Archive for the ‘B2b Supply Chain’ Category

It’s just a pallet; or is it? Part II of II

Monday, November 12th, 2018

 

Today’s post from our  SafeSourcing, Inc Archives

Use of Pallets: While pallets and palletization were once considered to be powerful components of material handling strategy, today, industry takes the practice largely for granted.  When the palletization concept was first introduced, however, it had a dramatic impact on the improvement of material handling efficiency. Rail cars, for example, that had taken two days to unload could subsequently be unloaded in just one or two hours.  Palletized products can be moved more quickly than by the manual handling of individual palletized cartons.

Benefits of this quicker handling include:

•   Faster turnaround of delivery vehicle and increasing operational efficiency of transport equipment
•   Dramatically reduced labor requirement versus manual handling
•   Reduced risk of temperature abuse for perishable products on unrefrigerated docks
•   With less manual handling there is less risk of product damage and reduced risk of worker injury. Palletized products can be moved more efficiently and stored more efficiently in warehouses and customers often prefer the receipt of palletized goods.
•   Pallets provide drainage and circulation for commodities requiring this, including fresh produce.

Grades of pallets: The GMA (Grocery Manufacturer Association) has determined the standard in which pallets are graded and thus is broken into four (4) different categories. Each category is a guideline to use when buying or selling pallets. The problem is that each category is open for interpretation and it’s important to verify exactly what you’re getting. Each category will have a price range and the price range will vary from region to region. The price will also vary based on the amount of available reconditioned pallets. Below are the four (4) different grading categories and their corresponding condition.

•   Premium – A very clean pallet that has probably been used only a few times. There is little if any repairs to the pallet. The pallet will have no plates and no companion stringers.
•   Grade #1 or A Grade – Typically this pallet has been repaired to close to its original condition. Broken stringers may have been replaced or repaired with metal plates. All damaged deck boards are replaced. This is a fairly clean pallet that is structurally sound.
•   Grade #2 or B Grade – Typically this pallet has had stringer damage that has been repaired by attaching an additional stringer alongside the damaged one. This is commonly referred to as a companion stringer, block stringer and double stringer. The “B” grade pallets usually have two (2) or less repaired stringers. The deck configuration on the “B” grade pallet is not always consistent because these pallets have been repaired many times.
•   Grade #3 or C Grade – Typically this pallet has been repaired numerous times. Most of the stringers on a “C” grade pallet will have companion stringers. The deck boards will be inconsistent in size, spacing and thickness. These pallets are usually in very poor condition and are accepted by few companies.

Owned vs Pool pallets: Many companies choose to buy their own fleet of pallets, but this is not always the best or most efficient thing to do.  What you need to consider…

Owning:

•   Cost: Depending on the amount of goods a company needs to transport, it can be very expensive to buy and upgrade a pallet fleet.
•   Management and tracking: Managing and tracking a rental fleet can be very hard work, if mismanaged, it can create huge problems if goods cannot be transported when needed.
•   Maintenance and cleaning: Once purchased, pallets will need to be continually repaired and cleaned in between usage, requiring the manpower, space and equipment to do this.
•   Storage: When not in use, pallets can take up a lot of space, which is inefficient and costly.
•   Fleet fluctuations: If a company suddenly has an increased order, or an order that requires a special type of pallet, then buying them just for these rare occasions is wasteful, as the rest of the time the overflow will just be gathering dust in storage

Pooling:

•   Flexible: You can rent as many or as few pallets as you need for each specific shipment, meaning you’re never over or under stretch with your pallet fleet.
•   Management and tracking: The pooling company can use their own specialist up-to-date management and tracking systems meaning you doesn’t have to worry about it.
•   Cleaning and maintenance: After each hire, the pallets will be inspected, repaired and cleaned by the pallet pooling company, before they are sent out again.  This means that you don’t need to worry at all about the expense of doing this yourself, and you know all the pallets will be up to standard before each use.
•   Storage: Once you’ve finished with the pallets you just need to hand them back to the pooling company with no need to set aside valuable space to store them.

As you see there are many things to consider before buying or pooling pallets in your business. Should you own pallets or use a service to manage them? What type of pallet do you really need? We at SafeSourcing are ready to help you through all the questions and help you lower your procurement costs.  For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs 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

It’s just a pallet; or is it? Part I of II

Friday, November 9th, 2018

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives.

If you’re in a business today that provides goods, supplies, equipment  and alike somewhere along the line these products most likely traveled on a pallet, either in the loading, shipping, delivery or receiving process.  Pallets are the most common method for this as well as being used for storage purposes.  In this article I wanted to share some key factors to consider when purchasing, using or accepting pallets, no matter the originating source.   In this blog my intention is to educate you a little more than you probably wanted to know about pallets.

First the definition,  pallet:  sometimes inaccurately called a skid (a skid has no bottom deckboards), a pallet is a flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, front loader, work saver or other jacking device. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load which allows handling and storage efficiencies. Goods or shipping containers are often placed on a pallet secured with strapping, stretch wrap or shrink wrap and shipped. While most pallets are wooden, pallets also are made of plastic, metal, and paper.

Types of pallets: although pallets come in all manner of sizes and configurations, all pallets fall into two very broad categories: “stringer” pallets and “block” pallets. Various software packages exist to assist the pallet maker in designing an appropriate pallet for a specific load, and to evaluate wood options to reduce costs.

•  Stringer pallets use a frame of three or more parallel pieces of timber (called stringers). The top deckboards are then affixed to the stringers to create the pallet structure.  A stringer pallet is also known as a “two-way” pallet, since a pallet-jack can be used from only two sides to move it. Two-way pallets are designed to be lifted by the deckboards. In a warehouse the deckboard side faces the corridor.
•   Block pallets are typically stronger than stringer pallets. Block pallets utilize both parallel and perpendicular stringers to better facilitate efficient handling. A block pallet is also known as a “four-way” pallet, since a pallet-jack may be used from any side to move it. Four-way pallets or pallets for heavy loads are best lifted by their more rigid stringers. A warehouse has the stringer side facing the corridor.

Efficiencies: organizations using standard pallets for loading and unloading can have much lower costs for handling and storage, with faster material movement than businesses that do not. The exceptions are establishments that move small items such as jewelry or large items such as cars.  But even they can be improved. For instance, the distributors of costume jewelry normally use pallets in their warehouses and car manufacturers use pallets to move components and spare parts.

Pallet pooling:  due to cost and a need to focus on core business, pallet pooling becomes more and more common. A pallet management company can help supply, clean, repair, and reuse pallets. Pallets should be seen as reusable packaging items. Every pallet that is built could potentially be used and used again until such a time when it will need to be replaced.

Stay tuned for Part II of: It’s just a pallet; or is it?

There are many things to considered before purchasing pallets, such as; should I buy new or used pallets, what grade of pallet is right for my business, do I want a service to manage the pallet inventory for me?  We at SafeSourcing are ready to help you through all the questions and help you lower your procurement costs.  For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs 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.

How to negotiate without hurting your supplier relationships

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

When negotiating a sale with a vendor, the wrong process can quickly change the tone of communication from a friendly sales meeting to that of a confrontation. With large accounts at stake and communication tools that can lose the intended meaning of the speaker, misunderstanding can easily breed offence. The process doesn’t have to devolve into a foray that sours business relationships however. The health of your business will require healthy, win-win, long-term relationships with your suppliers, so let’s consider a few rules for promoting a healthy negotiation outcome:

Clear away assumptions

The only assumption you should start with is that you will discover unknown variables during the procurement process. This is why it will be crucial to allow for questions, feedback, involvement from SME’s and stakeholders, as well as flexibility for the process to be iterative. Your team may publish a set of specifications, then find that there were options in the market they weren’t even aware of from the vendor community. Assuming you know all there is to know about a category could force you into a purchase that is sacrificing value without considering other opportunities identified in the process, as well as alienate suppliers who may be trying to help you help yourself.

Think win-win

You and your suppliers know each other’s business: How can you help each other do business better? Things like “If we changed shipping schedules we could save our vendor a ton of money. And if the vendor sent us PO’s through our EDI system we’d save a lot of time”. The give and take of negotiation doesn’t have to be win/lose. Find the variables that make sense for both parties and adds value to the full project, not just the invoice.

Have a clearly defined process

Leveraging competing quotes to drive savings can be exhausting when done linearly. The back and forth over remote location can be extremely time consuming, and the “negotiation room” tactic leaves suppliers feeling short-changed. This is why e-sourcing web-tools are designed to consolidate complexity through clearly defined mechanisms. Bids are collected with a simple and immediate indication of low quote status. Negotiation is technical, not personal, parameters such as top threshold of quote are identified from the outset, and the timeline and specifications are all in one place.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team 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.

We look forward to your comments.

Retail collective buyer organizations and consortiums are evolving in order to compete with mega retailers.

Friday, June 15th, 2018

 

These business structures have been around for a long time. Many have evolved to use cutting edge e-negotiation and eProcurement tools. Their retailer members are also benefiting from their use of these tools in order to reduce their net landed costs in many different ways

These types of organization can go by many different names such as wholesaler, collective buyer, consortium, cooperative, share groups and more. They all have one thing in common. They consolidate purchasing volumes for a wide array of groups that may have very similar business structures, but for the savvy consortium can also be wildly different.

In the retail vertical, companies may actually belong to several different buying groups because their primary group does not offer expertise in a certain area.

Consortiums are also evolving and beginning to focus mixed markets where it makes sense. In general consortiums tend to be vertically focused such as a drug industry consortium with the members generally representing the drug industry only. However some consortiums are beginning to market them selves outside of their vertical to retailers or other companies who want to take advantage of learned expertise that the consortium possesses in the categories that are common across more than their own vertical and offer increased volumes. An example might be drug stores sourcing very similar products that health care organizations like hospitals source. Although this may seem like a stretch fro most, it is now very common within retail for non vertical specific players to work together.

Today?s advanced e-negotiation or e-procurement tools make it much easier to accomplish collective buying and aggregating outside of a consortiums initial area of expertise. Large and small retailers alike now have the capability of viewing a much broader universe of suppliers and other companies while also coordinating and participating in collaborative events from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Suppliers now have an opportunity to earn business they could never compete for in the past.

Retailers should ask their collective buyers how they plan to make the use of these types of tools and what they have to offer in terms of introductions to other companies for increased volume.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Part II of II. Are reverse auctions a good tool to use in the retail distribution cost plus arena?

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

 

Todays post is by Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing

Yesterdays post reviewed why and how this author felt that reverse auctions were potentially good for both the distributor and the retailer alike. So just what is cost plus?

According to Wikipedia  Cost-plus pricing is a pricing method used by companies. It is used primarily because it is easy to calculate and requires little information. There are several varieties, but the common thread in all of them is that one first calculates the cost of the product, and then includes an additional amount to represent profit. It is a way for companies to calculate how much profit they will make. Cost-plus pricing is often used on government contracts, and has been criticized as promoting wasteful expenditures.

Once unit level cost has been established for the distribution of products it’s easy to turn that into a percentage and add it to the price of a product coming up with a distributed unit price or category price. The most important part of this pricing exercise for the distributor is to get the distribution costs correct. This can include price of storage, freight, length of travel, driver cost and any number of other costs. This is an area where a distributor can lose a lot of money if they are not very careful.

So, are revere auctions a tool that can help distribution companies?  The answer is a clear yes both above and below the gross margin line. If you like to know more please contact me at ronsouthard@safesourcing.com.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Part I of II. Are reverse auctions a good tool to use in the retail distribution cost plus arena?

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

 

Todays post is by Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing

A lot of distributors have told this author that reverse auctions don’t apply to them because they use the cost plus model and as such they just add their price or profit margin on top of the contract price with their source to drive their distributed price.

The fallacy in this thinking is that it may make buyers and category managers lazy in their approach to driving margin within the categories that they manage. This results in a higher price to the retailers they distribute to and ultimately to the consumer or their customers customer. A worst case scenario is that the consumer stops shopping at their customer’s store which reduces overall volume and further increases prices by not meeting volume incentives. It’s a slipper slope.

Off course this argument is relatively easy to overcome when we get around to discussing capital goods and expense related products and services area. These areas have an impact on the distributor’s net profit. And I’m sure that many of you will agree that just because one says they are a cost plus provider does not necessarily mean it’s true in the most pure sense of the definition.

Check back tomorrow and we’ll review what the real definition of cost plus is in part II.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Are you doing business with your suppliers “A” Players?

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing. archives!

You can classify all employees in an organization into three categories: A, B, and C players. Should an organization strive for 90% of employees being ‘A’ players? No, a healthy distribution of A and B players is what an organization should strive for.

C Players– All employees generally start as C players due to their training and inability to bring a benefit to the company right off the bat. Genuine A and B players will not be C players long. They will eventually bring value to the company and move to an A or B player. The employees that remain C players will eventually be weeded out of the company.

B Players– B players can perform the tasks given to them well, but show no initiative to perform beyond average. B players show more loyalty to a company. In many cases B players are former A players, but do not want the responsibility anymore for whatever reason (age, personal, family, etc.). B players will complete the task given to them and with their loyalty will save companies money in hiring and training.

A Players– Everyone wants a company full of A players. A players are responsible and work to bring great benefit to the company. Sure they are experienced, motivated, and bring great benefits to your company, but how long will they stay satisfied? With the knowledge, motivation, and experience A players have it can be challenging for organizations to sustain their employment. A players find greater opportunities and their loyalty is far less than B players.

What type of player is your company searching for? You cannot run a company with only one type of player. A successful organization will have a healthy balance of A and B players. Understanding who your A and B players are is an important key step.

We all work with the three different players from our suppliers and  we know it can be challenging to receive the results or information you have requested from a B or C player. If a company you are working with has not established  who their A, B, and C players are, then you could end up working with any of them for contract negotiations. At SafeSourcing we have an extensive SafeSourceIt™ Supplier database and  existing relationships with  the suppliers that will deliver the results you request. SafeSourcing finds the suppliers A players in order to bring value to your company from the outside.

For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs 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 and appreciate your comments.

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.

What’s the genesis of your supplier database and how was it built?

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

 

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

All databases have their start as an information gathering exercise that ultimately is enhanced by those characteristics the owner or developer determines to be useful to the community of interest the database is to be offered to. The information then becomes part of a data model where information sets can be accessed or searched based on a variety of queries or questions. Most developers follow a process called Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration or UDDI  as this process.

Universal Description, Discovery and Integration or (UDDI) is a standard established for building online databases of companies and the goods and services they provide, similar to Yellow Pages for the Internet. UDDI is intended to help businesses locate suppliers and products. Sourcing companies supplier databases go well beyond this definition.

Data models can be extremely complex and that is where they become more than a simple on line yellow pages. In fact high quality supplier databases should be able to provide much of the data you might find in the opening pages of a detailed RFI. A simple query like show me all companies within a 500 mile radius of your home office zip code that provide a set of products that meet the following safety certifications.  A next step might be summarizing all company information for these companies by a list of attributes such as company description, sale, years in business, officers etc.

How easy would that make your life?

If you’d like to find more qualified and vetted suppliers to support your sourcing efforts of any product or service, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

The Geographical Significance of Vendor Selection

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

 

Today’s post is the SafeSourcing  BLOG Archives.

Many National companies are faced with the dilemma of trying to control the sourcing of products and services across their company in a way that consolidates what they purchase and helps them control who they are working with.   Many times our customers will tell us that they are only interested in speaking with companies who can handle their entire company; only National providers will be considered.  The SafeSourcing recommendation frequently will be to expand that vision in order to create an opportunity for greater overall value, and possibly better savings.

Today we will be looking at the advantages of each of the three geographical levels that companies can employ when setting up their projects and why a good mix of all three can create greater opportunities for success for your company.

National suppliers – There are some obvious advantages for selecting National providers to be involved with sourcing projects.  As you grow they will have the infrastructure in place to support you and your business.  In many cases they have a support system and reporting system that can assist you with tracking what you are spending and where those products and services are being delivered to.  National suppliers have the size to be able to reduce the overall costs of the items you purchase but they also have the overhead and internal expenses that it takes to maintain a National company.   National companies tend to have larger market share and recognition so their aggressiveness in competing for your business may not always be in line with that of the regional and local suppliers who are looking for any way to get some of your business.

Regional suppliers – Regional suppliers tend to cover 20 to 40% of the country and focus on a specific area such as the Northeast, Southeast, West Coast, etc.  The advantages of the regional supplier are that they are large enough to be aggressive in price and to offer great value-add services but they are focused enough to know the area they are servicing.  Regional suppliers have typically mastered the logistics of their shipping lanes and many times know the culture and the people in the area better than a National supplier does.  While having multiple suppliers loses some of the advantages of having a National program, the services and prices may indicate a 2 or 3 supplier award makes the most sense for the company.

Local suppliers – Local suppliers who handle either a city or an entire state, are typically brought into a procurement event for one of two reasons.   They either are an incumbent of one the locations currently or they are being reviewed for a rural area that is not supported well by a national or regional supplier.  Local suppliers have the flexibility to be aggressive in pricing (especially for services) and they can usually support rural areas better than larger companies.  Having local companies involved gives incumbents a chance to fight for the business they have previously had and possibly win new business and it provides great options for locations that need special attention.   Local suppliers will also ensure that the regional and national suppliers are staying competitive in the service levels, terms and pricing they are offering you across the company.

The mix of suppliers you invite to your sourcing projects are every bit as important as the history and specifications you supply those suppliers and developing a strategy of the right mix will be important to how successful your projects end up.  While you may intend on finding one National provider, the value offered may demand you consider a 2-3 company award at the end and having options at the local level for special situations and emergencies is something every company should have a contingency plan for.

For more information about how we can assist you with developing these supplier selection strategies, 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