New Articles

How Warehousing has Evolved Over the Years

How Warehousing has Evolved Over the Years

In the last ten to twenty years, warehouses have evolved massively. The industry has come a long way just in the last decade and has evolved to adapt to a faster pace. Driven by the evolution of various factors that influence the global market, warehousing continues to rise and change to remain one of the vital components in many industries.

The rule in business nowadays is simple: either you adapt or you break. The warehousing sector can confidently say that it has successfully adapted to the trends set by consumers and competition. From retail to manufacturing, every business that involves logistics has managed to or has to manage by making planned changes through the use of recent developments, which has so far produced positive results.

As warehousing experts and pros continue to tread the path driven by trends and change, they have to educate themselves. An important part of the adaptation process and preparing to move forward is looking back at what put you in your current position – a review of sorts.

To help you see the direction warehouse management is headed, this article will highlight how warehousing has evolved over the years.

More Strategic and Complex

Warehousing management has become more strategic and complex over the years. The simple warehouse which was once a small portion of the supply chain is not what it used to be. The primary concept of which warehouses were derived is still there: storage; however, the warehouse is now being called on to handle more complexity than it ever had.

There are many different types of warehouses that exist now that could play an important role in the near future. Warehouses such as high ceiling facilities and pop-up warehouses were developed throughout time to meet different requirements. Still focusing on adapting, it’s critical that current warehouses are agile and can adapt to changing conditions.

Accessibility

Historically, warehouses were only available to large businesses with a large-scale budget. Now, warehouses are more accessible even to small and medium businesses. This is driven by everyone wanting to manage their own operations and taking matters into their own hands.

The demand for industrial real estate has risen and continues to do so since the boom of ecommerce and the customer’s expectations of faster and more affordable shipping. For instance, there is accessible industrial real estate in many locations such as the warehouse in Kansas City that a business can either lease or purchase for different purposes. This all caters to businesses of all sizes.

Shift to Ecommerce Drives Automation

As aforementioned, the ecommerce industry is one of the main driving forces of the warehousing evolution. Ecommerce pros are facing the challenge of meeting customer expectations of cheaper and faster delivery and shipping. One of the strategies to address this demand is to automate.

Automated systems effectively reduce overstock and shortages and will boost profits in the long run. Automation cannot do it alone though, as it has to be partnered with quality warehouse storage systems to help an operation run smoothly.

Conclusion

Warehousing evolved in the past years by becoming more strategic and complex, accessible, and pushing for automation. It will continue to evolve in the next decade or so, as it depends on variables that can disrupt the majority of workplaces in many industries. Warehousing will continue to be pushed to adapt by the ever-changing fast-paced world.

_____________________________________________________________

Angelo Castelda works as a contributor for a news magazine in Asia. On his free days, he likes to read books about the logistics industry and warehouse management. He also gets frequently invited to schools and universities to hold talks about the supply chain system and warehouse operations.

ferro chromium

Global Ferro-Chromium Exports Peaked at $9B

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Ferro-Chromium – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Exports 2007-2018

In 2018, approx. 7.2M tonnes of ferro-chromium were exported worldwide; going up by 6.2% against the previous year. The total export volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.2% from 2007 to 2018; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with only minor fluctuations being observed over the period under review. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2010 with an increase of 26% year-to-year. The global exports peaked in 2018 and are expected to retain its growth in the immediate term. In value terms, ferro-chromium exports totaled $9B (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Exports by Country

South Africa represented the largest exporter of ferro-chromium exported in the world, with the volume of exports reaching 3.7M tonnes, which was near 51% of total exports in 2018. Kazakhstan (1,313K tonnes) ranks second in terms of the total exports with a 18% share, followed by India (11%). Finland (282K tonnes), Russia (278K tonnes), Zimbabwe (247K tonnes) and Turkey (119K tonnes) held a minor share of total exports.

Exports from South Africa increased at an average annual rate of +1.9% from 2007 to 2018. At the same time, Finland (+9.9%), India (+5.9%), Turkey (+2.5%) and Zimbabwe (+2.2%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Finland emerged as the fastest-growing exporter exported in the world, with a CAGR of +9.9% from 2007-2018. Kazakhstan experienced a relatively flat trend pattern. By contrast, Russia (-2.0%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period.

In value terms, the largest ferro-chromium supplying countries worldwide were South Africa ($3.6B), Kazakhstan ($2B) and India ($1.1B), together accounting for 74% of global exports. These countries were followed by Russia, Finland, Zimbabwe and Turkey, which together accounted for a further 16%.

Export Prices by Country

The average ferro-chromium export price stood at $1,261 per tonne in 2018, increasing by 5.2% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the export price indicated a mild expansion from 2007 to 2018: its price increased at an average annual rate of +1.7% over the last eleven-year period.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Turkey ($2,322 per tonne), while South Africa ($988 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Turkey, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Imports 2007-2018

Global imports amounted to 7.1M tonnes in 2018, jumping by 3.6% against the previous year. Over the period under review, ferro-chromium imports continue to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. Over the period under review, global ferro-chromium imports attained their peak figure in 2018 and are expected to retain its growth in the immediate term. In value terms, ferro-chromium imports stood at $9.2B (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Imports by Country

In 2018, China (1.8M tonnes), distantly followed by the U.S. (829K tonnes), Japan (788K tonnes), South Korea (595K tonnes), the United Arab Emirates (441K tonnes) and Belgium (349K tonnes) represented the major importers of ferro-chromium, together achieving 67% of total imports. Mozambique (317K tonnes), Italy (301K tonnes), Taiwan, Chinese (284K tonnes), Germany (279K tonnes), Spain (197K tonnes) and Indonesia (189K tonnes) took a minor share of total imports.

From 2007 to 2018, average annual rates of growth with regard to ferro-chromium imports into China stood at +3.3%. At the same time, the United Arab Emirates (+58.1%), Indonesia (+56.3%), the U.S. (+7.1%) and South Korea (+3.2%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, the United Arab Emirates emerged as the fastest-growing importer imported in the world, with a CAGR of +58.1% from 2007-2018. By contrast, Spain (-1.3%), Japan (-1.8%), Belgium (-2.5%), Italy (-3.0%), Taiwan, Chinese (-4.0%), Germany (-4.8%) and Mozambique (-5.7%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period. From 2007 to 2018, the share of China, the U.S., the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and South Korea increased by +7.5%, +6.2%, +6.2%, +2.6% and +2.4% percentage points, while Belgium (-1.6 p.p.), Italy (-1.7 p.p.), Taiwan, Chinese (-2.3 p.p.), Japan (-2.5 p.p.), Germany (-2.8 p.p.) and Mozambique (-4 p.p.) saw their share reduced. The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

In value terms, China ($1.8B), Japan ($1.2B) and the U.S. ($1.2B) constituted the countries with the highest levels of imports in 2018, together accounting for 47% of global imports. These countries were followed by South Korea, Germany, Taiwan, Chinese, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Mozambique, Spain and Indonesia, which together accounted for a further 39%.

Import Prices by Country

In 2018, the average ferro-chromium import price amounted to $1,288 per tonne, flattening at the previous year. Over the period under review, the import price indicated measured growth from 2007 to 2018: its price increased at an average annual rate of +2.5% over the last eleven years. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Based on 2018 figures, ferro-chromium import price increased by +35.2% against 2016 indices.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major importing countries. In 2018, the country with the highest price was Germany ($1,757 per tonne), while Mozambique ($824 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by the U.S., while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

costs

5 Ways to Reduce Transportation Costs Efficiently in 2020

The turbulent economy has lately made it difficult for field service and transportation businesses to thrive. The industry is morphing into an intricate space, meaning that it has become critical to gain an in-depth understanding of your transportation costs and how you can mitigate the rising expenses to improve your profit margin and keep your head above water.

There are many reasons why your transportation logistics costs are skyrocketing. For example, a lack of planning and transparency or bad decision making can lead to increased overall costs, failed delivery or appointment targets, unhappy customers, and ultimately a loss of business.

So, what should you do instead to reduce transportation costs? Well, here are five important things you should consider doing.

#1 Provide Your Drivers with Well-Optimized Routes

A bad route can make all your route planning efforts be in vain and your entire route could be a mess if you’re planning routes using a pen and paper. Poor routes also mean that your drivers will spend more time on the road being stuck in traffic and traveling longer distances which will skyrocket the fuel usage and expenses. When you add the overtime costs of your drivers spending more time than estimated on the road, the transportation costs look even worse.

So, instead, ensure you always provide 100% accurate and well-optimized routes to your drivers.

You can do this with an advanced technology solution, such as a route planner, which will automate the route planning process and make logistics management seamless. Such software will plan accurate routes while factoring in traffic, weather conditions, sunrise/sunset times, one-ways, avoidance zones, weight and load capacity, and more, within a minute. In this way, your vehicles will never run empty and your drivers will have balanced workloads and better routes. They’ll ultimately make more stops without you spending more on fuel.

#2 Monitor Your Drivers

Planning optimized routes may be the most important step, but it won’t have any impact on your costs if your field reps or drivers don’t follow it. They may make personal stops, idle vehicles for too long, brake frequently, or even accelerate harshly to make up for delayed deliveries or appointments. All such actions will inevitably lead to increased fuel expenses. Bad driving behavior can even lead to excessive fuel usage or cause road mishaps which means that the damage costs will also add up.

Therefore, you should track your drivers and vehicles and see what the drivers do on the road. To do this, you can use a GPS tracker to monitor your vehicles in real-time and set up speed alerts to get notified as soon as a driver speeds. A tracker can even help you protect your vehicles from theft.

Also, if you go for a route optimization software that comes with GPS tracking, you’ll get the best of both worlds: you’ll be able to plan routes and track the drivers’ progress.

#3 Educate and Reward Your Field Reps

Drivers and field reps are the most important stakeholders in transportation and you cannot reduce costs without their 100% involvement, even with the best process in place. So, let them know why it is important for the business to save on fuel costs as well as how they can contribute in keeping the expenses down. Then, reward them for fuel-efficient driving which will boost their morale and commitment to saving more.

route optimizer will go a long way in helping you with this. Its reporting and analytics feature will give you the data you need to identify every fuel expenditure which you can then use to provide feedback to your drivers about their performance.

#4 Ensure Regular Vehicle Maintenance

One vehicle breakdown can jeopardize your entire plan and the downtime costs can vary from $448 to $760 per vehicle per day. Can you afford that?

Therefore, you should have a preventive maintenance program in place because regular vehicle inspections and maintenance will prevent breakdowns and keep your vehicles in optimal shape to provide better mileage and save you money. Also, you must change air filters, replace spark plugs, and change the oil and oil filters in regular intervals. Here are six vehicle maintenance tips you should be following.

The reporting and analytics feature of a route planner we discussed above will also be useful here. It provides critical data, such as the total distance traveled, total stops, and the fuel used, which will help you identify when vehicles require maintenance. For example, if a vehicle needs maintenance every 2,000 miles, you can easily predict how soon it may need maintenance again.

#5 Focus on Reducing Failed Deliveries

Every failed delivery will put a dent in your profits. Your drivers may show up on time but it will still be for naught if the customer is unavailable. Such a missed customer will not only jeopardize your other deliveries or appointments but will also cost you more as your drivers need to go to that stop again.

One of the best ways to improve first-time delivery success is allowing your customers to choose their preferred delivery windows. This will ensure that someone will indeed be available at the location when the driver shows up.

You can also allow your customers to track their package delivery statuses or notify them when their packages are nearby. For example, Route4Me offers customer notifications and alerts feature that does just that. It also comes with a customer portal feature that helps customers monitor their own package delivery progress. You can even set access restrictions, depending on how much information you want to reveal regarding the visit, including custom fields, driver identities, and estimated arrival times.

So, what’s your strategy for reducing logistics costs? Do you have any other cost savings methods to add?

online

PREVENTING TRADE IN ONLINE FAKES

Online Buyer Beware

U.S. consumers spent over $600 billion dollars with U.S. merchants online in 2019. For consumers, online shopping is enticing for its convenience. With credit card in hand, shoppers can easily compare prices, make a purchase, and have the products shipped directly to their homes. The ability to sell online has transformed the ways in which manufacturers, shippers and retailers conduct business.

The evolution from brick and mortar to online stores has also made it more convenient for illegitimate businesses and criminals to pass off counterfeit products, which has attracted the attention of the U.S. government. Since November 2019, a flurry of government activity has focused on protecting consumers in the e-commerce environment.

Trade in fake goods 3.3 percent of world trade

Political Hue and Cry

The Senate Finance Committee examined online counterfeit goods last November when it issued a bipartisan report highlighting two key fact findings: U.S. businesses have difficulties preventing the sale of counterfeit goods online, and e-commerce platforms have no affirmative obligation to police counterfeit goods listings or to proactively remove suspected counterfeit items.

In January, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report titled Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, in which DHS found that e-commerce has contributed to a shift in the sale of counterfeit goods in the United States. As consumers increasingly purchase goods online, counterfeiters are increasingly producing a wider variety of goods that may be sold on websites alongside authentic products. The report adds that American consumers shopping on e-commerce platforms and online third-party marketplaces now face a significant risk of purchasing counterfeit or pirated goods.

A week after the release of the DHS report, the White House issued an Executive Order “Ensuring Safe and Lawful E-Commerce for U.S. Consumers, Businesses, Government Supply Chains, and Intellectual Property Rights Holders”. The Order implicates express carriers and the international postal system as contributing to the problem of imports of contraband and counterfeit goods.

American brands 24 percent of fake products seized

House Bill 6058, the SHOP SAFE Act of 2020, was introduced in early March in the House of Representatives. The bill proposes to impose contributory trademark infringement liability on e-commerce platforms unless they take steps specified in the legislation. The legislation received immediate support from several prominent industry associations.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association’s CEO stated that “more needs to be done to prevent counterfeit products from unknowingly entering the homes of American families.” In support of the bill, the CEO of the Personal Care Products Council stated that “counterfeit personal care products damage businesses, disregard regulatory protection and more importantly threaten consumers’ health and safety,” adding the Council encourages “Congress to establish a system that makes online marketplaces and others responsible for ensuring that products on their platforms comply with U.S. laws and regulations”.

Two days later, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) stated that the convenience of e-commerce “has come at a devastating price: a proliferation of dangerous counterfeit goods that endanger consumers and property, and an army of counterfeit merchants from overseas that undermine American small businesses with unscrupulous tactics.”

Counterfeit medicines

Hiding on Plain Sites

In general, the owners of intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, patents) have had a lot to say about the online platforms and marketplaces that host e-commerce. As summarized in the Senate Finance Committee’s report, e-commerce platforms place the burden of policing and enforcing intellectual property (IP) on the IP owners, suggesting they do not have a duty to police counterfeit listings or proactively remove suspected counterfeit goods from platforms.

The proposed SHOP SAFE Act of 2020 would place a greater burden on platforms. By taking steps outlined in the legislation, platforms would be able to avoid liability for IP violations.

During the week the SHOP SAFE Act was introduced and a hearing held to address the issue of e-commerce threats to consumers and the economy, a technology company, PreClear, announced it is using “technology that pushes out the border and prevents infringing goods and potentially harmful goods from being exported to the U.S.” PreClear’s founder is quoted as saying that the technology is in use 24/7 and rejects thousands of non-compliant items daily.

There is no doubt that the sheer volume of infringing and other non-compliant merchandise available to consumers on the internet begs for a solution. The question is whether protection and enforcement begin after the items are in the stream of commerce in the United States or before the items ship to the United States. One of the missing variables in the trade policy equation remains how to prevent infringing items from leaving the country of origin in the first instance.

__________________________________________________________________

Tim Trainer was an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. He is a past president of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. Tim is now the principal at Global Intellectual Property Strategy Center, P.C., and Galaxy Systems, Inc.

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

warehouse

Top 10 Solutions for Common Warehouse Problems

Warehouse Engineers attended the Modex Conference looking for low-cost solutions to improve warehouse operations. As a previous warehouse manager, I understand traveling isn’t always an option because you have to get orders out the door. No reason to fret, Warehouse Engineers has you covered with 10 solutions to common warehouse problems.

Problem 1: Cycle counts

We’ve all been there… the quarterly cycle count or worse, the full annual. Ware eliminates the cycle counting dilemma. Yes, that’s right, Ware deploys fleets of drones, powered by machine learning, to perform cycle counts. Ware creates the software and analytics that lets the drones do the work, saving time and money.

Problem 2: Tracing orders

Ever had an order delayed by the rail or carrier?

Me!!! I’ve been on the phone with the carrier asking where is my order?

Pallet Alliance developed a platform to track individual pallets from end to end of the supply chain with IoT connectivity. Intellipallets integrate with existing wooden pallets providing efficient tracking of shipments. Once the pallets become “intelligent” they provide information like transit location or stationary time. Now you will know when your order is stuck in a rail yard.

Problem 3: BOL Paperwork

Why does the customer call for the BOL that you can’t seem to find?

BOLs are a necessary evil. You must get the driver to sign for the order, then store the order for years. The process creates so much paperwork, and it’s even harder to track individual BOLs. I hate when the customer calls for a BOL from 3 months ago. The smart people at SMART BOL developed an automated solution for bill of lading signing and document retention. Yes, there’s an app for drivers to sign the BOL and the signature magically goes into the cloud.

Problem 4: Communication Boards

I’ve struggled with outlining a whiteboard for daily huddles. The magnets are not straight, the markers start to fade. Sometimes I spent more time preparing for the meeting than the actual meeting itself. Visual Workplace is a source for Lean & 5S Supplies. They have great templates for KPI Tracking and daily huddles. Visual Workplace can also print dry erase board overlays for kaizen events and root cause analysis.

Problem 5: Workstations

We all know the value of 5S, “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” But what if you don’t have a place for everything? Literally, while you are setting tools in order, you are missing a place for a tool. With PioneerIWS, you can easily build a custom workflow to meet your needs. Their Flexturs can be transformed into mobile workstations, shelves, and packaging stations. Setting and Sustaining workstations are a lot easier with PioneerIWS.

Problem 6: Shifted Rail Cars

Ever been nervous about opening a box car?

I’ve been there, crossing my fingers hoping that the pallets are still upright.

Of course, the pallets have shifted and spilled over. Have you ever seen a rail car full of spilled tomato paste, yuck! Shifted cars are a no-win for everyone involved. Filing a claim with the rail line is so difficult, most people don’t bother. The rail always points the finger at the packaging and swears they never hump cars. Next time I have this problem, I’m calling Southern Bracing Systems (SBS) for a solution. SBS manufactures a patented Ty-Gard 2000® approved by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) to keep orders in tack. They also provide expert training for AAR-approved cargo securement equipment and cargo restraint systems uniquely designed to prevent damage in transit.

Problem 7: Missing Labels

In wet or grimy conditions, labels just won’t la

I’ve had to label entire warehouses: entry doors, ramps, racks, etc… Sometimes a label just doesn’t work. The Patmark 1533 provides a solution for quick, custom permanent applications. MarkinBOX is the world’s most compact portable marking machine system. Combined with a carbide pin, you can mark on a vast range of surfaces like racks and bins. I wish I had the Patmark 1533 when I 5S’d a battery storage room.

Problem 8: Data Overload

We’ve all heard the phrase “big data” but what do we do with it?

Big data creates value when leaders can make data-driven decisions. With all the data coming from the WMS, ERP, and time clocks, who has time to consolidate the data for reporting? Easy Metrics solves the big data problem by providing custom reports and KPIs for your team. I know tracking labor can be burdensome, at times requiring a full administrator. Easy metrics make it easy for everyone.

Problem 9: Packaging Dimensions

Length, Width, Height…. And where is my tape measuring?

We’ve all had to answer those questions when preparing parcel for delivery. It’s so frustrating when you have a large or heavy box that you need assistance with to get all the dimensions. Sizensor designed an app to instantly capture parcel dimensions. Sizensor has a lot of benefits around the warehouse-like planning a load diagram for new products. Consider how easy the app is to install and use, it’s a win.

Problem 10: Warehouse Space

We need more space.

No warehouse manager wants to tell their president or sales team those words. I’ve lead tens of projects to increase density and utilization. We go vertical, we consolidate, move things around, but sometimes just need more space. When you literally need to pop up a warehouse, ClearSpan is your solution. ClearSpan warehouses can be custom designs or turnkey solutions for the appropriate storage solution.

There you have it, ten solutions for common problems within a warehouse. I hope this information is useful and please share with your colleagues. Collaboration and networking is another benefit of attending conferences. All the companies listed above have great salespeople Warehouse Engineers interacted with. If these are great ideas, and you don’t have the capacity to manage the project contact Warehouse Engineers.
___________________________________________________________
Brandon Ashby, the managing partner, is a certified Project Management Professional who can manage the project for you.
businesses

How Businesses can Weather COVID-19: Start with Empathy to Employees

Major U.S. businesses are adjusting operations, laying off employees or reducing hours in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s uncharted territory for the nation, and companies from large brands to small businesses, like everyone else, are operating without a playbook to deal with an unprecedented public health threat that will also have economic implications. How businesses adjust to the pandemic and respond to this “new normal” is critical to the future of their business.

“The most important part is showing empathy to employees – now more than ever in these uncertain times,” says Ed Mitzen (www.edmitzen.com), founder of a health and wellness marketing agency and ForbesBook author of More Than a Number: The Power of Empathy and Philanthropy in Driving Ad Agency Performance.

“While every company is dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to keep in mind that your employees are being affected in more ways than one. Added challenges to daily life now include your partner working next to you, your children being home from school, and having to keep an extra close eye on elderly relatives. In these unusual circumstances, people will notice which companies are treating their employees with empathy and compassion and which are not.”

A business leader’s response during a time like this defines who they are as a leader.

Mitzen thinks this challenging time could be used by business owners to assess their company culture and consider that how they treat employees is central to that culture and vital for business results. He explains how leaders can show empathy to employees, strengthen company culture and drive performance:

Lead with support, not force. “Culture starts at the top, and the best results come when leaders support their people and help them get the most out of life, rather than trying to squeeze them to work harder and harder,” Mitzen says. “People can sacrifice for the job for only so long before they burn out. It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes prioritizing life over work actually improves the work product. Once you hire good people, you don’t have to push them with crazy deadlines to squeeze productivity out of them.”

Build a team of caring people. “Business is a team sport,” Mitzen says. “To have an empathetic culture, you need people who care for each other and work well together. Build teams by looking for people who lead with empathy.  Don’t hire jerks. People who are super-talented but can’t get along with others tend to destroy the team dynamics, and the work product suffers.”

Define a positive culture – and the work. Showing empathy to employees can be an engine generating creativity and productivity. “The internal culture at a company defines the work the company produces,” Mitzen says. “Culture influences who chooses to work for you, how long they stay, and the quality of work they do. And the core of the culture is empathy, starting with employees and extending to customers and the communities that you live in. There’s a strong connection between a healthy work culture, which inspires people, and the work customers are receiving. That kind of company makes sure customers are treated the same way they are being treated.”

“Now more than ever, empathy, kindness and compassion are important values to keep at the forefront of your organization,” Mitzen says. “Business leaders can take the lead in doing the right thing, starting with their employees.”

_________________________________________________________

Ed Mitzen (www.edmitzen.com) is the ForbesBook author of More Than a Number: The Power of Empathy and Philanthropy in Driving Ad Agency Performance and the founder of Fingerpaint, an independent advertising agency grossing $60 million in revenue. A health and wellness marketing entrepreneur for 25 years, Mitzen also built successful firms CHS and Palio Communications. Fingerpaint has been included on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for seven straight years and garnered agency of the year nominations and wins from MM&M, Med Ad News, and PM360. Mitzen was named Industry Person of the Year by Med Ad News in 2016 and a top boss by Digiday in 2017. A graduate of Syracuse University with an MBA from the University of Rochester, Mitzen has written for Fortune, Forbes, HuffPost, and the Wall Street Journal.

nominations

Global Trade Magazine Accepting “Women in Logistics” Nominations

Global Trade Magazine officially opened nominations for its May/June cover story, “Women in Logistics” beginning this week through the end of March. This marks the publication’s second annual feature spotlighting leading female executives reshaping the way companies approach industry disruptions. The ideal candidate has a proven track record of creating long-term solutions impacting various sectors including transportation, warehousing, shipping, and supply chain management.

“As we continue to see a rise in female leaders within the logistics industry, I wanted to take recognition to the next level for female executives fostering positive company culture while displaying exemplary leadership all industry players can learn from,” said Eric Kleinsorge, Publisher and Chairman of Global Trade Magazine. “Last year’s cover story was a huge success. We received a lot of positive feedback from our readers and we’ve already received impressive nominations for this year’s feature.”

Among leading ladies featured in the 2019 issue included Joan Smemoe of RailInc., Jane Kennedy Greene of Kenco, Wendy Buxton of LynnCo Supply Chain Solutions, and Barbara Yeninas and Lisa Aurichio of BSYA. This year’s selected nominees will be selected based on factors including tenure, industry relevance, impact on the industry, the health of relationships with employees, with a high emphasis on their workplace culture approach. Nominations will be limited to one executive per submission and participants can enter their executive of choice until March 31st at 5 p.m.

“I encourage workers from around the globe to take a few minutes and submit female leaders that have changed the way they view leadership and have made a positive impact on their career and industry. It’s important to the evolving culture of global companies to recognize these women for their dedication to the industry and the workers that make success possible,” Kleinsorge concluded.

To submit a nomination, please click here or call (469) 778-2606 for more information. 

warehouse

MAN AND MACHINE ARE KEY TO CREATING COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IN TODAY’S SUPPLY-CHAIN WAREHOUSE

When it comes to warehousing and the use of robotics to manage and maintain a competitive supply chain, the conversations usually begin with the potential for these powerhouse machines to replace workers and eliminate the need for humans in the facility. As this might be the case in some situations, the bigger concern surrounds how to successfully create an environment where both humans and robots are able to safely collaborate, creating more efficiencies within the warehouse sector while at the same time optimizing the processes many still operate manually.

This is the concept of interconnecting the mind and abilities of these machines to support human workers, not replace them. The truth of the matter is, there are some things humans can do that robots simply cannot do, and the fear of robots replacing humans is backwards compared to what is really going on in meetings between warehouse managers and creators of autonomous solutions.

Dan Khasis, founder of Route4Me, a unique route optimization software platform, takes a deeper look at the emerging relationship between robotics and warehouses and dissects the reality of what is really going on when managing the supply chain inside the modern warehouse. “There’s this perception and risk associated with the subjects of robotics and job security,” he concedes. “It is very common to see a lot of warehouses that are based on the location, the retailer, the company, where their worker population is unionized. Many times, the situation starts with C-level executives who discover the technology that can drive efficiencies in the warehouse, save money and that work very well.”

“However, word gets back to the union workers that the expectation is for them to work twice as much in the same amount of time and they quickly realize it isn’t realistic or possible,” Khasis continues. “At that point, technology adoption is eliminated because people cannot be replaced. At that point, they accept the inefficiencies and turn to loopholes to deal with the issues that are clearly present. It is not the worker’s fault, but there is a struggle with getting warehouse workers onboard with these new technologies in addition to the long hours that are required to keep up.”

Khasis goes on to explain that the ability to do the picking and packing in the warehouse is still one of the biggest pain points in the warehousing sector. An example he cites is weight restrictions and what makes sense in terms of safety and simplicity. Can one send a robot to pick up a fridge that weighs 800 pounds versus utilizing someone in a forklift to lift the fridge? Sure, but some would question how a robot could prove to be more beneficial than a forklift in situations like these.

“There are basic and common risks associated with robotics, such as employees getting injured, and the technology exists to avoid such accidents,” Khasis says. “In terms of a hybrid model, you’re able to have things such as augmented reality where if one is driving through the warehouse, there’s clearly the safety component in question. There are heavy items throughout the warehouse that are elevated and there needs to be a population of properly trained employees to minimize these risks along with the technology to support it.”

Heavy lifting comes into play with this pain point and Khasis emphasizes that well-trained individuals are more favorable over advanced technology in these cases. With every advancement comes risk and it’s about measuring the risk against current and potential resources that determines the best way to optimize operations while mitigating these risks. The warehouse sector is aiming to operate optimally and safely as that is where competitive advantage is ultimately found.

“The hybrid warehouses that are half robots and half autonomous are still an open question regarding the interaction between human workers and robots because there will undoubtedly be issues with how they collaborate together,” Khasis points out. “For example, will there be a specific area for robots and one area for the workers, how we will address collision avoidance, and how they will actually collaborate are the bigger questions still in the process of being solved?”

Leadership in the warehouse sector is experiencing a technological disconnect as well. While many news headlines boast the latest big-name companies adopting a new form of advanced technology, there are still many large companies operating the good old-fashioned way: via Microsoft Excel or another manual process and dismissing the option of advanced technology completely. This isn’t a bad thing, but Khasis emphasizes that these companies could maximize their bottom lines by adopting technologies that aren’t incompatible with emerging technology.

“There’s a generational shift in the warehouse,” he says. “For example, the VP or director in today’s warehouse might not have faith in the modern technology approaches available. We sometimes have friendly arguments with our own customers explaining how something might not ‘look’ better but mathematically and in terms of optimization, it is paramount in comparison and when broken down. There are both trends and realities that differ from what people are talking about versus what’s actually happening.”

Khasis continues: “Many warehouses out there are still using legacy software and there’s a significant amount of big industry players who still have not modernized their systems. Part of that modernization is moving stuff to the cloud and as they move things up to the cloud, opportunities will open up for them to take advantage of newer technologies. These newer technologies on the market are not backward compatible with the relatively obsolete systems that are closed off and still very much in use. They simply do not interact well with other systems.”

For warehouses, proactive measures through advanced technologies are phasing out antiquated systems that require a retrospective approach to the process. Processes Microsoft Excel are still very much part of the manual process Khasis says breaks the dynamic between the adoption of technology and the desired bottom-dollar impact.

“Few companies actually understand what they need to have in each warehouse and when they need it,” he says, “and the way to successfully identify what consumers are demanding is best found through reliable and integrated e-commerce data. In some cases, the warehouse directors will project certain time frames for specific items based on the previous year rather than analyzing data revealing search activity increases within the e-commerce sector.”

These data predictions and trends monitoring can give matchless insight on upcoming and unpredictable events that other manual processes simply cannot accomplish. Weather changes, for example, and alerting warehouses of what to keep in stock versus assuming patterns in spending can make big differences in gaining that advantage over competitors. E-commerce monitoring through this data can give ample information in real-time without the need of someone else providing trend forecasting. This brings extra work costs down for the warehouse worker and increases time savings overall, all while driving the bottom dollar up.

Khasis emphasizes the importance and role advanced technologies will have in providing more opportunities in optimization and human-robot collaborations. With advanced technologies, warehouse managers can better predict what types of deliveries are on the horizon and prepare their warehouse more efficiently, streamlining the process and interactions between automation and warehouse workers.

“The warehouse does not live in a vacuum and it must be able to adapt to upstream and downstream systems. For example, if a shipment is coming in and you have the capability of knowing what is on that vehicle and where it needs to g—assuming you have the technology available to share that information—you can then have the human workers and robots collaborate to make room for that to go smoothly. This can include advanced space allocation, unloader coordination and advanced warehouse space preparations.”

Autonomous vehicles will soon have to adapt to the warehouse as well. The issue of inter-compatibility will undoubtedly be of question.

“One cannot send a delivery vehicle or any other type of truck with a different height from the warehouse because the robots can’t access it,” Khasis notes. “The concept of inter-compatibility between internal robotics and external autonomous systems will be particularly important in the near future. We believe that in order for there to be efficiencies, there must be integration, and everything needs to collaborate.

“Our patent–called Autonomous Supply Chain, and the point of this is to reiterate that a warehouse can have the best software on the market but if it isn’t compatible or the timing isn’t right, then it doesn’t matter. That brings up the question of timing and what determines the right time and how it impacts planning which is very important.”

Without the key element of integration, the most advanced technology simply will not present the results sought for competitive advantage in the warehouse, negating the desired effects from the dollars spent on adopting them. For companies seeking to redefine the warehouse, they must consider in what ways integration is possible and affordable.

“We look at all the assets including the people, the vehicles, the potential shipments on the way in and out of the country, the warehouse and its capabilities and location, and figure the best way to optimize routes,” Khasis says. “For some of the biggest global companies, this is still being done with manual interpretations, which includes reporting analysis after the fact. There is little preventable action with this type of process, and it takes more of a retrospective approach.”

The option of accepting inefficiencies is simply not going to cut it anymore. Processes are changing, technology is becoming the new standard, and people are needed that are open to learning and adopting methods of work that increase productivity while supporting long-term and short-term goals in the supply chain.

“The goal of Autonomous Supply Chain is to get in front of the problems and decisions rather than behind them while utilizing an advanced technology that can collaborate across the board,” Khasis says. “By incorporating all techniques across different business units and different business entities, the process is streamlined. When this is all put together, we are estimating anywhere from 25 to 50 percent value creation, savings and profit increase mainly because a lot of this process is currently human dependent.”

More than ever before, the concept of synchronization in the supply chain is needed. Customer demands will continue to rise and become more complex as time goes by. In the age of Amazon and next-day delivery, the warehouse simply cannot afford to operate with one or the other–being robots or humans. Both are a crucial part of the bigger picture that have a significant impact on business.

“The warehouse location is equally important, and the industry is extremely behind in understanding warehouse site selection,” Khasis says. “If you have a warehouse in the wrong area–even with 100 percent support from the union with the best robots on the market—it is going to be difficult because now you need different people fulfilling roles that weren’t accounted for, such as drivers. Sure, you might have a cheaper warehouse but if the location isn’t carefully considered, your savings are quickly dissolved in other valuables that weren’t modeled into the original budget. This process is also still manually done throughout the industry and can be optimized using our software.”

Each element in the process will undoubtedly impact the success and outcome of your warehouse, beginning with site selection to worker population to technology integration. In an age where business goes to people instead of people going to businesses, ensuring all parts are synchronized is a critical part of the bigger picture of gaining and maintaining competitive advantage and keeping up with an evergreen marketplace.

______________________________________________________________

Dan Khasis is a technology entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Route4Me, a unique route optimization software. 

training

5 Ways To Improve Your Training and Achieve Measurable Business Results

U.S. companies spend billions of dollars a year on training, but how many of those businesses are seeing positive, measurable results from such a large investment in their employees?

Not enough of them, studies and experts say. One study on workplace training reported that 43 percent of employees found their training to be ineffective.

“I doubt that many employees would rate their training as engaging, rigorous, or highly effective,” says Dr. Jim Guilkey (http://www.jimguilkey.com), author of M-Pact Learning: The New Competitive Advantage — What All Executives Need To Know. “For most trainees and trainers alike, job-required education is viewed as a necessary evil.”

So how can companies train their employees better and from that training produce outcomes that grow the business? Dr. Guilkey says it comes down to employing effective instructional design methodologies rather than traditional models.

“Traditional training often doesn’t work for companies today in competitive marketplace environments where growth is essential to survival,” he says. “The training is usually developed and delivered by subject-matter experts who have little or no knowledge of instructional design. Assessments test rote memorization rather than the ability to apply specific knowledge in authentic situations.”

Dr. Guilkey suggests some new learning solutions and why he thinks they’re more effective than traditional training methods:

Problem-based. “Problem-based learning involves a strategic approach of structuring the learning process within authentic, challenging, and multidisciplinary problems the learner must address,” Guilkey says. “This results in higher levels of learning than content-based, traditional training, which teaches content with little or no application to authentic, real-world problems.”

Continuous learning. “As opposed to singular-event learning, continuous learning is an ongoing process that allows learners time in the field to assimilate  and apply new knowledge before learning more advanced concepts,” Guilkey says.

Collaborative learning. A variety of interactions between peers, mentors, and facilitators fills in gaps, answers more questions, and reinforces the learning process. “This differs from the traditional method in which the learning is limited by focusing on the lecturer — a one-way transmission of content,” Guilkey says.

Multidisciplinary. The traditional approach focuses on singular concepts presented in a linear fashion, whereas the multidisciplinary approach “requires participants to combine and correlate learning across concepts and use real-life scenarios,” Guilkey says.

Testing for application of knowledge. Guilkey thinks assessment should be based on the performance of a strategic task, in which learners apply their skills and knowledge, rather than the traditional style of testing for rote memorization. “There’s a huge difference between being able to recall pieces of information and having a performance-based measurement to put all the pieces together,” Guilkey says.

“Many company leaders are unclear on the actual skills and knowledge of their employees and whether they are providing a competitive advantage,” Guilkey says. “You’ll never create a competitive advantage using traditional training methods.”

______________________________________________________________

Jim Guilkey, PhD (http://www.jimguilkey.com) is the author of M-Pact Learning: The New Competitive Advantage — What All Executives Need To Know. He is the president of S4 NetQuest and a nationally recognized expert in instructional design and learning strategy, with extensive experience in leading the design, development, and implementation of innovative, highly effective learning solutions. Under his leadership, S4 NetQuest has transformed the learning programs for numerous corporations, including Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Merck, Nationwide, Chase Bank, BMW, Cardinal Health, Domino’s, GE Medical, Kaiser Permanente, Yum! Brands, and others. Guilkey is a frequent speaker at national conferences and corporate training meetings. Before co-founding S4 NetQuest, Guilkey served as the assistant director of flight education at The Ohio State University. He received a BS in aviation and an MA and PhD in instructional design and technology from Ohio State.

ecommerce business

How Coronavirus Impacts Ecommerce Business and Beyond

There is no vaccine to prevent the spreading Coronavirus, yet, and that holds lessons for ecommerce businesses and the people who work at them. Today, we’re facing a time to prepare and hopefully limit exposure and risks at work.

For businesses, preparation and the possibility of illness are going to reshape the day-to-day. After reviewing scenarios and government guidance (here’s your list of cleaners that can take out COVID-19), we’ve put together some thoughts on the most significant impacts we’ll see soon and how companies can respond to protect their people best.

Sending people home is best but expensive

Many ecommerce businesses are small shops, though we’ve been impressed to see some grow significantly in recent years. It’s always a fantastic thing to witness, but their scrappy nature usually means staff are perpetually busy and wearing multiple hats.

Unfortunately, that might mean the COVID-19 threat will hit you especially hard.

Your best bet to keep everyone at work safe is to let anyone go home when they feel even the slightest bit sick. If that happens, document the person arrived and left, plus who they came into contact with at work — employees and anyone who might’ve visited — and how they got to work. This can help medical professionals who are already going to be stretched thin.

The best practice here is going to cost you, but it could also save your team from significant harm, and that is to pay your team to stay home. Help people use their sick days and vacation time if they have it. If someone doesn’t, review your budget to see what you can offer.

If people can’t afford to stay home, they come into work even when sick. That’s a danger none of us can afford right now.

Wash your hands and everything else

There is a little bit of a silver lining in the ecommerce world: most of the products moving through your warehouse are going to be safe. You’re watching for people above all else.

This is because most coronaviruses, including COVID-19, struggle to live on surfaces. So far, we haven’t seen evidence of contaminated food products, which is generally where you’ll first see illnesses spread by products/goods.

For products, the risk is a “smear infection” where someone coughs or sneezes onto a product or package, and a new person touches that and then their face. The virus is believed to have a short lifespan in smear cases, so your team should be relatively safe. Maximize their safety by prioritizing handwashing. Have your team wear gloves at all times, but still make them wash up after unloading a truck.

What ecommerce and other businesses will want to be aware of is the route their goods are taking to get to warehouses. If something is passing through areas where there’s been an outbreak or if you learn that a delivery person for a specific company has fallen ill, pay extra close attention to cleaning these products and packages.

For goods that have been traveling to your company for days or weeks by ocean, there’s minimal product risk from that leg of the trip, but local infections may be possible. Air travel is fast enough that you could have higher smear risks.

So, wash hands, wear gloves, and clean everything as you go.

Alternatives may become scarce

Some impacts are already rippling through the global supply chain. One significant shift is that companies are scrambling to find alternative sources for products and raw materials. Not only are prices for some materials already rising, but there’s growing lane congestion.

This will be a double hit for businesses.

If you’re not manufacturing your own goods, then you need someone to do it for you. New partners can be expensive to source. At the same time, your competition will be turning to them as well. Also happening concurrently, manufacturers will be looking to secure new sources of raw materials. Shifts, such as nearshoring production and buying local, all come with increased costs and supply chain changes.

The other impact is that it could generate more congestion for local delivery and fulfillment options. Companies may face the cost of shipping their goods rise, as well as see delays in fulfillment times. Those delays are already happening in areas where there have been cases of the virus.

Your business will pay more, but you might not be able to pass on additional expenses to customers. Delays in fulfillment times will hit the ecommerce sector hard because customers already expect two-day shipping options. Now, you’ll have to tell them it could be longer and cost more, which may see them take their business elsewhere.

Outsourcing will increase

Expect companies to start diversifying the way they get goods to customers. One particular method is going to be outsourcing fulfillment to companies that have multiple warehouses. It’s a smart way to avoid supply chain bottlenecks because it minimizes the chances that a local outbreak will impact your entire fulfillment operations.

For some ecommerce companies, this outsourcing may come with a small benefit of reaching customers more quickly (once they get stock to third-party logistics providers), while also protecting some workers. If we see sustained infections and spreading of the virus, there’s a potential that many small ecommerce businesses will start outsourcing their entire fulfillment operations.

In the short-term, that could cause some issues with warehouse space and fulfillment staff. In the long run, it might cause cost reductions and lead to greater product availability.

Companies who can figure out how to avoid delivery slowdowns — such as large ones able to own and use their own delivery fleet — will dominate the market. The U.S. has faced a truck driver shortage for years, and growth in outsourcing may help curb some of that, but it would come with higher wages for those who have a greater potential risk of being exposed to the Coronavirus and other health concerns.

Our world will look different tomorrow

We’ve fully embraced the gig economy and home delivery, and there’s a potential it all comes crashing down. Whether these employees continue work amid growing exposure (and even after becoming sick) or if services start slowing down, it’ll impact the daily lives of many Americans.

Businesses will also face changes in the way we bring people to the office, help staff pay for healthcare, and what processes we no longer choose to do to protect ourselves. The global, interconnected supply chain is already changing, and nothing but time will tell us how profound and varied this impact is.

_____________________________________________________________

Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.