morai-logsitics-ar-supply-chain

If you’ve been to any public places the last two weeks, then you’ve seen children and adults wandering around pointing and swiping at their phones. This is because of the new app Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game where people hunt, capture, and battle adorable creatures that they can find just by walking outside. The app has been out a short awhile, but has already reached meteoric levels of popularity as, just a day after it was available, it was already installed on more US Android phones than Tinder.

The application of augmented reality (AR) technology isn’t limited to gaming. Aeronautics and automotive manufacturers have been implementing AR with heads-up displays for years. Although, it is only now that the technology is seeing more commercial use as wearable AR technology is becoming more affordable. In fact, AR is predicted to become a $90 billion industry by 2020.

Even for just next year, the value of AR is estimated to be over $6 billion with industrial sector (manufacturing, distribution, and logistics) seeing the largest utilization of the technology.

What is augmented reality technology?

“VR is complete immersion in a virtual world – with no outside stimulus. VR is much more common and is mostly used in gaming and entertainment. AR is technology that alters what the wearer sees in his/her reality” writes blogger Kristi Montgomery in this TalkingLogistics post. The alterations to what a user perceives can be made to motivate towards a behaviour, such as with Zombie, Run!, a phone app that turns real-world running into a game, or it can provide useful information real-time like in the case of DHL’s successful pilot project which tested smart glasses and augmented reality in a warehouse in the Netherlands.

AR in Action

DHL recently published its results for the pilot program it conducted in collaboration Ricoh and Ubimax which had staff in a Netherlands warehouse be guided by graphics displayed on a smart glass.

The aim of ‘vision picking’ was to reduce errors and increase efficiency which the project did very successfully as it resulted in 25% efficiency increase during the picking process. Because picking tasks accounting for 55% to 65% of the total cost of warehousing operations, the potential value of that the efficiency adds to picking is huge.

Given the value that AR can add to a supply chain, it is no surprise that DHL is not the only logistics company that is trialing the technology. The AIMIA Institute described another example in this post “In the middle of last year, Active Ants reported similar results from when they equipped their stock pickers with Google Glass. Active Ants used Google Glass with a custom-built app and they saw an efficiency increase of 15%”.

There are still several barriers to the wide-spread implementation of AR technology in logistics to be sure, but it is clear that there is also lot of potential value in it as well. As the cost and efficiency of the technology evolves, so will the innovative changes that VR can offer to supply chains.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

morai-logistics-blog-omni-channel-fulfillment

With so much discussion over omni-channel fulfillment being the future, it is interesting then that only 19% of the top 250 retailers are currently fulfilling omni-channel demand profitably, according to a new the third annual Sands Future of Retail Report.

Despite such a small percentage of top retailers making a profit from omni-channel fulfillment, the service is in high demand by customers and growing.

For example, for nine out of ten consumers, free shipping was reported as the top incentive to shop more online. This number has grown to become the top consideration. One-day shipping (69%) and free returns (68%) also continue to be top drivers.

The Future of Retail and Logistics

There were other key findings of note in the study:

  • Nearly a third of consumers (31%) now shop online at least once a week, an increase of 41% from two years ago.
  • Only 9% of consumers have used same-day shipping in the past year, but almost half (49%) say same-day shipping would make them shop more online if it were offered more frequently.
  • 40% of consumers expect to receive their first drone-delivered package in the next two years or less. Less than a third (31%) think it will take more than five years.
  • Among consumers who don’t trust drones to deliver packages, theft and damaged packages are the top concerns (72% each), but safety (68%) and privacy (60%) seem less risky than they were a year ago.

A theme throughout the study from customers was the expectation of greater and greater speed of the supply chain. This can be seen by the finding that consumers who shop online more than twice a week are twice as likely to be persuaded by same-day shipping as consumers who shop online only a few times a year (63% vs. 32%).

The main reason that so few top retailers are yet to make a profit from omni-channel fulfillment is simply that they have yet to figure out how.

According to the 2015 Third-Party Logistics Study, fully one-third of all respondents (nearly 800 manufacturers, retailers and 3PLs) say they’re not currently prepared to handle omni-channel fulfillment.

Tim Foster, managing director, Asia-Pacific, with supply chain consulting firm Chainalytics weighed in on the discussion.

“Forester believes manufacturers and retailers will address this market transformation by eliminating non-value-adding activities within the supply chain. He cites the example of pharmaceutical distribution, where the traditional supply chain flow from manufacturer to wholesaler to retail pharmacy is being replaced by either a direct flow from manufacturer to retailer, or a loop with the 3PL in the center” summarizes Material Handling and Logistics News in this article.

3PLs have some time to catch up to customer demand. Privacy and security concerns are hampering the demand for omni-channel distribution in the areas of mobile phone payment. “This could explain why adoption has essentially remained flat year over year, with about a third of consumers having used these applications. Still, U.S. mobile payment transactions are expected triple in 2016 to $27 billion, a sign that a few eager early adopters and the growth of Apple Pay could eventually force more widespread changes in consumer behavior” concludes the article.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Morai-Logistics-Blog-US-Manufacturing

Earlier this month, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte Global) and the Council on Competitiveness (Council) release the 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index report. The most interesting highlight from the report is that by 2020, the U.S is expected to the most competitive manufacturing nation with China moving to the number two spot.

The study used an in-depth analysis of survey responses from over 500 chief executive officers and senior leaders at manufacturing companies around the world. Respondents were asked to rank nations in terms of current and future manufacturing competitiveness.

Other major highlights of the 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index (GMCI) include:

  • The U.S is highly competitive in terms of the share of high skill and technology contribution to exports and labor productivity as measured to gross domestic product (GDP) due to continued heavy investment in talent and technology.
  • Among the BRIC nations, manufacturing executives expressed optimism for only China and India by 2020. The other three – Brazil, Russia and India – have seen continuous declines in the study’s rankings over the past six years, despite aspirations that they may emerge as manufacturing goliaths.
  • Brazil’s political uncertainty, Russia’s geopolitical activities and impact from the slide in global crude oil prices, matched with India’s challenged economic and policy actions around infrastructure and investments, have likely triggered the decline from the BRIC’s manufacturing competitiveness peak.
  • The U.S. stands out as the anchor for the North American region with the highest level of manufacturing investments, a strong energy profile, and high-quality talent, infrastructure and innovation. Canada’s low trade barriers, tariff-free zone and investments in sectors key to its growing high-tech manufacturing future, along with Mexico’s 40 free trade agreements, low labor costs and close proximity to the U.S. round out the region.

China moving to the number two spot for manufacturing isn’t surprising given the meteoric rise of worker wages which has increased at a 13.7 percent annual rate, or close to six times the overall inflation rate according to the U.S Department of Commerce:

While China’s rapid wage growth is not the norm in many other countries, manufacturing wage growth in a number of countries has easily outpaced wage growth in the United States—and may well surprise manufacturers who are not expecting such growth. Between 2000 and 2013, annualized manufacturing wage gains were, for example, 6.5 percent in Brazil, 5.4 percent in the Philippines, 6.7 percent in South Korea, and 7.9 percent in Poland

“Made in the USA is making a big comeback,” says Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness. “Contrary to the view that manufacturing is dirty, dumb, dangerous and disappearing, our study points to a manufacturing future characterized by innovation-driven growth…The manufacturing rebound in America is all about advanced manufacturing, not bringing low-wage, low-level manufacturing back. That will make us competitive at the high-end of advanced manufacturing where jobs are fewer and require a high level of skill.”

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Third party logistics (3PL) companies offer resources for companies to outsource all or part of their supply chain management. When you select your 3PL you are essentially selecting another member of your organization. As the 3PL will be acting an extension of your company, it is essential that you find out if the 3PL you are viewing is the right fit for your business.

This month we’ve created an infographic to help you select the right 3rd party logistics provider!

5 Questions to Ask Before Selecting a 3PL

Morai-Logistics--5-Questions-to-Ask-3PL

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

Morai-Logistics-Blog-Holiday-Planning

We are in mid November and for many people this means that it’s the best time to start to thinking about who they’ll be giving a gift to and what that gift will be. If organized, they’ll set a budget and a timeline so they aren’t scrambling at 11 PM the night before in a dollar store for the perfect gift.

If you are working in a distribution centre however, the planning and preparation stage for your building/company would have started about four months ago back near the end of July. You would now either be in the middle or very close to peak season, meaning that your building could see an inventory increase of over 40%.

Given how close the holiday season is, there is likely not much that can be done if your distribution centre is only just now scrambling to put together peak plans for your building. Rather than this be a list of tips for planning a successful peak, consider this a quick checklist to determine exactly how rocky a peak your supply chain may have. As the saying goes,

“the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” – Robert Burns .

Filling personnel gaps

Does your distribution centre have the right people, in the right places, in the right numbers? Being in the peak season means that overall volume of your buildings will increase. The amount of items received and shipped will increase. The amount of items being stored and necessary space will increase. Quality control in your building’s processes will need to be increased. Even available security and janitorial personnel will need to increase in order to service the increase in personnel in other areas of the building.

What are your building’s plan for staffing needs? This is a question that should’ve been addressed early but now is a good time to review!

  • How many temps have been hired, and what sort of tasks are they handling?
  • Is there an incentive plan that pays bonuses for workers who excel during peak? If so, how has it impacted worker engagement thus far?
  • Is your building’s staffing plan calculated to meet your service goals (orders/boxes per hour per employee, lines picked per hour per picker, etc)?. How closely are those goals being hit?

Winter is coming…

The holidays not only bring cheer and a spike in products traveling through supply chains, but also bad weather (if you are in North America). Even if you are located in an area where snow won’t affect your distribution centre directly, it doesn’t mean that your vendors, carriers, and customers will be safe from it.

  • Does your building have a well-documented emergency plan in case of power outages?
  • Does your staff understand the expedited transportation options available such as time-definite ocean transportation, air-sea, sea-air, and team-driver trucking service?
  • Has your building tested Plan B carriers to see if there are any issues in utilizing them if your preferred carriers become indisposed during peak time?

Getting those evaluation sheets ready

No matter how well prepared and laid-out the plans for your distribution centre are, chances are there will be some area in which those plans fall short. It could be due to vendor mismanagement of inventory leading to out-of-stock of a hot item. Or underestimating the amount of returns and not having the staff post-holiday. Regardless of the shortfalls, it is important to have a system in place to track your performance and use labor statistics, order data, customer satisfaction scores, and inventory reporting to identify areas where you both shined and struck out.

This information will help you during future peak planning. Having an outside consultant come in and review the data with you post-peak. This help you think through necessary changes for next year’s peak season that you can begin working on as soon as the peak season has wrapped up.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

Radio frequency identification (RFID) has become one of the megatrends in logistics. It is surprising then that despite the hundreds of millions of RFID tags sold this year alone that, according to results from the 2014 GS1 US Standards Usage Survey, finally saw the technology living up to the hype in the logistics industry in the last few years.

Here are only a few ways that RFID technology has changed, and is continuing to change the not only the way we think about logistics, but also how interact with the world around us. Check out the infographic below for all the facts!

9 Facts About RFID Technology in Logistics

morai-logistics-infographic-rfid

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

With the summer heat being in full effect here in North America, we decided to share some facts about one of the world’s oldest, and most popular beverages – beer! Beer, in particular, requires greater attention to reverse logistics processes when it passes sell-by dates and kegs have to be transported from the reseller back to the bottler.

Beer production, marketing, storage, and distribution is difficult despite it being such a globally common product. This is why some beverage companies are turning to 3PLs to help manage distribution to market. This article from Inbound Logistics goes into more detail between beer companies and their heavy logistics needs. So after enjoying our top 10 beer facts, why not serve yourself a beer on a hot summer day and have a read?!

10 Summer Beer Logistics Facts

morai-logistics-infographic-beer-facts

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

In recent years, the growing trend with many U.S. companies has been to relocate some or even all of their off-shore production back to North America. China no longer holds the sway that it used to, but countries such as Mexico are quickly becoming the much more attractive option. Here are 12 reasons why you should consider near shoring in Mexico.

The Right Time to Consider Nearshoring Strategies to Mexico

morai-logistics-12-reasons-to-invest-in-mexican-nearshoring

As foreign investment in China stalls, Mexico’s foreign investment continues to grow. As a result, demand for facilities and land is beginning to drive up. Thus, the best time to invest in Mexico for your manufacturing or sourcing potential for your organization is now.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

We hope everyone has had a great holiday and we would like to wish all of our readers a Happy New Year! To kick off the year, we have finished compiling our infographic on the top logistics and supply chain facts from the news that we’ve collected throughout last year. As there is a large number of news items spanning the many large topics in the logistics industry, we decided to create our Top 10 by focusing on categories:

  1. Drones
  2. Same-Day Deliver
  3. Supplier Diversity and Women
  4. Sustainability
  5. RFID
  6. World Bank Institute’s Private Sector Platform
  7. Automation
  8. Online Retail
  9. Truck Driver Shortage
  10. Logistics Slow Growth

Each of these topics have some pretty interesting facts and statistics that may have been missed in the hustle and bustle of fellow logistics professionals and enthusiasts. And while we haven’t covered all of the interesting facts from 2014; we felt that these topics helped changes the face of the logistics and supply chain industry in 2014 and serves a good snippet to review the year.

Top 10 Logistics and Supply Chain Facts of 2014

Morai-Logistcs-Top-10-Logistics-and-Supply-Chain-Facts-of-2014

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

Amazon Spain. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Amazon Spain. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Amazon Inc. is in the news again. This time, the online retailing giant got press attention for having petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for an exemption from rules prohibiting the use of drones for commercial purposes. This move, along with its recent job posting calling for experienced pilots to fly its drones, indicates that Amazon is serious about moving Prime Air, an ambitious thirty minute delivery program involving unmanned aerial vehicles, from concept into reality.

Although the experimental delivery program may still be a few years away, it is this sort of unorthodox business strategy that has led the company into having a hand in 20 percent of all e-commerce in North America. Other programs that Amazon has implemented over the past several years has also caused stirs in B2B markets, cloud technology, and those in 3PLs in general.

1 – Shifting from to B2C to B2B

Amazon has been selling millions of items annually to thousands of households for several years. However, since 2012, it has been targeting the lucrative wholesale and distribution market through AmazonSupply which itself grew out of years of experience operating Smallparts.com since it was acquired in 2005.

Whereas common items on Amazon’s main site include books, CDs, and Blu rays, many of AmazonSupply’s items are those that would otherwise only be obtained through specialist distributors such as centrifuges, micrometers and air cylinders. And unlike many other businesses that specialize in industrial B2B transaction, Amazon focuses its marketing through digital media assets such as videos, post downloadable, CAD drawings and user reviews.

Although AmazonSupply’s main competitor, the Chicago-based industrial supplies giant W.W Grainger, holds an estimated 6% of the entire B2B market according to a Forbes article. Despite this, AmazonSupply’s future is bright. It already has Grainger’s online inventory beat by almost twice the amount indicating that it may in fact be the major player in the B2B market rather than its current status as only a major player.

2 – The future is in the cloud

The computer infrastructure that Amazon has built for Amazon Web Services (AWS) is considerable. With it, the company has been able make itself felt in the e-commerce business world by dominating the cloud computing industry and “hosting customers from NASA to Pfizer PFE +0.89% and ringing up an estimated $3.2 billion in revenue last year” writes Claire O’Conner of Forbes.

With its control of the cloud computing industry, “Amazon might leverage its investment in cloud technology to become a clearinghouse for a steadily increasing share of e-commerce business” wrote Dr. Robert C.Lieb and Kristin J. Lieb in the Quarter 3 2014 report. As more and more 3PLs move into the digital world, that means that Amazon will continue to be a looming presence as it moves from customer to competitor.

3 – Customer or competitor?

There’s been some discussion as to whether Amazon is in the process of making a committed move into the 3PL market. The company already offers a range of services and benefits to its two millions vendors such as cheaper transporting services, order management, inventory control, delivery and billing–all of which put it into competition with other 3PLs.

Referring back to Lieb & Lieb study, they found “with the continued expansion of the company’s warehousing, distribution services, order fulfillment, and transportation services, Amazon might become a formidable competitor by offering shippers a broad range of services that 3PLs already provide”.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!