Tag Archives: supply chain technology

Technology Will Expose Supply Chain Deficiencies in Near Future

In the not-too-distant future, technology will reveal everything about products, and expose all the supply chain deficiencies that exist.

Smartphones, embedded with the technology that enables consumers to scan items in the supermarket and see the entire supply chain process, will happen sooner rather than later, according to Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand CEO, Molly Harriss Olsen.

“We’re getting to the point that we can build these technologies. Mark my words, it’s on the way and it will be instantaneous. The world of connectivity isn’t coming – it’s here,” she told the room.

Cleaning Up Supply Chains

While the procurement industry well and truly knows about the challenges of cleaning up the supply chain, the fact that the technology that would automatically expose supply chain deficiencies was met by furrowed brows. As she made the statement, you could literally hear a pin drop in the large conference room.

Fairtrade assists marginalised producers (mostly in the agricultural space) and addresses issues like child labour, environmental issues, water usage, waste management, ensuring the employment of women and helping these farmers to have profitability in their farms and a robust foundation upon which they can succeed.

This includes the 30 million coffee farmers around the world who are at the mercy of speculative financial markets.

She impressed on the procurement professionals in the room that they had the power in their hands to either resolve the problems the planet faces in the future, or contribute to it.

“The biggest leadership decision you need to make as a procurement leader is implementation. Once you make that, you can’t even begin to imagine what the impact might be.”

Moving Away From Economics

Harriss Olsen was asked by a major Australian food brand representative, whether Australian businesses were embracing the initiatives implemented by Fairtrade.

“On the whole, I’d say we’re on the edge of embracing it. I’d urge you to take the next step. We need to stop making every decision based on economic grounds. We are either part of the solution, or we’re part of the problem. All our decisions are based on improving the planet. Virtually everything we can buy is traded on the stock market, and value the farmer gets on a daily basis,” she says.

“It might come as a surprise to you that while we got rid of slavery some time ago, there is still an extraordinary amount of it going on today. And until is blows up in your face, you often don’t know what you’re dealing with it.”

Automation & Giant Aircraft – Revolutionising Logistics

As new technologies take hold across the supply chain, we take a look at the main disruptors revolutionising the logistics industry around the world.

There seems to be two approaches to the next steps for organisations and disruptors revolutionising logistics – go automated, or go huge! From new technology for driverless trucks, to the soon-to-be-largest aircraft in the world taking off in the UK, there are game changing disruptions afoot in the logistics industry.

Plane vs. Blimp

In the past week, the world’s largest freight aircraft touched down in Australia, following a 14,000km journey around the world from the Czech Republic. But, even this huge plane looks set to be usurped by an even bigger aircraft, about to undergo flight tests in the UK.

The Antonov 225 Mriya, weighs in at an astonishing 175 tonnes, is 84 metres in length and needs six engines to help it get off the ground. It’s capable of carrying loads of up to 640 tonnes, and is the only one of its kind. Perhaps most surprising is that this behemoth is nearly 30 years old.

The plane has mostly been used in recent years in the logistics field to transport heavy commercial items, such as heavy mining equipment, around the world. It touched down for the first time in Australia earlier this week carrying a 117-tonnes mining generator to a customer in Western Australia.

However, it’s about to be surpassed in size (although not in load capacity) by a new aircraft hoping to carry out its first UK-based test flight in the coming weeks. The Airlander 10 stands at 92 metres long, and has required the world’s largest hangar to be constructed in order to allow it to be housed.

The key difference about the Airlander? It’s a blimp. While this currently limits its payload to 10 tonnes, it’s hoped that successful flight tests, and commercial use, will enable a larger craft, with a 50-tonnes payload to be manufactured.

While it’s never likely to rival the Antonov for capacity, the Airlander has a number of potential uses in the logistics field, including commercial, military and scientific research.

Driverless Big Rigs

From the giants of the air, to giants of the road, but with a difference. In the past 12 months, Mercedes, Volvo and Daimler have unveiled their own driverless trucks, with the intention of removing some of the potential danger from the trucking industry.

However, they may be overtaken by a new team on the market. Otto, a team formed by former engineers from Google, Apple, Tesla, and including Anthony Levandowski, the former leaders of Google’s self-driving car project, is approaching this issue from the other side.

Instead of designing autonomous trucks, the Otto team and aiming to create technology that can be fitted to trucks already on the road. The technology is aimed at increasing safety by allowing drivers the chance to sleep, while the truck drives itself along the long American highways.

While this might not seem as impressive, there are a number of benefits from this approach:

  • The technology can retrofitted to the majority of vehicles retrofitted to existing vehicles;
  • It’s cheaper than the outlay for a new truck in its own right;
  • It aims to help, rather than replace drivers, meaning there will be human control for some of the journey;
  • It doesn’t fall foul of legislation in a number of US states which require steering equipment, or a driver, to be in the vehicle cab.

The next steps in this area will be fascinating to see, particularly how the major manufacturers react to this, and potentially adapt their offerings to account for it.

Procurement Awards Season Here

We couldn’t let this week pass without congratulating some of the worthy winners of procurement awards around the world.

  • Johanne Rossi, CPO at Caltex, took home the ‘CPO of the Year‘ Award at The Faculty’s Asia-Pacific CPO Forum
  • Rising star Joanna Graham, Strategic Sourcing Manager (Asia Pacific) at BP, received the ‘Future Leaders in Procurement‘ Award at the same event
  • Timothy R Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., was awarded the 2016 J. Shipman Gold Medal Award, by ISM, in recognition of his distinguished service for the cause and advancement of the supply management profession.
  • Volvo, Flex, Roche and J&J were among the winners at the Procurement Leaders ‘World Procurement Awards‘. See a full list here.

Is bigger necessarily better in logistics? Could we see a combination of both larger size and automation for vehicles in the future? Let us know what you think below.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the headlines this week, giving you something to share over your morning coffee…

Gartner Reveal Supply Chain Top 25

  • Research firm Gartner has revealed its annual Supply Chain Top 25 for 2016, now in its 12th year
  • For the first time, Unilever has topped the list, ahead of McDonald’s (2), Amazon (3), Intel (4), and H&M (5)
  • Previous multiple winners Apple and P&G have been awarded a place on the ‘Masters’ list by Gartner, which celebrates 10 or more years of sustained supply chain leadership
  • New entries to the list include BMW and Schneider Electric, with both HP and GlaxoSmithKline returning after a few years’ absence

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

HP Release “Large-Scale” Manufacturing 3D Printer

  • HP have announced the release of the HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, the world’s first large-scale manufacturing 3D Printer.
  • The model prints items 10x faster than current machines, and one version offers an end-to-end solution (including software).
  • 9 companies, including Nike, BMW and J&J are currently testing the machines on a large scale
  • Stephen Nigro, who runs HP’s 3-D printing business, said that “Customers are looking at how to transform their (3-D printing) business from prototyping to production.”

Read more at USA Today

Procurement “Cut Off” Says Report

  • According to a new report, procurement teams in hotels are seen as not collaborating with other departments.
  • The Hotelier Middle East’s Hospitality Procurement Report 2016 shared the perception that procurement were “trying to do it cheap” from members across the region.
  • The report goes on to share some examples of best practice in getting procurement more involved.
  • These included having procurement represented at meetings with key suppliers, as well as in design meetings for major hotels.

Read more at Hotelier Middle East

UK SME Spend “Stalling”

  • A report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has claimed that efforts to direct more public spending to UK SMEs has stalled.
  • The current Government set a target of 33 per cent of overall spend to be with SMEs by 2020, though despite major efforts, it doesn’t appear to be working.
  • One issue the PAC highlighted was a lack of clarity on whether the money was being spent directly with SMEs, or via larger contractors.
  • The PAC has also disputed figures stating that spend with SMEs was up from 6.8 per cent in 2010-11 to 27.1 per cent in 2014-15

Read more at Supply Management

Procurement’s Future: Upskilling in Supplier Relationship Management

Why upskilling in Supplier Relationship Management is key to the future success for the Procurement profession.

The rapid development of artificial intelligence and cognitive technology is completely redefining the boundaries of what is possible for procurement. To fully take advantage of this new era and remain relevant, CPOs and their organisations will have to react very quickly and re-orientate more than ever their focus towards supplier relationship management.

Why is SRM fundamental to Procurement?

The traditional and archetypal focus of the CPO has been on cost savings, whilst arguably neglecting the supplier relationship. We have reached the point where applying pressure to suppliers to cut costs is unsustainable. It has been proven that working on improving relationships with suppliers is the key to fostering innovation; to go beyond just savings and develop more value adding capabilities.

Secondly, with artificial intelligence and technological advances comes an increasing level of automation, not only of tactical and operational procurement tasks, but also complex sourcing activities, such as RFX creation, analysis, or even scoring. Even market research or negotiation can be improved, to a point where technology will perform these tasks in a better, more efficient and secure manner.

This will allow more time for procurement to focus on supplier activities after contract signature, such as performance management, or supplier collaboration and innovation programs.

In addition, procurement teams will be equipped with the tools to navigate the procurement process more quickly, easily, and in an even more compliant way. It may lead to the point where there is less of a necessity for a full, dedicated team. It is therefore important that the role of supplier management remains within the remit of the Procurement function, to avoid inefficiency and over-complication.

This is especially true for companies where part of this process is handled by different organisation. To improve in this area, there must be one owner who can efficiently coordinate the strategy, the training, and the performance management.

Another benefit of becoming more skilled at Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is reducing risk. With a strong SRM process, Procurement can not only very quickly identify potential supply chain disruption, but also proactively mitigate any event that may occur, by fostering a collaborative and transparent relationship with suppliers.

Generating Innovation Through SRM

Supplier collaboration has also become an increasing focus for Procurement, especially where cost savings have been stretched to breaking point, and yet there is still requirement to go beyond this.

Suppliers and Procurement organisations have to work hand in hand to be even more cost effective and extract additional value from their relationship, and this on a long term basis. SRM is an invaluable approach to promote and generate innovation.

There is a well-known anecdote regarding a multinational car manufacturer, just one example amongst many others, of the benefits of good supplier relationship management. The company wanted to cut the cost of the window trim on their car, and turned to their suppliers for help. The suppliers created a new resin which would streamline the manufacturing process.

The result was a reduction of 2,700 gallons of diesel fuel and 60,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, by removing 19,200 truck miles transporting the parts between factories. It was a move that was both good for the environment (look at that carbon dioxide reduction), and dramatically cut costs.

Undeniably, in this context, by leveraging partnerships and collaboration, procurement teams become the customer of choice. They can therefore encourage and gain access to new innovations or insights, which could stand to be an important competitive differentiator.

What skills does the future Procurement workforce need to develop?

With this in mind, CPOs need to assess how their staff interact with suppliers, in order to determine whether they have the right skills, and also to understand what is missing, to fully unlock these supplier relationship management capabilities.

On that basis, and with the new direction that Procurement is taking, future procurement professionals should be looking to develop such skills as influencing leadership, change management and creativity. These are, arguably, not amongst primarily targeted skills in a current buyer profile.

With the advent of data insight and technology enhancing Procurement activities, CPOs will also have to upskill their teams to be able to fully maximise the potential of the tools available to them, as there is little doubt of the value available here.

Aside from data and tool utilisation, the human side is equally as important. Acting on insight and fostering the ability to listen, earn trust, and foster a high level emotional intelligence and creativity should also be part of the soft skills of the new buyers.

In an environment where technology will be ever-present, it will be even more important to master these skills, as maintaining customer satisfaction and high value relationships will continue to rely on the human side of the service management.

It becomes urgent not only for CPOs but also for the professionals working in Procurement today, to ask themselves about what should we do if we want to stay relevant to our organisation in 5 years’ time? How will we be able to fully endorse roles such as Supplier Relationship Manager and deliver value? Should we go on new training courses, and re-skill completely? What type of skills should be developed, and where and how can we acquire them?

These questions will need answers, and those who will address them first will obviously be ahead of the crowd in fostering innovation and adapting to the Procurement world of the not-too distant future.

IBM are one of the sponsors of the Big Ideas Summit, being held in London on April 21st. 

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