Opinion

Hiring and Retaining the New Supply Chain Workforce

Hiring and Retaining the New Supply Chain Workforce

Skills requirements for the supply chain workforce are changing fast, driven mainly by the growth in globalisation and the technology advances which will continue to transform the way supply chains operate. Moreover, tribal knowledge; the inherent wisdom acquired and held by veteran employees, is under threat as industries feel the effect of an aging workforce. As recently revealed in Logistics Bureau’s 2015 Australian Supply Chain Report, the logistics and warehousing sector fields a workforce comprising nearly 40% of employees over 45 years of age.   The New Supply Chain Workforce: What’s Changing? Careers in supply chain are in demand, but still there is a shortage of candidates with the right mix of skills to be effective at a transformational time in the industry. In short, supply chain companies need more generalists, but can’t afford to lose the specialist knowledge held by employees who may soon step down from full-time employment and enjoy their well earned retirements. It’s pretty much a seller’s market out there too, so if your company can’t offer something to make it stand out from other supply chain workforce buyers, hiring top talent isn’t going to be easy. Similarly, retention can be tricky when other employers are trying to lure your best employees away.   Preparing the New Supply Chain Workforce So what does it take to hire and retain the right talent in 2016 and beyond? Three words can answer that question—visualise, prioritise, and collaborate! Visualise: Perhaps I should really say “help employees to visualise”. What I’m talking about here is providing clarity around the potential career path of each individual in the supply chain workforce. Give your employees a view of their growth opportunities within your organisation. Companies which do this enjoy better employee engagement and retention. Prioritise: Unless your company is very small indeed, it’s time to shift the approach to recruitment and raise its priority. If you want to hire the best talent you can afford, waiting until you have an appointment to fill is probably a mistake. Companies which have the most success in hiring for the new supply chain workforce are those which remain constantly on the lookout for recruits. When openings do become available, those companies already have their finger on the pulse and target potential talent which they’ve already identified. Collaborate: The need for collaboration kicks in when your new hires are on board. Don’t waste any time...

Read More

Has Ecommerce Supersized the Supply Chain Warehouse?

Has Ecommerce Supersized the Supply Chain Warehouse?

While researching online for some blog post ideas, I came across a great article from Newsweek, written back in 1995. The author of the article was predicting that among other shortcomings of the Internet, it could never realistically support activities such as booking airline tickets, reserving restaurant tables, or buying products online. Famous Last Words At that time, I’m sure the article’s author would have been only one of many people forecasting that ecommerce would be a fad, soon to fade into obscurity. Today though, I’m sure those same people have all dined on their own words many times over. The impact of ecommerce has been profound and nowhere more so than in the supply chain world. Not only has Ecommerce supersized the shopping environment, it appears to have supersized the supply chain too–in more ways than one.   Coming Soon: Supersized Supply Chain Warehouses Take warehouses for example. As we highlighted in our recently published Australian Supply Chain Report, the demand for warehouse space in Australia is forecast to increase, particularly in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. What we didn’t mention in the report is that the size of warehouses looks set to increase exponentially over the next few years, in response to a growing volume of imports and the boom in e-tail shopping. Supersized supply chain warehouses will become the norm, as multi-channel distribution creates the need for larger sheds. The extra space is necessary to accommodate operations shipping high volumes of single-line, small-package orders. As the Panama Canal expansion inevitably leads to the arrival of the latest monster cargo vessels into Australian ports, the need for supersized supply chain warehouses will increase still further. Within the next two or three years, distribution centres exceeding 200,000 square metres will be a common sight, although you might have to look outside city limits to see them. The sheer size of these sheds will require that they are located away from the current zones of industry in cities like Melbourne and Sydney.   Supersized Warehouses Appearing Everywhere The imminent construction of supersized supply chain warehouses is not unique to Australia. Ecommerce is already driving a trend in giant-warehouse construction around the globe; especially as online retail behemoths like Amazon continue to expand their operations. In China, the United States, and Europe, the largest distribution centres are already approaching the 200,000 square metre mark. For example, JD.com, China’s largest online-sales organisation...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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 –...

Read More

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...

Read More