Creating Supply Chain Excellence

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Share. Supply Chain Leadership Forum 2016

May 26, 2016

By Tompkins International StaffTompkins Supply Chain Leadership Forum 2016

We are less than four months away from the premium Tompkins International Supply Chain Leadership Forum 2016 (SCLF). We wanted to provide some exciting details about the SCLF being held in Minneapolis, Minnesota August 29th through August 31st. This year you will be joining our CEO, Jim Tompkins, along with 200 other supply chain executives and experts. You will have the opportunity to connect with one another, share insight, and learn together due to the remarkable lineup of events and speakers taking place throughout the two days; allowing us to connect, share, and learn.

Quality content and speakers make all the difference at an executive forum. The SCLF provides both with leading experts on relevant supply chain hot topics, enabling all attendees to connect, share, and learn together.

International supply chain thought leader Jim Tompkins will be our keynote speaker. Sharing his views on supply chain excellence, what you need to know to make your supply chain even more competitive in 2016 and moving forward.

Leaders from the following organizations will be presenting throughout the forum:

  • 3GTMS
  • CH Robinson Worldwide
  • Dominos
  • Grand Junction
  • GT Nexus
  • Hallmark Cards
  • JDA
  • University of Wisconsin E-Business Consortium

Also, speaking and attending will be our leadership team from Tompkins International.

Topics will fall under three general tracks:

1 – Supply Chain Strategy, Planning, and Talent

2 – Transportation and Networking Optimization

3 – Distribution and Fulfillment Centers

Registering for the Tompkins International Supply Chain Leadership Forum 2016 is easy and we hope you will join us to connect, share, and learn together.

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Nurture, Grow, and Cultivate Your Third Party Logistics Strategy

May 19, 2016

By Valerie BonebrakeCultivate Your Third Party Logistics Strategy
Senior Vice President, Tompkins International

Dear 3PL Provider: Spring has arrived. It is time to cultivate. Use this primer to protect and grow your customer base.

I recently met with the CEO of a mid-sized third party logistics (3PL) company. We discussed the usual topics: industry trends, what is happening in mergers and acquisitions, and of course the conversation led to “how is business”. The CEO was pleased about some new wins but concerned about the portfolio becoming lopsided.

I asked him first about the new wins – new to outsourcing or wins over the incumbent? In two instances the wins were over an incumbent. I asked him how he was able to win out over the incumbent. I can tell you that it was not a price play. We then talked about the portfolio. The company’s success in a particular industry was cause for concern, too much revenue in one bucket presents some risk given the volatility of the industry.

Many changes are occurring in the 3PL industry right now. This conversation caused me to question whether 3PL are doing all they can to “protect and grow” their customer base. As I was perusing one of my favorite magazines I was reminded – Spring is here – it is time to refresh flower beds, plant gardens, feed and water plants, and enjoy the benefits of beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables. We should all take a lesson from Sunset magazine, Garden section; use this primer to protect and grow your customers.

  1. Treat a trellis as art – SUPPORT. Is your organization setup to support your customers? Your associates? A strong foundation will help your team and your customers grow and          
  1. Pack in the veggies – CREATE and overall PLAN to GROW more than you ever imagined. What can you accomplish in the second half of the year that you might not have thought would be possible? Spring is a great time to revisit your plans and double down. Prune away what is getting in your way and create your plan to maximize results.
  1. Anatomy of a hard working garden – Built for PRODUCTION. Productivity and execution are table stakes. Do not forget the basics of hard work and execution – every day for every customer.
  1. Give herbs instant style – PROVIDE a SOPHISTICATED LOOK. Site visits can make or break a new opportunity. Look at your facilities through a new lens and create a WOW factor that will be memorable to visitors and make your associates proud.
  1. Savor special berries – PRUNE, FERTILIZE, and WATER. Stay the course! Nothing happens Your associates and your customers are special. Regular care and feeding is a must!
  1. Space-saver raspberry – UTILIZE SPACE effectively. Have you assessed your space recently? A proper layout designed with the right amount and type of storage and material handling equipment can drive as much as 30% improvement. Do not forget spring cleaning – shed old obsolete inventory.
  1. Plant a nectar bar – A vibrant garden needs POLLINATORS. Your customers value your cross-industry experience and shared practices. Do not let your teams get in a rut. Cross-location pollination is a must!
  1. Grow a game changing bloom – FULL Sun: FEED and CARE for regularly. Have fun! Change the Game! Enable your team to blossom and reach full potential.
  1. Go big with Foliage – The key to success is the RIGHT BLEND to make each stand out. Be bold and innovative! You need to stand out in today’s crowded field. 
  1. Dream up a meadow – Gather Ideas, Make Things Better, INSPIRE.

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Transitioning Your Logistics Operations to Meet the Needs of Millennials

May 12, 2016

By Lisa KennedyLogistics Operations to Meet the Needs of Millennials
Project Manager, Tompkins International

Millennials are a rapidly growing segment of the workforce. According to Pew research, there are currently 53.5 million millennials working, about one-third of the current workforce. It is estimated that by 2025, millennials will make up as much as 75 percent of the workforce.

Suppliers across many industries are taking the time to understand how to work effectively with emerging millennial leaders. The speed at which information is shared by this generation is unprecedented. Millennials’ desire real-time information to make decisions that drive actionable results. This will replace current decision making processes in company cultures.  Current experts think companies need to review their organizational capabilities in order to relate effectively with millennial managed companies.

Understanding what is important to millennials can help to develop relationships and close culture gaps if they arise. Key things millennials’ value in business relationships include:

  • The conduct of a supplier is important. Millennials will not work with companies with comprised ethics.
  • Millennials desire positive feedback more than financial rewards.
  • Getting things done fast, done right, and within the project scope. Traditional four hour business meetings and lunches have been replaced with short meetings and electronic        
  • Accountability across the board is important. Information in isolation is not helpful.
  • Transparency and visibility to see and know what is happening: daily updates, weekly updates, and the ability to login and access information in real-time.

Culture does matter in selecting suppliers. Millennials have a 24/7 work cycle and always have a handheld device. The promptness of replying is paramount. One to two days is not acceptable.  Working together in teams and demonstrating flexibility are also important elements of a successful relationship, tying into the importance of communication. Suppliers should consider non-traditional working hours and locations. If it will take two days to get an answer, the supplier will need to manage those expectations. 

Suppliers are expected to bring innovative ideas and solutions to the table. Expect millennials to challenge current thinking. Expect changes and be prepared to suggest creative alternatives.  Do not forget to offer a work around until a better solution is found. Lastly, it is important to manage expectations by under-promising and over delivering. Suppliers need to prove they can surprise the client.

To create long term relationships with millennials suppliers need to earn their trust and loyalty.  Success is measured by how the project plays within the larger scope and works for the company. Feedback is important in project based work; remember to talk about the work experience. Availability of referrals is also important. Millennials will ask for references for similar types of business and projects completed in the past. This is a great way to build trust.  This generation relies on Yelp, relies on experiences, and values the opportunity to gain relevant insights.

In closing, remember the information age is creating new companies that are nimble and responsive to customer needs. The culture of the millennial generation is driving the thirst for real-time data and information to enable the decision making process. This will affect all suppliers that sell to them. Millennials want actionable data. Web visibility is important with the ability to login anytime from anywhere in order to understand the current status of operations. This should be more than a line-by-line visibility. Reports, charts, and graphs that provide information and comparisons across operations are important.

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The Future of Omnichannel Retail Supply Chain

May 5, 2016

By Tompkins International StaffOmnichannel Retail Supply Chain

During recent select interviews with Target, Home Depot, Birchbox, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, DSW, and Tompkins International, eft(eyefortransport) has gained insight into how retail organizations are tackling six key themes dominating the retail supply chains of today. The resulting interviews and commentaries offer incredible insight into the state of strategic decision-making within today’s retail organizations. These insights can be found in the white paper, The Future of Omnichannel Retail Supply Chain.

The six key themes discussed throughout the white paper are: Creating a Consumer-Driver Supply Chain, Supplier and 3PL Partnerships, The Redesign and Rethinking of Stores and Warehouses, Cross-Functional Collaboration and Change Management, Modern Inventory Visibility, Demand Forecasting, Fulfillment and Replenishment, and The Alignment Between Business and Technology.

Jim Tompkins, CEO, Tompkins International, discusses the importance of a consumer-driven supply chain in terms of the biggest threats and opportunities to retailers today. “I’m not sure that the retailers get the level of disruption or the level of transformation that’s taking place in the workplace. Obviously they see some of it because they’re very smart people but they’re so busy executing and so busy following what they’ve done for years, I’m not sure they get the store versus eCommerce thing. There’s two-day delivery to same-day, there’s movement from the laptop to the mobile, the movement of delivery from hub and spoke to get-local and on and on. The level of transformation and disruption that’s taking place is just phenomenal, so I don’t think retailers are putting that all together and understanding: things are really different, we need to conduct ourselves differently. So I think that’s the biggest threat – that they just keep doing what they’ve done and not understanding that it’s a whole different game.”

Tompkins continues to explain that, “It depends a lot on where the retailers are, but if you’re a store-based retailer, the largest opportunity is to leverage that store base for a true understanding of omnichannel. If we’re talking about the eCommerce side of an omnichannel business or we’re talking about a pure eComm play, we need to talk about the speed of delivery. There’s a huge opportunity to improve. What we have are a few major players that have set the bar where we’re talking about same-day delivery. Amazon today is serving 80 million Americans with same-day delivery, so us working with clients to help them get a network that provides two-day delivery is not there. There’s a huge opportunity. And then there’s a huge opportunity for having a much broader selection. So we need to go way beyond the confines of the selection we’ve had in the store and expand that by a factor of ten to give our customers what they really want. That’s what customer centricity means, ensuring that customers get the breadth of product that they want. So omnichannel, speed of delivery, customer centricity, selection, those are the opportunities today. And unfortunately, retailers need to work on several of those. They can’t just do one of those well because there are different perspectives and they need to make sure they really do well on all of those.”

To further understand strategies regarding speed of delivery, customer centricity, and product selection watch, The Titans: Alibaba, Amazon, and Walmart: Game Changing Strategies: Time For You To Respond!, throughout the video Tompkins explains the importance of the Titans’ supply chains and why businesses must respond to, Alibaba, Amazon, and Walmart through creating a competitive supply chain. 

The white paper and video are intended to serve as a cross-retailer benchmark allowing you to walk away with some concrete strategies for shaping your retail supply chain to meet today’s omnichannel pressures.

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5 Common Mistakes in Fulfillment Center & Distribution Center Design

April 28, 2016

By Thompson BrockmannDistribution Center Design
Partner, Tompkins International

The common adage that management is both art and science is a truism.  This adage serves as a way of indicating a rather complex reality involving management. Management is a science in that there are known facts and reasoning involved that produces dependable results. Management is also an art in that it requires high levels of creativity in order to steer results more favorably.  It works with emotions and the interplay between individuals.

In the same way, management of Distribution and Fulfillment Centers design can be considered both an art and a science.  The design management process requires great amounts of both fact driven requirements development and creative process and system design to deliver the most desirable and beneficial solution for order fulfillment.  The art and science is to properly assess, size, and design the system to ensure that benefits are maximized and the correct technology application is fit to the operation.

The following five points are common mistakes to avoid in order to ensuring the best results.

  • Putting Structure Before Strategy: FC/DC designs processes often start with an emphasis on solving the known issues.  (e.g.  The need to increase E-Comm orders capacity to accommodate sales increasing at a rate of XX% annually).  Due to today’s dynamic business environments, a short-sighted design process will often be dated by start-up and go-live.  By placing strategy before structure, better alignment of operations and business strategies will be achieved.  Identification of the capabilities needed to achieve the desired growth, service levels, and margin must be done up front.
  • Letting implementation Schedule Dictate the Design: The race to meet often predetermined or often arbitrarily set deadlines leads to shortcuts and workarounds that will likely impact the success of the operation throughout its lifespan.  The costs of implementing short-term stop gap measures should be weighed against the long term consequences of not extending the schedule to allow for designing and implementing the correct solution.
  • Short Cutting Dock Requirements: Dock space is often the first area to be cut when facility real estate becomes a limited resource.  While dock staging and processing tend to act like a gas, filling the available space, it is important to not overcompensate and short cut dock space.  Congested docks lead to errors, which will filter through and compound and product moves through the entire operations.  In addition, dock space can be design such that it is flexible and can meet the needs of multiple processes through operational seasonality.
  • Dictating the Preferred Automation Levels: Automation within a Distribution or Fulfillment Center should be designed to meet the needs of the operation and business strategies.  Do not let the desire to automate or simplify drive the design.  Multiple levels of automation should be considered such that the equipment delivers the best return on investment, while remaining flexible enough to provide a long term solution.  Including qualitative considerations such as cycle time, service levels, and required support are necessary to reach a fully informed go-forward solution.
  • Overlooking the Benefits of a Material Handling Equipment Execution System: For real control of warehouse operations, you need a flexible, integrated control system to provide visibility into your warehouse operations and supply chain.  A robust MHE execution system will extend operational management capabilities beyond the abilities of the typical WMS by providing a seamless flow of data between the warehouse floor level and facility, creating real-time reports on operational history, equipment status and even peak order seasons.  This ensures that the investment in equipment is fully leveraged to maximize its benefit throughout its lifespan.

Through our 35 plus years of facility design and implementation, our distribution consulting staff has honed both the art and the science required.  We have visited thousands of warehouses and observed both, the good and the bad. We know how to get the best results for your design.

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  • All of the information in this blog is the result of Tompkins International's research of public information. There is no information presented that comes from any proprietary source. Tompkins International does not discuss information about their clients unless that information has been published.