Is Just In Time Past Its Time?

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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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Global Process Excellence™: Defining the Roadmap for Best In Class Results

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Global Process Excellence™” was to be the platform on which we would propel the company’s Operations upward toward Best In Class status.  Our Call To Action objectives were clear:

  • We had a clear requirement to improve our profitability
  • We needed to respond to customer expectations for increased value and a consistent, exceptional customer experience in all Distribution Centres
  • We needed to lean out the operations and improve our productivity
  • We needed to create Best in Class capabilities
  • We needed to enable profitable growth on the back of an enhanced Operating model, capacity and capabilities
  • And we needed to unleash the tremendous experience and expertise that resided within our employees

Now we needed to formulate our Roadmap: the Approach, the Mandate, a set of Ground rules, and a process of Governance to bring together everything that would now be called Global Process Excellence™.

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10 Signs You Should Reboot Your Lean Program!

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How many people make a New Year’s resolution to adopt a Lean program and “Lean” yourself out only to abandon it shortly thereafter?

One of the top New Year’s resolutions is to start exercising. In January the local gyms are filled. But by February those gyms are much emptier and many of those well meaning people are still at home.

What do you do when your Lean program at work suffers the same fate? How do you know when your improvement program needs to be improved?

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4 Ways to Run a More Sustainable Business!

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A business owner has many responsibilities. They have to make sure profits are made while also ensuring that their employees are paid, taxes are filed, and so on. However, there is one aspect that has grown significantly in terms of importance and visibility in recent years: running a more sustainable business

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A Don’t Touch Supply Chain Strategy Must Now Dominate The Future!

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The overarching strategy for limiting exposure to, and spreading of, the Coronavirus is that of Social Distancing. We are all instructed to keep 6 feet apart from anyone, wear masks, and avoid any social gatherings and don’t touch. How does this relate to a Don’t Touch Supply Chain strategy?

Even with social distancing, the global lockdowns, temporary closures of many businesses and disruptions of economies everywhere there are still Supply Chains in action, as disrupted as they may be.

Truckers are still moving goods to points of consumption and essential services such as grocery stores are still in operation, providing the basic goods we all need to live. Everyone involved in these Supply Chains is abiding by the social distancing and protective mandates we all are adhering to.

How can Supply Chains be changed in the future to make them more robust and resilient and less disrupted by any future catastrophes, and god forbid, a future pandemic?

One approach is to develop and deploy Don’t Touch Supply Chain strategies!

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Create a Responsive Supply Chain to Handle Peaks and Lulls!

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Creating a Responsive Supply Chain in advance of the peak shopping season is a no-brainer. While the season is usually described as the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, responsive processes have a lasting effect.

A Responsive Supply Chain offers greater flexibility with labor management, streamlines warehouse operations, reduces dock constraints, and much more. Managing the balance between peaks and lulls is essential, and supply chain leaders are starting to focus more on building responsive, proactive strategies well in advance of the peak holiday shopping season.

As noted by Inbound Logistics, “Many manufacturers start assembling products, mapping out product specs to determine capacity needs, and working with their transportation and distribution partners on reliable and cost-effective logistics solutions up to six months in advance.” 

To stay competitive, leaders need to understand the value of a responsive supply chain and what best practices to follow to build responsiveness intuitively into the supply chain.

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The Humble Label – Too Many Are Used!

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We need to move away from the printed label!

I retired from a multi-national supply chain management company to become a co-owner of a label manufacturing company, which was a real culture change for me.

In the past discussions were held with a Director or Vice President of Supply Chain or Procurement or even the Chief Operations Officer about the design or re-design of the Supply Chain.  In my new position, I get to meet the buyers or an executive in charge or procuring labels.  In some companies they are categorized as “Consumables”.

There is very little high level attention paid to labels due to the low cost of the labels which can be a few cents to less than a cent. Many buyers feel that the labels are such insignificant parts of the product and place very little time and attention in the sourcing and procurement of the labels.

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Global Process Excellence ™ : A Journey From Disarray To Best In Class!

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SC Viral The Pandemic Diaries

My first Management job was on the Manufacturing floor on 3rd shift.  It was company policy … anyone’s first Management job was in Manufacturing.  The principle was sound: to really understand how the business operated you needed to be at the very core of what it did, which in this case was Manufacturing.  Only then could you really learn the business and how to work with people.

So as I started a new job further along in my career, with responsibility for Distribution Centres around the world, I knew that I was not going to learn what I needed to know from behind a desk looking at Powerpoint slides with pictures and statistics.  I needed to go to each and every facility and learn about the operation right from the floor.

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Value Stream Mapping the Current State Process!

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We had to begin the transformation of the company’s business processes to support the new business objectives.  This would mean value stream mapping the current state process.  Specifically the company was going to carry a dramatically different set of products which required a new set of capabilities in Strategic Planning, Merchandising, Marketing, Procurement, Inventory Management, Retail Operations and Logistics. 

That scope defined the set of processes we needed to change first.  The overall goal was to enable the transformation of the company which would manifest itself in higher revenue, improved growth and profitability, greater customer satisfaction and superior employee engagement.

We decided to attack this by introducing the Lean technique of Value Stream Mapping to the organization.  We had to start with mapping the Current State process.

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Full Case Fulfillment – The Retail Holy Grail!

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The retail company I had joined had just invested $25 million to automate their Distribution Centre. They automated the process of fulfilling orders in individual units, or eaches, instead of case fulfillment.

As I learned more and more about the system and the operation it became obvious to me that the entire paradigm that went into the $25 million investment was wrong. They wasted at least $20 million by perpetuating individual unit.

They could have save a lot of time and money by changing their fundamental operating model to one of case fulfillment – the Retail Holy Grail!

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Using Lean Management for Inventory!

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What is Lean Management for inventory?

What techniques are applied to make it successful?

More firms are implementing lean inventory management techniques to reduce costs, improve flexibility and have more time to focus on their customers.

Lean supply chain and inventory management enable Small Medium Businesses (SMB) to improve efficiency and increase profits.

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Warehouse Fulfillment – Move Material to the People, Not Vice Versa!

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“Here Come The Bots!”

Wow!  This was the headline caption on the presentation I was about to see.  I had just joined the company.  I had just spent the last few years in Retail.  I had done a lot of research on how to improve efficiencies and productivity in Online/E-Commerce Fulfillment Distribution Centres.  And I had lived through the agonizing process and resource challenges of fulfilling E-Commerce orders during the Holiday season, which is far and away the busiest time of the year in Retail.

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

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SC Viral The Pandemic Diaries

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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