Latest Trends In Operations Management by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

1. Investment in the Employee Experience

Finding enough people with the right skills and talent is one of the top operational challenges for business. In response to this hurdle, businesses are investing more in the personal growth and development of their labor force.Satisfied employees work harder and invest more in your company. Promoting transparent, accessible internal communication is one method that will prove effective for specifically recruiting and retaining millennial employees, who look for feedback forums, clear expectations of their performance and workplace, and need to know their work matters and serves a meaningful purpose. Facilitating peer-to-peer communication can also provide the additional benefits in the workplace like enhancing workplace morale, improving processes and outcomes, encouraging and increasing employee collaboration.

2. Implementation of Mobile Communication Tools

Whether you’re in the technology industry and rely on mobile devices to achieve sales targets, or you’re in the hospitality business and need client portals to reach your target market, mobile accessibility will continue to play a vital role in operations management. Apart from today’s reliance on mobile devices for communication, consumers also turn to their smart devices for everything from household goods to travel accommodations and job applications.While researching mobile operational communications technology, it’s important to keep in mind that leadership and frontline workers might take different criteria into account as it relates to their scope of work and priorities. One way to successfully navigate this potential area of divergence is to make sure positive user experience is a core functionality, along with shared experience and ease of use.

3. Automatization

Automating internal processes throughout your business can save money and increase efficiency. Online reservation services, automated chatbots, inline translation functions, and mobile hotel check-in features are only a handful of examples of business dependency on technology. By dedicating machines to specific business tasks, companies are freeing up employee time for focusing on their products and their customers. Rather than assigning an employee to monitor the company website and answer the same questions multiple times, programming a chatbot to respond to FAQs saves time and resources. Automatization goes beyond your company’s internet presence. In 2020, personalization of experiences and content will gain momentum, driving competition as businesses commit to delivering more customized goods and services. Digital transformation, especially delegation of operational processes, will be essential.

4. Data-Backed Performance Measurement and Employee Analytics

Solid performance data gives companies the intel they need to implement changes in areas from development and production to customer service. With metrics solutions that deliver comprehensive measurements, business owners can make more informed decisions regarding business practices moving forward. Taking the temperature of internal communications and operations management is just as important as tracking external website performance and on-site sales, as they can also zero in on employee productivity and the success of your workforce communication.

5. Improving Demand Responsiveness

In 2020, operations managers will continue to hone and develop demand-responsive supply chains. Consumers spending habits are becoming increasingly fickle. Volatile market fluctuations are more common than ever. Operations managers will have to master the art of demand forecasting in order to ensure that inventory levels are  consistent with current demand. Too much inventory creates cash flow problems for the business. At the same time, having the ability to fulfill large orders at the last-minute is a must. Having an agile, highly responsive supply chain can help ensure that production levels can steadily meet demand without creating excess inventory.

Reference: 7 Important Trends in Operations Management in 2020. (2019, November 4). Retrieved from https://blog.beekeeper.io/trends-operations-management/.

 Questions:

  1. What are the latest trends in operations management?
  2. How does improving demand responsiveness help companies?
  3. Why is data-backed performance measurement system important?

 

 

How to streamline procurement in the future of supply chains by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

Here are some recommendations of how companies can thrive with all the disruptions taking place in the field of supply chain and change their procurement strategies to keep up.

  1. How to plan for impacts of automation and migration of workforce

Mass migration on a large scale, along with forecasts that significant numbers of workers will be displaced by automation, will increase volatility in supply chain labor dynamics. This volatility could be mitigated through responsible and inclusive labor practices. Companies with supply chains that expect significant uptake of automation through 2025 could insist that key suppliers develop clear plans to support a sustainable workforce transition.

  1. How to build responsible regional sourcing hubs

Growth in new markets and demographics and meeting customer demands for customized, on-demand goods and services will require understanding and meeting new consumption patterns and preferences, as well as providing goods and services in new locations and formats. In response, supply chain leaders will have an opportunity to develop nimble, regional supplier networks that can meet both commercial expectations and sustainability aspirations.

  1. Digitalize Supplier Assessment and Engagement

With more data about supply chains produced and disseminated than ever before, supply chain leaders have the opportunity to rethink how they collect and interpret supply chain information. Practitioners will need to hone in on the supply chain information that is decision-useful in a sea of available data and dashboards and will need to reconsider which data they need to commission and how it is collected.

  1. Strengthen Supply Chain Transparency and Disclosure

The regulations that shape mandatory corporate disclosures about sourcing practices, futuristic supply chain leaders can prepare for a variety of possible future scenarios through enhancing both visibility into supply chain practices and disclosures about those practices. Enhanced transparency will support supply chain leaders in the case that global trade is transformed by political shifts toward economic nationalism.

  1. Embed Climate-Smart Supply Chain Planning

To prepare for the environmental changes and other supply chain risks that come with it, companies will need to take into account climate risk and preparedness into supply chain planning models, seek alternative materials and resources where necessary, and look for new ways to secure supply and minimize disruptions in their supply chains.This would also mean working with suppliers that share a commitment towards climate awareness and action.

Reference:

Future of Supply Chains 2025: Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bsr.org/en/our-insights/primers/future-of-supply-chains-2025.

 Questions:

  1. How can companies plan for shifts in procurement trends?
  2. How will climate-smart supply chains be useful in the future?
  3. How will regional sourcing hubs be useful?

 

Automation in Manufacturing by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

Three types of automation in production can be distinguished: (1) fixed automation, (2) programmable automation, and (3) flexible automation.

Fixed automation, also known as “hard automation,” refers to an automated production facility in which the sequence of processing operations is fixed by the equipment configuration. In effect, the programmed commands are contained in the machines in the form of cams, gears, wiring, and other hardware that is not easily changed over from one product style to another. This form of automation is characterized by high initial investment and high production rates. It is therefore suitable for products that are made in large volumes. Examples of fixed automation include machining transfer lines found in the automotive industry, automatic assembly machines, and certain chemical processes.

Programmable automation is a form of automation for producing products in batches. The products are made in batch quantities ranging from several dozen to several thousand units at a time. For each new batch, the production equipment must be reprogrammed and changed over to accommodate the new product style. This reprogramming and changeover take time to accomplish, and there is a period of nonproductive time followed by a production run for each new batch. Production rates in programmable automation are generally lower than in fixed automation, because the equipment is designed to facilitate product changeover rather than for product specialization. A numerical-control machine tool is a good example of programmable automation. The program is coded in computer memory for each different product style, and the machine tool is controlled by the computer program. Industrial robots are another example.

Flexible automation is an extension of programmable automation. The disadvantage with programmable automation is the time required to reprogram and change over the production equipment for each batch of new product. This is lost production time, which is expensive. In flexible automation, the variety of products is sufficiently limited so that the changeover of the equipment can be done very quickly and automatically. The reprogramming of the equipment in flexible automation is done off-line; that is, the programming is accomplished at a computer terminal without using the production equipment itself. Accordingly, there is no need to group identical products into batches; instead, a mixture of different products can be produced one right after another.

References:

(n.d.). Numerical control. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/technology/automation/Numerical-control

Questions:

  1. What are the different forms of automation in manufacturing?
  2. How is flexible automation different from programmable automation?
  3. What is are the disadvantages of programmable automation?

BLOCK CHAIN MAKING GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS BETTER by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

When an E.coli outbreak at Chipotle Mexican Grill outlets left 55 customers ill, in 2015, the news stories, shutdowns, and investigations shattered the restaurant chain’s reputation. Sales plummeted, and Chipotle’s share price dropped 42%, to a three-year low, where it has languished ever since.At the heart this crisis was the ever-present problem faced by companies that depend on multiple suppliers to deliver parts and ingredients: a lack of transparency and accountability across complex supply chains.

Now, a slew of startups and corporations are exploring a radical solution to this problem: using a blockchain to transfer title and record permissions and activity logs so as to track the flow of goods and services between businesses and across borders.With blockchain technology, computers of separately owned entities follow a cryptographic protocol to constantly validate updates to a commonly shared ledger. A fundamental advantage of this distributed system, where no single company has control, is that it resolves problems of disclosure and accountability between individuals and institutions whose interests aren’t necessarily aligned. Mutually important data can be updated in real time, removing the need for laborious, error-prone reconciliation with each other’s internal records. It gives each member of the network far greater and timelier visibility of the total activity.

In a nutshell, this is a global system for mediating trust and selective transparency. Although much attention and money has been spent on financial applications of the technology, an equally promising test case lies with global supply chain relationships, whose complexity and diversity of interests pose exactly the kinds of challenges this technology seeks to address. The technology can reveal  hidden information and allows users to attach digital tokens — a unique, negotiable form of digital asset, modeled on bitcoin — to intermediate goods as they progress along the production, shipping, and delivery phases of a supply chain and as title to them passes between different players. This could give businesses far greater flexibility to find markets and price risk, by capturing the value that they have invested in the process at any point along the chain. What we end up with are dynamic demand chains in place of rigid supply chains, resulting in more efficient resource use for all.

Various endeavors have already started.Walmart is working with IBM and Tsinghua University, in Beijing, to follow the movement of pork in China with a blockchain. Mining giant BHP Billiton is using the technology to track mineral analysis done by outside vendors. And many more such examples.Advances in chip and sensor technology, which can translate data from the automated movement of physical goods, should greatly enhance these emerging blockchain systems. It could be especially powerful when combined with “smart contracts,” in which contractual rights and obligations, including the terms for payment and delivery of goods and services, can be automatically executed by an autonomous system that’s trusted by all signatories.

But this technology’s potential traceability and automation benefits don’t just pertain to things; it could also keep human beings in check. Staff and supervisors from different vendors can be granted special, cryptographic permissions, which, when placed into a blockchain environment, would appear as unique, traceable identifiers — preferably encrypted, to protect the employee’s personal information. This would allow all members of a supply chain community to monitor the activity of each other’s credentialed staff. This kind of provable, transparent credentialing will be especially important for additive manufacturing, which is central to the dynamic, on-demand production model of the so-called Industry 4.0 movement. These potential efficiency improvements, enabled by hitherto unavailable information, suggest blockchain technology could deliver vast savings for companies everywhere.

Please see the link for reference:

https://hbr.org/2017/03/global-supply-chains-are-about-to-get-better-thanks-to-blockchain

Questions:

  1. How is blockchain a global system for mediating trust and selective transparency?
  2. How is blockchain creating automation in industries?
  3. How is blockchain changing the rigid supply chains to dynamic demand chains?

Japanese start-up introduces the first humanless warehouse

Jobs performed by warehouse workers and forklift operators are now completed by robots in the first humanless warehouse in Tokyo. Mujin, a start-up company, has equipped its customer’s, JD.com, e-commerce warehouse with robots.

In an effort to augment existing industrial robot arms, Mujin is building robot controllers and camera systems. The controller’s technology based on motion planning and computer vision, strengthens robotic autonomous and intelligent action. The enhanced controllers lead to the elimination of manual robot training and overall higher productivity.

The 40,000-sq-m JD.com e-commerce facility is equipped with 20 industrial robots that complete tasks such as picking, transferring packages, and loading docks and trucks. Crates on conveyor belts, camera systems and Mujin robot controllers are all part of the humanless warehouse. The robots come with five workers who are needed to service the machines, compared to an estimated 400 to 500 workers that would be needed in the absence of the robots.

Mujin is targeting the predictability in the controller’s moves, and the development of automation technologies such as robot hardware, sensing hardware, AI algorithms, conveyor systems and sorting systems. That’s to say that the company aims to standardize a complete automation package that can automate warehouses without tailored components for customers.

Improvements will continue to be made in the field of warehouse automation as Japanese companies, following JD.com, will be testing out the new technology.

What level of engagement do workers have in a fully automated warehouse?

How are robots enhancing productivity in a warehouse?

What technologies can aid the integration of robots in a warehouse?

Source:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/30/the-worlds-first-humanless-warehouse-is-run-only-by-robots.html

What Does Food Packaging Have To Do With Big Data And The Internet Of Things?

Chris Wilder – Forbes tech

There are several types of packaging available for brands to interact with their customers. The conventional package is simply the first option available for brands to promote their product. It’s important for brands to ensure a package that articulates the brand values and promise. Going further there is the hybrid packaging that combines rigid and flexible materials. The active packages are those that offer further information about the company and things like nutritional facts to customers in the form of a QR code. Interactive packaging goes even further by offering extra care to products sensitive to particular environmental conditions. Finally, we have the IoT effects over packaging where current businesses are combining RFID labels with other technologies to enhance the supply chain and logistics in the food industry as well as the freshness and endurance for certain produce.

Original article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/moorinsights/2015/10/01/what-does-food-packaging-have-to-do-with-big-data-and-the-internet-of-things/

5 Robotics Stocks to Watch (the Droids You’re Looking For)

According to an article posted on September 10th, 2015 in The Street, (http://www.thestreet.com/story/13281861/1/5-robotics-stocks-to-watch-the-droids-you%E2%80%99re-looking-for.html) robots could soon be doing much more than just assembling your car or cleaning house, they could also be included in your investment portfolio. The Boston Consulting Group believes that the rapid growth in the robotics industry will be due to several factors. Currently robots perform roughly 10% of all manufacturing tasks, but they believe that number will jump to 25% by 2025. By the same year, they estimate that automation will cut manufacturing costs by 18-33% and increase productivity by 30% in countries such as South Korea, China, Japan, Germany, and the US. They also state that it’s not only the reduction in labor costs that’s increasing the trend in automation, it’s that the actual price of robots is decreasing over time. For example, the cost of an advanced robotic spot welder has dropped 27% since 2005, from an average of $182,000 to $133,000. The firm believes that price will continue to decrease an additional 22% by 2025. All of these factors and more are a clear sign to investors that the industrial robotics industry is going to experience rapid growth. The article projects that there are 5 robotics stocks to watch due to the growth in the automation industry. Those stocks are Google (GOOG), Yaskawa Electric (YASKY), ABB Ltd. (ABB), iRobot (IRBT), and Ekso Bionics Holding (EKSO). These companies are expected to see rapid growth through mergers and acquisitions in the robotics industry, and because they are currently industry leaders in robotics and focus on robotics innovations. Will the robotics industry actually grow like it is projected? How risky are some of the 5 stocks mentioned? Would you invest in any of these specific stocks?