Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Managing the Coronavirus Risk to the Supply Chain

Managing the Coronavirus Risk to the Supply Chain

A year ago, who could have predicted that every business would be affected by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? Unfortunately, we’ve all learned the truth of the matter. In the months since the disease was first classified as a pandemic, no industry in the country has been spared.

Troubles in Supply Chains 

Consumers across the country have been forced to change their buying habits. Some businesses have been forced to close, while others have faced unprecedented runs on essential products. Dramatic surges and dips in supply and demand are everywhere. It’s been hard on supply chains across the country and around the world.

Sourcing has become challenging, leading to shortages in product inventories. Supply networks are limited, and alternative routes and transportation options constrained. Stay-at-home guidelines or sickness are creating labor shortages. Smart business leaders have evaluated these conditions and decided to invest in resiliency.

Taking Stock, Making Change

These and other challenges have prompted leading warehouse and facility companies to take concrete steps to monitor and strengthen their supply chain operations. They are looking across their businesses to create new processes and systems, strengthen existing ones, and keep a watchful eye on supply chain best practices.

At the top of their priorities is the safety and health of employees. Leading companies are communicating clearly and often about risks to workers’ health and safety. When they can, they offer work-at-home or hybrid options to limit virus exposure.

Companies are making changes designed to boost their ability to anticipate and respond to new and emerging supply chain challenges. For many, the steps will become part of a more strategic investment in supply chain integrity. They include:

Building new teams to evaluate inventory risks and safety
Developing new or strengthened distribution monitoring processes and systems
Contacting suppliers more frequently to monitor risk to distribution and inventories
Identifying alternate supply sources
Making plans for critical suppliers when supply chain disruptions occur
Optimizing manufacturing and delivery capacity
Working with sales and operations teams to better pinpoint demand
Prioritizing supplies and inventory for potential demand spikes
Strengthening risk management plans
Balancing current inventory with future demand

COVID-19 continues to shake supply chains to their core, and some companies are already failing as a consequence. Those that succeed will be those who planned for these contingencies or adapted quickly to new transport, logistics, and storage solutions. A robust risk management plan that takes our new reality into account and an educated workforce can help your company come out stronger when we’re able to return to normal life.

Unfortunately, the global crisis isn’t over yet. But with the right choices and innovative solutions, we can work together through the challenge and meet a better, brighter future. 

[Based on blog post]

Friday, June 02, 2017

Reducing Food Waste Across The Supply Chain

Image Credit: Go Supply Chain.

One of the big issues when it comes to the transport of food is waste. Around a third of all food produced for consumption by humans is wasted and in 2012 costs regarding food waste in the EU alone were estimated at 143 billion euros.

There's obviously a huge business case for reducing food waste, but with one in nine people in the world suffering from chronic undernourishment (according to UN estimates) and enough food production to feed everyone, this is a huge humanitarian issue too.

Most of the information you will find on reducing food waste focuses specifically on the waste of food by consumers and in retail. There is nowhere near the same amount of information on food waste in the supply chain, yet significant reductions can be made here and it represents a massive opportunity for the companies involved to increase revenue.

There are several innovative ways of reducing food waste in the supply chain, such as biosensors. These detect substances such as pathogens and are capable of transmitting that information in a quantifiable manner. Technologies like this make it possible to monitor where problems are occurring and put in solutions to solve those problems.

Within the cocoa industry, solar driers (simple structures that are designed to dry the beans) are used at the farms to dry the beans within the correct moisture level for transport. This allows the farmer to see less beans rejected and a better price for his crop.

Focusing on cost isn't always the best solution. A case study showed Barleans managed to increase turnover of organic oils by 40% at the end of the 1990s. They did this by pressing the oil on demand resulting in a fresher product and delivering by express. This resulted in a lower shelf life, and competitors could not compete because their distribution process took too long.

Solving problems in the supply chain can increase revenue and also helps ensure that food is getting to hungry mouths. It's a win-win!

Written by Gavin Parnell at Go Supply Chain

Friday, February 24, 2017

Which is the right weighing scale is right to weigh pallets?


Weighing pallets in factories and warehouses is an essential process for ensuring out-going shipments aren't overloaded.
But with so many pallet weighing scales available, deciding the type of pallet scale you need, be it a platform scale, u-frame, drive thru, weigh beams or pallet truck scale, can be a tough call.
Choosing what you need depends on your use and your requirements. Consider your specification - and the questions below - carefully to help you decide.
Before purchasing, consider the following:
·       What are you weighing? What does the capacity need to be?
·       What environment will the scale be based in?
·       Will a mobile aid the weighing process?
·       Do you have any other requirements?
Then consider the options below, and choose the one which is most appropriate to you.
The Platform Scale
Platform scales offer the most flexibility - weight wise - for weighing heavy loads. They tend to have a much higher capacity and are built for heavy use in industrial environments. Compared to pallet truck scales they are also more accurate.
Their large bases are useful for weighing a range of items, but the heavy weighing platform is difficult to move - so we recommend it stays in a fixed location. An annual service contract is recommended to ensure the scale stays accurate.
The Pallet Truck Scale
Choosing a pallet truck scale can speed up your weighing processes. The video below took Marsden Group’s (leading weighing scales manufacturer) newest platform scale and pallet truck scale and raced them to show how long weighing a pallet took with each solution::

Pallet truck scales combine a scale with a pump truck - therefore cutting down from both items to a single unit saves on factory traffic. Waterproof pallet trucks and versions fitted with a printer are also available. Plus, you can use Marsden pallet truck scales as standard pallet trucks when you don’t need it for weighing.
However, pallet trucks require charging as they are powered by rechargeable battery.
Weigh Beams
An alternative mobile option is a set of weigh beams - like Marsden’s new PB-1200-I-400.
Many weigh beams, including this new scale, are accurate to 0.1kg - making them the most accurate option for weighing pallets - and an added bonus is they can be easily stored away when not in use.
The biggest advantage for choosing weigh beams is probably that they can be positioned the desired distance apart for weighing pallets of any size. The beams can be positioned in relation to the load being weighed, meaning you can use them to weigh other large items, such as dolavs.
Because you’re likely to be moving the weigh beams about regularly, rather than sitting them permanently in a set location, a service contract is strongly recommended to keep them accurate.
The U frame Scale
U frame scales, like the I-400-equipped UF-1200-I-400-NA are portable and fitted with handles and wheels - making it an easy-to-use equivalent to platform scales.
Like weigh beams, u frame pallet scales are perfect for limited space environments - because you can store them away when not in use. But unlike weigh beams, these are one fixed unit meaning they’re a little easier to move around your premises - and provide more stability when placing a load on the scale.
The Drive Thru Scale
Drive thru scales are fitted with ramps so that they are easier to load than platform scales, and you can roll a pallet truck onto the scale when weighing pallets. This is ideal if you don’t have a forklift truck, which is what you would need to add a pallet to a standard platform scale.
As with platform scales, you will need to ensure space is made for drive thru scales as they are best kept in one fixed location. The scale can be moved by forktruck - but care is needed when moving/repositioning in this way.
However, drive thru scales tend to have a lower capacity - like the DT-I-400 has a 1500kg capacity, whereas the P-NA-I-400 (the platform scale equivalent) can hold weights up to 3000kg.

Disclaimer: I receive no compensation for running this article

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

What does the future have in store for the humble warehouse?

Guest blogger Rachel Stires
The warehouse of today is a far cry from its humble beginnings. What started as a way to prevent famine has now turned into a powerhouse that effects the entire supply chain. 

The warehouse has evolved drastically during its history, but one change that has been vital to its growth is the automation of various processes. When I say automation, I mean the usage of computers and machines to make up for what humans cannot do. 

Here’s how these processes have helped the warehouse, and what they mean for its future.

1.  Better inventory management and control: Back in the day, inventory was kept track of with the use of the pen and paper. While anybody can be thorough and efficient, human error is still inevitable and can lead to misrepresentation of inventory. This can result in a lot of things, such as orders or stock being misrepresented. By automating this process with computers such as barcode scanners, wireless, and mobile computers, we have been able to avoid mistakes like this. Not only that, but utilizing technology helps increase the flow of inventory, as well as the fill rate.

2.  Improved Productivity: People are great and while they get a lot done, computers help to improve productivity in all operations of the warehouse. Whether it’s inventory, where software can keep track of the flow of goods and the stock of the warehouse, or warehouse management, where software helps direct and support management and staff. In the past, we had to rely on people for all this, and it left room for human error and miscommunication. By incorporating technology, companies can ease the burden on their staff and improve satisfaction in the workplace. This also boosts employee motivation, which feeds directly back into productivity. By streamlining the system, you encourage employees to be a seamless part of it.

3.  Fully Automated Warehouses: In the future, we will see warehouses where almost every process can be automated, and in many ways the future has already arrived. Robots have become an integral part of major warehouses like those run by Amazon. They assist workers in picking items from inventory, and have helped make the process more efficient. In the future, these robots could assist or take over for humans in tasks that are too labor intensive or menial.  This could help enhance productivity, but many people are worried that it will lead to job loss. The future of the job market depends on the development of these robots.

There’s still a long road ahead for total warehouse automation, but the changes and advancements made so far have optimized processes and made it a lot easier on workers, management, and their customers. The future holds many opportunities to further streamline warehouses, but it’s still amazing to look back at all that has been achieved in the past years and just how far we have come with technology.

Rachel Stires is a media relations specialist for Versatile Mobile. In her free time she enjoys writing and keeping up with various industries, including logistics and aviation.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How Consumers Are Transforming Supply Chain

For an industry that is transformed by the everyday behaviour of consumers, supply chain should not only respond to socio-economic growth, but help to facilitate it. In this digital age, supply chain systems are of much greater importance to the consumer.

A movement towards online shopping, coupled with improved social connectivity and technology has led to a culture of instant demand and satisfaction. In order to understand exactly how the industry is being changed by this, it is necessary to acknowledge the impact of the consumer.

The Online Shopper
The significant shift from an in-store demand to online shopping is having an incredible impact on the supply chain process for retailers. This completely new type of shopper desires a seamless experience from the basket to their doorstep.

They have a broad knowledge of the market and a heightened interest in the supply chain. It is a consumer that expects to know where the product is coming from, how it is made and the amount left in stock. Above all, they want to know these things now.

Retailers must operate under the weight of this expectation, where one error in stocktake or product quality could cost them a customer for life. In a world where consumers can purchase anything they want, from whichever company they choose, it is up to supply chain professionals to help position brands to deliver an unrivalled experience.

Instant Culture
Perhaps the largest impact on supply chain from Gen Y is a sense of instant demand and satisfaction. If Jack wants a new couch for his apartment, he could search and buy one during his lunch break. With orders placed in a matter of minutes, and all through an app on his phone, Jack could kit out his entire residence in an afternoon.

These products are then expected to arrive in a timely manner, by which I mean a short number of days. It is this increasing standard that continues to shape the supply chain industry into one that is faster, more agile and able to overcome problems.

The delivery of goods and services is a prime example of this. Companies compete with shipping that is cheap and quick, if not free. Consumers also demand the ability to track the process of the products until the final moment of delivery. This has forced businesses to pay careful attention to their supply chain system. If even a minor delay occurs, it has to be dealt with swiftly, before the consumer cancels their order and buys from the competition.

Social Media
Social media channels are often described as a double edged sword, and not without good reason. When used correctly, they can propel a business onto the world stage almost overnight. But with more than 1.7 billion people across the globe connecting online, even the smallest error in judgement could spell disaster.

These platforms offer a unique opportunity for supply chain professionals to access real-time feedback. A single click onto the company Facebook page could reveal a lost customer order, complaint about the purchasing experience or glowing recommendation, laid out for the world to see.

This has transformed the supply chain industry completely, where a more transparent system means that companies can predict demand, gain insight into consumer trends and ultimately use social media to establish a more efficient process. As more consumers take to the internet to share, discuss and interact with the brands they buy from, monitoring supply chain interactions and identifying innovations have never been easier.

Author Bio

Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult and lifelong learning. She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas. Helen also works with a select group of organisations consulting in People Management & Development, Education and Change.