Monday, November 23, 2015

24-Hour Snapshot of Europe's Logistic Industry

This infographic is a snapshot as to what exactly a logistic company can be dealing with every 24 hours without fail. It contains some simply astonishing facts that happen in a day while also showing just how important the industry is to Europe's economy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Will Drones Be the Future of Logistics?

No longer just a weapon, drones might be flying to your warehouse sooner than you think. The technology behind these miniature-unmanned aircrafts is improving every day. Simultaneously, the cost to own a drone is the lowest it’s ever been. Many in the warehousing industry have toyed with the idea that drones could be the new face of warehouse management and delivery logistics. While this is still a few years off, drone delivery systems are no longer a farfetched idea. 

Amazon recently announced that their company is actively testing drone package delivery, with hopes of delivering goods to consumers within 30 minutes. This might sound a bit alarming, but the company believes it could be possible in as little as four years. Patents, air regulations, and delivery accuracy still need to be tinkered with. After all, Amazon would essentially own the skies, forcing their competitors such as FedEx, UPS, and the US Mail to adapt or die. 

Drones could have another impact on the warehousing industry. As a much more realistic goal, drones could be the future of warehouse inventory. One drone can quickly scan every product, one shelf at a time. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to send one guy and a handheld scanner up and down over and over again in order to scan the entire contents of a warehouse. Does it really take a 100 lb. hand truck to scan the products on the top shelf? Drones could do the same job in a fraction of the time. 

As we understand them now, drones rely on a GPS device to guide them through the world, with accuracy down to the last meter. But in a warehouse setting, drones won’t have the same unrestricted flight patterns. Tight corners, low ceilings and packed shelves will make it harder for the drone to get around. However, new drones will be equipped with intrinsic absolute navigation systems. Without relying on a GPS system, drones can use onboard sensor systems and vision processing systems to determine their proximity to the objects around them. They’ll be able to recognize barcodes, moving gracefully through tight spaces. Using drones for inventory will drastically cut down on labor costs and improve overall efficiency. Warehouses will need to hire drone technicians instead of more hands on deck. 

If and when this technology becomes available, the entire warehousing system will change overnight. If you’re thinking of purchasing a drone for your warehouse, it could arrive in 30 minutes or less.

Guest blog post by

Full disclosure: I am not compensated for posting guest blogs.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Will less health and safety regulation mean a more economic or a more dangerous British supply chain?

I was at the SEMA seminar this June (which is pretty much like Glastonbury for anybody in the construction, manufacturing, or warehousing industry) and there were a few things I noticed. Aside from all the in depth stuff about changes in health and safety codes, there was an emphasis on SEMA strengthening their relationship with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). SEMA want to turn their Codes of Practice into law and they claimed that HSE will help them do this. This is great news for SEMA (of course), yet the whole thing is actually part of a much bigger story.

In a government report, HSE says they have reduced regulations and “red tape” by 84% and have done this “without compromising or diluting health and safety protections for workers”. Now I’m sure the “Health and Safety Gone Mad!” crowd will claim that this is a victory for common sense. And, at first glance, it seems like they may be right. 72% of people surveyed in the report said that they struggle to keep on top of changes to health and safety law, and 64% of people said they weren’t sure which ones applied to them. Surely then, less of this sort of confusion is a good thing? Businesses can now spend more time doing what they do, thus speeding up the British supply chain.

And it’s not just opinion that is on the side of Tory policy, as economists claim that the British manufacturing is on the rise. Growth of British manufacturing that was picking up speed at the start of this year is set to continue. This, added to Cameron’s creation of two million new jobs since he came to power (the so-called “jobs miracle”), seems to suggest that the conservative attitude towards health and safety is helping the British supply chain. Rather than wrapping workers in cotton wool, they’ve let them get on with it and, as result, production has increased, right?

Sure, that’s one way of looking at things. Another way of looking at it is that businesses are being put in danger by an increasingly hands-off approach to health and safety. During the 15 years before the current government came to power, fatalities at work were decreasing. Over the last seven years, they have stayed the same. HSE claim they have reduced regulation “without compromising” on safety. And this is correct. Safety has not been compromised, it has been consistent for seven years. What has been compromised, however, is the progress of safety.

The problem with all these statistics is that correlation is does not always imply causation, as this graph showing the correlation between consumption of margarine and divorce rates in Maine clearly demonstrates. In other words, it may be the case that Cameron’s laissez faire approach to HSE has contributed to a stronger British supply chain. Yet, it may also be case that his policy has nothing to do with it and that HSE needs urgent investment. This is certainly what his critics believe as they argue that a HSE “timebomb”, caused by reduced spending, will lead to an big increase in work related deaths in the near future.

Health and safety regulation is part of the British supply chain for a reason. It has its place and, if a government ignores it, they do so at their peril. The government need to tread very carefully from this point onwards. Cameron may be right about the British supply chain today, but that does not mean that he will be right tomorrow.

Justin O’Sullivan is a business journalist whose years of experience as the founder of SEMA Racking Inspections makes him an expert on the construction, warehousing, and manufacturing industry as well as the British supply chain.

DISCLOSURE: This blog or its editor accepts any financial payment for the posting of this article. I include it based solely on its content.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Future of European Logistics

I thought this was pretty clever from the folks at SnapParcel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

For Niche Business Fields, Consider a Supply Chain Consultant with Industry Experience

Jamie Saltos, Kapco Global
Whether you are a local business or a global enterprise, if you spend time moving a product from point A to point B, figuring out the best way to manage your supply chain is critical. And while it may not be the most glamorous part of your business, the thoughtful orchestration of purchasing, inventory management, product delivery and logistics can mean the difference between success and failure. In industries such as component manufacturing and distribution, where the part or product is one cog in a larger operational machine, an upset in delivery capability and response time can have repercussions that reverberate down a string of interdependent businesses, with the end result being a negative experience for a customer you may never see.
To keep this from happening, businesses often hire third-party consultants who strategically improve internal supply chains with an eye on higher levels of efficiency, lower overall costs and increased productivity. But when it comes to complex niche industries, not any supply chain consultant will do. In order to get the most from those consulting bucks and to make sure any strategic planning will go the distance, it’s often a good idea to hire a consultant with a proven track record and a reputation for know-how within your industry.
This particular brand of supply chain expert understands the constraints and opportunities unique to your industry and the locations in which you operate. They are current on trade regulations and quality assurance laws pertaining to your components and the larger machinery for which they are built. They understand the needs and goals of not just your clients, but also your client’s end users. This knowledge allows expert consultants to identify gaps in your business processes and help you develop effective strategies to close these gaps in the most efficient way possible without any negative impact to the bigger chain of which you are part.
A real-world example of this comes from the commercial aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry. Millions of people each year across the globe depend on well-functioning MRO departments, as these departments are responsible for procuring, housing, delivering, repairing, replacing and upgrading thousands of aircraft products and parts each year. These departments are responsible for the safety and maintenance of the aircraft that keep us traveling safely and without delay. Global commercial aviation MRO departments must be able to coordinate across continents while always maintaining a critical emphasis on safety, regulatory compliance and timeliness.
This means the MRO component suppliers servicing this industry must have their act together, and any supply chain consultant brought in to help must have a deep understanding of how the entire chain links together, in addition to having an assimilative knowledge regarding the needs and goals of all potentially impacted parties.
An expert consultant should be able to strategize for the effective distribution of a component without exposing the supplier to undue risk. And because the timely delivery of components is of paramount importance, consultants should have a solid knowledge of how the MRO industry is growing at this moment, while looking forward to potential changes that the world economy could have on MRO departments in the future. Meanwhile, that same consultant also needs to keep an eye on government regulations, international shipping laws and updates to industry standards that, if ignored, could jeopardize a supplier’s entire operation.
Strategic global supply chain management is complex and multi-faceted. Placed within the landscape of a heavily regulated niche industry, it becomes even more complicated. Tapping into the competence and expertise of an industry-specific supply chain consultant can be one way to make sure no detail is overlooked and each business along the greater chain is accounted for. It can also shorten the onboarding process, which can help get your business where it wants to be quicker and more efficiently—which is, after all, the point of supply chain management in the first place.
This guest post is written by Jamie Saltos, marketing director for Kapco Global. Follow them on Twitter @Kapco_Global.
Full disclosure, I received no compensation for posting this article.