• 06 Jul 2017 12:32 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    Original post on LI by Nainsi Jain


    I came across this question when I was preparing for the behavioral questions for an interview. While thinking about the answer, I actually discovered my personality trait. I am passionate about Improvements. During my career of almost 9 years, I always strived for continuous process improvements, even after making an improvement I start identifying another loophole into the system to make the system more efficient. My team members used to call me 'Ms. Perfectionist', who is never satisfied with the present system.


    I never knew I was following lean concepts of eliminating Mudas, Kanban, 5S etc. while making those improvements. These fancy words were taught to me at ASU and I actually start relating my past experiences while learning the concepts. So, in a way it was a reverse education for me wherein I applied concepts earlier while working and learned the terminologies later.


    Yes, the question helps me discover my hidden passion. A passion which I follow even when I am at home. A passion which is an integral part of my thinking. A passion which defines me completely. A passion which explains my curiosity of learning new skills, attention to details, taking initiatives and ownership, the foresight for eventuality.


    Find out your hidden passion!!! 

  • 22 Jun 2017 11:40 AM | Christon Valdivieso

    By: Christon Valdivieso, CSCP, SSBBP and Afton Knight, CSCP, SSBBP


    The Beyond the Horizon (BH) supply chain research project, a joint venture between APICS and Michigan State University, recently released a report which investigates the focus and “current business practices” of supply chain executives. One key questions they asked supply chain executives was, “What keeps you awake at night?” Not surprisingly, one of the top six answers was capacity and resource availability.  

    Over the past decade most American industries have experienced some level of contraction followed by consolidation. Now, after several years of soft, yet steady, growth, companies are starting to outperform their operations.  


    Read full article 

  • 25 May 2017 11:16 AM | Christon Valdivieso

    By: Christon Valdivieso, CSCP, SSBBP and Afton Knight, CSCP, SSBBP


    Making strategic business decisions can be stressful and difficult in the best of situations. Having good data and insight provide objective support and fact-based grounds for those decisions. I was able to work on a project recently with a California-based beverage company that was looking to develop an advanced planning and scheduling (APS) system. Manufacturers have historically relied on experienced production managers for their planning and scheduling needs but, as complexities increase within manufacturing processes and the supply chain as a whole, companies, including the beverage company we worked with, are moving toward automating their production planning and scheduling functions. After reviewing the benchmark data, we supply this thought: How advanced is your APS system?


    The APICS dictionary defines an APS system as "any computer program that uses advanced mathematical algorithms or logic to perform optimization, and/or simulation on finite capacity scheduling, sourcing, capital planning, resource planning, forecasting, demand planning.” Our initial step in the project was to benchmark industry standards by spending time with planning teams from various operations. Through this process we developed three key factors needed for a successful APS system implementation: 1) Communication, 2) Visibility, and 3) Integration.


    Read Full Article 

  • 10 May 2017 2:11 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    By: Christon Valdivieso, CSCP, SSBBP and Afton Knight, CSCP, SSBBP 


    Recently a friend and I were discussing the value of blockchain technology to businesses. He pointed out that blockchain has the potential to increase visibility and decrease processing time allowing businesses to operate faster and with greater integration. My point is that businesses are not ready for it and thus it’s a pointless technology.               


    While blockchain is a great technology that can increase speed and visibility, companies are already way too much “block” with no desire for the “chain”. Working with different companies I have found that most companies do not share data cross-functionally well, making the idea of sharing information across companies laughable. 


    Read Full Store Here 

  • 08 May 2017 4:00 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    By: Abe Eshkenazi


    Last week, The Telegraph highlighted examples of supply chain strategies for small businesses that are ready to grow. “Suppliers can make or break a smaller business, especially when it’s scaling up,” Lucy Douglas writes. “Securing sufficient product or service to support expansion is a minimum requirement for growth.”

    The three entrepreneurs featured in the article offer the following supply chain advice:

    • Focus on sales forecasts.
    • Have a backup plan.
    • Invest in your suppliers.

    Tim Westwell is the co-founder and chief executive of Pukka Herbs, an organic tea producer. He stresses that it is important to look two to three years ahead in terms of sales forecasting and planning. This strategy has enabled the company to grow in its 16 years to produce 1.5 million teabags every day. Pukka Herbs sources its ingredients, including more than 150 herbs, from about 30 countries around the world. 

    Westwell also explains how weather can create a risk to his supply chain. One year, in India, the weather changes at harvest time rendered Pukka Herbs’ field mint unsalvageable. Westwell could rely on backup inventory and an alternate supplier, which reduced the delay in manufacturing the company’s Three Mint tea to only a few weeks rather than an entire year.

    Frontierpay, which was founded in 2009, is an international money exchange broker. As the company has grown, its main business interest has also created its biggest obstacles. The company must keep up with the different and often changing financial regulations in the countries to which it delivers payments. To ensure that it appropriately follows these regulations and manages this risk, Frontierpay works with banks and other payment providers in 109 countries around the world.

    Nat Davison, a Frontierpay partner, says the company was able to grow because it has multiple partner options in each country. “We always look to multiple partners and solutions per country to make sure that if one thing falls over in our supply chain, we’ve got a plan B, C and D.”

    Similarly, Portview, which creates interiors for shopping, dining, working, living and entertainment spaces, sources its materials and products from all over the world. However, because of the deadline-driven nature of its work, Portview strives to work only with trusted suppliers.

    “We’ve been in a few situations where, for example, a client has recommended [a supplier], then they go bust or don’t deliver,” said Simon Campbell, Portview managing director, in the article.

    After some challenges in the beginning, Portview now also utilizes a systems approach to supplier management, which alerts company executives when supply might become problematic.

    Lastly, when it comes to investing in suppliers, Pukka Herbs ensures that partners in its supply chain have the tools and know-how they need to meet specifications. The company spends time educating producers about organic farming. This enables the tea company to meet many requirements related to its organic certification. Efforts include simple books written in native languages that explain to farmers how to plant, maintain and harvest organic herbs.

    Scaling up

    As businesses grow, the ability to meet demand is a critical component of success. Consider the first definition of scalability from the APICS Dictionary, 15th Edition: “How effectively a company can grow its business in order to meet demand.” A key component of scalability is lean production practices, which help ensure that a company manages its resources and reduces waste in terms of material, time and overall costs. Lean practices boost efficiency and enable growing companies to accommodate growing production needs.

    Now think about the definition of sales and operations planning (S&OP): “A process to develop tactical plans that provide management the ability to strategically direct its businesses to achieve competitive advantage on a continuous basis by integrating customer-focused marketing plans for new and existing products with the management of the supply chain. The process brings together all the plans for the business (sales, marketing, development, manufacturing, sourcing, and financial) into one integrated set of plans.” 

  • 30 Apr 2017 1:37 AM | Christon Valdivieso

    Co-Authored by: Christon Valdivieso, CSCP, SSBBP and Afton Knight, CSCP, SSBBP

    With seemingly weekly news of data breaches, it can be tempting to bring data security in-house and off the cloud. But will that make your data safer? Cloud computing—services offered over the internet—can be a scary decision, but as business advisor Carol Roth points out, “[cloud computing] technology can help make your small business safer.”


    Most businesses are continuing to streamline workflows and increase workforce demands. This creates more pressure to get tasks done effectively. For many small businesses who cannot afford top-tier talent, this puts an even greater strain on their workforce. In the middle of this struggle for associate’s energy is the company’s systems. Having secure, reliable data and systems is paramount to an operation’s success and Carol points out four undeniable reasons why cloud computing makes that a better option:


    1)        You’re not a security expert

    2)        Your staff members wear enough hats

    3)        Cloud providers have better safeguards than you do

    4)        It’s not just about data protection


    While business leaders have experiences that qualify them to run an operation, “does that background include intensive knowledge of cybersecurity?” As for associates, Experian predicted in a 2015 data breach analysis “that the largest threat to businesses will be employee errors.” In effect, maintaining data and processes in-house puts operations at greater risk due to lack of cybersecurity training. Cloud providers have a core competency in cybersecurity. Pulling these functions from local operations allows for increased focus on business operations while decreasing the operation’s vulnerability.


    Carol’s final point is possibly the most poignant. Cloud computing is more than data protection. Similar to the difference in e-retailing and e-commerce, cloud computing goes beyond data protection. Cloud computing—through its various forms—increases transparency, efficiency, and business continuity.


    In the end, “no matter how impressively cloud providers protect data, security is a team effort” and “small business owners still have to take common-sense measures”. Companies spend vast sums of money to recruit and train associates, but that cannot be the end of the story. Companies must ensure they have the best tools in place to allow their associates to be successful. That being said, I supply this thought: Is fear of the cloud keeping you grounded or rooted?


  • 28 Apr 2017 12:32 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    Original post:


    In order to reduce turnover, focus on hiring the right person for the job, not just someone to fill a vacant seat, according to Nancye Combs, president and CEO of HR Enterprise, in 5 Tips to Reduce the Cost of Employment, from the 2016 Distribution Trends Special Issue.

    Too many distributors suffer from “warm body syndrome,” Combs says. “They hire someone who’s there, breathing and alive because we’ve got a vacant seat and we’ve got to fill it right now.”


    Too often that person isn’t a right fit for the job, and you end up spending even more money to fill it again later. “The minimum cost of replacing an employee, any employee, is $4,000,” Combs says. If your turnover rate is 30 percent, that can add up quickly.

    Focus on hiring the right people at the start to reduce that rate and lessen the amount you spend on hiring and onboarding.


    Read more HR advice in 5 Tips to Reduce the Cost of Employment

  • 26 Apr 2017 5:31 PM | Christon Valdivieso

    Author: Dale Benton

    When it comes to pallet racking, flow storage is essential for managing perishable, time-sensitive products on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis.  Since its design eliminates aisles and fills the space with additional pallets, it provides many times more storage than selective rack. In addition, forklift travel is greatly reduced because drivers only need to place and retrieve loads from either end of the system - significantly reducing operating costs, maintenance, and accidents. Better space utilization also minimizes the need to light, heat and cool the facility, further decreasing expenses.

    While the advantages are numerous, due in part to its design and moving parts, there are additional considerations for those operations looking to improve production with a flow storage system. These 10 tips can help prolong the life of the equipment, cut maintenance costs, and enhance safety with the proper design, selection, and operation of the system. 

    Read full article here

  • 24 Apr 2017 11:01 AM | Christon Valdivieso

    Original Post: MDM


    Smartphones and apps have permeated every aspect of business. But before you invest in mobile technology, make sure you understand what your customers want from mobile, says Senthil Arumugam, vice president of distribution, US LBM Holdings LLC in Making the Case for Mobile.


    “Our app user base has continually grown over the last three years, and customers have clearly indicated this to be a time saver for them at the jobsite," Arumugam said. "Our investment in customer-facing technologies reflects this belief.”


    While not every company needs to invest in mobile apps and other tools that help customers do their jobs away from the office, it is critical to know if mobile is something your customers want.


    MRO or safety products, for example, lend themselves to mobile because they can be set up with one-click reordering. Even if ordering remains low, customers who know they can navigate to a mobile-friendly platform for other services will be less likely to start browsing elsewhere.


    While a mobile app might not work for every distributor, gauging your customers’ demand for it is critical to keeping pace. According to a Google study, 52 percent of users are less likely to engage with a company if it has no mobile site. Does that include your customers?


    Read more about how to make mobile work for you in Making the Case for Mobile. 

  • 17 Apr 2017 10:19 AM | Christon Valdivieso

    Original Post:


    Companies within the service industry are changing the concept of ownership and the ways consumers access goods and services — from movies and TV shows to places to stay and means of transportation. Now this trend is making its way into the manufacturing industry to connect small businesses in need of prototypes and products to manufacturers with idle machines.

    In her April 8 article for Quartz, Ellen Sheng highlights MakeTime, a Kentucky-based start-up that specializes in distributed or on-demand manufacturing. Companies, entrepreneurs and inventors can engage MakeTime’s services to rent time on nearby manufacturing equipment — including CNC (computer numerical control) milling machines, water jets and laser cutters — to build their prototypes or complete their production runs. 

    MakeTime Founder and CEO Drura Parrish was inspired by his own professional experiences to create this service. As an architect, he spent time in machine shops creating custom items and noticed that expensive machinery often sat idle, instead of making the company money. Some manufacturers might have overinvested in equipment after winning big jobs in the past, but as the contracts ended or the products and market changed, the equipment became surplus for these companies. As a result, U.S. manufacturing equipment sits unused about half the time, on average, Sheng writes.

    There also is a group of small businesses that do not have the funds to invest in their own manufacturing equipment. This is where MakeTime comes in: The firm connects companies that need machine time with manufacturers that have it. Basically, the customer uploads parts files into a MakeTime product library, adds the order to the online cart, and specifies the project lead time. Within one business day, MakeTime will match the project with a manufacturer and follow up with a data-driven quote. If the quote is satisfactory, the customer signs the purchase order and submits payment. During the process, the customer can track parts from the start of machining to delivery, staying informed every step of the way.

    The process helps clients make their products in a quarter of the time it usually takes with traditional manufacturing processes, Parrish tells Quartz. “We streamline [the process], so 100 to 200 machine shops can operate with the same level of control as one,” he says. In addition, the service cuts down on some of the administrative aspects of orders, including the time it takes to find manufacturers, request price quotes, receive and evaluate them, and negotiate the best deal.

    In addition to changing the way small businesses access manufacturing services, this Uber-style model could transform the manufacturing industry as a whole. Sheng points out that this industry has been slow to digitize and standardize. For example, there is no universal file type used in manufacturing. Instead, different companies use different software and file types, standards, and descriptors. Some even still stay away from technology and rely on pencil-and-paper drawings.

    This particular industry also is very siloed and specialized. Various certifications and specialized machines and processes for working with certain types of materials often result in manufacturers sticking to the types of parts they know best. For example, an auto parts manufacturer likely won’t also make parts for the oil and gas industry, even if the equipment is similar, Sheng notes. MakeTime hopes to break down these silos and properly align supply and demand in machining.

    Transformation ahead

    Although MakeTime’s model is new to the manufacturing industry, this innovation has the potential to transform the way manufacturers function, find customers, and meet their production needs. Right now, though, the industry is slowly accepting the change and only using this method for small orders of noncritical parts. This slow, methodical progress is in line with recommended change management processes for individual businesses. The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines change management as follows: “The business process that coordinates and monitors all changes to the business processes and applications operated by the business, as well as to its internal equipment, resources, operating systems, and procedures. The change management discipline is carried out in a way that minimizes the risk of problems that will affect the operating environment and service delivery to the users.” 

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