Pithy Planning

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Your weekly dose of Supply Chain Planning news from the world of planning and scheduling

Every day the team here at Replan comes across valuable stories, articles and insights which are passing most manufacturers by. We wanted to pull the best of these together for you each week.

Pithy planning no. 11

This week some coverage suggesting that rising shipping rates could point to issues on the horizon for Supply Planners. But is this correct or is the underlying data suggesting something more temporary?

We also celebrate one of our partners, Diomac on 21 years! And finally, there’s a super article on the world championships of Excel!

🌎 NY Times Article: The chaos is back for Supply Chains

Nobody in planning, wants to return to the stressful times of recent years when it seemed there was a new crisis weekly. In this article by Peter S. Goodman, there is a report on increased rates for shipping containers from China to the US and Europe, which the article attributes to various geo-political issues. Article

To dig further check out this Linkedin post by Peter Sand, Chief Analyst from Xeneta which compares these rates vs what we saw during COVID. Post

However for a US-centric counterpoint it’s great to review this post by Jason Miller which looks to underlying census data to judge if these increased container rates are having a knock-on effect in US production. Article

If you like Miller’s work (and this editor is a big fan) definitely check out the latest podcast from Matt Waller, where he discusses the impact of stimulus, the myth of truck driver shortages in the US and more.

👂 Podcast – Unraveling Supply Chain Mysteries: Insights from Expert Jason Miller- Podcast

🏭 Congratulations to our partner Diomac and their CEO Noel Carr on their ongoing successes. Diomac has just announced their newest digital Brochure and they are celebrating 21 years of success! Post

🇮🇪 Irish manufacturing sector deteriorates solidly in June

47.4 is a poor print for this index and the data points to declining levels of new orders. Survey
The Irish CSO also has interesting data which points to declines in monthly production of the Modern Manufacturing sector (Chemical, Pharma and Computer & Electronic) of 16.6%. Article

😀 The world may not run on spreadsheets, but spreadsheets run the world

With 27 contestants, laptops, and intense concentration, this unique competition transforms spreadsheeting into an exhilarating sport, showcasing the prowess of Excel experts in an atmosphere blending the feel of summer camp with a business conference.

We know that most planners rely on Excel either as their primary planning tool or a supplement to larger systems. Any excel gurus who fancy their chances in Vegas next year? Article

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Pithy planning no. 10

🥤Article: Pepsi lost the cola wars. Why is it struggling to hold on to second place?

Opening this week with a super article by Aimee Levitt in the Guardian.

Pepsi has lost its second-place spot to Dr Pepper in the U.S. carbonated soft drink market, according to Beverage Digest’s 2023 rankings. Coca-Cola remains the market leader with a 19.2% share, while Dr Pepper edged out Pepsi with 8.34% to 8.31%. Dr Pepper’s success is attributed to innovative flavours and strong appeal among GenZ consumers.

Despite the setback, PepsiCo has diversified its portfolio significantly, with a majority of its revenue now coming from snacks rather than beverages. This shift in focus might explain the company’s lack of public response to the ranking change.

Our take: Interesting to compare how the soft drinks market more broadly is performing against other comparable sectors such as bottled water. Also worth noting the rise of these categories in developing nations as emerging middle classes become more frequent consumers. This is evidenced by some of the consolidation in soft drink bottlers from Asia. Article

🍻Article: Carlsberg’s bid to acquire Britvic PLC
This is a super article from the Brewer that analyses the recent stock exchange announcement by Britvic that it had been subject to 2 bids from Carlsberg. It was also interesting to note the Carlsberg share price rise on the back of the announcement that their approach had been rebuffed. Perhaps the market doesn’t see the strategic rationale behind this M&A play clearly. It will be interesting to watch as this plays out. Under UK takeover rules Carlsberg have until July 19th to submit a 3rd bid. Article

🎉Congratulations to our partners Oliver Wight for being listed as a top consulting firm in the UK for 2024. This is fantastic recognition for a great team that is a crucial part of the UK supply chain consulting eco-system. Link

🇫🇷European PMIs Negatively impacted by the French Elections
We noted in the FT Weekend article exploring how French political uncertainty is impacting demand, with a fall in EU PMI from 48.9 to 48.2. This important indicator of the EU economy’s financial health will be a concern to supply chain planners. Does it suggest a wider issue or will orders strengthen later in the summer. Watch this space! Article

✨Something Fun: Getting a Crash Course in Bull Riding, Tex-Mex Cuisine & the Spirit of Texas

This is easily the best product series on Youtube right now. Made by Huckberry (they are selling the clothing in each episode) and with adventures in great locations, who wouldn’t be a fan. Also highly commendable for the local food sourcing for each episode, although that’s unlikely to scale for most of the F&B manufacturers we know! Video

Pithy planning no. 9

Welcome to your weekly dose of Supply Chain Planning and Scheduling news.

Judging by my LinkedIn feed, the great and the good of European Supply Chain were out in force at the Gartner Supply Chain conference in Barcelona last week. Just think of all the supply chain execs and vendors crammed together with as much Rioja and jamón iberico as one can think to consume.

Here are some great write ups from attendees:
Amber Salley at GAINS: Write up
Madhav Dhurba at Relex: Write up
Matthew Montgomery at Genpact: Write up

All these lovely write-ups got this humble editor thinking: Are Gartner a force for good or ill in the supply chain world. Do execs really get value from the hundreds of articles, the top-25 lists and big annual get-togethers?

They certainly must be doing something right in curating a community and bringing supply chain folk together across the US and Europe. While opinions on Gartner’s influence may vary, there’s no denying their role in shaping the supply chain narrative and fostering connections within the community.

Execs we’ve worked with certainly find value in their comprehensive reports and well organised events, even if the hefty price tag can sometimes feel like a bit of a stretch. In the end, it’s all about finding the right balance between insightful guidance and independent critical thinking.

🗞️Article: Thinking Beyond Cost: New Executive Priorities for Supply Chains. An interesting piece that gets to the heart of every supply chain executive: cost vs service.

In this article from Bain explores how cost is no longer the primary focus for supply chain executives. Instead, there is an increasing emphasis on flexibility, resilience, speed, digital integration, and sustainability.

Our View: This has been front and centre since COVID and clearly has been on the agenda at board level across manufacturing sectors. The impact of this change in priority ultimately comes down to how much cost Manufacturers are willing to bear and what they can pass onto their customers and suppliers. Article

🎙️Supply Chain Brain hosted a solid podcast with Hernan Saenz from Bain, who authored the article above, where he highlights the challenge of balancing these evolving priorities to create the most effective supply chain strategy. Podcast

📃Article: Red Bull sold over 12 Billion cans in 2023!
Insightful piece by Beverage Daily highlighting that Coca-Cola has solidified its status as the world’s most chosen FMCG brand but other beverages, such as Red Bull, have also seen standout performances this year. Article

Our Take: Sustained growth in F&B requires constant innovation in flavour combinations and product launches. Planners face challenges in finding production slots for low volume new SKUs. This leads to operational headaches with expensive changeovers driven by small batch sizes and low demand for emerging product. Planning agili…

Pithy planning no. 8

🗞️ Article: Will urgent freight containers from the far east to US cost over $10k this year? Article.

Companies transporting goods from Asia are facing significant increases in shipping costs, with urgent container rates potentially reaching $10,000 over the next month, doubling current spot rates. CMA CGM SA has already announced a rise to $7,000 for a 40-foot container from Asia to northern Europe, up from $5,000.

Our Take: For US F&B manufacturers the raw material and packaging supplies from Asia are critical inputs to production. With working capital costs also rising, teams are under pressure to manage down inventories but when there are demand spikes this can result in urgent container costs. Better midterm visibility and group planning will win the day here!

📃 Article 2: An interesting Hexnode survey highlights that continued ransomware attacks and software vulnerabilities pose significant threats to digital supply chains. Clearly we are all striving to become more digitally enabled, to connect devices and machines across the production network but with what preparations for disruption? Article.

It’s clear that due care and attention to the cyber security elements of this is required but what can planners do? Take the example from the NHS where London hospitals are reduced to working from pen and paper as they are locked out of their systems. Article.

Ask yourself what would happen to production if you were locked out of your ERP, MES or APS? How prepared is your team for such an event?

The classic software example is the AWS chaos monkey, which was a programme developed to randomly turn off servers on AWS as a reliability test. Interesting food for thought for your planning team!

⛵ Something interesting… Are we ready for Container Ships with Sails?

From the economist (behind paywall!) – Norsepower is fitting six 35-metre Flettner rotors to three new cargo ships being built for Louis Dreyfus Armateurs.

Once completed the ships will be chartered to Airbus and will carry fuselages, wings and tails, to be assembled into six a320 airliners at Airbus’s factories in the US.

How cool is that! Article.

Pithy planning no. 7

🗞️ Partner Article – The F&B sector faces challenges due to labor shortages, staff turnover, and rising energy costs. Chris Spray from LineView, a Replan tech partner, highlights how data can help overcome these obstacles by improving efficiency across production lines.

LineView argues that programs focused on Line Balancing Optimisation are essential in attracting and empowering talent, whilst increasing production capacity.

Our take: We strongly agree with the points raised by Chris in this piece. Effective supply chain planning relies heavily on interpreting data to streamline operations and mitigate labor shortages. Definitely worth a read! Read more ->

🤖 Article – AI in the workplace

The Biden-Harris Administration has introduced principles to protect workers and ensure they benefit from AI advancements. The full list of principles are in the article below and apply throughout the AI lifecycle.

Our take: Manufacturing has long been at the forefront of automation, from robots and beyond. As the latest generation of AI sweeps through our sector it will be interesting to consider how it’s applied in the planning and scheduling space. Read more ->

📃 Article – Supply Chain Sustainability: It Comes Down to the Data

This interesting Deloitte study highlights that only 13% of companies can map their entire supply chain, and segregated data silos prevent cross-departmental collaboration.

Effective sustainability initiatives require cohesive data management, achievable through better master data management (MDM). MDM centralises data, reduces silos, and aids compliance with evolving regulations.

Our take: Manufacturers no longer have the option to ignore the carbon costs of their operations. But calculating the carbon impact for each individual SKU on every production resources is unachievable for most, particularly in the mid market. The tools are improving but there is a lot of road left to travel here.
Read more ->

🚜 Something fun – Clarkson’s Farm – a lovely insight into the challenges of running a farm in the UK. Amazon Prime Series 3 now available. Read more ->

Pithy planning no. 6

This week we take an econometric view – it’s a bit heavier but definitely worth the insights.

📄 Article: Prof of Supply Chain Management at Michigan State, Jason Miller examines the balance of supply and demand in US trucking. I always enjoy Prof Miller’s work and this analysis provides a valuable barometer of overall volatility in US supply chains:
1️⃣ Post-COVID-19 supply and demand balanced reasonably, though demand surged in late 2021. Disrupted freight networks, such as increased retail activity but decreased steel production, pushed more freight to the spot market.
2️⃣ By Q2 2022, supply growth exceeded demand, intensifying the freight recession by Q3 2022. Although supply and demand are more balanced now than in early 2023, excess supply persists.
3️⃣ Prof Miller suggests that a 3% shift in supply-demand balance is needed to initiate the next bull market in the truckload sector.

Our take for Production Planners: If a balance is achieved – either supply side reduction, i.e. fewer trucks on the road, – or demand side increase, i.e. GDP growth, this will set the tone for the broader economic outlook in the US. This has clear implications for inventory holding and distribution costs. Article.

📃Article: This next piece is from a super Substack called Apricitas Economics by Joseph Politano, focused on macro economics with primarily a US focus.

The U.S. has increasingly focused on securing supply chains through industrial policy due to geopolitical conflicts, acute shortages, and high inflation. This has led to significant government intervention in the manufacturing sector, exemplified by a surge in manufacturing construction spending fueled by the CHIPS Act and Inflation Reduction Act.

Our take: manufacturing faces a major challenge of stagnant productivity growth. Today, U.S. factories the same units per hour that they did in 2007. This stagnation hampers competitiveness in key industries and the ability to enter new high-tech markets. This is partly because they are still planning production using tools built back then, like excel. Article

💡Interview: Lunch with the FT is an established favourite of this editor. Last weekend they had a thought provoking conversation with Minette Batters, former President of the NFU in the UK. It covers Batters role of farming and the ongoing shape of farming subsides post Brexit. It also discusses the challenges faced in decarbonising farming.

For UK F&B manufacturers who benefit from local supply chains and food production, it’s interesting to consider the debate around carbon, materials sourcing and political dynamics influencing it all. 🌟🌱 Article. (* behind a paywall)


✨Something fun: Experience the forefront of automotive manufacturing with Rivian Automotive’s production line, where electric vehicles come to life. Video.

Pithy planning no. 5

As the humble editor of this weekly compendium, I look to blend in some broad macro themes for the planners and execs who are our loyal audience. This week we have a selection of articles that focus on global trade, from big picture surveys through to specific industry insights.

🗞️ Article: Protectionism Mithridatism* Alliance Trade Survey – an annual report that collates responses from 3k companies across China, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, the UK and the US who were asked to respond. This survey covers key topics like Selective Globalization, China focus, and AI impact. Companies are monitoring, some shifting production, while others believe political stability will return. Our view: Global trade will face more protectionism, but core foundations remain. The end of Globalization? Not yet!! Article.

*Yes, yes! I admit that I had to look up what Mithridatism actually meant… don’t pretend you knew it too… “is the practice of protecting oneself against a poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts.” 

📄 Article: Emerging Resilience in the Semiconductor Supply Chain. It’s clear that governments are taking a very dim view of the risks that have built up around semiconductors. Read my favourite book from recent years, Chip Wars, to understand why this has happened and why it costs so much to fix. Stratechery’s Ben Thompson offers fascinating insights on the strategic challenges of giants like IBM. Check out his interview with Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger (Sept 2023) and the Jan 2024 piece “Intel’s Humbling.”

Applying a supply planning lens across industries, we don’t see similar risks in Food and Beverage, where supply chains are shorter and more localised. The specialty chemicals industry also showed resilience by quickly shifting demand from the EU during the 2023 gas crisis. Article.

📃 Article: This is a super article by Santosh Sankar, from Dynamo Ventures, an awesome VC specialising in supply chain and logistics. It outlines major transformations in global supply chains driven by geopolitics, climate change, and shifting labor demographics, focusing on the US. The piece suggests Mexico and India will benefit from the decline of hyper-globalization. While it could have explored China’s softening domestic demand more, I support the overall hypothesis. Check out Dynamo Ventures’ excellent weekly newsletter. Article.

✨ Something Awesome: I have a family member who works in the energy game and the stuff they do there is the real deal. Check out these photos of the arrival of Hinkley Point C’s first 520-tonne steam generator in the UK. Transported by sea and road, these colossal 25-meter long generators are pivotal in harnessing heat from nuclear reactors to power the world’s largest turbines. Video.

For company news, features, and event updates, be sure to visit our Linkedinwebsite, and YouTube channel. Stay connected with our progress and exciting developments in the world of supply chain planning.

Pithy planning no. 4

Article: 🗞️ A solid McKinsey article exploring digital twins and their potential to accelerate innovation. Helpfully they outline clear criteria to use when determining where in your supply chain process to implement a digital twin.

Our take: For some time now it’s been clear that digital twins enable planners by replicating real-world systems using data, thereby optimising complex processes like supply chains and manufacturing operations. The challenge lies in identifying where and when to use them. It’s also important not to underestimate the effort required to get all the nuances of a specific process accurately captured in the digital twin. Article

Article: 🗞️ In this latest article from Yale Environment 360, Marcel Gomes, a journalist from Repórter Brasil, led an investigation into the supply chain of JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company, uncovering the link between Brazilian beef and illegal deforestation in the Amazon. Through grassroots support and data collection efforts, Gomes traced the path of illicit beef from ranches to retail outlets worldwide. He highlights ongoing challenges in holding companies accountable and cleaning up their supply chains. Article

Our take: Gomes highlights the urgent need for F&B manufacturers to ensure ethical sourcing practices, enhance supply chain visibility, and uphold transparency and accountability throughout their supply chains. By addressing these challenges, companies can mitigate risks, uphold ethical standards, and build trust with consumers.

Technology: 💡 Diving into the latest tech, Marques Brownlee takes a spin on The Holotile Infinite Floor/360 Treadmill, the latest innovation from Disney imagineering.

Our take: The potential applications of this technology seem boundless. Beyond its use in theme parks and VR gaming, we envision significant potential for its application on factory floors. This advancement could revolutionise how production teams navigate their environments, simplifying tasks like planning, coordination, and control of manufacturing processes with hand gestures, leading to greater efficiency. Video

Something fun: 👖Would you ever imagine your next pair of pants being 3D woven? Well, brace yourself, because unspun is on a mission to wrap your legs in the future of fashion! With their collaboration with Walmart, those 3D pants might be hugging your hips sooner than you think! YouTube

For company news, features, and event updates, be sure to visit our Linkedinwebsite, and YouTube channel. Stay connected with our progress and exciting developments in the world of supply chain planning.

Pithy planning no. 3

As the humble editor of this weekly compendium, I look to blend in some broad macro themes for the planners and execs who are our loyal audience. This week we have a selection of articles that focus on global trade, from big picture surveys through to specific industry insights.

🗞️ Article: Protectionism Mithridatism* Alliance Trade Survey – an annual report that collates responses from 3k companies across China, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, the UK and the US who were asked to respond. This survey covers key topics like Selective Globalization, China focus, and AI impact. Companies are monitoring, some shifting production, while others believe political stability will return. Our view: Global trade will face more protectionism, but core foundations remain. The end of Globalization? Not yet!! Article.

*Yes, yes! I admit that I had to look up what Mithridatism actually meant… don’t pretend you knew it too… “is the practice of protecting oneself against a poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts.” 

📄 Article: Emerging Resilience in the Semiconductor Supply Chain. It’s clear that governments are taking a very dim view of the risks that have built up around semiconductors. Read my favourite book from recent years, Chip Wars, to understand why this has happened and why it costs so much to fix. Stratechery’s Ben Thompson offers fascinating insights on the strategic challenges of giants like IBM. Check out his interview with Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger (Sept 2023) and the Jan 2024 piece “Intel’s Humbling.”

Applying a supply planning lens across industries, we don’t see similar risks in Food and Beverage, where supply chains are shorter and more localised. The specialty chemicals industry also showed resilience by quickly shifting demand from the EU during the 2023 gas crisis. Article.

📃 Article: This is a super article by Santosh Sankar, from Dynamo Ventures, an awesome VC specialising in supply chain and logistics. It outlines major transformations in global supply chains driven by geopolitics, climate change, and shifting labor demographics, focusing on the US. The piece suggests Mexico and India will benefit from the decline of hyper-globalization. While it could have explored China’s softening domestic demand more, I support the overall hypothesis. Check out Dynamo Ventures’ excellent weekly newsletter. Article.

✨ Something Awesome: I have a family member who works in the energy game and the stuff they do there is the real deal. Check out these photos of the arrival of Hinkley Point C’s first 520-tonne steam generator in the UK. Transported by sea and road, these colossal 25-meter long generators are pivotal in harnessing heat from nuclear reactors to power the world’s largest turbines. Video.

For company news, features, and event updates, be sure to visit our Linkedinwebsite, and YouTube channel. Stay connected with our progress and exciting developments in the world of supply chain planning.

Pithy planning no. 2

Article: 📖 One of our partners, Oliver Wight, the creators of S&OP and later IBP, is running an excellent series that breaks down each aspect of IBP, starting with a Portfolio Review. Article

Portfolio reviews are a key moment to prevent SKU proliferation and engage in rationalisation where possible. Well worth a read if you’re looking to simplify your SKU management.

Article:📖 JPMorgan Chase, calculates that by the end of 2022, companies that make up the S&P 1500 index of America’s large firms had more than $600bn trapped in working capital. Article

Our take: There is a significant portion of that working capital tied up in the wrong inventory. Our teams talk to customers every day who are struggling to balance the right inventory against service targets. The majority are held back by still using Excel based planning spreadsheets that limit the visible planning horizon, forcing companies to hold higher inventory to enable supply chain resilience and responsiveness.

Podcast: 🎙️In this insightful episode The Future of Supply Chain podcast team explore AR’s profound impact on operational practices. Podcast

Augmented Reality (AR) stands as a transformative technology, seamlessly integrating digital information into our physical environment. In this insightful episode The Future of Supply Chain podcast team explore AR’s profound impact on operational practices.

Something Fun: ✨  And finally, just because we love a good review of new technology here is Marques Brownlee reviewing the humane AI pin! Check it out on YouTube here: Video

For company news, features, and event updates, be sure to visit our Linkedin, website, and YouTube channel. Stay connected with our progress and exciting developments in the world of supply chain planning.

Pithy planning no. 1

Article: 📖  This article from the Economist on the electrification of the factory was brilliant 🔌. You can get it here (paywalled) Article

Podcast:🎙️ We are big fans of Dynamo Ventures here at Replan. Our CEO has spoken to them a few times over the years. Definitely worth checking out this recent podcast. Podcast

Technical: 📚 Supply Chain Management Review has released a comprehensive eBook on S&OP mastery. This discusses the importance of sales and operations planning (S&OP) to an organisation. eBook

Something Fun: ✨  And finally, just because we love beautiful things – check out the unveiling of the new Luna Rossa America’s cup yacht ⛵. Talk about a complex planning problem! Check it out on youtube here: Video

For company news, features, and event updates, be sure to visit our Linkedin, website, and YouTube channel. Stay connected with our progress and exciting developments in the world of supply chain planning.

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