At the crossroads

365cf91dca44617d71d8_logisticsWhy do people always have to do things the hard way? Is it that we like a challenge, or are we simply focused on short-term benefits? The world offers a number of freely available energy sources that represent so much power that the world’s population could double in size. Nevertheless, humanity has chosen to use energy sources that need to be extracted from deep inside the Earth, and then they have to be processed before they can be used to provide energy. Throughout history, the development of energy sources has been a hit-and-miss process. Mineral oil for example used to be sold cheaply as a lighting product for decades before it finally became the world’s premier source of energy.

We still really have no idea about the sources of energy that still exist, let alone which of them will become important in the future. A great example of how the direction of human innovation can change can be found in the development of the internal combustion engine and the growth of commercial aviation. Together they brought us growth, but they also brought problems and uncertainty. We now see that the problems with our energy supply are reaching the point where we need to find solutions by creating a new path to new energy sources. Better still, we should try to use less energy to sustain our way of life. We should live greener.

Large supply chain networks are supposed to be designed to be flexible to change with the trend, and central distribution centers and regional distribution centers are located as close as possible to the center of activity. Even so, they may still encounter problems due to geographical differences in the customer base, if the activity study is based on incorrect forecasts. With the financial crisis it has become clear that the forecast models are no longer sufficient to handle such large shifts in spending patterns, and so we need to look at new strategies to handle these problems.

Normally an organization can improve its flexibility by changing its supply chain strategy and trying to increase its buffer, but in the end it appears to be a problem of the whole industry. We are currently having to deal with initiatives to improve sustainability and with very fast-changing consumer spending patterns.

So how should we go about creating a sustainable network for the future?

ten-t-corridors-2013The European Union is investing in the TEN-T network, but is it sufficient?

I think the answer is very simple: Its up to you and me!

Guestspeaking in Stockholm

One of my great blessings of my job is that I get invited to events around the globe where I can tell my view and the DSV view of the business and the future to come. This time I was invited to come to Stockholm and tell the people that 3D printing needs an operational model to get it executed from a supply chain perspective.zweden2

The trip itself was all arranged by Management Events and therefore I just followed my schedule and everything would be fine. Leaving Schiphol Airport and flying out to Stockholm would be very simple indeed. Arriving in Stockholm was so to say a little different. I was picked out of the line by customs and they searched my stuff and asked me a lot of questions. In the end I was strip searched. Of course I was shocked, but after they had found nothing a big Swedish officer came to me and said:”Welcome to Sweden Sir’! That was funny!

30 minutes later than scheduled I went to my taxi driver and we had to hurry to be there on time. Finally I arrived on time and people of Volvo, Ericsson, Alfa Laval and many others were waiting on my arrival and presentation. I must say Swedish people are open minded and have a vision about the future as well. We ended up in discussing after the presentation for more than 30 minutes with almost the whole crowd staying in the plenary room.

zweden1Great thing about this event was I didn’t get the usual thank you present, but they donated the money to Unicef to attribute to their battles in the unfair world for many children. Very happy with that! I will do my part now, but surely I will do my part in the near future. Live is about giving back to others when you are doing well!

So it was it great trip, something to remember and something to share!

Be well and be wise!!

Japan and his new opportunities

When I travel around the world to visit our customers I meet a lot of new people and new cultures. This is something I envisioned when I started studying International Business Studies at the Maastricht University. Living the life makes it even more exciting I must say.

img_5573Beginning of this year I made a trip to Osaka region to visit one of our bigger customers and I arrived in a city that touched my heart immediately.

Osaka is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world with over 19 million inhabitants.

The look and feel of downtown Osaka brings you the true Japanese man and women living a life in the big city. Which is colorful, busy and entertaining and their is a big need for logistics for consumer products and food in a busy city like this.

img_5579Looking at their main customer group Osaka is a city of the young and the restless. As far I can see there are students, students and students.

This city is the future of Japan. There are certain brands that will flourish in this area, especially foreign brands that has the main attention of the new international student community of Japan.

img_5568Gradually Japan is opening up to the rest of the world and as I might restate, Osaka has touched my heart immediately and is this small part of the world I see indefinite opportunities for you, me and the new Japanese generation!

I wish you all a great weekend!


The green mile

Green MileThe present changes in the logistics market are caused not only by the previous slumps in the economy, but also by the new green principles the world is embracing. Climate protection is one of the most pressing global challenges we are facing today. This is caused by the enormous increase over the past few years in the emission of greenhouse gases, and carbon dioxide (CO₂) in particular.

In recent history good supply chain network design was seen as a very efficient cost-cutting tool. These days the supply chain is used to promote the green image of companies. Changing your supply chain is of course a very effective way of reducing emissions without changing your production infrastructure.

Many companies are starting to invest in sustainable networks. The green way of thinking has been widely adopted, and with the advent of Chief Sustainability Officers it has even managed to penetrate as far as the Board Room. This means that the supply chain of these businesses will change in the near future to become greener than ever before. The whole market is trying to keep the customers satisfied, even though the customers haven’t a clue where they would like their green ideas to take them.

This creates a new problem, which is how to reevaluate your supply chain in these new times!?

The market has already shown that green initiatives are more profitable. Is the market also ready for green supply chains in which incentives can be part of a logistics contract, for example Global contracts allowing flexible use of the inventory locations and customs solutions? Such new contracts will only be possible if the governments around the globe are willing to be more flexible with regards to sharing tax incomes generated by these contracts.

Governments will not be easily convinced to adapt their strict tax regulations to the greener terms demanded by today’s world. In the end it will be us “the people” alone who have the power to change things. We currently have the voting power to demand such new regulations, and this means that we need a new tax model for the years to come.

Is there an impact of 3D printing on the service management supply chain?

3D-Printed-PartsSometimes you need to reflect new innovations to common sense. I have tried to do that for 3D printing and the service management industry. It is maybe better known as Customer Service.

Most companies must manufacture parts, store them, inventory them, and transport them to the appropriate location in the field at the right time. The biggest challenge here is to what level you want to satisfy your customers when they need you the most. Some companies do a better job than others, but in general spare parts management eats up a lot of resources in field service.

“3-D printing can make a lot of problems go away!” is the new talk of the town.

Well… that so?

Most spare parts will most likely be controlled by the manufacturer to ensure “certified” part replacement. As, in some cases a spare part might be more beneficial for all if it’s printed by a local supplier.

Furthermore, you are able to keep obsolete spare parts in a digital warehouse and they can be printed on demand in a local network of suppliers for your customers. Especially with many new product introductions by companies a solid strategy to keep the possible new obsolete SKU inventory low (raw material for 3D printing), but availability will go to higher level.

3-D printing spare parts on demand eliminates the need to forecast the volume of certain parts required, to make them, and store them!

But most of all it compresses the supply chain, enabling 3-D-printed parts anywhere, any time and at any quantity. It will force a shift in product innovation from physical manufacturing to demand manufacturing with new objects and new materials.

In the future, this should reduce and condense inventory management.

Just take a look at a field service van, calculate the cost of parts onboard “just in case” and multiply it by the fleet to get an idea of the capital tied up in spare parts.

Ok, that sums it up for me! This is interesting business!!

To learn more on 3D printing and the latest trends and developments, check my Podcast on: