Archives for August 2018

We don’t hold the key to the next great supply chain innovation. Everybody does.

By Contributing Author | 08/13/2018 | 7:56 AM

By Kevin Heath, Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at Georgia-Pacific


Technology has had more impact on supply chain-related operations during the last 10 years than it has in nearly a century. The supply chain is evolving, spurred by data collected in our warehouses and factories through the Internet of Things, giving us deeper insights into the most detailed processes.

With technology, we can drive maximum efficiency in nearly all elements of manufacturing and fulfillment.  But to fully realize its potential – to find solutions to tomorrow’s problems today – we need to collaborate. 

The world’s supply chain requires radical reinvention, but we have a tendency to only look for solutions within our own teams. This approach worked when robotics and automated guided vehicles were still on the drawing board – a change to warehouse operations years down the road. That doesn’t work anymore.

Now, the supply chain is expected to organize, track and deliver goods faster than ever and with more accuracy, but often with fewer resources. The Fourth Industrial Revolution hums along, and if we don’t adapt to it, we’ll be left behind. We can’t do it alone. The tools to create our next great supply chain innovations are already here, they’re just dispersed throughout our industries.

Consider these three benefits of working together to address supply chain challenges:

1. Gaining a point of view outside your sector

The similarities between the behind-the-scenes operations of an airline and a restaurant might not be apparent at first. However, logistics play a key role in putting a plane on the runway and a chicken sandwich on your table.

Georgia-Pacific manages one of the nation’s largest supply chains, moving paper, pulp and building materials through an extensive network of manufacturing operations, warehouses and re-load facilities before they reach the store shelves.

An airline, a restaurant and a pulp and paper company have the same goal – deliver a better customer experience faster and cheaper – which lends itself to a collaborative effort. When companies across industries partner to address a supply chain challenge, they can get insights they wouldn’t typically get from internal work teams. One company might have mastered augmented reality in inventory picking, while another has successfully employed robotics for packing. When we share these ideas without fear of losing a competitive advantage, we drive a more efficient supply chain.

2. Condensing time-to-market

Using the ‘silo’ approach – assigning our own work teams to solve our individual supply chain challenges – could eventually result in ideas that positively impact our supply chain operations. However, market demands are forcing us to step up the pace. Warehouses and factories need answers now, not five years from now. We need innovations that can move past the conceptual phase and become publicly accessible quicker.

By taking a collaborative approach, we can prove that two heads are better than one. If one partner has already figured out how to address a development roadblock, we can move through the ideation process faster, effectively determine what’s not feasible and focus our efforts on solutions that could be deployed in a much shorter time frame. 

3. Getting everyone involved

Teamwork has always been a crucial ingredient at successful companies. As workplace structures become less rigid – and as a new generation of supply chain professionals who are accustomed to working collaboratively rises through the ranks – encouraging team problem-solving can better prepare your organization for addressing tomorrow’s challenges.

When we come together across industries to develop new innovations, we set an example for teamwork. Such projects also give team members a chance to collaborate and network with their peers – from established companies and start-ups –as well as an opportunity to see how their contributions power the solution. It’s an opportunity to change company culture for the better.

The future of supply chain is now

Supply chain management is increasingly important in today’s businesses, but it’s also increasingly complicated. It’s time to lay to rest the idea we’re best served by going it alone. Collaboration on supply chain products across industries can lead to solutions we never would have considered, and it can bring those products to life faster.

So, leave your silos and start looking for the people and places that can help you think differently about your supply chain challenges.  You might find solutions where you’d least expect them. 


Kevin HeathKevin Heath joined the Georgia-Pacific leadership team in 2017 with his promotion to SVP, Chief Procurement Officer. Before that, he spent 12 years as Vice President of Strategic Sourcing & Procurement, Capital and MRO for the company. Prior to that, Kevin worked in several GP operations and held various roles including Engineering & Maintenance Business Leader. Kevin received his bachelor’s degree in Power Engineering Technology from Maine Maritime Academy, and his Master in Business Administration from the University of Washington.

How IoT Devices and Smart Sensors Are Helping Enable a New Era of Food Security

By Contributing Author | 08/10/2018 | 6:35 AM

By Mike Allen, Channel Manager – Eastern and Midwestern Regions at Advantech


The FAO states that one-third of all food produced each year is wasted. Lost or spoiled in subsequent stages throughout the supply chain—from storage to packing to transport and beyond—roughly 1.3 billion tons of food never reaches consumers.

Precise and constant refrigeration temperatures are critical when ensuring the safe delivery of perishable products such as produce, dairy and meat, as well as medicines. And while spoilage alone is an urgent problem in the global supply chain,insufficient temperature control can lead to more than waste; it can also create the perfect environment for the kinds of pathogens and micro-organisms that threaten public health, particularly when tainted products go undetected and are consumed by the general population. The CDC reports that foodborne illnesses affect 48 million people and result in some 120,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, with a total cost to the U.S. estimated at $77.7 billion annually,according to a new study calculated by Ohio State University consumer science professor Robert Scharff and published in the Journal of Food Protection.

With a sharp focus on sustainability, governments, researchers, retailers and enterprises are committed to improving processes by setting higher standards, increasing regulations and developing new technologies to reduce waste—and help the UN achieve a goal of “Zero Hunger” by 2030. In addition to new innovations being tested, such as the use of compressed natural gas in cold chain system tractors and the swapping of Freon for ammonia as a storage refrigerant, the implementation of advanced sensor technology is surging ahead in the cold chain system. Particularly with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which regulates the sanitary transport of food, shippers and carriers, smart sensors hold great promise to reduce food spoilage and mitigate losses while increasing profitability for all stakeholders.

Pharmaceutical and consumer goods companies, which face the significant challenge ofdifferent temperature requirements and disparate optimal ranges for multiple products, are increasingly utilizing sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) technology not only to monitor temperatures in cold chain in real time, but also to assist in tracking shipments and detecting equipment and vehicle malfunctions, among other things. In fact, in a 2017 survey from Deloitte and MHI, supply chain industry leaders identified sensors as one technology enabling an “always-on supply chain.” Of the 900 respondents, 43 percent indicated their companies relied on sensor technologies embedded in devices to track in-transit cargo location, monitor carrier performance, identify vulnerabilities for theft or tampering and monitor shipment temperature, shock and vibration.

The research firm Gartner predicts 20 billion IoT devices will be in use by 2020, with mass adoption of sensors encouraged not only by the proliferation of these devices, but also several other significant factors including a sharp drop in price, low barrier to entry, ease of implementation and capabilities expanding to enable longer battery life, greater durability and more data storage. All of which reduce the financial risk for implementation while providing greater supply chain visibility. In addition, enterprises are developing more feature-rich sensors. Recognizing that stability is key to food security, cost-effective, end-to-end solutions in each sector of the supply chain—from port to warehouse to trucking to retail delivery—have been designed to support the entire cold chain ecosystem. From in-vehicle computing boxes for logistics and fleet management to hand-held temperature readers and hand-held computers with long-range scanners that can be used with powered vehicle mount cradles, IoT devices and smart sensors are enabling a new era of cold chain intelligence. With a complete spectrum of embedded computing platforms and abundant domain know-how available, enterprises can do more than just ensure proper temperatures are maintained for the duration of food and perishables transport. They have the capacity to optimize and modernize warehouse design and retail monitoring—from remote locations as well as on premises—while ensuring that every product moves from the point of production to the point of purchase efficiently and with its integrity intact.

Better visibility across every inch and mile of the supply chain has the potential to drive growth for businesses while contributing to a healthier planet. Whether a company takes incremental steps toward digitization or moves full steam ahead to achieve a competitive advantage, the ultimate goal is to ensure a seamless supply chain process, with reliable insight into personnel, fleet, product and storage, as well as access to impeccable and accurate environmental control to ensure the highest quality. As the supply chain, cold storage and distribution industry moves into the future, and the market segments that rely on cold chain services become increasingly diverse and geographically spread, new technologies that strengthen every link will continue to emerge. With an economic potential of the global cold chain market alone predicted to reach $234.49 billion in 2020, stability is a necessity to achieving success—and ensuring the wellbeing of nine billion human beings.


Mike AllenMike Allen brings over 25 years of direct sales, sales management and channel management experience in the automated identification and data collection industry. He understands the technology and hardware capabilities and more importantly, how to address the pain points of various industries and vertical applications. He has experience in various industry sectors including transportation/logistics, automotive, oil and gas, utilities, manufacturing, warehousing/distribution, consumer goods and retail. Mike began his career in the Automated Information and Data Capture (AIDC) space managing key accounts and growing specific geographic territories for various manufacturers and providers of automated data capture equipment and solutions. Before joining Advantech, Mike worked with a provider of mobile device analytics to OEM’s and to managed services providers. Prior to that he worked with a global consulting and systems integration company where he was the lead for mobile data collection and strategy for major engagements globally.

Improving the Retail Supply Chain With Reusables

By Contributing Author | 08/08/2018 | 6:59 AM

By Ray Robins, national account manager, ORBIS

ORBIS blog

Are you tirelessly working to find a solution to optimize your retail supply chain? If so, you’re not alone. Retailers everywhere are searching for the best ways to serve consumers faster, safer and more cost-effectively. And as new solutions are considered, packaging shouldn’t be overlooked.

The rise of e-commerce and retail omnichannel is changing how retailers are approaching and thinking about consumer satisfaction. Fulfillment centers are now open 24/7, order demands are evolving with omnichannel, and errors and lag time are less tolerated. To help solve these challenges, supply chains are introducing automation.

In fact, many new fulfillment centers are almost completely automated to accommodate late hours, reduce errors, meet order quantity and introduce new capabilities. With added automation, supply chains need standardized packaging that delivers repeatable performance. For many retailers, this is the missing link to an efficient and effective retail supply chain.

Reusable, standardized packaging — such as totes, bulk containers and pallets — can work directly with automated systems in three key ways to better move and pick products:

1. Pick orders efficiently

Supply chain totes add unimaginable value to automated systems for their versatility and functionality. There are a wide range of reusable totes — attached lid, nest-only, stack-and-nest, and those that include dividers or feature hopper fronts — that align with different automated systems.

These reusable plastic totes are primarily used to pick online orders in fulfillment centers. Totes compatible with dividers, for example, are seeing an increase in usage. The use of dividers allows there to be multiple SKUs maintained in a single tote, increasing density within the network. 

Because each automated system is different, a one-size-fits-all approach is outdated. Totes should reflect the specific requirements of each system for a fully optimized supply chain. A supplier with custom capabilities can design, engineer and manufacturer reusable packaging that meets the precise needs of an automated system, including dimensions, materials and features.

2.Keep systems moving

As convenient as automated systems are, shutdowns are possible when met with unideal conditions. However, plastic reusable packaging features consistent dimensions and a smooth structure to fit properly with equipment, unlike warped and inconsistent packaging. It also is free from dust that can cause glitches and slowdowns once accumulated on equipment. Additionally, the sleek exterior allows automated label readers to easily decipher codes.

3. Minimize product loss

While moving along the supply chain, packaging can face harsh conditions. Clashes with other packaging and unpredicted equipment interactions are possible. Plastic reusable packaging is manufactured for more durable product protection, keeping goods safe. Also, some reusable plastic packaging suppliers offer identification options, so packaging can be tracked and accounted for at all times.

The good news is that reusable packaging’s benefits pertain to all parts of the supply chain. Picking, fulfilling, distributing and merchandising all require efficient processes. Like automation, mobile options can help move product faster and safer at retail. Innovative distribution pallets, for example, efficiently cube out in trucks, can be moved to the retail aisle without down-stacking — and with fewer touches — and help with omnichannel orders.

Retailers today are striving to be efficient and consumer-experience role models. Material handling decisions are important to achieving those goals throughout the retail supply chain, so don’t let packaging slow you down. Find the best solution for your automated system with a supplier that can help by answering questions and solving challenges along the way.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About One-Off Sound-Off

Welcome to "One-Off Sound-Off," a blog page devoted to guest commentary on all things supply chain. This is a space where industry leaders can share their opinions and expertise with the logistics and supply chain community. If you have an article or commentary you'd like to share, please consider sending a guest blog proposal to feedback@dcvelocity.com.


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