Finding a breath of fresh air in the local supply chain

on Monday, April 27, 2015

Finding a breath of fresh air in the local supply chain

When it comes to green technologies, people are usually first appalled at the initial cost of a project. Many see the large numbers and high projections of time investment before they can even think about how much money could be saved in the long run. Even though there has been push-back from the government, city officials and citizens claiming that tech such as solar panels or wind turbines are both very expensive and not aesthetically pleasing have been steadily pushed aside in favor of renewable energy sources.

While these projects are expensive, however, they are also great for the economy - with more jobs and people putting their money back into the community - and the supply chain industry.Renewable wind energy has recently been making headlines for its myriad benefits to the supply chain and communities at large.

International changes

The winds of change are certainly blowing on a global scale in terms of turbine technology acceptance. Projects in Great Britain are wrapping up just as the people of Chicago are looking to propose their own.

In Great Britain, the new wind farm is small, but certainly made a big impact in the local supply chain. According to reNEWS, Banks Renewables awarded contracts to local suppliers whenever possible. Much of the £11.7 million budget went back into the community of North Lancashire and the surrounding areas.

Over in Chicago, many companies are looking to establish turbine farms and take advantage of the wind that the city is so known for. In a large manufacturing city like Chicago and the surrounding region that also sustains itself via production, re-outfitting factories with energy from wind turbines will help cut down on emissions. Crain's Chicago Business asserted that new Illinois plants could be powered by nature, without using precious water from the Great Lakes and without making any landfills. Building these new projects will put people to work with money in their pockets, and help to make Chicago the greenest city in the world.

Bringing it home

When it comes to reinventing the way materials can be produced, people have been turning to green energy as a sustainable and renewable resource. In places where wind is not only constant, but has the means to be harnessed, we should be taking advantage of our local suppliers. The whole supply chain can find new life with green solutions, from building the technology in the first place to lowering costs of production to keep money in local communities.


A Fun Look at Negotiating and Game Theory: The Golden Balls Game


Image result for shaking handsGame theory has been a working subfield of microeconomics since its inception formally in the early 1800’s; however, it has only really taken off in research and literature since the 1970’s with the advent of computer modeling and data aggregation. Some useful insights from game theory can be applied to how businesses function and synergies, how suppliers respond to negative leverage, and how using asymmetric information may be more beneficial that using the whole picture. Some of these topics appear to be unrelated, but they have a few important factors in common. They are all part of a game. Not in the “Let’s play monopoly” sense, but in these types of interactions there are risks, odds, payoffs, winners, and losers. From these topics some interesting findings involving business transactions, cooperation, and negotiating leverage can emerge. One such finding can be seen in the British gameshow, Golden Balls Game.
The intellectually testing gameshow, challenges contestants to work cooperatively, playing the odds and taking risks. However, the contestants’ biggest risk isn’t even the game’s mechanics, rather the other players. Contestants work together to accumulate a large sum of money but vote one player off each round. In the final round, the two players remaining must each decide if they want to “split” or “steal” the money.
For anyone familiar with the prisoner’s dilemma, this should sound relatively familiar. There are two players who both have two options placed in front of them and a sum of money they have accrued over the course of the game. Players can choose to “split”, meaning they agree to split the money 50/50 with the other contestant. Or they can choose to “steal”, meaning they choose to take the whole sum of money and leave the other contestant with nothing. There are four potential outcomes that can occur:
1)       Player 1 and Player 2 chooses split; they both split the money 50/50
2)       Player 1 chooses split, Player 2 chooses steal; Player 2 steals all the money and Player 1 gets nothing

3)      Player 1 chooses steal, Player 2 chooses split; Player 1 steals all the money and Player 2 gets nothing

4)      Player 1 and Player 2 both choose steal;  both players get nothing.

It is important to emphasize, if both players choose steal, neither of them win the money. With these rules in place, the gameshow host prompts each player to say a few words to make their case to the other player regarding the decision they should make. Usually this culminates with both players agreeing to split the money after having some heart felt conversation and boasting about being better than the unsuccessful temptation of greed. While this may be a “feel good exercise in human behavior” this does usually end with at least one of the players feeling cheated, resulting in one, or both, going against their word and choosing steal. While on face value, this may be what you would expect, looking at the players’ incentives actually offers valuable insights.

The following link shows the specific situation I am describing and look to expand upon:

If you believe the opposing players’ heart wrenching testimony and are 100% certain they’ll split the money with you, you would be silly not to take advantage of the situation and choose to steal and take all of the money. Otherwise, there may be some moral compass guiding your decision, inclining you to split the money. If you’re a great negotiator and aware that you’re leaning towards split, you recognize the opposing player’s incentive to then choose steal. They know you’re falling for their plea and now have the opportunity to take all of the money for themselves.  More often than not, this leads to either one person choosing to steal and the other getting nothing, or both players trying to take advantage of the situation and deciding to steal resulting in neither of them taking home the money.
Believe it or not, there is a correct strategy for aligning incentives and goals in a zero-sum cooperation game. To fully incentivize the other player to commit to splitting the money, you need to give them no other option. In this situation, this means convincing them that you are going to steal, giving them no hope of obtaining the money unless they choose to split. Forcing the other player to make the decision, rather than try to convince you of their good intentions, is the only way to align incentives and make them cooperate. This strategy can be carried over to negotiating. 
Have you ever needed to take a hard line stance in a negotiation with a supplier, knowing all well they have become familiar with the process and can guess at outcomes in the bidding for packages? 
Have you ever gone into a negotiation with little to no leverage and nothing but your persuasion? While it may not be true all of the time and using your best judgement is important, representing strength and going against cooperative pleasantries may be the best strategy. By eliminating personal ambiguity, you make the other party’s decision clear cut. Making all of the information available and leaving the other player with their only other option to negotiating with you because not negotiating is potentially harmful to their business then establishes a logical rational of authentic cooperation.  As a result, you may walk away from negotiations with a more beneficial outcome than showing “cooperation” from the beginning. 

Preparing for the Big Ideas Summit 2015 with Procurious' Tania Seary

on Friday, April 24, 2015

Preparing for the Big Ideas Summit 2015 with Procurious' Tania Seary
In the world of the supply chain, professionals aren't overwhelmed with options to connect with other people in their field. And what's especially difficult is that the supply chain is a global enterprise, but how are procurement specialists supposed to come together and talk about the issues that affect everyone involved?
This is where Procurious CEO and Founder Tania Seary comes in. Procurious is a network for the emerging generation of procurement professionals that will allow them to interact on a social media platform specifically tailored for this industry. This year, Seary and her team have put together a summit that's the first of its kind: a digital and interactive think tank designed for procurement "intrapreneurs​" that delegates can attend from the comfort of their homes.
That's right. The speakers are assembling in London on April 30, but the delegates will tune in to the Big Ideas Summit 2015 from their couches, offices, taxis or wherever else they choose. This model enables thousands more people to attend because it doesn't interfere with daily life. Taking time away from work and buying a plane ticket to London is not cost-effective for many, but this changes all that.
"It's about connecting people around the globe in an efficient way," Seary asserted.
These social media platforms serve as a way for professionals to talk about the current issues in the supply chain and bolster their understanding of how the industry works across different cultures and products.

Why is it so important for procurement specialists to stay connected to each other?

"It's about staying on top of potential supply chain disruptions," Seary claimed. "When [specialists] find out [about an issue], they can respond quickly and make sure their company isn't impacted negatively."
There are so many things that could throw a wrench into the supply chain and create really big issues for brands. Child labor, horse meat and plastic in milk powder are a few of the recent problems that companies have experienced, all of which reduced brand equity and lowered stocks. While larger companies can bounce back from this type of issue, the procurement services involved seriously took a hit.
Procurious provides an outlet for global professionals to have up-to-date information about their extended supply chain. Another thing that's great about the Big Ideas Summit is that specialists can come together on their own time and watch the speakers free of charge. This isn't a fancy club for the procurement elite, but an open forum in which all levels of supply chain management can take part.
This summit will enable delegates to submit questions via the social media platform of their choice - Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Procurious - and connect with the speakers. Then, after a speech is done, people can respond to it on a forum and have a real conversation about the relevant procurement issues around in the here and now.

Who can we expect to hear from in London?

Among the 40 esteemed guests will be C-suite executives, authors and professors to make the summit a well-rounded and highly informative gathering. As well as presenting their own material, the speakers will address the questions put forth by the delegate community. After these speeches are over, delegates and other interested parties will be able to watch and re-watch the speakers at their own leisure.
At the end of the day, Seary would like every person to come away from the summit with a reinvigorated passion for the procurement industry.
"I really want to inspire entrepreneurship in procurement," Seary concluded. "I want people to use the [Procurious] platform as much as they can so they can do their jobs the best they can."
What will really drive the success of the industry is for professionals to look past the traditional way of doing things that specialists have stuck to for the past 15 years and really think outside the box.
"The more you give to your profession, the more you get out of it," Seary stated in closing.
She hopes that the Procurious Big Ideas Summit will inspire people to throw themselves into the industry and make some meaningful changes with long-lasting results.
Interested in taking part? Tune in the the Procurious Big Ideas Summit on April 30 to listen to speakers and participate in this digital procurement event! Stay in the loop on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #BigIdeas2015. Send in your questions and be a member of the supply chain nation's first digital summit!

Expand your Network - Tonight!

on Thursday, April 23, 2015

Source One is co-sponsoring and attending ISM-7 Counties Professional Networking Event tonight, April 23rd.  Check out why supply chain professionals need to network like everyone else.

Nearshoring to Mexico: Why Companies are Moving Closer to Home


Why nearshore to Mexico? In recent years, China and Mexico have competed to be the prime hub location for logistics operations for North American companies. While China still boasts advantages for off-shoring, more and more companies are realizing the power of moving the supply chain closer to home; to Mexico.

Supply Chain models have drastically evolved since the onset of off-shoring practices decades ago. Consumers now demand nearly-immediate delivery of products and perceive empty shelves as sign of poor supply chain management. Seeking better control and efficiency of operations, North American companies large and small are nearshoring their supply chain to Mexico.  Among those leading the charge to Mexico: General Electric, Ford and Microsoft.

Mexico proves to be a major Nearshoring opportunity for many reasons including:
  1.     Reasonably-priced labor
  2.     Less expensive shipping as compared to overseas
  3.     Geographically easier to visit and evaluate suppliers

Next month, Source One Vice President of Operations William Dorn and Senior Project Manager and Latin America sourcing expert Diego De la Garza will be presenting at the Institute for Supply Management Annual Conference on the topic of Nearshoring to Mexico. Attendees will gain an understanding of the status of supply chain today, including the challenges companies face outsourcing manufacturing, as well as the process and benefits of nearshoring to Mexico. Source One is also hosting discussions at Booth #542.  Hope to see you there!

Exploring global sustainable supply chain initiatives


Exploring global sustainable supply chain initiatives

In this day and age, it seems that we are using up all of our resources. Every other day, there are news pieces about what's running out, the earth getting warmer or even sometimes the end of days (though the expected causes range from human error to an alien takeover). And though the news may seem bleak at times, we are also in an age where we are aware of how the Earth is responding to our habits and we have the technology and information to make better and more environmentally friendly decisions.

In the supply chain, the nature of the beast is production and movement. There are many processes that are so deeply ingrained in the system that they might be hard to change. However, it is our duty as humans who inhabit this planet to make the effort and create an environment for the supply chain that is effective and sustainable. Corporations around the world have already shifted gears to accommodate the changing tides.

Leader of the pack

Many people claim that making a change happens one step at a time. However, there are quite a few global enterprises that have adjusted their supply chain and delivery processes so quickly that it appears they've sprinted toward environmentally conscious solutions.

In honor of Earth Day, SupplyChain247 acknowledged giants of the consumer products world that have made impressive progress in sustainable and rewarding supply chain practices. Of those listed, Unilever perhaps has the widest reach of products that the general public consumes. According to the company, Unilever has made a vow to reduce its CO2 emissions by half, even though production has only increased. The consumer goods manufacturer is well on its way to producing less carbon dioxide and using less water in its manufacturing.

The list of efforts continues and includes lessening deforestation, promoting small farmers and green farming practices and making climate change a topic of discussion for all those involved in the supply chain process. With Unilever at the helm, other businesses, no matter the size, can take a page from its book and make some long-lasting and important decisions pertaining to manufacturing and delivery.

Making real waves

Even though there are fantastic role models like Unilever and Ikea for other companies to follow, many businesses around the world aren't entirely riding the wave of change. It would appear that motivating firms to go green is only effective for getting companies to the base compliance levels, reported TriplePundit. After the bare minimum is met, businesses have no reason or incentive to move forward with improved efforts, instead maintaining the same level and making no effort to keep the ball rolling.

It is up to the C-suite to ensure the supply chain is running at maximum capacity yet adhering to environmentally smart standards. Sustainable performance is critical, noted the source, and engagement is perhaps the most important approach to ensure longevity of the initiative. Engaging suppliers in sustainable practices can sometimes be precarious, but properly educating and collaborating with all parties is a great first step toward sustainable practices without risking the supplier relationship.

Looking forward

These are not initiatives that can happen overnight, or even in the course of a month. They take careful planning and execution to make sure that every manufacturer, supplier and delivery system is on the same page. Not all attempts will be successful on the first try, but the important thing is to find a solution that keeps business booming and the Earth blooming.


Supply chain gurus changing the game

on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Supply chain gurus changing the game

Apple has always been one to revolutionize the way things are done. First came the iPod, then eventually the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Consumers seem to have a fanatic reaction to these new products and how they impact our daily lives. Behind the scenes, Apple has been relatively open about how it procures and sources materials and products for our gadgets. What people seem to overlook is the method by which the company alters its services to eventually provide the best product for the general public. Apple regularly changes its supply chain strategy, which keeps the tech enterprise at the top of the game.

A history of excellence

According to Gartner, Apple has achieved the top spot on the analytics  company's Supply Chain Top 25 list for the past seven years in a row. When the list is released later this year, no one will be surprised if the enterprise takes the No. 1 slot again. Businesses that claim this honor must start with customer needs and behaviors and shape their values around them.

Since the company is so consumer-centric, the fact that Apple sold the equivalent of 326 iPhones per minute in 2014 isn't entirely a shock, reported EBN Online, but it does certainly give one pause to ponder the implication of the sheer demand and efficiency of the supply chain.

Meeting the market

As there is such a high demand for what seems to be every Apple product available, the secrets of the corporation's supply chain are sure to reveal a bit of its success. To meet the clamor of the customer, the company has multiple electronic manufacturers that provide the innards for iPhones, MacBooks and more, noted Bidness Etc. This allows Apple to keep prices down and assure that consumers will still be able to purchase these must-have gadgets.

Apparently, the tech magnate is branching out to various companies all over the world to ensure the Apple Watch supply does not run out when people can begin to purchase the item on April 24. The success of this product in particular rests on the ability of all the companies involved to deliver the timepiece in a timely manner. Thousands of people will be expecting their preorders to come in and Apple has a legacy to uphold.

While not every company can find the same success as Apple, supply chain management can certainly take a page from the Apple playbook.


Job Hunters: Get Out There!

on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

While today’s job market is beginning to look much better than it did in the immediate post-recession years, job seekers still face an incredible amount of competition. Companies forced to downsize during the Great Recession are only slowly starting to fill available positions, which are still greatly outnumbered by the amount of qualified applicants. As result, job hunters need to get creative in their career pursuits. Whether you’re emerging talent looking to land your first position or a seasoned professional considering your options, these avenues could boast major benefits for your search.

  1. Tap into your existing network. Take a look at the people you already know to identify who could be a resource to grow your network.  According to, 65-70% of jobs are gained through personal referrals or networking connections

  2.  Work with a recruiting or staffing company. A great way to break into a company is to work with a recruiting or staffing agency who may already have an existing relationship with the company to which you’re looking to apply. The agency will have insights into job openings whether they’re publicly posted or not.

  3. Attend an Event. These may include events hosted by charities or professional organizations. If possible, get the list of attendees and identify beforehand who you would like to meet. This can be the perfect opportunity for you to connect with professionals from an organization you would have otherwise never met.

    On April 23rd, Source One will be attending ISM-7 Counties’ Professional Networking Event. Joining the industry’s best and brightest, Source One experts will be sharing their insights, as well as connecting with other industry veterans and emerging professionals. Event attendees will also hear from guest speaker Julienne Ryan, a professional speaker and prominent leadership coach. 

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Recruiting Fresh Procurement Talent from Colleges and Universities


This post is part of our series: Alternative Solutions for Staffing Procurement and Sourcing Positions

Let’s start with some good news. Supply Chain careers are actually becoming a desirable thing! Twelve years ago, I don’t know that any college-aged young adults would have been able to tell you the definition of a supply chain, let alone express interest in it as a career path. But times have changed. Companies like Apple have made supply chain, logistics, warehousing and demand planning hip and interesting. Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but they are responsible for making those terms relevant and common. Even high-schoolers are learning about supply chain disruptions when their favorite technology provider can’t meet the demand for their next gadget. So maybe supply chain careers are not as cool as being a researcher at Google, engineer at Apple, or pharmaceutical rep at Pfizer; but at least the younger generation is aware of it as an option.

And universities and colleges have been listening to the business world. Most of the top schools now offer some sort of supply chain programs. And that’s just talking about people new to the working world. For those that have already pursued other interests to start their careers, there are plenty of programs to help transition into the exciting world of supply chain. There are a few good procurement certification programs and customized and specialized sourcing training programs. So even those looking to make a career change can do so gracefully.

So what does that all mean for you, the employer? Hopefully it means that recruiting should get easier in a few more years as schools continue to pump out students and those that have already left the programs get a few years under their belts. But in the meanwhile, how do you tap into a market of junior resources when the biggest (and wealthiest) Fortune 500 are trying to grab the same talent?

  1. Go the traditional route. Post on job boards and participate in career fairs. Don’t just use the alumni networks, students are constantly connected to the web and will seek out every resource they can to find a job. Therefore, continue to use the regular internet job boards including indeed, monster, careerbuilder, craigslist, etc. (skip the newspaper). Don’t forget to contact each school you are interested in directly. Most of them have FREE job boards specifically to recruit to the students. Don’t limit your search to schools in your geography, a lot of students went away for college and are looking for a job back home.

  2. Target students who didn't study supply chain or procurement. Yes, I know, you are looking for people that can hit the ground running. But, let’s be honest, supply chain programs will give students a good foundation knowledge, but you are going to wind up training them about your specific business and processes anyhow. Look for students in the specialty you need. Information Systems and Computer Sciences majors can make excellent IT buyers. Marketing students who don’t want to work trade-shows or grind out marketing portfolios at ad agencies for low pay can make excellent additions to your marketing and media sourcing team. And finance majors make great analysts and metrics trackers. Just be sure to test their analytic skills (excel and critical thinking) during the interviews.

  3. Make your job advertisements interesting and SEO rich. Students will search jobs by keywords. If you use a boring, flat, buzz-word laden job description you are not going to get good resumes. Don't let HR "handle" the recruiting on its own, chances are they can't explain what you do in simple terms. Explain your business, explain the perks, explain what they will do; but use plain language. Most students are going to ignore or never see things like “Track KPIs and report metrics” “Conduct BATNA analysis” or “Use Ariba to qualify suppliers”.

  4. Internships!!! Some of the best talent I have ever recruited started with an internship. And students really seem to understand the value of an internship now more than ever before. Internships are a great way for a student to test you as an employer, but also for you to test them as a worker. If you like the work they do, make them an offer for full-time employment and lock them in before they wrap up their degree. What’s really interesting is that students do not appear as focused on the pay they receive as they do the experience they receive in their internship. So make sure you use those students for things beyond data entry and number crunching. Let them see the interesting nature of a complex sourcing initiative and let them participate in a negotiation. And be realistic, while students are completely driven by money; the days of the unpaid internship are over!

  5. Use a recruiter. Believe it or not, good recruiters have access to top university talent as well (not just experienced pros). Specifically, they will have access to rising stars; those students who went above and beyond at their institution, or perhaps completed an extensive internship at a top company.

Now for the bad news. While we are certainly seeing an uptick in new talent and higher-education programs that cater directly to supply chain related curriculum, it doesn't really solve the immediate need for experienced professionals. While we've ran into (and recruited) some incredibly bright talent from both supply chain and non-traditional curriculum; those individuals are not able to hit the ground running on project work as a seasoned pro might be able to do. Sure, they might have learned what an RFP is and how to write a project plan, but following a methodically stagnant sourcing process isn't going to produce optimal results. Sure, they know textbook definitions, how to create a spreadsheet or run an e-sourcing platform and perform a BATNA; but do they really know how to draft a proper SOW and SLA or read through the marketing fluff that supplies spin back to them? Do they know how to motivate a supplier who doesn't want your business? Do they know how to get an internal stakeholder to give up “their” spend? Hint, they don’t.

You’re going to have to invest significant time and resources in training and bringing them up to speed. Students are not a “quick answer” to your resource deficit. And unfortunately, fresh recruits are not all rainbows and unicorns. As the world renowned poet, farmer and sourcing guru, Naseem Malik, points out in his critically acclaimed research exposé, Talent Management – The Millennial Challenge; Millennials have the highest turnover rates with an average 2.5 year career and are frequently looking for new opportunities to leave. He cites lack of training and mentors as a prime reason for their lack of loyalty. So while it’s not particularly difficult to get a recent graduate in the door, it is resource intensive to keep them.

Millennials have the highest turnover rates with an average 2.5 year career and are frequently looking for new opportunities to leave. He cites lack of training and mentors as a prime reason for their lack of loyalty. So while it’s not particularly difficult to get a recent graduate in the door, it is resource intensive to keep them.

You've got a few choices to help get these new recruits up and running though. Our next series will discuss building a sourcing and procurement team of leaders and learners.

Alternative Solutions for Staffing Procurement and Sourcing Positions


As I mentioned a few months back, the demand for qualified sourcing and procurement professionals is higher than it has ever been. Worse, it seems that there is a severe shortage of qualified professionals that are capable of properly managing procurement and supply chain sourcing initiatives. While it’s good for my business, Source One, to keep getting calls for help; for most everyone else it’s a nightmare trying to find and recruit usable procurement and supply chain talent.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a blog series with different ideas and ways to resolve your procurement and sourcing staffing problems. I’ll outline some popular methods for solving supply chain staffing issues but will also highlight some alternative solutions for staffing procurement and sourcing positions that you may not have thought of. I’ll also include some tips and pros and cons to each staffing strategy.

 I’ll update the links below to each article as they go live.


Manufacturing sector in the market for skilled laborers


Manufacturing sector in the market for skilled laborers

It's no secret that industries were hit hard by the recession and now again by the dip in oil and gas prices. While many sectors have seen growth, however slight, the manufacturing industry currently experiences cutbacks and very few fresh faces on the scene. Now, it's not surprising that no one's getting hired for manufacturing jobs, as there just aren't that many to be had, but what is truly strange is that barely any skilled laborers are available for the jobs that do exist.

This trend, however, is not just appearing as a result of the economic uncertainties, as there has been an urgency to train and hire skilled laborers since the early 1990s, reported IndustryWeek. What exactly is happening to skilled laborers and why are we running out of them?

The widening gap

The skill shortage the United States has been experiencing is an issue raised by various analysts for the past few decades, but there hasn't been much done about it. The manufacturing sector has been steadily losing jobs to machines, but jobs are still available for people to operate and monitor the behemoths. Not only do these positions require a refined knowledge of how to manage the machines, but also how to repair them should they need it.

Unfortunately, it's apparently that there are fewer people entering into programs that would provide such training. According to a recent study detailing the gap of manufacturing skills in the U.S. for 2015 and the future, there will be over  3.5 million jobs to be filled and it's expected that 2 million of them will remain vacant, reported The Manufacturing Institute. This will stunt the growth of the industry as a whole and will undoubtedly lead to issues with profits. Firms will not last long if they can't meet the demands of consumers.

The study also indicated steps that should be taken to ensure the future of the industry. Some strategies include outreach programs and working with community and technical colleges to collaborate on curriculum. It seems that the main issue is creating interest in the sector and attracting people to fill the positions that will eventually be available. The government should also do its part to help mitigate the shortage, as it will undoubtedly be affected as well.

The here and now

In order to change the fate of the manufacturing sector from sure demise, we need to be proactive in our steps and get the industry back on track. Employment is steadily rising, albeit slowly, in various locations around the country. Staffing Industry Analysis reported cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, New York and Richmond are in need of workers, whereas other cities like Minneapolis and Dallas are experiencing layoffs.

Skilled laborers should go to where the jobs are. Uprooting families is never easy, but at least there is work to be had, which isn't the case for professionals who stay where the job market is shrinking. Where companies are not cutting back on jobs, they're reducing wages. This makes it difficult to keep workers, contributing to the decline. Firms should be encouraging laborers to go where they're needed, and perhaps work with companies elsewhere to offer jobs and relocate people to their benefit.

It does seem like the future of the manufacturing industry is fairly dire. However, these estimations do not need to come to fruition. Creating more buzz about jobs and helping workers stay employed will go a long way toward securing the future outcome. Losing American manufacturing thus far has already been hard on American companies, and we should do our best to keep the sector alive and strong.


On the lookout for risks in the supply chain


On the lookout for risks in the supply chain

When it comes to the supply chain, we can predict and estimate how and when things are going to happen. However, these are merely approximations as there are untold factors that could disrupt normal business proceedings and throw a proverbial wrench into the machine that is the supply chain. While there are many risks that analysts can account for - weather patterns, elections, etc. - there are others that can quickly appear and disappear, upsetting the natural order. Here are five risks that supply chain managers could encounter during their careers:

1. New technology

Business and technology are two industries that are forever tied to each other. As fresh technology emerges, the supply chain usually adopts it and optimizes it for use. Unfortunately, learning about a new gadget or software can cause delays or setbacks, which will decrease the product output for procurement services, noted TriplePundit. Eventually, as the technology becomes more commonplace, the pace will pick up, but the lost time is something that can never be returned. 

2. Losing employees

As with any industry, losing employees is always a possible risk. Due to different opportunities elsewhere, retirement or other changes, the loss of a trained employee can slow down production and create a backlog in the process, asserted PropertyCasulty360. Unless there is an individual already in the company who can immediately take over the vacant position, there are likely to be extensive delays along the way. 

3. Training new employees

Just as the loss of an employee can be detrimental, training a new employee takes time and resources away from regular production, reported the source. Of course, training new employees is necessary when there are empty positions to be filled, and rarely are people fully trained when they enter a new company, but the time taken is still considered a risk factor. On the bright side, the investment of time into new team members will hopefully pay off in the long run as they work with and grow within the company, increasing their value in the process. 

4. Regulation changes

Following government and industry-mandated regulations is of the highest importance for the manufacturing sector. As new technologies emerge and workers' rights are amended, the regulations are bound to change as well. TriplePundit pointed out that suppliers need to accommodate the changes immediately, and the updates are likely to cause delays. Adhering to new standards will take some time, and this constitutes an unfortunate, however necessary, risk that could appear at any moment. 

5. Labor union issues

Similarly to regulation changes, when unions dispute and slowdowns come into play, there is very little that businesses can do in the interim, noted PC360. If the shipping union is on strike, manufacturers and procurement specialists have their hands tied in terms of how they are able to move their products. Companies need to be prepared for interruptions lasting anywhere from a few days to even a few months. Until the unions can settle their differences, the other members of the supply chain need to wait patiently for issues to blow over.

While it is possible that a single supply chain may not encounter any of these examples in a given fiscal year, there are many other problems that could rear their heads and create some trouble for industries across the board. The main point for businesses to remember is that there is no such thing as over-preparing for the worst. If the best offense is a good defense in sports, then this certainly applies to the supply chain game.