Seasoned Leadership in Action™ – An Interview with Ron Emery, Continuous Improvement Consultant

At Supply Chain Game Changer we believe in sharing experiences and expertise from people in every industry and from across the globe.  As such we have introduced our “Seasoned Leadership in Action” Interview series at Supply Chain Game Changer. This interview is with Ron Emery, Continuous Improvement Consultant, Author and Entrepreneur.

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The Supply Chain Carbon Footprint Reduction Strategy! (Infographic)

Unchaining Change Leadership

When I was 11 years old everyone in Grade 6 was required to create and make a speech in front of the class.  I wrote a speech on Air Pollution.  It was an emerging issue in the news at that time.  I talked about statistics on the levels of Air Pollution, the damage it was causing, and what we needed to do to curtail and fix the problem.  This was long before I had heard the words Supply Chain Carbon Footprint.

I ended up winning the local and regional public speaking competitions with that speech.  I didn’t actually end up doing much about Air Pollution beyond helping to promote awareness of the issue with my speech.  But it did plant the idea in my mind that we all had a responsibility to  create awareness and help protect our environment in whatever manner that we could.

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Streamline your Entire Distribution Centre or Warehouse at One Time!

How many times have you looked at your Distribution Centre operation and thought about how you would re-layout and streamline the process flow if you had the chance?

When you are starting with a new, empty facility it is clearly much easier to layout the operations to make the best possible flow of materials and processes.  But when you have an existing operation which has evolved over a long period of time, you are likely faced with utilities, equipment, infrastructure, walls, and paradigms all of which have resulted in a rather inefficient flow of materials and people and processes.

This was the situation we had in one of our Distribution Centres. In this particular Distribution Centre the current layout of the operation had been the result of many iterations of adding new customers, new products and new processes over time with the associated fluctuations in demand for everything.

Yet with the launch of our Global Process Excellence project we had unleashed our employees to make the improvements they had imagined could be made for a long time.

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Can Lean Manufacturing Really Help Supply Chain?

From the outset, it may not seem relevant to someone who has never applied lean manufacturing processes to their manufacturing methods. On the other hand, lean manufacturing processes can really help the supply chain perform a lot better.

In fact, some of the core principles of lean can also be applied directly to supply chains for making them more productive and efficient. Stay with us as we explain the connection between the two.

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On Time Delivery – Get that right First!

No matter what industry you are in and no matter what channels you are serving your Customers expect delivery of their goods on time.

You may have different pressures, to increase profits for instance, but you must take care of the basic expectation of on time delivery first.

If you don’t have on time delivery all your other pressures will not matter.   Your customers will go elsewhere and your business will fail.  Even if you have a unique product that no one else in the world has (for now) you must deliver on time to your customers.  If not there will always come a time when your customers will be able to go elsewhere.

Providing on time delivery may seem basic.  But it is the foundation on which the rest of your business must be built.

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The Agile Supply Chain! Why Agility is Trumping Lean!

The modern supply chain grows increasingly complex with each passing day. The digitization, focusing on fundamentals and change, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and many other factors are transforming how the agile supply chain functions.

Once, the lean supply chain was considered to be the most effective form of manufacturing and supply chain management. However, a new concept in supply chain processes, the agile supply chain, is quickly growing to replace the often overused term.

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Featuring Our 12 Best Global Process Excellence ™ Articles!

Unchaining Change Leadership

The company I had just joined had over two dozen logistics and distribution facilities around the world. While there were a lot of great people in those operations they had little interaction with their peers around the globe. But best global process excellence procedures were nowhere to be seen.

The result was that they operated as a series of islands, each developing and customizing every process for their own purposes. Over time this resulted in diminished operational and cost effectiveness and no optimization whatsoever.

And with customers looking at doing business in multiple facilities at the same time it was impossible to explain why this was not seamless given the inherent process disparities.

As such I launched a new program, Global Process Excellence™, to define and deploy the best, standardized processes everywhere. This article is a compilation of our best articles documenting that journey of leadership and discovery, which in some cases resulted in achieving Best in Class results.

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How to Improve Industrial Process Efficiencies!

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Industrial efficiency is defined as a manufacturer’s ability to produce a product at the lowest possible cost that will allow them to make a profit. To calculate the industrial process efficiencies, the cost of production per unit must be compared to the unit output of that product. Ideally, industrial processes should have a lower cost per unit of output to be deemed efficient in any manufacturing plant. 

Efficiency can also be improved by limiting the number of wasted resources that are used to produce a specific product.

Read on to understand how industrial processes can be made more efficient.

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Cost Cutting! Brute Force or An Intelligent Program?

How many times have you been asked to cut cost?  How many times have you been asked to cut costs so deeply that it is beyond your comprehension?

In those situations you can always use the Brute Force method.  Hacking and slashing resources and expenses in this way often compromises the very capabilities, skills, morale and services that are keeping your company afloat in  the first place.  But it can be quick.

But if you have the chance to deploy a proper Change Management program to drive the cost reductions or other improvements that you are looking for then you may have many more constructive opportunities in front of you.

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

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?

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Supply Chain as a Service (SCaaS)!

I began my career working in a manufacturing plant within an international company that was completely vertically integrated. From component manufacturing through to subassembly manufacturing and end product assembly they did it all.

Within 10 years the company experienced a number of site closures and declared that manufacturing was no longer a core competency. For the site that I was a part of this meant that closure was an inevitability.

Faced with this stark reality we made the choice to spin off from the parent organization and start our own new company, entering the world of Contract Manufacturing.

This was my first experience with Outsourcing, or what I refer to as “Supply Chain as a Service” (SCaaS).

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Warehouse Cleaning Checklist! (Infographic)

Maintaining a high standard in warehouse cleanling is about more than just creating a more pleasant and attractive workplace. It can in fact contribute to greater safety, better employee health, longer-lasting equipment, reduced merchandise damage, and increased productivity. 

Warehouses can be hectic environments at the best of times, so sometimes it can be hard to find time for cleaning. To keep your warehouse spic-and-span, try to allot a few minutes at the end of every day for cleaning. Deep cleans do not need to be done as often, but you should aim to schedule them in at least once a month. 

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Introducing Lean In Retail … Start in the Backroom!

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.  What did this mean for the backroom in every store?

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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Future of Energy for Manufacturing!

Today manufacturers must continually look for waste reduction, process improvement and supply chain efficiency to meet competitive pressures and their customers’ cost reduction requirements for the future of energy. Programs such as Lean have become a popular means to develop a culture of simplification and constant improvement. 

Although Lean principles provide an excellent basis for managing energy costs, such costs are often left out of an efficiency drive…

Why is that?

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Is Just In Time Past Its Time?

The prospect of having a Just In Time (JIT) Supply Chain system has been the goal of innumerable businesses and industries for decades. And for those who have implemented Just In Time processes it has been the backbone of their entire operating structure.

But the global pandemic exposed the fragility of the Supply Chain in virtually every industry. We quickly ran out of healthcare supplies, toilet paper, and more. The extent of disruption has spread to lumber, steel, computer chips, automobiles, furnaces, and any number of additional products.

The fundamental principle of just in time delivery based on real time demand, combined with the unrelenting focus on inventory levels and faster inventory turnover, has created an operating paradigm that is great when things are going well, but which has proven to be ill-equipped to handle disruption the likes of which the pandemic has created.

Does that mean that a Just In Time philosophy has outlived its usefulness? Is JIT past its time?

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