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Automation Trends and Challenges in Transporting Dangerous Goods

dangerous goods

Automation Trends and Challenges in Transporting Dangerous Goods

In just about every moving part of shipping logistics in the modern trading landscape, automation in some form or capacity is present or in the works to better support operations. From robotics to drones to autonomous vehicles, technology innovation is changing the way logistics operates, one bleep at a time. But when it comes to the transport of dangerous goods, there are factors present that create more of a danger when paired with innovation, creating more of a need for risk mitigation measures. The safety and compliance efforts going into transporting goods (particularly if they are dangerous goods) should always be just as important as the level of efficiency of the transportation process.

Drones, for example, continue making news headlines in logistics-focused transportation. Not only do drones provide an emissions-free, congestion-free and cost-effective alternative, but they also provide a new method of competitive positioning, according to Navigant Research. Pharmaceuticals have successfully been delivered utilizing this method of transportation in the last year. UPS is among the big names reinventing the way healthcare logistics is approached after the company announced its new drone logistics partnership with AmerisourceBergen, a pharmaceutical distributor.

“Delivery bots, RDVs and drones are set to displace millions of truck and van deliveries over the next decade, as they are far smaller, more flexible, lower in cost, and naturally suitable for automation and electrification,” says Ryan Citron, senior research analyst at Navigant Research, in a release earlier this year. “These technologies are expected to make last-mile logistics (LML) more efficient and sustainable, while also transforming local commerce and user experience through new business models such as on-demand store-hailing.”

While this is great news for some of the goods transported on a daily basis, drones are not exactly a realistic solution for the case of dangerous goods, at least for the time being in transportation and innovation regulation. That is when the conversation of autonomous vehicles comes in.

When transporting dangerous goods on wheels, what role does the autonomous vehicle fulfill? Let us start with what could go wrong with transporting dangerous goods. In an interesting evaluation of this process, Occupational Health and Safety released an in-depth article outlining the potential risks associated with ground transportation of dangerous goods. These risks included collisions and accidents, emergency response measures, loading and unloading, and the measures taken to properly secure such materials after loading for the ride. In all of these examples given by OHS, a physical driver is needed in some form or capacity, and not just any driver, but a trained hazmat employee. Without the properly trained employees or advances in technology to ensure compliance is met, a physical employee will need to be present for the majority of the “autonomous” vehicle experience, even if that employee isn’t the one doing the driving.

Another important thing to remember when merging technology and the transport of dangerous goods is their compatibility with other important–and vital–parts of the process. In a recent blog from Labelmaster, the concept of a solid data foundation is explained as a key part of a three-pillar system. The company’s VP of Software & Customer Success, Mario Sagastume, reiterates that when one of these pillars is off, the others follow suit.

Technology innovation does not always equal fancy robotics or massive automation takeovers. In some cases, it boils down to a clear set of data that provides a clear view of the big picture while identifying bottlenecks, risks and a lack of resources. It is important to consider the basics of technology before diving into complex solutions. After all, dangerous goods shipping is already a challenge. You want to simplify and support the process, not overcomplicate it. Solutions such as Labelmaster’s hazmat shipping software solution, DGIS, is an example of how data and technology work together for success in hazardous shipping processes.

Whether you’re transporting dangerous goods by sea, road, rail or air, one common element is ever-present: the human factor. This factor is identified in several studies as one of the main culprits of risk when evaluating potential issues in transporting dangerous goods. One specific study conducted by Jelizaveta Janno and Ott Koppel from Tallinn University of Technology, School of Engineering, Estonia, states that, “…the risk of DGT is strongly related to a human factor as all decisions, processes and procedures within a transportation chain are made by different parties involved.”

The authors explain that every part of the transportation process of these dangerous goods involve the human factor in some capacity, as seen with the previous point of autonomous vehicles and the required human presence for parts of the process.

This brings the conversation to the topic of adequate training. With all the technology, innovation and automation in the world, the human factor will almost always be present. This is not a bad thing, it is a wakeup call that technology cannot fix what thorough training, education and accountability can.

In another blog from Labelmaster, survey results from the annual Dangerous Goods Symposium revealed that the complex nature of hazmat and dangerous goods regulations, along with lack of robust education efforts, are causing headaches for a variety of shippers in the supply chain. One survey responder specifically cited the need for curriculum specific to the dangerous goods arena of supply-chain management.

Training and education (on regulations and operations) must be held to a higher standard for those filling positions in the supply chain, but especially for those handling dangerous goods at every level. Without this imperative part of the equation, technology and innovation efforts will be compromised. The investment must start with the employees and with leadership.

Before investing heavily in the next technology solution on the market, look carefully at the internal processes first. Take an honest inventory of how compliance is managed, how paperwork is processed, and the quality of employee communications. Recall the example from the experts at Labelmaster: Technology is a part of the bigger picture. When one pillar is impacted, they are all impacted.

agility

4 Strategies Manufacturers Can Adopt to Increase Agility

In turbulent, transformative times like these, the term “business agility” seemingly appears everywhere. And though it’s easy to imagine even the world’s largest tech companies or consulting firms making a sudden pivot, it’s harder to picture a manufacturer with a factory full of heavy equipment doing the same thing.

So what does business agility mean in the context of manufacturing or construction? It’s less about the speed and scope of changes being proposed and more about communicating effectively across large, dispersed organizations. When disruptions break the supply chain or cause demand to plummet, manufacturers must be able to encourage an information flow across all corners of the enterprise. Agility depends on the free flow of information and the ability to guide a team directly.

The good news is that manufacturers are used to disruptions. They regularly deal with supply chain issues, sudden regulatory changes, or shifting market dynamics. Adaptation is in their nature.

The bad news is that COVID-19 puts a unique strain on the industry that makes agility more important yet less accessible. Specifically, factories and construction sites that have had to either scale back or shut down in response to public health requirements can’t exactly pick their work up remotely. Teams are spread out more than ever and cut off from core assets — and that includes everything from machinery to data.

These are circumstances manufacturers don’t have contingency plans for. Meeting the moment will require extensive brainstorming, aligned leadership, and quick and decisive action — but none of those things will be easy with stakeholders scattered to the wind.

Today’s Realities

All of this means manufacturers need a new concept of business agility along with a fresh sense of commitment.

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen heavy-duty industries forced to shut down suddenly and reopen as quickly as possible. While opening, they’ve had to integrate new social distancing requirements into all aspects of operations and vastly expand health and safety measures. In some cases, they’re even learning how to stop sharing pens and clipboards. And those are just the implications for operations.

Unstable economic forces mean that supply and demand could be in flux for the foreseeable future. Granted, some manufacturers are booming right now — but others have seen business crater, and the long-term fallout of this pandemic remains to be seen. Manufacturers must reexamine (and in many cases revise) their plans, strategies, and fundamental business assumptions. Everything is up in the air.

On top of everything, this pandemic is accelerating the shift away from in-person interactions toward digital ones. Relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, and all other stakeholders are evolving because of the need to socially distance. More than that, though, this health crisis has underscored the fact that digital environments are more efficient, convenient, and customizable than the alternatives. This could prove to be a tipping point for digital transformation throughout the manufacturing industry.

It’s hard to overstate the pace of change right now. The degree to which some manufacturers have already responded is impressive; we’ve seen liquor producers start making hand sanitizer and sports equipment manufacturers adapt assembly lines to create face masks. Agility is possible in the face of this crisis, but manufacturers must take the initiative.

“Business as usual” stopped being relevant with the first COVID-19 cases, and there are serious questions about whether we’ll ever return to normal. That means something different for every manufacturer while still placing the same obligation on all of them: Stay agile or get swept under.

Building the Basis of Business Agility

Manufacturers need to grow agile as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, moving fast while staying coordinated is never easy. Apply these strategies to help guide your transformative efforts:

1. Share information in real time. People need answers right now, whether that’s about health and safety measures, new workplace practices, changing strategies, and everything else that’s been uprooted by the pandemic.

The less accessible this information is, the more disorganized things become. Sharing information in real time so everyone has the answers they need on demand keeps communication issues from making a bad situation worse. Strive to be as transparent as possible and to make information highly accessible.

2. Identify information bottlenecks. The pandemic exacerbated the existing information bottlenecks in organizations and created a number of new ones. Analyzing how internal communication works — how information flows through an organization — identifies where these bottlenecks are and suggests how they can be resolved.

Better access to information (of all types and at all levels) helps accelerate and improve decision-making. Before COVID-19, 86% of companies surveyed said frontline workers need more insights at their disposal. That priority is even higher now.

3. Lead from the bottom up. In any fast-changing scenario, insights from the front lines are what matter most. If executives ignore the ideas and perspectives of workers who are actually in the thick of operations, they miss both the red flags that require attention and the innovative ideas necessary to meet this moment. Information needs to flow freely and broadly within an organization, from one-on-one and small group communication all the way up to corporate messaging. Instead of giving lip service to this priority, make sure there’s a direct pipeline.

4. Create new touchpoints. Information from outside the organization — from customers or suppliers — is also immensely valuable right now. It’s vital to business agility because it helps a manufacturer explore how it can pivot without alienating the partners it relies on. Take those outside insights seriously and solicit as many as possible. Convenient digital touchpoints make it easy for others to supply complaints, suggestions, and praise, all of which inform a manufacturer’s next move.

Remember that agility is all about alignment. Any company — manufacturer or otherwise — can evolve on the fly as long as it can move as one. Communication is what cements that connection and helps achieve unity across the board.

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Daniel Sztutwojner is chief customer officer and co-founder of Beekeeper, the single point of contact for your frontline workforce. Beekeeper’s mobile platform brings communications and tools into one place to improve agility, productivity, and safety. Daniel is passionate about helping businesses operate more efficiently. He has a background in applied mathematics and more than eight years of experience in sales and customer success.

frozen fish

Germany, the UK, and France Dominate the European Frozen Fish Fillet Market

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘EU – Frozen Fish Fillet – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The EU frozen fish fillet market totaled $6.6B in 2019 (IndexBox estimates), surging by 5.1% against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +2.0% from 2013 to 2019; the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2018 with an increase of 7.7% year-to-year. Over the period under review, the market reached the maximum level in 2019 and is likely to see gradual growth in years to come.

Consumption by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of frozen fish fillet consumption in 2019 were Germany (275K tonnes), the UK (193K tonnes) and France (155K tonnes), together comprising 48% of total consumption. Spain, Poland, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Malta, Austria, Belgium, and Hungary lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 42%.

From 2013 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of frozen fish fillet consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by Malta, while frozen fish fillet consumption for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, Germany ($1.2B), the UK ($1.2B), and France ($901M) were the countries with the highest levels of market value in 2019, together accounting for 51% of the total market. These countries were followed by Spain, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Hungary, Belgium, and Malta, which together accounted for a further 40%.

In 2019, the highest levels of frozen fish fillet per capita consumption were registered in Malta (77 kg per person), followed by Sweden (3.71 kg per person), Austria (3.43 kg per person) and Germany (3.35 kg per person), while the world average per capita consumption of frozen fish fillet was estimated at 2.55 kg per person.

In Malta, frozen fish fillet per capita consumption increased at an average annual rate of +6.7% over the period from 2013-2019. In other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: Sweden (-4.9% per year) and Austria (-0.8% per year).

Imports in the EU

In 2019, the amount of frozen fish fillet imported in the European Union was estimated at 1.4M tonnes, remaining relatively unchanged against the previous year’s figure. In general, imports recorded a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2016 with an increase of 4.5% against the previous year. In value terms, frozen fish fillet imports amounted to $7.1B (IndexBox estimates) in 2019.

Imports by Country

In 2019, Germany (339K tonnes), distantly followed by the UK (162K tonnes), Poland (155K tonnes), France (154K tonnes), Spain (143K tonnes), the Netherlands (105K tonnes) and Italy (89K tonnes) were the largest importers of frozen fish fillet, together comprising 82% of total imports.

Germany experienced a relatively flat trend pattern with regard to the volume of imports of frozen fish fillet. At the same time, Poland (+2.0%) and Italy (+1.6%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Poland emerged as the fastest-growing importer imported in the European Union, with a CAGR of +2.0% from 2013-2019. Spain, the Netherlands, France, and the UK experienced a relatively flat trend pattern. The shares of the largest importers remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

In value terms, the largest frozen fish fillet importing markets in the European Union were Germany ($1.5B), the UK ($1B), and France ($897M), with a combined 49% share of total imports. Spain, Poland, Italy, and the Netherlands lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 32%.

Among the main importing countries, Spain saw the highest growth rate of the value of imports, over the period under review, while purchases for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Import Prices by Country

In 2019, the frozen fish fillet import price in the European Union amounted to $5,096 per tonne, growing by 4.4% against the previous year. Over the last six years, it increased at an average annual rate of +2.1%. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2017 when the import price increased by 5.3% year-to-year. Over the period under review, import prices attained the maximum in 2019 and are likely to continue growing in years to come.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was the UK ($6,351 per tonne), while Poland ($3,415 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Spain, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

structure

Create a Flexible Corporate Structure to Develop High Performance Leadership in Global Companies

This article portrays a more detailed picture of the effects of flexible structures on knowledge management. This article also indicates that executives can implement structural changes for better leading their companies. This article summarizes my experience as a senior management consultant and is about getting the information needed to be successful in the right hands of executives worldwide.

How Can Flexible Structures Improve Leadership Effectiveness?

A flexible structure is necessary to lead a global organization. This type of corporate structure is at the forefront of the knowledge base and has relative value in organizations throughout North American and the rest of the developed countries. When executives generate flexible corporate structures inspiring innovation and creativity within organizations, they will secure a foothold in an ever-changing hypercompetitive marketplace.

Corporate structure has been defined as a pattern by which organizations can divide their activities and tasks as well as control them to achieve higher degrees of coordination. Corporate structure, therefore, refers to the bureaucratic division of labor accompanied by control and coordination between different tasks in order to develop communication within organizations. 

Corporate structure can be reshaped by executives when they develop knowledge sharing and inspire employees to create new ideas for a better environment among business-units and departments. Sirkka Jarvenpaa and Sandy Staples, prominent authors and scholars in the area of management at The University of Texas at Austin maintain that the informal structure could facilitate new idea generation to build a more innovative climate within organizations. Executives can, therefore, implement structural changes that develop better collaboration among subordinates and managers. 

Centralized versus decentralized decision making is also a topic that management executives must deal with. More emphasis on formalized and mechanistic structures can negatively impact the executive’s ability to exert such changes. On the contrary, a more decentralized and flexible structure may improve departmental and managerial interactions. The mechanical or centralization at the commanding level of leadership impairs the opportunity to develop relationships among managers, business units, and departments. 

Executives can reshape corporate structure to be more effective when the command center of organizations can disseminate information in a decentralized and organic way as opposed to the mechanical and centralized command center. Decentralized structures shift the power of decision-making to the lower levels and subsequently inspire organizational members to create new ideas and even implement them while centralized structures may negatively impact interdepartmental communications and inhibit knowledge exchange.

An empirical study by Wei Zheng, Baiyin Yang and Gary McLean in Texas A&M University affirms that there is a negative impact of centralization on various knowledge management processes such as knowledge acquiring, creating, and sharing among both managers and departmental units. On the contrary, a more decentralized and flexible structure may enable executives in improving departmental and managerial interactions that can lead to identify the best opportunities for investment that potentially leads to improve knowledge utilization processes for companies. Both scholars and executives have acknowledged some form of relationship between corporate structure and the knowledge utilization process. Ergo, executives can positively contribute to knowledge management by building more decentralized structures within organizations.

The key take-away for executives is to facilitate knowledge management by developing a more flexible structure that is considered an essential source for developing relationships. Therefore, if the corporate structure is not completely in favor of supporting knowledge management, executives cannot effectively manage organizational knowledge to improve overall performance and companies cannot be effective. Hence, the key kernel for executives is that corporate structure is a resource that enables organizations to solve problems and create value through improved performance and it is this point that will narrow the gaps of success and failure leading to more successful decision-making.

How Can Knowledge Management Improve Leadership Effectiveness?

The process of knowledge exchange enhances an executive’s capabilities to play the role of an inspirational motivator in their company as it allows them to set desired expectations by recognizing possible opportunities in the business environment. The knowledge exchange also positively contributes to executives developing a more effective vision for their employees, with access to a comprehensive array of information and insights about the external environments. By creating a vision of what is achievable, executives can then integrate knowledge internally to enhance efficiencies in their business systems and processes that align with this vision, as well as to be more responsive to any current market changes. 

To be effective, knowledge integration also requires a continuous process of monitoring and evaluating your internal knowledge management practices, coordinating experts, sharing knowledge and scanning the changes of knowledge requirements to keep the quality of work and produce in-line with market demand. By undertaking knowledge integration activities that incorporate all levels of the company, executives can assess any required changes that will keep the quality of their services at maximum efficiency. Instilling this systematic approach of coordinating company-wide experts also enables executives to propel the role of intellectual stimulation, which creates a more innovative environment within companies. 

Executives are also responsible for curtailing knowledge within companies, as and when it needs to be reconfigured to meet environmental changes and new challenges. Essentially, what worked yesterday or a few years ago has already changed rapidly, and will continue to do so as technology increases in prolific ways.

Knowledge is commonly shared at a global level amongst companies through domestic and global rewards such as the Malcolm Baldridge Award in the United States and the Deming Award in Japan. However, past industry research posits that companies might lack the required capabilities to access and develop this knowledge or decide to decline from interacting with other organizations due to distrust to share or take knowledge. Therefore, expert groups may not have sufficient diversity to comprehend the knowledge acquired from external sources.

However, despite these limitations whether natural or caused, networking with business partners is a key activity for companies to enhance knowledge exchange and should not take an award to be the impetus to initiate interaction. Ergo, networking with external business partners will enhance the effectiveness of leadership, empowering executives to better develop strategic insights for a more effective vision that incorporates the various concerns and values of external business partners.

Ultimately, knowledge transfer amongst organizations improves the effectiveness of learning, which in turn enables executives to empower human resources through creating new knowledge and solutions. Thus, I suggest that networking takes place between organizations in both domestic and international markets to enhance the effective use of management. As executives in senior positions effectively use knowledge management this is likely to improve their leadership effectiveness through increased learning opportunities.  Figure 1 illustrates how flexible structures lead to the improvement of knowledge management and leadership.  

In Conclusion

This article can portray a more detailed picture of the effects of a flexible structure on knowledge management performance. When executives ensure the effectiveness of knowledge management projects they increase control and lesson operational risk. Furthermore, knowledge management constitutes the foundation of a supportive workplace to disseminate knowledge and subsequently enhance the effectiveness of leadership. In fact, a firm’s ability to develop leadership can be highly affected when executives implement knowledge management projects as the primary form of managing people, resources, and profitability.

Executives can now see how they can implement structural changes, which can enable superior knowledge management performance to achieve business objectives and satisfy careers. In addition, this article is set in place to inspire executives to create effective structural changes in order to meet and exceed the challenges of not only today but also what we see as the onset of new advances in the future. The practices mentioned in this article can also represent a complete answer to the need for structural changes in today’s global market environment.

I suggest that scholars take these ideas and continue to conduct research using executives as the focal point so that academic scholarship can meet the needs of managerial implications at the higher echelons of companies worldwide. 

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Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

heirloom tomato

ALL THE WORLD TREASURES AN HEIRLOOM – TOMATO, THAT IS

Everyone Can Enjoy an Heirloom

Spring weather heralds the start of weekend farmers markets offering colorful fruits and vegetables, artisanal cheeses, and home-made baked goods. Along the east coast, tomatoes play a starring role at the local farmers markets. Green, yellow, orange, brown, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, large, small – the variety seems endless.

Farmers markets are a great way to shop fresh and seasonal, but if you can’t get there, you can still find an increasingly impressive selection of tomatoes at your local grocery store. Are the tomatoes in the organic corner market the same tomatoes you get from the farmer? Unlikely. For the most part local farmers cannot sustain supply to large grocery chains where consumers are demand tomatoes year round. To meet that demand, the business of the heirloom tomato has grown global.

Pimp my Tomato

Italians made tomatoes a kitchen staple, but the tomato didn’t originate in Europe. Researchers have traced its origin to the “pimp,” a pea-sized red fruit that grows naturally in Peru and Southern Ecuador. As with so many foods we love, the Mexicans domesticated the tomato and Spanish explorers brought it home, where locals created a sweeter and tastier, but also more vulnerable, tomato.

Whether due to the preferences of grocers or their shoppers, the market overwhelmingly demands that growers focus on the few breeds of tomatoes that dominate our grocery shelves today. Producers worked to change the characteristics of tomatoes through cross-pollination in order to increase yield, to produce uniform shapes and sizes with smooth skin, and to render the tomatoes hardier for transport. Tomatoes are picked while green and artificially ripened with ethylene gas, sacrificing better taste for better looks (the flavor comes from the sugars that develop as the tomato ripens naturally).

partial-dg-pimp-tomato-graphic-for-web

Photo: The pimp fruit by David Griffen, Smithsonian.com

The New (Old) Tomato

The strict definition of heirloom tomato is a variety of tomato that has been openly pollinated for more than 50 years. Today, most experts would consider heirlooms as any non-hybrid tomato. Unlike heirlooms, many hybrid vegetables and fruits, while resilient and uniform, produce seeds that cannot reproduce. Therefore, the open pollination principle for heirlooms is key. As a result, it is the seed savers and gardeners with a flair for history that helped propel heirloom tomatoes to their elite status.

In the last decade, consumers started going back to the tomato’s heirloom roots. Top restaurants, prominent chefs, cooking magazines, the farm-to-table movement, and the proliferation of farmers markets have all put heirloom tomato flavor on display. Americans have become more tomato-curious than ever.

Regional is the New Local

Generally speaking, the entire world loves a tomato. As the most consumed vegetable in the world, we devour 130 million tons of tomatoes every year, of which 88 million are sold fresh. The remaining 42 million tons are destined for processing into tomato sauce and other products. China, the European Union, India, the United States, and Turkey are the world’s top producers.

Trade in tomatoes tends to be regional. Asia, Europe, and Africa represent 45 percent, 22 percent, and 12 percent, respectively, of global production, and much of what’s grown in one region is traded there. France, for example, is the fifth largest producer of tomatoes in Europe, exporting one quarter of its production across the European continent, primarily to Germany.

North American Tomato Trade – A Tasty NAFTA Product

About half of fresh tomatoes consumed in the United States are imported. The government applies tariffs to fresh tomatoes from countries we don’t have a free trade agreement with, and the tariffs fluctuate based on the timing of the U.S. growing season. From March 1 to July 14 (when Florida’s volume is highest and California and southeastern producing states begin to ship commercial tomatoes), it’s 3.9 cents per kilogram. Between July 15 until August 31, it goes down to 2.8 cents per kilogram (availability of locally grown tomatoes is highest). September 1 to November 14, it goes up again to 3.9 cents per kilogram. For the remainder of our winter, November 15 until March 1, it goes back down to 2.8 cents per kilogram.

Nearly all of fresh tomatoes we import into the United States come from Mexico (89 percent) and Canada (10 percent) duty-free under NAFTA. NAFTA partners are also the primary destinations for exported American tomatoes, with 77 percent of our exports going to Canada and 20 percent to Mexico. (The United States manufactures 96 percent of the tomatoes it uses in processing.)

Even though they enter the United States duty-free, tomatoes from Mexico are subject to minimum prices that vary based on the season; the price floor for winter tomatoes ranges from 31 cents to 59 cents, while summer tomato prices vary between 24.6 to 46.8 cents, depending on the tomato category. This is because Mexico has gotten very efficient at producing tomatoes year-round, which concerns some segments of American growers, particularly in Florida.

Florida growers are seeking changes to U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings in the current renegotiations of NAFTA to allow them to pursue dumping cases based on pricing in one specific season versus relying on three years of data, as is currently required. This proposal has created rifts among U.S. growers – primarily Southeast growers who support it and Western growers who fear its consequences. Mexico has also expressed strong opposition. American producers of other fruits and vegetables have also publicly opposed the proposal. They worry Mexico could use the same approach against American exporters of perishable produce.

Global, Regional, Local – It’s All Good

Our love for tomatoes will not recede any time soon. Improvements in technology are helping farmers increase their yields while maintaining or even reducing the acreage they are devoting to tomatoes. But even as trade routes for tomatoes are increasing and broadening, the allure and specialness of a locally-grown fresh tomato remains.

Tomatoes are the most popular plant for amateur home gardeners like myself. And with spring in full bloom, it’s only a matter of time before local tomatoes explode onto the scene in our neighborhood farmers market, exhibiting their versatility and flavor. The heirloom tomato has once again returned to prominence – just sprinkle a little salt on it, and take a satisfying bite. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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Ayelet Haran

Ayelet Haran is a contributor to TradeVistas. She is a government affairs and policy executive in the life sciences industry. She holds a Master’s of Public Administration degree in International Economic Policy from Columbia University.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

saw log

The Pandemic to Put a Drag on the Growth of the Global Coniferous Saw Log And Veneer Log Market

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Saw Logs And Veneer Logs (Coniferous) – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The Global Saw Log and Veneer Log Market Expanded Robustly Over the Last Decade

The global market for saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) totaled $68.8B in 2019, increasing by 2.5% against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, taxes, and margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +1.3% over the period from 2007 to 2019; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations throughout the analyzed period. Global consumption peaked in 2019 and is expected to retain growth in the near future.

The countries with the highest volumes of consumption of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) in 2019 were the U.S. (261M cubic meters), Russia (168M cubic meters), and Canada (113M cubic meters), with a combined 46% share of global consumption. In value terms, the largest saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) markets worldwide were the U.S. ($13.2B), Russia ($9.3B), and Canada ($5.7B), together comprising 41% of the global market.

Sawlogs and veneer logs are one of the basic materials around the world, as they serve as raw materials for the production of sawn wood and all kinds of wood-based panels, which are widely used in construction, and, at a lesser extent, in industry. The key factor determining the development of the saw logs and veneer logs market is the dynamics of construction in a particular country, which, in turn, depends on a set of economic and social factors: population growth, employment and income of the population, economic growth of the country, rates of urbanization, investment volumes and the availability of credit resources for the population, which altogether reflect the overall GDP growth.

Over the past years, the global construction industry has grown at a steady pace thanks to residential construction and major investment infrastructure projects, in both emerging markets and some developed markets. The main driver of growth in the global construction industry was the growing demand from developing countries, mainly China and the countries of Southeast Asia.

In these countries the economic growth rates are the highest in the world, which is accompanied by active urbanization and growth of the population’s income; all this together leads to an expansion of the volume of housing, industrial, and infrastructural construction. The pace of construction in the United States was also high, which was due to both the growth of the economy and the tendency to move from large cities to the suburbs, as well as active immigration; these factors were especially relevant to the saw log market due to the high popularity of wood construction materials in America.

The Lockdown and Uncertainty in the Construction Sector to Hamper the Market Growth

Until 2020, the global economy has been developing steadily for five years, although at a slower pace than in the previous decade. The slowdown in global economic growth was caused by increased political uncertainty in the world and trade wars between the United States and China. According to the World Bank outlook from January 2020, the global economy was expected to pick up the growth momentum and increase by from +2.5% to +2.7% per year in the medium term.

In early 2020, however, the global economy entered a period of the crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to battle the spread of the virus, most countries in the world implemented quarantine measures that put on halt production and transport activity. The result will be a drop in GDP relative to previous years and a sharp fall in the demand for oil, which led to extremely low prices and heavy oil production cuts.

The combination of those factors disrupts economic growth heavily throughout the world. According to World Bank forecasts, despite the gradual relaxing of restrictive measures and unprecedented government support in countries that faced the pandemic in early 2020, the annual decline of global GDP could amount to -5.2%, which is the deepest global recession being seen over the past eight decades.

In Asian countries, especially China, which faced the pandemic earlier than others, the epidemic situation improved earlier, with the quarantine measures largely relaxed, and the economy is gradually recovering from the forced outage. Thus, in China, by the end of 2020, an increase of 1% is expected (while a year earlier it was 6.1%), and in general in Southeast Asia in 2020, an increase of 0.5% is expected. In the medium term, it is assumed that the economy will gradually recover over several years as the restrictions are finally lifted.

The U.S., by contrast, is struggling with a drastic short-term recession, with the expected contraction of GDP of approx. -6.1% in 2020, as the hit of the pandemic was harder than expected, and unemployment soared due to the shutdown and social isolation. In the medium term, should the pandemic outbreak end in the second half of 2020, the economy is to start recovering in 2021 and then return to the market trend of the gradual growth, driven by the fundamentals existed before 2020 and boosted by support measures imposed by the government. In the European Union, the economy may plunge by 9% in 2020, in many other countries a comparable negative trend is also expected.

An additional serious risk for the medium-term recovery is the growth of geopolitical tensions in the world, especially between the United States and China, which are being drawn into a political confrontation on a wide range of issues. If sanctions and restrictions are tightened, it will hit global trade and worsen economic growth both in the United States and China and in many other countries involved in supply chains.

The construction sector has proven extremely vulnerable to the pandemic as due to quarantine measures, construction projects were paused, and the drop in incomes of the population makes mortgage loans less affordable. Thus, the above economic prerequisites will have the most negative impact on the production of building materials, and, therefore, on the consumption of saw logs and veneer logs.

Taking into account the above, it is expected that in 2020 global consumption of saw logs and veneer logs will drop by approx. 5%. In the medium term, as the global economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic, the market is expected to grow gradually. Overall, market performance is forecast to expand with an anticipated CAGR of +0.3% for the period from 2019 to 2030, which is projected to bring the market volume to 1.2B cubic meters by the end of 2030.

Production

For the seventh consecutive year, the global market recorded growth in the production of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous), which increased by 1.8% to 1.2B cubic meters in 2019. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.5% from 2007 to 2019; the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2010 when the production volume increased by 6.4% year-to-year. Global production peaked in 2019 and is expected to retain growth in years to come.

In value terms, the production of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) expanded modestly to $69.8B in 2019 estimated at export prices. The total output value increased at an average annual rate of +1.6% from 2007 to 2019; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with only minor fluctuations being recorded in certain years. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2017 when the production volume increased by 9.4% y-o-y. Over the period under review, global production attained the peak level in 2019 and is likely to see gradual growth in the immediate term.

Production By Country

The countries with the highest volumes of production of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) in 2019 were the U.S. (278M cubic meters), Russia (181M cubic meters), and Canada (120M cubic meters), with a combined 49% share of global production. These countries were followed by Sweden, Finland, Brazil, New Zealand, Germany, Poland, Chile, China, and Japan, which together accounted for a further 30%.

From 2007 to 2019, the biggest increases were in New Zealand, while the production of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Imports

In 2019, global imports of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) totaled 155M cubic meters, growing by 3.4% against 2018 figures. Overall, imports saw a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2010 when imports increased by 24% against the previous year. Global imports peaked at 165M cubic meters in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2019, imports remained at a lower figure. In value terms, imports of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) contracted to $8.1B (IndexBox estimates) in 2019.

China Remains the Largest Market for Imported Coniferous Saw Logs and Veneer Logs

China was the key importer of saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) in the world, with the volume of imports accounting for 69M cubic meters, which was approx. 45% of total imports in 2019. Austria (17M cubic meters) occupied an 11% share (based on tonnes) of total imports, which put it in second place, followed by Sweden (7.3%), Japan (7%), Germany (6.8%) and South Korea (4.8%). Belgium (3.7M cubic meters) followed a long way behind the leaders.

Imports in China increased at an average annual rate of +4.2% from 2007 to 2019. At the same time, Belgium (+7.5%), Germany (+5.3%), Sweden (+4.4%) and Austria (+2.5%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Belgium emerged as the fastest-growing importer imported in the world, with a CAGR of +7.5% from 2007-2019. By contrast, South Korea (-3.4%) and Japan (-5.4%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period.

In value terms, China ($4.1B) constitutes the largest market for imported saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) worldwide, comprising 50% of global imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Japan ($663M), with a 8.2% share of global imports. It was followed by Austria, with a 7.2% share.

From 2007 to 2019, the average annual growth rate of value in China amounted to +5.5%. In the other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: Japan (-4.0% per year) and Austria (-1.0% per year).

The average import price for saw logs and veneer logs (coniferous) stood at $53 per cubic meter in 2019, shrinking by -3.3% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the import price recorded a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2008 an increase of 17% y-o-y. As a result, import price attained the peak level of $63 per cubic meter. From 2009 to 2019, the growth in terms of the average import prices remained at a somewhat lower figure.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major importing countries. In 2019, the country with the highest price was Japan ($61 per cubic meter), while Belgium ($34 per cubic meter) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Japan, while the other global leaders experienced mixed trends in the import price figures.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

GT Podcast Episode 121 Beating Covid and What Lies Ahead

GT Podcast – Episode 121 – Sean Strawbridge with Port of Corpus Christi

In this episode we welcome special guest, Chief Executive Officer of Port of Corpus Christi, Sean Strawbridge, to take a deeper look at what to expect for our ports and trade in the midst, as well as after, Covid 19.

corporate

How Global Leaders Formulate and Execute Corporate Strategies to Meet External Challenges

Any organizations have plans going well into the future. Strategic goals spanning five to fifteen years while short-term goals are more tactical and are just as important. Two prominent scholars that are well known in the Academy of Management – one of the largest leadership and management organizations in the world, by the names of Charles Hofer and Dan Schendel see strategy as a “fundamental pattern of present and planned resource deployments and environmental interactions that indicates how the organization will achieve its objectives.” Another scholar, Kenneth Andrew, describes strategy as a pattern of decisions and plans which are directed at interacting with the external and internal environment and effectively and efficiently allocating capabilities to achieve organizational objectives.

There are different typologies of strategies and one typology of these existing typologies that can create better results for companies when compared to others. Much of what I share comes from my experience as a senior management consultant in San Diego, California.

In my experience working with more than 30 Fortune 100 companies, executives consider the four dimensions of corporate strategy including analysis, pro-activeness, defensiveness, and futurity. Analysis strategy is defined, by Venkatraman, as “the tendency to search for problems and their root causes and generates better alternatives to solve them.” When executives analyze strategy, they can create more knowledge and find the best solution using a problematic search of various options. This type of strategy also stimulates companies to apply information systems in their decision-making processes in order to investigate various alternatives and options. Also, executives analyze strategic milestones to meet the goals of employee development.

An analysis strategy can develop opportunities for employee development by assessing current situations in detail. This strategy provides new and more innovative solutions for organizational problems as they arise. To develop this strategy, executives can particularly contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

-Emphasis on effective coordination among different functional areas.

-Extensive use of information systems to support decision making.

-Comprehensive analysis undertaken when confronted with an important decision.

-Use of planning techniques.

-Effective deployment of management information and control systems.

-Use of manpower planning and performance appraisal of senior managers.

Pro-activeness is a strategy element used by executives who take a proactive approach to search for better positions in the business environment. As executives use the pro-activeness strategy which refers to finding new opportunities and proactively responding to current challenges in external environments, they can enhance their span of control. To cultivate a pro-activeness strategy, executives can contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

-The constant search for new opportunities.

-Attempt to introduce new brands or products in the market.

-The constant search for businesses that can be acquired.

-More effective expansion of capacities when compared to our competitors.

-Strategic elimination of those operations that are no longer profitable in later stages of life cycles.

Defensiveness recommends undertaking defensive behaviors that manifest themselves in enhancing efficiency and in cutting costs while maintaining continuous budget-analysis and break-even points. Executives can take an offensive approach and in this case, they employ a defensive strategy. A defensive strategy utilizes modifications in order to efficiently and effectively use organizational resources, decrease costs, and control operational risk. Some executives feel that a defensive strategy, while necessary, sets a negative connotation on their span of control. A defensiveness strategic approach, in fact, enhances organizational learning through reusing commercial knowledge. To foster this strategy, executives can particularly contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

-Regular modifications to manufacturing/service technology.

-Use cost control systems for monitoring performance.

-Use of current management techniques to ensure that we move smoothly at the required level.

-Emphasis on product/service quality through the use of work improvement teams.

Futurity is reflected in the degree to which the strategic decision-making process takes a two-way approach—-an emphasis on both long-term effectiveness and shorter-term efficiency concurrently.  Executives use a futurity strategy to expand the growth opportunities available to companies to close the gap between success and failure. Futurity strategy implements basic studies to identify and actively respond to the changes that occurred in the external environment and provides better outcomes. To create a futurity strategy, executives can contribute to the development of a workplace in which there is/are:

-Specific criteria used for resource allocation which generally reflect short-term considerations.

-Emphasis on basic research to provide us with a competitive edge for the future.

-Key indicators of operations forecasted.

-Formal tracking of significant and general trends.

-Regular analyses of critical issues.

This article summarizes my experience as a senior management consultant and is about getting the information needed to be successful in the right hands of executives worldwide. The key for executives is that by channeling organizational processes into corporate strategy, and employing a supportive strategy that executives can continue to prosper.

Success is, therefore, dependent upon how executives formulate and execute corporate strategy. Executives can now see how they can cultivate an effective corporate strategy, which can enable superior performance to achieve business objectives and satisfy careers.

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Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

supply chain

How COVID-19 is Accelerating the Rise of Digitalization in Supply Chain

COVID-19 has brought about a digital transformation with businesses transferring their operations to deal with restricted movement, supply interruption, and office closures.

Predictably, all industries are running in a constant state of instability, and businesses are left with no other choice but to keep redesigning their strategies to adapt to the changing behavior of the consumers. For some companies, it meant shifting from conferences, meetings, and events to virtual streaming, or replacing B2B with the direct-to-consumer model. As individuals and businesses adapt to the newfound measures, people are discovering more productive methods to perform the same task, which is already making a major impact on the digital roadmap.

While digitalizing operational processes has been on the agenda of all companies big or small, it was something they always seem to put off. Automated end to end operational processes or live chat has always been something that businesses talked about but would ultimately put it on the back burner because they could not account for the impact of internal change to support it.

Things have changed. Businesses are now implementing new processes overnight and have already adjusted to the technology and eased into the changes. This quick progression of digital processes has brought about a new mindset, welcoming the future with an open mind to give the new technology a chance.

Obstacles that used to prevent businesses from welcoming innovations hardly correlated to the technology in question. They were rather tied to an unwillingness to change existing ways of systems and bureaucracy. Now that businesses have no choice but to welcome remote working, they have become more flexible and open to trying out new approaches.

Lately, Departments have now recorded a change in priorities with regard to its clients’ digital pipeline, ranging from internationally recognized brands to SMEs. One can’t help but wonder if COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation.

Twitter (Susanne Wolk) Digital Transformation Quiz

 

Predicting the Unforeseeable 

In a fast-changing and unpredictable environment, the only way to adapt is to collect real-time, accurate data.

With digitized track and trace systems, you can spot your goods, locate where they are, and keep track of how they are selling. Barcoding is steadily being replaced by RFID tagging in managing this. The reason behind this is because as opposed to manual scanning, an RFID tag relays data simply by being in a sensor’s proximity. They seamlessly feed into the Internet of Things (IoT) and help you find your merchandise, track shipment conditions, and secure it to a database for scheduled invoicing, reporting, and replenishment without any human input.

In a survey recently reported by Zebra Technologies, 52% of firms out of 950 participating IT decision-makers in different organizations from 9 countries are currently utilizing RFID technology while 34% are planning to implement it in the coming years.

Business intelligence becomes a lot easier once the data is encapsulated. Dashboarding, which is centered visualization of important metrics, can now be achieved with a level of accuracy and speed that wasn’t otherwise possible. Whether you are tracking yearly freight volumes, operational compliance, or staff levels, new technology has made collecting and organizing the data painless and instant.

The advent of COVID-19 has highlighted the limitation of the human workforce and market unpredictability. Organizations are now on their way to fast-track the execution of this technology and one can expect to see a quantum leap in its adoption. Even after the economy recovers from this pandemic, it will enable organizations handling a lot of data to make informed strategic decisions. Additionally, the decrease in the physical handling of goods will also improve hygiene in workplaces.

Supplier Strain Management 

Managing unpredictable demand normally forces businesses to negotiate with suppliers, use up backup resources, and order with a certain level of elasticity. When operating in a global pandemic like today, these actions are not effective enough to safeguard the supply chain.

Information is everything. How much product are you able to buy, stock, and trade? Is there a way to help struggling suppliers by negotiating another product mix or placing large orders in advance? You can only know this with accurate data about your present shipment.

In the long run, businesses will likely diversify their supplier base due to COVID-19 and change consumer behavior as we have already witnessed in situations like the tariff war between U.S.-China and Brexit. Businesses no longer rely on just one country for their manufacturing needs. Instead, they have started to diversify operations by employing neighboring countries for production or shifting it closer to consumer markets which give them the flexibility to be able to pivot if a given location faces reduced capacity.

Traversing Transportation Difficulties 

Today, businesses are facing a lot of issues due to closed borders and restrictions on international transport. Those that are able to have a stronghold on the whereabouts of their shipment at any given time gain a competitive advantage. When a business is able to locate where exactly a shipment is holding and how long it will take to arrive, they gain the maximum level of flexibility should it be delayed or routed.

For instance, slow steaming has become quite common in the industry. This is an intentional choice of opting for slower methods of transportation in order to delay the delivery of non-perishables. By this method of “floating storage”, it buys time for the destination warehouses to create space for storage or find other ways to market in case of closed primary outlets. Such a strategy can be pulled off only with the help of accurate tracking processes which in turn will allow an unparalleled chance for responsiveness.

With the help of a reliable logistics partner, you will be able to navigate disruption. Find a partner that will be able to provide real-time updates on transit options and supply chains. Some years back, this would have taken several weeks to develop such a sophisticated view. But thanks to advanced technology, it has been reduced to minutes.

Moving Stagnant Stock

Businesses today are still investing large sums of money into leased or owned physical spaces and in certain cases, it is done without simultaneously building their online channels or presence. This pandemic is exposing the defect in failing to provide an omni-channel, with even powerful organizations having a hard time to move stock.

As the saying goes, the best time to develop your website would have been ten years ago; now is the second best time. As retailers, a central part of their strategy for growth should be e-commerce. When it comes to client inquiries, service providers must have a lead-generation website. Businesses sometimes need to be conducted face to face however, brands today require a reliable digital home. When you invest in the power of online presence, it unlocks a whole new world of global business opportunities to boost sales by connecting with customers.

Should your stock pile up, you will get sufficient warnings through the digital tracking systems. This in turn will give you enough time to pivot. A good way is to shift your non-perishable products to another space in your network. Diversify your offering by redeploying your unused equipment. You can also donate your surplus perishables to local charities and shelters as a goodwill gesture.

Supply chain technology has become accessible and powerful like never before and businesses that make use of it will pull through this pandemic. As we steer past the effects of this global disruption, both shippers and logistics companies will come to see that investing in automation and data furnishes the power to make agile, smart decisions.

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Robert Jordan, a seasoned marketing professional with over 10 years of experience, currently working as Media Relations Manager at InfoClutch Inc, which provides technology database including Quickbooks customers list & many more technologies for your marketing campaign. Have expertise in setting up the lead flow for budding startups and takes it to the next level. Have a deep interest in SEO, SEM & Social Media related discussions. Always open for new ideas & discussions.

blockchain

Blockchain and its Impact on Business Operations

When one thinks of blockchain, one thinks of cryptocurrency, but even though much of this article is dedicated to the use of cryptocurrency, the truth is that more can be done with blockchain technology. This is because blockchain technology allows people from all over the world to create a transaction on a computer system. This transaction is secure (cannot be tampered with), it is dated, and it can be signed in many secure ways.

In short, if you wished, you could conduct a large digital Mexican wave around the world, and not only would the entire process be secure and efficient, it would also be traceable and wouldn’t rely on a central authority or third party to action.

The Omise Story

Omise is a company the operates a payment gateway for Thailand, Japan and Singapore. Rather than moving money from one country to another, convert it and so forth, they created their own coin OMISEGO, which they can quickly transfer anywhere. It can be deposited with an Omise office in another country. To help keep the price of their coin from fluctuating too much, they only conduct inter-office transfers as a way of getting money from one country to another. This is far faster and cheaper than using an Automated Clearing House, and far cheaper than using wire transfers.

But, what about the problem that each transaction creates a little more OMISGO coin? The answer for them was simple. They released the coin onto the general market, which gave it a market price, which therefore solved the “bit-extra” problem and introduced the problem that transactions now had to happen quickly for fear of sharp rises and falls in the coin’s price, which pushed up the potential transaction fee. However, the increase was marginal, and it was still cheaper than wire transfer and is still almost as fast.

Can the Omise Story Transfer Over?

Well, it certainly transfers to other payment gateways, and even modern US banks have stated their intentions to create their own cryptocurrency so they may move money within their own branches more easily. They would maintain full control of the currency, including its mining, which means that theft is more difficult and price fluctuations are not a problem.

Still, if it is to be applied to business operations, it needs to somehow improve efficiency, otherwise it is just another path to the same objective. If your business has an international element, then there is a chance that blockchain technology, specifically cryptocurrency, will help you. Otherwise, cryptocurrency needs to evolve and be retooled before it can do things like pay separate departments on demand more efficiently than the methods you are using right now.

What About Automated Clearing Houses?

ACH is hardly in its death throes since despite online transfers being as common as salt in the ocean, companies are still wrapping themselves in the warm blanket that is ACH, so what are their arguments against blockchain?

Argument – Costs pretty-much the same for each transaction.

Counter – Yes, on a per-transaction basis, but you receive your money up to 24 hours quicker with cryptocurrency.

Argument – We conduct thousands of transactions per day that only a clearing house could handle.

Counter – Dealing with fiat money yes, but transacting thousands of blockchain transactions per day can be done in house with almost no security risks.

The truth is that there are many ways that blockchain technology can replace Automated Clearing Houses, especially in terms of speed, security and traceability. But, ACH is trusted, tried and proven, whereas blockchain is still too new for most companies to trust.

The Demand for More Transparency

Let’s say there is a new law where every company had to track every supplier from its source. Every screw and every wire from every phone ever made, and so forth. A similar thing already happens with products labeled “Organic” in stores. Such a law would cost most primary and secondary industries a fortune, but the costs could be reduced in such an event with blockchain.

They could use blockchain to track transactions from start to finish. That way, every product being sold could have its own history that is stored in digital form. If required, an authority figure could back track every single element within a product, from where the coffee beans were bought to where the glue was manufactured for the label. Plus, the system could be set up so that each supplier need not consult a central authority to execute transactions, and each transaction would be protected with encrypted data. It would be difficult for a single entity to disrupt the history of transactions, which on its own will make the transactions a lot more secure.

Supply Chain Tracking

Using the same method as above, a company could track its supply chain, which is more important in the food industry than anywhere else. Walmart is unable to trust the record-keeping of companies in China, so it is using blockchain to track the supply of pork. Record-keeping transactions are marked at intervals so that Wal-Mart can see if a piece of pork sat in a warehouse for six months before being processed. The record-keeping process happens with regards to where the meat comes from, is slaughtered, processed, and stored, and this information is then used by the company in the US to create its sell-by-date.

Conclusion – A Tool is Only as Good as Its Use

A paintbrush in the hands of a novice is no more useful than a shotgun in the hands of a kangaroo. The intrinsic benefit of blockchain, as described in the introduction, is very powerful, but businesses are having a hard time integrating it into their companies. There are plenty who claim they have tried, such as Tyson, Nestle, Unilever and Dole, but they are more like nervous children dipping their toes in the shallow end of the pool.

Blockchain will benefit those who wish to transact payments domestically and overseas, and those who wish to track a process, a supply chain, and/or who just wish to be more transparent about their business operations. However, it is only the really competitive industries like the financial and food industries that are worth the added benefits of blockchain for the slight edge that blockchain technology gives them over their competitors.

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Ava Williams is a Resumeble editor and a career expert from Vancouver. She finds her inspiration in blogging and career courses. Meet her on Twitter and LinkedIn