I have been dealing with supply chain since 2000.
First of all, I would like to briefly speak about my relevant experiences in the field.
Later, I will explore other related issues from the international supply chain to the last mile and mobility issues related to the today sharing economy revolution.
Supply Chain – My story
2000 – I am in Chicago, working for BCG and our costumer is the world’s largest label producer.
It produces all kind of labels, from post-it and similar to clothes’ labels.
The smartest way to sell labels is not to sell “the piece of paper” but to sell printers at the bottom of the production line and then sell the printing service.
The customers of our customer, are often chinese textile producers (from jeans to t-shirts) that face an always increasing production (remember it was 2000).
We soon realize that to print we need information and that the true value of the service lies in the information itself printed on the labels.
We also realize that a t-shirt takes about 8 weeks to reach the shelves, and half of this time is spent to reconcile the information on the t-shirts or on the t-shirt boxes or on the boxes that contain the boxes that contain the t-shirts .
Well, in short, we realize that most of the time is lost in the ports because the customs authorities receive approximate and non-computerized information about the boxes and their contents.
So, our goal is to cut time from 8 to 4 weeks.
For the following two years, this became a project that the company implemented all over the world.
Today technology , capacity of calculation and data transmission are much more developed (about 20 years have passed), but Supply Chain‘s work times are almost the same.
2001/2002 – I am in England and our client has bought the largest English household appliances’ producer.
In the UK, the target company market share is around 30% and one of the differentiating competitive factors (beside its brand equity) is a home delivery network, which is able to deliver home a washing machine in 24 hours, after having purchased it either in a shop or on a catalog (which, at the time, was starting to be computerized).
As BCG we have completely revised the network.
We went to verify both the cross-docks’ locations on the territory (we went from 22 to 17, increasing the mileage of the last mile) and the need to have one or two drivers (trivially, having two drivers almost doubles the last mile costs).
It was a successful year also for the customer.
2003 – Within BCG, we created a group of people (three worldwide) who could follow these issues, both in the sales and scoping phases of the project and in the start-up phase of new projects.
This led me to see Supply Chain in India, Indonesia, China and, of course, around Europe.
Thus expanding my knowledge of Supply Chain issues well beyond the initial point, not just Logistics, but also operational planning.
However, at BCG the most frequently asked questions were those about the logistic network set-up: how many central depots are needed? One? Two? Thirty?
And so, at least on three continents, I spent years studying which were the best structural set-ups for my clients.
What makes supply chain interesting is that it is logical and that there is always a scientific and practical solution, even if not at zero cost.
2006-2009 – As Business Development Director, I traveled really a lot and I visited depots and production facilities in China, Brazil, Russia and India.
At that time the focus was also about acquisitions, so I was dealing no longer just with a logistic network but also with a productive network.
In short, the goal was: a low-cost producer with a fast and efficient transportation costs.
So, Mission Impossible, but as I often used to say to one of my bosses “if it was easy, they wouldn’t call us”.
Any way, in the Appliance business everything matters because competition is strong, from all over the world, high investments are necessary to run the business and returns are uncertain (and mostly they are based on implementing skills): So I learnt the hard way to analyze each trade-off.
2009-2012 – Service Indesit. When a washing machine breaks, the problem for the customer is to find the technician, the problem for the technician is to find the spare part and here we go again.
2012-2015 – Candy, as head of the Service around the world, and at that time the Service division had to be restructured.
Where to start? Guess what? From the logistic physical network and the planning capabilities! So here we go again, but imprementing more than just thinking or measuring it!
We closed warehouses in the UK (except for the high runnerswhich just made sens), then we closed a central warehouse in Spain (replaced with a cross-dock) … and then France … and then Germany.
Call center opened in China (and centralization of order taking).
Prices revised. Re-organized the network in Finland, Denmark and Sweden.
Meanwhile, in Italy, we outsourced the European central warehouse to a super specialized operator like Columbus Logistics, with a multi-year contract, year-over-year KPIs and increasing efficiencies.
Finally, the planning system, that, after the full centralization of the operations, made sense have it done centrally, with a new IT planning system that could provide extremely modern planning logics (integrating order taking, availability in multi-sites / cross-docks)
Bello – From the strategy years in BCG to the warehouse life in Candy, I had fun from the beginning to the end of the Supply Chain.
2015-2018: Poste Italiane – the largest bank in Italy, but also the largest logistics‘ operator we know. Poste Italiane also owns SDA.
From a small business to the largest Italian company, from a company that was in 20+ countries to a completely Italian one.
From a private company with an entrepreneur to a state-owned company, in which social impact is more important than skill development and ability to compete (all markets where Poste Italiane is active are strongly regulated).