All Posts By

Ron Fallert

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4 challenges facing distribution

By | Distribution / Supply Chain | No Comments

As we barrel down the highway heading for the third decade of the not-so-new millennium, the impact of the digital reformation is making a huge impact on the industries of manufacturing, transportation, and distribution. Known for being industries that are traditionally slow to embrace change, the entire supply chain is learning to leverage the modern improvements and conveniences of cloud computing, mobile technologies, connected devices, and software for distributors. What challenges face distribution as we draw closer to 2020? How can technology help address those challenges? Here are your answers.

1. Supply Chains are Becoming More Complex & Less Visible

Any breakdown in the supply chain anywhere in the world can derail your ability to make on-time delivery and satisfy your customers’ demands.

The layers upon layers of suppliers and middlemen are growing rapidly. Each layer of supply and demand adds complexity while reducing the ability to achieve visibility into the supply chain.Most distributors admit to having very little visibility into their supply chains, even as tools for tracking and communicating with suppliers get richer in functionality and more reliable. A single breakdown in any layer of the supply chain can upset the entire industry — isn’t it time you got software for distributors so you can control your company’s destiny?

2. Customers are Less Tolerant of Delays

You’d think that in an era in which complexity is compounding by the day, customers would become more accepting of inevitable kinks in the process that lead to delays in distribution. However, B2B customers have quickly grown accustomed to the immediate, almost infallible service of tech giants like Amazon, and aren’t readily accepting of anything less than 100 percent reliable service, 100 percent of the time. That means distributors are forced to improve on multiple levels. In addition to being able to assure on-time delivery, distributors must provide superior customer service, predictable quality, and even take on the responsibility of making extraordinary product recommendations that reliably delight their customers.

3. Technologies are Addressing Needs Across the Supply Chain

The good news is, distributors now have the technology they need to help meet these rises in demand.

Though demands on distributors are indeed growing, the technologies available to meet those stringent demands are also maturing and becoming more potent. Along with more powerful software for distributors, there are tools like GPS devices to track fleets, automation tools to streamline and simplify processes, and paperless warehousing solutions that reduce errors, improve productivity, help manage inventory, and even lower labor costs. Without these and related technologies, it would be difficult or impossible for distributors to keep up with increasing demands.

4. The Supply Chain is Migrating to E-Commerce

Just like buyers take to Amazon and eBay to buy their laptops and gym bags and books, they’re also learning to leverage e-commerce for their business-related buying needs. B2B buyers are shopping and buying online, meaning that it’s essential to have a functional website (more than just a storefront window), customer portal, and other online presence.

Do you have the right software for distributors and other tools you need to succeed in the age of technology? Contact us today so you can prepare for the distribution environment of tomorrow.

ERP

The need to know is always now in warehousing & distribution

By | BI, CRM, Distribution / Supply Chain, ERP | No Comments

ERPA mere 25 years ago, many, if not most, businesses tracked inventory on a daily lot basis, updating once a day. Twenty years before that, even major corporations were painstakingly tracking inventory in ledger books which could be several days behind.

We have come a long way. So far, in fact, that no business can operate successfully today without knowing precisely where each component, each piece of work in progress, and each finished product is, not only in-house but upstream and downstream throughout the entire supply chain. It can’t be done without the right business systems.

Integrated business systems are imperative for successful supply chain management. To compete in a global marketplace, the need to know is now in warehousing & distribution.

Minimizing complexity

Supply chain management is, on its face, a complex array of interrelated functions and operational areas. Whether an organization is small in scope or a multinational conglomerate, there are myriad components that need to work well together.

With a network of interconnected business units, suppliers and sales channels, distribution hubs and methods, personnel and regulations, supply chain management becomes an integral component of business success.

Consider that even in smaller organizations, effective management of warehouses and distribution requires clear communication, ready access to data for decision-making and foundational systems integration for many operational areas, including:
ERP

  • Supplier management
  • Inventory management
  • Sales force management
  • Distribution
  • Financial management
  • Payment management
  • Channel management
  • Customer relationship management
  • Customer service management
  • Order fulfillment
  • Manufacturing flow
  • Procurement
  • Product development
  • Returns management

Importance of integrated systems

Given the dynamic variables possible with each of those processes and functional areas, providing real-time information and analytics becomes critical for effective enterprise resource planning. With growing demand on the part of consumers and customers for rapid service and transparent information, there is an ever-greater need to provide system-wide information to those who need to make decisions.

Efficiency means having real-time access to reporting, inventory management, orders, and logistics deployment. Yet all too often, companies have disparate systems that make the analysis and sharing of data daunting.

Fortunately, new tools are available today that provide enterprise resource planning (ERP), business intelligence (BI) and customer resource management (CRM) solutions in one integrated platform. With integration, companies can bring together disparate data points, identify and solve problems faster and identify trends and opportunity.

All of these functions, in turn, can lead to increased revenue, improved B2B or B2C relationships, streamlined operations, cost savings, and adherence to regulatory requirements.

When choosing ERP, CRM and BI systems, it’s important to make sure that integration is maximized. But understanding the many vendors and solutions can be daunting.

At NexTec Group, our worldwide team of consultants partners with the leading providers of business systems and can create a comprehensive solution to meet your distribution and warehousing needs. Download the NexTec Corporate Overview Brochure to learn more about how NexTec can keep the gears moving throughout your organization.

Where in the world is manufacturing growing?

By | Manufacturing | No Comments
Recent Fed reports indicate mixed growth and moderate expectations for the manufacturing sector.

Recent Fed reports indicate mixed growth and moderate expectations for the manufacturing sector.

Which way is manufacturing headed? It’s hard to tell. On the one hand, you see reports of declines in the sector while on the other, the media touts a booming manufacturing base driving growth.

The truth very likely lies somewhere in the middle. So, where in the world is manufacturing growing and going?

More gas, more growth?

The rise of shale gas has been controversial. The fracking techniques used to extract trapped natural gas have allegedly caused significant issues with the environment. Yet the abundant supply has pushed the cost of natural gas domestically to less than half of that in Asia, Europe, India and South America.

A July 2016 article by Mark Perry of the University of Michigan and the American Enterprise Institute points out that lower prices and energy security are driving manufacturing growth, particularly in energy-related industries such as iron and steel, food and paper products, plastics, bulk chemicals, and petrochemicals.

Coupled with lower electricity prices, the reduced energy costs helped propel the US to an all-time high of $2.17 trillion in 2015, second only to China and more than the combined outputs of France, Germany, India, Italy and South Korea.

Strong growth is reported in certain sectors, including machinery manufacturing.

Strong growth is reported in certain sectors, including machinery manufacturing.

Fed reports mixed results

On the flip side, the Federal Reserve, in its most recent “beige book” look at the US economy, reported “mixed” demand for manufacturing products from early October to mid-November. The Fed reported that growth was expected in many key US manufacturing markets, including New York, Atlanta, and Dallas. However, the strong US dollar is a concern for exporters in Boston and San Francisco.

So where are the gains? According to the Fed, there’s optimism in chemical, automobiles, machinery, aerospace and electronics manufacturing, though not in all regions of the country. From a national perspective, there are clear manufacturing trends emerging.

What’s driving uncertainty?
There are several factors experts point to that are driving the mixed messages. Strong US currency and weakened international currencies are one crucial factor. The Fed is cautiously optimistic but not predicting any economic surge.

Another critical factor is the Donald Trump presidency. Trump consistently pledged an isolationist stance and a desire to incentivize companies to keep jobs on American soil. His pressuring of Carrier Corp. to make a deal to keep about 1,000 jobs from moving abroad was met with mixed reviews and is unlikely to be a sustainable, long-term strategy.

Being certain with uncertainty

How can manufacturing companies withstand the variability of the current marketplace? At NexTec Group, we work with clients in a wide range of manufacturing sectors to develop integrated systems that help to reduce complexity and boost efficiency.

With NexTec Group, your company will work closely with one of our experienced consultants to find the right ERP software solution both for today and tomorrow. We have relationships with a large number of ERP providers and a deep understanding of the strengths of each.

By gaining a deep understanding of your business needs, we can recommend an ERP solution that best fits. Contact us today to learn more about how NexTec can help your manufacturing company find the right solution.