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New Supply Chain Optimization and Transition to DSN

supply chain

New Supply Chain Optimization and Transition to DSN

Supply chains are typically linear, with a straight progression of:

1. Plan

2.  Design

3. Source

4. Deliver

In traditional supply chains, each step depends on the one preceding it, and inefficiencies in one phase can cause a domino effect of similar inefficiencies in the next stages.

Stakeholders also have zero visibility of other processes, which restricts their capacity to react or manipulate their activities.

But today that’s changing. As supply chains are transitioning from a straight sequence into interconnected, dynamic systems capable of evolving into an optimal state with time and can easily incorporate ecosystem partners.

This transition from sequential, linear supply chain operations to a dynamic, interconnected open system will lay the foundation for how businesses will compete in the future.

We term this open interconnected system, a digital supply network (DNS). And brands who cannot optimize their supply chain for the transition to a DNS may lose out in efficiency to those that do.

How does a Digital Supply Network (DNS) Function?

DSNs integrate data from various locations and sources to push the physical task of production and distribution.

Many companies already on the way to creating DSNs are changing their focus from optimizing and managing discrete functions, like manufacturing and procurement.

Rather, they often use digital supply networks to focus more on how the entire supply chain can easily achieve brand objectives while informing portfolio strategies, corporate and business units.

So DSNs allow supply chains to steadily become an integral part of decision making and strategic planning.

Organizations can now create and leverage many DSNs to complement various aspects of their strategy and efficiently target particular needs.

Transitioning from a Traditional Supply Chain to DSN – the Impacts

The purpose of any successful supply chain majors in the movement of finished goods, capitals, materials, and other assets from location to location.

At its core, though, a supply chain comprises numerous transactions: the exchange of money, time, information, or physical goods for any other unit of value.

However, dramatic digital and technological developments such as enhanced computing power and decreased overall costs have affected the traditional supply chain in various ways, such as an increase in production innovation and a decrease in transaction costs.

Reduction in Transaction Costs

The boost in power and technology efficiency has revealed itself in the drastic reduction of transaction costs for company operations both externally and internally.

It doesn’t have to be prohibitively time-intensive or expensive to acquire insight into each segment of operations anymore, or to understand supplier or customer demand patterns in-depth.

Whilst the linear flow of design, creation, and movement of physical goods stays unchanged, all underlying data now moves around and through supply chain nodes, dynamically and in real-time.

These new interconnections between processes and subprocesses transform supply chains into predictive and efficient networks.

When transaction costs fall, the capacity to transact with other partners rises. This allows transitioning to networked supply chains as businesses can connect with different partners when necessary to deliver increased value.

Production Innovation

Production in the physical world is changing because of dramatic improvements in the way matter is manipulated and the computing power that facilitates such processes with the goal of production.

Enhanced capital equipment will lead to less of it being needed to begin production. And with less capital, the minimum efficient scale drops, and production is allowed to locate nearer to demand.

How to Shift from a Traditional Supply Chain to a Digital Supply Chain

Once you’ve decided to transition your supply chain from linear to DSN, you must consider how to configure your supply networks to execute your plan.

To configure and achieve a DSN driven approach you can execute many supply chain transformations.

Here’s a pictorial explanation of 9 strategic transformations brands can make via leveraging DSN and a list of tactics to achieve each transformation.

Take EasyJet, for example, that offers virtual walkthroughs via smart glasses to enable two-way communication between its central engineering team and remote technicians.

With this, technicians can perform complex maintenance jobs and eliminate downtimes. The real-time walk-throughs enable the supply networks to move without hindrance and ensures a smooth transition from linear to digital networks.

Implementing a DSN – the Optimization

For business executives accustomed to traditional linear communications and data, the transition to real-time access to intelligence and data changes the way they do business.

Once your organization chooses to adopt a DSN, consider how to create, connect, and utilize the various industry-driven innovations that power it.

Before you create a DSN, it’ll be helpful to take the pathway of information creation, analysis, and implementation as a loop.

Integrating digital information from various sources and locations drives the physical actions of manufacturing and distribution in a continuous cycle.

Real-time access to intelligence and data is largely driven by the cyclical and continuous flow of data and actions between the real and digital world.

The flow happens via 3 iterative steps called the physical-to-digital-to-physical loop:

Physical-to-digital: This step involves capturing information from the physical world to develop a digital record from the data.

Digital-to-digital: The digital to digital phase involves sharing information to uncover meaningful insights via advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, and scenario analysis.

Digital-to-Physical: This deals with the application of algorithms to translate digital-world strategies to valuable data able to initiate action and change physically.

Conclusion

Traditional supply networks are phasing out due to their limitations and the hitches they cause in the supply chain.

And because of this, many businesses are opting for a new supply chain optimization by transitioning to digital supply networks.

However, the transition is tough and may ruin a supply chain if not done properly.

But by following the tips and ideas in this piece, transitioning and optimizing these new supply networks should be a lot easier.  

If you have any additional ideas or questions regarding the optimization of the new supply chain, please leave a comment below.

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Will Schneider is the founder of InsightQuote, a match-making service for B2B services, and writes informative posts about fulfillment services at Warehousing And Fulfillment. He is passionate about helping businesses find the right solutions to improve their operations. When not working, Will enjoys coaching youth basketball.

The World Moving Forward

At the beginning of 2020, the world was upended with changes to its economics and social life by the arrival of COVID-19 – a virus that spread to countries like wild-fire that most were unprepared for. Fear and confusion led the way. Just like the early 2000s during the early stages of e-commerce, many of us stood still and watched certain industries use e-commerce to generate business and eat away at the expense of more traditional companies.

COVID-19 drastically changed the directions of normal activities. Social meetings, shopping habits, and business settings have now been reduced to online platforms. People are now forced to understand the role that internet technology will play in daily life.  Larger numbers of people working and shopping from home than ever before. There is so much difference in activities such as buying hot food or buying canned food from an online store. As a result, two key industries are expected to be extremely important aspects in supporting future daily life for many years to come: express last-mile delivery and logistics supply chain.

Express last-mile delivery has really been an important industry that we all have come to rely greatly upon lately. They deliver our hot-food order and all of our anticipated goods, sometimes even arriving at our front doors in less than an hour while the logistics business is taking a back doors approach in supplying a necessity to increase the productivity of many industries. Many independent logistics companies also help move a country’s raw materials, semi-finished goods, and finished goods into the domestic and international markets. This industry plays a key role in increasing the competitive power of corporations and revitalizing improvements in a country’s economics scales. However, competition in the logistics industry is extremely high. For it to survive and provide better services, companies should seek to consolidate and migrate their data into a cloud computing platform service.

With the adaptations into a cloud logistics platform, the traditional logistics roles can begin to expand, minimizing office and operating expenses, and reducing business risks. Imagine the number of logistics companies who have committed blocks of space to transporters but end up being unable to fulfill 12-24 hours before departure or a shipper who is looking to move shipments on a weekend due to a critical shortage in one of their key customers.

There are high penalty prices to be absorbed by all parties when shipment capacity is unable to be fulfilled due to a lack of communication and coordination among the companies. These unnecessary risks and wastes of business opportunities can be minimized if the information was cleverly integrated-communicated-distributed to its partners in a cloud logistics platform.

New trade and logistics solutions running through a cloud platform have begun with 4 billion smartphone global users. The notion for a business to have only one dedicated trade or logistics partner serving them for many years will need to be re-adjusted in order to provide transparency and better monitoring systems. People and business communities are now demanding convenience in purchasing items from their comfortable homes rather than calling to place an order. We are surrounded by technological inventions all around, created for the benefit of people, to improve our life by increasing productivity and efficiency. With 5G not too far away at a connection 100 times speedier than 4G, our social and business lives will be impacted even furthermore.

Almost all businesses will eventually need to operate on a cloud technology platform to make operations and decision making much more efficient. When trade and logistics are blended into a cloud technology platform, magical moments will definitely happen, with industries moving together with the same interest, we are seeing new ways of getting the job done.

businesses

Five Ways Businesses Changed Their Daily Operations for Good

The future is arriving quickly. There’s already been talk about how COVID-19 has accelerated automation, and some jobs will be changed if they come back at all. There’s no doubt the recent pandemic is shaping how we do business, from restaurants and retail spaces to even how we manufacture goods. And with many states reopening in phases, or just outright reopening, what does “getting back to business” look like as we forge ahead?

The supply chain gets a wakeup call

During the pandemic, shortages of masks and hand sanitizer rocked many supermarkets like Walmart and Costco. With such a quick spike, and having such a large gap to fill in the supply chain, distilleries stepped in with safe, alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Clothing companies engineered their manufacturing process to make masks out of spare materials. Auto manufacturers teamed up to help produce ventilators. The list goes on.

One of the biggest attributes many companies needed to stay successful and stay in business? Flexibility. When stay-at-home orders went into effect, businesses had to figure things out overnight. That included a new way to make goods that people desperately needed.

The upside? Now you can see hand sanitizer in repurposed liquor bottles at many grocery stores across the U.S.

But all of this was a symptom of a larger issue.

“Early on, much of the economic impact that companies in the U.S. experienced were related to supply-side disruption due to shutdowns in other countries,” said Thomas Hartland-Mackie, President & CEO of City Electric Supply. “This pandemic has highlighted the danger of over-relying on a single manufacturing hub as well as a need to diversify sources to include local or domestic suppliers.”

With global trade, a smooth-functioning supply chain doesn’t exactly impact manufacturing. That is, until it gets rocky.

As a few supplies, like masks and hand sanitizers, reached mass critical demand all around the world, they plunged in availability. Hospitals, frontline workers, and more were left without protective gear required to safely do their jobs.

At the time, when these supplies were almost impossible to locate, domestic-made products were a necessity. They were easier to source and easier to ship when time was more important than ever. This could be the wakeup call manufacturing needs to move a little closer to home instead of relying on centralized factories on the other side of the world to fill gaps in the supply chain.

With this catastrophe still fresh in the minds of many businesses and governments, various shock scenarios will have to be considered more heavily to help rebuild the supply chain for a more resilient future.

Staying connected

The businesses that figured out how to stay connected with their customers, whether they were operating in a limited capacity or having to put business on hold completely, were the ones that added to their digital currency. But for most small businesses, digital currency could only take them so far. That meant developing alternative revenue streams to help them stay afloat, even if they were designated as essential businesses.

Restaurants and bars regularly teamed up with delivery services to help them maintain some cash flow during the lean months, including online ordering and curbside pickup. Personal trainers and fitness studios went digital with their classes to help keep their clients working out and to help keep their brand top of mind.

Other companies went a step further and identified gaps in the supply chain to fulfill in meaningful ways. As we mentioned before, distilleries helped make safe, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and clothing companies reengineered their manufacturing process to make masks out of spare materials.

All of this helped these businesses either keep cash flowing into the business, or at the very least, kept them in the minds of their customers long enough until they could reopen. From creative online solutions that let them continue operating to doubling down on marketing efforts to keep in touch virtually, the ones that stayed flexible and stayed connected weathered the pandemic better than others.

But also, what about the flood of statements from companies preaching togetherness in the first few weeks of the pandemic? Did that help customers feel more connected to their favorite businesses? Hartland-Mackie certainly thinks so.

“We’ve all heard those jokes about how people are receiving too many long emails from businesses explaining what they’re doing in response to COVID-19, but the reality is that customers appreciate it,” said Hartland-Mackie. “Customers want to hear from the companies they are loyal to and be reassured – as long as it is authentic – that businesses have their customers in mind as they make decisions.”

Remote work is not remote

Working in offices could be a thing of the past. Already high-profile companies like Twitter have announced indefinite work-from-home plans for their employees, and more will probably follow their lead. In an age of digital nomads, this could be a huge selling point for attracting talented workers.

When the pandemic first started, many companies had to figure out how to work 100% digitally practically overnight. This involved utilizing web-based communication programs like Skype, Zoom, and Slack to ensure teams were in constant communication with each other when it mattered most. Now, with some offices opening back up, some employees could be receiving more lenient work from home policies, or, at the very least, there may be less face-to-face meetings in the workplace.

Another huge benefit to remote working becoming more commonplace? (Aside from less meetings, of course.) Embracing the all-digital transformation can boost productivity. Now with a lot of the same information freely available for employees to do their job, there should be less presentations sharing known information across the company. Now, only vital information can be created and shared, freeing up more resources to resolve the most critical issues at hand along with more focused daily agendas.

It’s not delivery, it’s curbside pickup

Well, it’s a little bit of both. For essential businesses that couldn’t take advantage of “contactless” delivery, the next best bet was curbside pickup.

“As a federally designated essential business, City Electric Supply branches have stayed open, but we needed to provide ways to keep customers and employees as safe as possible. We began offering curbside pickup and it’s been so successful that we’ve received feedback from customers asking us to continue it as an ongoing service,” Hartland-Mackie said.

What was once seen as an added-value service was the main way for many businesses to maintain cash flow when customers were no longer allowed inside. And with the latest reopening efforts, some customers are still opting for curbside pickup in lieu of shopping themselves.

With how convenient curbside pickup is for keeping in-store capacity low — and for saving the time of customers who no longer have to spend time shopping or even getting out of their vehicles — this could soon be the new normal for many businesses.

Temperature checks

Whether or not customers should receive temperature checks has been up for some debate, but temperature checks of employees are being implemented in almost all states in various industries, including food service and healthcare. Even though workers could be asymptomatic, it still helps cut down on cases progressing to severe stages and worsening infection rates.

This has also had a snowball effect on various other issues related to work policies, from sick leave to hazard pay. Most employers are erring on the side of caution, allowing employees to stay home if they or someone they come into regular contact with have health issues that put them at risk of infection.

With daily operations coming under such a heavy microscope, this means that even employers are examining how existing sick policies have hurt more than helped. If more lenient and flexible policies have not already been put in place, expect it to happen as phased reopening progresses.

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Brad McElory is a Copywriter at City Electric Supply

tech

How to Succeed in the Competitive Tech Industry

Succeeding in any competitive environment requires having basic traits or advantages that your competitors do not have. The same premise applies to the global tech industry. There are plenty of people with ferocious work ethic, tremendous technical expertise, strong connections and a vision of what they want to accomplish. With such competition, how can you succeed? The key is to look at where most people fail.

One – Keep the Vision Simple

Start with simple challenges that need to be addressed by your technology.

People will typically start off with goals that are too grandiose or theoretical. That’s what investors ask for. Rather than focusing on simple things that users need, the goal is to create a platform that will disrupt, revolutionize, re-imagine or shake-up an entire industry. That’s also what’s most attractive. But it’s also a road that will lead to a high failure rate. It does not matter if your vision is sexy and attractive or not. What matters is if people have the problem that you can fix and if they are willing to pay for that.

Two – Take One Step at a Time

Again. Take the megalomania and tuck it away. Keep overhead low. Hire as little as possible and allow your product vision to mature naturally. Once it generates initial traction, the product will catapult revenues and allow you to make smart decisions around budget allocation. But don’t give in to the temptation of looking for things that reaffirm your abilities such as nice office space, and expensive advisors and consultants. Focus on having a product that works and that people know about which brings me to point three.

Three – Make sure people know about it

There is no use for great technology if people don’t know about it. How you will get people to know about it is an entirely different subject. But make sure you emphasize and understand digital marketing just as much as you understand product development. Start with a small but energetic and enthusiastic community and build from there. Just remember that from a budget and prioritization standpoint this is as important as the product itself.

Four – Even though the aim may be global, start local

Similar to the one step at a time point. Even though you may have an ultimate global end-game to your product development. Make sure you start by addressing a single market first. The region focused the better. Then roll out to other regions slowly and adjust accordingly prior to a big global roll-out. In my experience, different parts of the world, the country, the state and even a city may react very differently to the same concepts. Don’t push too much for a global approach. If the product has the fundamental qualities available, it will naturally become global.

Five – Be Hands On

Don’t rely too much on an incipient organization. Even if you have great people, be sure to be involved in key processes, to challenge people and introduce checks and balances throughout the organization. Make sure things are moving at your speed and insert yourself wherever you believe your presence is necessary. Don’t get hung up on organizational charts, roles and responsibilities. Just make things happen!

Six – Establish a Culture Early On

As a natural consequence of your engagement, your unique company culture will start to mold. Do you like solving things collectively or individually? Do you like abrasive or tender discussions, long or short meetings, laughter or just down to business. What are your values? And not from a theoretical perspective but from actual behavioral analysis. This lucidity is paramount towards building a successful organization.

Seven – Don’t stop innovating

The minute you have reached goal number one, rest-assured it’s already obsolete. Continue to establish new goals, new visions and new dreams. Continue to adjust according to market and user response. Continue to pivot based on insights and revelations. Don’t give in to the temptation of making it. There is no such thing. Making it is a daily achievement.

The common thread is that people get excessively hung up on business models, concepts and theory and rely little on their empirical data to make key business decisions. A no nonsense, down to earth approach towards these challenges and taking it one step at a time is pivotal in terms of building a global and successful tech organization.