Monthly Archives: June 2013

Make Sure Your Savings Don’t Perish With Your Perishables

A recent article over on Inbound Logistics on Cutting Costs When Shipping Perishables had some great tips on how to reduce your perishable related costs while shipping. This post will cover them, and provide some more tips for reducing perishable related costs while also increasing your sustainability.

All ten tips were good, but the following five were very good and often overlooked:

  • Know the seasonality trend in the regions you source from.
    This will allow you to adjust your shipping patterns to take advantage of excess capacity in advance.
  • Become a C-TPAT member.
    This expedites the release of your cargo, which is very, very, very important when shipping perishables. Sometimes it only takes a few extra hours on a truck on a scorching hot day to ruin a shipment.
  • Include ALL commodities to be imported on a single USDA import permit.
    Not only does this save time and money, but it minimizes the chance of a permit being lost and the entire truck held up for one item!
  • Purchase an annual bond.
    Not only does this save time and money, especially if you’d file a lot of single entry bonds otherwise, but, along with C-TPAT membership, it shows you are a serious, regular importer of these goods and not a fly-by-night operation which might exist only to smuggle drugs in the citrus boxes.
  • Do not load produce at night.
    When it’s easy for insects and other pests to get in unnoticed. Not only can a family of spiders ruin the grapes, but they might be illegal in the company you’re importing into, which would result in your truck getting stopped at the border and turned around.

Other ways to save money include:

  • Always home-source during harvest season.
    Unit prices might be higher, but shipping will be lower, and loss will be lower still as you won’t risk losing product in long shipments, which happens regularly when trucks break down and/or get held up at the border. Plus, many people will pay a slight premium for local produce.
  • Know the seasonality for key staples in every region, not just the ones you generally source from.
    This will make sure you’re always sourcing from the region with the most supply, which will help you to get you the lowest costs as you will be able to negotiate better unit prices and secure transportation in advance when prices are low.
  • Always import full trucks.
    With the current cost of fuel, shipping adds a considerable cost component, so you want to minimize it as much as possible. This may require an optimization solution as you have to figure out whether to:

    • order more of a seasonal item to fill the truck, and then make sure an appropriate special is offered by sales to insure the extra units are sold before they perish
    • rebalance out-of-season items from one locale to another – i.e. you would normally buy oranges from Argentina, but moving the order to Mexico during banana season will fill the truck
    • order more of an out-of-season item with a longer life span, keep it properly refrigerated, and increase the length between orders
  • If the perishables will be processed, re-optimize the processing network.
    If you’re going to can, freeze, or otherwise process the perishables into a less perishable product, do it as close to the source as possible, even if it means using new suppliers or investing in new manufacturing plants. These refined products, which are typically denser, and which may not even require refrigeration, will be much cheaper to ship and suffer a lesser risk of loss.
  • Have a plan to sell excess perishables once they reach their prime before they perish.
    50% off at the store is not always good enough, especially if they are marked down an hour before closing on a Tuesday night and will not be saleable tomorrow. For example, even overripe, tomatoes are still great for pastes and soups. You could have each store strike a deal with local restaurants that allow them to buy perishables at prime at a discount before they are unuseable, or, if you are socially responsible, setup a donation program with a local shelter or soup kitchen where the shelter can pick up perishing items each day before close before they perish (and take your cash with them). Done right, you could probably even get a charity tax write off (as long as the items were donated while still edible). You may consider these ideas beyond the scope of sourcing, but you shouldn’t when you consider that 1 in 7 people in the world are undernourished and almost 40% of food is wasted in North America. Fix this. You have the power.

Why You Need a Master Data Strategy to Properly Do Supplier Information Management

Supplier Information Management is more than just buying a Supplier Information Management (SIM) solution and plopping it into your data centre. Much more. But yet, it seems that some people — anxious to deal with the visibility, risk management, and supplier performance issues facing them — believe that merely obtaining a SIM solution will solve their problems. A proper solution properly acquired, properly implemented, and properly used will go a long way to increasing supply chain visibility, enabling risk management and mitigation, and providing a solid foundation for supplier performance management, but the mere presence of such a solution in your supply management application suite is about as useful as a drill in the hands of a carpenter holding a nail.

You see, Supplier Information will never be restricted to the SIM system. Supplier information will always be present in the ERP system used for resource planning and manufacturing, the accounts payable system, the transactional procurement / procure-to-pay system, the sourcing suite, the contract management system, the risk management solution, the performance tracking and scorecard system, the sustainability / CSR solution, and other systems employed in your organizational back-office to manage the different supply management AND business functions. Supplier data is everywhere, and without a strategy, just shoving it into the SIM system won’t help.

In order to get a proper grip on supplier information, the organization needs a master data strategy that dictates the sub-records that define a supplier record and which system holds the master data for each sub-record. What do we mean by this? For example, the ERP may hold the core supplier identifier sub-record that defines the unique supplier number in your system, the supplier name, the supplier’s tax number, and your customer number in the eyes of the supplier and be the system of record for this information. The accounts payable system, referencing the supplier by it’s supplier number, may be the system of record for the headquarters address and payment address. The contract management system may be the system of record for the list of employees authorized to sign contracts on behalf of the supplier. The CSR system may be the system of record for the suppliers’ carbon rating, third party CSR rating, and your internal sustainability rating. And so on.

If this is the case, the SIM system, to truly be a SIM solution for your organization, needs to integrate with all of these systems and encode the proper rules to resolve data conflicts as required. Specifically, three things need to happen. First of all, whenever a system of record updates data, that data must be pulled into the system and overwrite the existing data. Secondly, anytime data is updated in the SIM system for which it is the system of record, that data must be pushed out to all systems that use it. Thirdly, and this part is sometimes overlooked, whenever data is updated in a system of record, the data not only needs to be pulled into the SIM system, but it then needs to be pushed out to any system that also uses that data. The SIM solution is the centre of a hub-and-spoke data architecture — all updates flow in, and all updates flow out.

This can only be properly accomplished with an appropriate Master Data Strategy. Don’t overlook it. Otherwise your SIM solution will turn out to be a Stuck In Muck solution. An SI is not kidding about this.

It’s the 75th Birthday of the Civil Aeronautics Authority!

That’s right. Seventy-five (75) years ago today, the Civil Aeronautics Act was signed into law and the Civil Aeronautics Authority was formed. Responsible for determining the routes that air carriers can serve, and regulating the fares, the Civil Aeronautics Authority, later split into the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) by Roosevelt in 1940, the two authorities split from the Civil Aeronautics Authority collectively oversee air traffic control, safety programs, airway development, safety rule-making, accident investigation, and economic regulation of the air carriers you depend on everyday to get your air freight to or from its US destination.

With air travel and air shipping an integral part of everyday life, it’s sometimes tough to imagine that the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight occurred only 110 years ago (on December 17, 1903) and that the first attempt to move freight by air occurred only 103 years ago on November 7, 1910, when Phil O. Parmalee carried two bolts of silk on his Wright Model B from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio. The first round-the-world shipment was only 74 years ago when Kellog’s Corn Flakes sponsored the first air express round-the-world shipment that departed Battle Creek, MI on February 22, 1939 and arrived back on March 22, 1939. Furthermore, the first commercial airline dedicated to cargo did not emerge until two years later, in 1941, when the big four airlines banded together to create Air Cargo Inc. Civil aviation and commercial air cargo hasn’t been around all that long. The only shipping mainstay that is younger is the freight container, which revolutionized ocean shipping in 1956 and has done more for global trade than any government or treaty ever did.

So let’s all wish the Civil Aeronautics Authority a happy 75thbirthday and drink a Keith‘s*. It’s clear they did something right!

* 75 is a Keith number, after all!

Are You Prepared for a Transient-Advantage Economy?

In our three-part series this week on The End of Competitive Advantage, we described the reality facing many companies in industries where the concept of a sustainable competitive advantage has went the way of the dodo. We also noted that for these companies to survive, they had to learn to adapt to a new model where they competed in arenas, built up and tore down opportunity teams as the need arose, and gave up on the classical idea of persistent organizational structure. However, what we didn’t note was what it meant for you.

The last chapter of Rita Gunther McGrath’s book addressed the issue of what transient advantage means for you, personally, and it’s probably the most important chapter of the book for those of you where your working world is turning upside down.

What it means for you is that if you cannot adapt, you are vulnerable to losing not only your job, but your livelihood as your job might disappear. It happens. When was the last time you saw an elevator operator OUTSIDE of a classic-era hollywood movie? In order to help you figure out if you are vulnerable, and your level of vulnerability, the chapter presents you with 10 questions. If you answer no to any of them, you have some degree of vulnerability. If you answer no to five or more, look out – as the times they are a-changin’ for you!

If my current employer let me go, it would be relatively easy for me to find a similar role in another organization for equivalent compensation.
If the demand for your job is shrinking, then it might be the market is shrinking, or going away entirely, like the demand for physical film.

If I lost my job today, I am well prepared and know immediately what I would do next.
Even if you’re in the perfect job, are secure in that job, and have nothing to fear – disruptive innovations that eliminate entire industries pop up more often than you think.

I’ve worked in some meaningful capacity with at least five different organizations within the last two years.
This doesn’t have to be five different companies, but could be five different departments in your company. Adaptability is key.

I’ve learned a meaningful new skill that I didn’t have before in the last two years, whether it is work related or not.
The world is changing faster and faster and data is being produced at an unparalleled rate. A recent EMC study projects a nearly 45-Fold annual data growth rate by 2020. If you are not attempting to keep up, you will not keep up.

I’ve attended a course or training program within the last two years, either in person or virtually.
Training and education can expedite your learning process.

I could name, off the top of my head, at least ten people who would be good leads for new opportunities.
Networking is more than making, and poking, friends on Facebook.

I actively engage with at least two professional or personal networks.
Just like sole source is a recipe for supply chain disaster, a single focus could trap you in a dead-end network.

I have enough resources that I could take the time to retrain, work for a small salary, or volunteer in order to get access to a new opportunity.
Given the average amount of time to find a new job today, you should have a six month buffer. Just in case.

I can make income from a variety of activities, not just my salary.
If salaries are going away, you better have other options.

I am able to relocate or travel to find new opportunities.
You may not have to relocate permanently, but it’s a dynamic, shifting world, migrating to not just cities, but mega regions. As Richard Florida noted in Who’s Your City, talent, innovation, and creativity — are not distributed evenly across the global economy. They concentrate in specific locations. You may need to be there, at least for a time.

Now, if you answered yes to all ten (10) of these, and you aren’t already working in Supply Management – you should be, as this fits the profile of a go-getter up-and-coming Supply Management Professional. Source on!