Opinion

Why it’s Great to be a Logistics Consultant in Asia-Pacific

Why it’s Great to be a Logistics Consultant in Asia-Pacific

Sometimes, well … most of the time actually, I’m so busy looking into the future for Logistics Bureau and all our spin-off companies, as well as being up to my eyes in the present day-to-day, that I forget to take those golden moments of reflection that every entrepreneur (logistics consultant or not) has a right to enjoy. However a situation just a few weeks ago gave me worthwhile cause to do just that.   Looking Back—But Only for a Moment It was only after the web conference that it dawned on me. There we were; my three senior management colleagues and I, discussing strategy for the group. I was in Bangkok, David was in Hanoi, Chau was in the Philippines and Steven was back on home turf in Sydney. All of us scattered across the APAC region and each one in the middle of a different project, either on behalf of customers or as part of our internal business development. “How much our company has grown from its humble beginnings:” That was the thought that arrested me after that conference, quickly followed by “How fortunate we are to be doing what we do in this particular corner of the world right now.”   APAC is Where it’s At As a firm of logistics consultants in this neck of the woods, we have a lot of work to do going forward, helping companies across the Southeastern corner of the globe to scale and capitalize on the burgeoning growth in markets here. Much of this growth is resulting from the growing popularity of ecommerce, which is driving change and demanding supply chain innovation across Asia and Australasia, as it is over the rest of the globe. Working with customers in Southeast Asia is always interesting, exciting and challenging. Economies in these countries are growing strongly, but transport infrastructure is still sub-par in the majority of the region, making supply chain network design projects especially challenging. Take the Philippines for example, with around 2,000 inhabited islands, most of which have main highways little wider than a British B-road. Some have no kind of metalled road at all. There is also no rail network capable of moving freight anywhere in the country. That leaves distributors with only two options; fast but expensive air freight and very slow RORO shuttle ferries. Any logistics cost-reduction project under those circumstances is going to be educational for...

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5 Tips for Selecting a Logistics Consulting Firm

5 Tips for Selecting a Logistics Consulting Firm

As you may be aware, a large part of what we do at Logistics Bureau Group is helping supply chain and logistics companies improve their business through our consulting services. That means that since The Logistics Bureau was launched back in 1997, we’ve had plenty of practice in understanding the customers who call on us for assistance.     As one who has made a career from matching consulting specialists to customers, I ought to be able to offer some guidance to you, the prospective customer; whether you are looking for a logistics consultant right now, or will be seeking one in the future. So here are five quick tips which, in my experience, will help you select a logistics consulting firm that fits well with your business and its project needs.   1. Practice due diligence and ask for a list of references, gather proof of technical qualifications and check that the prospect has worked on similar problems to the one you are trying to solve. 2. Look for a lead consultant who listens more than she talks. During your initial discussions, observe how well the consultant pays attention to what you and your colleagues have to say. It might be wise to think twice about engaging a consultant who wants to hear her own voice rather than yours. 3. Vet the consultant’s business plan thoroughly. Expect the plan to follow a clear methodology and to include milestones and quality control measures. 4. Assess the likelihood that the consulting team will accommodate your firm’s business culture. Some consulting organizations prefer to apply rigid industry standards, but in our experience, this only interferes with the customer relationship and hampers project progress. 5. Investigate the consultant’s approach to teamwork. When selecting a logistics consulting firm, you really can’t ask enough questions about teamwork and flexibility. The best partners will be those prepared to mentor and build rapport with your team, especially if you are engaging them for a major project that will require careful change management.   Consultants with the right qualities and the credentials to prove their worth might not come with a bargain basement price tag. But selecting a logistics consulting firm should be a process driven by the search for excellence, rather than one that laser-targets the lowest cost. If you keep these five tips in mind and consequently engage the right consulting company, you should find...

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Make Sure You Know Your Place in the Chain of Responsibility

Make Sure You Know Your Place in the Chain of Responsibility

Australia is a country famous for uniqueness … Kangaroos, wallabies, Duck-Billed whatchamacallits—the list goes on. In road transport legislation too, we have a set of regulations which while not totally unique, are not yet adopted on a widespread basis around the rest of the world. I say not yet … but I believe the time will come when the “chain of responsibility” concept becomes adopted in many western nations. In fact, COR legislation was recommended to the United States Congress in 2014 and is currently under consideration.     Back at home, knowing your place in the chain of responsibility is critical if your business is to steer clear of liability for something that happens literally a way down the Australian highway.   What is the Chain of Responsibility? In a nutshell, chain of responsibility legislation applies to pretty much any entity involved in a supply chain; at least if that supply chain involves goods transportation by road. Essentially, if a truck driver commits an offence under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and you exerted even a small degree of influence over the event, you can be held liable in part for the offence.   Here’s an example … As a simple example of how you might be liable for a driver’s HVNL breach, imagine you are responsible for unloading inbound deliveries from a supplier. Your team is under pressure when a truck comes in and consequently, the truck is held for some time before the goods on board finally get unloaded. As a result, the truck driver fails to take a scheduled break in his efforts to get back to base and is subsequently involved in an accident for which he is blameworthy. Now here’s the bad news … under COR law, you are potentially blameworthy too.   It Pays to Know Your Place This is of course, a simplified example, but hopefully the message is clear. If you and your company are in a position to influence the course of events in the transport of goods by road (and you are in Australia), you should know your responsibilities under COR legislation. So do yourself a favor; if you aren’t already aware, get yourself up to speed post-haste and know your place in the chain of responsibility.   See also related articles: Chain of Responsibility Part 1 – an Easy Guide Chain of Responsibility Part 2 –...

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Distribution Centre Performance: How Do You Measure Yours?

Distribution Centre Performance: How Do You Measure Yours?

As you may be aware, one of the businesses in the Logistics Bureau Group is Benchmarking Success, a company dedicated to helping supply chain enterprises to benchmark and measure performance. We founded the company because the complexity of increasingly global supply chains can make it challenging to keep a pulse on performance. Quite simply, we wanted to make that task simpler for our clients.     Just to illustrate how even a single supply chain component needs a set of relevant and meaningful key performance indicators to provide visibility for managers, I thought I’d share a brief insight into some of the most popular metrics for monitoring distribution centre performance.   Six Popular Distribution Centre Performance KPIs So here are six of the most popular distribution centre performance metrics being used around the world’s supply chains: On Time Shipment: Percentage of total order lines shipped on or before requested shipping date. Internal Order Cycle Time: Average time between receipt of customer order and the order being loaded onto vehicle for delivery. Dock to Stock Cycle Time: Average number of hours taken to put goods away in the warehouse. The time from the inbound unloading dock to the SKU storage location. Total Order Cycle Time: Average time duration between customer placing order and customer receiving the ordered goods. Order Picking Accuracy: Percentage of total orders that were correctly picked (correct quantity and quality of items on an order) Average Warehouse Capacity Utilised: Percentage of warehouse capacity used over a specific time period (could be month, quarter or year). Does your company use any of these popular KPIs? We’d love to hear about the ones you like and the ones you don’t and the reasons for your preferred choice of metrics.   Best Regards Rob O’Byrne Email or +61 417 417...

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What Matters Most to Retail Delivery? Speed or Traceability

What Matters Most to Retail Delivery? Speed or Traceability

As more and more consumers turn to ecommerce and retailers scramble to compete for the attention of online shoppers, home delivery services are becoming a service differentiator across most retail sectors. If your company offers home delivery for the “last mile” in your supply chain, you probably provide a standard shipping option and a premium-priced, “express” service, which may include parcel tracking for your customers to keep an eye on their orders. Certainly that’s the typical home distribution model—giving consumers two options: low speed or traceability packaged with high-speed delivery. But what matters most to retail consumers who buy online: speed or traceability? Do they care more about getting their products fast or about knowing where their parcels are at any given point in time?   Trending Toward Transparency The answer, it seems, is the latter. Retailers offering tracked delivery without express delivery premiums are cashing in among consumers who don’t actually care if delivery takes a few days, but who do care about being able to see the status of their orders. If ordering statistics are anything to go by, some retailers are finding that the uptake of premium services was historically as much for the tracking ability as for expeditious delivery. When a mid-range service (including track-and-trace) is introduced, parcel volumes increase, while volumes through both premium and standard services reduce correspondingly.   How Will You Make Home Delivery Different? Decoupling express lead times and track-and-trace facilities could add flexibility into your home delivery service tariff and help differentiate your enterprise from its competitors. Of course ultimately, your customers know what they want, so it may at least be worth soliciting some feedback. You might find your customers don’t need their orders sent via the fast lane, but prefer the confidence of knowing the goods are on their way.   Best Regards Rob O’Byrne Email or +61 417 417...

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Get Ready for the Internet of Supply Chain Things

Get Ready for the Internet of Supply Chain Things

While the Internet of Things is still in the early stages of transition from concept to reality, you should be in no doubt as to its potential for reshaping the way supply chains operate. From manufacturing, through transportation, warehousing, logistics and distribution, the Internet of Things in supply chain will leave no corner of the field unaffected.   The Benefits of a Supply Chain Internet of Things When the Internet of Things in supply chain really begins to gather momentum, the ability to leverage automation will be vastly enhanced. Robotic equipment in manufacturing will become smarter, for example and more traditionally manual activities such as transportation of products to customers will become manageable in real time. The status of truck drivers as remote workers will be challenged, as they and their vehicles are linked ever more closely with the transport office and even with customers. Inside the transport office, Scheduling, routing and truck/driver performance analysis will be integrated to enable machine learning, with continual refinements being made to route planning and resource allocation sans human intervention. Of course the benefits to be had from the supply chain Internet of Things will significantly outweigh any disadvantages, but all progress brings new risks, with security perhaps being one of the most important elements for consideration.   Securing the Supply Chain Internet of Things As supply chains become fully connected through technology, the value of data increases not only for operators, but also for the criminal element of society. This is a fact which the healthcare industry, for example, is already well aware of, suffering as it does many data security breaches, often resulting in the compromise of patients’ personally sensitive data. In supply chain too, you’ll need to increasingly focus on protecting your company’s intellectual property, as well as the personal information of employees and customers. Cyber-criminals will be fully prepared to target logistics and other supply organizations, in their attempts to seize data that can be used for nefarious purposes.   Plan Early to Seize Opportunities—and to Secure Them Now is the right time to start thinking about how your organisation can take advantage of the introduction of the Internet of Things to supply chain operations. At the same time, it’s not too early for your IT specialists to start thinking seriously about how to implement robust cyber-security measures.   Best Regards Rob O’Byrne Email or +61 417 417...

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