Business Process Analysis and Innovation Cases
As a supplier with the Walt Disney World Company, we partner with United Parcel Service (USP) and United States Postal Service (USPS) when it comes to shipping products and tracking of “wireless proof-of-delivery” (McCrea, 2016) as well as return labels to Guests. This wireless system is great for Guests to keep track of when they well get their products and when they call us, we see the same screen of information. Return labels are more of an issue with this wireless technology. The process is too long and could be more beneficial if changed. When a Guest needs a return label, we have to send UPS an email to create and send to the Guest. About half the time Guests do not receive the email with the return label. It would be better suited for our own systems to send the return label directly to the Guest then having to use our partner. To have our systems send out these would be more efficient for the daily demand on phone calls and more time for production. To be successful in this process we need to “generate forecasts that are usable, timely, and accurate” (Swink, Melnyk, Hartly, 2020, p.409). As a large company we want to have processes that are usable, timely, and accurate for both our Guests and our systems.
With all of this wireless technology at our figure tips I would say that with the mobile smart phones today we could set up a process that takes a picture to confirm that the Guest package has been delivered. In the current USP or USPS system when we see if an package has been delivered or not we are just going off what it says on the right upper hand corner of delivered at door. This current process is very vague, and many times items are missing, stolen, or not delivered. Having that picture sent to both the Guests order and to their email will help for both parties to keep track of what is going on. According to Bridget McCrea, “todays smart phones are staking a bigger claim in supply chain operations these days” (2016). Most companies these days will have work phones for their employees, and this will help the supplier and company to be even more successful.
McCrea, B. (2016, April 7). Supply Chain and Logistics Technology: 8 trends taking us closer to visibility. https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/supply_chain_and_logistics_technology_8_trends_taking_us_closer_to_visibili.
Swink, M., Melnyk, S. A., & Hartley, J. L. (2020). Managing operations across the supply chain (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
In 2017-2018 my unit located at Fort Lewis Washington made the conversion to a new material ordering system of record called Global Combat Support System- Army (GCSS-A or G-Army). The old program required the manual input of tracking numbers into the system at each point in the supply chain. When we only had 30 trained personnel to conduct these operations, they were hard pressed to keep up the throughput of sorting the supplies for the customers. They had to balance training, and other basic military requirements with warehouse time, this created massive backlogs every couple of months that required 24 hour operations to clear the floors.
After the introduction of GCSS-A, many of the time consuming tasks such as manual input of tracking numbers were replaced by scanned shipping labels and scanned receipt verification by the customer. This ties into trend one, “Wireless now Accommodates and sharper focus n efficiency and transparency.” (McCrea, 2013).
Trend 5 “Wireless helps shippers create a more cohesive workforce outside of the four walls of the warehouse.” (McCrea, 2013). The scanning of products would initiate notification in the perinate sections that actions would need to be taken. Finance would be able to approve payment, customers would know where their supplies are and when to pick up, and delivery assets would know what to pickup and deliver for the day. Overall, the change to G-Army was a improvement in visibility and increased productivity within the supply chain. While there was a huge learning curve and some bugs are still being worked out, this shows that utilizing modern tech in the supply chain can dramatically increase workflow.
McCrea, B. (2016, April 07). Supply Chain and Logistics Technology: 8 trends taking us closer to visibility. Retrieved October 04, 2020, from https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/supply_chain_and_logistics_technology_8_trends_taking_us_closer_to_visibili
Swink, M., Melnyk, S.A, & Hartley, J.L. (2020). Managing Operations Across the Supply Chain (4th ed). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Competitive advantage is being able to bring a product or a service to a customer in a more efficient manner that maximizes capital assets, decreases environmental impact and use of raw materials, and provides a sustainable return on investment from profits. Those goals can not be realized without the effective engagement of technology throughout the supply and logistics network. Just like the invention of the shipping container allowed for the streamlining of global shipping processes, the technology used to track everything about that container is just as important. Shippers, distributors, retailers, and other customers rely on technology to know what’s in the container, where it’s located, how long its been at a location, the route it’s taken, the condition of the product inside (refrigerated containers), and projected arrival date at the final destination. The two trend I chose from the article are #3 and #8.
#3. Mobile solutions are pushing shippers out of their “manual” comfort zones.
There is no doubt that manual operations are cumbersome, time costing, and just overall inefficient for sustained operations in a technology driven globalized supply chain. Customers want their products in the least amount of time and in the nest shape possible. A distinct experience I had was at my previous Manger of Railroad Operations job with Maersk at the Port of LA. There are a whole host of mobile solutions that managers and Longshoreman use to move containers to and from ships, to and from the yard, to and from trucks, and to and from trains. This happens with remarkable precision and in some location like the Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT) it happens all by automation. As a manager, I come up with a plan to pull certain container based on customer demand, once relayed through computer to the Longshoremen, they retrieved the necessary containers in the most efficient manner, those are scanned by Customs and Border Patrol and placed on their respective mode of transportation. As a manager I had never learned how to do that operation using manual means. However, after the worldwide Notpetya virus that targeted the IT infrastructure of companies such as Maersk, FedEx, and Merck back in June of 2017, the company was brought to a literal standstill as operations ceased. The supply chain was significantly interrupted. For Maersk, it had been years since manual systems were used and it would take months to rebuild the IT network. Before many of the managers such as myself were downsized, we returned to manual operations which the Longshoremen knew as many of them had been there for 30+ years. This was a much slower operation and ultimately cost the company $300 million in revenue and another $700 million in impairments. All IT systems were affected from company cell phone, computer systems, automated systems, warning systems, safety systems, planning and operations systems, among others. This is a prime example of how manual systems are no longer a consideration for companies due to their inefficiencies, but it also shows how companies should have a continuity of operations plan in case this type of event happens or they are forced to use manual systems. This technology could be better protected against cyber incursion. In the wake of increased attacks and things such as ransomware attacks, companies can work better to protect their IT infrastructure. It is impractical to think that companies will move back to manual systems.
#8. Mobile devices are still only as good as the information that’s available.
This is a problem when employees and management are not diligent about inputting accurate information into mobile systems. This has to happen correctly across the entire supply and distribution network. As a customer, if I order a product, the expectation Is that it will arrive on time. When working as a Manager of Railroad Operations at Union Pacific Railroad, this was always a challenging are because of the unpredictable nature of railroad operations. Every effort is made to ensure accurate reporting. However, there are often times when information entered into systems are not correct, because of human error. That human error is corrected up and down the main line through AEI (automated equipment identification) readers that read RF (radio frequency) tags and can correct information entered into the system. However, this isn’t the case on a spur track or at an industry location. If a customer is expecting 10 cars and they are releasing 10 cars out of 20 and have them listed on a certain track, it is inefficient if the information they placed in their automated system records cars on incorrect tracks. This affects the productivity and safety of the crew and impact operations to get those same 10 cars and deliver the other 10. So, this is definitely a visibility issue between the customer and the railroad. The manual way to correct this would be that employees at the company would walk tracks to verify cars and ensure information is entered correctly. The other way would be to have an automated AEI reader on every single track on the mainline and at every single industry or spur track.
This article was from back in 2013 and there have been some updates to technology and the accessibility of technology over the years. A few things have changed since then that have brough updates and considerations to competitive advantage. For instance, Bridget McCrea, author of the current article authors another later article where she highlights 3 major changes that gives companies better visibility across the supply chain network and add competitive advantage to companies that use them. The 3 changes are: RFID is becoming more commonplace saturating the supply chain and logistics network, the use of cellular technology and other wireless devices require less power and are no longer cost prohibitive, and mobile and stationary sensors are more prevalent and cost less. (McCrea, 2017)
McCrea, B. (August, 2013). Supply chain and logistics technology: 8 trends taking us closer to visibility. Logisticsmgmt.com. Retrieved from https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/supply_chain_and_logistics_technology_8_trends_taking_us_closer_to_visibili
McCrea, B. (September, 2017). 3 Key supply chain visibility trends. Sourcetoday.com. Retrieved from https://www.sourcetoday.com/supply-chain/article/21866904/3-key-supply-chain-visibility-trends