Tag: coronavirus

Digital Supply Chain and surviving coronavirus-driven supply chain disruptions – a chat with MSCG

Supply chains have never been hit with so many disruptions at once. A perfect storm of trade wars, an oil price crash, and then the coronavirus have seen global supply chains shocked like never before.

In the midst of this, via a chat on LinkedIn I discovered that MSCG held a webinar for partners and customers on this very topic, so I invited the two webinar hosts, Dr Dan Bhide and Odell Smith to come on the podcast and talk about the comments, concerns, and learnings folks came away from the webinar with.

I think it was a great chat, but don’t take my word for it (I may be a bit biased ūüėČ ), have a listen using the player above and/or check out the transcript below, and let me know what you think.

 

Odell Smith [00:00:00] We’ve been in great times, you know, over the last over the last several years, and and the the the thought about risk management and about evaluating risk and then putting in good mitigation plans hasn’t hasn’t really been in place.

 

Tom Raftery [00:00:19] Good morning, good afternoon or good evening. Where ever you are in the world. This is the digital supply chain podcast and I am your host, Tom Raftery.

 

Tom Raftery [00:00:31] Hi, everyone, welcome to the Digital Supply Chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery with SAP and with me on the show today, I have two guests, Dan and Odell. Dan and Odell, would you like to introduce yourselves?

 

Dr Dan Bhide [00:00:45] Yes, happy to Tom. Thanks for having us on your podcast today. Really look forward to this conversation. My name is Dan Bhide. I’m a co-founder and partner at My Supply Chain Group. We are Enterprise consulting firm, helping our clients with supply chain stategy, process reengineering and solution implementation in multiple industry verticals.

 

Tom Raftery [00:01:07] Super, and Odell…

 

Odell Smith [00:01:09] Hey. Glad to be here. My name is Odell Smith. I have been with My Supply Chain Group for since it started over 11 years ago. I have been working in the supply chain space for over 30 years and specifically and in I.T. for the last 26 or so and build ITs, architect I.T. solutions for the supply chain.

 

Tom Raftery [00:01:38] Nice, nice, nice. Now, you guys held a webinar a week or so ago addressing specifically supply chain disruption, because¬† we’re in a kind of a crazy mixed up world right now, this is April 2020, the 14th of April 2020. You know, everything in the world seems to have gone to pot. And you had about a hundred or so people on the webinar. And I was interested to maybe bring some of the learnings from that to the audience of his podcast. So, do you want to talk about the background to the webinar first and then we can get into some of the things that come out of it?

 

Dr Dan Bhide [00:02:20] Indeed, we had a lot of other clients calling us, asking, hey, you know, can you help us with these issues vs those issues? And we certainly engage in those activities. What turns out from our experience is this unlike many other disruptions that we have seen in the recent past, whether it was an earthquake or a tsunami, or a fire at a major airport, this one is unique in the sense that quite a few things have certainly assembly together themselves in one place at one time. You know, whether it’s the corona pandemic, whether it’s also the mix of the US-Sino trade war that’s actually been happening for the last couple of years whether it is this certain glut of oil and the rapid decline in oil prices because of that, the fear of recession. All those things are suddenly piled up on us. And a lot of companies that thought they had their business continuity plans put together are now finding that, you know, those weren’t after all that resilient. So that was the reason behind us saying lets take a big picture approach to helping our clients and prospects understand what happened, why it’s happening and what we can do about it. As we go on this conversation we can explain the fact that, you know, beyond going from just issues, impact and mitigation strategies, very able to help clients understand how to actually translate a mitigation strategy into the specific action plans and the specific tasks.

 

Tom Raftery [00:03:44] Okay. Odell, you want to jump in and add anything to that or…

 

Odell Smith [00:03:48] A lot of a lot of this kind of comes down to to information and in the sharing of information. And so one of the one of the only ways that any business is going to be able to get through this is is with collaboration. And so so there’s being able to have information to process and manage internally as well as being able to share with your your vendors and your customers.

 

Tom Raftery [00:04:20] Can I interrupt you Odell for a second just, rather than getting into that just yet, can we take a step back? And we’ve identified the kind of main factors, the drop in oil price, the trade wars and the sudden global pandemic that has shut almost everything down. Those are the big picture factors. But how is that affecting supply chains? How is that affecting organizations you work with? What is it? What are the problems that you guys are seeing out there for companies?

 

Odell Smith [00:04:55] OK. So an example is there’s there’s quite a bit of disruption in in not only in in some of the vendors and suppliers, especially with the the great focus that’s been happening over the last 10 to 20 years of outsourcing, a lot of stuff overseas. And and so there’s obviously enormous impact there with suppliers not being able to provide raw material and/or finished goods to to the supply chains. But in addition to that, there’s there’s logistics impacts as well. So take, for instance, one of our clients has asked us to help them build some what/if simulation capability around port closures. So as these as these products, in addition to the suppliers not being able to provide things, the government mandated closure of of logistics facilities and ports has been a significant problem and a concern with several companies in addition to health and safety measures for the people that work in those areas. So there’s just a couple of examples of of things where things that you wouldn’t normally expect. I mean, sometimes you have union strikes and these type of things, but they’re they’re known more ahead of time. Right. Sure. And there’s a way to be able to try to mitigate some of that. But this is this is urgent, immediate and unexpected in many cases.

 

Tom Raftery [00:06:36] Totally, totally unprecedented to use a word that’s been used an awful lot these days.

 

Odell Smith [00:06:43] Exactly.

 

Dr Dan Bhide [00:06:44] You know, if you think about it Tom, even in the last few big disruption that some of us have read about or been through we were, none of us were around for the 1929 Great Depression, many of us may not remember the 1973 oil shock, but none of them had this confluence of all the events and the disruption of demand, disruption of supply, the disruption of networks. And all that compounded by the fact that most of us are forced to stay home because of social distancing. Many people are losing jobs, and all this confluence of multiple impacts is fairly unprecedented.

 

Tom Raftery [00:07:18] It is. And we here in Spain, they’re now starting to allow some sectors go back to work again in a very limited capacity. But it looks like we’re coming out, you know, slowly, the other end of it. The curve is being flattened, but it’s still… There’s not going to be a vaccine widely available until mid to late 2021. So social distancing and those kind of measures you know, to Odell’s point in the workplace for health and safety. That’s going to be an ongoing factor and possibly access to supplies and things like that we can deal with these kind of things short term but is this something that we can manage for 18 months?

 

Dr Dan Bhide [00:08:11] I guess it’s more do we have a choice about how to manage it. You know one of the CEOs of a big retailer said, “Hey, you know what? There is no playbook. We are doing this on the fly.” And speaking to another client recently, he said because of social distancing requirements we really can’t even have the whole production staff on the floor, for example. And if earlier we were running the line with, say, 20 people on the line, now we have to make do with ten or twelve of them because of social distancing. And that means we are running our lines at says 60-70% of the capacity than I would usual. Now, this is where the ability to look at all kinds of what/if analysis now that I’m running at 70% for example can I open up the third shift? Can I open up Saturdays? And if I do that, do I have an ability to catch up on my demand? That kind of ability to on the fly do these kinds of different analysis and then figure alternative now that you know you have a different harder constraint of not getting everybody on the production floor becomes an issue. And how quickly are you able to do that kind of analysis to have right kind of decisions made becomes a significant challen. If you digitise your supply chains, then that kind of what/if capability becomes a little easier to achieve then if things are still disconnected and maybe worst, even on paper.

 

Tom Raftery [00:09:32] In the webinar that you guys ran what were the primary concerns that people had when they joined the webinar? What were the questions they were asking and what kind of answers did you have for them?

 

Odell Smith [00:09:44] I guess some of the main concerns were around again, back to the data thing trying to be able to understand the impact of a particular situation. In many cases there are there are several different impacts even inside of some of the same companies. Right. You can have massively increased demand in one business unit and devastatingly loss demand in another business unit even inside of the same corporation. So being able to quickly be able to get information on where we think that’s going to go and what the impact of that is going to be is important and being able to simulate what, how am I going to solve whichever side of that that I’m on? One of the things about this flattening the curve thing, Tom, is I get it. It’s important for for the medical response to this. But what that does, in effect is an indeterminately amount extend this issue and extend the supply chain impact for what you’re talking about, a very long duration. Right. That’s a whole purpose of that model of flattening that curve. And and so trying to to be able to put some data, the people that we were talking to were very concerned about how how to model that. Right. So that they could so that they could plan effectively and then try to, you know, come up with different scenarios where they might be able to make it through. There’s a lot of capability to do things to to try to substitute products where available and to be able to maybe, maybe delay demand spikes or, you know, change promotions and and pricing things that were going to affect demand and that type of thing to be able to shift some of those things around. Those are those are very doable. Those wind up affecting then the supply and how it’s supply is going to be able to make that. So there’s a balance that you can do with that. But being able to simulate that and see that have the visibility of those is some of the biggest concern, because a lot of people have not put in some of some of the new capabilities to be able to visualise that stuff. And that’s that’s an important piece of this concern anyway. Not being able to see.

 

Tom Raftery [00:12:30] So Odell, if I remember correctly, I think you said you’ve been in supply chain for 26 years. Yes. If this had happened 25 years ago as opposed to today you know, what are the differences in the supply chain solutions that are available today versus ones that were available 20 odd years ago? What can companies do now that they couldn’t do then? I mean, we were chatting away here on a podcast recording platform that allows us to see each other’s faces. We’re working from home using Zoom and similar technologies, things that could not have happened 25 years ago. How does the supply chain world compare?

 

Odell Smith [00:13:14] It’s even it’s it’s hard to even imagine back then the the being able to have a) this happening, but but the capability of being able to to function as well as we’re able to. I mean, there is still an amazing amount of business that’s being accomplished because of technology, just like what you’re what you’re describing here. So as an engineer, before you know, it got into the I.T. side of the supply chain working in manufacturing there, there were there were these same type of of of problems. But it seems like there has been this kind of just in time mentality that’s that has really shortened the supply chain, has reduced a lot of cost and has and has taken a lot of the flexibility out of the supply chain over the last several years. And and that that flexibility then is has done a great thing for reducing prices and increasing margins. And it’s a it’s a great thing for the business. But it also I think this is a bit philosophical, but it’s kind of, we’ve been in great times, you know, over the last over the last several years. And and that the the thought about risk management and about evaluating risk and then putting in good mitigation plans hasn’t hasn’t really been in place. Back to your technology question. So there’s going to be a focus on that going forward that hasn’t been there in years. And this whole just in case logic that we discussed in our webinar is going to be much more tied to the just-in-time thing and there’s going to be a balance there. The new technologies that we’ve that we’ve seen come available, especially in the digital revolution, where we’re able to quickly put data in to a system and be able to get valuable results out of it from partners is probably one of the biggest, biggest benefits. So our being able to see the entire supply chain and then be able to collaborate with the cloud technologies with with partners on on from supplier side as well as in the in our manufacturing and processing as well as through to the end customer. And being able to collaborate is the biggest advantage that I’ve seen here in the technology. And that’s that’s a large piece of that is going from on-premise to the cloud. Right. And those those are the biggest the the biggest advantages. And then the tool sets inside of those that that allow more flexibility and visibility in the analytics that are real-time, where we used to have to wait days, you know, to be able to get data in a place where we could do analytics on it. Those are the main pieces for me.

 

Tom Raftery [00:16:32] All right. Dan, have you anything to add there?

 

Dr Dan Bhide [00:16:34] Sure. You know, just as the technology has evolved, you know, most of us hadn’t. Maybe the word digital supply chain wasn’t coined 25 years ago. Now it’s a reality for us. You know, and some of us had been leaders, some companies had been forced to follow that, you know. The expectations of consumers have changed as well over the last 25 years, you know, when you thought of getting a product within a week was good enough. Now, here are the Amazons of the world offering the products overnight or even sometimes the same day. So some brick and morter have been forced to go there as well. What that has done is we all talk about the 3 V’s of supply chain, the velocity of supply chain has been forced to increase big time. The visibility also is required to go literally not just within your own silos or breaking the silos, now we’re talking about visibility across the whole network you know from supplier’s supplier to customers, customers. And then there’s also expectation of variability how do I reduce my variability in my supply plan so that I can assure for Tom delivery of his product that he ordered tomorrow morning or even today evening. So expectation of reduced variability, expectation of increasing velocity and expectation of increased visibility has been forced upon the client companies as well.

 

Tom Raftery [00:17:51] And we’re at to almost 18 minutes mark now and I like to keep this podcast to about 20 minutes. For people who are listening who were unable to attend your webinar. What advice would you give them going forward where we’re headed into a world of possibly 18 months of social distancing. You know, maybe there’s a vaccine comes out sooner and maybe it’s, you know, nine or twelve months or whatever it is. But we’re heading into a world of a lot of unknowns, you know, and we’ve had this triple whammy hit us now, what advice would you give to people who are running supply chains now moving forward?

 

Dr Dan Bhide [00:18:33] You know, one of the things a caution is that this priming the pump, once things start getting normalised to a new normal, I mean, is going to be excruciatingly complex and time consuming. So that is something that they’re already dealing with. But this priming the pump, meaning getting back to a new normal, is going to take weeks, possibly months to happen. And that means that we have to now look beyond the short-term mid-term plans to look at the Long-Term Plans, having the business continuity plans in place and also literally doing a monthly new scenario’s of what/if, and to mitigate the risk and most importantly focus on the fact that what you do now is going to redefine your competitive ecosystem as well, because some companies will be able to handle this well, some won’t. And that’s going to create a new normal and a new competitive landscape. So see this as much as an opportunity, as a disruption or threat.

 

Tom Raftery [00:19:32] Ok Odell…

 

Odell Smith [00:19:32] So there’s there’s a lot of companies where executives are down on the shop floor packing warehouse boxes right now, trying to to to be able to just get through this. Right. And and that is absolutely required. You just have to do what you have to do to be able to make to make this work. All hands on deck. But at the same time, there has to be some level of strategy where you do like Dan was saying, where you you look for ways that you can take advantage of this and that you can get out of execution and start trying to do some of that forward planning and being able to being able to focus on the entire chain inside of your corporation with a value chain, but the entire supply chain and work on collaboration, with your suppliers and with your customers, to see what they are seeing right as what their demand is and to be able to figure out how you can best supply that, you have to you have to spend some time on that, even in the middle of, you know, working 14 hours a day packing boxes to try to get things out. And so the it’s not necessarily a time to to go and do a full system implementation, but there are there are ways that technology can help in this digitisation, the digitisation that we’ve just talked about. That was a little bit tough to get out! There are there are ways that that you can use information to help expedite that collaboration. And I couldn’t I couldn’t emphasize the collaboration with customers and vendors enough in that scenario.

 

Tom Raftery [00:21:25] OK. Last question, guys. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you think we should have talked about? Anything that you’d like to bring up that we haven’t hit on just yet?

 

Dr Dan Bhide [00:21:36] One quick comment from me and as I was referring to earlier, it’s one thing to comprehend the big picture and talk about mitigation strategies. I would align that to maybe a 80 to a 20 thousand feet level thinking, but it’s a whole another world translating those mitigation strategies into really what enables us to translate that mitigation strategy into action plans. So this is where the expertise matters. How do you translate the so-called one-liner mitigation strategy into 20-30 action items or tasks, whether they’re on the system side, on the people side, on the process side, on the policies and practices side, how do you come up with the new KPIs for resilience as against traditional KPIs for efficiency and just-in-time because those are the challenges that one needs to really think through.

 

Tom Raftery [00:22:31] Odell…

 

Odell Smith [00:22:31] I think being able to look back at this and be able to think of what worked and what didn’t work is going to what is going to wind up being of value as well. It’s it’s almost impossible to do that while you’re in the trenches. But take take notes about about what’s going on and and what worked and what didn’t work and then where you might want to, where you might want to have things perform differently in the future. Most of our planning solutions are are based on data that happened in the past. These anomalistic times that we’re in are going to cause many, many outliers. But there is also going to be a new normal that’s going to come out of that. There’s going to have to be a focus and an analysis on that data to have good plans going forward in the future. And that’s probably a complete separate podcast discussion around innovations and that type of thing. And, you know, being able to use advanced machine learning and AI to be able to support some of those quick decisions. But that anyway, that’s that’s that’s something that’s necessary to do for sure.

 

Tom Raftery [00:23:52] Gentlemen, thank you very much. If people want to know more about yourselves, Dan and Ordell or MASC Gee, where would you have me point them?

 

Dr Dan Bhide [00:24:01] They can go to my supply chain group dot com and they can call us as well. But my supply chain group dot com, one word is the place they can reach out to us.

 

Tom Raftery [00:24:13] In that case, gentlemen, thank you very much for your time and your expertise today. It’s been it’s been a pleasure talking to you.

 

Dr Dan Bhide [00:24:20] Thanks for having us Tom. It’s my pleasure.

 

Odell Smith [00:24:22] Yes. Really enjoyed it. Thanks for the time.

 

Tom Raftery [00:24:30] OK. We’ve come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you’d like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to SFP dot com slash digital supply chain or simply drop me an email to Tom Dot Raftery at SAP dot com if you’d like to show. Please don’t forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application to get new episodes right away as soon as they’re published. And also, please don’t forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find a show.

 

Tom Raftery [00:24:57] Thanks. Catch you all next time.

 

[00:28:56] Super. Super. That’s great. Claudio’s that’s been fantastic. Thanks a million for coming on the show today.

 

[00:29:10] OK, we’ve come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you’d like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to SFP dot com slash digital supply chain or simply drop me an email to Tom Dot Raftery at SAP dot com if you’d like to show. Please don’t forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application to get new episodes right away as soon as they’re published. And also, please don’t forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find show.

 

[00:29:38] Thanks. Catch you all next time.

 

And if you want to know more about any of SAP’s Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain and if you liked this show, please don’t forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

 

 

 

Life in Spain under lockdown

Today is April 14th 2020 and it is our 32nd day under the Coronavirus lockdown orders here in Spain.

 

I thought I’d paint a little picture for you of how life has been for us since the state of emergency was declared by the government on March 14th. Spain has one of the tightest lockdowns outside of China with people being required to stay home except for trips to the grocery store, trips to the pharmacy for medication, and to walk dogs. Dog walking can only be undertaken by a single adult (no couples, no kids) from a household and has to be within close proximity to home. Fines starting at ‚ā¨600 and up to ‚ā¨30,000 are meted out for any infractions.

Sign announcing Parks Closed
Sign announcing Parks Closed

I took my dogs out for a walk on the first morning of the lockdown and passing a kids playground I saw a sign from the local council stating that the park was closed due to the Coronavirus. Schools had been shut the previous day so the council didn’t want children congregating in parks, potentially infecting one another. The sign was dated the day before the the state of emergency lockdown, and so the Stay at Home order very quickly made it redundant!

 

Empty meat counter shelves
Empty meat counter shelves

I went grocery shopping on day one as well, and found that while there was no shortage of toilet roll in the shop (!), the meat and fish counters had been stripped bare. The only thing remaining was a few plant based Beyond Meat burgers, so I finally had an excuse to introduce them to my family (two of us loved them, the other two, not so much).

 

Store sign requiring use of gloves
Store sign requiring use of gloves

In the following days, the supermarkets’ supply chains stepped up and now there are no shortages in the stores. Practices in shopping have changed though. Shops are pushing people to shop online and choose home delivery as much as possible. Delivery times are typically reasonable and usually come within 24-48 hours though you can be unlucky. If you do need to go to the store, shops now provide disposable gloves for shoppers and require their use when using a trolly or shopping basket.

 

Keep your distance and pay by credit card
Keep your distance and pay by credit card

Physical distancing is enforced when queuing to pay, and most shops now shun cash in favour of contactless credit card payments.

Interestingly Amazon delivery times are way out of whack. I don’t know if this is just a Spanish thing, but ever since the pandemic hit delivery estimates have been in the order of weeks for most orders. However, having then placed the order, it more often than not arrives in a day or two rather than the weeks that had been estimated. I’m assuming Amazon are still adjusting their logistics, taking on lots more companies, onboarding them, etc. so this too will be sorted in time. The good thing is that they are erring on the safe side, not promising delivery in a day or two, and then taking weeks to deliver!

 

Graph of penetration of Fibre to the Home internet connections by country
Graph of penetration of Fibre to the Home internet connections by country

Apart from the good weather, another advantage of being based in Spain is that at 44%, Spain has by a significant margin the highest penetration of Fibre to the Home (FttH)¬†internet connections of any country (Portugal is next closest with 37%). This investment in infrastructure is now paying big dividends with so many people needing to work, or continue their education online. My home connection is a 600mb synchronous connection, so four people simultaneously video conferencing doesn’t put too much strain on the connection. Very occasionally there are glitches in the video connections, but I put that down to upstream congestion with the increased traffic on the network.

Classes are being delivered online
Classes are being delivered online

Classes are being delivered online using a combination of Zoom, and Google Classroom. Fortunately the school my sons attend made a decision a couple of years back to issue all the kids with iPads, and deliver all their educational material that way (i.e. they have no physical textbooks). The unintended positive consequence is that all the kids in the school have their own tablet containing their curriculum, and because of the high penetration of fibre, most have a decent internet connection. As a result of this, the school hit the ground running and the transition to delivering lessons online was made that much easier. This is a public school btw.

 

Virtual family lunch
Virtual family lunch

Other changes – traditional big extended family lunches at weekends have been replaced by virtual get togethers with the family on Zoom. It is not the same, to be sure but it helps maintain a semblance of normality.

Finally, I do venture out to walk the dogs daily. Part of my walk brings me past a (formerly) busy intersection. Now that intersection is eerily still with only the very occasional car passing. And now you hear the sound of birdsong there instead of the constant growl of heavy traffic.

 

Air quality February 2020
Air quality February 2020

 

Air quality March 2020
Air quality March 2020

The air quality has improved, as you’d expect as well. I carry a Plume Flow personal air quality meter with me at all times so I have air quality data for this area going back many months. The two screens above show the air quality in February (before the lockdown) and March (two weeks after the lockdown) respectively with the February screen having large portions of the air quality map being either yellow (moderate air quality with an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 21-50) or red (high pollution with an AQI of 51-100). Two weeks after the lockdown though and the air quality index is reading under 20 almost for the entire walk, which is a vast improvement.

 

Daily new Coronavirus cases in Spain
Daily new Coronavirus cases in Spain
Daily new deaths data from Coronavirus in Spain
Daily new deaths data from Coronavirus in Spain

These last few weeks of lockdown from the pandemic haven’t been easy, there is no doubt. But the outcome speaks for itself. The cleaner air is welcome, sure. But the fall in new infections and the fall in the number of people dying daily from this pandemic here in Spain is very welcome. If you are in the early stages of a lockdown, look at those two graphs. This will happen where you are too if the proper measures are taken to enact and enforce a lockdown.

 

Yesterday the Spanish government partially re-opened sectors of the economy to allow some people back to work. They required everyone travelling on public transport to wear face masks and they had police and volunteers in every public transport station handing out masks to those people who didn’t have any.

Was it too soon to re-open the economy? Possibly it was. We will know in one-two weeks time if we see the number of new cases increase once more. We are all just feeling our way in this new world. Until there is a universally available vaccine I think we will have to proceed extremely cautiously on all fronts. Stay healthy, stay safe, and above all, stay SANE!!!

Digital Supply Chains and the impact of the #Covid-19 #Coronavirus – a chat with Richard Howells (@HowellsRichard)

It is early April 2020 and the world is in the middle of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The contagion has hugely impacted supply chains, and in some cases supply chains have hugely impacted the contagion, stepping up to allow automobile manufacturers pivot to building ventilators, airplane manufacturers switch to 3D printing protective visors, and drinks makers start making hand sanitisers.¬† And that doesn’t even start to get into the challenges facing grocery stores maintaining stock levels.

In the midst of this Richard Howells wrote an excellent piece in Forbes titled Business As Unusual: Resiliency In Times Of Supply Chain Disruption examining how supply chains are coping with the outbreak so I thought I’d invite him on the show to discuss this and we had a fascinating conversation on the topic.

Click on the player above to hear our conversation and/or check out the transcript below:

 

Richard Howells [00:00:00] So there’s lots of areas where we’re seeing companies addressing short term challenges, but also looking at ways to rebalance their supply chains, moving forward and having risk mitigation strategies. I think supply chains will, if they don’t already in every business, will have a seat at the table of every business moving forward because they’re both an opportunity and a risk.

 

Tom Raftery [00:00:27] Good morning, good afternoon or good evening. Wherever you are in the world, this is the digital supply chain podcast and I am your host, Tom Raftery.

 

Tom Raftery [00:00:38] Hi, everyone, welcome to the Digital Supply Chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery and with me on the show today, I have Richard Howells. Richard, would you like to introduce yourself?

 

Richard Howells [00:00:47] Hi, Tom. So I work for SAP in the area of digital supply chain and I spend a lot of time writing about business challenges, trends and opportunities for supply chain executives.

 

Tom Raftery [00:01:00] Yeah, you write a lot of stuff on Forbes as some great some great articles. And you wrote one because, you know, we are; this is, what, the second of April 2020, we are in the middle of a global pandemic. The Covid-19 Coronavirus virus pandemic. Today is the day that we are going to reach 1 million people infected and 50000 dead. And, you know, it’s presenting a lot of challenges. And you wrote a blog post about this on Forbes called Business as Unusual Resiliency in times of Supply Chain Disruption. And you made some, you know, great points in that and talked up some interesting stories. So I thought it’d be cool to have you come on the podcast, because, you know, this is a supply chain issue big time globally. And you address a lot of those challenges there in that article. So would you like to talk a little bit about that?

 

Richard Howells [00:01:53] Sure. So, I mean, I start I started the article off about talking about some of the challenges from a supply chain perspective that this pandemic has caused. I mean, it’s hard to believe that when we were celebrating New Year’s Eve for three months ago that this didn’t was a figment of wasn’t even a figment of anyone’s imagination. We couldn’t believe that we’d be been this case three months later. And what’s happened is that I mean, we’re seeing supply chain at the centre of everything at the moment. It’s both the challenges in some cases and the opportunities in others. I mean, when we started off with the issues in China, it considered it created a huge supply issue because China is the manufacturing factory of the world. So when you’ve got uncertain supply of critical materials, it has a knock on effect throughout the whole world. And then as the pandemic spread, so did the demand volatility as people started panic buying. I mean, we’re seeing huge demand for medical equipment, medical devices and of of of key products from a from a consumer goods standpoint. And the demand for luxury items and discretionary items is nonexistent. Now, it’s amazing to me that we are reliant as a globe now on 20 or 30 items that everyone’s looking for in the stores and… toilet paper of all things, who thought there would be a rush on toilet paper.

 

Tom Raftery [00:03:23] I think that was a I think there was a social media thing more than anything else, because I went to I we had our lockdown announced on the 14th and I went to their local supermarket and there was plenty of toilet paper. What was missing was all the meat. The meat counter was stripped bare. Now that was fixed in a matter of a couple of days. It was a supply chain issue again. You know, they didn’t anticipate that big demand, but they and they got it fixed in a couple of days. So there aren’t any shortages here. There are sometimes if you go to the shops, there might be a short term shortage of an individual brand, but not of that, not of the class of goods.

 

Richard Howells [00:03:57] And I’m based in the US. And we’ve still got I mean, you’re you’re a few weeks ahead as far as the pandemic is in in Spain. And we we still have shortages. And those shortages are now because of capacity constraints. There are shortages because we don’t have enough manufacturing capacity to increase the production of toilet paper, for example, which was running at full production anyway. And we’re having logistics challenges of getting goods from point A to point B. What if they’ve got to come from foreign foreign ports or foreign countries? There’s no transport that the flights are down by 80 plus percent. Some of the ports are closed or there’s less or less capacity going through it. And then we’ve got the challenge of drivers and the risk that those drivers are taking without the proper security and humanitarian coverage. And that’s the final challenge I think we see from this at the moment, is that humanitarian risk, the balance of of labour shortages, but also of ensuring the health and safety of employees who are doing the vital jobs, who are doing the “required jobs”. How we’ve changed manufacturing processes, for example, where there can be less people on the plant floor. So to make sure that we’ve got the social distancing during working environment, working processes and working environments as well.

 

Tom Raftery [00:05:22] That’s going to be a huge challenge for manufacturers. I mean, they they’ve set up their manufacturing lines in a particular way. And to your point now, they have to do social distancing between the employees and the floor and just for health and safety.

 

Richard Howells [00:05:33] Yes, it’s it’s it’s things that you wouldn’t think about in normal circumstances, I’m sure it’s never been thought through as a as a plan of how to do this. And people are having to come up with solutions literally on the fly.

 

Tom Raftery [00:05:47] I went grocery shopping yesterday just for the second time since lockdown because the grocery shops are tending to push us towards online deliveries and in the grocery stores now, they have markings on the floor to say where you should stand when you’re in a queue for the checkout counter you know, and there is, you know, two meters between each mark so that you’re two meters behind the person in front of you. You know, again, for social distancing and they have to have a glass Perspex barrier between you and the person at the checkout counter, which was never there before. And again, it’s just to protect the employees from potential infection from shoppers. Yes, and vice versa, I suppose.

 

Richard Howells [00:06:27] Is that just they’ve just started introducing in some of the stores here one way systems around the supermarkets as well, which I haven’t seen up until now in the US.

 

Tom Raftery [00:06:36] Wow, wow, wow

 

Richard Howells [00:06:38] And we’re seeing lots of repurposing as well of manufacturing. I sent you a link this morning to the Airbus plants here in Spain. I mean, Airbus have several factories here in Spain and they have over 20 3D printers because they I mean, they were they were the first commercial airline company to use 3D printed parts and commercial flights back in, I think was 2015. So they’ve been playing a lot and working a lot after playing working a lot with 3D printers. And now they’ve turned that around into using those 3D printers to make the Perspex masks that the health workers, the health care workers are using to keep themselves safe when they’re dealing with people who are very sick. Actually, there’s a there’s a consortium that I’ve seen online of 3D printing companies who are sharing the designs of these 3D masks for that very purpose that they’re crowdsourcing and sharing the information. And we’re also seeing other companies doing some similar things. I mean, I read about Medtronic’s are opening up, or making that does the designs of their ventilators so that they’re simple ventilators, their basic line of ventilators open to other people so that they can manufacture those ventilators. And they’re also partnering with with Tesla to to to increase their production. You’re you’re seeing automotive companies becoming outsourced, manufacturers for medical device companies to increase the production, because there’s a lot of very small ventilator manufactures that just can’t scale.

 

Tom Raftery [00:08:15] If I had said that to you in December thirty first, that the car companies would be making ventilators in April of this year, you’d said, Tom, you’re smoking crack.

 

Richard Howells [00:08:24] That’s exactly what happened. Yes. And they’re becoming the contract manufacturers rather than working with lots of contract manufacturers for their parts.

 

Tom Raftery [00:08:31] So how do they how are these automotive, for example, companies sourcing the parts to manufacture these ventilators? How would that work?

 

Richard Howells [00:08:40] Well, that means that that means having improved visibility across the supply chain. I mean, first of all, I mean, SAP is doing a lot of work in providing offers to our customers to access some of our, some of our systems in these times of need and mapping, mapping the visibility of where the suppliers are that have the inventory with your demand and in-building and having visibility across the network of that is a huge, huge first step. I mean, I would imagine that there’s as I said, there’s a lot of partnerships going on. The also the the the the medical device manufacturers will be sharing their partner information and their supply information and supply sources to satisfy that demand for additional materials that these companies may never buy. I mean, we’re seeing other examples. We’re seeing perfume manufacturers and liquor producers making hand sanitizers. I mean, at the moment, the medical device, medical companies need three or four sections of things. They need we need they need the public to have and they need hand sanitizers to reduce the spread of the virus. They need the masks, the testing equipment and the robes for testing people and treating people. And ultimately, in the worst case situations, they need ventilators and an unparalleled amount of ventilators to actually treat the most critically ill. And companies are coming together to help support that. As I said, I mentioned the hand sanitizer example. We see the ventilator example with car manufacturers. We’re seeing other companies. Another one of our customers, actually Decathlon are are repurposing this, their the devices for their breathing, snorkelling devices and adapting them to be ventilators, working with with partners to adapt them to be ventilators. So we’re we really are thinking out of the box and and building partnerships that you wouldn’t have seen. And it’s it’s actually good to see companies coming together to solve solve some of these problems.

 

Tom Raftery [00:10:45] I came across a thread of tweets a couple of days ago and again this morning because someone else tweeted, not me, where it was. I think a psychologist talking about how in times like this, people are afraid that there’s going to be a breakdown of social order. Whereas in fact, in times of crisis like this, it seems to bring out, in fact, the best of us, the likes of the people in New York in 9/11, all coming together to help each other out. And, you know, we’re seeing it again in this situation where rather than, you know, everything falling apart, in fact, we’re getting to your point, unprecedented partnerships between businesses that would never work together before, to try and all come together to produce the goods that are in short supply.

 

Richard Howells [00:11:31] Yes. I mean, you see it at a personal level with with neighbours helping other neighbours. And we’re seeing it at a business level as well at a larger scale. And it’s it’s good to see. But the wrong circumstance. Wish we didn’t have to see it, but it’s good to see when it does happen.

 

Tom Raftery [00:11:47] Richard, what are some of the strategies that companies are coming up with to address this situation?

 

Richard Howells [00:11:53] Well, what we’re seeing across all areas of the supply chain, different, different needs and different strategies. If we start at the basic level over the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve stripped a lot of cost out of the supply chain. We went to a global supply chain to reduce the cost of raw materials. For example, we’ve outsourced a lot of our manufacturing to have cheaper labour. And this has done a great job in cost reduction. But it’s also increased the risk involved, which… Exactly, it’s coming home at the moment as a huge cost implication and a customer service implication. And in the short term, I think we’ve got to work out where the from a supply standpoint, where the inventory is, how can I access that inventory? Which which partners do I have that already have it? Which other companies have available inventory that I can source? How do I get the goods to the right place, to the hotspots when we’re talking about medical supplies to the to the areas with the most shortages? When we talk about supermarkets, we’re seeing so so alternate sourcing strategies are one of the areas in the short term that I see a lot of supply chains looking to to solve. Also, where to position inventory in a in a global supply chain. I can’t be totally reliant on having all my finished goods being shipped and it takes a week for me to get the finished goods. I need a source of inventory of finished goods locally. We are seeing a lot of companies start thinking or will be thinking a lot about the balancing of offshoring versus near shoring versus on shoring, even though it may cost more to manufacture locally, but you need that to reduce that risk. The whole area of employee safety, of ensuring you have the environmental, health and safety processes in place to ensure the safety of your people working on the plant floor. The people working in the distribution area and and and your customers safety of making sure that the products are of good quality and having visibility of demand, I think is critical. I mean, this may be a case. It’s taken a long time to for the retailers to share the point of sales information with manufacturers. Now is the time to share that information. We need to know where we have shortages. We need to know what is going off the shelves, although it’s pretty obvious what’s going off the shelf as a consumer. But maybe the manufacturing companies could have had advanced information of that to get more goods of the right sort to to the to the retailers that needed it the most. So there’s lots of lots of areas where we’re seeing companies addressing short term challenges, but also looking at ways to rebalance their supply chains, moving forward and having missed risk mitigation strategies. I think supply chains will if they don’t, already in every business will have a seat at the table of every business moving forward because they’re both an opportunity and a risk.

 

Tom Raftery [00:15:03] Yeah, absolutely. And so that that brings up a good point. Where do we go? Post pandemic? You know, in whether it’s six or 12 or 18 months time, what is the supply chain world going to look like?

 

Richard Howells [00:15:18] Well, I mentioned I think we’ll have still have global supply chains, but maybe with local execution we will be balancing our inventory so that we keep a certain percentage of inventory locally. We will be balancing our manufacturing, outsourcing vs. and offshoring to to maybe doing some of the manufacturing ourselves and at least having it local, local manufacturing capabilities and capacities. I think that we will not be reliant on single sourcing strategies. We won’t put all our eggs in one basket. We will we will have multiple suppliers to provide the same critical the critical components that we need and balance that. Maybe we work with one but 20 percent and 80 percent with the other at the moment, but have the ability to switch so that you can go to local sourcing as and when required. And it’s going to cost a little bit more, but it will reduce risk. And I think sustainability actually will be a huge thing moving forward. I mean, it should be a huge thing anyway. But we’re seeing the in the environmental impact of this pandemic is actually a positive impact on the globe. We’re seeing less pollution in certain areas and we’re seeing cleaner waterways due to lack less less distribution and fumes being put into the atmosphere. And I think that as companies start to think about how they are global but execute locally, that will reduce the carbon footprint of our supply chains automatically. But we also want to ensure that we we are still sourcing ethically, that we are having good labour manufacturing environments to work in for working conditions and we are designing sustainable products and recyclable products for the good of the planet anyway.

 

Tom Raftery [00:17:22] I actually have a very practical example of that. I have a personal air quality meter. It’s made by a company called Plume. Plume Labs. It’s called a Flow air quality meter. It’s it’s a device you wear on your belt loop or somewhere like that. And it measures five different air quality indices. There are things like VOCs which are, you know, volatile organic compounds, NOx, pm 1, pm 2.5, and pm 10, that’s particulate matter at different sizes. And it has an app which comes with the phone, which syncs with the phone. So it matches up the air quality, which it measures once every minute along those five measurements. It synchs that with the G.P.S. coordinates and then uses mapping data to give you a map of the air quality for everywhere you’ve been for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, etc.. So, I only get out of the house now to walk the dogs because we’re on lockdown and walking the dogs is literally the only… Well that and grocery shopping, you know. But what of the groceries are, you know, online deliveries? So just walking the dogs. I used to walk the dogs anyway before the lockdown. So I have before and after data for the air quality where I live and for the walk that I take every day. So I’ve perfect A.B data and these the the difference in air quality between, you know, before the lockdown and since the lockdown is just amazing. And even even before the lockdown, you know, I used to in presentations talk about this, talk about, you know, you get air quality in one area, which is terrible and in another area, which is better. But it’s not just it’s not just it’s not just a question of where. It’s also a question of when. And what I mean by that is… Rush hours? Yeah, exactly. The the I used to take the dogs out for a walk in the morning and the evening and in the morning it was, you know, just before 9:00 a.m. and I’d be walking past a local school. And of course, all the SUVs would be outside the school as the parents were delivering their kids. I’d walk past the same school at eight o’clock in the evening and there wouldn’t be a car from miles. And the air quality difference between those two times a day for the exact same place was incredible. But now that there have been almost no cars driving by there in three and a half weeks, it’s it’s flat. You know, there’s almost nothing there at all. It’s just like almost it’s not it’s not exactly zero across all five measurements, but it’s close enough.

 

Richard Howells [00:20:15] And it’s interesting, using personal devices like that would be a great way of getting the information across the globe or the country. You know, about how that has improved because that information is is stored centrally in the cloud some whereand that information can really add value. And that’s another example about that. We’ve been seeing this in the news about we we can see where the hot spots are and where that they’re reducing a little by people who were using electronic temperature. That’s right. The company has visibility across the North America at the moment of the temperatures are coming down in certain areas, which implies that people are getting a little healthier in those areas or the pandemic isn’t as is reducing in some of those areas or increasing as the case may be. Saw that. That’s fascinating. A type of information from Smart Assets is very valuable in today’s climate and it’s very valuable from a business perspective moving forward as well.

 

Tom Raftery [00:21:17] It is. And the company who make that air quality meter know that, they’ve been mapping air quality across cities globally since they started. It was a, you know, one of the one of the business drivers of creating the air quality meters. Richard, we’re at about 20 minutes. We’re just over 20 minutes. So we’re coming towards the end of the podcast. I like to keep it about the 20 to 25 minute mark. Is there is there anything else that we haven’t touched on that you think that we should have?

 

Richard Howells [00:21:44] I think we’ve covered most of the topics or all the topics, I think. I’d just like to. I hope that everyone stays safe and adheres with the different mandates and guidances from the different governments around the world, and hopefully the next time we we do a podcast Tom, we’ll be talking about in happier times and about happier subjects.

 

Tom Raftery [00:22:05] I hope so. OK, everyone, thanks a million for your interest. Richard, thanks for coming on the show. And to everyone who’s listening. Stay happy. Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay sane. Because, I mean, you know, we’re on lockdown right now. It’s very easy to kind of go a bit out of your head, do stay sane.

 

Richard Howells [00:22:24] I’m not sure if I can do that.

 

[00:22:30] OK, we’ve come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you’d like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to SAP.com/digitalsupplychain or simply drop me an email to Tom Dot Raftery at SAP dot com. If you’d like to show, please don’t forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application to get new episodes right away as soon as they’re published. And also, please don’t forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people. To find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.

And if you want to know more about any of SAP’s Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain and if you liked this show, please don’t forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Digital Supply Chain, Industry 4.0, Discrete Industries, and the Covid-19 Coronavirus – a chat with Stefan Krauss

We are in a very strange times! On this fourth Digital Supply Chain podcast on the theme of Industry 4.0, I had a chat with Stefan Krauss. Stefan is aSenior Vice President and he heads up discrete industries at SAP, so I was keen to have a conversation with him about the impact of Industry 4.0 on discrete manufacturing.

Of course, given the time we are in right now, we couldn’t avoid discussing the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, but we also discussed Industry 4.0, and its effects on industries like Automotive, Industrial Machines and Components, and the Shared Services economy.

Listen to the podcast using the player above, and/or see the full transcript below:

 

Stefan Krauss [00:00:02] This whole crisis also shows that there will be a significant impact on the whole supply chain in the world. And I think this will go way and beyond this crisis that I think companies have to deal with this new world and we need to really rethink the supply chain processes.

 

Tom Raftery [00:00:24] Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the digital supply chain podcast. And I’m your host, Tom Raftery.

 

Tom Raftery [00:00:35] Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Digital Supply Chain podcast. This is one of the series themed around Industry 4.0. And my guest on the show today is Stefan. Stefan, would you like to introduce yourself?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:00:49] Yeah. Tom, thank you. And hello, everybody. My name is Stefan Krauss. I’m heading up discrete industries at SAP and I’m very happy to talk with you guys about, you know, how we perceive Industry 4.0. OK. You people. Yeah. Go on. Yeah, but maybe before we start, I think as you know, we are I think all in the middle of a, you know, serious crisis. Let. Allow me to really, you know, wish everybody listening to this broadcast, you know? All the best. Let’s all stay healthy. Let’s make sure, you know, we take care about ourselves and our families. On the other side, I think this whole crisis also shows that there will be a significant impact on the whole supply chain in the world. And I think this will go way beyond this crisis that I think companies have to deal with this new world and that we need to really rethink the supply chain processes.

 

Tom Raftery [00:01:48] Yeah, that that’s. It’s a good place to start, actually. Stefan, thank you for me for bringing that up. We are in the middle, as you said, of the Coronavirus pandemic at the moment. This is March 18th we’re recording this. I’ll be publishing this early next week. So, some things could even change between now and then. But from everything we’ve been reading, it’s looking like this is going to last a while and, you know, I wouldn’t like to be an airline pilot right now, as I said to you before I turned on the recorder, or I wouldn’t it to be a waiter in a restaurant right now or a chef or a restaurant owner. That’s huge implications all around. You said there in your opening that supply chains are going to be massively impacted by this as well. How can we help there?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:02:41] Yeah, I think and again, due to this this pandemic, I think we already see that some manufacturing facilities have closed. I think they have already a shortage on parts to really, you know, keep production alive on the other side. It’s also about, you know, do you want to have all your employees coming, coming to the factory? So maybe we as a software company have it a little bit more easy as we can really work remote from home. But I think in all those places where really people are coming together, it’s it’s a tough time. And as I said, I think we all really see some impact on the whole supply chain that there is a shortage. So, I think overall, if I look then into the future and and they this term, Industry 4.0 is heavily used around the world. And there are also other names like Smart Manufacturing or Manufacturing 2025. I think the fundamental thing is really in my opinion, about how can companies best serve the individual customer demands their customers have. I think this is for me the trigger, which causes really the that’s a challenge both on supply chain and manufacturing processes to be very flexible, agile, and elastic to really react on changing customer demand. And of course, this is in this crisis even more obvious. How can we react? And really, you know, produce the right things as long as we can really now produce and fulfilling here the customer demand.

 

Tom Raftery [00:04:20] OK. Very good. You mentioned discrete industries, can you for people who are not familiar with the term, tell us a little bit about discrete industries. What are they? Who are the customers you’re dealing with, and what kind of concerns do they have?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:04:35] Yeah, that’s a that’s a very good question. And I think we are famous for using those kinds of abbreviations. So discrete Industries are industries like automotive, industrial machine and components, High-Tech, Aerospace, and Defence. And when I look particular to industrial machinery and components and high tech industries, what I find very interesting is those industries or those companies, you know, being part of those industries have a two kind of roles in Industry 4.0, because on the one side, I think they want to optimise, of course, their own manufacturing process, their own supply chain. But on the other side, I think with their products, they are selling to their customers. And this is, of course, very often a B2B business. I think they are also helping their customers to then establish industry 4.0 scenarios, to connect machines products, to embed more and more software into the machines. So, I think this is a very interesting or two very interesting industries to look at right now, where we see tremendous change in the, you know, the business processes, the business models and how they operate.

 

Tom Raftery [00:05:49] OK. And in what kinds of ways are industry 4.0 helping these companies?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:05:59] I think, as I said before, it is really about end to end pro or end to end processes, we want to look at starting with really the customer demand, the customer order, which you then want to drive in a very again flexible way through your whole manufacturing supply chain processes. And I think we see more and more companies who want to shorten, let’s say, the freezing time where you say customer cannot change order anymore because now it’s really going into the production process. And you want to be maximal flexible to say, I can still take last changes. And, you know, executed through the whole, you know, production process. And this is something where I think Industry 4.0 will help cost our customers to really change those business processes and create the transparency and the flexibility to react. And this goes also, in my opinion, very much from top to down. So very often we say from top floor to shop floor. So, you want to really create full transparency through your entire production processes and facilities around the world, down to an individual factory and then even down to the individual machines to really have that kind of information and transparency, you need to really steer the whole processes.

 

Tom Raftery [00:07:28] So this transparency is this is something that companies are thinking about exposing to their customers?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:07:37] Yeah, of course. I think because an additional trend which we see is that more and more, you know, business models are saying we are not necessarily selling the product to the customer anymore, but we see more and more this operating model the outcome based business processes, which means a manufacturer of a machine, may not sell the machine, but they will install and operate it for their customers. And then, of course, you can take data out of machines IoT data basically out of sensors and end to end to optimise of course, on the one hand side, the performance and the output of the machine, but I think it is also very much of course used for predictive maintenance processes, for example, when billing. Right. And it’s about the uptime. It is about the uptime and productivity of machines. So, you can avoid, you know, long lasting repair time and so on. And then, of course, the billing, which is basically the interesting challenge later on to say, hey, I pay by the hour, I pay by the output, I pay by, you know, the number of products which has been produced with the machine and so on. So, yeah, it’s very interesting how those business models are evolving and changing the entire landscape here.

 

Tom Raftery [00:08:59] Yeah, and can we speak to some good use cases? Cause, you know, we have lots of customers and that there must be some really fascinating stories you can talk to about some users of industry 4.0 technologies.

 

Stefan Krauss [00:09:14] Yeah, absolutely Tom and I think one nice example, it’s a German company called Gephardt F√∂rdertechnik. They are a leading company in internal logistics and they have really created an IoT platform which allows not only again in their own manufacturing facilities, but also when they of course sell their products to their customers to create this transparency and have those, you know, machines and products really connected and have a dashboard visualisation to really observe all, you know, the the the activities going on in the machine. And as I said before, really run predictive maintenance processes and so on. So I think this is a nice example where Gephardt F√∂rdertechnik is using SAP products like SAP Asset Intelligence Network, which allows you to really connect all those assets at the customer site in a network. And here you can track both structural and unstructured data to share it with the I call it the right ecosystem. So, with whomever you decide you want to share those information that can be employees on the customer side, it can be people from Gephardt F√∂rdertechnik who, you know, offers services, could be a third party service providers. So, I think this is, of course, fully managed to say who has access to those information to really, you know, have full transparency about the machines.

 

Tom Raftery [00:10:50] Ok great for our customers. And again, you’re interacting with a good number of them. What are the… I don’t want to say forcing factors, but what are the things that are moving them into this space most? And what are the kind of challenges that are coming across once they start going down, you know, the route of rolling out one of these projects?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:11:16] Ha! This is another very interesting topic. And I just recently had a meeting with our senior management of industrial machinery company. And they are super successful, let’s say, in their current business. So, they are growing every year. Nice business. Still, of course, top management is saying we cannot just lean back and say, hey, this will be the future. So, for them, it’s really about rethinking. Also, you know, what will be our product offerings here in the future? It’s going even beyond saying, you know. Today they very much sell individual products into we sell solutions. We sell something which the combination of products and services, embedded software. We operate it. So, this this this business model. And I think are a major challenge those cost companies face is I think they might be all very experienced in innovation when it comes to, you know, develop and innovate the next product. Most companies are not necessarily, you know, used to say, I also need this business model innovation. How are we changing the company? And there’s a lot of resistance, of course, on middle management, on let’s say employee level, because for them, they still say, hey, why do we have to change? We are so successful today. This is something, I think where I think top management, and this is also a lot of discussions I think where SAP comes into the game. But also, you know, the strategy consulting companies to really help customers on what I think a lot of people call digital transformation. And how can we really define and and let’s say, articulate those changes through all the entire company. And it really starts with the employee level and then it starts with the skills we need here in the future. So, I think we also see that companies, of course, hiring more and more, for example, I.T. experts, even if they are a machinery company or an automotive company. So, they need a shift in skills.

 

Tom Raftery [00:13:23] I saw the CEO of Volkswagen, whose name has just gone out of my head. Say yes. Herbert Deiss. He said just the other day. Well, that is a couple of weeks ago now. He said that Volkswagen is going to have to become a software company. I mean, that’s a huge change and I mean, he’s been forced into that position by the likes of Tesla and the complete upheaval of the automotive industry. But it just to exactly your point to hear Herbert Deiss say that Volkswagen needs to become a software company. That’s amazing.

 

Stefan Krauss [00:13:57] Yeah. I think he is right. And there are other companies also when we look to some of these Start-Up companies building now the e-cars. I have talked to one. I think they are located in Asia and they say. Our goal is not to produce a car. Our goal is to produce the next screen, the fourth screens, so you have the iPhone and you have maybe the desktop at that stuff. But the car will also act as an environment where people can either work or, you know, of course, enjoy movies and whatever. And then, of course, it’s somehow driving. And I think this is a totally shift in mindset. And yes, of course, Tesla is it’s nicely leading this nowadays. It’s also very interesting when you compare so normally, I think I don’t know how long you drive your car, but, you know, we buy a car and we drive a car for three, four, five, six years. And in the past, you know, you had the car like you bought it. Maybe little accessory here and there. But the features, I think was built in how you ordered the car. Now, in this this software world, you can activate certain components later on. Maybe you have some money left and then you want to invest here into this and that. And I just what you know, funny enough, somebody was was selling or let’s say another one was buying and such and such an E-car and all of a sudden, certain software pieces were deactivated. That’s right. That’s a discussion about use rights. Then later on. So, you get a physical car. But let’s see what really software options are activated or gets deactivated. Yeah.

 

Tom Raftery [00:15:39] I was on the game changers radio show yesterday talking about the future of automotive. And I said we’re seeing I called it the iPhonification of the automotive industry. And I referenced exactly your point about how Tesla are now converting also into a software as a service company, where, to your point, they’re able to turn on or turn off the utility of parts of the car. And it’s where they turn it the car into a platform for software sales. And obviously, it makes it easier for Tesla if they have a single SKU of model and they say they differentiate by the features that are turned on or off in software. So that that makes the manufacturing far easier for them and it gives them a completely different sales model that they sell you a a car, and based on how much you pay, you get X features turned on and or not, and then you can have them turned on later. And of course, I suspect it will be a matter of time before like the iPhone, they open up an app store to developers to develop apps to sell on the car. And this this will completely change how automotive the automotive industry works. And it’s only possible through the likes of the the technologies that we’re talking about.

 

Stefan Krauss [00:17:08] Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. And I think this has a lot of pros, but it may have also some cons. And we have discussed this also with other, you know, customers of us, because I think we also need to consider maybe whether you are in the volume business, like of course you, you have one SKU and then of course, you sell it in a high volume. The question for, you know, industrial machinery companies where of course, we don’t actually have that kind of volume in all the different segments, is it still, because the business fundamentals are still valid right? It is really about, you know, top line and bottom line at the end of the day. And to just say now I have maybe a machine where I have built all the options in, and the options cost money, of course. And then the customer may activate it or may activate it later or even not, it’s not necessarily a good business case if you’re not really in a volume business. So, I think that is not the one answer to everything right now. And this is why, again, I think customers or companies really have to throw a think through on, you know, what of those new business trends and models will really stay relevant, relevant in the meaning of creates, you know, business value and business outcome for them later on. And we see already first all the automotive companies who started, for example, with mobility services, and they stopped it already by saying, oh, looks doesn’t look like a good business case for us. So, this very interesting times where I think it’s very much about also, you know, testing, trying failure, you know, adopting and then and it’s not the continuous improvement business. Many companies have been in for so many years.

 

Tom Raftery [00:18:59] Yeah, it’s it’s challenging. And something just occurred to me the other day as well. The whole idea of the shared services industry is going to be, I suspect, massively hurt by Coronavirus, I mean, are you going to want to get into a car that you don’t know who’s been in it before you?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:19:18] You’re right. Just thinking about it as you said it. Yeah, because I was just reading this morning in the newspaper that, you know, people are asked to, of course, use more and more their cars and not maybe, you know, public trains and buses and so on. And then, of course. Yeah. That’s also very true what you said on those kind of, you know, mobility services. Yeah.

 

Tom Raftery [00:19:39] Yeah. Yeah. That I suspect they’ll take a huge hit. Stefan, we’re coming to the end of the podcast we are at about 19 minutes now, I just said I’d ask you; is there anything that I have not asked you that you think I should have?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:19:57] I think we could talk about this this very interesting topic for hours and hours. I know. I know. Happy we if you want, we can also follow up. But no, no, I think for today, I think we covered the main points. And maybe to summarise it from my point of view. What we see this is not about technology. It’s about really business value. I think companies want and need to achieve. And this is where I think we see leading companies already, you know, heavily in and where, of course, laggards may need to follow. And it’s all about not only the processes, I think it’s also how to use all this data which are available nowadays coming from IoT sensors and so on and so on from the Internet and make good business usage and value out of that. I think this is my, you know, maybe suggestions or, you know, kind of credo companies should look at. And this is also, of course, where we as SAP want to help many companies on this digital transformation, both on a business process talk, but also then, of course, with our solution and service offerings we bring here to the table.

 

Tom Raftery [00:21:13] Super, Stefan, if anyone wants to find out more about Stefan or about discrete industries or about any of the other things. Where should I direct them to go and any links you give me, I can embed them in the in the in the description of the show notes. So, fire away. Where should you, where would you like me to send people?

 

Stefan Krauss [00:21:36] Yeah, I think of course, happy to share with you. I think you all can find me on LinkedIn, of course, Stefan Krauss and Krauss with double S. So, I think it’s a very common name. But also, I think please join SAP’s, you know, SAP.com and then you can find via the link to industries. A lot of those kind of, you know, trends and of course, of solution offerings we have. You can find nice whitepapers which we have written for all of our industry to translate basically those trends which we see in industries into, you know, how SAP can support here. So, I think that what would be my two main sources I would like to point you to.

 

Tom Raftery [00:22:18] Perfect. Perfect. Stefan, that’s been great. Thanks a million for coming on the show today.

 

Stefan Krauss [00:22:22] Thank you very much Tom. See you soon again. And have a great day. And please all stay healthy. That’s is most important.

 

Tom Raftery [00:22:30] Indeed. Indeed.

 

Tom Raftery [00:22:33] OK. We’ve come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you’d like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to SAP.com/DigitalSupplyChain or simply drop me an email to Tom.Raftery at SAP.com. If you’d like to show, please don’t forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application to get new episodes right away as soon as they’re published. And also, please don’t forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.

 

And if you want to know more about any of SAP’s Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain and if you liked this show, please don’t forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

 

 

 

Digital Supply Chain, Industry 4.0, and the Covid-19 Coronavirus – a chat with Martin Barkman

We are in a very strange times! On this third Digital Supply Chain podcast on the theme of Industry 4.0, I had chat with Martin Barkman. Martin is an SVP and the Global Head of Solution Management for Digital Supply Chain at SAP, so I was keen to have a conversation with him about that, but the conversation went a bit off track!

With all that is going on in the world right now it is difficult to avoid talking about the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic which has turned all of our lives upside down. So, despite not intending to, our conversation quickly veered into a discussion of the implications of the coronavirus contagion, and its effects on supply chains, manufacturing, and ourselves.

This is an extremely topical podcast, which ends on a positive note. I hope you find it useful.

Listen to the podcast using the player above, and/or see the full transcript below:

Martin Barkman [00:00:00] ¬†¬†The first thing that I think in in times like this organizations have to understand this is what is my what is my supply? Where do I have products? Can I get the product? Am I relying upon regions that are even more hard hit by the particular crisis and whether it’s this viral situation or just in general I think companies are rethinking making sure that they have alternative sources.
Tom Raftery [00:00:29] Good morning. Good afternoon or good evening. Wherever you are in the world, this is the Digital Supply Chain podcast and I am your host Tom Raftery.

 

Tom Raftery [00:00:39] Welcome to the Digital Supply Chain podcast. We are in the series themed around Industry 4.0 and my special guest on the show today is Martin. Martin, would you like to introduce yourself?

 

Martin Barkman [00:00:52] Absolutely, Tom. And thank you for having me. I am Martin Barkman and I head up solution management for SAPs digital supply chain area based in the United States and super excited to be here talking to you today.

 

Tom Raftery [00:01:08] Thank you. Thank you, Martin. so, digital supply chain and industry 4.0. How are they connected?

 

Martin Barkman [00:01:16] It’s a great it’s a great question. I mean, there’s a lot going on with supply chain today. Obviously, the topic at the moment is everything the world is doing to mitigate the effect of this virus. But even before the virus, supply chains were becoming more prominent and more central to the conversations in company boardrooms and frankly, even amongst consumers. Geopolitically, we saw things like trade tariffs, and regulations coupled with uncertainties around the exit of Britain from the United, from the European zone. All of these put pressure on companies supply chains. And then at the same time, you also have consumers that are pickier and have more desires than ever before.

 

Martin Barkman [00:02:15] Whether it’s the personalization of products or even the speed…

 

Tom Raftery [00:02:21] They’ve been spoiled, consumers have been spoiled by the likes of Amazon who are now giving them deliveries same day and even, you know, sub-hour times and things like that. so, that’s gotta put huge pressure on supply chains as well.

 

Martin Barkman [00:02:32] Yeah, it’s interesting. So, you have governments, you have individual consumer. And then there’s this underlying thread around topics of sustainability. You know, consumers are starting to figure out that having the delivery truck come to their house many, many times every day maybe isn’t the most sustainable option. So, we’re seeing a convergence of a lot of these global trends, consumer trends, and it’s converging around the supply chain. And so, how do you set up a supply chain that can really accomplish all of this in a fundamentally different way? You asked about Industry 4.0, and it’s an interesting term. It actually originated in in Europe many, many years ago. And it was primarily focused around the automation of the factory or the plants. Now we’re seeing the concepts actually extend to the entire supply chain, to the assets that are deployed throughout the supply chain, all the way to the way distribution and logistics is handled. And it’s all about using technology and data to fundamentally change and take a step change in productivity. Other times it’s called industrial Internet of Things, so, I just wanted to throw that out there, that that’s also a term that’s often used.

 

Tom Raftery [00:03:52] Sure, sure. And I mean, we’re not going to harp on the whole Coronavirus thing because, you know, there’s lots of other people talking about that. And, you know, people better, better informed than us. But things like that are going to be putting huge pressure now, you gonna think on supply chains. I mean, particularly there’s going to be a huge increase in the requirement for logistics as more people, you know, stay at home and have a requirement to have things delivered to their home. so, that that’s going to that’s going to change the logistics industry. It’s going to grow the logistics industry, and it’s going to completely you got to think change how a lot of supply chains are organised.

 

Martin Barkman [00:04:31] Yeah. No, no, no doubt. And it is it is absolutely the topic of the day and what companies are focusing on. I mean, you know, the first thing that I think in in times like this organizations have to understand is what is my what is my supply? Where do I have product? Can I get the product? Am I relying upon regions that are even more hard hit by the particular crisis and whether it’s this virus situation or just in general, I think companies are rethinking, making sure that they have alternative sources identified. They understand the implications of those sources.¬† They have the ability to switch and shift order volumes from one, one to the other. You know, so. That that I think is kind of step one in a time like this, of course, with that comes also an understanding of where you have inventory in the supply chain and how can you use that inventory to ultimately create new finished goods and move those finished goods to the point where they are most, most desperately needed. I think at the same time, demand is is really, really changing. We’re seeing spikes in demand for products that are absolute critical.

 

Tom Raftery [00:06:01] Toilet Rolls?

 

Martin Barkman [00:06:01] Whether it’s. But it’s not just I mean, it’s paper products in general. Right. Diapers and such. Certainly, in personal hygiene products. I mean, right now, Amazon is prioritising the delivery of those to consumers at the expense of maybe some products that are not deemed to be quite as urgent. I think for companies, what’s critical is understanding, you know, just by how much and where and to what degree demand has changed, because ultimately that picture has to be you have to form the unified picture of demand and supply and ultimately how you how you solve for that. so, you want to get your arms around. So, I yeah. This is a you get your arms around that. That demand certainly part of the supply picture is also the capacity. And you mentioned people are now working from home, certainly in some professions that’s a possibility. In professions like running a manufacturing operation, that’s not always the case. The customers we have that I’ve talked to are trying to keep these critical plants up and running plants that are involved in producing products that are more needed now than ever before. But the method in which you do that right, the way you run your shifts, the way you inform and encourage people to work when they are on the shop floor is different. Right. We can’t stand shoulder to shoulder anymore. We have to maintain the social distancing even in the workplace. so, I think its capacity, its inventory, its supplier and supply and its demand and forming that picture and understanding also what is it saying I need to do today? But what are the what ifs and the scenarios? We live in an extremely dynamic environment. so, this week is fundamentally different than last week. so, whatever I thought was my plan last week, it’s very likely that that plan now needs to change. so, I need an environment and an ability to rerun those scenarios very, very effectively. Once I choose a scenario and I say, OK, this is the one I’m going to operate, that, how do I put it into action all the way down to planning the transportation and understanding how to get it ultimately to the end consumer?

 

Tom Raftery [00:08:29] And demands have got to be swinging wildly as well at the moment. I mean, we talk about people working from home. That’s going to mean a huge drop in demand for, you know, petrol, diesel those kinds of fuels to get people to and from work. And on the other hand, there’s going to be a huge uptick you got to think and demand for things like webcams so, people can more effectively work from home.

 

Martin Barkman [00:09:00] Yeah. so, it’s interesting right now, I think we’re all trying to come to grips with what is the the new…the drop in, you know, what is the the drastic change in demand, and as I mentioned earlier, how do companies get their arms around that? But soon we will have to start to plan for the recovery. Is the recovery going to be like the letter V, where it’s a sharp drop and then a sharp rise, is it going to be like the letter U where it’s a drop and then it’s a period of really, really low band in general, but then an uptick. Or frankly, it’s almost gonna be like the letter L you know, the classic where we’re gonna be at a low point of demand for quite some time and then maybe we see a gradual, slow recovery. And the answer is, of course, we don’t know, and it may actually differ for different products. I also think we have to think about the possibility that when we emerge from this, yes, things will be fine, but they will be different. Right. so, if you think back to the 9/11 crisis, we started to fly again, but airport security was fundamentally changed. Will our way of working be fundamentally different when we emerge from this crisis? so, we have to understand how we will emerge and what the scenarios are so, that we can plan accordingly. But then let’s not assume that everything returns to the way it was. It may not be for certain parts of the economy or for certain industries or for certain types of products.

 

Tom Raftery [00:10:57] And how do companies plan for that?

 

Martin Barkman [00:11:02] Yeah, I think…

 

Tom Raftery [00:11:07] The 64-million-dollar question?

 

Martin Barkman [00:11:08] Yeah, look, I mean, you hear it said every day. Right. These are unprecedented times. Companies that have a good handling of their data, of their information and they’re able to bring it into one environment where they can run these scenarios. Not to pretending that they know exactly what’s going to happen, but they can say, you know what, if this happens, what if we have a quick recovery? What if we have a prolonged recovery? What if they make some more of our products coming out of the recovery maybe is a little bit different? What if a part of the world relapses later this year and the epidemic comes back in a limited form? so, I think companies that have that kind of digital environment are going to be able to plan these different scenarios. They may not know, but they can certainly weigh the different options. But I also think it’s interesting. Right? so, Industry 4.0 if we over time, are able to automate and run more critical parts of the supply chain in an autonomous or perhaps in a remotely controlled way. And this is already happening. I mean, I’ve been to see many production operations. You know, the people there are operating them behind a glass wall or in the case of milling and mining, significant parts of the operation might be controlled in a control centre that’s located hundreds of miles away and then using cameras and digital infrastructure they’re able to control the equipment. The interesting thing about that is when the next pandemic, and I hate to even say it comes, supply chains might be able to operate more autonomously, because people are not necessarily working and standing right next to each other. It’s not that we have eliminated the need for people completely, but we’ve eliminated the need for people to stand closely together performing the tasks and potentially risking their safety as a result.

 

Tom Raftery [00:13:38] so, Martin, I think one of the most important things at this kind of time is transparency in supply chains. Can you talk a little bit about that for us?

 

Martin Barkman [00:13:48] Absolutely. And it’s really interesting because supply chains almost by nature, right? You think everything happens in sequence from one step to the other it’s very linear oriented, and in many cases, it is, right? You start with a but raw material and you convert it into something that you ultimately distribute and sell. However, that’s a very simplified view. And what has been happening already is supply chains are becoming more networks. Right? so, you source raw materials more through a network, in many cases. Your manufacturing setup is a network. You have your own manufacturing sites and you have the ability to go out and work with contractors in a network type of capacity. Transportation. Same thing. You source transportation through a network and you work with a network of providers. And as a result, the supply chains are actually becoming less linear and sequential and more networked. Now, more than ever, visibility of what’s happening in your supply chain is very important. And because it’s more networked, you need the visibility through your network. so, you need to understand. Not just what’s happening within the four walls of your supply chain, but within your supply chain network. so, this is a topic that was already becoming important. I think now more than ever, it’s of upmost importance. Companies are setting up, you know, war rooms and crisis management centres to understand how to maximize their ability to serve their customers. And of course, information and visibility are very, very key to that. Now, beyond this pandemic, there are other cases where having visibility is very important. What if there’s a product recall? How do I ensure that I can trace the source of the recall or the cause of the recall through my supply chain and remove the product that is subject to the recall without overdoing it, without removing a product that does not have to be subject to the recall. so, there there’s just a lot of ways in which this connecting everything and then having that be rendered simultaneously more closer, if not real time. It’s becoming very, very important.

 

Tom Raftery [00:16:23] And for organizations who are in the throes of this right now, I mean, what would you advise them to do if they haven’t got the kind of transparency that they need or if they are starting on that project or if they’re even if they’re in that in that project and they’re looking to increase their¬† visibility into their supply chain where we’re should. What should they do? What kind of steps should they take?

 

Martin Barkman [00:16:51] Yeah, it’s hard to think of a one size fits all, but. There’s a good chance that there are some pockets of places in their supply chain where the information resides digitally. Sometimes that could be very large pockets, large repositories. I would say an initial key step is assess what is the digital environment you have? What are the existing tools you have in place and look for ways to activate elements of those tools that maybe you haven’t otherwise activated. So, for example, we have customers that are running the SAP integrated business planning application to do the scenario analysis that I talked about earlier. It has inherent capabilities for things like visibility. We call it the control tower. Ensure that you’re leveraging those capabilities to the fullest, which in some cases, if you aren’t, isn’t a big undertaking to go do.

 

Tom Raftery [00:17:53] Okay.

 

Martin Barkman [00:17:55] And certainly that’s something that that companies can consider.

 

Tom Raftery [00:18:00] All these things are kind of on a curve so, they can move kind of further to the right on the curve to increase their visibility, you’re saying?

 

Martin Barkman [00:18:07] Yeah. I mean, it’s a matter of time too, right? And, you know, are there quick wins that can be attained right now? At some point, companies may look to say, you know, how do we how do we take a step change in our in our digital environment, in our infrastructure, so, that we can do this on an ongoing basis, not just when a pandemic comes across, but frankly, sometimes you see a spike in demand that you hadn’t forecasted. You would like nothing more than to meet that demand. But you don’t know if you can or what it would take to meet that demand. so, you need to be able to run these plans and rerun the plans more often. You know, that’s the kind of capability that I think companies at some point are going to start to say, you know what, it makes sense to pursue that.

 

Tom Raftery [00:18:53] Excellent. Martin, we’re coming towards the end of the podcast now. We’re at about 18 minutes, 19 minutes into the into the podcast. Before we end up before we finish up, is there is there any question that I have not asked you that you think I should have?

 

Martin Barkman [00:19:14] I perhaps one thing we should conclude with is, you know what what is, pandemics aside, if we allow ourselves the luxury and the pleasure of removing that that new lens just for a second, maybe what is on the other side? And what do we think is is of utmost importance to companies? And I’d just like to talk about that, because I think we have to allow ourselves the ability to think in those terms, right? For the future and to us and what we see from our customers is supply chain is moving increasingly, from a pure back office function to something that’s at the at the boardroom level, very much part of the discussion. And the reason is we are moving into an era where it’s all about the experience economy, meaning what is it that customers want to experience when they do business with you? What is it that your employees want to experience when they go to work? What is it that your shareholders are looking for you to accomplish right in your community? Same thing with the environment. And we think that’s very exciting for those of us that are passionate about supply chain, because how can you accomplish something on all those axes and on all those vectors without a really, really comprehensive approach to supply chain management, right? What is the point of selling a product that’s marketed well, if in the end the product doesn’t meet customer needs from a quality and functionality standpoint? What is the point of having the most perfectly manufactured product with all the bells and whistles if in the end it’s delivered late to customers? so, the supply chain is what brings that ultimate experience very much together. And we see companies making investments in supply chains in ways that traditionally wouldn’t have been wouldn’t have been thought of. And it’s so, that the supply chain can help the company be successful in the experience economy. And we think that’s exciting and we think that’s very much on top of minds of companies right now, maybe a little bit further back of their mind, given the urgency, but nevertheless, something that absolutely has to be continued to be addressed.

 

Tom Raftery [00:21:57] Excellent, excellent, excellent. Martin, if people want to know more about Martin or about supply chains or about business planning or any of the above, where would you have me direct them? I’ll put some links in the show, notes in the description, this podcast so, you just tell me what to put in there.

 

Martin Barkman [00:22:17] Sure. Let’s assume they want to know about supply chain more so, than they know about me. Certainly, I’m on LinkedIn. But for for supply chain and what we’re doing at SAP, I would invite everyone actually to go to SAP.com, and in there we have sections for supply chain management. We have a lot of interesting content of what we’re seeing are the big trends and what companies are doing. And we have a lot of testimonials from companies with whom we work. And I think that’s an exciting place for people to start to learn more.

 

Tom Raftery [00:22:55] Super, super. Martin, thanks again for joining us on the show today.

Martin Barkman [00:23:01] Thank you so, much. It’s a pleasure.

 

Tom Raftery [00:23:04] OK. We’ve come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you’d like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to SAP.com/digitalsupplychain or simply drop me an email to Tom.Raftery at sap.com. If you like to show, please don’t forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application to get new episodes right away as soon as they’re published. And also, please don’t forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.