Upskilling Supply Chain Professionals for a Sustainable Future

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

This week, I attended the GreenBiz 20 conference, which enables sustainability-focused professionals to explore business trends and develop recommendations for better organizational accountability and reporting. Those of us who participated in the supply chain track identified a number of tactics for aligning sustainability goals with supply chain activities. Two key strategies were enhanced cross-training and ongoing professional development.

Indeed, as global supply chains contend with extreme social, economic and ecological change, investing in our people becomes ever-more crucial. As World Economic Forum (WEF) President Børge Brende writes, “Valuing human capital not only serves to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to respond to systemic shifts, it also empowers them to take part in creating a more equal, inclusive and sustainable world.”

According to the WEF’s Future of Jobs Report, 75 million jobs in 20 major economies will be displaced by 2022. Meanwhile, as many as 133 million new roles will emerge to meet the demands of this ongoing transformation.

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These points are underpinned by PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, which reveals the opinions of about 1,600 chief executives from 83 countries. Two central themes that surfaced from the research were upskilling and climate change.

According to the report, the key forces driving the upskilling imperative include automation, less availability of talent, reduced mobility of skilled labor and the aging workforce. “One reality is clear,” the report states, “increases in automation, changes in demographics and new regulations will make it much harder for organisations to attract and retain the skilled talent they need to keep pace with the speed of technological change. They will have to grow their own future workforce.”

Importantly, the CEOs who have embraced upskilling report benefits including stronger corporate culture and employee engagement, greater ability to attract and retain workers, heightened levels of innovation, and enhanced productivity.

“Our current approach can’t continue,” Siemens U.S. CEO Barbara Humpton told PwC. “We don’t have nearly enough qualified applicants to hire because of the technical knowledge required. So we’re going to be training a lot of non-engineers to do jobs engineers would have done in the past.”

The CEOs surveyed also recognize the risk and opportunity of climate change, noting that related initiatives can lead to significant new product and service opportunities, as well as reputational advantages and financial incentives. A recent CNN article validates these findings, reporting that asset-management superpower BlackRock is putting sustainability “at the center of its approach to investing.” The firm currently oversees $7 trillion in investments, but soon will abandon any holdings considered to be a sustainability risk.

“Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” CEO Larry Fink stated in his January 2020 letter to CEOs.

The potential of our people

Today’s investments in talent set our supply chain organizations on an equal, inclusive and sustainable path to the future. At ASCM, we are here to support you in this effort, with a wide array of professional development programs, including APICS certifications and a body of knowledge that has been the global standard in supply chain learning and development for more than 60 years.

Companies around the world recognize the APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management; Certified Supply Chain Professional; and Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution designations. These credentials offer forward-looking, transformational education that will position your employees for ongoing success. Learn more about how you can cultivate and support your workforce with this essential learning and development.

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Seek Out These 10 Qualities for Ongoing Career Success

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

Do you know which skills are most vital to your professional future? More importantly, do you possess them?

According to the new World Economic Forum (WEF) report, “The Future of Jobs,” the top 10 proficiencies and workforce strategies for 2020 and beyond are

  1. complex problem-solving
  2. critical thinking
  3. creativity
  4. people management
  5. coordinating with others
  6. emotional intelligence
  7. judgement and decision-making
  8. service orientation
  9. negotiation
  10. cognitive flexibility.

These findings were derived from chief human resources and strategy officers at leading global employers. The executives were asked about current shifts in business and what they mean for employment, skills and recruitment across industries and geographies.

“By 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics,” says WEF senior writer Alex Gray. “These developments will transform the way we live and the way we work. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow, and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace.”

Although AI tackles many challenges that people cannot, machines are less likely to decipher complicated puzzles that are not clearly defined or span multiple industries. This is why complex problem-solving tops the WEF list. Likewise, critical thinking is a strictly human capability that enables us to process, visualize and make connections in a world of ambiguity and nuance.

With the constant influx of new technologies, it’s no wonder that creativity is among the top three skills. “Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans,” Gray explains, adding that negotiation and cognitive flexibility are at the bottom of the list because machines are increasingly making our decisions for us. In fact, 45% of WEF survey respondents believe AI will sit on company boards of directors by 2026.

“The future workforce will need to align its skillset to keep pace,” Gray writes. “Change won’t wait for us: Business leaders, educators and governments all need to be proactive in upskilling and retraining.”

The next five years

Something I found particularly interesting while reading the WEF report was the comparison between today’s top 10 and the list from just five years ago. While many skills were fairly comparable, others shifted dramatically (creativity). Some appeared for the first time (emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility), and some fell off the list altogether (quality control and active listening).

In ASCM’s 2019 Supply Chain Salary and Career Survey Report, 82% of respondents said they are likely to remain in the field for the next five years. As these people continue on their professional journeys, I can’t help but wonder what competences the supply chain careers of the future will demand of them. Indeed, our report revealed that job stability is strong — with about 75% of respondents either remaining in their current positions or being promoted last year — but what must supply chain professionals do to keep on this positive trajectory?

ASCM will explore these questions and many more with our 2020 Supply Chain Salary and Career Survey Report. Based on the findings, we will continue to revise and update our content to ensure you have all of the latest skills that employers are seeking. I invite you to add your perspectives as we collect this important data in order to better understand, inform and advance the global supply chain community. Take the survey here before January 31.

Abe Eshkenazi will give a keynote address at MEGATRANS, Melbourne on 1 April 2020 as a special host to ASCI. To register, visit: https://www.megatrans.com.au

The Lifesaving Potential of Drones

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By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

Reading current news headlines, it’s clear that the global supply chain landscape is constantly being reshaped by innovation. This past week, it was drones garnering much of the media attention.

Wing, Alphabet’s X lab drone, was reported to have completed 80,000 tests since 2014, leading to new collaborations with Walgreens and FedEx for food and beverage delivery. In addition, Alphabet is working with Southwest Virginia retailer Sugar Magnolia to distribute a range of sweet and savory treats, gifts, stationery, and paper goods.

In the coming months, Amazon will test its much-hyped Prime Air service in a to-be-determined location. The company says the drones will depart directly from fulfillment centers with Amazon Prime packages on board.

Uber’s drones will land right on top of Uber Eats driver vehicles, and a thermal feature will be contained within the drones to keep food items cold or hot. Uber has completed tests at a McDonald’s neighboring San Diego State University, and nearby residents soon will be able to order drone-delivered meals.

Going beyond convenience to actually protecting lives, entomologists Bart Knols of Radboud University, Richard Mukabana from the University of Nairobi and social entrepreneur Guido Welter have come up with the idea to use drones to spray a control agent in Tanzanian rice paddies, a natural mosquito breeding habitat. Malaria infects more than 10 million people every year in Tanzania, killing 80,000.

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Across the ocean, UPS and CVS announced they have completed the first U.S. deliveries of prescription medicines — one directly to a consumer’s home; the other to a retirement community. The drones launched from a CVS store in Cary, North Carolina, then hovered about 20 feet over the properties before slowly lowering the medicines to the ground.

CVS President Kevin Hourican says this demonstrates what’s possible for customers who can’t easily get to stores: “CVS is exploring many types of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets,” he adds. “We see big potential in drone delivery in rural communities.”

According to McKinsey & Company, when it comes to rural areas, drones are surprisingly cost-competitive, at just 10% more than the price of typical delivery models. The firm predicts that rural drone deliveries could comprise 13% of anything-to-consumer deliveries by 2025.

Supply chain research for a better world

ASCM is committed to supporting academic institutions that are researching how emerging trends can advance supply chains and ultimately create a better world. One of our recently awarded grants enables professors at the University of Missouri – St. Louis to explore drone use in less developed countries, where lack of vaccines contributes to high death rates. The professors also are investigating how drones can successfully deliver vaccines to remote communities while overcoming challenges related to maintaining the cold chain during travel.

The ASCM Research Subcommittee is currently seeking grant proposals focused on emerging trends, processes, techniques and technologies that will have an impact on supply chains and value networks of the future. The deadline is January 31. We invite you to download the guidelines and submit your proposal here.

Generate Worth from Waste

Extract from blog by ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

Here in ASCM’s hometown of Chicago, about 55 million pounds of food is wasted each month, despite the fact that one in six Chicagoans suffers from food insecurity. Alan Reed, executive director of nonprofit Chicagoland Food & Beverage, says this regrettable fact is what compels his organisation to work with both industry and food banks “in order to find new and innovative ways to address these issues.”

Reed’s comments remind me of a recent Wall Street Journal article, which highlights why some food and beverage industry giants are starting to see their trash cans in a different way — as an exciting new value stream. Starbucks is reprocessing the outer layer of its coffee beans into a natural sweetener. Mondelez is making snacks from parts of the cacao plant unused during chocolate production. And Kellogg Co. is collaborating with a craft brewer to ferment discolored cereal that would normally become animal feed. The first runs of Cast Off Pale Ale (made from Rice Krispies) and Sling It Out Stout (made from Coco Pops) sold out in hours.

Some clothing manufacturers are even turning food waste into leather alternatives. “This is not just a solution to the problem of waste,” Carmen Hijosa, founder of Ananas Anam, told The Journal. “It also brings a new income stream.” Her a company works with pineapple farmers in the Philippines, who traditionally would have burned or left leaves to rot after harvesting. The resulting leather alternative, Piñatex, is now used by Hugo Boss to make shoes; for a sustainable-clothing line at H&M; and at Hilton Worldwide, which covers footstools with the material for what the company calls vegan hotel rooms.

Learn from the best

Five inspiring presentations are currently being shared on “Foodbytes,” the blog of food and agriculture financial services provider Rabobank. These food technology innovators discuss what they believe to be the most pressing industry challenges, as well as some exciting potential solutions. One of these involves packaging that can sense when a company’s distribution, handling and warehousing processes are increasing the risk of food spoilage. By pinpointing the problem area, this tool can bring about smarter supply chains.

 

Is Blockchain the Remedy to Health Care Logistics Issues?

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By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

Increasingly, pharmaceutical companies are putting blockchain to the test in order to track and trace the drugs they manufacture and ship. In fact, according to Healthcare Weekly, blockchain is “getting massive attention” in health care, with 40 percent of industry executives reporting that it is one of their top five priorities.

Blockchain, a decentralized network that shares information with participants in real time, has clear potential to transform and advance health care logistics, transportation and distribution. “The technology offers a potential solution to a number of challenges,” write J. Mark Waxman, Kyle Faget and Ben Daniels for Medical Economics. “The ability of blockchain to track and store data chronologically across a peer-to-peer network makes the technology particularly well suited to solve for the traceability requirements imposed by the Drug Supply Chain Security Act. In addition, blockchain is uniquely secure, which could reduce common issues in drug supply, such as drug counterfeiting.”

A recent Cointelegraph article shares how one company is working to achieve this pharmaceutical supply chain precision. Blockchain startup MediConnect offers a solution that will enable tracking and managing of prescription medication through the supply chain while preventing misuse.

Author Ana Alexandre writes that, earlier this year, the Ugandan government partnered with MediConnect to trace counterfeit drugs within the country. “The blockchain-based platform enables the recording of prescription medication, thus identifying counterfeit drugs and preventing their distribution in the pharmaceutical supply chain,” she says, adding that the potential of blockchain in health care is also recognized by the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Health and Prevention, which launched a blockchain system for recording and sharing health care data.

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Arm yourself with knowledge

One of the most interesting aspects of blockchain is that it requires no trust from users but delivers trustworthy transactional data. As a result, supply chains around the world are benefiting from a whole new level of transparency into the status and location of their goods.

As Ron Crabtree, CIRM, SCOR-P, explains: “The opportunities for logistics, transportation and distribution companies are truly endless, as the often painful process of making sure everything is done right throughout a value stream becomes much less stressful and error-prone. Indeed, many experts agree that blockchains are generating a less expensive, reliable way to know the status of a transaction.”

One way to ensure that you have the latest industry-leading skills and knowledge is by becoming Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD). This APICS designation will help you understand and maximize new supply chain technologies, trends and solutions. The CLTD program gives you everything you need to effectively demonstrate in-depth expertise of essential concepts in order to streamline operations, boost your organisation’s bottom line and set you apart from your peers.

According to APICS Asia Pacific facilitator Thomas Vandenbogaerde in an exclusive podcast interview with ASCI Lounge, how they compete and how they can keep their customers by being better in their distribution and wider supply chain.

Contact APICS Premier Channel Partner Australasian Supply Chain Institute for details on the CLTD certification today or visit our website or email enquiries@asci.org.au

 

How Ingersoll Rand Revives Exhausted Products

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

Industrial manufacturer Ingersoll Rand (IR) has long positioned itself as a company that prioritises efficiency, energy savings and productivity. As its website states, “With principled leadership and ethical business practices, our high-engagement culture delivers enduring results that lead to a sustainable world.” Recently, IR saw potential to create added value by helping its customers meet their own environmental challenges. As a result, company leaders are taking the conservation philosophy to a new level.

IR’s sustainability commitment includes the extremely ambitious goal of reducing not its own, but its customers’ carbon emissions by 1 gigaton by 2030. Greenbiz’s Heather Clancy reports that this is equivalent to the annual emissions produced by Italy, France and the United Kingdom combined. Much of the plan revolves around remanufacturing end-of-life equipment. (Read more after advertising)

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“[IR] has operated an aftermarket service organization in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 1974,” Clancy writes. “After all, many metals used to make its Trane heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment have a demonstrable value, and there are well-established processes for recovering it. But in more recent years, the 183,000-square-foot operation … has become involved with activities focused on a different sort of mission: keeping older equipment in the field for as long as possible.”

Scott Tew, executive director for IR’s Center of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, told Greenbiz that the company is focused on the concept of a “customer for life.” He recounts the story of a historic hotel in Portland, Oregon, that needed to upgrade its Trane HVAC system but had limited access to remove and replace failing equipment. Engineers disassembled and transported components back to Charlotte for repair, then reinstalled them in the exact same footprint as the original system. IR expects them to continue functioning for decades.

IR says it will fully support this environmental strategy moving forward. In fact, the company has established a new-product-development requirement that directs engineers to design for sustainability. As Clancy writes, “That includes both efficiency considerations and materials choices.”

Far-reaching results

For years, IR has looked to the APICS body of knowledge as a source of best practices, the primary method for getting employees speaking the same language and a key method for working toward a unified supply chain strategy. In fact, the company adopted a policy that required all materials managers to become APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designees within 18 months of being hired.

Then, to sustain this investment in learning and development, IR rewrote its materials management job descriptions to require CPIMs for all incoming managers. In addition, staffing personnel began targeting CPIM designees for open positions. (Read more after advertising)

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Today, IR has hundreds of CPIMs — and the finance team reports that this investment has paid off. A recent analysis found a direct correlation between materials manager performance and APICS certification. Most importantly, we’re now seeing that this training has led to initiatives that clearly aim to create a better world through supply chain. Learn more about what this globally recognized standard can do for your organization, your suppliers, your customers and beyond.

To find out more about APICS training, contact Australasian Supply Chain Institute (ASCI) National office at enquiries@asci.org.au

Machine learning and artificial intelligence for retail supply chains

How retailers can incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence into their supply chain: A snapshot of the recent ASCI Networking Breakfast panel event

 

By Harsha Illindala, Vice President, Solutions Advisor – APAC at JDA Software

 

I was lucky enough to host a panel at a recent ASCI breakfast on new advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence and how they are helping retailers optimise their operations and supply chain. I was joined by Michelle Grujin, Managing Director, Retail Industry Lead ANZ at Accenture and Marcy Larsen, Industry Solution Executive, Retail and CPG at Microsoft.

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While these technologies are becoming increasingly important, we first discussed some of the macro trends influencing retail customers today, what makes them different to customers from 10 or 20 years ago to frame why investing in these technologies is so important:

  1. Hyper-personalisation

 

Retailers are now expected to customise the customer experience to the segment of one. Retailers need to cluster and segment more narrowly across all retail formats.

  1. Premiumisation

There is a growing interest in premium food, clothes and other merchandise. There has been growth in health, vegan and specialised foods. Customers are also concerned with ethical sourcing and fair trade. They want to believe in the product.

  1. Convenience

Convenience is the price of admission: customers expect retailers to be convenient to deal with. They prioritise this, often over price.

  1. Mobility

The ability to shop online from a Smartphone means customers are more mobile than ever before and can purchase from anywhere.

  1. Urbanisation and population

There is a changing population mix with more customers living in urban areas. Customers will favour retailers who prioritise inclusion and diversity and demonstrate authenticity.

  1. Talent

We then went on to discuss how talent in retail is changing. According to the 2019 Retail C-Suite Viewpoint surveyconducted by JDA Software and Microsoft, talent is a top three issue with the C-suite in retail.

The workforce is varied with more part-timers and a workforce with time constraints. The gig economy is mobilising millennials and the retired workforce. Employees now have the ability to achieve genuine flexibility and hold down several different styles of job which fits in with their lifestyle and personal constraints.

For retailers the focus is now less on workforce scheduling and more about engagement with employees. There is also a huge competition for skills so retailers need to create a dynamic environment which values their skills.

Engaging employees with technology that is as advanced, if not more advanced, than what they are able to access at home is important. Employees, just like customers, expect retailers to demonstrate inclusiveness, diversity and authenticity.

  1. Provenance in supply chain

Customers care about the claims made by brands and retailers about products. Smart looking packaging and brand advertising strategies are important. Environmental and societal influences, morality and accountability are priorities for the customer.

  1. Data

The influence of data is significant. Customer trust is established when the right data is provided. When there is transparency of data between suppliers – shipping through to store – it creates a better customer experience.

  1. Influence of digital

Customers expect the physical experience to be on par with the digital experience. Technology is transforming the customer: 75% of a customer’s visits to a store are influenced by digital and 58% of sales are impacted by digital, according to the 2019 Retail C-Suite Viewpoint survey.

Digital has changed the customer journey; digital is now the ‘front of store’. The customer journey has evolved to loyalty – discovery – research – purchase – fulfillment.

We then went on to discuss which technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), is emerging to help retailers meet the needs of the customer in light of these macro trends.

The Tech

We then covered technology that is playing increasing important role in the supply chain for retailers and why companies should be investing in them:

Technology for personalisation

36% of the C-suite in retail expect to undertake pilots using AI in personalised product recommendations, 20% for localised pricing and 29% for personalised product assortments.

AI helps retailers meet customer expectations around product availability and fulfillment choices – in-store, pick-up and delivery. Customers expect instant gratification when it comes to fulfillment.

AI also provides a flowing, single view of inventory and allows for dynamic allocation and fulfillment, predictive replenishment and a shorter product life cycle.

Technology for provenance in supply chain

AI and ML provide real-time visibility. Traditional systems such as ERP centric reports and dashboards are too slow, alternatively AI provides real-time and direct visualisation of supply chain data with ML identifying and weeding out data discrepancies.

Blockchain is becoming an increasingly common buzzword and is something that could old the answer to many provenance related issues. With Blockchain providing a method to manage forms of exchange, entities in a supply chain can with increased confidence know where each asset has originated

Technology for the workforce

Technology is changing rapidly and affecting supply chain practices. There are several workplace changes that will become more important to how supply chain operates.

With more virtual and contingent workers, automation, increased connectivity through workplace social networks (e.g. instant messaging, communities) and more advanced communication tools (e.g. virtual meetings, webinars) will become increasingly important. Apps (e.g. personal organisers, goal setting, real-time feedback, team activities) will play a role, as will gamification (e.g. realistic training scenarios to stress test and develop supply chain strategies). Artificial Intelligence (e.g. advanced data mining) will help identify business trends and opportunities.

Challenges in adoption

We went on to discuss the major challenges facing retailers in adopting these technologies.

Some of the key observations included:

  • 55% of retailers don’t have single view of inventory
  • 78% of retailers don’t have real time view of inventory
  • 50% of retailers believe their technologies are lagging
  • Most retailers have CDTOs / CDOs and in-house AI teams, but tangible and scalable innovations have been far and few between
  • Many retailers have started off by trying to understand “what will my data show”, but need to transition to “what action needs to be taken” as a result of those insights

Is technology simplifying supply chain or adding to complexity?

We went on to question whether an increasingly complex supply chain is being simplified or further complicated by technology. We agreed that technology can minimise store effort in handling product and create flexibility in flow volumes and mechanisms.

We also discussed automation. There are increased and more affordable automation solutions in warehouses and in-store. Automation delivers productivity but also narrows variations. This means there is a greater need to manage the inventory flow to leverage the automation. Retailers need to manage coordination across inventory planning, transportation, yard, dock and warehouse operations.

A big thank you to the ASCI for inviting me along to host this excellent and insightful panel.

If you have questions about how AI and ML can improve your supply chain, you can contact me at Sriharsha.Illindala@jda.comor visit the JDA website.

ASCI as Professional Accreditation Body

Extending an invitation to all Industry Peak Bodies in the Supply Chain

 

ASCI has positioned itself as the Professional Accreditation Body for the supply chain industry. In this capacity, it has developed a Professional Accreditation Scheme, in line with the criteria set by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which oversees the legislation for lawyers, accountants, etc.

Although ASCI has not yet obtained legislation for supply chain as a legislated profession, we are following the exact process in the expectation that we will one day be ready to seek formal legislation.

In doing so, the ASCI Professional Accreditation Scheme, in its current form, is the only one of its kind that is based on the PSA guidelines. To distinguish this from the offerings of other organisations, often also referred to as “Professional Bodies”, we need to understand the distinction between the various professional bodies in our industry. The term “Professional Body” is often used by Industry Peak Bodies in their reference to the fact that they serve the “profession”. They do indeed, but not as an accreditation body, rather an Industry Peak Body. They most often offer certification programs, rather than a professional accreditation scheme. Certification programs are not to be confused with a Professional Accreditation Scheme.

Here is the difference:

“Certification”, a formal process of assessing that an individual is qualified in terms of particular knowledge or skills. It requires the candidate to study a particular learning set and write an exam on this set of knowledge in order to obtain certification.

“Accreditation” which, as in the case of lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc provides independent recognition of achievements and maintenance of the exact standards required to join the community of professional supply chain professionals and practitioners.

Professionals and practitioners registered under the professional accreditation scheme, are recognised for their competence, ability, integrity, and service to the profession. It is a voluntary means of demonstrating professionalism and involves being held to account by your peers for your abilities and adherence to ethical standards.

It is in this context that ASCI has commenced discussions with several Industry Peak Bodies in the supply chain domain, with the objective to offer registration against the Professional Accreditation Scheme through these Industry Peak Bodies, to their members, making the scheme more accessible to the broader supply chain community. Peak Bodies that are interested in offering professional and practitioner registration to their members can do so by affiliation with ASCI.

If you represent a peak industry body then we want to hear from you. Contact Our National Office at professionalisation@asci.org.au to commence discussions. It is through our common passion for the sustainability of the supply chain community that we can collectively raise the bar of supply chain management in Australasia.

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Dr Pieter Nagel is Head of Professionalisation at ASCI. Contact him about collaboration or registration at professionalisation@asci.org.au

Are we ready for Industry 4.0?

Guest Blog: Rob Stummer, CEO, Australasia, SYSPRO

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With all the discussion around Industry 4.0, how ready are we for it in this region and how many manufacturers have fully embraced it? It’s widely agreed that manufacturing has experienced a decade of productivity stagnation and demand fragmentation and the fact is that this level of innovation is long overdue. It’s been proven that the Australasian organisations that have taken Industry 4.0 innovation to scale beyond the pilot phase have experienced unprecedented increases in efficiency with minimal loss of employees.

The main issue reported by McKinsey and the World Economic Forum is that most companies appear to be stuck in the pilot phase and despite all the research and evidence saying that it will lead to a sizeable increase in global wealth production, benefiting people throughout society, the Australia and New Zealand governments have not done enough to help its advancement.

Globally it is having an impact globally across multiple sectors, simplifying things by streamlining processes, reducing human labour, fostering global interconnectedness and leading to unlimited possibilities. But is Australasia really ready for Industry 4.0?

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Automation won’t take jobs

There has been a lot of scaremongering about the risk to jobs due to automation, but technology and changing consumer preferences are driving the demand for new skills and jobs. In many cases, these emerging technologies have improved processes without shedding jobs and have made businesses more competitive than they have ever been, resulting in lower prices for consumers, higher wages for employees or higher profits, leading to increased demand and more jobs.

The previous industrial revolutions have shown us that, in the long run, technology and other labour market changes have been positive for many employees, removing the jobs that nobody wants to do as they can be unpleasant, physically exhausting and dangerous or boring and repetitive.

In smart factories, the emphasis will be on adding value, and up-skilled workers will be highly sought after for their specialist knowledge and ability to innovate.

Will bots take over the world?

There are a lot of myths surrounding AI, and science fiction movies often portray it as robots with human-like characteristics taking control and using their super-intelligence against us. There’s no doubt that AI does raise a whole host of complex questions, and that the current way the industry does certain things will become defunct.

We can’t ignore the fact that the Australian manufacturers that are leveraging AI have made their companies far more efficient and productive. This is a trend that their leaders see as inexorable, and the pressure on them to adapt and compete is huge.

Automation is essential

Automation is working extremely well in several different manufacturing scenarios, particularly when finite precision is needed, in challenging or dangerous work environments, where repetition happens and when personalisation and configuration are required.

So, what does automation look like in practice in an industrial environment? There are many tasks that could be carried out by a robot; not only would they be more efficient, but also the employees could then focus on more complex work.

The real benefits of automation are what makes it truly worth the investment, including increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved safety and wellbeing for employees, due to avoiding monotony and a clear competitive advantage over manufacturers that choose not to automate. Automation is clearly the future of Australasian manufacturing and its influence will only increase as competition from China and other developing Asian nations grows.

Rob Stummer is CEO, Australasia, SYSPRO

 

 

Spacious Potential in the Sharing Economy

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By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

The sharing economy is no longer just a catchy turn of phrase; today, sharing, renting and subscription services are everywhere. AirBnB for your holiday rental; WeWork for freelancers who prefer the office environment; Rover for the pup’s midday walk; Uber and Lyft when you need someone to drive you places; and Zipcar, LimeBike or Bird Scooters when you’d rather do the driving yourself. The potential applications are endless.

Although only 19 percent of U.S. adults have engaged in a sharing-economy transaction, PwC research reveals that 83 percent of survey respondents believe these services make life more convenient and efficient, 76 percent say they are better for the environment, and 43 percent admit that owning things can feel like a burden.

As ownership becomes unfashionable, the fashion industry is also taking notice.

“In October, the mall fixture [Express] launched Style Trial, a service that allows customers to borrow up to three pieces — with no limits on exchanges, free shipping both ways and free dry cleaning — for $69.95 per month,” writes Jasmin Malik Chua in Sourcing Journal. “If a subscriber loves something to death, she can buy it at a discount for keeps. Otherwise, she can keep garments circulating in an eternally refreshed ‘closet in the cloud’ with virtually infinite options yet zero commitments.”

Jim Hilt, Express executive vice president and chief customer experience officer, explains that this allows customers to tap the company’s “full assortment and styling services without breaking the budget.”

In addition to this kind of flexibility and cost savings, sharing clothes eliminates the hassle of shopping malls and the time spent packing bags for donation — not to mention all those minutes staring at our wardrobes trying to decide if an item still sparks joy.

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Shifting business models

Until very recently, most of us would never have considered staying in some random person’s home while on vacation, let alone sharing a sweater with a bunch of strangers. Yet today, Airbnb averages 425,000 guests per night — nearly 22 percent more than Hilton Worldwide.

“The data shows, renting and sharing are becoming increasingly popular alternatives,” the PwC report asserts. “Executives will be wise to assess the role of their product and brand in this model — are you squarely a purveyor of goods, or are you an enabler?”

For those supply chain managers bracing for change and facing some tough calls concerning clothing lifespans; quality control of shared garments; and logistics economics, especially for lower-cost items, there is some good news. The sharing economy is also flourishing in the education space, with LinkedIn Learning, Grow with Google, and a seemingly infinite number of instructive and informative videos on YouTube. Our own channel is bursting at the seams with customer success stories, webinars, research, annual conference sessions, and a multitude of supply chain education tailored to fit just right.

To join ASCM, joint membership is available through Australasian Supply Chain Institute for just $440 per annum. Visit our website for a full list of membership benefits.