A “Don’t Touch” Strategy will Dramatically Lean out your Supply Chain!

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The box I was looking at in the Pick-To-Light (PTL)  lane was full of at least 1-2 dozen different skus with as many as one to twenty of each sku in the box.  It looked like the insides of a piñata in there.  Although a piñata is used in celebrations I was quite sure that when the retail store opened the box they wouldn’t be celebrating.

All along the PTL conveyor every box looked like an explosion of different skus in different quantities.  At every station an employee was following the lights and picking a different quantity of each sku from one set of boxes and putting them in the “piñata” box.

I knew that this was the way it had historically been done, and the company had just spent millions and millions of dollars automating this historic process, but from a Lean perspective the whole approach was wasteful, slow, and expensive.

Was it really necessary to touch every single piece of every single sku multiple times?

Continue reading “A “Don’t Touch” Strategy will Dramatically Lean out your Supply Chain!”

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Freight and Logistics (Part 2) – Do you have a Freight Management Strategy or are you Spinning your Wheels?

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In going door to door trying to sell a Freight Management service, as well as in my experience working in companies, I have had the opportunity to see a variety of ways in which companies, large and small, were managing their Freight and Logistics spend.

Most everyone felt they were doing a good job already.  But I’ve seen instances where Freight is one of the top 5 largest expenses within a company.  Yet it is managed by one or two people, with no support, and no visibility from upper management.

Depending on the industry  your transportation spend can make up anywhere from 1-10% of your company’s total revenue.  Aside from the    cost impact the service implications of a poor Freight management system are enormous.

So do you have a strategy for managing Freight and Logistics or are you spinning your wheels?

Continue reading “Freight and Logistics (Part 2) – Do you have a Freight Management Strategy or are you Spinning your Wheels?”

From Click to Ship in 4 Minutes! … Principles for World Class E-Commerce Fulfillment

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The capability we had in E-Commerce order fulfillment was rather basic.  We had employees manually pushing carts up and down standard warehouse racking aisles picking goods off of shelves.  And when they had completed an order or a set of orders they would then push the entire cart back to a centralized order packing station.

As a Supply Chain Services company we needed a dramatically better capability if we were wanted to have customers trust their growing E-Commerce business with us.  Pushing carts around a warehouse is both inefficient and lacks innovation.

We had to go back to the drawing board.  But in doing so we would end up with a World Class solution!

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Change Leadership (Part 5) – Unleash Your Employees’ Ideas to Truly Change the Game!

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Organizations that are either considered high performing or who aspire to become high performing understand that their employees are their greatest asset.  A company can only achieve its overall objectives if their employees are aligned, on board and driving toward those goals.

At its core your employees understand how well or how poorly the day-to-day processes in your company run better than anyone else.  They also have tremendous ideas on how to improve those processes, how to improve your metrics, and how to achieve your objectives.

So how do you tap in to that intellect, unleash those ideas, and empower your employees in an organized and efficient manner?  How do you get your finger on the pulse of what is on your employee’s minds?

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Global Process Excellence (Part 4) – Introducing Lean In Retail … Start in the Backroom!

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The Retail company I had just joined was undergoing a massive transformation.  Fundamentally the new merchandising strategy was to curate a dramatically different set of products from that which was carried historically, but in addition to what was carried historically.

This meant that an enormous number of the business processes had to be transformed to support the new product set because management of the new merchandise required much different capabilities in all aspects of running a retail company.  Not only did this transformation require new capabilities but it also required  improvements to productivity and efficiency throughout the company.  And overall this meant a need for cultural change.

I decided that I would introduce Lean process improvement techniques to this company.

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Freight and Logistics (Part 1) – Why don’t you have a TMS Solution yet?

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Why have so few companies adopted a Transportation Management System (TMS) solution?  There are tremendous benefits but there are obstacles, real or perceived, that get in the way. I believe that the benefits far outweigh the obstacles but the obstacles often do not have anything to do with the benefits.

Many years ago I started a Supply Chain Services business as a new service within the company. The fundamental premise was that we had great Supply Chain expertise, tools, systems and processes which we could easily offer to customers.

One of the services that was very compelling was our Freight Management service. We had a tremendous amount of spend leverage globally, a seasoned team, great supplier relationships, very strong processes, and an excellent Transportation Management System (TMS). With all of that we went to market!

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Inventory Turnover Breakthrough (Part 5) – From Worst to First!

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We launched the Global Inventory Turnover Breakthrough project on April 1st.  It was not a joke.  Our challenge was to improve Inventory turnover from 6.3 turns to over 8.6 turns within the year.  This was a level of achievement that the company had never before reached.

But we had the Call to Action.  Our Inventory turnover was perennially the worst in our industry.  Our Inventory levels were consuming an enormous amount of cash as well as creating a lot of expense in carrying charges.  And this had the effect of driving our Return on Invested Capital to very low, unattractive levels.  Further there were ongoing complaints that even though we had a lot of inventory we  never had all of the right material that was needed.

We had the motivation to turn this situation around.  What we didn’t know is that we were about to make history and go from Worst to First!

Continue reading “Inventory Turnover Breakthrough (Part 5) – From Worst to First!”