footwear manufacturing in over 30 years.

“One of the most exciting things about Liquid Factory is the speed. We can create and customise the design of shoes in real time, because we’re not using moulds – we’re simply programming a machine,” said McInnis. “Liquid Factory is not just a new way of making things, it’s a new speed of making things.”

Innovation doesn’t come cheap, for the consumer at least. A pair of the new ‘Liquid Speed’ trainers will set you back $189.50, though McInnes points out they more advanced than other trainers.

Setting the Fashion Trends

Reebok aren’t alone in using new methods to creating footwear.

Adidas rewarded its sponsored athletes who won medals at Rio 2016 with a new 3D printed running shoe. Under Armour created a new trainer with a 3D printed sole, and sold out the entire line (at $300 a pair) after Michael Phelps wore them at the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Under Armour have stated that the 3D printing process allows them to create a highly customised shoe based on individuals’ vital statistics. And printing, rather than moulding, allows for “mass customisation” without huge increases in price.

And it’s not just trainers that are going through the 3D printer. Bikinis, dresses, and even the costumes for HBO’s latest masterpiece, Westworld, have been 3D printed. 3D printing is also being used to manufacture so-called “smart fabrics“, essentially wearable technology in clothing.

IP, Counterfeits & Consumers

However, while 3D printing holds many positives for the fashion industry, there are concerns too. Consumers are unlikely to see changes to their shopping habits in the very near future. But it’s how shopping will evolve that plays a major role in the fashion industry’s evolution.

Consumers may in the future be able to pay to download files of clothes to print themselves at home. 3D body scans could make tailored clothing much cheaper and more accessible.

But the over-riding concern for designers and retailers is what would happen to the IP. And how could they cope with the likely influx of counterfeit goods. The industry already deals with countless fakes, but access to CAD files and cheaper 3D printers could see the issue increase exponentially.

Fortunately, the fashion industry has time on its side in this respect. Affordable 3D printers capable of this are still very rare. And if organisations choose to invest time and resources into protecting their IP now, it could save them considerable trouble in the future.

Will 3D Printing change the way we buy clothes? Could it also see an end to sweatshop labour in fast fashion? Share your views below.

While we’ve been searching for a cheap 3D printer, we’ve also been on the look-out for the top headlines this week.

Uber Drivers in Landmark Case Win

  • Uber drivers in the UK have won an employment tribunal case, which ruled they were workers, rather than self-employed.
  • The decision means that drivers will be entitled to holiday pay, rest breaks and the national minimum wage.
  • Uber, who argued that its drivers were self-employed contractors, has already said it will appeal.
  • Should the verdict stand, it could impact tens of thousands of workers in a similar situation.

Read more on The BBC

Tesla Posts First Profit in Three Years

  • Electric car maker Tesla has posted a surprise profit this quarter after selling more vehicles than expected.
  • The company’s revenue rose 145 per cent to $2.3 billion in the quarter, while vehicle sales doubled to 24,821.
  • Tesla’s stock rose 5 per cent in response to the news.
  • The news may mean Tesla is able to meet its bold target of selling between 80,000 and 90,000 electric vehicles this year.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Currency Related Price Increases Continue

  • Microsoft has become the latest company to increase its prices as it adjusted its charges to account for currency fluctuations.
  • The rise comes less than two weeks after Unilever’s public spat with Tesco over requested price increases.
  • Microsoft stated that the increases were as a result of assessing their product prices, and creating alignment across the European region.
  • Apple have also announced price rises on their hardware in the UK, some by more than £500.

Read more at Supply Management

Modern Slavery Allegations in Fashion Supply Chains

  • A BBC investigation has revealed modern slavery and child labour in the supply chains of major global companies.
  • The supply chains of Marks & Spencer and ASOS were found to have poor working conditions in Turkish factories.
  • War of Want also alleged similar findings in the supply chain of Japanese retailer, Uniqlo.
  • The company’s Chinese suppliers have been found to enforce excessive overtime, and dangerous conditions, on their workers.

Read more on Supply Chain Dive

Rising Oil Price Shows Green Shoots of Commodity Recovery

As oil prices hit their highest level for 15 months, there is hope that this signals a recovery for other commodity prices too.

green shoots recovery

On Wednesday last week, global oil prices reached their highest levels for 15 months. The US Energy Information Administration reported that domestic crude oil supplies had dropped by 5.2 million barrels in the week ending October the 14th.

The oil price was further spurred on by an announcement from Saudi Arabia regarding future oil production. The announcement confirmed that non-OPEC producers have shown willingness to join efforts to limit global crude output.

The reduction of the ‘glut’ in oil supplies helped to buoy global markets, and sparked discussion on the recovery of other commodities. So is a reduction in supply going to lead to a global commodity recovery? Or is it too premature to say?

Green Shoots of Recovery

Talk of the recovery was lead by the Chief Executive of the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton. In the company’s first quarter production report, Andrew Mackenzie, stated that, “Fundamentals suggest both oil and gas markets will improve over the next 12 to 18 months.”

This viewed echoed earlier positive quotes from another resource giant, Rio Tinto, regarding the oil and gas markets. Increasing demand from China is anticipated to drive commodity prices up from the last quarter this year, and through 2017.

Also benefitting from production decreases from China itself are commodities such as iron ore, whose price has risen 35 per cent this year. Metallurgical coal prices have tripled in the same period for the same reason. Prices of zinc too are at their highest level since the middle of the year, as production is decreased.

The recovery comes after five consecutive years of falling prices, mainly due to falling demand from China. At one point during last week the commodity market stood on the edge of being a “bull” market for the first time since 2011.

The strength of positivity behind the commodity market also lead to better performance for US markets. This is welcome news for many companies after a particularly volatile year.

Rises Expected to Continue

The recovery doesn’t appear to be a short-term thing either. The price of a barrel of oil is expected to rise to around $55 during 2016. Beyond that, it’s estimated that the price will continue to rise, reaching $70 during 2017.

Rising prices are good news for other industries which have struggled in 2016. Maritime shipping has seen an overall loss of around $5 billion this year, with Hanjin being a high-profile example of the industry’s woes.

However, if rising prices are combined with increasing volumes, the shipping and transportation industries could see a recovery too. As more shippers move forward with scrapping large numbers of ships, it’s hoped that an increase in demand could help drive more profits next year.

However, there is also the feeling that the only way that the maritime industry will fully get back on its feet is through M&A. There have been large moves in this area this year, but not enough to combat the prolonged over-capacity seen in the industry.

Consumer Goods Could Suffer

However, the rising prices aren’t good news for everyone. As we saw in last week’s news, as commodities and raw material prices rise, so does the cost of manufacturing goods. Unilever’s proposed price rises that were rejected by retailers came partly as a result of this.

Palm oil, crude oil, and aluminium are all contributing to rising costs for consumer goods. Allied with fluctuating consumer demand, even at a time of year where sales would be expected to be high, it means difficult times ahead for manufacturers.

And although the likes of Unilever, P&G, and Reckitt Benckiser have seen increased revenues recently, this has been attributed more to increasing prices, rather than an improvement in demand.

As ever, what is good news for one group, inevitably turns out to be worse news for others.

Do you think oil prices are a sign of economic recovery? Or could prices going too high actually lead to decreasing spend as goods become more expensive? Let us know below.

While we tracked the rising price of our seasonal shopping, we were on the lookout for the week’s big headlines…

Another South Korean Shipper Facing Bankruptcy

  • STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co., South Korea’s fourth largest shipbuilder, has applied for bankruptcy protection in the USA.
  • The move is designed to stop creditors seizing US-based assets while the company searches for a buyer.
  • One creditor is New York-listed Teekay Tankers Ltd., who won a $32 million arbitration award last year for non-delivery of four oil tankers.
  • Although STX has received billions of dollars to keep it afloat, the issues in the industry have hindered any recovery.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

How does the NHS Spend its Money?

  • Ever wondered how the NHS spends its money? Think there’s a lot of waste?
  • The BBC has launched a series of articles aimed at answering the public’s questions about the NHS.
  • Though spending is being cut across the service, it remains the most cost-effective health system in the world.
  • However, this counter-balanced by outcomes being at lower levels to other countries who actively spend more on healthcare.

Read more and Get Involved on the BBC

Facebook launches “Workplace”

  • Facebook has launched a business collaboration tool, said to be ad-free and not connected to users’ regular Facebook accounts.
  • Businesses can sign up as an organisation for a small fee per user that drops as more users sign on.
  • The tool offers group chat, video calls, live video and a news feed, with relevance algorithms just like regular Facebook.
  • Though many collaboration platforms already exist, Facebook is hoping to build on the familiarity of their public platform for user experience.

Read more at Facebook

Strike Puts Jim Beam Distilleries Under Pressure

  • Over 200 workers at Jim Beam distilleries in Clermont and Boston are striking over staffing shortages and long hours
  • The shortages come as the distilleries struggle to keep up with growing bourbon demand.
  • Bourbon is a $3 billion industry in Kentucky, providing an estimated 15,400 jobs and providing 95 per cent of the world’s bourbon supply.
  • Negotiations are expected to resume this week between striking workers and Beam Suntory, owner of the Jim Beam brand.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune

Love It or Hate It – The Importance of Supply Chain Stability

A disagreement relating to rising supply chain costs has highlighted the importance of supply chain stability.

marmite supply chain stability

Early on Thursday morning, the top news headlines weren’t about conflict or celebrity scandal, but the future of a famous British staple. Maligned and loved in equal measure, Marmite was the topic on everyone’s lips.

The sudden interest in the salty, yeast-based spread came about due to a very public spat between Tesco and Unilever over rising product costs.

According to reports, Unilever had requested that Tesco, and other UK retailers, raise the price of their products in store by 10 per cent. However, when Tesco refused to pass on this cost to customers, Unilever stopped supplying certain goods to the retailer.

Tesco responded to this by halting online sales of Unilever products. This sparked concerns of a prolonged shortage of goods on supermarket shelves.

However, by Thursday evening, the situation was resolved and the stand-off ended. It’s expected that Unilever goods will return to the Tesco website in the next few days.

It’s understood that Unilever gave some ground in negotiations, leading to an agreement between the companies. Asda has also publicly commented that it successfully negotiated with Unilever on the price increase.

Rising Supply Chain Costs

Unilever’s reason for the requested price increase was the continuing fall in the value of the pound. This has in turn led to higher import costs for goods into the UK.

While many of its products, including Marmite, are manufactured in the UK, Unilever imports products and raw materials from its base in the Netherlands.

Since the Brexit vote in June, the pound has fallen in value by over 17 per cent. As the pound dropped to its lowest level since June 23rd on Tuesday, it was reported that some airport Bureau du Change had been offering exchange rates of less than one Euro per pound.

Graeme Pitkethly, Unilever’s Chief Financial Officer, was quoted on Thursday morning as saying the price increases were part of “normal business“. But, while the price increases may be a normal part of business, experts have warned that this may just be the beginning.

As the UK’s exit from the EU comes closer, it’s expected that consumers will see rising prices for many products. As the UK imports more than 60 per cent of what it consumes, the FMCG industry will be one of the hardest hit.

Items such as bread, milk, bananas and wine are expected to increase as manufacturers and retailers stop being able to carry the increasing import costs. A rise of between 8 and 10 per cent is expected on clothing, while petrol will rise an estimated 4 or 5 pence per litre in the UK before the end of the month.

Importance of Stability

At a time when margins are being squeezed, the importance of supply chain stability is huge.

A survey published by the UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF) showed that 63 per cent of manufacturers are suffering from decreased profit margins. As well as this, 76 per cent a seeing higher ingredient costs too.

With 96 per cent of the UK’s food and drink businesses small or medium-sized, larger organisations need to be aware of the impacts of margins throughout their supply chains.

Some organisations will try to put increasing costs back on to manufacturers, without taking into account the long-term impacts. Any further supply chain disruption on top of what is happening already could potentially drive prices higher again.

While prices rises for consumers are probably inevitable, increasing supply chain efficiencies and demand forecasting can help to limit the damage.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retailers Consortium, said: “Retailers are firmly on the side of consumers in negotiating with suppliers and improving efficiencies in the supply chain to control the inflationary pressure that is building through the devaluation of the pound.

“However, years of falling shop prices and higher costs have left limited scope for retailers to continue absorbing this pressure. Everyone in the supply chain will need to play their part in maintaining low prices for consumers.”

By building a greater understanding of the costs through the supply chain, retailers and manufacturers can try to overcome a lack of stability collaboratively.

Do you work in procurement in retail or FMCG? What are your experiences of the recent price rises? Let us know below.

Away from the worries of empty shelves, we’ve stocked up on the week’s big procurement and supply chain headlines.

GM in Court Over Price Bargains

  • A court in Massachusetts will heard a case last Friday, brought against GM by a now bankrupt supplier.
  • Clark-Cutler-McDermott, alleges GM knowingly led the company into a bad faith deal, and encouraged them to take on more debt.
  • GM have requested the case be dismissed, arguing CCM is trying to pass the blame for poor management.
  • The case will help to shed more light on the highly-criticised bargaining practices allegedly happening in GM’s supply chain.

Read more at Supply Chain Dive

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 US Recall Begins

  • Samsung have begun the process of recalling a further 1.9 million Galaxy Note 7 devices, bringing the total to nearly 3 million since the beginning of September.
  • A fault in the Note 7’s battery has led to it overheating, with users experiencing smoking, sparking, or on-fire devices.
  • The recall is expected to cost Samsung an estimated $2.3 billion.
  • The company has seen $21 billion wiped off its market value since Tuesday last week.

Read more at The Guardian

MPs Call for End to Antibiotic “Overuse”

  • A group of MPs has called for the curtailing of the “systematic overuse” of antibiotics in supermarket meat supply chains.
  • Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith tabled a motion calling on UK supermarkets to adopt policies prohibiting routine mass-medication of livestock because of the emergence of antibiotic resistant bugs.
  • The motion has so far received the support of 21 MPs from across the parties.
  • Goldsmith tabled the EDM after a report found resistant E. coli in supermarket pig and poultry meat.

Read more at Supply Management

Amazon Fined by FAA Again

  • The FAA has proposed a fine of $78,000 for Amazon for breaching regulations on shipping of hazardous materials.
  • It’s the online giant’s fourth fine in as many months, with more likely to come from the UK.
  • The latest fine relates to the shipment of an ethanol-based hair tonic, without the correct documentation for flammable goods.
  • The issues highlight the hurdles Amazon faces in scaling up its own logistics and transport operations.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #18 – Integrated Procurement Operations

Could integrated procurement operations help break down silos and instil good practices? Isn’t it time to find out?

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Success is Integrated Procurement

Anna del Mar, Director at Future Purchasing, believes that procurement doesn’t need to be separate to the rest of the business. She believes the function can be integrated into the business, instilling the culture of good procurement across the organisation.

Anna goes on to say that by up-skilling everyone in the business to be great procurement people, it will help to increase collaboration in the business. This can also take away the silo mentality, and allow procurement to act as a guide along the way.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

Integrate Your Learning & Career

If you enjoyed Anna’s Big Idea and you want to read more from her, then you’re in luck! Anna shared her wealth of experience in procurement, and gave her 5 top tips to stand out from the crowd.

You can hear all our podcasts, and read all our great content by enlisting here. You can catch up on topics from becoming a CPO, to taking your conscience to work, and many more.

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 17,500 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.

Communication Queen – Not Your Typical Procurement Pro

There’s a step change coming in the procurement technology and software industry. And communication and relationships will be the central pillars of it, says this Millennial.

Communication Queen
Simona Pop

There is step-change coming in procurement, and the change is going to be keenly felt in the procurement technology and software industry. But for this change to take effect, it needs support on both sides of the aisle – buyer and supplier.

Simona Pop, Head of Partnerships & Global Communication at InstaSupply, is not your typical procurement professional.

She’s one of a new breed of professionals involved in procurement and supply chain, who believes change is on the horizon, and that it can’t come soon enough.

A tattooed Millennial, with a stake (both monetary and emotional) in the company she works for, Simona presents a refreshing view on buyer and supplier relationship management, and believes in creating emotional connections with clients.

Not only that, but she also walks the walk when it comes to leveraging social media in business.

Procurious caught up with Simona, and chatted to her about her career, her approach to social media, and why she believes we shouldn’t have to leave the real-time efficiencies of our personal lives at the office door.

Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get to where you are today? 

It has to be said, my career trajectory isn’t what you might call straightforward. I got out of school thinking I was going to be in advertising. Then I moved to the UK and started working with Brakes, the food supplier, in a sales role. I then went 180 from that path and started working in events.

Finally, I started working with InstaSupply as Head of Partnerships and Communication. One thing lead to another really, and in the end, it makes a lot of sense.

I love communication and building relationships. That’s what makes the world go round, as far as I’m concerned. My communications background is ultimately the driving force behind my take on business.

You’ve recently won your place at Virgin Disruptors – congratulations!

Yes, I am very excited about it. It was all about presenting my vision on what industry needs disrupting and how I would do it. I went straight to the core and illustrated how ALL business needs disrupting.

You can see my video below. It’s all about changing procurement and finance. They are the engine of each and every business so they need to be as well oiled as possible.

What role did social media play in the award?

As with every bit of communication I put out there, this was also a social affair. I got to chatting with Virgin via Twitter and found out about this opportunity. As everything in social media moved pretty fast, I only had a couple of days to script and create the video in order to stick to deadlines. I then uploaded it on YouTube and shared it via Twitter again.

I am a true believer in the power of social and its ability to not only bring us information in real time but also challenge us to become more creative and innovative. It’s why I am so happy to be part of the Virgin Disruptors community as a technology company.

So many procurement technology implementations fail – why do you think this is?

It comes down to how people interact with the technology and the company providing that technology. Is there a match there in terms of values? Or is it more about ticking a box and signing a three year contract so you don’t have to worry about it?

So many businesses will go for old technology just because someone else in their industry has used it before. Even if it’s not a great fit for them and their staff, they will implement it anyway just to tick that “tech” box and consider it done.

More often than not, businesses pay the price tag of an Aston Martin, and end up using it like a second hand Ford.

The fact that back office operations, procurement and finance technology involve so many different roles and levels of seniority, makes it paramount that the interface and functionality appeals to all age groups.

There shouldn’t be a difference between the way we interact with brands in our personal lives, and brands that we see at work.

What are the key changes you think need to be made? Can we make procurement/B2B software more like B2C counterparts?

The way I see it, every business relationship is a partnership – it’s not a case of sell and move on. As a tech supplier, you are going to be working closely with your client, as they will interact with your product every single day.

You want to allow them to work smarter, be more efficient and ultimately make their lives easier. You need to provide top notch tech, but also real time support. There’s no place for a helpline that keeps people on hold for hours, or an email they get a response to in three months. That would be unacceptable in B2C nowadays!

There needs to be a shake-up. We need to remove the jargon, the boring pages of bland text, the hieroglyphic appendices, and the contracts that tie you into five years, whether you like it or not.

Software providers want partners, not prisoners. We are here to simplify buyer-supplier relationships, and make life easier for everyone involved in running a business, regardless of role and seniority. Ultimately we want to support them in growing their business, and having a better quality of work.

After all, why should we leave all the efficiencies of B2C, our personal life, at the door, when we get to work?

Not Worth The Money – Will Entrepreneurs Avoid Business in Britain?

The Great British Pound is in trouble again this week and it’s making budding entrepreneurs think twice about their business plans.

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Talk of a Hard-Brexit Sparks Global Concern

The pound plummeted to a 31-year low last week sparking global concern. The crash followed Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement on Sunday 2nd October, which revealed a firm timeline for triggering Article 50 and the beginning of Brexit. Extra fuel was added to the, already well-stoked, fire when the media reported that she would opt for a complete break from Europe- a “hard brexit”. Reports  already suggest that a “hard brexit” could result in a loss of 70,000 jobs and cost £10bn in tax receipts.

With the pound sitting at $1.27 against the US dollar, chancellor Philip Hammond scuttled to New York with the hope of reassuring America’s biggest banks about the consequences of Brexit. He will try to convince the Wall Street powerbrokers that London will maintain its position as the world’s leading financial centre once the break from the EU is complete.

The pound is also falling against the euro this week, hitting a five-year low and continuing to escalate concerns.

Weak Pound Triggers Rise in UK Services Sector Prices

The dropping value of the pound is already affecting the UK services sector as input prices rose to a three and a half year high in September 2016.

David Noble, group CEO, CIPS, said: “Firms raised their prices in response, to counteract increased costs for fuel, food and elevated wage bills and as the weaker pound had an effect.”

Companies demonstrated their concerns at the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit implications through their reluctance to forge ahead with confidence.

“It’s clear that the pace of expansion has cooled since the first half of the year, reflecting widespread concern about the potential future impact of Brexit”, David commented.

Is Brexit Scaring Off Entrepreneurs?

The aftermath of Britain’s Brexit referendum back in June 2016 saw a strong display of optimism from many entrepreneurs. Indeed, a survey conducted by the Financial Times confirmed that the majority of founders and investors had confidence in London retaining its status as Europe’s biggest center for start-ups. But, is there a change in the wind?

Diana Paredes, CEO & Co-founder at Suade Labs and passionate entrepreneur spoke with Business Insider last week about the effects Brexit will have on entrepreneurship.

She questions why anyone would opt to start a business in the UK given the current economic climate. Operating in London adds a premium in terms of housing and talent and people often see the many business opportunities on offer as a justifiable compromise for quality of life. However, with the future so uncertain, is it worth the risk and sacrifice?

Existing organisations might also be keen to relocate their bases to elsewhere in Europe where it is cheaper to operate, less isolated and they can continue to be regarded as a European company and not simply a British one. 

If you’re an entrepreneur, what are your thoughts? Is the dropping value of the pound enough to make you run a mile from UK business? Let us know in the comments below.

Find out what else has been happening in the world of procurement and supply this week…

Samsung in Trouble Again

  • It’s been a month since Samsung recalled its new flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 7, following several cases of it exploding and injuring customers.
  • The company have been issuing replacement devices to customers who bought Galaxy Note 7 phones.
  • However, a Samsung recently started smoking uncontrollably on a flight before takeoff, forcing the cabin crew to evacuate the plane. This could lead to a second recall and a disastrous outcome for Samsung.
  • Google announced its Pixel smartphone this week and could be well placed to steal a whole host of disappointed Samsung’s customers.

Read More at Business Insider

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars

  • Uber’s self-driving car pilot program may want to fasten its seat belts after the bumpy beginning it has reportedly gotten off to.
  • The cars have reportedly gotten into accidents and ignored traffic signs during testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Whilst it is still very early days for self-driving cars, it’s believed that they are, ultimately, inevitable given the overall, enticing end-game which should see the cars combatting road deaths.

Read more at Tech Radar

Supply Chain Leaders Pressured to Embrace Climate Change

  • Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) meets next month in New York with the current cri de Coeur being “bold climate action”.
  • Analysts have observed that multinationals must raise their ambitions by investing in climate finance, transition to renewable energy, and find more innovative was of ensuring resilient supply chains.
  • As well as encouraging change in organisational culture to embrace clean energy and other climate solutions, BSR insist that supply chain managers join Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) managers in becoming .intrapreneurs.
  • Supply chain managers can – and must – play a major leadership role in addressing the alarming consequences of aberrant global weather conditions.

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7

Drones Tested for Emergency Cell Service

  • Verizon Communications is testing the deployment of large-scale drones to provide mobile connectivity in emergency situations when the land-based cellular network has been damaged.
  • The drone which is being flown by American Aerospace Technologies, is nothing like the small, quad copter devices flown by amateurs at home. With a 17-foot wingspan, Verizon’s drone more resembles the types of unmanned aircraft used in the military.
  • Data gathered in Thursday’s trial will be shared with the FAA in order to help craft future rules regarding drones, Verizon said.

Read more at Fortune

Global Trade Growth Slowdown a Wake-up Call for Nations

Global trade growth has slipped to its slowest rate since the 2009 financial crisis, sparking concerns for jobs and economic growth.

global trade

The World Trade Organisation has released figures showing that global growth has fallen to 1.7 per cent in 2016. This is well below the forecast 2.8 per cent growth in GDP outlined by the WTO at the beginning of the year.

It’s expected global GDP growth will remain around 2.2 per cent for 2016, which would represent the lowest figure since the financial crisis in 2009.

The slowdown in growth has been driven by a sharp decline in merchandise trade volumes. These fell in Quarter 1, and then didn’t rebound as expected to the middle of the year.

On top of this, the WTO has also revised its 2017 forecasts downwards, from 3.6 per cent, to between 1.8 and 3.1 per cent.

Decelerating Global Trade & Growth

Falling global trade and growth is also in part due to slow growth and performance in major world economies, such as China and Brazil.

North American growth, the strongest in the world in 2014-15, has also slowed. A reduction on imports into the USA has been partly to blame for this.

The volatility in the global economy, as well as a backdrop of increasing uncertainty, has been a major consideration for many countries in their trade.

Disagreements over global trade partnerships, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, have not helped the situation. Both US Presidential candidates oppose the agreement, and have stated they will end US involvement in it after November’s election.

The WTO have also warned that uncertainty around the UK’s ongoing relationship with the EU following June’s Brexit vote may lead to even slower growth in coming years.

Protectionism Hurting Growth

After an extensive period of global trade growth through globalisation, many countries are now looking to pull both manufacturing and supply chains back within their borders.

A separate report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlighted the role of protectionism in the slowdown. While tariffs on trade are regulated by the WTO, other measures, such as reducing quotas and increasing subsidies for in-country manufacturing, can be used to reduce exports.

This then has a knock-on effect on global trade volumes, and can inhibit development of global supply chains.

Roberto Azevedo, the WTO’s director-general, said, “The dramatic slowing of trade growth is serious and should serve as a wake-up call. It is particularly concerning in the context of growing anti-globalisation sentiment. We need to make sure that this does not translate into misguided policies that could make the situation much worse.”

Job and Economic Growth Risk

The global slowdown in trade has also raised concerns about job creation, and general health of the world economy. Both economic growth and job creation have long been linked to open trade.

Efforts to re-shore manufacturing and supply chains have an impact on global employment. Though it must be said that many organisation are seeing economic benefits from bringing manufacturing back in-house. These benefits are passed on to the both the local and national economies in turn.

However, for many developing countries and smaller companies, the slowdown in trade will hit harder. Roberto Azevedo called on countries to “heed the lessons of history“, and re-commit to open trading to boost economic growth.

Though some positive signs have been seen in the past month or so, the uncertainty remains. The US Presidential Election could fundamentally change the way one of the world’s largest economies interacts with the rest of the world.

And with other major economies not showing signs of quick recovery, it remains to be seen when or if the global slowdown will be arrested.

What are you seeing in relation to global trade in procurement? Is your supply chain suffering from the slowdown? Let us know below.

We’ve taken time out from getting you fit with Career Boot Camp to check out the top headlines this week. 

Activists Block Palm Oil Operations

  • Greenpeace activists are blockading operations of IOI, one of the world’s biggest producers and traders of palm oil.
  • A group of ten people, including two Indonesian farmers affected by forest fires related to palm oil operations, are blocking access to IOI’s refinery in Rotterdam.
  • The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is also preventing palm oil from being unloaded from incoming tankers.
  • Greenpeace is demanding that IOI commits to a sustainable palm oil supply chain before they lift the blockade.

Read more at Maritime Executive

US Craft Beer Brewers Outpace Supply Chain

  • US hops farmers are struggling to fulfil orders for a rapidly growing number of craft breweries,
  • The industry has doubled in size over the past five years, as consumers look to smaller companies for their beer.
  • Farmland devoted to varieties of hops has increased by 65 per cent in the same period. However, the number of small customers makes it difficult for farmers to keep up with demand.
  • As a result, production has slowed for the first time after several years of rapid growth.  

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Inquiry Launched Into UK Defence Procurement

  • An inquiry into the UK’s military acquisition and procurement policy has been launched by the House of Commons Defence Committee.
  • The review was prompted by a report published last year by think-tank Civitas that argued for an overhaul of the MOD’s acquisition process.
  • The committee’s inquiry will look into whether emerging acquisition systems are offering value for money.
  • It will also look at the implication of Brexit will have on the UK’s defence industry.

Read more at Supply Management

Silicon Valley Alive to Truck Potential

  • Silicon Valley tech organisations are looking more closely at why trucks have jumped ahead of cars in driverless technology.
  • Software companies are also looking at the technologies that could be used in passenger cars in future.
  • Uber demonstrated its interest in lorries when it announced the acquisition of Otto, a start-up focused on self-driving technology for trucks.
  • It has been argued that such technology is used on commercial vehicles first, as there is potential for faster ROI.

Read more on The Financial Times

Is the Age of the Tech Unicorn at an End?

Once, every tech start-up wanted to be a unicorn? But could the age of the unicorn be at an end? And what will replace them?

unicorn

For the past few years, much of the talk for new technology start-ups has been about achieving the moniker of a ‘unicorn’. Many have tried, plenty have failed, but there are as many that have succeeded.

However, as many people warned, the constant rise of the ‘unicorn’ was always going to come to an end. And even some of the big name unicorns from the past few years have lost this particular title.

So, is the age of the unicorn at an end? And what is coming next to take their place?

Rise of the Unicorn

For those of you still unfamiliar with the term, a unicorn is a technology start-up company, which reaches a valuation of over $1 billion. The companies are characterised by rapid growth, and are generally privately funded, either through VC, or other routes.

The issue with unicorns, one that investors were aware of from the start, is that they are not profitable. Well, at least to begin with. Most unicorns aim to prove concept, and grow market share, before making any money.

Valuations tend to be based on future projections of worth, which is why truly defining a unicorn is tricky. Currently, the Wall Street Journal lists 155 unicorn firms, Fortune 174, and VentureBeat 229.

There are plenty of recognisable names on these lists. Uber, Airbnb, SpaceX and Dropbox, to name but a few. Many of these companies also appear on lists of organisations still considered to be disrupting their respective industries.

It’s probably easier to argue that companies like Facebook and SpaceX, unicorns of the past, have surpassed that title by being profitable in their own right. And profitability, after all, is surely the key.

Pop! Is that a Bubble Bursting?

When we first visited the topic of unicorn organisations a little under a year ago, we did highlight vulnerabilities in this set up. Venture capitalists and their investments are as much susceptible to market changes as any other business.

And given the global uncertainty that has been prevalent in 2016, many investors are looking for safer options. And this decrease in available funding has already seen a major impact amongst unicorns.

The pre-IPO investment firm Sharespost published an analysis in August that concluded that 30 per cent of all unicorns would lose their billion-dollar net worth. Some already have, and some have been pushed down that road in the past 9 months.

Big name companies like Theranos (once a unicorn, now subject of media interest for all the wrong reasons) and Evernote have already had valuations written down. Even Twitter and Uber have lost some of their valuation (though not enough to take them under the magic $1 billion mark).

Rise of the…Cockroach? Really?

Yes, really. Well, if you’re looking for a survivor, it’s well known that cockroaches could probably survive the apocalypse!

It might not be as glamorous a title, or an image, but the cockroaches are here to stay. Cockroach organisations differ from unicorns by having slow and steady growth, a closer eye on spending, and steady profits.

Cockroaches exist where funding doesn’t come as easily, but they can be smaller, more agile, and better prepared for uncertainty. And with smaller budgets, they are regarded as being more creative than their unicorn counterparts.

For investors, this represents a safer option, and a potentially better return in the long-run for them and their clients. While some unicorns will make it, and make it big for their investors, cockroaches are seen as a safer investment, something that is welcome in volatile markets.

Where will we be in another year? Who knows. We can’t predict which companies will still have their unicorn title, and which will be falling back. However, the chances are that the cockroaches are here to stay.

Cockroach or unicorn – which would you rather be involved with? Is the age of the unicorn really at an end? Let us know your thoughts below.

While you ponder that, here are this week’s procurement and supply chain headlines to keep you going.

Bangkok Fire Trucks Belatedly Enter Service

  • A fleet of 176 fire trucks are to finally enter service in Bangkok, a full 10 years after they were purchased.
  • The trucks have locked up in a warehouse for over a decade due to a prolonged legal dispute.
  • The Austrian-made trucks were locked up soon after delivery as part of a wider corruption scandal involving senior government ministers.
  • Due to their age, the trucks require extensive maintenance before they can be put to use.

Read more at The Nation

Self-Driving Delivery Boats to Ply Amsterdam’s Canals

  • The Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan Solutions plans to use the city’s extensive  canal network to trial a fleet of autonomous boats.
  • The floating robot vehicles will deliver goods and provide driverless transportation for people along the canal network.
  • The boats can also be linked together to provide on-demand bridges and stages.
  • Amsterdam’s research into robot canal boats parallels the proliferation of self-driving cars in the US and elsewhere.  

Read more at The Verge

Amazon Business Hires White House Procurement Head

  • Amazon has hired the former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Anne Rung, in a bid to increase its sales to government agencies.
  • The role, titled Global Leader of Public Sector Sales, will focus on helping Amazon win government purchasing contracts.
  • Rung will work closely with government buyers to purchase goods and services more efficiently.
  • In her Federal role, Rung reportedly saved taxpayers more than $2.1 billion in procurement spending by reducing duplication.

Read more at B2B eCommerce World 

30 Under 30 Programme Goes Global

  • ISM and THOMASNET.com’s 30 Under 30 Supply Stars programme has returned for its third year.
  • The programme celebrates the achievements of young professionals in Procurement and Supply chain, with the goal of attracting more Millennials into the profession.
  • This year, for the first time, the competition has expanded beyond the US to include nominations from around the world.
  • Judges are looking for multitalented professionals who are influencers and trailblazers in their organisations.

Read more and Nominate at THOMASNET.com

Supply Chain Review Pressure Following Chicken Scare

Public confidence in supermarkets and their supply chains has taken another hit, following a scare about contaminated chicken.

chicken

A recent report has found that one in four chicken samples bought from major supermarket chains contain antibiotic-resistant E.coli. The findings are again putting pressure on supermarkets to tighten their supply chain quality assurance processes.

While supermarkets have worked hard to improve supply chain traceability, this report shows there is much work to be done. It also serves to highlight a wider issue in the food supply chain – the use of antibiotics.

There is on-going criticism about the overuse of antibiotics by humans, but use of the drugs on livestock is contributing to increased resistance to antibiotics by so-called “super-bugs”.

Issues Raised in Chicken Testing

The study of chicken samples was carried out by the University of Cambridge. It revealed that from 92 chicken pieces, including whole chicken, thigh pieces, drumsticks and diced breast meat, 22 pieces contained potentially deadly bacteria.

The “superbug” strain of E.coli was found in chicken samples from all leading UK supermarkets, including Tesco, Waitrose, Aldi and Morrisons. Similar strains were found in supermarket pork samples tested in the same study.

The findings raise concerns about the quality of factory farming in the UK, as well as the end-to-end supply chains of the big retailers.

Dr. Mark Holmes, part of the research team that conducted the study, suggested that more resources needed to be put into assessment of antibiotic resistance in animals in the supply chain.

“These results highlight the need for improvements in antibiotic stewardship in veterinary medicine,” Holmes said. “The levels of resistant E.coli that we have found are worrying. Every time someone falls ill, instead of just getting a food poisoning bug they might also be getting a bug that is antibiotic resistant.”

Supply Chain Quality Assurance

Quality control software experts InfinityQS suggest that, while the supermarkets themselves might argue that their quality assurances are sound, the findings suggest this is not the case.

“It’s clear that a disconnect exists across these supermarkets’ supply chains. It’s likely they’ll have stringent procedures in place for their own food traceability, but it’s imperative these are adhered to amongst their suppliers.”

The company suggested that closer relationships with both suppliers and farmers was necessary. This could mean a more pro-active approach to site visits to where they source food from, and understand how they could help farmers to make improvements.

“An effective supply chain process will ensure that controls are in place to manage the necessary people, activities, resources and data throughout the supply chain.

“If done correctly, that product will be delivered with the correct documents, with an agreed quantity, adhering to a set quality standard and all sent at the right time to the right place.”

Antibiotic Overuse Creating Resistance 

The report also serves to highlight the wider issue of overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals. As well as depleting global supplies of antibiotics, systematic overuse is creating resistant strains of potentially deadly bacteria, including E.coli.

It’s predicted that, by 2050, one person will die every 3 seconds around the world from antibiotic resistant bacteria. Globally, 70 per cent of bacteria have now developed antibiotic resistance, including to traditionally ‘last line of defence’ treatment.

It’s estimated that around 40 per cent of antibiotic use in the UK is for animals in the food supply chain. The drugs are frequently given to large groups of completely healthy animals, with the intention of stopping the spread of infections. Mass medication accounts for an estimated 90 per cent of all animal antibiotic use in the UK.

Intensive farming practices, and keeping large groups of animals in close quarters, is to blame for such practices. In such crowded conditions, even one unhealthy animal can have devastating consequences.

However, as farming practices change, and retailers aim to ensure higher animal welfares standards, this issue may be lessened. Retailers have also been urged to pay a higher price for meat such as chicken and pork. This would relieve productivity pressures on farmers, and reduce intensive farming too.

Will this change your dietary habits? How can procurement get more involved in changing the underlying issues? Let us know in the comments below.

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Career Boot Camp Reminder!

The Procurious Career Boot Camp kicks off in earnest this morning with the release of our first podcast! Today, as well as every day for the next 15 work days, we’ll be releasing a podcast at 9:30am (BST).

You can access everything you need to enlist for Career Boot Camp here. If you have any questions, read this, or get in touch.

We’ve been on the look out for all the top stories in procurement and supply chain this week. And here they are…

Bailout Rejection Makes Hanjin Liquidation Likely

  • The chances of a bailout for stricken shipping company Hanjin look unlikely, increasing the possibility of liquidation.
  • The bailout was needed to help the company combat $5.4 billion debts, and allow it to unload cargo at ports.
  • However, with decisions still to be made, the South Korean Government criticised the company for “economic irresponsibility”.
  • The company is conducting sales fund the release of $14 million worth of stock currently stuck on its cargo ships.

Read more at Supply Chain Dive

Sewing Robots to Join Garment Workforce

  • A company called Sewbo has developed a robot that can sew, and intends to replace humans in the garment manufacturing process.
  • The machine uses stiffened, pre-cut garment pieces and feeds them into a sewing machine, before dropping the completed garment into hot water to remove the non-toxic stiffener.
  • Automated clothing production provides a potential solution to labour abuses and sweat-shop conditions in the developing world.
  • However, large-scale automation would also put millions of people in the garment industry out of work.

Read more and watch the video at Engadget

Study Says Petrol Must Be Phased Out by 2035

  • According to a Climate Action Tracker report, the last petrol powered car will have to be sold by 2035 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • A ceiling of 1.5 degrees was the most stringent goal set by world leaders at the Paris summit last December.
  • Current projections suggest that electric vehicles will make up only 5 per cent of the world’s car fleets by 2030
  • This means aggressive measures will be required to shift rapidly away from fossil-fuel powered vehicles much earlier than expected.

Read more at Fortune

“Poor Procurement” To Blame For Detention Centre Cost Blowout

  • Australia’s scandal-ridden offshore detention centres for asylum seekers have come under intense scrutiny once again.
  • An audit of the centres revealed “serious and persistent deficiencies” in the relevant department’s management of the contracts.
  • It identified failures in the open tender process for security, cleaning, catering and welfare services, with costs blowing out from a $351 million contract in 2012, to a current $2.2 billion contract.
  • The report also criticised the original open tender process, and negotiations that took place with suppliers in 2012.

Read more at The Guardian

Time to Panic? Climate Change Driving Coffee and Chocolate ‘Extinction’

Like to start your day with a latte? Make the most of it while it lasts, as climate change threatens extinction of the coffee bean.

coffee climate change

No, it’s not scare-mongering. And yes, there are more important things in the world than a daily espresso. However, the possible extinction of the coffee bean could have a wider-ranging, and more devastating, impact than you think.

And that’s not all. Climate change is also threatening a number of other popular foods and drinks, including chocolate, wine and beer.

Climate Change Destroying Farmland

A new report by the Climate Institute has shed light on a number of worrying facts. They argue that, should global warming continue at the same rate, wild coffee could be “extinct” by 2080.

In addition, rising global temperatures, and increasing pests and funghi could halve the available farmland suitable for growing coffee by 2050.

And it’s not just gourmet beans, and your local Starbucks’ supply of arabica beans that are set to be impacted. With a global temperature increase of 3 degrees as a result of climate change, even instant coffee is going to suffer.

Climate change is also causing the spread of pests and funghi to coffee growing areas not previously affected.  Coffee Leaf Rust, a fungus, and the coffee berry borer, a pest, have destroyed crops in South America, and have started to appear at higher altitudes, impacting a greater number of crops.

Coffee – Supply Chains and Livelihoods

Around the world, people drink more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee each and every day. In the UK alone, 70 million cups of coffee are consumed each year. And by 2020, it’s predicted that there will be 21,000 coffee shops around the country.

Coffee is a major export for a number of developing countries. An estimated 120 million people would be impacted by the total extinction of coffee crops. In countries like Burundi, coffee makes up 59 per cent of its exports, while it accounts for 33 per cent of Ethiopia’s.

However, climate change is already taking its toll in a number of other coffee producing countries. In Tanzania, where 2.4 million people work in the coffee supply chain, output has dropped by 50 per cent since the 1960s.

In 2012-13, the spread of coffee leaf rust in South America destroyed 85 per cent of Guatemala’s coffee crop, caused damage worth $500 million across the region, and cost 350,000 people their jobs.

And while some growers can move crops to higher altitudes to mitigate this risk, it’s not an option for small farmers who make up 80-90 per cent of total coffee growers.

Making a Difference

However, there is still time to make a difference and help sustain the livelihoods of the millions of people who rely on coffee for an income.

Helping to reduce emissions is a good place to start. Limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees could make a major difference to coffee producers. On your daily coffee run, use a reusable cup – one paper cup has the equivalent carbon footprint to 811 passenger vehicles.

Consumers can also buy brands that give a good deal to small farmers. These funds can then be used to help the farmers adapt their practices and mitigate future risks.

Not Just Coffee…

Sadly for all the foodies out there, coffee isn’t the only crop that is under threat from climate change. Avocados, chick peas, honey, and bananas are all on the food equivalent of the ‘endangered’ list if current trends continue.

And what’s more, chocolate, wine and beer may also be at risk. Chocolate is suffering from over-demand (70,000 more tonnes were consumed than produced last year), and cocoa supplies could be exhausted in the next 16 years.

As for wine, with current temperature rises, an estimated 73 per cent of land in Australia, and all of the Bordeaux region, will be unsuitable for grape crops by 2050.

As consumers it’s time to change our habits, or face running out of some of our staples and luxuries. It’s high time we all make some changes.

Away from a world without coffee, chocolate and wine, we’ve been collecting the big stories in procurement and supply chain this week…

Hanjin Bankruptcy Continues to Disrupt Supply Chains

  • The fallout from the bankruptcy of South Korean shipping company, Hanjin, has continued throughout the week.
  • Despite a US Court granting Hanjin ships access to ports, there are still concerns that delays will create significant bottlenecks for retailers.
  • Companies including Samsung, Hugo Boss, and Nike have all reported having to source alternative logistics options due to shipping delays.
  • Hanjin Group has made an offer of 100 billion won ($92 billion) to help contain supply chain disruptions.

Read more at The Globe and Mail

Australia Asks Chinese Shipping Company to Pay Clean-Up Costs

  • The Australian government has asked Shenzhen Energy Transport to pay $120 million towards the clean-up of a 100-acre area of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • One of the company’s ships ran aground on the southern edge of the reef in 2010 after going off-course.
  • According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the ship caused severe physical damage and considerable contamination by toxic chemicals, including the now-banned anti-fouling agent tributyltin.
  • Shenzhen is fighting the bill, arguing the costs are unrealistic, and that the Great Barrier Reef is “self healing”.

Read more at Mashable

UK Local Government “Off Message” on Cloud

  • A new report from Eduserv suggests that UK local council procurement teams are “off message” on the Government’s G-Cloud software.
  • Only one in three councils say they have both a cloud IT strategy and a procurement policy which allows them to use G-Cloud.
  • Over 27 per cent claim they have an in-house procurement policy that doesn’t let them use G-Cloud at all.
  • The report has suggested that councils need to bridge the gap between IT and procurement to drive G-Cloud usage.

Read more at UK Authority

Coupa Moves to Register for Public Offering

  • Cloud-based spend management platform Coupa Software has publicly filed a registration statement with the U.S. SEC for an initial public offering.
  • The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined.
  • The company has announced plans to raise $75 million in IPO.
  • Coupa intends to list its common stock on the NASDAQ Global Market under the ticker symbol “COUP.”

Read more at VentureBeat