Lean in the Back Office … Why is it so difficult?

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Implementing a Lean program on the Manufacturing floor, in a Warehouse operation, or in a Distribution Centre is challenging enough.  There are a series of process steps in which materials are transformed or moved in some fashion.  Try implementing Lean in the Back Office.

And your Lean program has at its core the objective of making these operations as efficient as possible. But when you try to apply these same Lean principles to the support organizations, or the back office, you are likely to experience a wide range of reactions.

So why is it so difficult to implement, and sustain, a Lean program in the Back Office of your organization?

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Value Stream Mapping the Future State Process!

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Unchaining Change Leadership

We had completed value stream mapping the current state processes across some very significant business processes in the company.  It took a fair amount of time even though we had the active involvement of subject matter experts and leaders from every functional organization.

When all was said and done the current state involved hundreds of process steps, almost 200 pain points, and dozens of iterative, repetitive loops.  The company was just being introduced to Lean process improvement techniques.  And as challenging as it was to reach a common understanding of what the current processes were the difficult part was about to start.

How were we going to define and map the Future State process?

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The Disintermediation of the Supply Chain!

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What is disintermediation?

Most definitions of disintermediation characterize it as the elimination of intermediaries, or “cutting out the middleman“.

Further consider that the “Wastes” associated with Lean thinking and principles include transportation, inventory, over production and motion amongst others. Eliminating these wastes is critical for peak performance.

Why is this relevant?

A truly efficient and effective Supply Chain must include a strategy, plans, business processes, and performance metrics that incorporate disintermediation and the elimination of waste!

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Collaborative Robots: Making Manufacturing Jobs More Valuable

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Collaborative robots article provided by Tony Giovaniello, President, Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Shasta County.

First, a “Prime Objective” of the Shasta EDC is job growth in the manufacturing and technology sectors. This is our key focus. However, the recruitment, retention, and expansion of our companies is equally important.

There is obviously a symbiotic relationship between employer and employees. However, from time to time there are talent gaps that emerge and technologies that force us to rethink our approaches to business.

Data shows that the number of manufacturing jobs are declining, and the jobs that remain are shifting to a mixture of the traditional and tribal knowledge around manufacturing and a blend of technical knowledge that helps to augment current manufacturing with the practical application of emerging technologies.

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

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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)

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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!

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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?

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Lean manufacturing article and permission to publish here provided by Zaklina at Click Intelligence.

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!

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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!

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Agile Supply Chain article originally published by Veridian and permission to publish provided by Jason Rosing.

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 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!

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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 process efficiencies article and permission to publish here provided by Adam Smith.

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 efficiency of internal processes, 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?

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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!

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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?

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Supply Chain as a Service (SCaaS)!

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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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