How Warehouses Can Minimize Supply Chain Issues

While the integral Suez Canal supply channel is no longer blocked, other supply chain issues remain. In fact, according to a recent report, 24 container ships – with a combined maximum carrying capacity nearly 10 times that of the Suez Canal ship – were recently anchored off the coast of Los Angeles and Long Beach, holding up millions of dollars’ worth of cargo. While both instances of bottlenecks took place within days of each other, these traffic snarls are not the primary culprit of clogged supply chains.

While shipping and other data today are an important part of building successful logistics operations, these areas alone cannot solve real-time supply chain issues. Suppose logistics operators and organizations don’t have the proper visibility into their warehouse data and operations. In that case, they are unable to make quick changes in response to supply chain snarls and backlogs. The lack of complete end-to-end visibility was also why so many manufacturers and suppliers suffered during the pandemic. Unfortunately for many organizations, this real-time visibility gap starts in the warehouse.

Bridging the Gap Starts in the Warehouse

Various factors are being blamed for the recent supply chain disruptions – the size of ships and containers, congestion at the ports, and how narrow the canal channels remain. The Port of Los Angeles in North America is one of the busiest channels but can’t regularly receive 20,000-container vessels due to the lack of infrastructure. Even so, fixing any one of these factors will not truly solve the primary causes of supply chain backlogs.

Enhanced visibility technology into the warehouse, yard management, and labor resources yields both time and cost savings for companies dealing with supply chain backlogs. For example, real-time access to data to determine which trucks have been sitting and for how long has become key to prioritizing and assigning tasks within the distribution center to improve customer fulfillment, minimize risks, and avoid costly and unnecessary fees. But without real-time visibility into the yard, appointments can get de-prioritized, delayed, or missed. The warehouse is the heart of the supply chain, yet very few end-to-end tools solve the problems of warehouse visibility and labor management.

By Alex Wakefield

Managing Supply Chains’ Interconnectedness After the Suez Canal Blockage

Just like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Suez Canal incident — in which the container ship Ever Given blocked the canal for nearly a week, holding up billions of dollars in trade goods — emphasizes how globally interconnected supply chains are.

“(It provided) the business world with another example of the true impact that the disruption of a single link can make on an entire chain of supplies,” says Brian Alster, general manager, third-party risk and compliance at Dun & Bradstreet, a Short Hills, New Jersey-based business data and analytics provider. Over time, companies have developed a higher level of dependency on suppliers and third parties from other countries, he says: “That dependency is highlighted when a single shipping artery that is a major channel for the transportation of goods between the East and the West is impacted and disrupts the entire world’s supply chain.”

The 1,312-foot-long ship, which was carrying around 1,800 containers, was freed on March 29 after getting stuck on March 23. More than 300 ships awaited passage, while many others opted to sail the longer, more time-consuming route around the Cape of Good Hope. According to reports, about 12 percent of seaborne trade passes through the Suez Canal, and during the blockage, as much as US$10 billion in cargo — like toilet paper, oil, vehicles, furniture, and electronics — was delayed.

“Whether you’re a retailer waiting on finished goods or a manufacturer waiting on work in progress, this will negatively impact your supply chain,” says Alex Wakefield, CEO of Longbow Advantage, a Montreal-based supply chain consulting and technology company. It puts more stress on already stressed supply chains, he says.

Beyond-Regional Impact

There’s a perception that the Ever Given blockage principally affects Asian-European trade, says Pawan Joshi, executive vice president, products and strategy at E2open, an Austin, Texas-based provider of cloud-based supply chain software. However, he notes, “The Suez is a main shipping lane for countries such as India, that exports to America. Roughly 20 percent of containers shipped through the Suez are destined or originating to and from America.”

Guest Blog || By: Sue Doerfler 

SCLA 2020 – Navigating Data with Disruptive Technologies

Proud to Have Attended – SCLA

Supply Chain Leaders in Action Virtual Event took place on September 2-3, 2020. The event was held virtually with two full days of collaboration, innovation, and networking! Sessions included keynotes, super sessions, small breakouts, peer groups, and innovation labs.

Navigating Data with Disruptive Technologies

Many organizations face challenges in accessing their supply chain data in real-time and effectively using it, while also struggling with “dirty data” and how to clean it. A lack of understanding of the design of the supply chain solutions contributes significantly to this challenge.

Executives who comprehend the benefits of Supply Chain Data Services Software designed to deliver operational data in real-time can better run their operations and serve their customers at a lower cost.

Thought leader and CEO Alex Wakefield lead an Innovation Lab on “Investing Wisely in Disruptive Technologies to Analyze, Cleanse and Manage your Distribution Data.”

Key Takeaways

  • Understand why AI and Machine Learning have had limited success in supply chain
  • Better understand data management process so that you can invest in high probability of success solutions
  • Guarantee that all your supply chain data can be reviewed and analyzed in real-time
  • Learn ways customers are unlocking the power of their data in weeks with quick ROI’s

By: Stephanie Alvarado

Accredited Blue Yonder Implementation Partner

Understanding Supply Chain Technology Solutions

When it comes to warehouses, a warehouse management system or supply chain execution system can be incredibly complicated. For a warehouse that is larger than 1 million square feet, the rules around how the product gets in, quarantined, put away, processed, where value-added services are applied; along with adding the complexity of data management for impressionable products, and automation – it can become convoluted if you do not fully comprehend the inner workings of how the warehouse operates. From an outside perspective, all it takes is a simple software to manage supply chain operations, but to a technical and functional expert, a warehouse management system is a world of its own.

Blue Yonder Accreditation Program

For Blue Yonder (previously JDA) to maintain a certain standard of efficient and effective partners, they developed an accreditation program. The program enables Blue Yonders partners with the tools and knowledge necessary to implement their technologies for customers. Individuals who want to enroll in the program and become certified are required to take an exam. The exam not only tests their level of background knowledge of technical and functional aspects of Blue Yonders warehouse management system but also requires the individual to have done at least two implementations of the newer version in their resume.

Becoming an Accredited Implementation Partner

Becoming a Blue Yonder accredited implementation partner requires an individual to provide information regarding their implementation experiences with Blue Yonders warehouse management systems.

To become certified, an individual must submit the following:

  • How many systems have they implemented? 
  • What customers have they done implementations for? 
  • What role did they take during the implementation process? 
  • What organization did they work for during the implementation process? 

Once Blue Yonder reviews and approves the information provided by the individual, they can move forward and take the required exam. To receive the certification and become a Blue Yonder Partner, an individual must score 80% or higher.

A Proud Blue Yonder Partner

Longbow has a reputation for hiring the right people and redefining what it means to be customer-centric. Being that the majority of Longbows employees have many years of experience running supply chain operations, it is part of the company culture to hire and mentor individuals to provide excellent service to customers. Obtaining the certifications and becoming a Blue Yonder Partner reassures that Longbows consultants are highly capable supply chain and IT professionals and continue to provide customers with expert knowledge of supply chain technologies.

By: Stephanie Alvarado

RedPrairie (now Blue Yonder) WMS Optimization Case Study: Accuristix

Find out how Longbow helped a leading North American 3PL dramatically improve system performance – enabling the company to host 5 times the number of clients on its RedPrairie (now part of Blue Yonder) WMS.

Optimize your Supply Chain Technologies – WERC Webinar

Investing Wisely in Disruptive Technologies to Analyze, Cleanse, and Manage Your Data

Watch the WERC Webinar as Alex Wakefield, CEO, reflects on years of industry technology experience and insight while sharing successes and failures in the information management of distribution operations.

In the current economic climate, investing time and money wisely is critical. Many supply chain executives have challenges in accessing data in real-time and effectively using this data. Executives can also be distracted by expensive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the promise of a seamless end-to-end global supply chain that has limited application in distribution operations.
Rebus© built by Longbow is designed to manage your operational data from generation to visualization. Rebus Data Services is an affordable investment to manage your distribution operations in real-time with immediate ROI.  

Longbow Advantage – WERC Webinar 2020 from Rebus Data Services on Vimeo

How is COVID-19 Impacting Global Supply Chain?

In recent weeks the COVID-19 outbreak has put a stop to what once was everyday activities. Schools closed their doors, significant cities shut down, sporting events canceled, and with all of that, supermarkets and grocery stores face supply shortages. With the continued spread of the Coronavirus, how does it affect the supply chain? 

Global Supply Chain in Its Normalcy

Uncertainty has become the focus of driving global trade management and comp

liance in the supply chain over the last few years. Traditional supply chain looked to global trade management (GTM) to focus on:

  • Shifting regulations as goods transferred across borders
  • Cost reductions from reduced duty programs
  • Security risk abatement
  • Effective corporate policies that support operational effectiveness. 

The “Trade Wars of 2019” introduced chaotic duty increases and non-tariff barriers to adding complications and have brought new attention to global trade compliance. The need for visibility into supply chain operations for details on analytical oversight has grown from “nice to have” to a core requirement to run supply chain effectively.  Disruption is the new global standard, and the need to manage import and export tariff changes, regulatory requirements, and the potential barriers by product, and country is expanding daily.

COVID-19 Becomes Top Priority

The latest non-tariff trade barrier posed by COVID-19 appears to have now replaced the standard of “controlled” chaos with a new level of uncertainty and complete unpredictability in global trade. Just as the supply chain was adapting to the new reality of sourcing strategies to manage the import and export of sub-assemblies of critical components, as well as finished goods from China, COVID-19 has produced substantial shutdowns from China for weeks. The interruption of supply for materials and finished products, and more importantly, the supply chain links allowing goods to move throughout the global network is an extreme challenge.  

As the virus has spread globally, the loss of critical demand within Europe and North America has made an impact and, even more so, demands on global trade. Visibility of the location for essential SKU’s, parts, and orders no longer are needed to meet service standards and measure disruptions to delivery. They will, however, be critical to chart a course for the very survival of many organizations dependent on only in-time inventory and production management. The ability to adapt to additional sourcing decisions and possessing trade expertise will be needed when it comes time to interpret shifting trends and needs when addressing the complexity introduced by complete loss of supply and then demand globally.

Reductions of inbound containers by 30% at large ports like Long Beach, CA, Newark, NJ, and Baltimore, MD, will be replaced with eager clients ready to move onwards from quarantines. Visibility will be critical to organizations as they utilize the updates from the logistics service providers on congested ports, reduced staffing, and limited distribution networks. Not only are the location of SKU’s critical to managing expectations, but having the ability to hold, accept, or reverse purchase orders for retail companies has been crucial to maintaining the bottom line as the impact grows. Import volumes for Q1, 2020, are now expected to rebound by almost 10% by May 2020, due to increased tariffs (National Retail Foundation & Hackett Group). Trade analytics will now be as critical in the post-COVID-19 environment as tariff calculations of 2019. Analytics allow for agile planning and decision making by financial and logistics teams to weaken the effects of the shutdowns. These tools will help navigate the extreme demand likely to be endured once the coronavirus breaks. The shift from holding the same product to manage financial impact will move to an excessive interest in fulfilling pent up customer demand.

Supply Chain and Beyond

Business’s spend for Q1, 2020, will end substantially lower due to the slowing of supply being demanded but, it will require adjustment for the substantial freight cost increases and volumes pressing through the supply chain. If container volumes are expected to surge at least 11% or more, the amount of duty spending will rise and be accompanied by additional freight costs due to expedited shipping well into 2020.

Once again, trade analytics can help to forecast this impact by analyzing shipments ordered and pending arrivals as well as the effect on the duty costs, which will impact cash flows and bottom lines. The standard analysis of the duty spend year over year will prove futile as carriers are changed, volumes are prioritized, and network designs are impacted by the reality of a post-COVID-19 supply chain. In addition, as the US enters a very competitive election season, the appetite for any rollback of 232/301 additional tariffs has been met with only tepid interest and been focused only on products assisting the COVID-19 response effort.

The key to success is not to blame the fragile state of the global supply chain, likewise, to criticize expanded reliance on the systems that allow service providers to get shipments from one location to another. For global trade organizations to remain relevant, they are adding an in-depth analysis of supply chain data. This shift allows them to become part of the supply chain decision process to address the new normal of chaotic complexity.

Only by effectively utilizing data, will global trade experts be able to help determine the best course of action for shipments delayed at the origin, backed up at arrival terminals, and lost in customs clearance. Beyond the obvious, the financial departments of all organizations will be looking to address the impacts to tariff costs, demurrage, and detention that were reduced for most of Q1 and will soar in Q2. The need for accurate analytical reporting of current volumes, pending inventories, and the reality of the chaos will prove critical for the trade community over the short term.

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