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The idea to make factories smarter has a lot of potential: Eventually, businesses could see centers that make efficient use of resources, integrate technology well and run off of interconnectivity. We can't predict the future, but we can look at some of the factors that will probably shape the factory of the future. Since several trends seem to simultaneously influence this phenomenon, it helps to look at them all together and see the concrete results.

These technologies could all be part of the vision of the new, revolutionary factory, based on recent examples.

1. Volume increases
The Tesla car company has defined itself by being at the forefront of technology, so it's not surprising that it's also planning to adapt to new developments. In addition to using tech, the improved factory could also accommodate more work for a higher rate of production. According to an official blog post, the business has big expectations for its growth in the next few years, with a call to produce 500,000 units per year in 2018.
To this end, Tesla is reportedly planning to buy Grohmann Engineering, which will add more than 1,000 jobs to the company's German operations, as the company seeks to meet regulatory standards in this country.

The company blog said it would embrace "speed and production," also lowering the cost of making each vehicle. Automation and other systems are clear ways to modernize, but there are also the benefits of higher outputs to keep in focus, a target that could potentially attract many to the idea of
factories in the first place.

2. Planning
Other auto businesses are taking the prospects of the connected factory into account. Audi AG's new plant in Mexico is one example. In September, it detailed the planning that went into this facility, explaining the development. Virtualization allowed the planners to see the process in advance and share details with different planners.

Dr. Hubert Waltl, Audi México Chairman of the Board, emphasized this in the company's statement.
"Our plant in Mexico is a prime example of the Audi Smart Factory," the professor said. "The facility is the first that we have put into operation completely virtually, that is, in a computer simulation. We have optimized the entire process chain and put the plant into operation 30 percent faster than is usual."

3. Connectivity and the "fourth revolution"
A Robotics & Automation News article about the Audi project made a particular point about the future of new factories, based on the evolution of technology. According to the concept of the "fourth industrial revolution," the next major innovation comes from widespread internet use, which is considered just as important as mechanization, electricity and the first use of computers. Like these other improvements, the rise of connectivity could enable many different other improvements later on and possibly enable future similar industry shifts.

It's a broad idea, and it includes both the rise of the Internet of Things and the use of Artificial Intelligence to coordinate operations. Adhering to this vision could mean several systems within each factory, as well as a connection to other sectors.

What is Amazon Go?

On December 5th Amazon unveiled its first convenience store. Entitled "Amazon Go," the store is a high-tech grocery store located at 2131 7th Ave Seattle, WA 98121. It is currently in a private beta testing and as of right now is slated to open to the public early 2017. This is particularly interesting because we all think of Amazon as the company that redefined the retail market by eschewing brick-and-mortar stores. So what has changed? According to the video embedded below, Amazon intends to create a store that has "No  lines. No check-out." 







How does Amazon Go work?

The customer experience will look something like this[2] 

  • Customer enters the store and is simultaneously "tagged" via smart phone
  • Customer shops for their desired items
    • Some combination of cameras, GPS, and sensors keeps track of where customers are in the store
    • Some combination of cameras, infrared, load, and pressure sensors determine whether items are picked off (or returned to) the shelves
  • Customer leaves the store with their items and is "logged out" via their smart phone
    • Sensor triggers and charges that customer for the items that they took
    • Receipt is automatically emailed to the customer for the items that they were charged for


What is the technology behind Amazon Go?

Based upon Amazon's marketing video, the technology is cutting edge. Note all of the current buzzwords that appear near the middle of the above embedded video:

  • computer vision
  • deep learning algorithms
  • sensor fusion
At this point, most determinations about the specifics behind Amazon Go is conjecture based upon the media blurbs that they have released and old patent filings. One such filing describes "a system that uses technology including RFID to detect when a shopper takes an item from the shelf, and then syncs the data to a handheld device." [3] The obvious question that results is how they can accurately determine what item was removed from the shelves. The likely answer is sensor fusion. According to Amazon's patent filing, some implementations of sensor fusion may be used to assist in determining the identify of items picked and/or placed in inventory locations by a combination of image analysis, weight measurements, pressure sensors, load cells, etc. that are all located at the inventory location. 

As we are talking a statistical based system, this means that there is the possibility that the system will not be able to reasonably determine what item was acquired. Amazon's documentation goes on to state that if the inventory management system cannot reasonably accurately determine the identity of the picked item then it may go one step further and incorporate past purchase history and/or items that the user has already gathered during their current shopping experience. [3]

In short, the system operates through an implementation of a heavy dose of machine learning.




What impact could Amazon Go have on the supply chain?

It is very clear that the shopping experience of an Amazon Go differentiates it from the existing convenience store / grocery store paradigm. Assuming that it takes off, it could very much alter the retail shopping experience. As a society, this will further remove us from interacting with strangers. It will  increase the expectation of immediate fulfillment that has proliferated with younger generations. It will likely cause high-end retailers to further emphasize the shopping experience by catering to customers rather than simply offering a product.

From the standpoint of a retailer, in theory the systems behind Amazon Go could entirely eliminate shoplifting. [1] This would be a boon because it will reduce the likelihood that they have to write product off. Besides the obvious cost savings, this also removes one highly variable consideration when determining how much product to inventory, and so also offers savings through optimal reallocation of funds. 
However, I would argue that it is likely that the real value of the technology is for order picking and fulfillment. This is of course not surprising since Amazon developed it. 




Resources

[1] Amazon Go Ends Checkout Lines And Shoplifting, Begins A New Era In Retail
[2] How Amazon's line-less grocery service would really work
[3] How ‘Amazon Go’ works: The technology behind the online retailer’s groundbreaking new grocery store 



In terms of holiday shopping, Black Friday and Cyber Monday tend to get lots of attention. Perhaps less noted, but just as important, is the impact of pre-Thanksgiving food shopping on the grocery industry supply chain system. This is, unsurprisingly, a major time for food product delivery. But as one recent report noted, 2016's online sales figures seem to surpass even the typical expectations for this time of year.

Significant digital growth
According to online grocery solutions company Unata, the "Thanksgiving period" saw sales grow 19 times higher online than they did for in-store transactions. On average, online interactions increased by 22.6 percent during this time, while the average number of unique users grew by 20.3 percent.

The company's VP of Retail Solutions Dan Farmer said that the new statistics show important evidence of changing habits.

"The growth in online grocery sales that we're seeing over this food-centric holiday is proof that consumers are ready and willing to embrace online for their grocery shopping needs, especially during busy times," Farmer said. He later added that "if a retailer does not invest in a digital offering, and immediately embrace this shift in shopper behavior, their business will be at risk."

Food transport evolves
Digital alternatives and supplements to the supply chain are affecting all industries, but food suppliers could change in some notable ways. In some cases, it might challenge the current structure of the grocery chain entirely, as farmers try to cultivate direct connections with their buyers.

Last month, the Associated Press reported that the food safety company Emerson is using smarter systems to monitor supply chain refrigeration. This is reportedly due in part to the fact that the majority of consumer respondents believe improved data usage is essential to keep food safe, according to one of the company's surveys. The "cold chain" is therefore linked to the expanding capabilities of the Internet, and in high-demand seasons like Thanksgiving, that could continue to matter.

Online sales shape the future
Shoppers are increasingly adapting to online marketplaces, and the results could force grocery businesses to think more about transformation. In a piece for Supply Chain Digital, SCM World CCO Kevin O'Marah said that digital demand can be just the root of a mass integration, with sensors and digital information enhancing business moves from product design to marketing.

What's more, O'Marah said that year-over-year e-commerce figures have grown by at least 15 percent every quarter for more than a year. An increase in consumer presence online also could bring "on-demand" or custom elements to several different processes within food product development. Some examples O'Marah gives include formulating orders or even creating specific packaging.

Of course, it will be important to follow the e-commerce statistics throughout the year, not just during the holidays, to truly measure the impact. All the same, supplier relationship management will clearly continue to be critical, as companies tailor their current networks to create a more loyal customer base and a more efficient way to distribute goods. Sourcing strategically could help entities join this trend for a strong path forward.



In order to have an efficient, well run supply chain within your organization, there are a few key elements that are necessary for ensuring you are getting the most out of your people and machines. Resources need to be properly staffed, machines maintained, and WIP (Work in Progress) needs to continue to move and not get backed up a certain operation or link in the process flow. An efficient supply chain can be a work of art if properly managed. Ensuring your supply chain operations are on track, you have to start from the top – even before anything gets moving!


Semiconductor manufacturing is a prime example of an industry where truth in planning is essential for hitting lead times, improving variability, and avoiding delays that ultimately expose deliverables to the end client. Semiconductors (computer chips) have extremely long lead times compared to most manufactured consumable items. With an average lead time of six-to-seven months from order receipt to delivered goods (silicon wafer, chip, module), one would think that it would be easy to plan for the various material and capacity needs throughout the supply chain. However, in a world that is becoming more and more metric focused, supply chain leaders are finding more of their manufacturing facilities are sandbagging their production lead times, and over shipping to meet internal organizational metrics or exceed them depending on which metric they want to satisfy.


The Real Truth in Planning

What manufacturing teams fail to realize is that these inaccurate projections – while looking good on paper – cripple the downstream stages of the supply chain, and can cause massive churn. Semiconductors that are built into computer modules require several key components that make up their respective bill of material (BOM) including capacitors, lids, and laminates. Lead time for these materials can take up to six weeks, and MRP systems rely on pitched completion dates to generate purchase orders within lead time. These systems are designed to order components at lead time to avoid having too much inventory on hand prior to the rest of the materials arriving. If a wafer (manufactured silicon) arrives at a testing machine three or four weeks ahead of schedule, there is a high probability that something else is already scheduled to be run on that tester, so, the wafers will have to sit, consequently wasting the energy and time spent to move the WIP to that point. As WIP piles up at various operations, keen supply chain managers should inquire to understand why the WIP is sitting there instead of moving forward. Supply chain analysts will then highlight that components, and/or capacity is not available since the WIP arrived earlier than planned, with no advanced notice. It wasn’t supposed to be there yet…so naturally they’re not ready!


A Weak Chain

This is where inaccurate planning can break a supply chain. Whenever parts sit in queue longer than planned cycle time WIP begins to build up. MRP systems see WIP build ups and project them to close in time for quarter and year end which is actually not feasible. Other components also end up being affected. When parts arrive early, pressure mounts on missing components that are needed to continue to move WIP forward. Expedited shipping requests, expedite fees, personalized handlers, and additional unnecessary churn on all parties ends up costing time and money.


Supply chain managers and executives are then forced to prioritize this WIP over regularly scheduled deliverables in hopes of achieving revenue targets. While some additional parts may get expedited through the supply chain and additional revenue achieved, the hidden costs of that expedited energy (missed deliveries, WIP buildup, MRP ordering) sometimes prove more costly than initially thought.


Just because certain areas of your supply chain are operating more efficiently than others, does not necessarily mean the overall chain is performing well. In order to make your supply chain efficient, make sure you plan accordingly! There is something to be said when you hear “truth in planning.” Don’t be the one to get stuck in neutral when you could be moving forward with fundamental, accurate planning!
The same way finance goes after an overcharge or HR pursues a harassment claim, new centralized procurementdepartments must know how and when to keep stakeholders accountable.  There are two main components of stakeholder buy in and compliance – the first is all about education and the second is about prioritization. Procurement is responsible for ensuring stakeholders understand and embrace the sourcing practices established and respect the policies, just the way they understand those of HR or other functional areas. At the same time, they need to understand the value behind sourcing efforts and the role they have to play supporting strategic goals of the organization.

Commonly, a newly centralized procurement department will need to establish credibility and demonstrate the value across the organization can achieve through procurement’s intervention. In many cases where the sourcing function has been decentralized or delegated to functional areas (i.e. IT, Marketing, etc.), that have undertaken procurement practices of their own, more evident resistances to a centralized procurement function will arise. In such scenario, not only do stakeholders hold knowledge on their category, but they are also masters and commanders of all negotiations. They are contract keepers, and possess supreme control of all supplierrelationships; which in fact may predispose them to question or even challenge any possible improvement “an outsider” - named centralized procurement - can generate. Don’t get me wrong, stakeholder units should always have full clarity on who their suppliers are and manage healthy relationships with them, but that doesn’t mean they should solely own the selection process, negotiation efforts, or their performance management, but more on that later.

New strategic sourcing departments must be bold in their messaging while balancing stakeholder engagement and buy in. Think about how HR would act for instance; in that they would never hesitate on the limitations to employees abusing benefits or misbehaving or how assertively the Marketing function decides to tackle the market to expand the footprint. That is the same way a centralized Procurement unit must establish clear and (more importantly) enforceable guidelines on how the department will support the organization efforts to establish healthy relationships with suppliers, that will drive innovation and minimize the risk of supply chain disruption, while providing clear direction to the rest of the company on what it must do to enable its success.

The goal of centralized procurement is not to alienate stakeholders but to break a paradigm, in that sourcing or procurement efforts are purely tactical and that they can be conducted a local level. Centralized procurement’s goal is to become a strategic resource to the organization and relieve other departments from responsibilities outside of their core competency.

Strategic sourcing practices must be owned by Procurement, supplier relationship management, contract management and negotiations are areas that must be driven by procurement and supported by the stakeholders, not the other way around.
"Greening" the supply chain can be a complicated process, and it's safe to say that many changes are usually needed to make an impact. Businesses that want to embrace sustainability probably won't be able to do it overnight. However, there are a few promising signs that certain areas could make some important shifts soon. The food industry, in particular, seems to be looking more closely at this, or at least aware of it.

Let's examine different stakeholders that could put environmental awareness into action. Low-cost country sourcing/nearshoring has an important role to play in this conversation, too, as managers seek to keep supply chains productive and efficient.

Clothing
The apparel industry has some changes to make to commit to better production for the sake of the planet. To that end, the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals campaign, or Roadmap to Zero, has emerged. This initiative has targeted various efforts which would mean greener practices for textile and footwear companies.

Recently, it announced a new list of wastewater guidelines designed to address industrial discharge for businesses in these industries. Frank Michel, ZDHC's executive director, emphasized the importance of using a unified rubric to make wastewater goals achievable. The guidelines are expected to apply to businesses around the world.

"The release of the Wastewater Guidelines is good news for workers, consumers and the environment," Michel said. "Suppliers will no longer face multiple guidelines depending on which brand they're dealing with, and brands won't face the challenge of individually ensuring each supplier is complying with their requirements."

"Smithfield Foods reportedly has several targets for reducing its carbon footprint."
Pork
Farms for food animals have been criticized for negatively impacting the environment in the past. The Wall Street Journal offers one example of a major meat producer with a plan to lower its greenhouse gas emissions.
The company, Smithfield Foods, reportedly has several targets for reducing its carbon footprint, including cutting carbon dioxide and equivalent emissions by as much as 25 percent over the next nine years.
Smithfield's commitment involves updated technology, such as sensors to prevent over-fertilizing at farms. Hog "manure lagoons" were said to the be the largest of the emission sources, and as such is scheduled for a possible 35 percent drop by 2025.

Electronics
Perhaps one of the biggest types of goods that needs to stay sustainable is the portable electronics sector, as it symbolizes so much of the future. Companies like Apple naturally come under scrutiny but could also become leaders by continuing to cultivate best practices.

Earlier this year, Supply Chain Digital reported on this, saying that one of Apple's suppliers, Lens Technology, wants to implement an energy plan that draws totally from renewable sources for Apple glass production within the next two years.

Apple specifically wants to focus on revitalizing its "greening" efforts in China in the coming years. A company as large as Apple has to work with multiple others to keep its operations running, so there are opportunities to pursue green changes all over the world.

Strategic sourcing privileges smart, context-sensitive choices for the benefit of the supply chain. This can include a system with a better approach to energy use for the whole chain.
The nature of agriculture and the food industry seems to be shifting, so it makes sense that the approach to supply chain might have to change as well. From the demands of the newer generation of consumers to the new technology emerging, there's a series of different factors available to change the status quo for industry participants. With the conflict between organic foods and GMOs still highly prominent, industry stakeholders can make choices to adapt.

Monsanto incorporating new software
As a major player in modern agriculture, Monsanto occupies a lot of the conversation around the future of the industry. As such, it's fair to say that its business decisions could stand out, such as a recently announced acquisition that brings data into the discussion even more. The Wall Street Journal reported on the company's new purchase of VitalFields, a farming business software company.

Although the source noted that details of the deal have not surfaced yet, it also explained that VitalFields has experience creating solutions for farmer compliance in Europe. The software the business brings to its new parent could enhance the agricultural aspect of the Internet of Things, the model where every device is connected to each other.

It could also allow Monsanto to spread the practice of automating data logging for accurate reporting. This has the potential to enhance VitalFields' existing success with crops in multiple countries, and add to the business' mission for modernizing farming.

"Farmers and food companies need to pay attention to the new consumer preferences."
Changes in demand
On the opposite side of the spectrum, farmers and food companies need to pay attention to changing consumer preferences, which could signal new necessary changes to logistics, prioritizing types of produce and quality.

A survey from the Organic Trade Association recently made this clear when comparing the buying habits of different generations and focusing specifically on the preferences of the millennial group (those currently between 18 and 34 years old).

According to this source, more than half of the parents buying organic in the country (52 percent) belong to this generation, which is more than Baby Boomers and Generation Xers combined.
What's more, the millennial bracket believes they know about organic products, showing a confidence in their knowledge of this area which represents their commitment to the organic produce lifestyle. In a statement, OTA CEO and Executive Director Laura Batcha explained the insight gleaned from this survey.

"Our survey shows that Millennial parents seek out organic because they are more aware of the benefits of organic, that they place a greater value on knowing how their food was grown and produced, and that they are deeply committed to supporting a food system that sustains and nurtures the environment," she said.

Citing this source, Forbes went further, noting the changes major companies have had to keep up with in the new shopping atmosphere. Popular startups like Blue Apron have also cultivated a direct relationship with farmers, which could drive more interest among shoppers who already trend toward organically sourced goods.

A common thread in all of these cases could be the importance of global sourcing. With more control over sourcing practices, businesses can look for a way to meet consumer needs and their own at the same time.

Source One Round Up: December 2, 2016

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction
 experts have been featured this week!


NEW BLOGS:
Three Signs of Difficult Stakeholders and How to Deal
Sure, on paper the strategic sourcing process seems simple. Collect your relevant data, assess your information, develop a go-to-market strategy, have you stakeholders agree to said strategy and work with your supply base to arrive at an competitive agreement. However, each step of this process is reliant on working with the necessary stakeholders to gather the necessary information, form the right strategy, and move forward. The problem is: not all stakeholders are easy to work with. In fact, some can immediately shut down your cost reduction initiative. This week, Source One Analyst Nicholas Harasymczuk shares his advice for dealing the most difficult of stakeholder scenarios.

Risk Management in Supply Chain and Procurement: Preparing for the Storm
With an increasingly globalized economy, the risks associated with growing and managing supply chain operation are ever looming. Some of which, such as disaster preparedness, are frequently discussed and included in risk mitigation plans for organizations. However, there are many emerging risks that organizations do not typically address. This week, Source One Project Analyst Tatiana Scripnic discusses the risks that often go unaddressed and proposes solutions to consider for global supply chain operations.










After nearly 4 years of anticipation, Apple announced the new line of MacBook Pros in October (2016). While we still have to wait until January 2017 to get our hands on one, early adopters have already begun pre-ordering. At first glance, not much of the aesthetic design has changed but it’s the new features and functionality that has everyone excited about what’s to come.

The focal point of the new MacBook Pro is the feature that has had the internet buzzing; the Touch Bar. Rumors about the Touch Bar had been swirling for months leading up to the announcement but it was still unknown what the full design and functionality of it would be. From a specs perspective, it’s a Retina (OLED) touch display with a matte surface. The matte surface eliminates a user’s worry of smudging the screen whenever you use it but also means that using it in direct light may prove challenging. The functionality of the Touch Bar is intriguing as it adapts to the app that is currently in use, includes the controls we have become accustomed to seeing on the top of the keyboard (play/pause, volume, etc.), and offers Touch ID. One app that the Touch Bar offers some unique features is Messages. Once the app is opened, it displays an array of icons including a smiley face. By clicking on the smiley face you are presented with an array of the emoji’s that we have all become familiar with. Also, select third party apps, like Adobe Photoshop, provide app-specific icons on the Touch Bar when the app is in use that enables the user to make edits more easily.

In addition to the Touch Bar, Apple made other significant upgrades to the trackpad and hardware that powers the machine. The Force Touch trackpad has expanded to twice the size of those on the previous models. The spacious trackpad has been on the wish list for most MacBook users and with its enhanced Force Touch functions, like previewing any file, it requires less force than before. Powering these new and updated external features are Skylake Intel processors, solid state hard drives ranging from 256GB to 1TB (2TB in the 15-inch version), and 8GB-16GB of RAM. Apple received some criticism for their decision to max the 15-inch model at 16GB of RAM to which their Marketing Chief, Phil Schiller responded to with:
“To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn't be efficient enough for a notebook”
Of course, as we’ve come to expect from Apple, they have changed up the connectivity ports on the new Pros. Now only offering users four USB-C ports. Apple’s intention is to move all Apple (not just Mac) to the same connectivity. The USB-C is the same connector you will find on iPhone’s and iPad’s.

All in all, it’s safe to say this is the best MacBook Pro ever made. With its thinner, lighter, and more powerful design it’s a top contender for those looking to upgrade their laptop. If you can live without the Touch Bar then it you’re looking at $1,499 while the next model with the Touch Bar is an additional $300. The price is steep for the new Pros but if history is any indication than you can count this as a 4+ year investment until the next round of Pros are released.
With December finally here, businesses have much planning to do to get ready for the new year. Keeping up with new technologies and standards could stress businesses with legacy systems. To get ready, it could be helpful to think of the most common trends and take on strategic sourcing to increase efficiency and proximity. Some of the necessary measures will simply require organizations to expand on what they've done before to comply with new regulations.

Here are some trends worth watching as the new year approaches, since they could have far-reaching effects across different industries:

Sustainability dictating shipping routes
It isn't just businesses investing in green practices in the coming years. Other organizations could influence basic logistics practices. The Panama Canal is set to prioritize low-emissions ships in 2017, according to an October statement, for instance.

It will specifically use the Environmental Premium Ranking, a system which will give customer ranking benefits to those who meet at least one of four requirements. These include meeting low nitrogen oxide, Environmental Ship Index and Energy Efficiency Design Index thresholds.
The Canal's Administrator, Jorge Quijano, outlined the goals of this new focus, which will take place on the first calendar day of 2017.

"The Panama Canal is set to prioritize low-emissions ships in 2017."
"We look forward to working with our customers and industry partners to further bring value to their businesses and to our route, all while reinforcing commitments to sustainability and environmental protection," Quijano said. Depending on how influential this program is, it could represent a new way for organizations to encourage green practices.

Specific security regulations
Both physical and cyber security risks influence the state of the modern supply chain. For example, pharmaceutical businesses may have to adapt to the increasing requirements of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act.

While the full measure won't take place until 2023, GS1 recently announced special guidelines to promote security and data exchanges. Businesses will have to adapt to serialization expectations, and doing so could represent a major change of businesses don't build on their existing framework. The source said that it would "extend the guideline" as industry conditions evolve.

Increases in speed
Obviously it's too early to tell whether or not the majority of supply chains will end up faster by the end of 2017. However, it at least appears to be a goal, according to an AEB survey. Supply Chain Digital reported on the results, explaining that 84 percent of the transport and logistics sector rank supply chain speed as either "very important" or at least "important." In addition, the AEB Global Trade Management Agenda 2017 reportedly said that speed will be a significant challenge for supply in 2017.

Minimizing risk was another major concern, although it seemed to rank under speed in terms of importance. With complex supply chains spread across the globe, implementing changes likely won't be simple, including for those who want to support low cost country sourcing/nearshoring to keep operations domestic.

Strategic planning will be one way for supply chain companies to handle increased risks in the future. Implement these solutions soon to pay closer attention to where and how shipments travel.
Tonight Source One's Senior Data Scientist, James Patounas, joins a panel of supply chain management professionals for ISM-Philadelphia's Share Your Supply Chain Experience Roundtable. Together, panel members will share their unique experience in the supply chain field, and offer insight into the various career paths available. Happening at Temple University, the event kicks off at 5:30 PM with networking opportunities, followed by dinner and the roundtable discussion.

Patounas offers a unique perspective on the career path opportunities within supply chain management. As a data scientist, Patounas is helping to shape the future of supply and spend management for Source One and its clients. In his work at Source One, Patounas works to collect, process, and organize spend data in a way that enables proactive management, and improved decision making capabilities. As the lead architect behind Source One's spend analysis as a service web platform, www.SpendConsultant.com, Patounas played an influential role in developing the taxonomy and algorithms used to make Spend Consultant an easy-to-use, procurement focused tool. Tonight, he'll share insight into how the application of data science is impacting the supply management industry and their career opportunities available in this growing practice. 
Making major labor changes can leave businesses struggling to keep up with a hectic production pace, especially during the holidays. How do the biggest brands with the most complex supply chains cope?

Amazon.com is using technology, hiring spikes and more warehouse locations to try and accommodate, according to the Wall Street Journal. The renowned online marketplace company has built 26 new warehouses this year alone and has seen its number of quarterly full- and part-time employees reach 300,000: This is both a continuation of growth that stretches back to 2012 and a huge jump from its global numbers as of the second quarter this year.

As manual work gets outsourced to robots, it's giving rise to the misconception that automated systems threaten human jobs. Actually, the source said, the new systems require more human staff onhand since it only raises the overall number of orders to fill. That's an intriguing look at how improvements in both technology and labor can happen side by side.


alttextNew tech doesn't have to replace human workers, and can augment them instead.
The holiday rush may pass, but the impact of these innovations likely are here to stay. There are a few other examples of combining human and technological resources to tackle high workflow demands listed below:
  • Enhanced training: A key part of the Amazon story is the way it's used touchscreens and other resources to increase training time for the new labor recruits. This has reportedly allowed the business to slash weeks out of the typical employee training time, adding to efficiency and helping make up for the increased rates of recent turnover.
  • Inventory apps: As smart systems make their way into more warehouses, it's not hard to picture an app for every high volume occasion. PYMNTS.com said that relevant apps can easily run on a tablet, allowing users quick access and a simple way to handle large-scale inventory issues. Unlike some innovations that require training to understand, iPad-based solutions build off of familiarity and can add to the kind of touchscreen strategy Amazon is using to get workers oriented quickly.
  • Packing and shipping: Self-driving dollies and cranes may seem like they take all the need for human oversight out of the equation. However, this isn't necessarily the case, at least not for the foreseeable future. Robotic systems can be seen as helping existing crews instead of replacing them, as well as allowing them to make the most use out of available space in each storage center.
  • Smart glasses: Google Glass somewhat infamously proved to be less than the smash hit many imagined it would be, but that doesn't mean similar products won't find a place in the supply chain industry. In the best case scenario, these augmented lenses could be part of the future Internet of Things, connecting employees to their surroundings. Last year, a different article from the Journal reported that UPS was testing out Glass to reduce the labels needed to coordinate package delivery.
Incorporating managed IT services into the standard supply chain could lead businesses to a healthier vision of the future. As a central part of improving developments, logistics companies will almost certainly need a strong understanding of new tech to proceed.