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Reducing Waste and Optimizing Your Supply Chain

optimizing

Reducing Waste and Optimizing Your Supply Chain

Waste is, well, it’s a waste; and if you’re trying to optimize your supply chain, it can be an expensive waste. There are a lot of sources, both internal and external, which can create waste in your supply chain, like process inefficiencies, communication gaps, lack of or delayed responses, and even errors in ordering or procurement. Whatever the reason, they often end up becoming an enormous waste of time and money, which can be drastically reduced by making supply chain processes more efficient. In fact, most successful companies focus heavily on decreasing waste and reducing wasteful processes.

One of the most effective methods for reducing waste is developing lean methods for supply chain management.

How to reduce waste and optimize your supply chain

Analyze Product Design

One way of not just reducing waste, but also optimizing your production is to examine and re-evaluate your products’ design. Identify any areas or methods to reduce raw material use or replace expensive materials with cheaper ones. If you can shave off small costs, they might result in substantial savings.

You should also evaluate your product packaging options and see if there’s any way you can use cheaper materials.

Manage Resources

Apart from just looking at just using cheaper materials, you should examine each of your production processes to identify which ones are generating waste. Redesign processes that are creating non-recyclable or non-reusable waste. Even recyclable waste should be assessed and you should take the cost of recycling into account.

When you’re optimizing processes, the cost of implementing changes may seem high, but the cost of the waste, as well as associated handling, disposal and even recycling, can add up over time.

Select the Right Equipment

On the topic of handling and disposing of waste, having the right waste management equipment can save time, money and a lot of hassles. We’ve made a lot of advancements in waste management technology and equipment. Trash compactors are a great example of simple solutions to make managing and handling waste much more efficient and save a lot of money over time.

It’s very important to first know how much and what kind of waste your supply chain produces, so start with that. There are a host of solutions, some with very specific uses which you might benefit from.

Improving Production Quality

Quality control is often focused on finished products, but one of the goals of quality management should be minimizing raw material wastage. If you optimize your manufacturing processes to reduce overall waste, it might have a two-fold advantage of increasing the number of goods that clear quality inspection.

Employee Feedback

The employees who have the task with the actual production will probably have a much better idea of where waste is being produced and the challenges with managing it. They could also provide a lot of feedback on how best to reduce waste and optimize waste management.

You can create focus groups tasked with identifying and optimizing waste since this kind of collaborative approach tends to have effective results.

Inventory Management

Lean approaches like JIT (Just-in-time) logistics can help you get closer to a 100% perfect-order measure. Apart from reducing order errors, it can also help you cut down tremendously on a lot of associated costs of inventory management like warehousing, utility costs rentals, and even insurance and taxes.

However, placing multiple orders may increase transport costs and your vendors might charge higher rates if each order is of a lower value, so weigh the pros and cons carefully.

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Erich Lawson is passionate about saving the environment by effective recycling. He has written a wide array of articles on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly garbage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment savings techniques by visiting Northern California Compactors, Inc blog.

LNG supply chain

Qatar’s Strategies Towards Building a Sustainable and Resilient LNG Supply Chain

According to Exxon Mobil’s Outlook for Energy (2017), the global market for natural gas (NG) should expand by around 45% over the next 20 years with demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) expected to grow by more than 2.5 times within the same period. Acknowledged as a low carbon-intensive fossil fuel, natural gas is a cleaner, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable option for energy transition that reduces the use of high carbon-intensive fossil fuels, such as coal and crude-oil distillates. Natural gas is also ideal for increasing energy efficiency on the basis that energy release per mass during NG combustion is the highest amongst fuels (fossil- and biomass-based). Moreover, the amount of energy produced from renewables cannot supply global demands for a complete replacement of fossil fuels.

Accordingly, the LNG market is becoming highly competitive with more than 20 countries already supplying customers around the world. Major suppliers currently include Qatar, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, United States, Nigeria, Indonesia, Algeria, Egypt, to name but a few. Increased capital expenditure in the sector is coming and new LNG players are expected to enter the market in the years ahead. These include countries around the Eastern Mediterranean; the United States Geological Survey (U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010 – 2014) estimates that the Levant Basin (involving Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey) contains 122.4 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable gas.

In such a competitive environment, Qatar managed to maintain its position as the largest LNG exporter in the world (at 77.8mn tons) in 2019 (2020 World LNG Report), and is massively investing to preserve its role as the main global player. Qatar’s future strategies not only include the expansion of production capabilities by around 64% by 2027 to reach 126 million tons of LNG per annum (The Peninsula Qatar, 2019), but also its shipping capabilities through investment in a new fleet of LNG carriers. For instance, on June 1 this year, Qatar Petroleum announced the signing of the largest LNG shipbuilding agreement in history to secure more than 100 ships valued in excess of QR 70 billion to cater for its LNG growth plans (The Peninsula Qatar, 2020). Additionally, Nakilat, the shipping arm of Qatar’s LNG, will significantly increase its current 15% share of the global LNG fleet carrying capacity and will remain the largest owner of LNG carriers in the world for the coming decades.

This strategic investment will propel Qatar from being the world’s largest LNG exporter and producer to a globally-recognized champion of LNG supply chains. As things stand, an LNG supply chain commonly consists of three main links: exploration and production; treatment and liquefaction; and shipping and distribution. Expanding shipping capabilities will definitely strengthen the third link of Qatar’s LNG supply chain, whereas the first two links are already very well established.

By owning and controlling the whole LNG supply chain, Qatar has acquired a significant competitive advantage and moved further ahead of the competition in the LNG market. For instance, by owning independent shipping capabilities on top of well-established production and liquefaction facilities, Qatar will be better prepared and ready to respond to future unexpected risk events. Crucially, the country will also be able to recover quickly from any potential disruptions.

Accordingly, Qatar is building one of the most effective and resilient LNG supply chains in the world. The resilience of the country’s LNG supply chains will also increase international buyers’ trust and confidence in Qatar as a reliable LNG exporter. This reputation will in turn consolidate Qatar’s actual portfolio and help earn new market share. Being seen as a reliable supplier is extremely important in a business environment driven by oil-indexed long-term contracts of 15-25 years. Moreover, being the largest owner of LNG carriers in the world will provide Qatar with a huge competitive advantage in the spot and short-term markets. For instance, the LNG market was traditionally dominated by long-term contracts covering 20-25 years. However, thanks to the emergence of new suppliers and consumers, spot market purchases of LNG have also become a common practice. Indeed, spot and short-term LNG trades made up 32 percent of overall import volumes in 2018 (EnergyWorld, 2019) and are expected to rise over the coming years.

To sum up, by expanding its LNG shipping capabilities on top of its well-established production and liquefaction facilities, Qatar is building a holistic, efficient and resilient LNG supply chain. This will provide the country with a unique and significant competitive advantage in a highly competitive LNG business landscape.

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Dr. Adel Elomri and Dr. Brenno Menezes are Assistant Professors at the College of Science and Engineering, Hamad Bin Khalifa University.

       

This article is submitted on behalf of the author by the HBKU Communications Directorate. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the University’s official stance.

timber

WOODEN SKYSCRAPERS PUSH TRADE IN CROSS-LAMINATED TIMBER TO NEW HEIGHTS

Closer to Nature

American biologist Edward Wilson is known for popularizing the term “biophilia” to explain the inherent pleasure people derive from being in nature. By extension, “biophilic design” incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation, nature views and other experiences of the natural world into the modern built environment. A relatively new building material, cross-laminated timber (CLT), is quickly becoming the darling of the biophilic design movement.

CLT is made from layers of dried lumber boards stacked in alternating direction at 90-degree angles, which are then glued and pressed to form solid panels. The resulting panels have exceptional strength, stability and fire resistance. According to a recent USDA study, a seven-inch floor made of CLT is fire-resistant for two hours. CLT structures have proven more resilient to earthquakes than many other types of building materials, fostering great interest among builders in Japan where biophilic design has been part of the culture for centuries. CLT featured prominently in the rebuild of Christchurch, New Zealand, which was severely damaged by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

Global Cross-Laminated Timber “Plyscrapers” Reach New Heights

The cross-laminated timber wood panel system was developed in Europe in the 1990s as an alternative to stone and masonry concrete — and to boost employment in the forests products industry. Europe still leads supply and demand in the CLT market, but use of CLT is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States, Canada and across the world.

CLT is the basis of the “tall wood” movement, as the material’s high strength, dimensional stability and rigidity allow it to be used in mid- and high-rise construction of apartment and office buildings and even power line towers. Growing investment in large-scale wood construction is evident with the completion of several prominent structures over the last several years.

They include luxury apartment buildings in Melbourne, Australia and Bergen, Norway as well as the Brock Commons on the campus of the University of British Columbia. Last year, construction began on a 24-story hotel and office tower composed of 76 percent wood in Vienna, Austria. In 2018, Sumitomo Forestry announced its plan to build the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper – at 70 stories tall, the building will be made 90 percent of wood, capable of sequestering 100,000 tons of CO2. Japan also used CLT extensively in its 2020 Olympic National Stadium to achieve a natural aesthetic.

Global Plyscrapers

Building Global Customers

The global CLT market was valued at $773 million in 2019 and was expected to grow to $1.6 billion by 2025. Production of CLT worldwide is estimated based on surveys and reported by the publication Timber-Online at 1.44 million cubic meters in 2019, although data is not available for all production sites. An estimated 65 percent is produced in Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. With additional production coming online, global annual output is expected to grow to between 2 and 2.5 million cubic meters this year.

How much of this production is traded internationally? It’s not entirely clear. There is no international agreement yet on how to classify CLT on the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. The product currently falls within a broader category with glulam (another laminated timber product), obscuring our understanding of specific trade flows. (With support from USDA’s McIntire-Stennis program, The Center for International Trade in Forest Products at the University of Washington is building a database to better understand international trade in wood products while governments sort this out.)

Japan’s Ministry of Finance recorded 918,000 cubic meters of laminated lumber (glulam and CLT) were imported in 2018, mainly from Europe. U.S. imports of CLT in 2018 were much smaller – less than 20,000 cubic meters, also primarily from Europe. Whether this number will grow remains to be seen – it could be that greater use of CLT drives more trade in architectural design, timber engineering and construction services.

Global ICT market

Image: courtesy of Acton Ostry Architects

Supporting the Structure of Rural Economies

CLT was pioneered and promoted in Europe in part to bolster rural employment in the timber industry. Though it is also traded, being close to construction is a big advantage in the timber industry. European companies, which dominate their own market and supply American developers, are starting to build mills in the United States to meet growing demand. Austrian firm KLH partnered with International Beams in Dothan, Alabama, to open the first CLT plant east of the Rocky Mountains utilizing the Southern Yellow Pine native to the region.

To support more CLT production in rural economies, the United States is in the process of updating U.S. building codes to expand the use of CLT, as the International Building Code has already done. The 2018 Farm Bill contains provisions from the Timber Innovation Act intended to advance domestic research and development of further applications for structural wood in the building sector.

The United States isn’t alone in its efforts to build CLT capacity. Japan’s Forest Agency instituted a road map in 2014 for greater utilization of CLT as a follow up to Japan’s Promotion for the Use of Wood in Public Buildings Act. The agency provides subsidies to drive the establishment of CLT facilities with a target of increasing the country’s CLT production capacity to supply both the domestic and international markets. Through the effort, the government also seeks to support employment of women in rural areas, including through encouraging female lumberjacks.

A Breath of Fresh Air

In responding to industry feedback surveys, customers say wood construction, exposed structural wood and biophilic design have a positive impact on their shopping experience because such structures are ecological, healthful and warm. Some studies even suggest wood is a multi-sensory experience for occupants, evoking a sense of calm that can lower blood pressure.

As for environmental benefits, CLT emits less carbon dioxide during the manufacturing phase and finished buildings made with CLT even help sequester existing carbon for a longer period. Murray Grove in London was the first tall urban housing project to be constructed entirely from CLT. Due to its wooden construction, it was calculated to be carbon negative from the start and will take twenty-one years before the building will even reach carbon neutrality, far less than if the building had used concrete. Even tearing down a CLT building at the end of its life is more environmentally friendly than taking down one made of traditional materials.

oregon-conservation-center-lever-architecture-usa_dezeen_2364_hero2
Photo credit: Lever Architecture, cross-laminated timber community center added to the The Nature Conservancy in Oregon.

Trade in Sustainability

A thriving wood industry must embrace sustainability by replanting and harvesting efficiently. The CLT process allows smaller diameter softwood trees to be utilized, more so than in most commercial timber. It also makes use of millions of acres of pine that have been killed by the pine beetle epidemic. Pine beetles have penetrated forests in all nineteen western states, some eastern states and Canada, effectively decimating some 88 million acres of timber. Processing the downed trees mitigates some of the carbon emitted by the decaying wood, which remains strong enough to be useful in CLT processing for up to two years.

Cross-laminated timber provides many possible benefits, including reduced costs, rural employment, strength, fire-resistance, beauty and a sense of being closer to nature. We can also credit trade in CLT with stimulating a global movement that could help all of us live and work more harmoniously on this planet.

The author began her U.S. Government career in the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration’s Forest Products division and is still convinced this industry has the best site visits and field trips.

Feature image: The Kajstaden Tall Timber Building by CF Møller Architects in the Swedish city of Västerås.

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Sarah Smiley is a strategic communications and policy expert with over 20 years in international trade and government affairs, working in the U.S. Government, private sector and international organizations.

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

climate change

Businesses Must Adjust To Climate Change; 5 Ways Toward Sustainability

As climate change causes worldwide concern and prompts calls for governmental action, consumers are putting the onus on businesses to step up their sustainability standards and practices.

A Nielsen survey, for example, showed that 81 percent of global consumers feel companies should help improve the environment. And with governments across the globe struggling to reach an international consensus on climate change, close observers of business and the environment, along with a high number of CEOs, agree: Private industry should take the lead in driving sustainability.

“Some forward-looking companies are seeing it’s an issue they can no longer ignore, morally and economically, and that you can go green and succeed in business,” says Hitendra Chaturvedi (www.hitendrachaturvedi.com), a professor at the Supply Chain Department of W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and expert on global supply chain sustainability and strategy.

“Business strategies must include sustainability in their core beliefs and practices. Part of the problem is that they are missing the simple, sensible ways that can drive sustainability and bring a return on investment at the same time.”

Chaturvedi suggests the following ways businesses can exercise sustainability practices to help fight climate change and connect with consumers:

Find the facts. “When a package gets delivered to you by an online commerce company, most people see the packaging as mainly contributing to the pollution, but that is not the case,” Chaturvedi says. “The packaging contributes less than 5%, but the main culprit is the returned/defective item which accounts for close to 50% of the pollution because it is not properly disposed of. I call it sensible sustainability. Identify and focus on low-hanging fruits.”

Seek education. “Finding the facts brings an important issue – education of consumers,” Chaturvedi says. “I see too many data points floating around that are put forth to create hysteria and are flat-out wrong, causing well-intentioned people to be waylaid in unproductive directions. Too many times this causes even a well-wisher of the environment to lose interest. We need a proper way to educate consumers about what is real and what is fake news.”

Implement business model changes. “Look at your business model holistically,” Chaturvedi says. “I propose a 5R model that simply, sensibly, and holistically integrates forward and reverses supply chain within any organization to ensure reduction in waste – and without sacrificing profits or competitiveness.”

Embrace technology. “It will lead to quick solutions to many vexing sustainability problems,” Chaturvedi says. “For example, advancement in technology has given us economically viable micro-factories to processing plastic waste, something that was not possible a few years ago. Now we can package it into a business model and scale it. Technologies like blockchain and dendrites will have far-reaching effects on sustainability as they will drive tracking and accountability.”

Find sensible solutions. “Sustainability needs sensible solutions, not a panacea, not motherhood and apple pie solutions,” Chaturvedi says. “We need solutions that are practical and profitable. We see many solutions that promise to solve the world’s pollution problem but are either one-off, or do not make money or both. We need businesses to step in and partner with scientists, universities, and government so a practical/viable perspective can be applied to sustainability solutions. A business will bring that perspective along with what can scale and what can not.”

“Businesses can see significant benefits, both economically and socially, from incorporating sustainable practices,” Chaturvedi says. “Some of the steps you incorporate can seem small at first, but day by day those efforts will produce great results.”

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Hitendra Chaturvedi spent over 30 years in progressive technology leadership positions with Microsoft, Newgistics, E&Y e-Business and A.T. Kearney. Chaturvedi also built a $100 million software company in India, GreenDust, where he implemented proprietary reverse logistics software at Amazon, Flipkart (Walmart), Samsung, Panasonic and Whirlpool. A computer engineer with a master’s degree from Louisiana State University and an MBA from Southern Methodist University, Chaturvedi has been widely covered in the media and is a subject matter expert on global supply chain strategy, sustainability in supply chain, reverse logistics, ecommerce, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Now a professor at Arizona State University, Chaturvedi has been a visiting professor at Southern Methodist University, University of Texas-Dallas, Penn State and Purdue.