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Currently viewing the tag: "Distribution"

Value ChainA traditional Value Chain involves a linear sequence of activities—from conversion of raw materials into components which are assembled into products.  The products are then distributed, marketed, sold, and serviced.  Management plans and execute strategies and operations based on this sequence.

This set of activities worked well for organizations in the past.  However, this linear progression does not encourage Innovation and provides little protection from the risk of being outperformed by rivals in today’s disruptive markets.  Such a competitive environment calls for implementing more robust ways of managing Customer Demand and Value Creation.

An effective approach to deal with this challenge is the Value Grid Analysis Model.  The Value Grid approach provides a perspective beyond traditional linear progression of activities, where organizations need to balance equilibrium between suppliers and manufacturers aside from concentrating only on reducing lead times.  It outlines new opportunities and risks for organizations.

The Value Grid Analysis provides a number of routes to improve Performance and reduce risks.  It encompasses the following 3 pathways—or dimensions:

  • Vertical pathway – using traditional Value Chain, companies find opportunities upstream or downstream from adjacent tiers in the existing Value Chain.
  • Horizontal pathway – companies look for opportunities from similar tiers in multiple (parallel) Value Chains.
  • Diagonal pathway – explore opportunities to create value across multiple value chains and tiers.

The Value Grid Framework necessitates diverting leadership attention towards 3 key opportunity areas to create Competitive Advantage:

  1. Customer Demand
  2. Information Access
  3. Multi-tier Penetration

Let’s dive deeper into the 3 opportunity areas.

Customer Demand

The first opportunity area to drive competitive advantage pertains to controlling internal and external customers’ demand.  It warrants a company to manage customer demand upstream (suppliers and companies that supply to suppliers) as well as downstream (customers).  By managing customer demand downstream, organizations control the decision makers responsible for the purchase decision.  When companies are unable to control the decision makers, they look for levers across the Value Chain to influence decisions.  These levers include direct advertisements to the end users, focusing on distributors, or incentivizing retailers to recommend a product.  Organizations also try to influence upstream, e.g., their R&D units, to create products which can be used in conjunction with the existing product range to boost their efficacy and benefits for the end-users, ultimately influencing consumers’ decisions downstream.

Information Access

The 2nd opportunity area involves linking information sharing to influence decision making.  A few manufacturers prefer to partner with those suppliers who openly disclose the information (capabilities, flexibility, and pricing structures) of their 2nd-tier suppliers with them.  This assists them in planning and helping the suppliers manage materials and prices better.

For instance, with increased tariff on imported steel and price of steel continuously going up, car manufacturers like Honda purchase steel in bulk and sell it to their suppliers at a reduced rate.  This helps them keep the prices of their cars down and compete better.

Multi-tier Penetration

Nonlinear thinking (Value Grid Model) enables the organizations to determine innovative solutions beyond the scope of traditional Value Chains.  To manage excess demand organizations take on multiple Value Chain tiers to control demand and buyers’ power.

Leading manufacturers evaluate multiple value chain points for their participation in order to scale.  They sell not only to Original Equipment Manufacturers but also in the aftermarket.  Supplying to more than one Value Chain tier allows organizations to withstand pressure from OEMs to reduce costs, demand shifts, and offers attractive margins.

Interested in learning more about the 3 opportunity areas of the Value Grid Analysis Framework?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Value Grid Analysis here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Warehouse 3As the last decisive step in customer service, a warehouse ensures cost effective distribution.  Latest technological innovation has turned warehousing into a competitive advantage.  It offers untapped potential for improvement. However, warehousing is a hugely neglected part of global supply chains.  There is inconsistency in picking, packing and shipping orders, storing receipts, and managing inventory and logistics operations.

These and the following roadblocks in the way of smooth warehousing operations and Lean Management exist in every traditional warehouse:

  • Lack of focus on acquiring technology to facilitate in improving efficiency and quality.
  • Inability to utilize a structured approach to ascertain the reasons for poor performance.
  • Lack of a big picture viewpoint pertaining to processes, costs, or external supply chain partnerships.
  • Absence of a continuous improvement culture to achieve warehouse operations excellence.
  • Lack of communication, organization, and proper training of resources.

These shortcomings call for implementing Lean Warehousing methodology to unlock improvement opportunities and savings in operational, efficiency, and maintenance related costs.  First initiated by Toyota, the Lean Warehousing approach has a deep emphasis on eliminating 3 basic limitations: waste, variability, and inflexibility. The Lean Warehousing methodology focuses on the following 3 improvement areas:

  1. Cost Reduction
  2. Customer Quality
  3. Service Levels

Cost Reduction

The Lean Warehousing methodology concentrates on increasing productivity and reducing operating costs.  This is achieved by:

  • Cutting undue walking and searching
  • Preventing needless replenishment, reworks, waiting times, and double handling
  • Upgrading demand and capacity planning and manpower allocation

Customer Quality

A Lean Warehouse seeks to take the customer quality to the next level by avoiding:

  • Order deviations
  • Picking errors
  • Damaged goods

Service Levels

Improving service levels is at the center of a Lean Warehousing methodology, which involves:

  • Reducing lead times
  • Enhancing on-shelf availability

Lean Warehousing Transformation

Lean Warehousing Transformation entails streamlining operations to identify waste, know how to increase service levels, implement standardization and innovative ideas, and learn to evaluate and manage performance.  Such transformation becomes a reality in an experiential learning environment and by developing organizational capabilities in 3 critical areas:

  1. Operating System
  2. Management Infrastructure
  3. Mindset and Behaviors

Operating System

The organizational capability to configure and optimize all company physical assets and resources to create value and minimize losses.  The focus areas under operating systems include eradicating variability, encouraging flexibility, and promoting end-to-end design.

Management Infrastructure                                                                   

The organizational capability to strengthen formal structures, processes, and systems necessary to manage the operating system to achieve business goals.  The focus areas under Management Infrastructure are performance management, organizational design, capability building, and functional support process.

Mindset and Behaviors

The organizational capability to manage the way people think, feel, and act in the workplace individually as well as collectively.  The target areas to focus on here include a compelling purpose, collaborative execution, up-to-date skills, drive to improve, and committed leadership.

Model Warehouse Implementation

Lean Warehousing Transformation necessitates developing a “Model Warehouse,” which presents facilities for supply chain people to practically experience state-of-the-art warehouse operations in a modern warehouse and shop-floor environment.  The Model Warehouse incorporates newest technology and systems, and offers real-life conditions for building capabilities—i.e., optimization of storage, pick and pack, and dispatch processes.  Newest technologies—e.g., Smart Glasses and HoloLenses—available at the facility help improve the performance of pickers significantly and execute multi-order picking efficiently.

Such a setting allows people to observe and analyze the performance of an exemplary warehouse and implement this knowledge at their own premises.  Leading organizations organize a week-long rigorous knowledge sharing workshop—in an experiential learning environment of a Model Warehouse—for their people to have a hands-on experience to learn Lean Warehousing, actual picking, packing, root cause analysis, and performance management.  The participants of the Model Warehouse Knowledge Sharing Workshop are excellent candidates for “change agents” to implement Lean Transformation.

Interested in learning more about Lean Warehousing, Model Warehouse Implementation, and Lean Warehousing Transformation?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Lean Warehousing Transformation here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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