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Digital Transformation: Looking Back, Looking Forward

“It doesn’t matter what you make. The technology has changed.” That’s what Brian Krinock, Toyota’s SVP, Vehicle Manufacturing & Production Engineering, said last spring at NAMES21. He was speaking virtually to an audience of manufacturing executives, but the sentiment carries across almost every profession you can imagine. Keeping up with that change —leveraging technology to do more faster and better for less time, money, and manpower— is one of the dominant forces in business today. While technological progress takes many forms, probably the largest category is Digital Transformation. In reviewing our records in preparation for today’s blog post we compiled…

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Survey Results on the Top Priority of HR Professionals

To say weathering a global pandemic has been challenging would be an understatement. Long-running trends have accelerated exponentially as organizations struggled to find short-term workarounds and medium-term solutions under unimaginable circumstances. HR professionals have carried heavier burdens than most as they struggled first to support their people through crisis, then to stabilize and organize a new way of work, and now to look forward and ask, “What’s next?” as they explore a still evolving but forever changed business landscape. Where should HR leaders focus their efforts? We asked our network of Human Resources professionals what their top priority will be…

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The Corporate Brand as the Ultimate Connection Between Customer and Company

The power of a brand cannot be overstated. People choose how to spend their time and money not just to satisfy their wants and needs, but also to say something about themselves, if only to themselves. If you reading this right now were offered to select from a list of soft drinks, of snack foods, of clothing brands, of sports franchises —of anything, really— you will have preferences that are not based on sampling all the options and making an informed and dispassionate decision. There is an emotional connection that goes much deeper and can steer people without conscious thought…

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Food Safety Culture from Farm to Fork

A huge part of the job Food Safety professionals do is thinking about how to make sure everybody else is also thinking about food safety. No one person or even team of people can be responsible for the actions of everyone else in the food supply chain. Pick any set of hands that food passes through: Farmer, truck driver, the workers at the processing facilities and distribution centers —even the office staff handling the paperwork— everyone working in the food industry needs to be aware of how they contribute to food safety. Few things are more challenging than transforming a…

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Applying Lean Principles to Energy Usage Generates Great Things

Almost a decade ago now, ADM, one of the largest food processing companies in the world, decided to get serious about its electricity consumption. With hundreds of factories, crop procurement collection points, and supply chain infrastructure facilities globally, it was an enormous task. A decision was made to treat the project in the same way manufacturers bring lean principles to their operations: Find the low-hanging fruit first; identify and eliminate waste and improve efficiencies in a series of easy wins and quick victories that convince people positive change can be achieved; encourage input from all levels of the workforce to…

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The Biopharmaceutical Industrial is Undergoing Explosive Growth: How Do You Do That Carefully?

This past spring at PMWS21, Uwe Buecheler of Boehringer Ingelheim gave a virtual keynote address on leading global supplies in times of high biologics demand both during and after the global pandemic. The whole presentation is well worth watching, but the overarching theme is that the biologics market is growing in leaps and bounds —in 35 years the value of commercially available products have gone from a rounding error on the pharmaceutical industry’s balance sheets to a half-trillion-dollar portfolio with no signs of slowing down— and every company working in this space needs to be organizing its global supply chain…

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Viewing Advanced Manufacturing as an Ecosystem

Last month at NAMES21 David Johnson gave a virtual presentation on Nissan Group of North America’s practical approach to transitioning legacy facilities into factories of the future. The whole case study is worth watching, but one of the biggest takeaways is that digital transformation is much more organic than most people suspect. It is not a new technology coming in on top of an existing system and suddenly altering its behavior exactly according to plan. The reality is much more like an ecosystem reacting to change. Systems that were already functioning and communicating and balancing with one another respond and…

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Rethinking Supply Chain Risk: The Future of COVID-19

Thousands of articles, columns, blogs, news programs, and podcasts have already discussed how the global pandemic disrupted supply chains worldwide over the last year and a half, but the vast majority of that coverage has been looking back at the events of 2020 to showcase and learn lessons from how supply chains kept a locked-down world running. The truth is COVID-19 will continue to disrupt global supply chains now and for a long time still to come, and every business should be rethinking its risk management strategies. A tsunami in Japan, a hurricane hits the East Coast, monsoon rains flood…

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Survey Results from NAHRES21 on Employee Engagement

Communication is the bedrock of employee-centric corporate culture. If you are not reaching out and engaging with your workforce, how can you hope to understand them and give them the resources they need to succeed? When you factor in how much has changed in everyone’s working lives over the past year and a half, it’s no surprise that the rate of deliberate reach out has accelerated during the global pandemic. At NAHRES21 Virtual last February, 95% of surveyed delegates said the cadence of employee communications has increased during the global pandemic, while 3% said they had experienced no change, and…

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How Should Food Safety Executives Secure Resources to Improve Their Capabilities?

Food Safety is in an unusual position within the Food industry: It is absolutely crucial to the success of any business, but it is not a profit center or a competitive advantage; it has all the same opportunities to modernize its people, processes, and technologies as other parts of the business, but there is a deep-seated conservatism in trying something new unless someone else has already demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will produce an obvious ROI. Keep in mind, while Safety and Quality make the business possible, very rarely are they directly connected to the bottom…

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Get Ready: Talent Recruitment and Retention will be Different After COVID-19

As people of working age around the globe are vaccinated and prepare to return to something like business as usual, the time has come to ask, ‘What will attracting and retaining the talent your organization needs to grow and succeed look like in the post-COVID world?’ It is a bigger question than you might think: Baby Boomers are retiring at an accelerating rate; Generation X is not far behind; the eldest Millennials are approaching their 40s, and the workers behind them have seen their education and career paths interrupted by both a global recession and a global pandemic on a…

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The Right Leadership Attracts and Retains Top Talent, and Then Empowers Them to Achieve Excellence

Once upon a time corporate leadership was about setting a goal and demanding the company follow the boss’s top-down orders or fear capricious discipline. A lot of great companies were built that way a century ago, but not many of them have survived to the present, and fewer still continue to have an autocratic management system. In the modern global marketplace, productivity and competitive advantage depends on an educated and engaged workforce contributing their best efforts. Management enjoys an honest and open rapport with the people working for them and with them. They seek to attract top talent while holding…

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Breaking Down Silos to Create a Truly Customer-Centric Supply Chain

Last September at the North American Supply Chain Executive Summit, held virtually, Shay Scott,  Executive Director, Global Supply Chain Institute, University of Tennessee moderated a panel discussion with Daniel Myers, the Retired EVP of Integrated Supply Chain of Mondelēz International, and Greg Smith, EVP, Supply Chain for Walmart U.S., on “The Supply Chain of the Future and Behaviors that Drives Excellence.” The whole conversation is worth watching, but today we want to pull out a quote about how Walmart is breaking down internal silos to better meet the needs of its customers: “The expectations of the customer are so high,…

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Making an Honest Self-Assessment of Your Digital Transformation

For years now, the Digital Revolution, Industry 4.0, and IIoT have been the drumbeat buzzwords promising a steady march towards a promised land where no one ever holds a clipboard or manually inputs data into a spreadsheet ever again. Where the productivity of a facility increases by orders of magnitude, and the workforce is freed from mindless repetitive tasks to focus on new efficiencies and targeted process improvements. Where proactive and predictive maintenance is so reliable, only the older generations even remember what unexpected downtime means. At some point it is probably worth pausing to ask, “Are we there yet?…

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