Rob O'Byrne

What’s a Bimodal Supply Chain Strategy Anyway?

What’s a Bimodal Supply Chain Strategy Anyway?

              If the latest hype is to be believed, a bimodal supply chain strategy will be the only way (for larger companies especially) to secure supply chain success in the future. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. What it is apparent is that entrenchment in the conventional principles of linear supply chains just won’t do anymore. The supply chain environment has too many new challenges, driven by dramatic changes set in place by globalism, digital commerce, and increased consumer/buyer empowerment. So just in case, the bimodal concept proves worthy of the hype, it will at least pay to understand what it’s all about. The objective of this post therefore, is to clarify the meaning (in a nutshell) behind what may become the supply chain buzzword of 2017.   A Brief Explanation of the Bimodal Supply Chain The bimodal supply chain concept has nothing to do with shipping by air, sea, road or rail, although you could certainly be forgiven for thinking so—until you know better. In fact, bimodal supply chain strategy involves the simultaneous, side-by-side management of two distinct modes of operation, appropriately known as Mode 1 and Mode 2:   Mode 1: This is your traditional supply chain operation, based on efficiency, value-addition, and waste reduction, and eminently suited to what we now know as the old world of predictable demand. Let’s face it, even demand fluctuations used to be predictable compared to the current environment of volatility.   Mode 2: This is perceived as the new supply chain prerogative—a need to be flexible, agile, to take big, bold risks and experiment to find ways of adapting to rapid shifts in market forces (think natural disaster, economic upheaval, and political issues).   Two Into One Must Go If it helps, you can think of the two modes in a bimodal supply chain as being analog (Mode 1) and digital (Mode 2), but really the difference is more than merely technological. It’s also about the way your company promotes supply chain thinking, and as such, needs operational management teams comprised of both convergent and divergent thinkers.   Another way to visualise the concept is to consider Mode 1 as being traditional, while Mode 2 is exploratory.   If this sounds like a surefire way to promote, rather than discourage the silo mentality that so often pervades supply chain organisations,...

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What Will Pop Up in Your Supply Chain in 2017?

What Will Pop Up in Your Supply Chain in 2017?

New Year is traditionally a time both to look back at what has gone on, and to anticipate what the coming 12 months will bring. In logistics especially though, it’s always wise to keep a keen eye on the future horizon, so I thought I’d put together a few lines on something that might just crop up … or rather “pop up” on your supply chain innovation radar during the year to come. “Pop-up fulfillment” is the catchy, if unoriginal term (borrowed as it probably is from the retail “pop-up store” concept) for the use of third-party warehouse (and perhaps logistics) assets to service a seasonal or similar short-term need for inventory storage and transportation.   Pop Up Fulfillment: The Uberisation of Warehousing? The concept of short-term inventory storage is nothing new. With the staggering growth in ecommerce though, and the need for supply chains to compete more effectively (for example by putting inventory as close to end-customers as possible) it is being utilised in a more dynamic way by companies prepared to break with warehousing convention. As innovative shippers lock onto the pop up idea, equally innovative service and software providers are ready to capitalise on the demand for warehouse real estate. Take U.S. based warehouse marketplace, FLEXE for example. The FLEXE platform has been likened to an AirBnB for warehouse space, since it connects shippers needing short-term space (with no strings) with companies looking to utilise excess warehouse capacity.   3 Ideal Uses for Pop-up Fulfillment Aside from the FLEXE offering in the United States, it’s not too easy to see how or where the market for on-demand warehousing will be serviced, but given the evident gap that it fills, the concept is likely to spread globally. It’s certainly not inconceivable that pop-up fulfillment will be accessible for your company (should you need it) before 2017 draws to a close. Why would you need it? Well, there are at least three possible ways a logistics operation can make use of a pop-up warehouse or fulfillment centre:     1: A solution for seasonality: This can work in one of two ways. If demand for your products typically spikes significantly at certain times of the year, you can “pop up” one or more warehouses to accommodate your inventory build. This can be especially useful for putting your inventory closer to customer concentrations, thereby improving availability and ensuring customers...

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Supply Chain Leaders: Are You Psychopaths or Saviours?

Supply Chain Leaders: Are You Psychopaths or Saviours?

According to a recent psychological study in Australia, supply chain leaders are a ruthless, calculating lot, drawn to their chosen careers because the supply chain is action-packed and opaque in nature. This commercial environment apparently appeals to the nature of those with psychopathic tendencies; traits which appear in the supply chain management profession at about the same level as in the prison inmate population.   An Objective View of Supply Chain Leaders? Was I shocked when I read the details of this study? A little, I must admit. Far be it from me to challenge the (presumably) objective research performed in the field of psychology, but my experience of supply chain management professionals (which can hardly be considered “limited”) doesn’t really concur with the findings of a Queensland-based group of forensic psychology researchers. For that reason, I felt compelled to write this post, to explore the research findings a little further, and then share what I believe are some of the benefits which supply chain leaders bring to society—achieved through leadership qualities which would seem to fly in the face of what we might expect from people with psychopathic tendencies.   Psychopathic Tendencies of Supply Chain Leaders Let’s start by looking at the findings of the research, conducted by a forensic psychologist from Bond University in Queensland and reported publicly by The Australian Financial Review Magazine. According to the study, 21% of participating supply chain leaders showed substantial levels of psychopathic behaviour, which include: Insincerity A lack of empathy Low levels of remorse Egocentricity Superficiality A ruthless and calculating ability to make decisions without emotion Presenting the study findings to a Melbourne congress of the Australian Psychological Society, the lead researcher stated that supply chain leaders are capable of a cold and clinical approach to decision-making, considering little else but the possibilities for commercial gain. So that’s the result of objective research, but what is it about the field of logistics and supply chain management that seemingly attracts psychopathic individuals like a floodlight attracts insects? Personally, I prefer to consider the profession, and those who work within it, as an honourable and essential segment of commerce without which, the world would be a much worse place in which to live.   The Good That Supply Chain Leaders Do If supply chain leaders really are prone to psychopathic tendencies, as the study would seem to suggest, the same might be...

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A great Day at Supply Chain Leaders Insights

This made all the hard work worth it! Are you coming next time ? Supply Chain Leaders Insights.

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The Supply Chain Essentials Checklist Every CEO Should Use

The Supply Chain Essentials Checklist Every CEO Should Use

If you’re a CEO and you keep yourself up-to-date with executive trends, you’ve probably heard a lot lately about the importance of understanding your company’s supply chain. As someone once said though, there’s no such thing as CEO training and the demand for your attention across the business is never-ending. With so much going on it can be hard to even know where to start thinking about the supply chain essentials, unless your background is in logistics or something similar. Still, the need to get involved with supply chain won’t go away anytime soon, so you might find this quick checklist handy. It provides you with some of the essential supply chain points that you as CEO should focus on and get involved with, at least as far as practicable.   15 CEO Supply Chain Essentials to Get Your Teeth Into   CEO Essentials Section A: Supply Chain Strategy and Leadership 1) Does your company have a supply chain strategy? 2) If the answer to point 1) is yes, does the supply chain strategy align with your company’s mission? 3) Do you have a Chief Supply Chain Officer and if not, is your company large enough to think about appointing one? 4) If the answer to point 3) is yes, does your CSCO have a background in supply chain or logistics? 5) Do your senior supply chain leaders have strong skills and experience in supply chain management?     CEO Essentials Section B: Supply Chain Performance 6) Do you know how well your supply chain performs in comparison with best-in-class companies, the industry average, and peer companies with similar operations? 7) Is your supply chain performance measured using cross-functional metrics which drive internal collaboration and discourage teams from working in silos? 8) Are performance-KPIs externally focused, providing visibility of customer service levels?     CEO Essentials Section C: Service and Efficiency 9) Does your company regularly capture logistics service-related feedback from its customers? 10) Do you know, or can somebody in your management team tell you the following information: The supply chain cost per unit-sold? Supply chain cost-per order? The number of stock turns per year? 11) Does your company take steps to influence customer behaviour in a way that reduces supply chain cost? 12) Is your supply chain network design optimal for cost-effective service delivery? 13) Do you know, or can somebody in your team tell you why...

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