Posted by DJA on January 5, 2011
Supply Chain News: Latest Trends in Logistics Study from Manrodt, Holcomb IDs 5 Undeniable Supply Chain Truths.
I’ve been heads down selling and deploying over the last quarter, it’s not a surprise that “blogging” was the first thing to drop from the weekly to-do list. That said, as 2011 opens, a lot has happened in the space. The deep freeze of the recession is in a palpable thaw. And while it’s still tough out there, commerce is returning.
As I considered where to begin this year’s post I felt it appropriate to look at trends in the supply chain technology space. Trends and Issues in Logistics and Transportation, the 5 undeniable truths article from Manrodt, Holcomb seemed appropriate. This piece hits home for operators and calls out the reality of customer demands in the complex environment we all live in, an excellent read.
Posted by DJA on August 26, 2010
Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of August 26, 2010.
How about that, 20,000 Motorola MC9090′s, I’ll bet that’s more RFID hand-held devices that have been sold to date across the entire autoID space. This is beginning to feel more and more like adoption. Meanwhile, Moto is under the gun to get the rest of the industry hardware for other customers.
Posted by DJA on August 20, 2010
Cargo ships at full capacity | Marketplace From American Public Media.
It was predictable, after all there are there only so many ships and containers, which leads to an obvious and predictable capacity limit for the foreseeable future. Who can blame the shipping companies for raising rates, after all they suffered as retailers slammed the lid shut to keep inventory in check. That said, I’ll bet it’s safe to say some will pay dearly for poor planning and inaction. It’s a conundrum isn’t it.? Pay twice what you expected to move the product now, or risk it showing up too late to sell. I’d venture to guess that soon capacity will be completely sold, and those who waited will be left out in the cold. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the fall.
Posted by DJA on August 18, 2010
Do ‘Quick Wins’ Hurt Lean Initiatives? « Performance Improvement.
I came across Glenn Whitield’s blog recently and I like his approach. While I’m not formally trained in six sigma, I’ve been in process improvement for my entire adult life. This post does a good job of highlighting the obstacles we encounter in our dynamic work environments. Give it a read…
Posted by DJA on August 18, 2010
Supply Chain Comment: Suddenly, RFID is Hot Again
Quite a few continue to comment on the latest Wal-Mart RFID activity, in this post, SCD correctly recounts the technology “gold rush” from the limited perspective of the Wal-Mart pilot. Clearly many embraced the pundits in 2003 and dove in head first. Anyone who understood the business at the time quickly came to the realization that there was only one true ROI, the Wal-Mart fear factor. Tags and readers were expensive and unreliable by auto-ID industry standards. No matter, the pitch was simple, “do you really want to push back on a Wal-Mart mandate”?
Was the Wal-Mart pilot a failure? I think not, while painful for suppliers and vendors during the ensuing years, technology improvements funded by the industry wide mandate have driven technology cost and performance to finally meet industry expectations. While true ROI is evolving in the retail sector, adoption is moving forward in manufacturing as well. Judge the impact of Wal-Mart’s activity through the lense of history. Compared to adoption of barcode in the 70′s and 80′s I’d suggest we’re moving along at a predictable pace.
Posted by DJA on August 17, 2010
The SCD article points out the consensus, around the need to strengthen integration across the network for planning and execution. Such a difficult subject… think about all the moving parts across your network. Now think about how much better your operation could operate if trading partners could share simple information about material movement in a timely, standardized way.
It’s interesting how the word “integration” creates an emotional response. I’d suggest most operations folks are intimidated by the subject, and who could blame them. Stake holders are wide and varied for any technology initiative in our space. As trading partners draw closer at the operational level, only so much benefit can be gained by focusing on the traditional operations process. To attain network wide gains requires an understanding of operational and IT process across multiple trading partners.
Begin with the basics and focus on integrating elements that will yield benefit for the near term and will support strategic goals of trading partners and stake holders. The SCD link reflects reality, process improvement can only go so far, in the end integration is the next “Rosetta Stone”
Posted by DJA on August 16, 2010
Is that an iPad in your warehouse? – DC Velocity.
Most people in my business can walk into a warehouse and after a no more then 15 minutes of passive observation, asses the state of the operation. It’s the simple things, common indicators that tend to apply from a cross dock to a broken case pick and pack operation. House keeping, equipment condition, the general pace, are all indicators of the state of the operation. As a supply chain professional, I’ve learned that no matter what technology you throw at an operation, it will fail without basic operational discipline. Think of Marine Rifle platoon, 30 or so guys on a mission with a specific set of rules and a very defined work ethic. What ever it takes, get the job done.
Ipad instead of a ruggedized mobility device, interesting and novel to be sure. While paperless picking has been around for decases, this article illustrates an out of the box thinking leadership team that clearly posses operational discipline. It’s the best of both worlds, block and tackle operational process augmented by nimble, well thought out technology.
Posted by DJA on August 13, 2010
Cloud Logistics: Solution For Networks « Aberdeen’s Blog.
I’ve been hearing more talk of “the cloud” or Software as a Service (Saas) of late. It began more as a technology buzzword many potential buyers didn’t get the concept, but that’s changing. We all use the cloud for daily chores; Gmail, Hotmail, Turbo Tax, Sales Force, just setup an account, bookmark it and log in. In the beginning I was a bit skeptical. What about connectivity to the internet? I also had concerns about the safety of my privacy and access to the data, not any more.
In the supply chain the main issues for end users are connectivity and the functionality. Any operation will require some sort of connection across the enterprise. However the needs vary based on user type. Browser based desktop applications, like those noted above, are perfectly suitable for the cloud. Whether the application is running on a dedicated server at a customer’s data center, or at a software vendor’s hosting facility has no impact on the end user. However for operational users driving work processes on the floor via mobility devices in real-time, speed is critical. Add a 3 second delay to transactions associated with product movement and the whole operation may come to it’s knees.
Aside from eliminating the need for hosting hardware, Saas applications are less expensive and easily scaled because the have standardized features and functionality. In the Supply Chain Execution (SCE) space, for many years we’ve been telling our customers we can do anything with enough time and money. Time and time again, we add cost to a solution so that we can give the customer exactly what he wants. Never mind that we’re automating a poor business process, modifications to basic code are a major source of revenue for software vendors, and an added, often unnecessary, cost to the end user.
A well designed application which provides robust basic functionality that is used across multiple customers means a profitable, low cost, scalable model for software vendors that will benefit the customer. When end users look at the cost of ownership of a Saas application versus a customized solution, they can now consider the true cost of system modifications verses adjusting operational process.
Have a look at the link above, Aberdeen dives deeper then most on this topic, the cloud is here to stay, start thinking about it.
Posted by DJA on August 12, 2010
This Week’s Supply Chain by the Numbers for August 6, 2010.
I found this interesting link I’ll be hitting on a regular basis. Most interesting is the diversity of information. These little snippets are from a wide and diverse sampling of business with a common thread, the supply chain.
The 25% foretasted increase in container traffic is interesting. When one couples the uncertainty we all feel with the recovery, and the already very lean supply chain, it will be interesting how this translates in terms of service.
Quality issues in the Boeing supply chain is frankly a bit alarming on the surface. I wonder if failure to test equates a safety issue? I suspect Boeing will correctly assume the worse and remove and replace a seat is a critical safety item. Just another reminder that outsourcing components has it’s ups and downs.
Finally, I’ll close with this question I’ve been pondering for a while…since when is a carbon tax a fungible asset? Leave it to the UN to come up with a tax…good luck!
Posted by DJA on August 11, 2010
RFID News: Will WalMart get RFID Right this Time?
Here we go again, and what a difference a few years makes. The SCDigest editorial team provides excellent analysis, follow the link and you’ll get the big picture.
First, was the initial effort a “failure”? Who knows, it’s all relative depending upon where you’re sitting. SCDigests points to the winners and losers within the context of the Wal-Mart world. But if one looks beyond the limited stores and DC’s where this work was done, it’s clear that that the entire supply chain execution space has benefited from this effort. Both hardware and software providers have made geometric improvements in cost and performance. Think of the inital Wal-Mart pilots as a shake down cruise for the evolving supply chain. Since the beginning of Q1 2010, the adoption curve has steepened in A&D, Manufacturing, and Enterprise Asset Management as the technology moves to other verticals.
Now with reliable, lower cost technology, ROI is tangible, vendors are willing to participate at the mutual benefit of the supplier and the seller. Lessons learned lead us down this path, and had Wal-Mart not been so “heavy handed” as perceived by some, this train would never have left the station.
Finally, I’ll say it one more time, I do look forward to a discussion that does not include the irrelevant and tired privacy rhetoric. In today’s highly connected, fast paced society, this technology represents no more threat than a Bar-Code, let’s move on shall we?