Tag Archives: supply chain management

7 Warehouse Management Tips to Improve Inventory Control

In every business, there is one silent player that can absolutely make or break your operation — the warehouse. 

Warehouses  form the nucleus of numerous businesses and it is imperative that they are managed efficiently. However, its size and structure can become overwhelming if not managed properly. You can manage it efficiently by implementing a warehouse management system, with which you can control the movement and storage of the materials within the warehouse. Additionally, you can incorporate tasks like transportation management, accounting systems, light manufacturing, etc.

Managing inventory effectively and maximizing warehouse productivity rank on top of the priority list of almost all the warehouse managers. If you are one of them, these 7 warehouse management tips will help you in improving inventory control and achieving effective warehouse management.

  1. Plan An Efficient Layout

The warehouse layout must be carefully planned out in order to maximize storage space. You must arrange the space in a manner that allows you to move smoothly and with ease while carrying goods around the warehouse. You must keep enough space to maneuver the forklifts and weight carrying machines around without any hindrances. Mark the bins and place them in a planned manner to avoid confusion and stocking of goods at inappropriate places. The right layout will also help in minimizing safety hazards.

  1. Stock Inventory As Per Need

You must arrange your inventory based on how and when you use/need it. You shouldn’t hoard inventory unnecessarily throughout the year unless there is a regular demand. Keep the stock levels at 1.5 times the average for avoiding blocking of working capital. With optimised inventory holding, you can effectively reduce the cost of storage. You can study historical trends as a part of your warehouse management process to forecast the inventory need.

  1. Apply Cross Docking to Maximize Space

The objective of cross docking is to reduce the shelf storage time of stocks in the warehouse. It helps in transporting warehouse delivered goods quickly to the outbound carriers that can take the stocks to distribution centres. You have to ensure that the warehouse layout supports cross docking.

  1. Implement Strict Standards for Safety

Don’t make your warehouse an unsafe place for your employees. If your staff isn’t trained properly, you will have numerous accidents and high injury rates. Ensure that only the well-trained and experienced employees operate heavy duty equipment such as forklifts. Mark the safety protocols in the warehouse, such as indicating a safe distance from danger zones.

  1. Incorporate Efficient Weighing Systems

Make efficient weight scales, such as truck scales, an integral part of your warehouse as it helps in optimising all the weighing processes. You can improve the accuracy of the billing and shipping tremendously, thus increasing the revenue. The overall workflow productivity is also enhanced.

  1. Use Technology to Enhance Inventory Management

Technology is a good friend to have in the warehouse. New robotics technology has become the most sought after technology in many companies. You can partner up with warehouse management systems and create customized software and smart robots that can help in managing the movement, storage and sorting of warehouse inventory. Automated vehicles come a close second. By incorporating self-driving technology in the warehouses, you can reassign human labor to more critical jobs and enhance safety and efficiency.

3D printing technology allows on-demand production of various components for manufacturing at the location itself. It can effectively eliminate the need for any transportation, thus reducing the cost and lead times significantly. Innovation of newer, lighter and stronger materials like nanotubes and graphene is also exciting news for warehouse and logistics management. You need less energy to transport lighter materials and equipment. To make it even better, self-repairing finishes and self-assembling materials are already in developmental testing!

  1. Improve Demand Planning

Demand planning is a crucial part of forecasting inventory purchases, stock requirements and customer buying trends. This helps in optimizing inventory levels and meeting the demands of the customers at the same time. When the demand planning is effective, you can track the sales trend history, product activity during specific seasons of the year, trends of various manufacturers and different rules of warehouse storage and business.

Don’t let the complexities of a warehouse wear you down. With careful and efficient planning, you can achieve your goals and manage every single warehouse with high efficiency.

Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts and provides technical expertise to the sales and service teams at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, California.

The Samsung Smartphone Debacle: Suppliers Pushed Too Far, Too Fast?

Samsung has apportioned some of the blame for its exploding Note 7 phones to two of its battery suppliers. But who is ultimately responsible? Is the pressure to innovate at all costs leading to unsafe development and testing time-frames?

What Went Wrong?

Samsung  has begun the long task of rebuilding consumer trust in its smartphones. But questions remain.   Why didn’t Samsung pick up design and manufacturing faults before they sold 1 million unsafe devices to customers? The cause appears to lie in Samsung’s rush to beat its arch-rival Apple to market. This led to a failure to properly test lithium-ion batteries in the Note 7 phone.

The pressure to innovate that tech giants such as Samsung place on their suppliers is immense. Particularly when competitors such as Apple are constantly upping the ante. Every new release on a phone must be demonstrably better than the last.  This means delivering ever-smaller and lighter batteries that customers can charge rapidly and use for a full day and evening.

Battery manufacturers responded to the challenge by using a thin “club sandwich” design. In this battery positive and negative electrodes are stacked and kept apart using layers of separators. Unfortunately, the pressure for an ever-thinner battery meant that the separators were too thin, leading to shorts and subsequent over-heating. A second, unrelated design fault lay in an abnormal welding process. This led to contact between a positive terminal and a negative electrode.

Spreading the blame

The fallout for the exploding smartphones follows a familiar pattern where, although the technical fault lies with a supplier of products and services, the big-name parent company takes the lion’s share of the blame. Even when the parent organisation attempts to publicly offset some of the blame onto its suppliers, consumers typically assign responsibility to the most recognisable brand.

An example of this famously occurred in April 2010 with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The owner of the well, BP, took most of the responsibility (and $54 billion in associated costs), whilst the contracting operators came under considerably less scrutiny. Tellingly, a U.S. District Judge apportioned 67% of the blame for the spill to BP, 30% to Transocean and 3% to Halliburton.

Samsung, to its credit, did accept overall responsibility for the $6.9 billion mistake even while it pointed the finger at battery manufacturers. Samsung Electronics America senior vice president Justin Denison told a press conference: “Ultimately we take responsibility for this. It’s our product, we set the specifications, and it’s up to us to catch the problem before it leaves in one of our devices.”

The long road to brand recovery

Youtube users may have noticed Samsung’s brand-repair efforts have gotten underway, with ads such as the following appearing online:

The South Korean company has invested $170 million into safety.  It is assertively broadcasting its new 8-point safety check which includes a durability test, visual inspection, x-ray test and others. Samsung’s investigation into the Note 7 failures included over 700 R&D engineers. These engineers tried to replicate the issue by testing 200,000 phones and 30,000 standalone batteries.

But, in a further unfortunate setback for the brand, one of the affiliates responsible for manufacturing the faculty batteries – Samsung SDI – experienced a factory fire last week in Tianjin, China, with 110 firefighters and 19 trucks responding to the blaze.

Senior executives from Samsung have commented that they’ve learnt an enormous amount about crisis management in the past few months. Observers, too, can draw some valuable lessons around the dangers of rushing new innovations to market and the ineffectiveness of attempting to apportion blame to suppliers.

Read more about Samsung’s smartphone battery issues.

In other procurement news this week…

Boeing’s Space Taxi to include 3D printed components

  • Boeing has commissioned 600 3D printed components from Oxford Performance Materials for use in its Starliner space taxi.
  • Boeing expects the spacecraft to fly unmanned in June 2018. and will have a first crewed test flight in August 2018. It will ferry two astronauts to the International Space Station for the first fully operational flight in December 2018.
  • The inclusion of 3D components marks a first for 3D technology usage in spacefaring technology, with increasing recognition that printed plastics perform well under the pressure of launch and in a temperature of absolute zero.

Read more at Supply Chain Dive.

New research reveals CEOs still don’t “get” procurement

  • Consultancy firm 4c Associates released the findings of a poll of 521 CPOs, managers and procurement personnel to understand how procurement is perceived by the C-Level.
  • 48% of participants claimed their boss “doesn’t get what the procurement team does, or can do”. 55% said the C-Level regards procurement as a support function. It exists to cut costs, rather than add strategic value to the organisation.
  • Mark Ellis, senior partner at 4c Associates, commented that procurement needs to proactively highlight the services they can provide beyond cost cutting. “If all the function does is speak in terms of savings, then that’s how it will be perceived: as a cost cutter”, Ellis said.

Why “Free Help” With Buying Decisions Costs More

As consumers, we’re wary of so-called “free” products and services as there’s always a hidden cost. Why, then, are procurement teams willing to accept free help with supplier selection?

Businesses often seek help with their buying decisions, especially in complicated categories such as telco or energy. Preparing an RFP requires a willingness to trudge through data swamps, while analysing supplier responses requires more than a strong coffee to do properly.

When a third-party broker says that they’ll help – for free – the temptation is to say yes, if only to avoid data swamps and caffeine addiction. However, you need to keep in mind that the people who help “for free” are still going to get paid, just not directly by you. They’ll collect their pay from your suppliers who are willing to pay a commission to get the opportunity to service your organisation. In turn, those suppliers recover commissions from their customers (you), either as a line item on the bill or through higher prices. In the end, you’re still paying for the service, just not up-front.

For large businesses with lots of cost centres, this can be a good way to share the cost of getting help. Branch stores pay their bills and, without realising it, pay for the help you received through higher prices. Procurement managers who use this approach can look like heroes because they claim savings and a successful outcome without having to win broad company endorsement for using expensive 3rd-party assistance.

Selecting suppliers for the wrong reasons

The danger of commission payments is that different suppliers pay different amounts. Some commissions contain a ratchet mechanism with longer contract terms, while higher contract values generate higher commissions.

Unfortunately, brokers who offer their services for free are incentivised to select the suppliers who pay them the most, rather than those who deliver the greatest value to the customer. The usual outcome is long-dated contracts with a single source supplier. At least the billing is easy, but your business will end up paying more in the long-term due to lack of value.

Up-front payments

Paying brokers up-front changes their incentives. Instead of focusing on supplier commissions, they now focus on demonstrating their value to you in a bid to win further business from your organisation. “Brokers” go upmarket and call themselves “consultants”, working harder to realise the greatest-possible savings and service levels. Customer and consultant incentives align.

The positive consequences of fee-for-service payments are shorter contract terms and more suppliers. Shorter contracts reflect a balance between testing market prices with the logistics of changing suppliers. Having more suppliers means you are able to split your requirements across the lowest priced suppliers to get the best possible price for your portfolio of demand, rather than being herded toward a single-source supplier.

“Free” services in IT

For software companies, “free” represents a gateway product, or a way of demonstrating the value of a software product to the customer. It means the software provider doesn’t have to employ a slick-suited sales person and can scale the work of their t-shirt clad developers. Salesforce, one of the leading dealers of enterprise SaaS, costs their customers on average $45,000 per annum. The entry level CRM package is $5 per user but customers quickly pay more to satisfy their needs, getting more value from the base CRM product as they buy additional features and capability.

Our approach at Kansoly is the same. We’re a cloud-based telco procurement platform for businesses running RFPs and reverse auctions. Our base product is free, where we offer to run a telco RFP for you for nothing. What’s in it for us? We gain customer insights and supplier engagement, both vital for making our product better and delivering more value to our larger, fee-paying customers. Our free customers get competition for their services and cost analysis that they would otherwise have to invest in.

Brokers and consultants have always been part of the procurement landscape, but their incentives are defined by the way they’re paid. However, the development of Saas procurement platforms increasingly means that free offers aren’t always related to low-value outcomes.

Bruce Macfarlane is the founder of Kansoly, a telco procurement platform for business. Kansoly runs RFPs and reverse auctions for data, mobile, or fixed line.

Trade War Against China? A Supply Chain Perspective

Comments made by President-elect Trump last year sparked talk of a trade war with China. But what impact will this have on supply chains?

This article was originally published on My Purchasing Center.

The Chinese government recently raised a “tit for tat” challenge to new U.S. President-Elect Donald J. Trump over a potential trade war against China, in an editorial published on China’s international state news outlet Global Times.

The op-ed states that “[a] batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. U.S. auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and U.S. soybean and maize imports will be halted…” if Trump decides to impose a proposed 45 per cent trade tariff.

A Special Trade Relationship

To overstate the significance of the U.S.-China trade partnership is quite difficult.

In 2015, they accounted for $659.4 billion in bilateral trade, of which $161.6 billion were Chinese imports of U.S.-produced goods. As the largest, and yet still one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world, China is vital to the strength and prosperity of America’s export economy.

Most notably, of the American-made products included in the Global Times statement, agricultural products ($20 billion), aircraft ($15 billion), and vehicles ($11 billion) are amongst the highest value U.S. export categories. They are therefore critical to the success of American companies operating in these industries.

From China’s perspective, it is no longer the emerging market economy of decades past. It can instead rely on its own considerable production capabilities, rather than sit by the wayside as the U.S. attempts to push a trade agenda through its considerable economic muscle.

iPhone Impact

Amongst the multi-billion-dollar trade categories, the iPhone may seem like a curious inclusion. However, despite FY2016 sales of nearly $50 billion in China market, Apple’s Chinese revenues are still projected to grow.

Beyond the obvious consequences of an iPhone sales freeze, or a 45 per cent trade tariff on Apple’s top line, there are also significant economic implications behind China’s statement from a supply chain perspective. In particular, from the viewpoint of a procurement specialist.

As the most valuable company in the world, Apple’s tremendous growth in recent years has primarily been driven by sales of the iPhone. The device made up over 63 per cent of Apple’s FY 2016 revenues.

Analyst estimates of the iPhone’s profit margins have put it at over 70 per cent of retail value. This makes it by far the most lucrative amongst Apple’s products, and likely across the spectrum of consumer technology products.

According to a recent report by BMO Capital Markets, the iPhone took an astonishing 103.6 per cent of smartphone industry profits in Q3 2016. What enables the iPhone to reap such staggering margins is largely due to Apple’s global supply chain. It entails near end-to-end cost minimisation, and an integrated procurement strategy from its hundreds-strong global supplier network.

Value Chain Activities

Apple’s value chain, from its inbound logistics and manufacturing through outbound logistics and marketing, all go through China in one way or another. Procurement plays a central role in providing each activity with the necessary resources to operate efficiently and at low cost.

A proposed 45 per cent Chinese trade tariff would fundamentally alter how, and from where, Apple procures the majority of these resources. It would also significantly drive up costs and logistical complexities throughout the whole of its global supply chain.

It is important to note that very few companies possess the in-depth supply chain practices of Apple. Therefore, integrating a centralised procurement structure into such companies’ supply chains becomes even more critical.

The prevalence of global supplier and distribution networks, like Apple’s, across modern manufacturing companies relays the important role of procurement specialists in the development of integrated strategies. These strategies must not only generate value, but also mitigate the multitude of risks associated with maintaining international supply chains.

In the event of significant geo-political and economic shocks, such as a potential U.S.-China trade war, procurement can work closely with companies to ensure manufacturing processes are harmed as little as possible.

This means that across affected countries, companies can rest assured that their sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and sales activities can be substituted quickly and cost-effectively through alternative sources, while maintaining similar levels of cost and operational efficiency.

Ultimately, no one can say for sure whether President-elect Trump will initiate a trade war with China. Or to what extent Apple and companies like it will be affected. However, companies with an established supply chain and sound procurement practices can sleep in comfort knowing that they will be prepared to face similar challenges that may come their way.

Could Brexit Cloud have a Silver Lining?

The Brexit result upset the apple cart. It also left many people searching for a silver lining to the clouds on the horizon.

silver lining

This article was written by Daniel Ball, Director, Wax Digital.

Marmite – you either love it or hate it as they say. Well, Tesco for one was probably agreeing with the second of those sentiments recently when its rocky relationship with the brand’s owner Unilever hit the press.

As you’ll remember the food giants’ spat was triggered when Unilever stated it would need to raise its UK prices. This was in order to offset the impact of the pound’s post-Brexit weakness against the Euro in its supply chain.

Tesco retorted by removing Unilever products from its shelves. A bold move considering the food manufacturer owns many leading consumer brands.

Weakening Sterling

To recap, in mid-October the pound fell to a value below €1.10 for the first time since March 2010. The pound had generally been on the slide ever since the UK’s EU referendum back in June. It was also performing weakly against other major currencies including the US dollar and those in most emerging markets.

In many ways this is bad news for UK consumer and business to business purchasing. Both as individuals and organisations we’re pretty heavily reliant on global supply chains, meaning that it will cost domestically-based organisations heavily.

UK manufacturers sourcing parts and materials from overseas to make products locally, will pay more due to poor exchange rates.

Equally retailers and wholesalers buying end products from other countries will pay more to put them on their shelves or fill their warehouses. These cost increases will inevitably be passed on to UK business customers and consumers alike.

Returning to Domestic Focus?

However the situation may not be all bad and there could be a silver lining in this post-Brexit cloud. One potential positive outcome from this situation could be some British supply chains choosing to return to a more domestic focus.

Weighing up the options in a less than favourable global financial position, it may make sense for some UK businesses to explore the cost benefits of buying locally. This will help to remove exchange rate risk, even if local supply is not the cheapest price book option.

After years of decline, UK manufacturing may actually receive a boost and resurgence of ‘Buy British’ standards of the past. However this will be fuelled by necessity, rather than a Brexit campaign.

Admittedly it’s an ambitious scenario. Imagine the impact of Tesco commissioning UK food producers to come up with viable, locally made alternatives to replace Unilever’s full range. Especially considering its brands comprise around half of the worldwide grocery market share.

Secondly, consider how a weak pound may also drive overseas buyers to look to British suppliers for pound-based pricing. This will allow them to realise the benefit when the Sterling costs are converted back into their own stronger currencies. UK suppliers could see new market openings and opportunities to trade overseas that once didn’t exist.

British supply may suddenly become in vogue.

Silver Lining in Currency Battles

For procurement teams choosing to buy domestically, a move such as this will mean significant focus on supplier sourcing and close inspection of supplier relationships. Necessary checks and due diligence would have to be built in, in order to ensure any changes in supply didn’t leave the business at risk.

Equally procurement professionals working supply side in the UK should seek to advise the business on how to make the most of new opportunities and negotiate effectively in supply relationships.

Brexit is rather like Marmite in that it divided the nation. But while there are fears about the UK’s future after Brexit, recent currencies-related battles have highlighted a potential silver lining.

Now could actually be the time where we see both onshore and offshore buyers eyeing up UK supply options over going overseas or opting for their foreign domestic choices.

Procurement would need to ensure necessary checks, due diligence and information management in new sourcing activities. There would be a need to ensure swift and effective onboarding. New contracts and relationships would have to carefully managed to minimise ongoing trading risk with new partners.

But if procurement can pull this off, who’s to say this cloud couldn’t have a silver lining?

3 Ways the IoT Can Benefit the Supply Chain

We’ve heard about the IoT disrupting our personal and home lives. But where will these technologies really stand up in the supply chain?

iot in supply chain

We’ve come to know the Internet of Things as a technological phenomenon that is revolutionising many ways of life. The idea is that devices and computer systems can communicate and work with each other, and make things easier. And we’re starting to see applications in all manner of places.

The IoT is making exercising more intuitive, making homes more secure, and making offices and hospitals more efficient. But these benefits are only scratching the surface. There are also many IoT benefits that are less visible to the general public. One that is becoming fairly interesting is the effect on business supply chains.

This may not be the sexiest application of the IoT, but it’s one with significant potential to change the nature of big retail companies and even lower costs for consumers. Here’s how it’s happening.

IoT In Production Plants

IoT sensors are allowing manufacturers to collect key data from various physical spaces within production plants and manufacturing facilities.

Sensors can be used to monitor machine temperatures and send automatic alerts to problems by way of changing lighting. They are also able to monitor the use of safety equipment (and the condition of that equipment) automatically.

Additionally, factory conditions such as temperature and humidity can be tracked and controlled. Individual pieces of inventory can be tagged the moment they’re created, so as to be kept track of in the future. Other functions more typical of ordinary office environments can also come into play, like security and communication measures.

It’s easy to see how basic IoT sensors can help to automate some of the trickier aspects of production that kick off the supply chain process.

IoT On The Road

Perhaps the most fascinating impact of the IoT on supply chains is occurring on the road, in shipping vehicles. Tracking sensors on individual pieces and crates of inventory help companies to “watch” those materials until they arrive at retail locations or other points of sale.

However, there are also IoT measures being put in place to keep fleet vehicles operating safely and on schedule.

By outfitting fleet vehicles with high-end GPS and WiFi, companies can provide managers with real-time sharing of vehicle diagnostics and more important data. These devices can keep track of vehicle performance, driver activity, and routing information, effectively automating the management and scheduling process that was once a headache for everyone involved.

Vehicles can be repaired precisely when needed, and be directed on the most efficient routes. Plus drivers can be kept on reasonable schedules, and held accountable for their own tendencies on the road.

IoT In Stores

Finally, once the product has been shipped to retail locations, there are also IoT-related technologies in place to monitor that selection for the sake of restocking inventory when necessary.

The IoT has the potential to drastically alter numerous aspects of the retail experience. However, when it comes to the supply chain, “smart shelves” are making the biggest difference.

These are shelves that can recognise when inventory is getting low and send automatic alerts to store managers, or even directly to production facilities, communicating orders and keeping the store in supply.

That about covers an overview of how the IoT is changing the supply chain in retail businesses. On the business end of things there’s no telling how much these changes can cut costs and improve the speed and accuracy of production.

And for consumers, those same benefits should ultimately translate to fair prices and consistently stocked store shelves. All in all, it could be one of the more impactful mainstream IoT developments.

Blaine Kelton is a programmer and freelance writer currently living in Beverly Hills. From technological advancements to new albums by favourite artists, he’s eager to just write and get his work out there.

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

Samsung Eats Horsemeat on the Titanic with Captain Kirk

Highlighting potential procurement lessons from the latest supply chain crisis for Samsung – the Galaxy Note 7.

samsung galaxy

This article was written by Daniel Ball, Director at Wax Digital.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 spent just two and a half months on the market before it was recalled amidst a crisis badly affecting its share price, not to mention its brand image.

The device was quickly taken off the market after some models of the phone exploded and went on fire. It was found that overheating lithium ion batteries were to blame.

Some analysts have been quick to consider how a respectable brand like Samsung, which surely has a sound manufacturing process and supply chain, has come to retailing a product that turns out to be dangerous.

Many have put the blip down to Samsung’s competition with rival Apple. The battery of the Galaxy Note 7 is bigger and has a higher energy density than Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. This suggests that Samsung has tightly crammed in more components.

Has Samsung’s desire to trump Apple seen it rush a product to the market without properly addressing the true capability of its battery technology?

It’s also been argued that the mobile sector’s demands are pushing battery technology to and in some cases beyond, its limits. It’s not the first time this technology has literally flared up (remember the hoverboards last Christmas?).

Race to Beat the Competition

The situation raises a key question that applies to any competitive marketplace.

At what point does the race to release new products and beat the competition, or simply deliver a competitively priced product to tight margins, become more important than ensuring your supply chain is not taking risks? Where is the line drawn in adding components into the product that could ultimately harm the very people you are trying to win over (your customers)?

It’s what I call ‘the Titanic effect’. In a bid to make the infamous boat lighter and faster in the race to cross the Atlantic, all sorts of risks were taken. And it was the customer who paid the ultimate price.

While not all risks involved are supply chain related you have to ask the question “what was procurement’s role in all of this?”

Are customer and business demands properly mapped onto supply chain capabilities? Are supplier checks rigorous enough to ensure they can do the job we need them to do safely and securely?

Or is procurement like poor Mr Scott in Star Trek, constantly at the mercy of his boss, Captain Kirk, wanting him to flog the warp engines again even though he keeps telling him “they cannae take much more”. 

At the bottom line, visibility of who is in your supply chain and how they are operating has reared its head once again. It raises the point that procurement needs to play an increased role in the decisions of the business to ensure the rules of demand and supply are effectively balanced.

How Big Data Insights are Revolutionising Global Procurement Strategy

More companies than ever are using Big Data insights to drive their decision making. But what key benefits are they realising by doing so?

big-data-insights

This article was originally published on My Purchasing Center.

Advances in technology are making it possible to generate more data than ever before. We can quantify, measure and track every interaction, transaction and engagement in excruciating detail.

And when we collect these “big data,” we can gain tremendous insights into business processes, including global procurement strategy.

Because global procurement is focused entirely around obtaining greater efficiencies and streamlining purchasing operations, global procurement is primed to be revolutionised by the insights that stem from big data.

Businesses that collect big data insights are finding that they can refine global procurement strategies and processes with greater precision than ever before. They also can intervene more effectively to resolve problems and challenges, and they can use concrete data instead of intuition and instinct to accomplish this work.

One study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, finds that among companies in the top third within their industry, the use of data-driven decision-making made a company 5 per cent more productive and 6 per cent more profitable than a company that didn’t use data-driven decision-making.

Let’s explore the specific ways that big data insights are revolutionising the global procurement industry:

Shorten order-to-delivery times

Traditionally, the procurement timeline has been based largely on individuals using their best judgment and insider knowledge to get the right products and resources to the right place at the right time.

No matter how talented people are, however, they’re often no match for a computer algorithm that is specifically designed to optimise timelines and manage all aspects of the ordering and delivery process.

Computer-based analytics also can adapt to changing conditions in real time, ensuring that no matter what happens, nothing will slip through the cracks, and order-to-delivery times will continue to be optimised.

Increase supply chain efficiency

As with managing a procurement timeline, individual people can only manage a supply chain as efficiently as the human brain will allow.

Analytics software goes past the limitations of the human brain, processing and interpreting more data points about a supply chain than anyone’s brain could possibly synthesise.

In the end, these big-data insights yield more precise predictions about how to optimise the supply chain – and better predictions yield better decisions.

Lower costs

The goal of global procurement is to achieve cost savings, so it makes perfect sense to use big data insights to optimise all opportunities to lower costs.

Analytics software can instantaneously and accurately compute more possible combinations of events and items and scenarios than any human brain could, and computers can also thus make the “sweet spot” recommendation that appropriately balances all of these competing factors.

Improve supplier-client relationships

Both the supplier and the procurement client benefit from big-data insights. The supplier gets access to invaluable information that helps the supplier more effectively allocate its resources, as well as make plans to deliver on time and on budget.

The client benefits by no longer being forced to actively manage every aspect of the procurement process. Rather, a computer-based management approach frees the client to focus on building and enhancing relationships with suppliers, and on developing creative, out-of-the-box solutions that further enhance procurement processes.

Eliminate arbitrary decision-making

As much as businesses like to think their managers are making sound decisions, some will inevitably make decisions based on emotion, gut instinct, and self-interest.

Big data insights dramatically reduce the chances of this by forcing managers to not only use data-driven analytics to make decisions, but also to be prepared to defend those decisions.

As more businesses turn to big data insights to drive global procurement strategy, it’s important to provide adequate resources to support this transition and to provide adequate time for this transition.

When big data insights are integrated effectively into procurement processes, businesses can count on shorter order-to-delivery times, increased supply chain efficiencies, lowered costs, improved supplier-client relationships, and less arbitrary decision-making.

With more than 30 years of experience working with and providing excellent customer service to companies of all sizes, Rick Bender now is the Sales Director at CenterPoint Group.

CenterPoint is a management consulting firm that specialises in reducing purchasing expenses of businesses in areas such as office supplies, janitorial supplies, and industrial supplies.  

The Evolution of Procurement Culture

Procurement often struggles with the perception of its value. But could the issue be traced back to the culture expected by its stakeholders?

evolution of culture

What is Procurement’s business value? Is it doing a great job and does the business agree? If the perception of procurement is less than we desire, it is possible to change it?

These are the tough questions we explore within this article. Warning…this article may offend some people! Yet, if we are to make progress, it’s time to be honest.

Procurement’s Perceived Value 

If you ask a procurement person if they are doing a great job, most will agree. They might say they are working to tight deadlines, complying to complex processes with limited resources and information, they do the best they can. Generally, it’s a fair assessment.

However if we ask the business the same question the response can be brutal, “No, they are not.”

The feeling is that procurement is driven by price, that they are reactive, and that procurement never brings new ideas into the business. Frequently procurement are used out of necessity, but their involvement is not desired.

This revelation can be upsetting to many within Procurement, especially when their is a clear desire to be considered as a trusted advisor, pro-active and a business capability that adds value.

If a negative perception of procurement is something you face within your organisation then we have some good news! It isn’t your fault, and it is possible to change it. 

Stakeholders & Customers

“Why is there such a disconnect?”

To help us identify what might be going wrong with the perception of procurement, we need to identify the main business areas involved.

There are four main groups that are important customers and/or stakeholders to procurement:

1. Head of the Business/CEO/CFO

This individual is responsible for budget approval, business strategy and might even decide if there is a procurement department. Their ability to decide Procurement’s future makes them a critical stakeholder for the function.

2. Business leaders/Budget Holders

This group are responsible for bringing requirements to procurement, and procurement needs their business. Losing the support of the business leaders could see a drive to outsource/automate the procurement department.

3. Supply Chain

The suppliers provide the solutions to the business leaders requirements. No suppliers means no business solutions.

4. Head of Procurement/CPO

This individual is responsible for employment, pay rises and promotions within the procurement team. As this person holds the career of the Procurement Practitioner in their hands, they are a key stakeholder. 

Procurement’s Culture Today

If we accept procurement’s culture largely remains focused on price, then we need to know why. Even will all the evolution in procurement, it’s clear that this is still prevalent. Here’s why:

  • The number 1 driver for the current procurement culture is the CEO (or CFO or equivalent)

Traditionally, to this individual procurement is principally a ‘cost centre’. The greatest value procurement offers them is keeping their costs to a minimum.

  • The next driver for procurement is the CPO

The CPO wants to ensure they meet the needs of the CEO/CFO. This is critical in ensuring they retain the support from the senior stakeholders.

Therefore maximising cost reductions are critical, realised through contract savings. This culture is amplified further by attaching procurement salary bonuses for achieving contract savings.

  • The third driver for procurement culture is business leaders

The culture is already firmly established on reducing costs/price to achieve a procurement agenda. The business leaders can struggle to identify any real business value in procurement engagements, resulting in a strained relationship.

  • The final group driving procurement culture is the Supply Chain

The culture of the engagement is based on a drive to reduce supplier margins. With no real focus on collaboration, promoting success, or becoming a customer of choice, it is a one way relationship focused on procurement success. This results in an engagement with little or no trust.

To recap, because the culture is coming down from the CEO/CFO it creates a culture focused on savings, which continues to flow down into the business and the supply chain and can result in the business leaders and the supply chain trying to by-pass procurement.

Culture From the Top

But all is not lost. In the second part of this article, we’ll propose an alternative cultural model that will drive benefit for all four stakeholder groups, plus procurement.

This will also help optimise procurement practitioners’ individual value, an aspect critical for attracting the best talent and talent retention.

“Perceived value can be in response to how you engage, which is a result of your culture, and is influenced by your drivers.”

POD Procurement is a consultancy and advisory for Procurement Transformation. For more information, and to read more about the POD Model, visit our website.