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Let’s Talk: Top tips for solving supply chain issues

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Let’s Talk: Top tips for solving supply chain issues

In recent years, we’ve seen how rising costs, disrupted supply chains, and lockdowns can adversely affect businesses of any size. But there are some solutions that, if followed, can reduce your risk and help make turbulent times a little easier.

This week on Let’s Talk, our experts share their tips that will help you address the risks and prepare your business for any supply chain shocks.

Let’s Talk.

Jason Toshack, Vice President and General Manager ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

Jason-Toshack
Jason Toshack, Vice President and General Manager ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

“There are several tactics that Australian business leaders can adopt to prepare for and address the aftershocks of shipment delays and stock unavailability.

“Rather than relying on the just in time approach, which can be risky when there are supply shortages or shipping delays, the just in case approach is recommended. This approach focuses on forecasting demand to proactively secure sufficient supplies ahead of time. For this to work, a robust business management solution which grants to timely data which provides insight into incoming orders versus available stock is a key requirement. The just in case approach can boost profitability, while preventing wastage.

“Having up-to-date industry data like procurement lead times, stock levels and order volumes can allow business owners to manage potential vulnerabilities in the supply chain and optimise efficiencies within. Finance teams can leverage this data allowing them to create more accurate financial forecasting models to save on supply chain costs and inventory management.”

Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAC, Oracle

Callan Mantell
Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAC, Oracle

“In recent years, we’ve seen how rising costs, disrupted supply chains, and lockdowns can contribute to the collapse of construction businesses worldwide. While the industry has realized significant productivity gains through digital transformation, many are now finding that they have ended up with a mishmash of applications that generate data, but do not sufficiently integrate to deliver the insights needed to optimise their end-to-end operations.

“We are now seeing a significant shift as businesses look to the latest in construction technology – the Smart Construction Platform – to solve these problems. These technologies can provide the backbone of what owners and delivery team’s need, such as portfolio, planning, risk, resource, information & cost management, and payment engines that adhere to widely varying legislative requirements. They can also support plugging in an ever-growing ecosystem of point solutions to create the vital single source of truth and can help manage uncertainty by controlling time, cost, safety, quality, and more.

“By ensuring that all stakeholders of a project are seeing the most up-to-date information and leveraging predictive analytics, teams can respond in a more timely and collaborative manner than ever before possible.”

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Tom Christodoulou, Sales Vice President of ANZ, Zebra Technologies

Tom Christodoulou
Tom Christodoulou, Sales Vice President of ANZ, Zebra Technologies

“Despite being highly efficient prior to the pandemic, the supply chain was operating based on a predictable environment. However, the unprecedented changes brought on by the global pandemic has made it immensely difficult for supply chain operators to predict demand. This has contributed to the shortages and bottlenecking we are currently experiencing.

“That said, good inventory management and warehouse organisation, with the help of the right technology, can alleviate some of these pressures. For example, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology can help locate and report on supply chain performance. Integrating this across warehouses can reduce uncertainty about the status of items and increases accountability for their movements, translating to greater efficiency.

“By having better visibility into their inventory, assets, and people, it will provide businesses with insights and intelligence that can help them make business-critical decisions swiftly and decisively to increase efficiency, productivity and keep things going especially during such challenging times.”

Mick McCluney, Technical Director ANZ, Trend Micro

Mick McCluney
Mick McCluney, Technical Director ANZ, Trend Micro

“Modern technology has profoundly impacted the management of large IT environments by allowing centralised management of endpoints, but it has also created room for more cyber attacks. These attacks have consistently launched against weak points in the supply chain and are becoming more common as more organisations are adopting new software during and post-pandemic. As remote working became the new norm, the restrictions imposed by the pandemic forced many organisations to rapidly adopt cloud-based technologies and embrace digital transformation, without fully understanding the potential of security risks. Cybercriminals now have the capability to bypass security measures by focusing directly on their target’s supply chain.

“This means that as enterprises migrate to cloud-based technologies, it is becoming increasingly important to implement security measures for back-end infrastructure which, if compromised, could lead to supply chain attacks. As a leader in cloud and enterprise cybersecurity, Trend Micro has analysed multiple security risks and formulated mitigation techniques concerning DevOps, to ensure that the solutions and approaches being used are done so correctly and effectively. For example, its Hybrid Cloud Security solution provides powerful, streamlined and automated security within an organisation’s DevOps pipeline. This can save companies from experiencing disastrous supply chain attacks, often resulting in operational disruption, financial loss, and reputational damage.”

Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small and Medium Business, Salesforce

Merlin Luck
Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small and Medium Business, Salesforce

“With rising interest rates and high inflation, there’s a tug-of-war happening between businesses needing to keep costs down while still meeting customer demands.

“When we think about solutions to supply chain issues, you can’t look past technology. Centralising data and the integration of AI and IoT, for example, not only helps businesses upscale but also increases agility in supply chain operations. This is because all information is hosted in one place, providing businesses with a single view of customers and partners, allowing them to connect the dots in the data to create connected and consistent experiences. With these insights, businesses can predict issues before they cause significant problems instead of scrambling to fix issues – this is key to successful supply chain management.

“Salesforce customer Blue Harvest integrated Salesforce Sales Cloud to track products and identify supply and demand trends in real-time. By doing so, the business has been able to build trust with customers, partners and suppliers and create a stronger supply chain – now managing 30 per cent of the rock oyster industry after just two years.

“By taking a more customer-centric approach, backed by technology, businesses set themselves up to stay ahead of trends, adapt quickly and create loyal customers.”

Vicki Batka, Senior Vice President for APJ Sales, Trellix

Vicki Batka
Vicki Batka, Senior Vice President for APJ Sales, Trellix

“An issue associated with supply chains is the interconnectedness of networks between organisations serving as an entry point for bad actors to disrupt the supply chain. Building out your partnerships and allowing them access to your network is common, however what needs to be assessed are the cybersecurity guards they implement that can act as a gateway to your organisation’s data.

“Key takeaways for combating and strengthening your business in the supply chain:

  • Implement and/or revise contracts to ensure all partners have a level of cybersecurity equivalent to that of your own. When working with these partners, consult, highlight and educate them on the importance of cybersecurity to the supply chain. This will stop hackers from using other networks as a gateway to yours.
  • Adopting an XDR led-strategy will monitor and safeguard your business from numerous potential entry points through a ‘living security’ approach that thrives in this type of environment.”

Andy Thiss, Area Vice President of ANZ, Anaplan

Andy-Thiss
Andy Thiss, Area Vice President of ANZ, Anaplan

“Supply chain issues continue to be one of the major challenges businesses in Australia contend with considering pandemic recovery, record setting inflation rates, and geopolitical conflicts. It’s critical for today’s supply chain leaders to think further into the future and align resources to meet demand. Due to the huge impact that supply chain risk can have on business bottom line, leaders need the ability to make operational decisions in an agile, accurate manner to mitigate risk and deliver on goals.

“The key to these smart decisions is to leverage more data than ever before. It’s not enough to look at internal data from sales, finance, and operations. Supply chain leaders need access to external signals – like data from customers, suppliers, or distribution partners. Having a clear and holistic view of internal and external data will help business leaders understand what’s driving the buying behaviours of their customers. With a clearer view of the demand signals, they can then align their organisations’ resources to try to shape that demand sooner rather than later.”

Gordana Redzovski, VP Retail APAC, Lightspeed

Gordana Redzovski
Gordana Redzovski, VP Retail APAC, Lightspeed

“The world has been in a constant state of flux over the last couple of years which has put a major strain on supply chains. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the last quarter saw price rises across all food products, except pork, which it attributed to a range of price pressures including supply chain disruptions. This is putting a strain on the hospitality industry which has already suffered significantly with the chaos of the pandemic.

“While the industry can’t control all of the factors disrupting their supply chains, there are some things that can make some of the issues easier. One suggestion is tailoring the menu to what is available. Supply chain issues aside, there are many venues who offer seasonal menus and only choose produce based on what is available. Why not take that same approach now? KFC, for example, has quite publicly discussed the struggles of securing iceberg lettuce following heavy amounts of rain farms have received and as such has had to come up with an alternative to add to their burgers.

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“Another way to help solve some of the more common supply chain problems the industry faces is with the assistance of technology. For many cafes and restaurants, the supply chain process is often managed and recorded on personal spreadsheets, whiteboards, and clipboards – making everything from ordering produce to producing dishes liable to human error and miscommunication. By centralising their management processes within their POS system, venue staff can easily access stock counts and find out whether something needs to be re-ordered – or be prompted to reorder when stock is running too low.”

Justin Dery, CEO APAC, Doddle

Justin Dery
Justin Dery, CEO APAC, Doddle

“Stressful supply chain disruptions have become a fact of life for retailers lately, but there is one major part of the product supply journey that retailers can and should take control of: the last mile.

“When it comes to customer experience and satisfaction, a stress-free last mile makes all the difference. A customer’s primary goal is to receive their order quickly and conveniently, and retailers who can deliver on this will retain happier customers.

“Oz Hair & Beauty recognised that a convenient delivery looks different to every customer. For some it’s a home delivery, while others may prefer to pick up their item from a PUDO (pick-up and drop-off) counter while doing a grocery shop. They began offering delivery to collection points as an alternative option to home delivery, and within just a few months saw their NPS reach a perfect 100 – due to their efficient, convenient and personalised last mile experience, with fewer failed deliveries and “sorry we missed you” cards.

“In the last mile, convenience is undoubtedly king. By fulfilling a customer’s order on their own terms, just as Oz Hair & Beauty did, retailers can take control of their delivery destiny.”

Paul Leahy, Country Manager ANZ, Qlik

Paul Leahy
Paul Leahy, Country Manager ANZ, Qlik

“One of the greatest challenges faced by companies is supply chain visibility. When even processes such as inventory management are regularly outsourced, having a clear, real-time view across a distribution network can be difficult. As a result, making informed decisions becomes harder too.  While all companies have some amount of visibility, it is not unusual for there to be a lag of over a week—considered typical. Companies today need to see even further, with daily or even up-to-the-minute visibility, to give them a handle on better risk management and alternative sourcing arrangements.

“Connectivity will drive actionable real-time insights at all parts of the supply chain process, extending to partners and suppliers. A data-informed supply chain process helps to break down these silos, allowing companies to not only proactively see these problems, but understand the implications and act in an agile, pragmatic, and timely manner.”

Gideon Joseph, practice director ANZ/SEA, UKG

Gideon Joseph
Gideon Joseph, practice director ANZ/SEA, UKG

“Overcoming supply chain issues is a key focus for many SMBs, particularly in today’s rapidly changing landscape. Intelligent workforce management can alleviate key challenges within the supply chain including:

  • Labour shortages: Having the correct number of people on hand to ensure tasks are completed is a major challenge in today’s market, and increasing competition for labour means SMBs must reflect on how they retain and attract talent. Paying people correctly and on time, employing people-focused rostering practices, and offering engagement tools that provide employees flexibility create a positive employee experience that can improve retention.
  • OH&S: The magnified effects of downtime due to non-compliance issues means that SMBs must be extra vigilant by employing safety-focused scheduling policies that promote fatigue management and certification checking to ensure that rostered employees are qualified for the job and well rested enough to do it safely.
  • Holistic forecasting and demand planning: SMBs can build capabilities into their scheduling and planning functions that deliver incremental benefits in efficiency and productivity gains. This can start with simple demand planning using a provided forecast and work up to intelligent workforce management calculated using demand using algorithms and historical volume and overlaying that with labour standards for optimal results.”

Nathan Kale, General Manager ANZ, Icertis

Nathan Kale
Nathan Kale, General Manager ANZ, Icertis

“The last few years have seen widespread disruption that exposed supply chain inefficiencies on a global scale. Many businesses were forced to confront how ill-equipped they are to react to disruptive crises and meet consumer demand during such disruptions. As a result, businesses are examining their supply chains with a particular focus on digitisation. One of the most important steps for businesses in a post-pandemic era will be moves toward supply chain diversity and transparency. Diverse, transparent supply chains will empower businesses to avoid bottlenecks leading to stockouts— which damage customer loyalty — and allow them to react in real time to shifts in customer demands. Winning that last mile in the supply chain will go a long way to restore customer confidence following the supply challenges of the pandemic.

“This kind of end-to-end integration is not possible without the critical business insights contained in contracts. Contracts sit at the heart of multiple essential business processes and define every link in a supply chain. Digitally transforming the creation and post-execution management of these documents should be a central component of any supply chain investment strategy. Advanced Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software provides the critical system of intelligence for whom a company is doing business with and on what terms. This kind of contract intelligence can generate high-impact insights that help businesses overcome key supply chain challenges. Supply chain warning signs—such as a supplier missing contractually obligated timelines or volumes—can be detected early and addressed before they become an issue. New suppliers can be quickly identified and onboarded into the supply chain through seamless, cloud-based collaboration and inbuilt risk assessments.”

Jude Mahony, Director, Optimal Resourcing

Jude Mahony
Jude Mahony, Director, Optimal Resourcing

“Supply chain issues are also people issues according to Resourcing Strategist Jude Mahony. As with all procurement of resources, people resourcing is also about supply and demand. Currently, we have a huge demand and a limited supply. So, what’s the solution? Do you try to ensure proactive sourcing much earlier to build multi-channel sourcing strategies and flag risks in the supply chain? If this was any other resource, you would be using multiple levers to strategically adjust the demand requirements and look at alternative supply channels.

“My top tips to solving supply chain issues are:

  • Look at how you can you adjust the quantity of resources required.
  • Adjust your requirements slightly to enable a broader supply pool.
  • Look at different ways to improve efficiency in the process, remove duplication and automate where possible.
  • Ask yourself if you’re a purchaser that vendors want to have a relationship with? Do you pay quickly and support them as they support you.
  • Look at how can you adjust your timeframes while you work to make long term improvements.”

Mark Khabe, Co-founder, PRIME BPM

Mark-Khabe
Mark Khabe, Co-founder, PRIME BPM

“For most businesses, the biggest supply chain issue continues to be long, unpredictable lead times. This is most likely caused by the process bottlenecks. Even a small chokepoint in the process can lead to a domino effect impacting the entire supply chain and causing production delays, backlogs and unhappy customers.

“As supply chain’s throughput, efficiency, and productivity, is dependent on bottlenecks in the process, identifying and fixing them needs to be the first step in your operational efficiency improvement plan.

“What is needed is end-to-end visibility into the entire supply chain process. Business process mapping proves extremely helpful here as it helps you understand lags at the task level and take an appropriate remedial measure. For instance, insights into high-frequency, labour-intensive tasks that lead to errors and delays could be used to analyse if automating these tasks is the right solution.

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“Value analysis, which focuses on identifying non-value-adding activities in your process, such as rework, and double handling of tasks, is another highly effective technique. As your supply chain efficiency depends on the slowest part of the process, eliminating the weakest link or making it efficient will dramatically increase the overall performance.”

Paul Soong, Regional Director ANZ, e2open

Paul Soong
Paul Soong, Regional Director ANZ, e2open

“If we can learn anything from the state of the current supply chain, it is that uncertainty is a guarantee in the future. There is also a growing sense of urgency for businesses to operate sustainably with consumers now purchasing from brands that are only sourcing and creating environmentally friendly goods. Building supply chain resilience and sustainability is key to remaining competitive for businesses.

“From retailers to logistics companies, putting the right solutions and strategies in place should centre around providing visibility over their entire networks. This can help them become aware, in real time, of where their goods are coming from and going to, so that they can better manage demand and their inventory availability.

“To deliver on this, businesses need to adopt smart tools including AI and machine learning applications that help businesses make efficient short-term decisions based on real-time information to optimise stock levels and meet the needs of the end customer. Even within the conversation of sustainability, these technologies can reduce ESG risk by applying sustainable measures and practices at every stage of their supply chain, keeping their customers happy, and loyal.

“Real-time information is crucial in this new age to build resilience along the supply network. Moving into the future with data-led decision making can allow businesses to act quickly on unexpected changes and optimise their operations to build a more profitable, customer-centric business.”

John Karabin, Senior Director of Cybersecurity, NTT Australia

John Karabin
John Karabin, Senior Director of Cybersecurity, NTT Australia

“Being able to access and understand real-time data is key to building supply chain resilience and agility. What’s out of sight is out of mind — so by gaining visibility into performance data, organisations are better equipped to react quickly and accordingly in times of uncertainty. This holistic approach can offer a huge advantage, as you have a fuller picture of your organisation’s supply chain performance, and can identify opportunities to innovate within the network.

“By having connected sites — that is, linking different components within your supply chain — it’ll increase process visibility. This could involve having sensors on your machinery to see if it’s working at full capacity, to the trucks taking your stock out tracking humidity levels.

“With an abundance of information, it’s paramount that the data is secure and can be trusted. It’s critical that it can’t be intentionally changed or altered. For example, there was an attempted attack on a water treatment plant; even though it was a low profile attack, it had the potential to heavily impact life and safety. No industry is exempt so it’s important to remain vigilant and implement protection strategies to keep security tight.”

Andy Mellor, Regional Vice President ANZ, Kofax

Andy Mellor
Andy Mellor, Regional Vice President ANZ, Kofax

“Supply chain woes are set to deepen, with a labour and skills shortage predicted to continue. Solving supply chain issues to transcend the short-term means leveraging readily available tools.

“Designing intelligently automated processes across the supply chain drives increased staff productivity, service levels, and capacity and frees up over-worked employees to focus on more valuable tasks. On top of that, you’ll have access to insights and data to allow greater efficiencies across the supply chain process.

“With the skills shortage created by a low unemployment rate and low levels of immigration, businesses need to look to technology to bridge supply chain gaps; automation is key to relieving this pressure in the logistics industry. Adopting an automated workflow will not only transform business performance and capacities in the short term but can strategically transform processes long-term – creating a resilient supply chain that can thrive in any circumstance.”

Simon Ractliffe, Regional GM ANZ, Qualys

Simon Ractliffe
Simon Ractliffe, Regional GM ANZ, Qualys

“As supply chain attacks increase in volume and sophistication and its infrastructure becomes more interconnected and complex, organisations at the end of the chain are now diverting more attention and resources to mitigate their third-party risk as attacks on one organisation have detrimental effects on many others throughout the chain.

“Supply chain managers should prepare for increased scrutiny in the form of reporting, audits and security-led contractual agreements with their customers’ IT, security, and compliance teams. Suppliers that can demonstrate comprehensive security and compliance policies and procedures are likely to find it easier to win new business and reap the benefits of satisfaction and loyalty from existing customers.

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“A good first step is to create a well-considered legal agreement that defines the controls you apply (benchmarked against a framework such as CIS or ISO 27001), and in return will expect your customers and suppliers to have in place.

“Depending on the level of associated risk, further controls may be necessary to provide monitoring of the data transit between organisations and the associated access rights. It’s important for all aspects of basic security hygiene to be followed by all parties, such as access and credential management.”

Kylie Butchard, Managing Director, Pacific Security Group

Kylie Butchard
Kylie Butchard, Managing Director, Pacific Security Group
  • “Diversify supplier chains of the same product and keep abreast of their stock availability. Having a close relationship with suppliers means you’re kept updated with any ordering concerns on the horizon and quite possibly opt in to purchase bulk for your own supplies.
  • Bulk buy most common items from suppliers and store for your future turnover.
  • Avoid overselling and promising parts known to have long back orders. Strong inventory management is a must to reassure the customer of delivery of their product or by offering them an alternative solution.
  • Explore alternative brands of similar specs so you’re prepared and the product has been tried and tested before offering it to the market.
  • Give customers a clear understanding of stock availability, wait times and price influxes.
  • Approach the problem head on and be proactive rather than reactive by all of the above.”

Thomas Fikentscher, Regional Director ANZ, CyberArk

Thomas Fikentscher
Thomas Fikentscher, Regional Director ANZ, CyberArk

“Over the last year, software supply chain attacks have become one of the biggest issues affecting organisations’ critical digital resources, which attackers can gain access to via compromised software.

“Organisations can protect themselves against these attacks by taking the following steps:

  1. Enforce the principal of least privilege (PoLP) by applying role-based access control so that a developer, application or script only has access to the credentials needed.
  2. Deploy an identity security solution that will protect organisations against credential theft and privilege misuse by automatically discovering and onboarding privileged credentials used by humans, devices or applications.
  3. Adopt secure coding principles. It is critical for the security team to take a proactive approach in integrating security with the DevOps process.
  4. Adopt software bill of materials (SBOMs) which are machine-readable documents that provide a definitive record of the components used to build a software product including open-source software.”

Brian Renvoize, Director of Sales AU & NZ, Wayflyer

Brian Renvoize
Brian Renvoize, Director of Sales AU & NZ, Wayflyer

“The most pressing supply chain challenge right now is planning for the upcoming in Q4 well ahead of time. With ongoing freight and production delays, securing stock early will be crucial. Business leaders should forecast expected demand using previous holiday season data, while also factoring in year-on-year growth.

“The next logical challenge for many businesses is cash flow, as cash on hand may not be enough to secure the stock needed to capitalise on the busy season. Traditional finance providers may take too long to process an application, so many businesses are using alternative finance providers that use a revenue-based model to secure funding quickly. Getting funds in the door fast can be the difference between an average or stellar end-of-year sale season.”

Brent Paterson, Managing Director ANZ, SNP

Brent-Paterson
Brent Paterson, Managing Director ANZ, SNP

“Organisations can streamline business processes and reduce the impact of supply chain delays by harnessing the power of robust data analytics and driving enterprise mobility.

“They can do this by:

  • Investing in digital, data-driven technologies, prioritising data integrity, and adopting near-real-time data analytics capabilities
  • Embedding live data analysis and best practice processes across every aspect of operations
  • Integrating secure, reliable mobile technology solutions that support all facets of mobile, remote, and hybrid work.

“The modern supply chain network requires businesses to eliminate legacy data siloes that create bottlenecks and impede internal processes. This opens the door to achieving much greater levels of businesses productivity and efficiency through continually optimised processes. It also delivers complete visibility of business and customer activities as a result of the real-time, accurate insights that data intelligence provides.

“Just as importantly, this approach helps businesses achieve enterprise mobility, which is essential for success in volatile, unpredictable markets. It ultimately empowers organisations to build mobility, agility, and resilience into every aspect of their operations, which is the hallmark of an intelligent enterprise.”

Nathan Gower, Head of Business Development ANZ, Boomi

Nathan Gower
Nathan Gower, Head of Business Development ANZ, Boomi

“It was just a few years ago most Australians wouldn’t have even considered the complexities hidden within supply chains. Supermarket shelves were reliably stocked, medical supplies were available, and pricing on raw materials was fairly consistent. Global supply chains ticked, but recent years have made it clear supply chains must better understand themselves to maintain around the clock resilience.

“The not-so secret ingredient is data. It is what binds the web of collaboration between different partners for materials and components, logistics, and services. Connected data gives supply chains the ability to cope with unexpected events and crises in our global, digital economy.

“But record digitalisation has only added to the challenge. Today’s supply chains use vastly more solutions and systems than ever before, with a combination of ‘best-of-breed’ technologies to tackle specific functions, such as dedicated logistics tracking, inventory planning apps and demand optimisations tools.

“However, most are only partially integrated, if at all, meaning they operate alone. Having systems that communicate and share data securely fosters a collaborative and fully integrated ecosystem where all stakeholders, from suppliers to transporters, can view and receive the information they need, when they need it, and identify areas of waste or inefficiencies.”

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Walter Scremin, CEO, Ontime Delivery Solutions

Walter-Scremin
Walter Scremin, CEO, Ontime Delivery Solutions

“The most important thing is to focus on what you can control, and in supply chains that’s not always possible – for example, business has limited power over a shipment unexpectedly stranded on the water. But business can keep analysing its supply chain performance and its supply chain relationships, to ensure they are efficient and not overly exposed to any one supplier.

“The delivery transport aspect offers some control, yet it’s an area which is often run inefficiently. There’s much to be gained in researching delivery costs, and understanding your efficiency and responsiveness. The best delivery fleets are flexible and adapt to fluctuations in demand.

“When trying something new in areas like third party logistics, a trial period is generally best. Start small before over-committing, and look for partners which make your business better. Technology is key as you need to monitor and measure your efficiency. And communication is critical in managing supply chain issues.”

Matt Richardson, Senior Corporate Client Manager, OFX

Matt Richardson
Matt Richardson, Senior Corporate Client Manager, OFX

“For businesses moving goods globally, part and parcel of supply chain bottlenecks is heightened currency volatility.

“I’ve seen companies’ profit margins severely impacted by exchange rate fluctuations when buying and selling goods and services overseas, but also those who have been able to take advantage of such moves when their FX costs are planned.

“There are a number of useful tools that are readily available to help minimise risk, and keep your costs in budget, so you don’t have to tighten your margin or pass on costs to your customers. Here’s my top three tips to help you do just that:

  • Choose the right FX partner. Your bank may not guarantee the best rate and provide the specialist FX advice you need.
  • Set a target rate. Good if you have an exchange rate in mind to meet your budget and have time to wait, so you can take advantage of favourable market moves in different timezones.
  • Consider a Global Currency Account to take FX volatility out of the equation. Use local currency accounts to receive payments or pay taxes, fees, vendors or suppliers.”

Leona Watson, Speaker and Coach

Leona Watson
Leona Watson, Speaker and Coach

“I’ve had several business coaching clients in this predicament.  One couldn’t fulfil orders as he didn’t have packaging. Ouch!

  1. BUDDY UP WITH COMPETITORS/SIMILAR NEEDS.  I’ve been recommending bulk buying and sharing shipping and storage costs.  Better buying power is a key element especially for SMBs.
  1. REDUCE # OF PRODUCTS.  What are your low volume, low profit, fiddly, time-sucking, pain-in-the-butt products? Ditch them to simplify your Procurement & Operations.  You can always bring products back. but for now, sideline them, so you can buy more of less items. Better cashflow for sure.
  1. REDUCE RELIANCE ON KEY STAFF.  Less products means less product training for Sales and Customer Service teams. You won’t be held hostage by key staff.
  1. CONSIDER BOUTIQUE OR NICHE.  This laser-focusses your marketing messages and Brand Promise to a tighter target market.  You’ll spend less dollars and save time.
  1. HERO PRODUCT X 3.  Once you’ve eliminated products, consider: 1. Entry/budget  2. Mid-range and 3. Bells & whistles versions of your Hero product.  You’ll now have 3 products to sell without extending your supply chain needs.  Fab for upgrade selling too.”

Nik Vora, Vice President of Asia Pacific, Neo4j

Nik Vora
Nik Vora, Vice President of Asia Pacific, Neo4j

“Since the onset of the pandemic, global supply chains have suffered unprecedented disruptions. The sheer complexity of supply chains requires organisations to have greater visibility and agility to be resilient and ensure business continuity. This is where graph technology can help alleviate key supply chain issues.

“A graph data platform bridges data silo and creates a connected supply chain that will enable businesses to better manage, analyse and visualise their data. It provides a trackable and in-depth picture of all products, suppliers, and facilities and the relationships between them, enabling businesses to make more informed decisions.

“The ability to identify risks by tracking multi-tiered supplier information, costs, and disruptions is key for companies to take corrective action before shortages impact business operations and overcome supply chain disruptions.”

Jarrod Kinchington, Vice President and Managing Director of ANZ, Infor

Jarrod Kinchington, Vice President and Managing Director of ANZ, Infor
Jarrod Kinchington, Vice President and Managing Director of ANZ, Infor

“Ongoing supply chain disruptions have upended Australian industries, exposing costly operational gaps. My top tips for businesses struggling to overcome these challenging times include:

  • Map it out: Identify key suppliers and areas of risk for full visibility over processes, and  see how supply bottlenecks will impact operations, revenue and customer experience.
  • Be agile: Supply shortages mean it’s more important than ever to broaden networks and source from different suppliers. A broad supply chain is a stronger supply chain.
  • Be transparent: When shortages and delays happen, consumers and supply partners left in the dark inevitably lose confidence. Improve your product and process visibility, and you won’t just improve these relationships but you will also lay the foundations for greater predictive capabilities.
  • Embrace automation: Companies leveraging automation technology are more effectively managing their talent, strengthening their supply networks and driving significant business improvements.”

Nic Brill, CEO, Poolwerx

Nic Brill
Nic Brill, CEO, Poolwerx

“The pandemic revealed an urgent need for greater agility and forward planning in supply chain and manufacturing operations. In November 2021, Poolwerx identified we were selling salt faster than we could source. We endeavoured to find the better way: onboarding a third supplier to create a secondary supply chain bespoke to Poolwerx. This required a significant investment, staff resources, management oversight and logistical coordination with suppliers, warehousing and transport.

In February 2022, we innovated again to address additional supply pressures caused by La Niña and flooding on the east coast. We worked closely with our new supplier to arrange extra shifts amid a worker shortage to produce salt at night. This meant we had an ample supply of salt and experienced zero shortages and outages when most retailers across the coast ran out. The moral of the story: forecasting, persistence and a little creative thinking are your allies in times of crisis.”

David Aherne, Managing Director and CEO, Across The Ocean Shipping

David Aherne
David Aherne, Managing Director and CEO, Across The Ocean Shipping

“Top tips for solving supply chain issues:

  • With an unpredictable supply chain, it is often difficult to ascertain when a particular product may become unavailable. Clients need to be proactive and anticipate these problems. Research needs to be conducted to look into alternative supply chain solutions around the globe. Vietnam, India and Malaysia are all attractive alternatives. Through doing so, you’ll be able to spread the risk and maintain adequate stock even if an original supplier is unable to fulfil your needs.
  • Supply chain issues can have a significant impact on your inventory. Clients need to consider using historical data and trends to successfully plan for future supply and demand changes. This can help you to prepare for future issues and prevent inventory shortages.
  • Develop strong relationships with manufacturers in various geographical locations to provide yourself with greater flexibility. Supply chain issues are widespread, many manufacturers are openly available to build new relationships and provide reliable alternatives. This can help clients to avoid prolonged delays.
  • Look and accept alternative routes of transportation, the cheapest way is not always the best way. With an increasing number of ports becoming congested, look at moving your shipments via air, road or rail to alternative ports with lower vessel wait times. This can help you to overcome inefficiency and delays.
  • Utilising a forwarder with clear communication channels that can offer 24/7 tracking and milestone push points is a simple yet effective way to stay on top of supply chain issues. Uncertainty is much worse than being aware of a delay. To keep waiting customers happier, ensure they have timely messaging surrounding any delays to keep them informed on when they can expect to receive their goods.
  • The unpredictable supply chain is leading to an increase in delays and late shipments, meaning that you can’t always rely on the predicted shipping times. Planning ahead is essential to ensure required stock arrives in time to avoid any negative implications.”

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

BALTIMORE (AP) — Teams of engineers worked Saturday on the intricate process of cutting and lifting the first section of twisted steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which crumpled into the Patapsco River this week after a massive cargo ship crashed into one of its supports.

Sparks could be seen flying from a section of bent and crumpled steel in the afternoon, and video released by officials in the evening showed demolition crews using a cutting torch to slice through the thick beams. The joint incident command said in a statement that the work was being done on the top of the north side of the collapsed structure.

Crews were carefully measuring and cutting the steel from the broken bridge before attaching straps so it can be lifted onto a barge and floated away, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Seven floating cranes — including a massive one capable of lifting 1,000 tons — 10 tugboats, nine barges, eight salvage vessels and five Coast Guard boats were on site in the water southeast of Baltimore.

Each movement affects what happens next and ultimately how long it will take to remove all the debris and reopen the ship channel and the blocked Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

“I cannot stress enough how important today and the first movement of this bridge and of the wreckage is. This is going to be a remarkably complicated process,” Moore said.

Undeterred by the chilly morning weather, longtime Baltimore resident Randy Lichtenberg and others took cellphone photos or just quietly looked at the broken pieces of the bridge, which including its steel trusses weigh as much as 4,000 tons.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that water. It’s got to be cold. It’s a tough job,” Lichtenberg said from a spot on the river called Sparrows Point.

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The shock of waking up Tuesday morning to video of what he called an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline falling into the water has given way to sadness.

“It never hits you that quickly. It’s just unbelievable,” Lichtenberg said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

One of the first goals for crews on the water is to get a smaller auxiliary ship channel open so tugboats and other small barges can move freely. Crews also want to stabilize the site so divers can resume searching for four missing workers who are presumed dead.

Two other workers were rescued from the water in the hours following the bridge collapse, and the bodies of two more were recovered from a pickup truck that fell and was submerged in the river. They had been filling potholes on the bridge and while police were able to stop vehicle traffic after the ship called in a mayday, they could not get to the construction workers, who were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The crew of the cargo ship Dali, which is managed by Synergy Marine Group, remained on board with the debris from the bridge around it, and were safe and were being interviewed. They are keeping the ship running as they will be needed to get it out of the channel once more debris has been removed.

The vessel is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The collision and collapse appeared to be an accident that came after the ship lost power. Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine why.

Assuaging concern about possible pollution from the crash, Adam Ortiz, the Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, said there was no indication in the water of active releases from the ship or materials hazardous to human health.

REBUILDING

Officials are also trying to figure out how to handle the economic impact of a closed port and the severing of a major highway link. The bridge was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore.

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Maryland transportation officials are planning to rebuild the bridge, promising to consider innovative designs or building materials to hopefully shorten a project that could take years.

President Joe Biden’s administration has approved $60 million in immediate aid and promised the federal government will pay the full cost to rebuild.

Ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore remains suspended, but the Maryland Port Administration said trucks were still being processed at marine terminals.

The loss of a road that carried 30,000 vehicles a day and the port disruption will affect not only thousands of dockworkers and commuters, but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to feel the impact of shipping delays. The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington, D.C.; Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tennessee; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed.

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

DALLAS (AP) — The Texas attorney general has opened an investigation into a key Boeing supplier that is already facing scrutiny from federal regulators over quality of parts that it provides to the aircraft maker.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said it began looking into Spirit AeroSystems because of “apparent manufacturing defects” in parts that “have led to numerous concerning or dangerous incidents.”

In a statement Friday, a Spirit spokesman said, “While we do not comment on investigations, Spirit is wholly focused on providing the highest quality products to all our customers, to include the Boeing Company.”

Paxton asked the Wichita, Kansas-based supplier to turn over documents produced since the start of 2022 about communication with investors and Boeing about flaws in parts and corrective steps the company took.

The request goes into detail in seeking internal discussions around Spirit’s efforts to create a diverse workforce “and whether those commitments are unlawful or are compromising the company’s manufacturing processes.” Paxton asked for a breakdown of Spirit’s workforce by race, sexual orientation and other factors, and whether the makeup has changed over time.

Since a Spirit-made door-plug panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max in January, some conservatives have tried to link aviation safety to diversity at manufacturers.

Paxton is a conservative Republican who this week agreed to pay $271,000 in restitution to victims and take 15 hours of training in legal ethics to settle felony charges of securities fraud. Paxton did not admit wrongdoing in the 9-year-old case.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into Boeing Spirit after the Alaska Airlines incident. An FAA audit of manufacturing procedures in Spirit’s factory gave the company failing grades in seven of 13 areas.

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Boeing is in talks to buy back Spirit, which it spun off nearly 20 years ago, as part of a plan to tighten oversight of manufacturing in its supply chain.

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