Supply Chain Blog

10 Top Tips To Tip-Top Customer Service in FMCG, Drinks & Pharma

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Aug 06, 2018

Do FMCG, Drinks & Pharma Companies delude themselves on Customer Service? I think some may well be doing this and may or may not know it! Whatever service related KPI you measure, the KPI is designed to asses how you are performing both internally and at a retailer or outlet level, against peers.

Customer service improvementThere are many ways of measuring the performance including OTIF, CSLM, CCF and CCFOT amongst many others. Essentially you are measuring how much of the right stuff you delivered to the right place at the right time. Importantly, it is not value based – you might measure that internally for monthly progress monitoring and sales bonuses but it is irrelevant for service measures.

Common errors in Customer Service measurement and management:

1. Service should be measured per SKU thus avoiding the possibility of hiding poor performance in one area with exceptional performance in another. Measuring by SKU allows you to hold the right people accountable and ensure resources are appropriately applied.

2. Are you measuring against what the customer ordered or what your team said he could order? This is a common error particularly when order capture is in the hands of staff rewarded via value based sales incentives - “We don’t have that but you can have some extra of this”. You need to see the raw, unconstrained demand from your customers to really understand what they asked for and what they actually received. There is no problem with substituting products with customer agreement as this maintains the relationship and should result in sales but this must be a visible process.

3. Yes, of course the customer may ask for unreasonable amounts of a certain standard SKU or promotion pack but hiding the “data blip” is not the answer. Addressing the issue with some collaborative planning would help both parties. For some reason they asked for a huge shipment; find out why and be more ably prepared to service the demand next time.

4. Use an ERP that automatically allows you to allocate reason codes for service failures and get them investigated promptly. Focus on the big wins using the 80/20 principle; don’t spend too much time finding out why you did not deliver 5 boxes of washing powder and do spend time on the failure to deliver large volumes of high value beauty products.

5. Get your service level on the agenda of the top table in the company. Your service level is a function of every single person in the company and is a reflection of how well you are performing in the market. This means the Marketing guy and the HR guy and others must be involved. Celebrate successes widely and noisily.

6. Do you have a Customer Service department led by a talented individual who is graded as highly as peers within the company? CS is a very important function and it should enjoy equality of importance within the business. Also, CS is not just about taking orders and printing invoices as customers deserve the opportunity to talk to a real human being (avoid answer phones!) about their problems and concerns. Small issues in invoice accuracy which can delay payments of thousands of Euros can be sorted out by knowledgeable and concerned staff motivated to help.

7. Make the CS measure highly visible around the company – everyone should be aware of the overall CS their company is offering to customers. Don’t fall into the trap of accepting low or “sand-bagged” targets – you are likely to achieve them and that gets you precisely nowhere. If you deliver to Retailer platforms you might wish to check where your measure is recorded.

8. Make cross functional visits to customers - they need to see people other than sales reps. Not every day, of course but an annual review with all interested parties present can smooth relationships and assist in times of difficulty.

9. Agree Service Level Agreements to ensure both parties know exactly what is expected as providers or receivers of service. The SLA should contain a few KPIs which allow you to understand the current state and drivers of CS.

10. Celebrate successes both internally and when appropriate, with customers. You need to maintain a rigorous approach to business principles but an above the board dinner does no harm.

Customer Service = Satisfied Customers = Sales = Pay/Bonus = Growth = Satisfied & Retained Staff

 

Tags: Customer service, Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Logistics Service Provider, Dave Jordan, Pharma, KPI, Logistics Management

FMCG Co-packing and Re-packing Management

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jul 30, 2018
Whether you call it co-packing or re-packing this involves the further manipulation of a previously finished and complete SKU. Look around the shelves and the evidence of extra expense and work is displayed by special stickers, multi-packs and banded promotions amongst many others. The impact this has on your Supply Chain is potentially huge.

Wincanton_Copacking_SmallI will park the question of the value (or waste) of these activities for another day but where is the best place to carry out such operations? When you consider that some blue-chip FMCG producers co-pack/re-pack a majority of the volume coming out of their factory gates you realise this is not a small issue. How many products carry the original bar code into consumer’s houses? Not many!

The best location for these operations?

1. At the producing factory? From an operating company (OPCO) perspective this provides the least complexity downstream in the chain. For factories seeking higher and higher efficiency and asset utilisation this can be nightmare for cost and complexity. Even if the factory is part of the same company many will refuse to entertain “abnormal” requests from sister operating companies.

If an SKU requires a label that can be applied online without affecting speed then you might be ok. However, anything like banding together 2 different SKUs is unlikely to get a positive response. In any event, the 2 promotion-bound SKUs may be produced in different factories, countries and even continents.

2. At the OPCO warehouse? The stock is certainly closer to the final market destination so this makes sense but there are drawbacks to what providers call “added value services”. Seldom is a third party logistics provider (3PLP) set up to operate what is essentially a mini factory. If promotional volumes are low then you can deal with them on an ad hoc basis but where levels are higher you need a factory mentality and facilities and this is not common in 3PLPs.

Stock control is vital and a good quality WMS with added value functionality is a must. Knowing what product is where requires meticulous attention to master data detail. What goes into a re-packing location will come out with a completely different bar code – chaos prevails otherwise.

You are essentially locked into your 3PLP and he may well take advantage of that when it comes to pricing the work. Get this wrong and you will suffer unexpected and rising costs, stock “shrinkage” and a resultant drop in Customer Service Level.

3. At a specialist 3rd party? They do exist and if they are set up well and sensibly staffed this can work. You can expect a professional service and a well managed operation. Quality and flexibility will be higher and costs can be keen as the assets are not dedicated to a single company. Such a 3rd party is likely to have a wider portfolio of promotional options available and will invest in plant against a sound business case.

Of course, the downsides frighten potential clients away. You have the added cost and hassle of moving stock in and out of your logistical 3PLP and the associated longer lead times.

4. At the point of purchase (POP)? No, not as crazy as this might sound. If you can manage to get the same unadulterated SKU from the factory gate to the shelf then you are very lucky and secondly, you probably operate a slick chain.

Obviously, you will not be able to carry out the full menu of promotion assembly and display but this route does provide a tactical advantage that can catch competitors napping. An unannounced special price sticker or “buy 1 get 1 free” (BOGOF) promotion can pay dividends. You need the cooperation of the retailer but when there is mutual benefit, why not?

A blend of all 4 sounds like quite a unique opportunity. What do you think?

CTA 3PLs in CEE 0.03 Small resized 600

Image credit: Wincanton

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Logistics Service Provider, Dave Jordan, Manufacturing Footprint, Logistics Management

Manage Supply Chain Expectations with Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 11, 2018

If you do not specifically agree on what is expected between two parties before you start a relationship then anything and everything but success is likely.

You buy a new car and you get a contract that tells you what is covered by the guarantee and for how long in time or in distance travelled. From your side you will be expected to pay the same people to periodically maintain the equipment at peak condition.

Travelling by air? You buy a ticket to Bucuresti and you know when and where it will take off and hopefully land you and how much baggage you can take. There are rules in place for delayed take off and excess and lost baggage. You might not like these rules but that is what you have agreed to by investing in the ticket. (Before you say it, I know certain airlines stretch the boundaries here yet people still fly on them!)

Service Level Agreement resized 600While it may not be as popular as it used to be, marriage is still perhaps the most widely used Service Level Agreement (SLA) in the world. The names of the two parties are made very clear to a number of witnesses and depending on your brand of religion there follows a list of statements you have to agree to or the marriage ceremony does not continue. You even get a certificate which is in effect a contract or your SLA. Of course, this does not go down the detail of who does the washing up or who gets up at 3am to feed the baby but it does set out clear expectations.

Should the husband run off with the woman for the chip shop then a divorce is highly likely. Think of the arguments about who gets to keep Eric the hamster if there is a parting of ways. Alternatively, you could use one of those “pre-nuptial” agreements favoured by plastic Hollywood-types who think a long relationship is several months in their world so far away from reality.

In all cases, it reflects “you scratch my back and I scratch yours” or sometimes “you stab me in the back and I take you to court”.

Despite SLAs being a vital part of daily lives why do FMCG. Brewing, Pharmaceutical companies fail to have the same in place for their suppliers, IKA/TT customers and internal departments within the S&OP framework? Such an approach holds people accountable for the service they provide and at the same time making the penalties clear in the event of failure.

SLAs do not have to be a lengthy tome of text but should contain enough information for both parties to be 100% clear about what is expected from the relationship. Include some relevant and why not stretching KPIs and you have the basis of a relationship that may flourish rather than end up in the divorce courts.

No relationship in business or in private life is perfect but why not start out by writing down what level of service you expect to provide to each other?

 

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Logistics Service Provider, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Supply Chain, CEE, Traditional Trade, Logistics Management

Supply Chains - Whats do all those initialisms mean?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jun 27, 2018

Like many business functions Supply Chains use multiple initials and/or acronyms to describe various tasks they manage on a daily basis. Those not familiar with SC-speak will often sit bemused in meetings as various initials are quoted and debated and then usually blamed for some tenuous lost sale claimed by Sales and Marketing. Here we take a look at just a small selection of those initials.

SC – Super Colleagues. Well, I may be biased but that is what you find is usually the case. Supply Chain people have to react to wildly varying demands and impossible timings but more often than not they succeed to get stock in the right place at the right time.

SOP - Secures Our Performance. If you do not follow an S&OP process and your business is doing well and is robust then a pat on the back is for you. If your business is struggling then you might consider the benefits of S&OP which can make all the difference.

SC Abbreviations resized 600

SAP - Spreadsheets Are Preferred. A common problem in many businesses and what is also common is the number of CEO’s who believe spreadsheets are not being used in their workplace! They probably are but what can you do about it?

IKA- Irritating, Keep Away. In Western Europe the big name Key Accounts may well be the future of retailing in the FMCG sector but in many other parts of the world the reality is quite the reverse. Traditional Trade is a very important part of many businesses yet most fail to pay sufficient attention to the continued development and growth of the TT channel.

SKU - Sales Keep Upping. Introducing new SKUs really should be a cross business decision taken within the context of S&OP and with sound financial analysis. Sadly, this does not happen very often as businesses rack up lengthy SKU lists where the tail items do not even pay for themselves in turnover and/or profit.

KPI - Keep People Interested. The old adage of “if you don’t measure it then you cannot improve it” is certainly true here. Be careful not to have too many KPI’s but make sure you have a small set which ensures everyone knows how they impact team performance and results. Reward against the relevant KPIs and your staff will target them keenly.

3PLP - 3 People Loading Products. Think long and had before outsourcing your logistics operations to a 3rd party. They may not be ready to take on your business seamlessly.  Prepare thoroughly and ensure you know exactly what you want from them and the relationship. A big step that is difficult to reverse so be very careful!

WMS - Where’s My Stock? Your 3PLP partner should be left to run their own business as that is what you pay them for. However, you need to be involved in the stock counting process or you will lose sales through out of stocks (OOS , there's another one) and experience costly year-end write offs.

4PLP - 4 People Loading Products ………..but perhaps slightly faster? If you have successfully used 3PLPs for some time you might wish to take a look at what a 4PLP can offer your business. This is not for everyone but can be very effective.

RTM - Retail Takes Money. Whether your focus is on IKA or TT how you manage your distribution network will be a key driver of your success in the market place. It is a fact that companies spending time and effort getting their TT distributor networks in good order are far more successful.

There are many, many more initials used in Supply Chain but this set will do for a kick off so TTFN!

Tags: SKU, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, KPI, Traditional Trade, S&OP, Logistics Management, Distribution

7 Top Tips for Spare Parts Management in Factories

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jun 04, 2018

Well, I find it strange anyway. Some very large companies spend countless hours and cash in finding and securing a third party logistic provider (3PLP) to take great care of their finished goods assets. The performance of the chosen 3PLP is then measured and monitored very closely using a suite of KPIs, e.g. damages and losses are recorded and usually debited to the 3PLP under the contract terms. A 3PLP is charged with “storing your stuff” as safely and cost effectively as possible and providing easy picking for dispatch.

I often wonder why some blue chip companies fail to adopt similar warehousing and logistics principles in the operation of in-house engineering stores. Depending on the industry, the value of the components can be several millions of Euros. If you do not pay attention to this area then the same things happen as they do with finished goods warehouses, including:

1. Shrinkage or more accurately, theft! Your spare parts stores will be helping to repair private cars, replenish home tool-boxes and raise personal funds through the sale of stolen goods. This might seem harsh but I have seen it first-hand and continue to in large organisations.

Bottling line resized 6002. Important parts are not in the right place. If you do not have clearly labelled storage bins you can stop production lines very quickly losing valuable operating time. At the end of the day an idle line can probably lead to more lost sales than a badly picked finished goods pallet.

3. Spare parts not replenished. If stock control is not rigorous then you will go out of stock on important items just when you need them. Sod’s Law dictates that they will also be the parts with lengthy lead times.

A few simple principles loaned from big scale warehousing will help:

  1. Operate some sort of stock management system. This can be done on Excel with some discipline but specifically designed software packages are available. You need to know where each spare part is located just like in a finished goods warehouse.
  2. Carry out cycle and annual stock counting. Keep a close eye on your high value and production-critical items by counting them on a rotating basis. Do not wait for a year-end count to reveal a gaping hole in your stock value.
  3. Carry out an ageing analysis. Many large stores are full of spares for machines that were last running when “Shep was a pup”. They are of no use to you yet they sit on a shelf and on your books as working capital. Any materials with specific shelf lives also need regular checking to ensure you are not holding something which is at best useless or at worst dangerous!
  4. Secondary store for critical items. Items of high value or those which will stop production can be held in a “store within a store”, e.g. a wire cage with 2 locks. Access to these items requires a more senior employee to be present at issuance, e.g. maintenance manager.
  5. Operate some relevant KPIs. These do not have to be wide ranging or difficult to calculate, e.g. ageing, stock rotation, shrinkage etc. An important KPI can be the value of your spares as a % of the operation asset value. Do you know yours?
  6. Order and stock only what you need. Avoid the temptation to buy in bulk as the price is keener. If you are able to calculate a forecast plus some safety stock then you can minimise your inventory and your working capital. Also, ensure that spares purchasing and receipt are spilt responsibilities or you may find you are buying items you do not actually use in the factory..………
  7. Restrict access to the spare parts stores. If you allow anyone to wander in and remove items then your stock control will be out of control, no doubt. If you require access to spares on a 24 hour basis then ensure the facility is staffed appropriately at all times. Leaving the stores unmanned and the door open should be a disciplinary offence.

When looking at factory operating efficiency people will often focus only on the production line and RM/PM supply. Take a look at how you manage spare parts and you may be able to influence your level of efficiency from an unexpected source close to home.

Image credit: Hi.WTC

Tags: Logistics Service Provider, Dave Jordan, Manufacturing Footprint, KPI, Logistics Management, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Spare Parts

Santa & Opening Presents - Christmas S&OP For Parents

Posted by Dave Jordan on Fri, Dec 15, 2017

“Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh…”

How many of you started to sing then? Yes, the festive period is fast approaching and the biggest and best supply chain in the world is almost ready to activate. This is always the most efficient supply hain whatever those nice chaps at Gartner may say.

There is no way Santa Claus could achieve his annual success without sticking rigidly to an S&OP process, i.e. Santa & Opening Presents.

The process starts every year on the 26th December just as children start to play with the empty packaging instead of their much sought after gifts. Their engorged parents lounge sleepily in front of the television watching The Great Escape or Jason & the Argonauts – again! The loyal Elves are given their end of season bonus and packed off back to Eleveden Forest in Suffolk. Didn’t you know that is where they live for most of the year?

Before January is over those lovely people who design toys and games quickly introduce new and more exiting models which will become must-haves for countless girls and boys. Toy shops are visited and millions of children quietly note those presents they would like Santa to bring them the following. The demand slowly builds until it is time to bring the Elves back from Suffolk on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – no coincidence there! The first job for the Elves is to get the huge Christmas factory ready to run once again.

santas_sop_planning_cycle_small.jpg

In parallel with this, millions of children around the world unzip their pencil cases with a purpose. Using their best handwriting they tell Santa they have all been well behaved this year and then  list all the presents they would like to receive. This accumulated unconstrained demand allows the Elf factory to start fixing production plans to meet a deadline that is set in stone. Is there a more peakier peak period?

Money does not grow on trees so “Santa” must quickly check what can be afforded from the budget. Remember, the wish lists are always too long and you do not want 100% Customer Service  – keep “em hungry”, I say. The Pre-S&OP takes place with all stakeholders involved to ensure everything is ready to go. You want to avoid stock-outs just as much as you need to avoid expensive write-offs.

After necessary adjustments are made to the planned volumes by SKU, the final S&OP takes place. Bearded Santa is fully dressed in his best red uniform and takes his seat. If Pre-S&OP actions have not been carried out, then there is unlikely to be much “Yo Ho Ho-ing”. Fortunately, everyone is in agreement and the final set of child and associated gift numbers is rubber-stamped. Everyone involved in the Christmas S&OP must operate on the same set of numbers or somebody will be disappointed.

The big day comes and Rudolph leads the reindeers in pulling the delivery sleigh across the world in a complex logistical challenge. Santa makes sure all the presents are delivered on time before little heads lift from pillows to wake parents at 4am! (Well, I did.)

 “Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight”

Before you know it, there we are again on 26th December and the same robust and reliable S&OP cycle starts once more. See you next year Santa Baby!

Image courtesy of Enchange Ltd at Enchange.com

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Christmas, Humour, Supply Chain, S&OP, Logistics Management, Inventory Management & Stock Control

Relieve your FMCG pain - secure Interim Supply Chain Support

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, May 10, 2017

I know you are busy. Not enough hours in the day. Deadlines rapidly approaching. Your children call you Uncle Dad or Auntie Mum. Before the stress takes its inevitable toll think about relieving the pressure without adding to head count.

Interim Manager SoftedgeWhy s Interim Management an opportunity at present? Mainly as a result of the continuing economic conditions numerous companies have folded this year and a similar number have been taken over or merged with others. Obviously companies that fold are too late to be helped although I am not sure too many actually sought the right professional help and guidance in good time.

Those companies and Private Equity players merging or buying in this period need to have their new businesses in good shape to ensure the ROI in the contract deal has even a chance of coming to fruition. When the green shoots of recovery actually start looking like shrubs, shareholders and PE owners will rightly expect their pound of flesh.

One route to accelerating and establishing integration and realignment is to use the services of an Interim Manager. Hear are 7 reasons why hiring an Interim Manager (IM) can be of benefit.

  1. Return On Investment. No, it is not more expensive than hiring full time (FTE) or temporary employees. Take all recruitment and employment costs into account and you will appreciate the efficiency of IM. You may pay your employees for turning up for work whereas IM can be remunerated against set objectives and delivery. (Consider the cost if you make the wrong choice of FTE and have to go through a lengthy, disruptive and expensive exit process!)
  2. Speed. Senior Interim Managers are readily available for Supply Chain tasks. You do not have to waste time going through a lengthy search and selection process with a fee-taking headhunter.
  3. Expertise. Interim Managers are usually seasoned professionals with deep operational experience. A vast majority will have successfully held senior roles in blue-chip organisations for long periods.  No training is required; you get a “vertical start-up”.
  4. Objectivity. Interim Managers are able to look at a given situation with a fresh set of eyes and will not be afraid of “treading on toes” or telling the boss there is a better way!
  5. Accountability. Interim Managers are not there to advise. They are in place to handle a specific project or a department in transition. Unlike full time employees they are very comfortable at being rewarded (or not) based on black and white objective achievement.
  6. Effectiveness. Possibly the most obvious contribution of IM. Once the Board has given a mandate to carry out a task, the IM will get on and do it without struggling through a bout of inertia. “Just Do It” sums this up nicely. 
  7. Commitment. Interim Managers remuneration means they have a direct financial stake in the assignment. They are not there to make friends or pave the way for recruitment. They wish to do the job well, get paid and move onto the next challenge.

If you have a difficult job to be done within a defined timetable and you do not currently have the resources in-house you should consider the value an Interim Manager can bring both to yourself and your organisation. Gaze into the future and see what tough jobs need to be done well now to ensure you are ahead of the game.

Interim Management User's Guide

 

Image credit : CELALTEBER

Tags: Interim Management, Mergers & Acquisitions, Dave Jordan, Supply Chain, CEE, Logistics Management

Supply Chains – A second look: What do all those initials really mean?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Feb 08, 2017

In common with many business functions Supply Chains adopt multiple initials and/or acronyms to describe various tasks and processes they manage on a daily basis. Those not familiar with SC-speak will often sit bemused as various initials are quoted and debated and then usually blamed for some tenuous lost sales claimed by Sales and Marketing.

Here I take a fresh look at just a small selection of those Supply Chain initials and acronyms.

SC – Super Colleagues. Well, I may be biased but that is what you usually find. Supply Chain people must react to wildly varying demands and impossible timings but more often than not they succeed to get stock to the right place at the right time.

SOP - Supports Outstanding Performance. If you do not follow an S&OP process and your business is doing well and is robust then a pat on the back is deserved. However, if your business is struggling then you might consider the benefits of S&OP which can make all the difference.

IBP – Irritating But Productive. Often considered to be a more mature version of S&OP, Integrated Business Planning can be similarly difficult to get started but when everything clicks, business benefits.

Supply_Chain_FMCG_Initials.jpgSAP - Spreadsheets Are Preferred. The use of spreadsheets is prevalent in many businesses and equally common is the number of CEO’s who believe spreadsheets are NOT being used in their workplace! They almost certainly are but what can you do about this?

IKA- Irritating, Keep Away. In mature Western European markets, big name International Key Accounts are firmly established but in many other parts of the world the reality is quite the reverse. Traditional Trade is a very important part of many developing businesses yet most fail to pay sufficient attention to the continued growth potential of the TT channel.

SKU - Sales Keep “Upping”. Introducing new SKUs really should be a cross business decision taken within the context of S&OP and with sound financial analysis. Sadly, this does not happen very often as businesses rack up lengthy SKU lists where the tail items do not even pay for themselves in turnover, margin or profit.

KPI - Keeping People Interested. The adage of “if you don’t measure then you cannot improve” is certainly true here. Take care to manage your KPI’s closely and frequently but make sure you have a set which ensures everyone knows how they impact collective team performance and results. Visibly reward against the relevant KPIs and your staff will keenly follow them.

ERP – Everyone Requires Products. The whole purpose of your Enterprise Resource Planning is to get your products to the right place at the right time and at optimum cost. Occasionally, priorities must be made between demanding customers and a good ERP will guide your decisions.

PLP -  People Loading Products. Think long and had before outsourcing your outbound logistics operations to a 3rd party as they may not be ready to take on your business, seamlessly.  Prepare thoroughly and ensure you know exactly what you want from them and the relationship. A big step that is difficult to reverse without pain so be careful!

WMS - Where’s My Stock? Your 3PLP partner should be left to run their own business as that is why you pay them. However, you need to be involved in the stock counting process or you will lose sales and experience costly year-end write offs.

4PLP - 4 People Loading Products. If you have successfully used 3PLPs for some time you might wish to take a look at what a 4PLP can offer to the business. This is certainly not for everyone but can be very cost effective.

RTM - Retail Takes Money. Whether your focus is on IKA or TT how you manage your distribution network will be a key driver of your success in the market place. It is a fact that companies spending time and effort getting their developing market TT distributor networks in good order are more successful.

FIFO – Find It, Fuss Over. When you (or your 3PLP) operate a tight warehousing operation you will know where your stock sits, how old it is and what needs to move out to avoid write off costs and the inevitable poor customer service.

OTIF - Often The Invoice Fails. If you fail to deliver orders on time and in full you invite the customer to challenge the invoice and delay payment until you have made financial adjustments.

There are many, many more examples of SC-speak but this set will do for a KO so TTFN!

Image courtesy of boulemonademoon at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: SKU, FMCG, Route to Market, Dave Jordan, KPI, Traditional Trade, S&OP, Logistics Management, Distribution, Inventory Management & Stock Control

Santa & Opening Presents - S&OP is Invaluable at Christmas

Posted by Dave Jordan on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

“Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh…”

How many of you started to sing then? Yes, the festive period is fast approaching and the biggest and best Supply Chain in the world is almost ready to activate. This is always the most efficient Supply Chain whatever Gartner may say.

There is no way Santa Claus could achieve his annual success without sticking rigidly to an S&OP process, i.e. Santa & Opening Presents.

The process starts every year on the 26th December just as children start to play with the empty packaging instead of their much sought after gifts. Their engorged parents lounge sleepily in front of the television watching The Great Escape or Jason & the Argonauts – again! The loyal Elves are given their end of season bonus and packed off back to Eleveden Forest in Suffolk. Didn’t you know that is where they live for most of the year?

Before January is over those lovely people who design toys and games quickly introduce new and more exiting models which will become must-haves for countless girls and boys. Toy shops are visited and millions of children quietly note those presents they would like Santa to bring them this year. The demand slowly builds until it is time to bring the Elves back from Suffolk on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – no coincidence there! The first job for the Elves is to get the huge Christmas factory ready to run once again.

santas_sop_planning_cycle_small.jpg

In parallel with this, millions of children around the world unzip their pencil cases with a purpose. Using their best handwriting they tell Santa they have all been well behaved this year and then  list all the presents they would like to receive. This accumulated demand allows the Elf factory to start making production plans to meet a deadline that is set in stone. Is there a peakier peak period?

Money does not grow on trees so “Santa” must quickly check what can be afforded from the budget. Remember, the wish lists are always too long and you do not want 100% Customer Service  – keep “em hungry”, I say. The Pre-S&OP takes place with all stakeholders involved to ensure everything is ready to go. You want to avoid stock-outs just as much as you need to avoid expensive write-offs.

After necessary adjustments are made to the planned volumes by SKU the final S&OP takes place. Bearded Santa is fully dressed in his best red uniform and takes his seat. If Pre-S&OP actions have not been carried out, then there is unlikely to be much “Yo Ho Ho-ing”. Fortunately, everyone is in agreement and the final set of child and associated gift numbers is rubber-stamped. Everyone involved in the Christmas S&OP must operate on the same set of numbers or somebody will be disappointed.

The big day comes and Rudolph leads the reindeers in pulling the delivery sleigh across the world in a complex logistical challenge. Santa makes sure all the presents are delivered on time before little heads lift from pillows to wake parents at 4am! (Well, I did.)

 “Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight”

Before you know it, there we are again on 26th December and the same robust and reliable S&OP cycle starts once more. See you next year Sant

Image courtesy of Enchange Ltd at Enchange.com

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Christmas, Humour, Supply Chain, S&OP, Logistics Management

FMCG CEE Logistics; Transport, Trucks and Yorkie Bars

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Oct 21, 2015

I like trucking, I like trucking, I like trucking and I like to truck.” Those of you who have not been on this planet very long and people who like hedgehogs will not be familiar with this Not The 9 O’clock News sketch from 1970’s UK TV. In short, the sketch showed macho truck drivers ploughing across the country flattening hedgehogs and munching on the obligatory large chocolate man-size Yorkie. (I was thinking how much smaller the Yorkie is now and when I checked it is indeed 15g and 2 chunks lighter than when I had my own teeth!)

Some of the trucks we see on the roads today are extremely high tech, modern and comfortable with hi-tech monitoring such as fuel consumption and tyre wear. They incorporate the latest motoring technology as well as a degree of driver cab luxury of which 1970’s Yorkie Man could only dream.

Tachographs have been around for ages but they are now largely superseded by satellite navigation that can track transport and shipments in real time ensuring drivers obey the rules of the road and avoid taking possibly amorous diversions they would rather keep quiet! (You should see the well-known names on trucks visiting a certain stretch of “comforting road” near Bucuresti!!!)

Load security and integrity can be monitored by a whole host of sensors keeping close watch on temperature, humidity, security seals and how often the doors have been opened and where and when. You also see some crazy looking trucks where the tops have been streamlined to cut down wind resistance and to contribute to a greener Supply Chain. Everything sounds hunky dory then as these modern juggernauts criss-cross the motorway network delivering chemicals, car spares or finished goods for FMCG and other sectors.

If you look towards the east of Europe you will find that Yorkie Man and his crumbling kit are alive and well. Yes, there are large fleets of top class modern equipment in CEE serving the internal country needs and of import and export to the EU. However, there remain a large number of smaller operators and owner-drivers who have not invested and upgraded to suit the needs of the modern transport trade. Again, there are some good examples but far too many are still using gas guzzling, fume spewing, unsafe vehicles that may be transporting your valuable goods. Remember, when a truck delivers your product they form part of your face to the customer.

Too many vehicles (well, one is too many isn’t it?) are operating on less than perfect road infrastructures with bald tyres, broken lights, poor load security and on borrowed time. Couple these failings with indifferent or a simple lack of driving skills and you have a recipe for a trucking disaster.

In particular, producer companies in those countries waiting to join the EU should take a look at how they move goods around now and start thinking about forcing an upgrade before the Yorkie gets even smaller.

Image courtesy of Decebal Popescu at Cartrans.ro

 

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, CEE, Logistics Management, Transportation