Archive for November, 2017

The Future of Work and Pay ? Part 2

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

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Today?s post is by Mike Figueroa, Assistant Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

When I was in high school, a music album cost me $15-$20. Today, for $10 a month or less, I can literally listen to any song in the world as much as I want. Similarly, the amount of calories that are available to me for relatively little money is greater than it?s ever been in the history of mankind. Medical advancements have lowered mortality rates, and will allow me to live longer than I ever would have been able to in past decades. So in many ways, you could say that even after compensating for inflation, we are?more wealthy?today than we have ever been just in terms of access to more, cheaper, and better quality resources.?However, we also need to consider that the producers, like in the music industry, are making only tiny fractions of what they used to. This loss of profit margin spans across all industries being affected by automation, and equates to there being less jobs available, as well as less pay available ?for those positions.?However, there are many who think that because income used to be higher when compared to inflation, and things like education and healthcare used to be cheaper, that we should revert back to the industrial practices of previous decades.

Although manufacturing is?critical to output, not all manufacturing practices should be lumped together in the same bucket. To say that an industrial machine press of 30 years ago is the same as one from 2017 would be ludicrous. Today?s machine presses have a throughput that is higher, and their operation takes much less man power than of previous generations. Factory jobs that used to need thousands of workers now take hundreds, and require much more advanced education.?So when it is proposed that the solution to all of America?s problems is to gain back the factory jobs of the 90?s, we should take the advice Steve Job?s gave to Obama in 2011 when he said,?”American manufacturing jobs are not coming back”.?To go back to the factory jobs of 30 years ago, would be to reduce the available efficiency, and therefore increase the cost of current goods. In short, there?s no going back to ?the way things were?.

For America to be competitive in the marketplace, manufacturing jobs will need to either have the same level of automation that modern international factories do, or be able to pay their laborers pennies on the hour as they do in countries with lower wage markets. Obviously, more productive capacity per capita is always the better option, but society will have to adjust to a new normal of lacking low-skill labor opportunities.

Work, career goals, professional community, and monetary incentive to produce goods and services are important reasons to keep the able-bodied working. So how do we keep our society doing fulfilling work, at a livable wage without de-incentivizing high level output and innovation? There are a few ideas being discussed right now:

??Universal Basic Income:?A?flat income rate, given to every citizen, regardless of how much or how little they work, or income they have.

??Negative Income Tax:?A flat tax rate across all income brackets, but with payments (negative tax) given to those individuals whose income falls below a minimum.

??Working Income Tax Benefit:?A tax credit that is given out for to those who work, with the benefit being tied to how much they work, up to a certain threshold.

These are just a few of the models being discussed right now that have risen to prominence. However, the conversation is far from over, and there will be many considerations to explore for a very complex problem. One thing is certain: That either technology will stop advancing, or work as we know it will fundamentally change.

What other potential solutions are there? ?We would love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment or for more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our ?Risk Free? trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

 

 

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The Future of Work and Pay ? Part I

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

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Today?s post is by Mike Figueroa, Assistant Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

The power of exponential growth is not something very easy to understand?intuitively. The classic example of?this,?is the fabled story of the creator of the game Chess. The?emperor who was enamored?with the game?asked its creator what he wanted for it. The game?s creator?simply?asked for rice, at a rate of 1 grain, doubled in number, for every square on the Chess board. This meant he received 1 grain for the first square, 2 grains for the second square, 4 grains for the third square, 8 grains for the fourth, and so on. Not until the emperor agreed, did he realize that he owed the game?s creator more rice than would be needed to build a pile the size of Mount Everest.

Similarly, not many people?understand the rate at which technology is advancing today. Technology isn?t just? advancing, its rate?of advancement is advancing. In other words, if technological advancement was represented visually on a chart, it wouldn?t be a straight line moving upward, it would be a line?curving?upward steeply. So?steeply?in fact,?that you would need a new chart to represent it every few years?just to be able to see the full curve. The computers that took us to the moon cost millions of dollars to create, filled warehouses, and had the computational power of a pocket calculator. Twenty years later, supercomputers would shrink to room-sized contraptions, but able to process at a rate of a full teraflop. Ten years later, I?d be playing video games in my living room?on a game console with more computing power for a few hundred dollars. And today, my daughter has an even more powerful?kids?tablet that cost less than $100.

If you have found yourself wondering why there is so much talk in business right now about automation taking away jobs, it?s not only because more and more activities are being automated that used to be done by humans. It?s also because the ability of machines to do human?s jobs is growing exponentially. During the industrial revolution,?thousands of workers lost farm jobs to factory farming.?But that change took decades to take place. Today, a new app hits the market and makes thousands of jobs irrelevant in a day. Predictions today indicate that?any job that requires financial analysis will be replaced by computer applications in the next 20 years.?As technology advances, our ability to produce products faster and cheaper will advance with it. However, those advances won?t be limited to increasing the scale of the production of goods. Advances of?scope?in what is available to automation, in the form of algorithms that can analyze financials, grade students, scan?x-rays, and create proposals, with a tiny fraction of the human input that it takes today.

Procurement won?t be safe from this advance either. In the coming decades, spend will be synced with market suppliers, and bidding will be automatic. Massive databases will house everything there is to know about a company, so that RFIs will be generated within minutes of the proposal being requested.?While these advances will destroy many jobs, exponential growth will also increase the wealth available.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our ?Risk Free? trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

 

 

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The Price of Dye in China

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

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Todays?s?Post is by Eli?Razov,?SafeSourcing??Account Manager.

What are?Leuco?Dyes?and how are the affecting millions?across the globe? Right now the world is seeing huge increases in the thermal paper?market.?Leuco??dyes?are made of many different chemicals which can combine ?to achieve the desired color.?These dyes have a colorless?leuco?form when crystalline or when in a pH neutral environment, but become colored when dissolved in a melt and exposed to an acidic environment.?Lueco?dyes provide little color when melted unless they are melted with one or more organic acids.?These are called developers. One example?of organic acid?is?Bisphenol?A?(BPA). These developers and?Leuco?dyes often mix poorly upon melting. A third chemical called a sensitizer is often added to the imaging layer to increase the effect. So what does this mean?

These are the components used to make thermal paper. The same paper you see daily from receipts at the local grocery store to fast food chains.?The world thermal paper market is about one million tons annually, with about 2/3 of that tonnage for receipt paper.?But right now, there is a major shortage in?Lueco?Dyes. This shortage is due to a company in China named Connect Chemicals which is responsible for 35%?? 40%?of global dye demand for thermal coaters.?In September of 2017 the Connect Chemicals was shut down due to?environmental reasons and China?s new anti-pollution laws. This spells disaster for retailers especially Going into the holiday?season, which is the busiest time of year. Thermal paper pricing has seen an increase of over 20%-45%. This is making the demand outgrow the supply in many cases. Many major distributors have been unable to supply?their entire?current customer base and?are preventing them from acquiring new clients.

There is hope because this shortage is estimated to be?only?roughly 3 months while Connect?Chemicals closes to conform to?China?s new environmental laws. This will take months to recover losses and hopefully set the market normal again.

For more information on how?SafeSourcing?can assist you or on our ?Risk Free? trial program,?please contact a?SafeSourcing?Representative?we have an entire team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

References?—————————————————-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_paper

https://cohally.com/2017/10/05/largest-supplier-of-leuco-dye-shut-down-in-china-for-a-minimum-of-three-months/

 

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Happy Thanksgiving Weekend 2017 from SafeSourcing. Who were the Pilgrims?

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

 

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO?at SafeSourcing Inc.

According to the Mayflower Society, as history has evolved, any of the 102 Mayflower passengers who arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower and survived the initial hardships is now considered a Pilgrim with no distinction being made on the basis of their original purposes for making the voyage.

The Mayflower Pilgrims and their fellow travelers were authors of the first true governing document created in a New World colony. The Mayflower Compact is considered to have set the stage for the Constitution of the United States.

These were the same pilgrims that were responsible for the holiday we celebrate today called Thanksgiving.

We wish you and yours a peaceful and happy extended holiday weekend.

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Thanksgiving is really a story of a supply chain found and developed!

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

 

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend from SafeSourcing

One hundred and two pilgrims and crew arrived in Massachusetts after a 3,000 mile trip from England on the Mayflower. It is safe to say that as a result of that distance there was no existing supply chain to leverage, so one had to be developed and quickly. This began with basic hunting and gathering and later included trading with the areas indigenous peoples known as the Wampanoag?s for corn, seed and foraging and planting techniques.

The Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today really stems from the feast held in the autumn of 1621. Since the pilgrims had only arrived on November 21st of 1620 they had really not been there long enough to develop a fully reliable and renewable supply source. They had however established collaborative relationships with the local Wampanoag people who became regular trading partners and who helped them celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest.

The most detailed description of the “First Thanksgiving” comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:”Our harvest? being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.

The fowl referred to above certainly could have included a wide range of fowl that was plentiful in the area such as wild turkey, pheasant, goose, duck, and partridge and unfortunately by today?s standards even eagles.

The pilgrims probably didn’t have pies or much of anything sweet at the harvest feast because they did not yet have ovens. They had brought some sugar with them on the Mayflower but by the time of the first Thanksgiving, the supply had probably run out.

Their meals also included many different types of meats. Vegetable dishes, one of the staples of today?s Thanksgiving, didn’t really play a large part in the feast. Other items that may have been on the menu certainly included sea food such as clams and lobster, Indian corn, wild fruits and nuts, meats such as venison and seal and certain dry herbs and spices.

The Thanksgiving meal that has today become a national holiday is a symbol of supply chain cooperation and interaction between English colonists and Native Americans.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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When is the right time for retailer buyers to run reverse auctions for Thanksgiving Turkeys?

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Just because you need to buy a product or service does not mean that you will receive the optimal price for that product. For certain products there are better times to run e-procurement events and if you miss that opportunity by even a couple of weeks the lost savings could be astronomical.

Some consumers give this considerable thought when they buy products like cars, computers, televisions, furniture and even certain food products. Retail buyers should be doing the same. If you are the poultry buyer planning for Thanksgiving, you do not want to be buying your frozen turkeys in July and quite frankly if you buy them in March you are probably going to miss out on some savings. The same could be said for just about any type of fresh produce. You can certainly get everything in today?s world at any time of year, but there are better times to do it than others.

A couple of tangential examples that require careful thought would be landscaping services and snow removal services for store parking lots and distribution centers. The services for the most part may be provided by the same suppliers. The optimal time to source landscaping may be the month of March while the optimal time for sourcing snow removal services may be September. These months also mark the beginning and end of the respective service seasons for each service. Even though you may get the service from the same provider, keeping the services separate leaves the leverage with the retailer when you source the other service for the upcoming season. This is also the time when the suppliers are looking for business that will sustain them through the upcoming season as another winds down.

Make sure you ask your e-procurement solutions provider to assist you with the apropriate timing to source your goods and services.

If you’d like us to help source your turkeys next year, call us now as February is on a couple of months away. Please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Choosing the Best Forklift for Your Needs

Monday, November 20th, 2017

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Today?s post is written by Ivy Ray, Account Manager at?SafeSourcing Inc.

Finding the right forklift for your operation can be a challenge. You may have a good idea of what your capacity needs?are, but there are many?options?from which to choose.?How do you?select?the best piece of equipment that fits your needs and your budget?

  • Electric forklifts are clean, quiet, compact and nimble with charging constraints.
  • Gas forklifts are best performers and have indoor/ outdoor flexibility.
  • Diesel forklifts are best outdoors and cheap to run.

Electric

Battery electric forklifts are the most environmentally friendly, and quiet. They are fume free in operation, giving off no harmful emissions.?Powered by large, heavy lead-acid batteries, electric lifts typically provide enough power for one standard eight-hour shift or about 5 to 6 hours of continuous use.?One of the main disadvantages is that electric fork lifts are not really suitable for prolonged use outside in wet weather, because the damp atmosphere cause problems with wiring circuitry and electrical components.?The two biggest advantages to this system are that it produces zero emissions, a necessity if the lift is operated indoors, and is highly economical in terms of fuel.

Internal combustion

Internal combustion (IC) engines run on a variety of fuels including gasoline, diesel fuel,?liquid?propane gas (LPG), or compressed natural gas (CNG). The main benefits of an IC forklift are the ability to operate them in any environment, a far greater capacity for weight (120,000 lbs. for diesel vs. 12,000 lbs. for an electric), and the ability to be refueled on the fly. They also have a slightly higher reach, usually capping out around 36 feet in comparison to electric lifts that typically don?t go higher than 30 feet.

Their upfront price is the inverse of electric, making them initially cheaper than electric models, but they cost more per hour to run. In fact, you can plan on paying about $30 to fill a 7-gallon diesel tank and $25 to $35 to fill a 33-lb propane tank. If you refuel the tanks twice a day, this equates to a yearly fuel cost of $1,500 for electric, $15,000 for diesel, and about $12,500 for propane.

Dual fuel ? a happy median

With the cost of diesel rising, dual fuel engines are becoming the preferred engine type for forklifts and similar industrial equipment in the United States. Comparable in terms of output to single-power options, they provide the cost-saving ability to combine gas and liquid propane or diesel and electric operation, switching between the two modes when power needs change.

In addition to the cost-saving benefits achieved through fuel conservation, dual fuel systems do not require spark plugs or an ignition system, eliminating a good chunk of the maintenance associated with traditional IC engines and boosting overall ROI.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business or on our ?Risk Free? trial program,?please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.? We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Resources—————————————————

http://www.bendigomitchell.com/kb/forklift-power

 

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How do you choose a new supplier?

Friday, November 17th, 2017

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Today?s blog is by Margaret Stewart,?Manager of HR and Administration at SafeSourcing Inc.

After several devastating hurricanes, the United States is in the cleanup, recovery, and rebuilding process for those areas hit worst. One notable area was the island of Puerto Rico, which was hit by multiple hurricanes, damaging a multitude of structures throughout and leaving the majority of the island without utilities. Because of this devastation, companies were sought to organize and begin the rebuilding of some of the necessities, like water and power.

One particular company, Whitefish, was contracted to begin the power grid restoration for the island, a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars. However, whether through oversight or intentional, this company, based in rural Montana, had no experience with projects of this size and, in fact, only had two employees. After that information was made public, the contract was ultimately cancelled and eventually awarded to another, larger company. The aftermath of this award of business, however, was a lengthy delay in the rebuilding process at a time when fast response could literally save lives.

While choosing a new supplier of your own may not have such an impact on millions of people as the situation in Puerto Rico, choosing the wrong one can still have a large and negative impact on your organization as a whole. This could mean additional time spent processing orders, paying a higher price until agreements are made or reviewed, or even legal fees involved if a contractual dispute occurs.

This is why it is highly important to not only research any potential suppliers ahead of time, but also to vet those suppliers. At SafeSourcing, we go to great lengths to ensure all the right suppliers are included for projects that you may consider running, and exclude those that do not meet the high standard we expect.

For more information on how SafeSourcing?can help with your sourcing needs,?or?on?our Risk Free trial program,?please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Increase Sales

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

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Today?s post is by Robert Rice, Account Manager?at SafeSourcing.

The sales profession moves faster than ever today. In the blink of an eye, new contenders emerge, products similar to yours are released, and before you know?it,?it’s?dog eat dog. No matter what business you’re in, what worked well a few years ago isn’t good enough today. This is no time for trial and error or order taking; this is a time to sell. Here are some basic steps you can take to improve your sales performance, reduce your cost of selling, and ensure your survival.

1. Explain your task.? Start by understanding your business niche. What categories do we do best? Who needs what we do? How do we best approach these prospects? How much are they willing to pay? If these questions are not answered easily, campaign at the top for clarity and vision.

2. Break the task into specific goals.? Write down the action goals (calls per day, events per month, referrals per call, etc.) that you can control. Set results goals (events per month, amount per event, profit per event, etc.) to measure your progress, and track them closely. Increase your activity and measure the results. Goals focus your attention and boost your action.

3. Sell to customer needs.? Always assume your clients will buy only what they need. How can you persuade them what they need? Highlight the features of your product and service that reduce costs and solve problems for the client. Sometimes you can shift your wares. For example, we ran successful clamshell events how are they on office supplies?

4. Create and maintain favorable attention.? Effective marketing, referrals, strong sales skills, and strategic questions are the keys to creating favorable attention. Diligent follow-through and above-and-beyond customer service are the keys to maintaining it. Think TQM (Total Quality Management)!

5. Sell on purpose. Know both what to do and why you’re doing it every step along the way. Who are you targeting and why? What are you going to tell them and why? What are you going to ask them and why? What is your proposal going to look like and why? When are you going to ask for the event? If you don’t feel sure of yourself at every step of the selling process, get some training or guidance.

6. Ask, listen, and act. Better than any others, these three words summarize success in sales. Your questions must be creative, planned, relevant, and direct. Your listening skills must be highly developed. You must respond and take action that prove that you listened to the client and want the event.

7. Take the responsibility but not the credit. Understand that you are the team leader. The company looks to you for direction and supports your effort. To build a strong support team willing to go the extra mile when you need it, give your team the credit for everything that goes right, and take the blame when it goes wrong.

8. Work on the basics.? Even the best of the best have room for improvement. Make a decision to improve your weaknesses, and set goals to force yourself to do the things you don’t like to do. Be more creative in your prospecting, fact finding, and presentation skills. Visualize the perfect salesperson and compare yourself to the ideal.

9. Develop your attitude.? Your attitude is controllable. No one likes a negative manager. Change the views that limit your success. Your thought behaviors control your obligation, interest, persistence, happiness, and confidence. Be aware of them, decide which ones are unproductive, and then make a commitment to change. With time and effort, you can become the manager they need, especially when profits are down.

10. Maximize your time.? Focus on your goals. Test every action for its rank and urgency. Create an ideal schedule, and test your actual time use against it daily. Remember, just one hour a day used more productively adds up to more than six extra weeks of productive time a year. Someone told me?many?years?ago, but?it?s true!

Robert Rice?is?an Account Manager?at SafeSourcing.?Robert?or any member of the experienced team at?SafeSourcing?would be happy to discuss?how SafeSourcing can help?you?with?your eProcurement planning.?For more information, please contact?SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

Resources—————————————

http://asq.org/learn-about-quality/total-quality.

 

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Reduce Capital Expenditures

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

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Today?s post is by Dave Wenig, Vice President of Sales and Services?at SafeSourcing.

Many of our clients find great success in significantly reducing their indirect spend. The typical expense categories that are sourced are always winners and are often the first categories that come to mind when selecting which categories will be sourced using eProcurement tools. As nearly all of our clients know from first-hand experience, these categories have earned this reputation for good reason. The average savings for Supply categories, for example is in excess of 21%.?This is relatively well known and is only the start of what is truly possible with eProcurement.

What is less known, and too often overlooked, is that this same eProcurement methodology can very easily be applied to your capital expenditures. At a time when many of our clients are preparing for the coming year, I wanted to point out that you should not forget to leverage eProcurement for your?capital expenditures.

At this point, you may well have a very clearly defined sourcing plan in the form of next year?s budget. My suggestion is simple ? remember to review that identified spend with your eProcurement provider. You?ll be glad you did.

I would encourage you to also keep an open mind as you decide which of these capital expenses you would identify for eProcurement. You might be surprised to know that our clients have had success in areas where most clients don?t even consider. In one example, we were able to successfully take just one panel van out to market as an RFQ. Inside of days, the client saved many times more than could ever be saved negotiating with dealers?using traditional methods. In another example, we achieved 30% savings on two towable generators.

Many of our clients, whether retailers or otherwise, will be working on construction such as opening new stores and remodeling old stores in the coming year. I propose all of that related spend should be sourced using eProcurement. If it is not competitively sourced, you will overpay. Before you build that new carwash, you should know that we do that too. Recently, we achieved over 10% savings on the building and over 34% savings on the installation portions alone for a client.

In this short post, I?ve listed only a few examples out of many, many more and I have not even mentioned your cost of goods or cost of sales. I hope, however, that my main premise was clear. If you have budgeted for capital expenses, you should consider eProcurement?to reduce the cost of those expenses. You?ll likely find that you?re able to accomplish much more in the next year based on the savings generated by eProcurement.

For more information, please contact?SafeSourcing.??

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