Fastenal Chief Financial Officer Holden Lewis says the company is benefiting from a stronger oil and gas sector and higher sales to nonresidential construction customers. Fastenal still relies on stores and has diversified into vending, on-site presence and other areas, he says.
Distributors should start data analytics investments at the top while understanding that not everything can be accomplished in one shot, says MITS President Gary Owen. "Start asking some fundamental questions like, 'We always presumed that this customer was keeping us in business, but what if that's not true? What if they've become a bad customer?'" he says.
New technologies are reshaping the transportation industry and allowing increased automation and real-time data analytics to improve supply chain efficiency and safety, Sachin Bapat writes.
Companies should re-evaluate how they cope with global supply chain disruptions and the strategies they employ to counter risk, Karan Girotra writes, citing his co-authored research paper on supply chain resilience. Too often, diversification strategies can add costs and limit influence, while long-term supplier relationships can reduce recovery times after disruptions.
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Volkswagen and BMW are among companies using forms of augmented reality in product development or to improve employee communication. The idea is to help improve productivity while reducing complexity and risk of human error, says Paul Ryznar, CEO and president of AR software maker OPS Solutions.
Smart sensors, radio frequency identification tags and other technology can help detect safety breaches in food supply chains, but poorly written code could lead to cyberattacks and corporate espionage. One example: Hackers could break into smart refrigerators and alter the temperature and cause food to spoil, says Max Kilger, a cybersecurity researcher at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
Visibility is the most important step in managing disruptions and is necessary if you want an accurate digital map of your supply chain, writes Gregory Schlegel of Lehigh University's Center for Supply Chain Research. He discusses the current state of affairs, as well as forecasts for 2020 and beyond.
To make safety a priority, managers should educate new employees through training programs that provide little disruption to workflow, writes Jim Spigener, chief client officer at DEKRA Insight. "Leverage your existing, experienced formal and informal leaders to create an environment where being safe is the expectation," he writes.
Training the next generation of manufacturing workers requires intervention before college -- as early as middle school, writes Thomas Lichtenberger, CEO of Festo Didactic. Manufacturers can encourage this through school competitions, summer camps and other opportunities for hands-on learning.
Starting April 1, Amazon will add sales tax to all online orders in US states that levy the tax. The company will collect in Maine, Hawaii, Idaho and New Mexico, the final four states where it has yet to do so.
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