Tag Archives: Digitalization

 

Warehouse operations are critical to any manufacturing business. From holding inventory to delivering items, the process must be as swift and efficient as possible. Earlier practices such as document management and communication have been a significant step, but growth and progression in the supply chain call for more.

The rise of the Internet has been a key event in improving warehouse operations. As technology progresses, there are even more ways to optimize the supply chain, and ensure every item or employee is included.

The Need to Streamline Warehouse Operations

Warehouse operations offer many opportunities for error while meeting tight deadlines. Brand owners must recognize these areas for improvement and see what can be done to reduce mistakes. Streamlining translates to more accurate and faster processing, which equates to higher customer satisfaction.

Warehouse operational efficiency also translates to long-term time and cost savings. Next-gen technology can streamline warehouse operations using fewer minutes and dollars resulting in increased productivity.

Remember to include workers when integrating these new electronics. Forty-two percent of workers fear job loss from automation and new technologies. However, the reality is humans are responsible for tool management and strategy execution. Train them to work with these items rather than against them.

Vital Next-Gen Technologies in the Warehouse

Some facilities may incorporate multiple next-gen technologies, while others only incorporate one. The most important factor is to assess what works best for a specific set of operations and makes sense investment-wise.

Automation and Robotics

Certain warehouse operations are rather repetitive. It can be the same cycle of picking out a product, packing it, adding a shipping label and sending it off. Automating these processes with robots can take care of these mundane tasks, shifting focus to more pressing concerns in the facility.

Smaller establishments can still find ways to introduce automation. For example, installations like conveyor belts move items along the facility. Automated labeling machines can transfer the necessary information.

Certain equipment can also improve staff safety. For example, about 70 worker fatalities occurred in forklift-related accidents across different sectors. Self-operating forklifts simplify warehouse transportation and prevent hazardous contact.

Blockchain Technologies

Blockchain technology is a key database streamlining data storage and information sharing. Warehouse management entails plenty of information about product quantity and delivery. Many parties — like suppliers, manufacturers and distributors — are involved.

The blockchain ensures information is accessible and interconnected. What’s ideal about this next-gen ledger tech is it keeps data under wraps. Each block is secure in nature because it requires verification and permission.

Thus, blockchain technology is ideal for various financial transactions. If a distributor pays a manufacturer for production, they should process the transaction through this network. It has a suitable layer of encryption while executing those actions.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a flexible alternative to blockchain technology. By employing this network, a warehouse can generate connections between products and machines through sensors and software. If one product is removed, the system will detect it and send an update.

The IoT enables warehouses to receive real-time data about the movement of their shipments. This cuts down the slower steps in inventory management and prompts communication between devices so all parties in the supply chain can stay up to date.

It is possible to fuse both next-gen technologies in warehouse operations. The blockchain establishes trust, while the IoT improves connectivity, refining the process of sharing information among multiple parties.

Artificial Intelligence

Multiple industries are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) in business processes. While most people find its use helpful in customer service, 40% of business owners use AI for inventory management and 30% for supply chain operations. Warehouses can use their programs to collect and organize data in the long run.

AI can also generate different presentations and reports based on the data it receives. Manufacturers with multiple facilities can upload their information and send a prompt to receive specific information about their inner workings.

AI can also provide business recommendations on streamlining operations with predictive analytics. However, these programs’ output depends on the data set given, and there are limits to the predictions they can make depending on the amount of variation.

The next best thing to do with this output is to conduct a comprehensive data analysis. Use the information to set metrics for evaluation in the future. If one area is faltering, make actionable decisions to influence processing in the facility.

Cybersecurity

As effective as next-gen technologies in warehousing are, new problems arise. The Identity Theft Resource Center found supply chain attacks impacted more than 10 million people in 2022. Each facility and its streamlined performance are vulnerable to these cyber threats.

Focus on preventive measures to maintain the order of operations. Investing in a firewall adds a layer of protection to warehouse information. Add intrusion detection systems to alert business owners of any breaches.

Physical security installments can also protect warehouses. For example, surveillance cameras log who accesses company computers during and outside active hours. Biometric technology is also a good touch for tracking and access control.

Optimize Warehouse Operations with Digitalization

Speed and effectiveness are crucial in warehouses. Next-gen technologies have made great strides in equipping facilities with these attributes, so take advantage of them to strengthen operations.

*This article is written by Jack Shaw. Jack is a seasoned automotive industry writer with over six years of experience. As the senior writer for Modded, he combines his passion for vehicles, manufacturing and technology with his expertise to deliver engaging content that resonates with enthusiasts worldwide.

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Few innovations have so saturated modern society quite as much as digital has. Perhaps the best example of all is in the consumer products space. From navigation apps, streaming media services, mobile devices, voice assistants and so much more, artificial intelligence tools and features are regularly used by approximately 85% of Americans, according to a 2018 survey conducted by Gallup. And that was three years ago — the percentage has almost assuredly risen considerably since then.

The ubiquitous nature of digitalization has essentially forced businesses to take steps toward incorporating the latest and greatest technologies into their production processes and strategies. Its implementation is evidenced at just about every stage of the supply chain.

Has your company embarked on a digital transformation journey? No matter where your organization is in this shift, there are a few important things to be mindful of to ensure that the changeover is as painless as possible. Be aware of these issues during your company’s digital transformation journey:

1. Transformations don’t always take

Once businesses makes the decision to move forward with a transformation, those who are new to the processes may underestimate how lengthy it all can be – and their chances of finding success. In other words, even though the presumption is going digital naturally increases efficiency, it doesn’t always come to pass.

For example, in 2018, directors, front office executives spent a combined $1.3 trillion on digital transformation initiatives, according to reporting done by Forbes. However, of that total, $900 billion was ill spent, as the transformations never took hold.

Why not? There are plenty of reasons, but as noted by Harvard Business Review, it may have something to do with decision makers’ failure to put the right strategy or mindset in place before the transformation actually begins. Employees — not to mention people, in general — are creatures of habit. Installing new systems and technologies with which they’re unfamiliar can lead to frustration and resentment. That’s why it’s important to establish what workers can anticipate; namely, the changeover may come with some rough patches in the beginning, but the end result will make the challenge worth the effort. Therefore, it is pivotal to define a digital transformation strategy to help evolve your organization, as per digital marketing firm Dash.

2. Provide ongoing training

In a similar vein, digital transformations are described as such because the change is often substantial, even though it may occur pieces at a time to avoid major interruptions in production. That’s why it’s important to ensure staff members have the instructions they need to utilize unfamiliar equipment — and can provide directions to customers who may have the same difficulty making the transition.

A classic example is in the manufacturing space. According to Oxford Economics, the speed with which manufacturers incorporate robotics into their workflows can dramatically enhance production. Indeed, the study found that increasing robot installations by 30% within the next 10 years could lead to a 5.3% uptick in global gross domestic product.

While just about all business decisions are time sensitive, a sudden infusion of robotics can cause confusion and consternation amongst workers, which is part of the reason why digital transformations so often fail. Ongoing training, seminars, and fielding questions from staff is essential to digital adoption so nothing gets lost in translation.

3. Consider a digital transformation consultant

Financial institutions, warehouses, manufacturers, and processing centers have all implemented digital solutions into their workflows in one form or another. While you as an owner must serve as a leader in these efforts, you may not have the level of expertise to effectively answer your workers’ questions. That’s where a digital transformation consultant can be worthwhile. In addition to ensuring work processes go more smoothly with digital elements as opposed to physical or analog, a digital transformation consultant traditionally specializes in whatever industry new tools or solutions are being rolled out, be it manufacturing, consumer products, life sciences, or food and beverage. In short, a digital transformation consultant can make the unavoidable growing pains of process changeovers less painful.

Expectation management can make digital transformation journey initiatives go more smoothly.

4. Recognize the reality of the digital divide

It sure seems like the world as a whole has gone digital, especially when you consider that a majority of citizens in a number of developing countries own smartphones, according to polling done by the Pew Research Center. But it’s important to understand that access to digital technologies is not as ubiquitous as it may seem at first blush. Look no further than the United States. In a separate survey also conducted by the Pew Research Center, nearly 80% of homeowners who live in or along the outskirts of the city have broadband internet connections. However, less than two-thirds of Americans who live in rural neighborhoods can say the same.

Similarly, 83% of suburban residents own smartphones, Pew found. That percentage drops to 71% for Americans living in rural climes — a 12% gap.

Translation: If you’re looking to grow your business and cater to more customers, you may need to continue providing legacy services until digital technology and the accompanying infrastructure casts a wider footprint.

5. Make sure it’s scalable

While just about every industry has gone through some kind of digital transformation journey, they’re often confined to one particular department or sector, typically the one that needs it the most. In a recent survey of 200 manufacturing senior executives in the U.S. and Canada, more than half of the execs polled said their industrial internet-of-things innovations were small in scale and could not be subsumed by other units, IndustryWeek reported. This may be due to the pinch points that are so often associated with integration.

Making these efforts more scalable requires ongoing communication among departments, step-by-step instructions tailored to each department and selecting an integration platform that is user-friendly and fosters collaboration, IndustryWeek advised.

Transforming your work processes won’t be done overnight and it may not go exactly as you intended. However, USC Consulting Group has expertise in many different industries and can help your employees adopt and adapt to a new production approach more seamlessly than going about it on your own. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

 

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Digital technologies have revolutionized the world in countless ways. From the items people wear to the devices they keep in their pockets, there’s no question that the digital transformation is in full effect. In fact, it’s estimated that 85% of Americans today use products with digital and/or artificial intelligence elements on a daily basis, according to recent Gallup polling.

It’s the frequency with which advanced digital technologies are used that has forced many companies to recast themselves as digital businesses. They’ve done this both to keep up with the times and to improve the overall customer experience. However, implementing a transformation strategy is much easier said than done, especially for industries that have grown accustomed to legacy systems.

A digital transformation consultant, however, can make the transition a great deal easier. What should you look for in one? What do they actually do? In what industries are digital transformation consulting services most relevant? This article will help you better understand how your company can become an authentic digital business.

What does a digital transformation consultant do?

A digital transformation consultant is akin to any other consultant, in that they aim to make work processes go more smoothly from start to finish. But specifically, digital transformation consultants enhance the technological components of running a business. This may be evidenced by concentrating on where technology is already deployed, or where it ought to be in order to enhance the customer experience and provide a better product or service.

How has digital affected certain industries?

Although just about every business has been impacted by digital in some way, certain industries have experienced it more acutely than others. Chief among them is financial services, particularly retail banking. Gone are the days when people had to see a bank teller to get checks cashed or withdraw cash from their savings accounts. ATMs make this possible. Of course ATMs have been around for decades — more than 50 years, in fact — but many of them are now optimized with various features that make the customer experience even more convenient, by dispensing dollars in multiple denominations and offering cash recycling services, among many others. Digital transformation consultants have enabled banks and branches to better determine where and how state-of-the-art technologies may be best deployed to improve operability and enhance functionality.

From the items people wear to the devices they keep in their pockets, there’s no question that the digital transformation is in full effect.

An industry where digital technologies are on the rise is in food and beverage manufacturing. According to a recent report by ING, digitalization is one of the top promising applications in food technology. An example of digitalization within food manufacturing is IoT, specifically the interconnectivity of shop floor machines to PCs. The connection allows for both better traceability of product but also better control — processes can be inspected and reviewed remotely and often in real time. With strict quality requirements for food products, the move toward digitalization has helped organizations in the food manufacturing industry maintain those standards while keeping processes efficient.

Digital technologies are on the rise and digital transformation consulting can help

Is digital always the solution?

While digital technologies are designed to make work processes run more smoothly so customers get a better product or service, it’s not necessarily a fail-safe. People — both customers and personnel — tend to be creatures of habit and may not find favor with major changes in processes. Computer-aided design and manufacturing is helping more factories improve production through advanced automation for repeatable, by-the-book work processes. However, employers still need personnel there to actually work this technology to ensure it performs seamlessly. With the sector experiencing a shortage in high-skilled labor, businesses must train workers on how to work digital technologies to avoid production declines that may result from unfilled positions.

With technologies constantly improving, digital transformation consulting is something that an increasing number of business owners will seek out in order to become better and obtain a competitive advantage over rival companies. Here are a few things you should look for in order to make sure a digital transformation consultant has your best interests in mind:

What a good digital transformation consultant does

No matter what industry you’re operating in, the digital transformation consulting experts at USC Consulting Group can provide your business with the tools, technology, and tactics you need not just to survive, but thrive. Contact us to learn more.

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Businesses across multiple industries have embraced digital transformation (DX) technologies. In fact, an estimated 89 percent of organizations worldwide have embarked on digitization, according to the International Data Corporation, by reassessing their current assets and leveraging them in new ways.

But while these innovators swap manual processes for digital alternatives, companies in the food and beverage space preserve their existing processes, despite growing customer demand for more innovative services.

Modern consumers want convenient food purchasing experiences. Approximately 9 percent of American consumers, or 10.5 million households, purchased a meal kit between September 2017 and March 2018, and about 30 million more said they were considering doing so in the following five to six months, Nielsen reported. In addition to ordering ready-to-cook meals, many U.S. families are taking advantage of online grocery delivery services. As a result, web-based grocery sales are growing 10 times faster than in-store sales, Brick Meets Click found.

Despite these explosive developments, food and beverage companies have not embraced digitization en masse. Why? Because many operational challenges prevent these organizations from moving forward and meeting the needs of their tech-savvy consumers signing up for Blue Apron and Instacart. Here are three roadblocks of food and beverage digitization and how some innovators in the industry are working to overcome them:

1. Moving from in-store to online

Major food and beverage firms such as Coca-Cola have long relied on brick-and-mortar partners. This sales channel is no longer viable by itself. Businesses in the space must meet consumers where they are, which is online.

But how does an organization make this switch when their route to market has always run through grocers and other sellers? In the case of Coca-Cola, the answer is trial and error. The soda giant juggles multiple experimental initiatives aimed at engaging customers online, including partnerships with Amazon and Uber Eats, and direct-to-consumer order fulfillment for specialty products. In doing so, the brand hopes to pinpoint and cultivate a successful and sustainable web-based sales channel and carve out a clear path for moving past its traditional store-based business model.

2. Adjusting to consumer preferences

Consumers that shop for groceries online or cook with meal kits normally have good reasons for embracing these products and services. A single parent might get meals through HelloFresh to save time, while a young couple might choose to shop with Peapod out of the desire to buy local. Food and beverage businesses have to tailor their sales and distribution models to meet the distinct needs of multiple demographics, something that is not so easy for larger brands that have been selling the same products the same way for decades.

Campbell Soup Company grappled with this very issue in 2017, when it attempted to enter the digital marketplace, according to Bloomberg. To put it simply, its canned soups did not have a good reputation among the younger customers that populated the sales channels that Campbell pursued. So the company got creative and developed an artisanal soup delivery service that shuttled variations of its core products, made with fresh, local vegetables, to source-conscious consumers. The soups even arrived in glass mason jars. This move allowed the brand to meet the needs of new customers and move into the digital realm.

3. Getting digital face time

Workable application-based delivery workflows or an e-commerce presence is not enough for latecomers in the food and beverage sector. If these businesses are serious about looking to attract customers of the digital age, they must also roll out promotional efforts that draw clicks, likes and shares. For businesses that have banked on their decades of brand capital, the prospect of recultivating this cachet on new channels can seem daunting or even impossible.

General Mills recently faced this challenge when it began exploring new digital opportunities, Food Dive reported. Like Coca-Cola, the food and beverage conglomerate looked into multiple avenues and eventually found a way to form connections with online consumers through recipes and meal suggestions. The company hopes these relationships will serve it well as it traverses groundbreaking operational territory in an attempt to find success with digitization.

Here at USC Consulting Group, we’ve been collaborating with organizations in the food and beverage space for decades, helping them transform their operations and adapt to marketplace shifts of all kinds. Connect with us today to learn more about our experience in the industry and how we can assist your organization as it moves forward.