Category Archives: Supply Chain & Logistics

Blog Category

Supply-Chain-Commentary-5-Ways-Shippers-Can-Go-Green-02

4 Routes to Green Logistics

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Most organizations appreciate that many of their customers and wider stakeholder base care about the environment. Some care to the extent that they are willing to do business elsewhere if they do not think decent environmental standards are being upheld. Within B2B relationships, the same is true, with expectations between suppliers about the right and wrong way to manage ‘green’ logistics. The first thing to say is that logistics aren’t impact neutral on the environment. The use of transport and fuel will always have a carbon footprint. So at this point in time, the efforts are to minimize the environmental impact caused by logistics.

  • Transport Management Systems

This is perhaps the most important of the methods that can be used to reduce the carbon footprint. A TMS is a piece of software that essentially helps with planning routes. It is used in a number of ways to reduce impacts:

  • Plan the most efficient routes with the least mileage, also given traffic conditions.
  • Manage multiple transport methods such as sea, rail, and air.
  • Optimize shipping loads.
  • Reusable cases

This is a fairly small adjustment, but by investing in and using reusable cases, it reduces the environmental impact of the logistics process. Furthermore, a well-made case will reduce the amount of damage in transit, and therefore the wastage of rework.

  • Direct thermal printing

Direct thermal printing is a greener option compared to thermal transfer printing, as it does not use ribbon. The issue with ribbon is that it is made which crude oil products and also their use produces harmful emissions.

  • Company culture

You can get points 1-3 right, but company culture will undoubtedly have a greater impact on the environment than these three combined. It is the employees of the organization that make the majority of decisions, that cumulatively will determine if green choices are made – or not. Therefore instil a green culture into the organization to ensure there is sustainable support for the environment

In Summary

As said in the introduction, being green is not an absolute. There are few businesses that are carbon neutral. Within the logistics space specifically, the aim of organizations should be to reduce their environmental impact. This will most effectively be done through direct action (points 1-3) and indirect through instilling the right culture into employees.

Finding-Hidden-Supply-Chain-Leaders-02

Identifying Supply Chain Leaders

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Just because someone is not operating within the supply chain function, or is perhaps not of a certain pay grade, does not mean that they are not an influential supply chain leader. There are many informal leaders who are keeping the show on the road and are often decentralised and hard to identify. I guess you may ask, why do these individuals need to be identified by the organization? The answer is that if you do not know which human resources are important, how can you 1) ensure they stay, and 2) give them the tools they need to succeed?

What do Supply Chain Leaders do?

How can you spot a supply chain leader? There a number of tell-tale signs:

  • They prioritize certainty

Supply chains can be long and complex, with a number of touchpoints. If the end of that supply chain is delivery of a product to a customer, the organization will want to say with some level of certainty when the product will arrive. To make this possible, and accurate, full clarity of the supply chain is needed, along with agreed SLAs, and back up plans if there is an issue with any point in the chain.  A supply chain leader will seek methods to introduce certainty to uncertain areas of the supply chain.

  • They plan in line with culture

The plans might be strategic or tactical, but they will always align with the organizational culture. They will support the vision of the organization and the overall direction.

  • They seamlessly manage stakeholders

In any supply chain, there are a large number of stakeholders, including the customer. A supply chain leader will find a way to manage competing priorities.

  • They mindfully balance risk and reward

Within any supply chain, there will be opportunities, but that may come with a level of risk that outweighs the reward. For example, swapping out a logistics partner to a cheaper alternative will save money, but there is a risk of undermining service. A consummate supply chain leader will weigh up the potential gains against the risks.

In Summary

Individuals exhibiting the signs outlined above tend to earn trust and the confidence of those around them. This means that regardless of their position within the organization, they are an important supply chain leader. These individuals need to be identified and nurtured by the organization so that they continue to deliver this important value.

 

 

Innovation-in-Supply-Chain-in-General-02

Product Innovations to Optimize the Supply Chain

By Morgan International Staff Writers

When we discuss the supply chain, we typically focus on the parts of the supply chain, such as the warehousing, transport, tracking, and so on. These are the areas that typically gain the most attention when seeking supply chain innovations and/or optimizations. However, the product itself that is within that supply chain has a huge influence on the efficiency of throughput. Of course there will be some supply chains where the nature of the product is pre-determined and change is outside of the control of the supply chain manager. An example might be a small distributor of Dell laptops. The distributor in this case is unlikely to have any influence over the manufacture of the product. However, a business that manufactures their own product and then manages the supply chain, will have a far greater level of control over the product design. It is unlikely to ever be full control due to various factors such as regulation, quality standards, customer demand, and manufacturing restrictions.

These are a list of key focus areas for product improvements:

  • Design to manufacture – The design of the product should be reflective of the speed and ease of production. The quality and cost factors should be considered and balanced.
  • Assembly – The product design should consider and minimize where possible the number of components and also the complexity of the assembly process.
  • Design for maintenance and/or disposal – Consider what happens when products come back into the supply chain via reverse logistics. This may be due to a fault or a natural end of life. For repair and maintenance purposes, the design should consider ease of disassembly. From a disposal perspective the design should take into account disassembly with the goal of obtaining the parts that can be recycled or reused quickly and easily.
  • Standardization – Avoid designing products that have parts that are hard or expensive to source. Where multiple products in a range have the same component, make sure it is exactly the same to drive economies of scale.
  • Environment – Consider the environment when designing the product. This might include recyclable/reusable components or perhaps less or biodegradable packaging. Consider where the components themselves are sourced from to reduce carbon footprint.

In Summary

Whilst focus may often not be on the product itself within the supply chain, there is an abundance of opportunity to optimize the product in such a way to make the supply chain itself more efficient. This in turn will drive a number of business benefits such as quicker delivery to customers, and reduction in costs.

5-Reasons-Your-Business-Needs-an-FM-Professional-02

5 Reasons Your Business Needs an FM Professional

By: Morgan International Staff Writers

There are plenty of organisations out there that do not appreciate the need for an FM professional and tag the responsibilities onto another role. Very often the Office Manager will also undertake the FM responsibilities. This article is not underestimating the abilities of Office Managers or indeed any other individuals who are not FM professionals that take on the role. However, what we do know is that having a qualified Facilities Manager will undoubtedly offer additional benefit to the organization as they typically are better equipped to manage the responsibilities and contribute to strategic benefit. There are many reasons why your business needs an FM professional, but these are our top five:

 

  1. Economies of scale

By centralising all FM activities with one FM professional, they are able to see the picture and look for opportunities for synergies – this might be for example placing multiple outsourced services with one provider whereas it was carried out in-house or by multiple suppliers previously.

 

  1. Centralisation trumps decentralisation

If you decentralise the FM role to a number of individuals, coordination will be very difficult, and having a holistic view will be almost impossible. By centralising responsibilities to one individual, it is easier for senior management and the board to oversee FM activities.

 

  1. At the cutting edge

An FM professional will typically be passionate about their industry and be at the cutting edge of technological change that can offer service improvement and/or cost reduction to the organisation. This might be through the internet of things, big data, automation, and so on.

 

  1. They consider environmental impacts

As part of the formal training an FM professional receives, they will learn about organizational impact on the environment, and potential ways to reduce that footprint. We all know that corporate social responsibility is not only a hot topic at the moment, but is also hugely important for the sustainability of the planet.

 

  1. They look at FM strategically

For many years, FM was seen as an overhead to be managed and cost controlled. It covered rent, rates, utilities, and so on. However smart FM professionals know that they can offer strategic benefit to the organization. Examples are providing working spaces that make employees more productive, and renting out underutilised office space to generate income.

 

In Summary

Realistically, very small organizations may not have the money or appetite to hire an FM professional. Yet for most organizations with 20+ employees it makes economic sense to have a qualified FM professional dedicated to ensuring the strategic value of facilities managed is derived.

Be-a-Logistics-Superstar-02

Be a Logistics Superstar

By International Staff Writers

There are a number of technology changes positively affecting the logistics industry which for all intents and purposes have the limelight. In this context, how do professionals in the industry find a way to stand out? The purpose of this article is to give you some ideas of where to look in your own supply chain to look for that low hanging fruit, to make change, and get recognised for it.

Packaging
This one seems innocuous but not only is packaging itself expensive, but over packing increases the weight and size of the product, and therefore increases the cost of shipping it. Therefore this is a good place to start to check that the packaging is appropriate for the product. Don’t forget, awkward packaging or oversized packaging will also increase storage costs.

Inventory Control
Money tied up in stock tends to be high and organizations do typically have a strong focus on inventory management. However, there are other models that shift who owns the stock and when. So rather than storing a lot of inventory, some suppliers may be willing to hold stock and deliver it in a just in time fashion. This automatically reduces the cost of stock on the books – so should be considered.

Outsource
If you operate a complex supply chain but your organization’s core business is not logistics, you might consider the business case for outsourcing it to an organisation who specialises in it. This would not be a decision taken lightly, but it is absolutely worth consideration as another organization may not only be cheaper and more efficient than you are, but it may free up valuable resources for core business.
Embrace Technology
I said at the beginning that in a sense logistics professionals are competing for attention against technological advances. However, it does not have to be this way. You can be the supply chain manager who presents the advantages of new technology and builds the business case for its implementation and is therefore regarded as the superstar behind the change. Technology is key to automation, and that allows a wide raft of savings to be made.
SUMMARY
I would encourage supply chain professionals not to feel overshadowed by technological change within the industry, but look for other avenues to shine, and also embrace technology and champion it. It is a very interesting time to work in a supply chain/logistics role, and for more information on course and qualifications within the supply chain management space, please take a look at our website.

Tech-is-Transforming-Logistics-02

Tech is Transforming Logistics

 

By: Morgan International Staff Writers

Logistics has consistently been seen as one area of supply chain that can offer organisational cost savings and increased efficiencies. This has ranged from route planning software, to more efficient vehicles, to sat-navs to avoid traffic on the roads. However, we are once again on the cusp of some major changes that are set to revolutionise supply chain logistics.

 

CLOUD SOLUTIONS

It is difficult to talk about technological transformation at the moment for any industry, without talking about cloud. Cloud based logistics systems are real-time and are globally accessible, whatever the time of day or night, and wherever you are located (as long as you have an internet connection). This means that throughout the entire process, key stakeholders such as customers, drivers and account managers can view the status of a shipment and can intervene if required.

 

Furthermore, the great thing about cloud is the speed and relative low cost of scaling up and down. That means a logistics company can scale for additional demand literally at the click of a button. This was close to impossible with traditional IT systems.

 

RFID

RFID stands for radio frequency identification and it is set to transform logistics by extinguishing the use of barcodes. It is a technology that uses tiny computer chips that are smaller than a grain of sand to track items from a distance. Each chip is linked to an antenna that remotely identifies it – up to 30 feet away. When a shipment arrives, all items can be simultaneously scanned, counted, and registered to the organization’s systems – without a need to individually scan barcodes.

 

IoT

The IoT at the most basic level refers to connecting objects to the internet in a useful and integrated way. An example would be having technology within vehicles so that they can connect to the logistics system – which will likely be cloud based. Having all aspects of the supply chain integrated improves shipment workflow and should result in happier customers.

 

SUMMARY

The logistics industry will never stand still and some of the technological advancements being implemented are positively transformative and disruptive – and should improve efficiencies and the speed of getting goods from A to B. It is a very interesting time to work in a supply chain/logistics role, and for more information on course and qualifications within the supply chain management space, please take a look at our website.

 

Waving Goodbye to Supply Chain Fraud-02

Waving Goodbye to Supply Chain Fraud

By Rebecca Langdon

It is an unfortunate fact that supply chain fraud takes place, and can be an expensive and unforeseen cost of doing business. One of the roles of a supply chain professional is to ensure that there are robust policies and procedures in place to make fraudulent activity very difficult to carry out. Don’t forget this activity might happen from within the business, or outside. We are going to look at a few common avenues from fraudsters with recommendations to resist their attempts.

 

Scenario 1 – A business stakeholder hands out contracts to their friends/family

This is one of the most common types of supply chain fraud. A business stakeholder who has control over budget or signing off invoices will offer a contract to their friends/family. This might be in exchange for some sort of monetary payment outside of the formal transaction, a gift, or simply to help them out. The issues are that the vendor might not be suitable, or the best people for the job. Furthermore, they are unlikely to be the most cost effective option, and I suspect limited commercial negotiations will take place. Finally, the business stakeholder may not do the appropriate due diligence or implement a robust contract.

 

Solution 

Make it company policy to run tender processes or at least some sort of formal due diligence before vendors are appointed. The brevity of the procedure will typically be governed by the value and risk of the product/service. Furthermore there should be a gift policy.

 

Scenario 2 – Vendors over invoice for products/services that have not been consumed

Most supply chain managers will have been in the situation where there are a huge amount of vendors, invoicing at different times, on different terms, and against varying commercial structures. This can very easily lead to incorrect invoices being approved. Now they may be incorrect because the vendor genuinely made a mistake or perhaps they are attempting to defraud you.

 

Solution

Somebody needs to be responsible for understanding the commercial arrangement with the vendor, and then checking every invoice against that. For some vendors this will be simple as there will be a fixed fee, but for others that are based on consumption it will be a little more complicated as the business will need to track for themselves what they use (or at least be able to confidently validate the vendors number). There are also an abundance of really useful AP systems that can help with wider validation between PO’s and invoices.

 

Summary

Attempts at fraudulent activity are not going to go away, despite the potential repercussions. A qualified Supply Chain professional should be equipped with the tools and knowledge to build robust policies and procedures.

Empower Your Supply Chain with Social Media-02

Empower Your Supply Chain with Social Media

By Rebecca Langdon

If you haven’t heard of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest then you must have been living in a cave for the last ten or more years. In the last 5 years the use of social media has been hugely pervasive across almost every facet of our lives – professional and personal. We are going to take a whistle stop tour of how social media can empower your supply chain.

 

  1. Monitor demand Using social media, organizations can get to understand the demand of consumers in a more honest and transparent way than they could ever possibly access before.
  2. Research People typically have a lot to say on social media and this could give you great insight about your current and potential vendors, and perhaps even future clients.
  3. Find new vendors Through these channels you could find better vendors that you can build relationships with.
  4. Delay updates Shipment providers and other carriers may use social media as standard to provide status updates to communicate any delays both quickly and in real time.
  5. Know your customer Customers often won’t call you up to tell you if they have an issue – their first port of call will be to complain on social media.
  6. Communicate A lot of businesses now communicate with vendors on social media – answering queries and providing service updates.
  7. Collaborate and innovate Use social media as a business tool that provides you with the opportunity to learn from others and to collaborate and innovate. It is a huge platform for ideas sharing.

Social media can be daunting at first. It is a big place with lots of different channels, but don’t let this put you off. Social media offers huge potential to empower the supply chain if you are willing to put in the effort. Why not consider a supply chain qualification with Morgan International.

4 Ways Project Management Can Help a Growing Business-02

4 Ways Project Management Can Help a Growing Business

By Rebecca Langdon

The larger organisations typically have a well implemented project management capability, often with a PMO team, a host of PM’s, the works. Their size often makes it economic and efficient to have this separate team. However what about smaller businesses that are growing, doing an increasing number of projects, but are still feeling the way in terms of project management processes and what they can do for them? These are the 4 key ways that Project Management best practice can help a growing business.

  1. Improve Project Estimation

What something is going to cost is almost always critical to whether or not that project is feasible or not from a business perspective. One of the key mistakes made when project management process is not employed is absent or inaccurate project estimation. Upfront estimation and a process for periodically updating that estimate is vital for project success. It also assists businesses to not carry out projects that are not economically viable, and to avoid unexpected cost slip during a project.

  1. Resource Capability Planning

If you are a small business you may not have a huge amount of resources, whether that be internal or an external pool you tap into. However, that does not negate the need to plan resources and assess what the output capability is of the resources that you do have. In fact, it is this project process of estimating resource output that is excellent best practice to be used more widely in the organisation.

  1. Encourage Team Collaboration

A Project Team when set up correctly will be able to efficiently and effectively communicate and collaborate, within the team itself, and to other stakeholders. This is often instigated via a set of project processes, but the result is typically increased collaboration which was spring-boarded from the initial processes.

  1. Improved Reporting and Transparency

The thing about formal projects is that they usually have reporting and data collection requirements built into their processes. Data collection and reporting when done correctly are valuable business tools that are useful throughout the business. Therefore if this can be learnt through the project process, it can be implemented more widely.

In Summary

Smaller businesses may not feel that they can afford project management from both a financial perspective and the burden of additional time. It is true that when implemented poorly, project management can cause unhelpful delays and unwanted costs. Yet in reality, when used appropriately, and mindfully of the size of the project and business in question, it can be hugely beneficial for the project itself and for the wider organisation to learn from. For further information on project management techniques, feel free to explore the PMP course.

Autonomous Supply Chain-02

Autonomous Supply Chain – Fact of Fiction?

 

By Rebecca Langdon

As human beings we continuously push towards less and less human intervention. Why? Because machines are typically more reliable, need less downtime, make fewer errors, and do not want to be paid. The upfront investment can be significant but very often the business case still stacks up given the cost of human labour. This will undoubtedly cause concern among delivery drivers, warehouse pickers, and so on. Yet the progress will not be halted. So how are businesses going to achieve an autonomous supply chain?

 

  • Drones

Amazon are already trialling drones which have the potential to deliver small packages to customers’ homes in super quick time, without getting stuck in traffic, and without any sort of remote driver. They use GPS to navigate their way from the Amazon distribution centre to the customer’s home.

 

  • Self-driving vehicles

Self-driving trucks and forklifts are no longer in our imaginations. Of course fuel will remain a burden of cost that will need to be considered, alongside the considerable capital investment. There will be a number of additional value adds such as interfacing to satellite information that will ensure the car takes the quickest route according to point to point distance and traffic.

 

  • Unmanned mobile robots

Which can be used in factories to pick and pack up stock ready to be delivered to the customer. Industry stats say that robot pickers are 4 times as quick as human pickers! It is not hard to believe since robots know the location of all items, can calculate the fastest route around the warehouse.

 

Summary

An autonomous supply chain for many years has been no more than a fantasy, but a number of technologies have evolved to a point that it may no longer be fiction. This is an incredibly exciting time to work within a Supply Chain role as we enter an unprecedented period of disruption. For more information on courses and qualifications within the supply chain management space, please take a look at our website.