mexico 1242251 640U.S. presidential candidates have been eager to pounce on news that United Technologies will be eliminating as many as 2,100 U.S. jobs in favor of hiring workers in Mexico, while Ford Motor Company will spend an additional $1 billion to double production capacity at its hybrid auto factory in Mexico instead of expanding at home. U.S. jobs moving to Mexico will always draw political attention, but what’s less noticed is that there is evidence that U.S. companies that are looking to reshore — bring back their manufacturing operations from Asia — are increasingly being diverted south of the border and resort to nearshoring instead. While technically not felt as much as a loss of jobs, it is nonetheless a stark reminder that U.S. manufacturing will need more than rhetoric to further improve its competitiveness in the global arena.

network 1020332 640The average person unlocks their smartphone over 100 times a day. So when a shortage of a single component (say, a particular grade of stainless steel) delays a phone’s release, consumers get restless. But did you know the same shortage of stainless steel can also impact the production of critical medical devices—like syringes, sensor probes, or artificial heart valves? Suddenly, the material shortage goes from a first-world inconvenience to a potentially life or death matter.

boxes 979578 640Managing excess inventory is a challenge for supply chain and operations management professionals in even the most efficient organizations. Overage issues can drain profitability and take your focus away from core priorities and operational objectives. When faced with excess inventory, many companies try the following common—though misguided—strategies.

business 1137362 640What is a “customer centric” supply chain?

Over the past couple of years, global markets have experienced dramatic shifts on two dimensions: geographically and demographically.

In the first part of this century we witnessed a near doubling of the middle class, with much of the growth taking place in emerging markets. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2030, 4.9 billion people will call themselves “middle class” and most of the growth will be coming from emerging markets. It is also estimated that 525 million people in Asia already count themselves part of the middle class. This rapidly growing middle class is creating new market opportunities for domestic and international companies. For example, China is already the world’s largest market for automobiles and mobile phones. This, of course, increases the demand for products, as well as stretches the logistics networks that must satisfy this demand.

business 1012761 640Supply chain automation is often thought of as machines and robots replacing humans to lower costs, improve quality, and reduce risks in the production and movement of materials and finished products. As companies integrated their supply chains with suppliers and customers and eliminated siloed functions within their own organizations over the past thirty years, however, ensuring that data is easily accessible by the right people at the right time has become critically important.

 

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