Thursday, 8 December 2016

What are management and leadership of supply chains?

Management focuses on reaching set goals using the following steps:

  •   Planning
  •   Organising
  •   Leading
  •   Controlling

Management incorporates all of these activities. The management has to make strategic decisions and these decisions have an effect on the position of the company.  This includes making tactical decisions and operating decisions. All of these steps help the company to run as it needs to.

Leadership is about influencing people so that the goals of the company are met. Leadership is a part of management but in supply chains the term leadership refers to coordination between the different companies within the supply chain to reach the goals of the supply chain as a whole.  Leadership is complex as there is a need for trust to be on pace for all of the firms that make up the supply chain. There are not many supply chains that have built up effective leadership at this time. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

What is information, communication support management?

There is a lot of information that is needed in a supply chain. Information needs to flow through the chain. How can we make sure that information moves to the right people at the right times to help managers organise the information, use it to measure performance and manage the entire chain and all of its parts?  Let’s look at the basic information that is used in the supply chain:
  • The order – The products and quantities that have been requested by the customers
  • The production schedule – manufacture instructions 
  • The purchase order – the materials that are needed from the suppliers
  • Inventory record – quantity of materials or goods that are available at a location
  • Dispatch advice – this is included with the goods as they move to their destination
Modern businesses now use computers to relay this information. They use order processing systems that perform checks on the incoming order and make sure the customer is able to pay for the goods. They also instruct the storeman via a warehouse management system who will then pack and dispatch the goods. Manufacturing companies use enterprise resource planning systems. These systems help them to make purchases and manufacture the required parts needed for end products. Some companies use distribution requirements planning systems that track the finished products through all steps up to the end customer. 

Operators and managers receive summaries of performance over set periods of time. The key performance measures include:
  • Quality
  • On time delivery
  • Costs
Information has to flow between each of the partners in the supply chain. The internet and telephone now make it possible for up to date information to be exchanged. Electronic data exchange allows computers to communicate this information and documents are sent instantly, ensuring information is where it needs to be. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Why work on supply chain?

Businesses have to overcome the challenge of integrating supply chains that benefit their customers while making a profit.  The main issue for these businesses is inefficiency. All businesses have a lot of waste in the business but other causes and contributing factors of inefficiency include:
  • Missing or a lack of information
  • Poor management
  • No leadership
  • Power plays
  • A large amount of stock resulting in large inventories
  • Misdirected efforts
  • Delays
  • Trust issues
This is why it’s important to focus on reducing waste in the supply chain to remove the inefficiencies and increase profits while servicing the customer.

This will provide the customer with greater value and benefit the company as a result. Waste in the supply chain and in business is a human activity that uses up resources without creating value. The first people recognise this waste were Japanese manufacturers.

There are many gains to be achieved by eliminating waste that include cutting production times, reducing inventories, customer satisfaction and increased profit. When integrating supply chains it’s essential to ensure waste has been removed from each part of the chain in order to run more efficiently. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

What is a basic chain?

A supply chain includes many aspects, from the physical movement of goods to the coordination and management of the entire chain.  The steps involved in building a supply chain are:

  • Setting up information flow between all partners in the chain
  • Setting up the movement of all necessary parts, materials and manufactured finished products to the end customers
  • Managing the flow of chains
  • Chain leadership

The development of a basic chain includes the major parts of a supply chain; the basic chain can then be integrated into the supply chain. 

Once there is a basic chain the use of the Double Bell Model is implemented. The Double Bell Model is simply the generic representation of the complete supply network. Each of the processes in the chain that starts at the source and leads to the end customers has four key components as mentioned above. 

The left hand bell is the one with the largest amount of suppliers of materials and components that move through many tiers to the focal manufacturer. The central ellipse is where the conversions take place, where the materials are turned into products or services. The bell on the right is the distribution of the goods to the end consumers via intermediaries and the transport that delivers the goods.  

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Chit Chat: What are some customer service tools and techniques? Part 3

Today, we’re continuing our look at some customer service tools and techniques.

Providing Alternatives to Customers
Providing alternatives is a simple technique that is used to appease customers. Offering different products or services or even actions that could help to solve the customers’ issues can be used to provide a better level of customer service. Use probing questions to find with alternatives to offer the customer shows that you understand and interested in helping the customer.

Referral to a Supervisor
Sometimes it’s not possible for the employee to handle the problem for the customer. Sometimes the customer may ask to speak to a supervisor or the employee might not have the authority to take the required action. Speaking to someone higher up in the company can be helpful for particularly angry individuals who may respond more positively when speaking with a supervisor.  Supervisors and employees need to be on the same wavelength when dealing with referrals.

Sometimes customers get too emotionally involved in the conversation and can become more personal; attacking the person they are speaking to. Take control of this situation by refocusing the conversation and bringing it back to the original complaint. Showing empathy is a must and you need to show that you understand why the customer is angry but state that you are there to help and you have a few suggestions. Remove the customer attention from their anger and refocus them back on the problems and finding a constructive solution rather than personal attacks.

Friday, 2 December 2016

What are issues in temperature controlled supply chain?

Despite the improvements in the temperature controlled supply chain, there are still three issues that require further attention:

  •          Food safety
  •          Costs
  •          Partnerships

There are strict conditions in place for the design, equipment and operation disciplines of the temperature controlled supply chain. The storage facilities have to be maintained and accurate temperature recording and cooling equipment are a must to deal with ambient temperatures. The docking bays need to prevent exposure to ambient temperatures too by using air bays. The loading bays need to be set at 0° for frozen products. Heat also needs to be removed from vehicles being used for distribution.  Costs are increased by these requirements.

In the UK, the Food Safety Act of 1990 defines the storage; transportation and handling requirements for food products and these include temperature controls. It’s an offence to sell food that isn’t fit for human consumption and this includes foods that have spoiled due to a lack of temperature control. However, protection is provided for those who can prove due diligence was taken.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

What are the changes in temperature controlled supply chains?

The temperature controlled supply chain has gone through many changes since the eighties. Originally, the supply chain would only have a single temperature controlled warehouses in the UK. These warehouses were dedicated to only a small range of products, such as bread, butter, cheeses, dairy products and so on. Partial implemented designs, disciplines and equipment were common so the temperature control didn’t have much integrity. The products were commonly exposed to high ambient temperatures. As a result, the quality of the products was low and the shelf lives reduced. More deliveries were required as a result of the single temperature control and the systems were inefficient as a result.

Multi-temperature composite warehouses were introduced to solve the problems. Warehouses were then able to store, handle and deliver more products and daily deliveries were made to composite distribution centres. The vehicles had three temperature controlled evaporators which improved them for usage in the food industries. Chill chain integrity disciplines were also implemented. Goods could be transferred quickly into the temperature controlled storage by stopping the checking of goods at the door of the retailers. The chill chain integrity helped to improve quality, speed and the handling of the products. 

Other changes include the increased pace in the order and replenishment cycle.  Stock is often no longer held overnight at distribution centres and frozen goods are not stored for longer than 10 days. Lead times have been reduced too. These changes have been made possible thanks to the improved technology that’s now available. Data can be collected, processed and transmitted quicker, helping to calculate demand and place orders quicker based on real time data and stock levels.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

What is the importance of temperature controlled supply chains?

A temperature control supply chain is a large proportion of the retail food market and it continues to grow. The frozen food market in the UK continues to rise by around 3-4% each year as it has done for the last 40 years. In the US, half of the food spend on the supermarkets are for products that need to be temperature controlled. Further developments in prepared salads and convenience foods have also increased the market.

There has been an increase in the amount of products that need to be temperature controlled for the retailers and consumers. Failing to store and transport goods in a temperature controlled environment leads to risks and reduces the shelf life of a product. Wastage can create problems in the supply chain and increase costs.

The supply chain has been transformed thanks to technology and by the changes in location sources for products and removing wholesalers from the chain. More retailers have expanded their chains to outside local areas and many are dealing with national and even international supply chains for their goods and their customers. Products are now sourced internationally to satisfy demands for foods that are seasonal and unavailable all year round from the local market. Developments in the temperature controlled supply chain mean international and national sources can be used to satisfy demand and ensure quality for the customer.

Food safety is now a priority in the supply chain. There are extra costs to consider, caused by the handling requirements, storage and monitoring the temperature of the supply chain. Failures in food safety do occur and they are most common at local or individual levels. Food scares such as listeria and salmonella and chicken or E Coli in meat raise concerns and decrease confidence in the consumers. This is why the temperature controlled supply chain along with risk assessments play such an important role in food safety legislations. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

What is a temperature-controlled supply chain?

Some food chains required a temperature controlled environment for their products. The temperature control is used to stop exposure to temperatures that could cause issues for the product. A temperature controlled supply chain is complex and it can be expensive too.

The challenges that need to be overcome by the supply chain are determined by the source and nature of the products as well the quality assurances legal requirements of food safety for the products. Additional complexities are determined by the distribution facilities that are available from through the chain, from production to consumption.

Food temperature levels vary between products, for example:

  •          Frozen varies from -18° for foods and ingredients excluding ice cream. Ice cream needs to be -25°
  •          Cold chill is - 0° to +1° and used for most vegetables and some fruits, fresh meats and poultry, dairy and meat products
  •          Medium chill is +5° which is used for fats, cheeses, some pastries and butters

  •          Exotic chill is +10° to 15° which is used for potatoes, exotic fruits, bananas and eggs

Failing to meet the required level of temperature for food products can shorten the lifespan and have negative effects on the quality of the products and even make them unfit for consumption.

Monday, 28 November 2016

What are the safety needs on choosing the warehouse? The checklist - Part 2

Last week, we looked at the first set of safety needs a warehouse must have. Today, we will continue our look at the basic safety needs to check for before choosing the warehouse to ensure it is a safe place to operate.

Dock Safety
Docks are very busy parts of the warehouse. Injuries can occur easily and there are risks including lift trucks falling, from equipment and products falling and hurting anyone in the area. Fires are other hazards to be aware of. The area should be organized and clean-up plans in place for chemical spills.

Machine Guarding
Reduce the hazards by safeguarding against them using signage, barrier guarding, colour coding and ensuring the machines are maintained. Staff also needs quality training.

The workplace needs to be designed with safety in mind and for productivity and control. Ergonomics helps workers to move products around the warehouse more efficiently and safely. Ergonomics also reduces the costs incurred by compensation claims from workers suffering from back injuries and injuries caused by repetitive actions.

Manual Handling Products
Manual handling still takes place even in warehouses with powered industrial trucks. Products can easily fall and harm workers and there is a risk of injuries. Training and a safe work area are a must to reduce manual handling risks.

Comprehension Safety Programs
Comprehension safety programs need to be in place as they are essential for running a successful warehouse.

Facility Emergency Plans

The emergency plans need to include handling medical, weather, fire and chemical emergencies. Fire drills should be carried out each year and training provided to employees and supervisors in CPR and first aid.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Chit Chat: What are some Customer Service Tools and Techniques? Part 2

Last week we took a look at some of the customer service tools and techniques that are used. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at these.

Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty
Keeping the customer happy sometimes requires employees to go above and beyond the call of duty. This means doing something extra or special that the customers may then feel grateful and even become loyal to the brand. This requires demonstrating your actions.

Acknowledging the Needs of the Customer
It’s important that the customer feels that their needs are being understood. This is true even if it’s not possible for you to meet these needs. You can show understanding through the words you speak, and rephrasing what has been said to you. You might also show understanding by reading their behaviours – noticing a customer is in a hurry for example.

Active listening is also a tool that is used. Show your customer that you are listening and paying attention to them with active listening. Rephrasing is a part of this. 

Arranging Follow-Up
Sometimes the problems cannot be rectified on the spot. In these cases, follow-ups should be arranged and carried through. You must ensure that you explain the actions that will take place between now and the follow-up, you must get back to the customer when promised and you have to follow through on the promises made.

You can make customers feel cared for by speeding up processes. Let them know you are moving as quickly as possible and working hard to get things done.

Privacy and Confidentiality
Some customers might feel reluctant to share their information with you. You have to provide an environment where they feel safe and secure. Take steps to ensure the information they share is secure, whether online or in a brick and mortar setting.

Friday, 25 November 2016

What are the safety needs on choosing the Warehouse? The checklist - Part 1

For the warehouse to be safe, it’s important to look for the following before choosing which warehouse to use:

Materials Storage

The materials need to be stored in a safe way so they won’t fall on employees or cause injuries to visitors to the warehouse either. It’s also necessary for the safe use of industrial trucks. Products must also be stored safely to reduce the risk of damage.  Warehouses should be ordered correctly, be neat, tidy and well organised.

Fire Safety

Protecting the building and the workers comes under fire safety and this is a top priority. Some products can increase the risk of fire, such as flammable liquids. There’s a need for sprinklers, emergency plans and extinguishers to help protect against fire risks.

Personal Protective Equipment

Not all risks and hazards can be eliminated. In these cases, protective equipment is used to protect against injuries. Protective equipment includes hard hats, gloves, hearing protection and so on.

Powered Industrial Trucks

Forklift trucks and other power equipment are essential in warehouses as they are used to move products. Many deaths and injuries are caused by forklifts each year. All operatives need to be provided with the correct training and all safety rules have to be enforced. It’s also essential that the equipment is maintained to the necessary standards.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

What are the safety needs on choosing the Warehouse?

There is a high need for change in the warehouse industry in regards to industrial safety and injury prevention.  Perhaps the largest area where change is desperately needed is in powered industrial trucks. Approximately 100 employees are killed as a result of powered industrial truck incidents.This figure is on top of over 33,000 plus serious injuries and over 61,000 minor injuries.  Therefore there is a high need for injury prevention.

The cost of storing goods in warehouses continues to increase and it is necessary for the products to be protected while in storage. Damage can occur easily, from many risks including fire, flood or impact from a lift truck for example. Many incidents take place every day and the management has to focus on near misses, damages to property and work to reduce the injuries and to save costs by doing so. 

An investment in safety is necessary. The companies have to come up with health and safety programs and integrate them successfully into their business strategy. In order to achieve this, they need assistance from health and safety professionals, facility engineer, equipment manufacturers and so on. Processes have to be improved in order to increase worker safety.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

What are the main e-retailing categories? – Part 2

Today we’re continuing our look at the main e-retailing categories.

DVD Movies and Videos

Many of the same suppliers who sell CDs also sell DVD movies and videos, both online and on the high street. DVD popularity has increased alongside the willingness for consumers to shop online. Amazon, Blackstar, Virgin Mega, WHSmith and HMV are some examples of e-retailers who sell DVD movies.

The costs vary and some retailers shop for free while others still charge.


Only 1% of grocery shopping takes place online in the UK. While this is a small percentage, it does equate to around £1billion per year. Groceries are non-durable; they have to be delivered quickly in a way that won’t damage the goods to ensure the quality of the products. The perishable items are also difficult to ship.  The grocery goods have different characteristics making deliveries difficult too. One of the most successful grocery e-retailers is Tesco.

Clothing and Footwear

Clothing is usually chosen based on how it looks fits and feels. This makes it difficult for online shoppers to evaluate online, but it’s still a popular category of online shopping in the UK. Shoppers enjoy the home delivery and many of the e-retailers of clothing began as an extension of their mail order services. Lingerie and hosiery is one of the most popular categories for e-retailing.  The future of e-retailing may involve the body scan.

Shoppers can visit a store for a body scan, which is then stored online and used to help them shop online.  Consumers can also be offered customisation options, as seen from retailers including Nike. Shoppers are able to customise their shoes – but there are issues if the customer wants to return the goods.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

What are the main e-retailing categories? – Part 1

The main e-retailing categories are as follows:

  • Books
  • Music
  • CDs
  • Online Music
  • DVD Movies and Videos
  • Groceries
  • Clothing and Footwear
In the UK, books are the biggest e-retailing category. 65% of purchases made by online shoppers are books according to research by Ernst & Young.  Books are easy to deliver and the customers know exactly what they are getting when they place an order. Therefore, they score highly on product characteristics, familiarity and confidence and consumer attributes.  Book buyers are normally young and are well educated.  The largest e-retailer of books is Amazon.

The music industry is struggling. The expenditure is falling and consumers think they are charging too much for CDs. Much of the industry blames illegal downloads for the sales slump rather than the cost.  The e-retailing of music has two categories, CDs and Online Music. 

CDshave been the most popular format since the 1980s. Consumers spend around £80million on albums each year according to the BPI, and 92% of those sales are CDs.  Larger retailers such as Tower Records and HMV sell online but other retailers are offering lower prices, resulting in fierce competition. 

It’s estimated that three times as much music is downloaded online and much of this is downloaded for free. Research shows that around 45% of Internet users in Europe download music and around half of them don’t feel any regret or guilty feelings for not paying for it. You can download music or stream it. ITunes has managed to get consumers to pay to download, charging 99cents for each song they download.  Other companies charge monthly fees for set streaming and downloading and they pay royalties to the musicians. It’s necessary to have a good quality Internet connection to stream music. 

Return tomorrow when we shall continue our look at the main e-retailing categories.