Whirlpool has kept most of its manufacturing in the US even as it's adapted to changing consumer and retail conditions, and being known as a reliable employer has helped, says CEO Marc Bitzer. "So of course in a recession, yes, we had to reduce capacity, and we couldn't run three shifts, but it's not like we have these massive layoffs and then ramped up again," he says.
Legacy consumer packaged goods companies are finding upstarts to be an opportunity, either for partnerships or acquisition, James Melton writes. Buying startups eliminates a competitor while supplying them with the data, infrastructure and scale of established brands, he adds.
Manufacturers need long-term vision, specialized talent and a willingness to try things if they wish to innovate, writes Bob Niemiec of Twisthink. "I cannot stress enough the importance of assembling teams with specific talents in strategy, design, engineering and technology," he notes.
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Walmart plans to invest to expand its one-day delivery beginning this week with free next-day shipping of about 220,000 products for shoppers in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Southern California. The offer includes orders of $35 or more, and items will be shipped in one box whenever possible to avoid the problem of multiple boxes arriving at different times.
Speed is a must for manufacturers at every stage of the supply chain, with MHI projecting that spending on supply chain technology will nearly double this year. Digital adoption faces a number of challenges, among them talent shortages, technical hurdles and other internal obstacles.
Hearing-conservation programs are one way workplaces can help employees guard against hearing loss that comes from extended exposure to noise, Reed Erickson writes. "It can also be helpful to offer one-on-one educational sessions with individual employees who may be exposed to louder noises on a regular basis," he adds.
Distributors can lower their costs and be more efficient by switching to sustainable supply chain practices that use fewer resources and result in better labor policies, writes Jake Rheude of Red Stag Fulfillment. Companies may be able to use blockchain to evaluate the sustainability of their supply chains, he writes.
Employee engagement is low in manufacturing but increasingly important for attracting skilled workers, writes ITA Group's Christina Zurek. Perks and pay aren't always sufficient, as employees also have personal, cultural, social and emotional needs.