Daily Archives: November 27, 2009

A North American Near-Shoring Obstacle

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is from Dick Locke, Sourcing Innovation’s resident expert on International Sourcing and Procurement. (His previous guest posts are still archived.)

It appears that Mexican drug cartels are taking advantage of the US’ C-TPAT program to occasionally put marijuana into trucks that have been granted expedited clearance into the US. How serious is this?

Here are a couple of articles:
Trucker Program Attracts Drug Smugglers
Mexican Drug Smugglers Taking Advantage of New Program That Speeds Truckers Across the Border

If you dig into the articles you will see that there are about 5 million north-bound truckloads crossing the Mexican border annually. In two weeks CPB found four shipments containing marijuana. They say that ten percent of the trucks are inspected, but it’s not clear if that’s ten percent of all trucks or ten percent of the C-TPAT certified trucks. Worst case, that’s 20 trucks carrying marijuana per week, or 1,000 per year. That comes to 200 trucks per million. Your judgements will vary on how serious this is.

C-TPAT was not designed to catch drug smugglers. Of course, the obvious question is whether terrorists could substitute a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) for the marijuana. Theoretically it’s possible of course. However, I don’t think the Mexican drug cartels would do so voluntarily. A cynic would say that their customer base in the US is too valuable to them, and there are probably other reasons as well.

But the articles do raise some questions. Certified trucks are only required to notify the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff 30 minutes ahead of reaching the border. This is in marked contrast to the Container Security Initiative that applies to ocean freight. For ocean freight, CBP must be notified of the contents of all containers 24 hours before a US bound container ship is loaded.

CBP is also finding trucks where secure seals have been broken or circumvented by removing doors at the hinges. That’s disturbing. These are the same seals that are used on ocean freight containers.

My thought is that there will probably be more delays at the border. One sensible approach would be to require trucks coming from further into Mexico than the immediate border area to provide more advance notice. CBP tries to judge security risks at least partly based on the names of the shipper and receiver and more time to react would help them select riskier for further inspection.

Dick Locke, Global Procurement Group.

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SupplierSoft and its Supplier Process Management Solution

Last year, the Sourcing Maniacs introduced you to SupplierSoft, a provider of Supplier Data and Process Management solutions as part of their vendor tour.

SupplierSoft is a unique solution not only because they’re one of the few companies that understand the importance of centralizing all of the supplier process management solutions in a common platform (because supplier management is more than just supplier information management and supplier risk assessments, two prominent directions that their competitors are moving in), but because they decided to build their solution on the #1 CRM platform, SalesForce.com. As noted in the previous post, there is a lot of similarity between CRM and SRM, since both require extensive information management and the ability to capture and organize the data against relevant business processes.

Despite its recent market entry, the SupplierSoft platform is one of the most extensive Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) and Supplier Information Management (SIM) platforms on the market with supplier management, audit management, corrective action management, product compliance management (PCM), environmental compliance management (ECM), bill-of-material (BOM) analysis, and end-to-end reporting modules.

Over the past year, they have significantly extended their regulatory compliance capabilities in their PCM and ECM modules with extensive customizable BOM and (PDF & web) forms support. You can collect data at any level of the BOM, which rolls up into higher-level components and reports, which can then be drilled into as required. This allows you to focus only on exceptions and non-compliance, which is a must when you have thousands of parts that collectively use thousands of compounds that you need to track to maintain compliance with RoHS, WEEE, and REACH (which is about to get a lot more involved as it works its way through the SIN List). The solution allows you to define custom forms, with defaults, that allow you to only collect the regulatory data relevant to you, which can then be (automatically) customized (by the system) for each supplier with respect to the products they supply you (and the declared components and/or raw materials). SupplierSoft’s clients have found that by creating easy-to-use custom forms, they get better responses to their regulatory compliance efforts with less work on their part. In one customer’s case, the compliance manager was able to free up half the staff to work on initiatives more important than just ensuring the supplier provides all of the necessary information.

A good compliance management solution, which SupplierSoft provides, is becoming very important because:

  • it significantly reduces data collection, review, and reporting costs
    which are becoming more and more significant as a flurry of global regulations are forcing many companies to keep electronic mountains of data
  • it reduces time to market for new products
    which can get delayed due to regulatory reporting requirements if you can’t fill out all of the forms and provide the necessary supplier documentation on-demand
  • it reduces risk
    as manual processes can allow non-compliant raw materials and parts to “sneak” through, which can result in forced recall and significant revenue losses; it also provides you with a “due diligence” defense should you be accused of recklessness in your regulatory compliance efforts
  • it contributes to a 360° view of suppliers
    which is very important to your SPM program

So if you’re looking for an SRM solution and you’re looking at Aravo, CVM, or another big name SIM/SPM/SRM solutions vendor, you might want to give SupplierSoft a look as well. Like their competition, they’re currently getting a lot of attention from a couple of Fortune 100’s and I expect they’ll be getting more attention as time goes on. You won’t know what option is truly right for you unless you look at all of the relevant ones.

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