Mixed Reality (MR) for Supply Chains

The pandemic has forced many operations to significantly increase workplace safety and leverage technology even more to stay open. Virtual technology allows for less physical interaction and tools such as Immersive Mixed Reality (MR) offer a fully immersive experience that brings virtual objects into the real world or one which blends the physical world with the digital one.

What is Mixed Reality (MR) for Supply Chains?

MR allows industrial designers and logistics operations the ability to conduct real-time 3D visualization and CAD for design. According to a recent article by Supply Chain Management Review, some organizations report minimized errors using MR through instructions overlay, remote assistance, and better planning and visualization. This has resulted in a more than 40 percent increase in productivity in some instances. MR technologies provide significant time savings to the plant build process through an optimized decision process, which positively impacts the entire OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act).

Supply Chain Management Review goes on to state,

“These bottom-line improvements are made possible because of the greater efficiencies MR offers. The technology offers a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment that allows designers and engineers to interact with product builds by a person. That person then becomes a central part of this virtually created world in the form of a hologram, or is “immersed” within the production with the capability to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions in real time.

How Logistics Providers are Overcoming MR Challenges

However, many firms are also finding new challenges in employing newer MR technologies. Enterprise-grade high-quality MR platforms require both performance and scale. Manufacturers that deploy these gain a rich repository of existing complex 3D CAD/CAM models created over time.

As these virtual environments become richer and larger, the repository continues to increase. This cycle is repeated for each of the different MR hardware platforms, making it difficult for any manufacturer or business to move from experiments and pilots to full scale deployable solutions, thus stunting the speed of innovation and effectiveness.

Many organizations are overcoming this great challenge by leveraging new solutions offered through cloud-based (or remote server based) MR platforms powered by distributed cloud architecture and 3D vision-based AI. These MR cloud platforms provide the desired performance and scalability to drive innovation in the industry at speed and scale.

Industrial enterprises, manufacturers and supply chain outfits today are experiencing the next wave of technology innovation that will fundamentally alter the way they operate. This transformation is primarily driven by merging of the digital and physical world to create a better, smarter and more efficient way of operating. Immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies are playing a pivotal role in this transformation.”

We will likely see many supply chain managers turning to creative technology solutions such as MR as we continue to emerge from the impacts of COVID-19.

At APICS Milwaukee we’ve been helping supply chain professionals advance in their careers for over 45 years with access to expert instructors and globally recognized certifications. We are the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 160 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities.   

Let us help you advance your supply chain career in 2020! Starting in September, APICS globally recognized supply chain certification instructor-led courses will be available in the Milwaukee area for in-person and virtual for CPIM, CSCP and CLTD. Learn more…

Join us on August 20th for THE VALUE OF APICS MEMBERSHIP AND EDUCATION: INFORMATIONAL WEBINAR! For additional information, contact us via our website at: http://apicsmilw.org or via email at: [email protected]

Tips to Help Manufacturers Embrace Remote Workers

Has your company shifted to remote work for all employees whose job functions do not require them to be physically present? Certainly, the pandemic has changed the location of work for many employees, including in the traditional in-person world of manufacturing. Also, per a recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic.

Manufacturers have had to adjust to remote work quickly. Unifize recently shared several tactics summarized below on how manufacturers can, in fact, embrace remote work and mitigate some of the risks of COVID-19 to their business and employees’ welfare.

If people can work-from-home, they should! In most manufacturing companies, non-production staff is anywhere between 25% and 50% of total headcount, meaning that manufacturers can instantly enable remote work for these employees. This is not only safer for those employees who are working from home but also safer for those that need to remain at the production facility. Therefore, if you are in a leadership position, you must first acknowledge this and work through the remaining steps to implement change.

Work on changing perceptions. Enabling remote work for office employees is likely to require a change in attitude across the organization. The following is a list of objections that you may encounter while trying to making this shift, along with some recommendations on how to respond to them:

  • We are naturally more technophobic than people in other industries: Find and evaluate cloud-based digital tools that are easy to implement and use by all employees.

  • We believe that engineering problems are best solved on the shop floor: Photo and video technology can be leveraged to resolve the vast majority of these problems.

  • We prefer that our teams sit closely together and that people just ‘walk over’ to each other to get help and collaborate: The internet has enabled high-speed, real time communication and collaboration that has mitigated this need, along with delivering a host of other benefits including better traceability.

  • We mistrust cloud-based technology for security reasons: In practice, your data is likely to be far more secure when it is hosted on the cloud. Today, more than 66% of manufacturers now use cloud technology.

  • We prevent our employees from accessing communication tools on their shop floor: You need to think hard about the trade-off between enabling better collaboration and policing your employees.

Use digital tools to enable remote work: There are a large number of tools available for you to use. It’s important that you evaluate these thoroughly and get buy-in from your team. The following is a list to get you started:

  • Video Conferencing: Zoom, Google Hangouts, Webex, Skype and MS Teams

  • Project management: Microsoft Project: Full-featured and extensive but difficult to use; Asana:  Enables hierarchies of tasks but isn’t built for manufacturers; Trello:  Great lightweight tool for kanban and basic projects; Airtable:  Good for advanced linking of complex databases

  • Real-time chat: Whatsapp/iMessage: Free and ubiquitous; Slack:  Made for developers and great for small teams; Microsoft Teams:  Free for up to 200 users and integrates well with Office

  • Cloud-based office tools: Google Docs: Easy to use and free if you also use Gmail; Office 365:  Full-featured and more suited to the enterprise

As Gartner’s survey predicts, remote work will likely remain a part of the model for even many manufacturers post-pandemic. Coming up with a plan to allow remote work in the long term and even embrace it will be important for manufacturers to remain competitive and grow.

At APICS Milwaukee we’ve been helping supply chain professionals advance in their careers for over 45 years with access to expert instructors and globally recognized certifications. We are the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 160 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities.   

Let us help you advance your supply chain career in 2020! Starting in September, APICS globally recognized supply chain certification instructor-led courses will be available in the Milwaukee area for in-person and virtual for CPIM, CSCP and CLTD. Learn more…

Join us on August 20th for THE VALUE OF APICS MEMBERSHIP AND EDUCATION: INFORMATIONAL WEBINAR! For additional information, contact us via our website at: http://apicsmilw.org or via email at: [email protected]

Value of APICS Supply Chain Certifications

Have you considered investing in an APICS supply chain certification?

The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) recently published their supply chain salary survey and reported that 91% of supply chain professional reported earning a salary increase in 2019. In addition, supply chain professionals who had earned at least one APICS certification reported median salaries that were 21% higher than those who were not certified per the graphic below.

TalkingLogistics recently shared their survey and had asked their members if getting a supply chain certification was important for career advancement, especially for new supply chain professionals. They also asked which certification they would recommend. A majority (61%) of their member respondents said that getting a supply chain or logistics certification is “Important” or “Very Important” for career advancement, especially for new professionals. Less than 20% said that it was “Slightly Important” or “Not Important.”

They went on to state, “An overwhelming majority of the respondents (81%) recommend APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certification, with APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) ranking second with 39% of the respondents recommending it.”

Their graphic below shows how APICS certifications rated versus other supply chain certifications.

Lastly, TalkingLogistics shared, that overall respondents were generally positive about the value of certifications, especially for professionals who are new to the discipline or didn’t study supply chain management in college. Here’s one example:

“I have received the following certifications from APICS (ASCM): CSCP, CLTD, CPIM, and SCOR-P Endorsement. I feel that achieving certification, especially after being removed from school for a period of time, reflects your willingness to advance yourself. CSCP is a good one to go after because it addresses the supply chain end-to-end, while CPIM and CLTD focus on the front end and back end, respectively. SCOR-P enables you to learn how to analyze your company’s processes and benchmark them against [similar] companies. [Obtaining certifications] is keeping yourself relevant and up to date.”

At APICS Milwaukee we’ve been helping supply chain professionals advance in their careers for over 45 years with access to expert instructors and globally recognized certifications. We are the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 160 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities.   

Let us help you advance your supply chain career in 2020! Starting in September, APICS globally recognized supply chain certification instructor-led courses will be available in the Milwaukee area for in-person and virtual for CPIM, CSCP and CLTD. Learn more…

Join us on August 20th for THE VALUE OF APICS MEMBERSHIP AND EDUCATION: INFORMATIONAL WEBINAR! For additional information, contact us via our website at: http://apicsmilw.org or via email at: [email protected]

Four Key Areas USMCA Impacts Supply Chains

Have you changed your supply chain strategy based on United States-Mexico-Canada trade Agreement (USMCA) that went into effect July 1st 2020?

The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA and went into effect on July 1, 2020. APICS Milwaukee serves supply chain professionals with the information needed to remain competitive in our ever-changing world. SupplyChainDive recently shared four key areas USMCA will impact supply chains summarized below.

1. Rules of origin introduce new level of complexity.

Changes to ROO requirements under the USMCA will impact shippers, particularly those in high-tech machinery or auto manufacturing, whose products contain hundreds of globally-sourced components.

"If you look at the USMCA auto rules and compare them to the NAFTA rules, the level of complexity that's been introduced by USMCA is significant," Gould said. "When in the past we had to track one or two factors in order to qualify a car for NAFTA, under the USMCA it's more like five or six different factors that we have to track all the way back through the supply chain. So it's one thing to know where an engine was built, but it's another thing to know where the steel was mined."

As the coronavirus outbreak stabilizes in some regions and spikes in others, procurement managers are working to build resilience in their operations through diversifying and regionalizing their supply chains. Doing so often involves onboarding additional suppliers and shifting geographies when a disruption (such as a factory shutdown due to a coronavirus outbreak) occurs. To do this effectively, investing in visibility tools that allow supply chain managers to quickly qualify, onboard and monitor suppliers remotely will be key throughout the pandemic and in the months ahead.

2. USMCA factors into reshoring decisions.

U.S. companies working through new rules of origin requirements under the USMCA will have to make decisions about whether nearshoring more operations to Canada or Mexico, or absorbing tariff costs from overseas suppliers is the better financial and/or logistical option.

For example, auto manufacturers must now certify that 75% of their steel and aluminum comes from Canada, Mexico or the U.S. to qualify for duty-free trade under the USMCA, up from 62.5% under NAFTA. In addition, there is a Labor Value Content (LVC) requirement, stipulating that a certain percentage of a finished vehicle is made by workers earning a minimum of $16 per hour.

Despite the initial hurdles that may come with the agreement’s implementation, nearshoring to Mexico remains top-of-mind for a lot of shippers looking to diversify amid ongoing trade tensions with China.

3. Reducing barriers for cross-border shipments.

Businesses sending goods to the Canadian and Mexican markets stand to benefit from changes to de minimis rates and customs paperwork.Under the USMCA, Canada will raise de minimis levels from 20 Canadian dollars ($15.29) to 40 Canadian dollars ($30.59) and provide duty-free shipments for items valued up to 150 Canadian dollars ($194.66). Mexico’s de minimis values will remain at $50 and provide duty free shipments up to the equivalent level of $117.

The new rates are designed to provide better access to the Canadian and Mexican market for American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These businesses "often lack resources to pay customs duties and taxes, and bear the increased compliance costs that low, trade-restrictive de minimis levels place on lower-value shipments, which SMEs often have due to their smaller trade volumes," according to a fact sheet from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Under NAFTA, and now the USMCA, shippers seeking to import products tariff-free from Canada or Mexico must fill out a certificate of origin.

4. The Sunset Clause brings added uncertainty.

Unlike NAFTA, which once enacted was intended to remain valid indefinitely or until a new agreement replaced it, the USMCA is designed to expire. The trade deal will come to an end 16 years from the date it entered into force on July 1, 2036, per its Sunset Clause.

In order for the deal to continue, six years from the USMCA’s entry into force, in 2026, the member countries must submit any changes or recommendations for the deal to a "joint review." If all parties can agree on the submitted proposals and confirm in writing that they wish to renew the deal, it will be extended for another 16 years. Joint reviews take place every six years that the deal remains in place.

If one of the member states does not agree to remain in the USMCA during a given review, then the joint review process will take place annually until the 16 year term has expired. "Companies will need to think carefully of how they may need to restructure their supply chains keeping the sunset clause in mind." Tim Yu. Supply chain risk intelligence analyst, Resilience360.

Earlier this year, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) President and CEO Kurt Bauer shared, “This (USMCA) trade deal will grow Wisconsin’s economy, provide greater opportunity for Wisconsin manufacturers and farmers, and help expand the Badger State’s reach throughout North America.”

WMC went on to state that Wisconsin’s economy relies on trade, and the USMCA will ensure the state’s economic relationship with Mexico and Canada continues to grow. Key Facts About USMCA’s Impact on Wisconsin:

  • Wisconsin exports nearly $11 billion to Canada and Mexico, and the state has a trade surplus with both countries

  • More than 231,000 Wisconsin jobs are tied to trade with Canada and Mexico

  • More than 44,000 manufacturing jobs are tied to trade with Canada and Mexico

  • One out of every four manufacturers in Wisconsin rely on North American trade

  • About half of Wisconsin’s $3.5 billion in agriculture exports – especially dairy – are exported to Canada and Mexico

APICS Milwaukee is the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 160 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities.   

We look forward to helping you have the tools to effectively manage your supply chain. Want to learn more? Join us in July for a Supply Chain Workshop and starting in September we will be offering APICS globally recognized supply chain certification instructor-led courses for CPIM, CSCP and CLTD. Join us on August 20th to learn more about THE VALUE OF APICS MEMBERSHIP AND EDUCATION: INFORMATIONAL WEBINAR!

For additional information, contact us via our website at: http://apicsmilw.org or via email at: [email protected]

Managing Quality at Suppliers

Did your company shift to produce critical medical supplies in support of the COVID-19 global pandemic?  Many manufacturers across the USA quickly pivoted to help out the community by producing needed PPE, hand sanitizer, ventilators and more.

While we were proud to watch so many companies step up and lend their facilities and expertise to fight the pandemic, assuring the quality of supplier products supporting life-saving medical devices and equipment became more important than ever. 

Manufacturing Business Technology recently shared supplier quality problems to watch for summarized below.

  1. Quality Degradation: If a supplier with a history of compliant shipments begins delivering shipments with rising scrap rates or nonconforming materials, components or parts, that is a red flag. Quality-related problems to watch for include a rise in failing parts per lot or an increase in rejecting products that don’t meet specification. Errors relating to specifications are among the most common challenges in managing supplier quality. For example, critical dimensions are missing, tolerances are off or specifications are outdated.
  2. Late Deliveries: Delays in shipments and responses to inquiries are also warning signs to watch for. An influx of late ship dates often indicates a failing manufacturing process may be affecting the supplier's quality.
  3. Slow communication:  When a normally responsive supplier is slow to respond about quality issues or ship dates, it can mean the supplier is avoiding the customer. If the quality problem is recurring and the supplier is failing to identify, correct and communicate the issue to the customer, then products get delayed and product quality is threatened.

The warning signs above certainly apply to medical supplies produced in support of the pandemic, where a slight reduction in quality could have huge impacts on patients.  They are also useful to consider helping maintain a quality supply chain as we look beyond COVID-19. Important to ensure you are working with reputable suppliers and keep watch on early indicators of quality implications.

At APICS Milwaukee, our mission is to ensure supply chain professionals have the needed information to succeed in our ever-changing world. Looking for more insights and tactics on how you can better manage your supply chain? We offer virtual Supply Chain Workshops and globally recognized supply chain certification courses taught by experts to provide you with the knowledge to help your company grow revenues and apply quality management approach to your suppliers.

APICS Milwaukee is the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 180 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities.  Learn more about how we do this on our website at www.apicsmilw.org.