There is nothing more annoying than waiting on a delivery. 

If you order something online that you expect to arrive at a certain time, then it can be a huge inconvenience to make sure you are available to receive the delivery. Relatively often, customers find their efforts to be pointless when their parcel arrives late, or even not at all. This can personally affect their schedules and daily routines, because more often than not customers will take the day off work, arrange for a neighbor to take the delivery or even work from home.

Alaska Communications (ACS) faces some unique challenges: extremely long distances between warehouses throughout the state, remote service locations, extreme weather conditions, and multiple customer types. As part of a large network of warehouse locations, ACS has a small warehouse in Juneau that serves all of southeastern Alaska and supports retail operations, counter services for installers, a broad array of wireless and wire line installation services, as well as repair functions that need to be highly responsive to natural events such as winter storms. 

As healthcare organizations nationwide grapple with unprecedented change and growing pressure to deliver higher value at lower costs, the role of the hospital supply chain organization has never been more important – or more promising. 

Even before healthcare reform, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s (UPMC) supply chain division began its journey of embracing new technology and processes to solve critical pain points in this $10 billion health system, with its more than 20 hospitals, 400 outpatient locations and 60,000-plus employees. In this complex environment, UPMC’s supply chain division manages $1.8 billion in annual spend and processes more than 70,000 invoices and 4,000 purchase requisitions monthly from more than 12,000 active suppliers.

New reservoir exploration technologies, heightened oversight requirements and a plethora of third-party contractors combine to make the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry increasingly complex. A portfolio of varied projects and joint ventures only increase that complexity. 

These business factors collide, sometimes catastrophically, to hamper effective resource planning.  Upstream operators must look closely at planning strategies and how they’re implemented to secure efficient and safe daily operations. 

For supply chain companies looking to stay competitive through performance enhancements and waste reduction, some degree of process automation is critical. Indeed, a 2010 Aberdeen Group survey of more than 1,000 AP departments found that higher levels of AP automation resulted in numerous gains, including 83 percent lower costs, 82.7 percent faster processing, 51 percent fewer exceptions and 50.5 percent fewer late payments.

Accounts receivable is something many companies rarely excel in. Most supply chain execs see it as a necessary evil. What they may not realize is every interaction with a customer provides an opportunity to improve your relationship.

No customer likes to be hounded about payments. But the vendor needs that money to run their business. Supply chain companies must strike the balance of getting paid in a timely manner without spending a lot on collections or hurting relationships. Many available resources highlight the best strategies to get paid quicker, but here are a few ways to improve customer relations at the same time.

Cloud-based solutions can be the right – and smart – way to manage the global retail supply chain.

Today’s retail value chain requires companies to quickly and efficiently adjust operations to meet the ever-changing demands of consumers. But keeping up with demand while protecting profit margins can be nearly impossible without the right tools. Organizations must collaborate across all moving parts within the supply chain, facilitating tighter management of the flow of data, goods and capital, without which the omni-channel retail chain would crumble.

For years now, manufacturers have implemented lean strategies and techniques with profound results. Improvements occurred in almost all aspects of manufacturing and operations through lean. Its transformational power would be hard to overstate.

But what about the next decade? Will it be more of the same for continuous improvement through lean? Lean manufacturing certainly isn’t going away, but how can manufacturers build on lean? The concise answer for what’s next is technology and data.


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