Supply chains and technology trends

Supply chains and new technology trends

New technological advances across the supply chain are changing the way businesses run their day to day operations.

Traditional supply chain management is fast becoming obsolete, with warnings from many top logistics specialists about the dangers of falling behind in a rapidly changing landscape. A technological revolution is happening across many industries and those who want to stay ahead of their competitors must consider embracing new technologies, to deliver a faster and smoother service to their customers.

Supply chains and technology trends

Big Data

Many new tech trends have come off the back of the big data revolution, which is changing the way companies look at their supply chains from beginning to end. Put simply, big data refers to high volumes of complex facts and figures from across a supply chain that can be turned into real life actions or decisions.

Data can range from sales numbers and buyer trends to weather conditions and global supplier issues. Collecting and accurately utilising big data using traditional methods of supply chain analytics generally, leads to inaccuracies and is often impossible. Ultimately, this means that company’s making the most of the new technology available to them are at a distinct advantage in the marketplace.

New technologies

Businesses can utilise new technological trends to crunch big data and stay ahead in the market place. One of the easiest and most popular new trends comes in the form of social sourcing; using social sites to predict trends and feed information back to S&OP. Public cloud networks are another increasingly popular tech trend, with big software companies such as Infor buying up cloud based supply chain management platforms.

Machine learning and predictive analytics are another technology trend transforming the way businesses manage their supply chain. Predictions and simulations based on real-time data from a company’s sales, the price of raw materials and even global political factors can improve the supply chain. This could help companies prioritise supplies, increase profitability and generally run a smoother operation from beginning to end.

Cloud software and machine learning is developing rapidly, whilst quickly becoming accessible to both smaller and larger organisations across the globe. These fast paced changes make it imperative for businesses to remain ‘future-proof’ in the face of growing customer demand and intelligent tech.

Business collaboration

Whilst taking advantage of growing tech trends is crucial for organisations wanting to stay competitive, it’s important for business owners not to hand their entire supply chain over to a machine.

Business collaboration

Tech is becoming increasingly intelligent but there are some things software cannot do and the need for collaboration is still important. For businesses to truly grow, everyone in the supply chain must make a commitment to cooperate seamlessly so that big data and intelligent software can be utilised efficiently. Collaboration with trusted partners in the industry is another essential tool for business looking to grow and can be a good starting point for owners that don’t have as much spare capital to put into the latest tech.

Making use of supply chain specialists is also a lower cost option for businesses on a budget. Professional logistics experts can advise on the best low-cost tech options available to harness the power of big data. With technology trends evolving all the time, it’s now easier than ever for businesses to make the most of the smart technology in the supply chain.

Advertisements

Why going green could be saving your business money

Minimising emissions and promoting sustainability is essential for all businesses nowadays. With such an importance placed on environmentally friendly products, green warehouses are becoming a popular way for businesses to improve their carbon footprint and save money.

Thanks to a boom in eco-friendly equipment, it’s now relatively easier for any business to get their hands on items that are better for the environment. Going green is easier than you might think and whilst there can be a few upfront costs involved, the long-term benefits cannot be ignored.

Simple, everyday replacements

It’s easy to forget about the small things that could be having a huge impact on your eco-friendliness and warehouse lighting is one of them. Simply by switching from regular lighting to a more environmentally friendly LED, you could save your business thousands every year. They’re just as effective but use far less energy and need to be replaced less often, making them a perfect switch for any business making the move to a green warehouse.

Water wastage is another pressing issue for warehouses, although it’s not as widely talked about as electricity and gas usage. If cutting costs and reducing water wastage are something your business is serious about, then swapping to low-flow toilets, faucets and even hosepipes will help solve your wastage problem.

Unfortunately, these green initiatives will involve spending money from the outset. However, many businesses who have invested have seen serious cost reductions in a short space of time, making them more than worthy of your spare capital.

Warehouse design

Every supply chain manager knows that warehouse design is incredibly important for a smoothly run business but layout and planning can also reduce waste and cut costs. Using data collected from tracking your assets, you can work with logistics experts to transform your warehouse for very little.

warehouse design

By optimising your layout, you’ll cut down on the time it takes your employees to travel throughout the warehouse, as well as making it easier for workers to find and pick items. Not only does this cut down on labour costs, it minimises electricity used to move around the floor. Whilst it might not seem like this would have a great environmental impact, the small, everyday changes do add up throughout the year.

Recycling

Recycling is another big initiative businesses are using to improve their supply chains and turn their warehouses green. Whilst many companies already reuse a lot of materials such as pallets and crates, there’s a good chance that they could benefit from further recycling efforts. Conducting a recycling audit will help to determine if there are any other areas where reuse is possible and help your employees properly recycle anything that can’t be put to use elsewhere.

warehouse recycling

Whilst some green initiatives cost money up front, most are relatively inexpensive and some are even free. Nonetheless, the real prize is the money saved in the long-term and the continual improvement of emissions and wastage.

 

For help improving your warehouse design and layout talk to Total Logistics supply chain consultants. http://www.total-logistics.com/

Dealing with increased organic demand in the supply chain

The last few years has seen an incredible 80% rise in demand for organic and non GMO food products.

Consumers are waking up to what’s in their food and are demanding high quality produce without pesticides or genetically modified ingredients. This demand is set to rise further, with more companies being forced into sourcing non GMO and organic ingredients for their products.

organic-food

 

What does this mean for the supply chain?

The increase in demand for organic produce can put a strain on an organisations supply chain. This comes down to the need to get ingredients from the farm to the factory more quickly than foods that have been preserved or genetically modified in some way.

Some companies are opting to source organic and non GMO products from certified supplies but this is not a viable alternative for all organisations. Instead, many businesses are looking towards other non GMO and organic proteins to use in their products.

These ingredients include peas, which are high in starch and free from allergens, or rice bran, which can be made into a source of fibre, protein and into oil. With these ingredients being easier to source than other organic and non GMO products, it is having a much smaller impact on their supply chains.

 Rethink your Approach

Nonetheless, many companies are still facing supply chain issues and are being made to rethink their approach in a range of areas such as:

  • product acquisition times
  • distribution
  • warehousing

Unfortunately, finding the time to rework your supply chain, alongside trying to keep up with the increasing demand for organic food isn’t always possible.

To combat the problems that come with an increase in demand, many organisations turn to supply chain and logistics specialists to help them combat the issues.

Supply chain consultants can help your businesses source non GMO and organic produce more efficiently and if needed, can find products that are traceable right back to the farm.

 Coping Strategies

The rise in demand has for organic and non GMO has caused an even bigger rise in the production of these ingredients by farmers and suppliers.

apple-harvest

However, distribution time from these areas is still one of the biggest problems for organisations looking to use organic ingredients. To tackle this, supply chain specialists can advise on coping strategies for perishable ingredients and develop tactics to help minimise wastage and speed up distribution times between warehouses.

Increased customer awareness means that there have been big changes within the food industry and this not set to slow down any time soon. Ensuring your supply chain can cope with the transition to organic and non GMO is vital for the future successes of your business and will give you the competitive edge you need to stay profitable.

For help optimising and reducing risks in your supply chains talk to Total Logistics supply chain consultants.

3 Mistakes to Avoid in Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)

Sales and operations planning (S&OP) is now considered to be one of the important processes within successful supply chain management.

sales and operations planning

It is essential to ensure the smooth running of a business both in the short and long-term and helps companies balance:

  • supply and demand
  • costs
  • customer service

A good S&OP process will undergo many years of regular improvement with adjustments to maximise sales and productivity within different areas of the organisation.

Whether you are just starting out with your planning or looking to improve these are three major mistakes to avoid in S&OP.

1. Not getting the balance right

This is one of the most important things to get right in S&OP, yet so many businesses get it very wrong.

Finding the right balance of supply and demand is crucial to your success. Produce too little and both the sales team and the consumer is left feeling let down, but produce too much and you are left with goods that cost you warehouse space and may need heavy discounting to shift.

Equal importance should be placed on both the sales and operations areas of your business if you want to achieve a harmonious supply chain.

2. Planning for just one outcome

Never plan for only one outcome.

It has been an S&OP rule for many years to work towards the ‘one goal’ – a business’s ultimate ideal ending. Unfortunately, this just simply isn’t viable and not only does it diminish the importance of your executives it can leave you in hot water if things go wrong.

It’s an S&OP executive’s job to mitigate risk and plan for alternate outcomes, just in case the supply and demand does not follow the path it is supposed to.

Don’t make the mistake of planning for something that can often be inconsistent, always plan for both positive and negative alternate results.

3. A lack of engagement across the board

Another one of the biggest mistakes businesses should avoid in S&OP is the inability to engage with all areas of the business.

The entire reason good S&OP is crucial to an organisations success is because if done correctly, it enables the entire business to move in the same direction. Despite this fact, many companies still fail to understand the importance of communication.

Whilst operations would want to see results in units, finance is more likely to need information in the form of net margins.

Being able to communicate plans in a way that sales, operations and finance can understand will ensure that they are more involved in the S&OP process and can help to create a smoother supply chain.

These are three obvious but common mistakes that businesses fall down on when it comes to S&OP. However, alongside correcting these mistakes, it’s important to always regularly check your S&OP process on a weekly to monthly basis to ensure that calculations and forecasts are heading in the right direction.

Fluidity is vital in business, so you need to be doing everything you can to improve the flexibility of your supply chain today.

Getting expert and independent help with your S&OP can not only make sure you avoid common mistakes, but also ensure you have workable plans both from today and into the future. Visit Total Logistics to find out more.

3 Areas for Managing Successful Global Supply Chains

If you are growing your business internationally there is likely to be some key obvious requirements and changes your organisation will need to go through including a larger facility, more staff, increased marketing plus more overseas business trips.

global supply chains

Global Supply Chains

As well as these obvious changes there are some more hidden internal changes that need to take place and one key area in your supply chains. Your success as an international business will rely heavily on keeping pace with your supply chains.

The following are a few tips for developing successful global supply chains:

Gain local insights through local knowledge

local supply chain knowledgeFinding local partners that have a deep and full understanding of the local markets will be key to developing your brand internationally.

The right local support can help you in many key business areas from finding the right suppliers, transport links, business consultant and negotiating legal and tax requirements.

Investing in the right IT solutions

supply chain IT solutionsYou simply can’t be everywhere at once so having access to accurate data is going to be key in controlling your global supply. From budget numbers to operational goals, having the right data at your figure tips will make all the difference.

The right supply chain software platform is ensure you stay on track and can also cut costs, support growth, and increase your return on investment.

Value and diversify suppliers to reduce risk

global supplierHaving a great relationship with your global supply chain partners really makes for a much smoother ride for everyone including better negotiations, production and delivery.

As well as developing positive supplier relationships it is also a good idea to follow the proverb of not putting all your eggs in one basket by having a number of suppliers to reduce your supply chain risk.

Developing your business internationally can bring great benefits as well as challenges, but with the right partners and supporting systems you will find developing globally much easier.

Total Logistics are independent supply chain consultants operating logistics and supply chain projects all over the world. They are perfectly positioned to help business expand their operations into global markets for more information visit http://www.total-logistics.com/

Reducing Logistic Transport Costs

One of the most fundamental basics of business management is always to ensure that your outcome never exceeds your income. This is so fundamental that for many of you it doesn’t even need saying, nevertheless it is something that must always be kept in mind.

Reducing logistics and supply chain costs
As such, all successful business owners learn new ways and strategies to keep themselves firmly in the black and new methods by which they can cut costs without cutting services. One thing to look at, therefore, should be your supply chain and how much money is spent into it. This is especially true in today’s global economic climate and the often fluctuating prices of oil and gas. After all, if it costs more to transport something than you can get through sales, is it really worth the expense?

First, try to divide all the factors that can influence the cost of your logistics into three main categories:

  • Things you can control, for example, the quantity of cargo you want to transport.
  • Things you can’t control but can manage, such as the surcharge increase from carriers.
  • Things you can’t directly control, but can influence. The cost of oil, for example, is pretty much fixed, however some companies may be willing to adjust the price to a given price lock.

Keeping these things in mind can help you develop strategies on how improve the cost efficiency of your supply chains and logistics teams, largely by giving you an idea what you can change and how to cope with the things you can’t. After all, there are going to be events that are outside of your control. All you can do is to ensure that they do not upset your overall running more than it needs to.

To help you start off, here are a number of ways you can reduce supply chain costs. For example, try to centralise your decision making so that you are in direct control of how your logistics chains run. Relying on the judgement of individual shipping sites may result in decisions that cost you more in the long run.

Then consider your cargo itself, just how much does your packaging consist of air? Make sure that your containers have as little excess space as possible, so it may be worth re-examining your packaging. Likewise, ensure your carton and crate sizes making the most of their available space. Do not use three small crates when two slightly larger crates will do.

It may also be an idea to look to your neighbours for help.Sharing transport costs will not only save you money, but also earn you good relationships with companies around you and those connections can seriously pay off in the long run.

For further advise and long-term planning, it may also be an idea to look at supply chain consultants. Having a friendly professional who can give you insightful advice into your supply chains can be invaluable and pays for itself quickly. 

Transloading and Cost

transload distributionWhen transporting goods along your supply chain you’re, at some point, going to need to transload ocean-bound containers in order to bring inland to distribution centres and vice versa. When you transfer goods you do so without needing to sort out the contents for shipping to a single destination, which can greatly reduce cost. This is especially true when you have value-added services such as shrink-wrapping and palletising.

Saving as much as possible on transportation and distribution is one of the key goals of logistics. In order to make the most out of transloading, consider the following advice from our supply chain consultants.

  • Make sure that any savings you make are not outweighed by handling cost. Even if you save cash by clever rearranging of storage space and whatnot, distribution to distant ports will soon start to eat up any remaining funds.
  • Remember that you save more when ocean containers can be divided into larger yet less numerous units. The cargo in three forty foot containers can usually be stored in two fifty-three foot containers.
  • In addition, try to avoid costly containers. If you can get a cheap container that functions about as well as a slightly more expensive one, go for it. All those saved pennies add up.
  • Palletising during transloading can greatly increase a distribution centre’s handling efficiency.
  • Remember to factor in the time it takes to load, unload and handling into your overall transportation
  • Be careful that you haven’t placed more on your transport train than you should have. Most distribution centres will charge extra for surplus cartons.
  • It is often easier and more flexible to make an entry at the point of discharge, rather than the supply chain’s final destination.
  • Always plan in advance. The more time you give yourself between planning and actual transportation, the more able you are to deal with unforeseen hiccups in the supply chain.

Keep these in mind whenever planning for long-distance hauls and you should find yourself saving quite a hefty sum on transport and distribution costs. For more advice on logistics, be sure to visit www.total-logistics.eu.com or, alternatively, contact our friendly supply chain consultants on +44 (0)118 977 3027.

So What is S & OP?

Sales and operations planning or S & OP is a structured forum and its related process for communication and decision making relating to supply and demand.

S & OP MeetingsThe main goal is for the decision making team to continually strive for and optimise the operational functions of their organisation, which can include:

  • Product development and marketing
  • Customer development and sales
  • Finance
  • Product supply

In addition the S & OP process includes the following updated plans:

  • Sales plan
  • Production plan
  • Inventory plan
  • Customer lead-time (backlog) plan
  • Product development plan
  • Strategic initiative plan
  • Resulting financial plan

Decisions at the Right Time

Timing is key as all S & OP decisions need to be taken at the right time and take into account the balance between flexibility, demand and capacity.

As a rule when doing long-range forecasting plan flexibility can be extensive while predictions on supply and demand can be inaccurate so several long-range forecast scenarios will need to be in place. This long-term strategic planning can be complex and the decision process is often slow.

When looking at the short-term view often just a few weeks ahead this operations planning finds that flexibility is more limited while predictions on demand and capacity tend to be more accurate making decision making much simpler and quicker.

Sitting between these is a middle stage or tactical planning stage looking only months ahead that see slightly more flexibility than the operational planning stage coupled with still a good degree of demand and capacity prediction accuracy.

Benefits of a proper S & OP process

Ultimately successful S & OP implementation saved money and resources while improving operations and sales making organisations more effective in what are still very difficult economic conditions.

However, getting these right systems in place can require expert support plus access to more detailed modelling tools especially for the more difficult strategic planning stage. Total Logistics are highly experienced and independent S & OP consultants and can help you create a fully integrated S & OP process that will give you greater business agility, enabling you to reconcile supply and demand plans and determine your supply chain requirements over short, medium and long term horizons.

In a recent example, Total Logistics delivered successful S & OP solutions to a global manufacturer. As a result of this, finished goods inventory holding was reduced by more than 50% and operational costs were reduced by nearly 10%.

For more information call Total Logistics on 0118 977 3027 or visit www.total-logistics.com