Whether we’re talking about recycled materials, genetically modified foods or conflict diamonds, it’s fair to say that more and more people are aware of – and care about – the origins of the materials they use. Cost is still important, but it isn’t necessarily the first criteria consumers consider when spending their hard-earned cash. They want to know their clothes weren’t produced in sweatshops using child labor or diamonds weren’t mined in war zones. They support manufacturers that strive to limit the impact their processes can have on the environment.
The Evolution of Maintenance
Maintenance has been around as long as humans have existed. From the routine sharpening of man’s earliest spears and tools to the repair work needed for modern technologies, our tools and machines have needed upkeep and repair. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” is an adage that has been repeated for decades. But is that a viable approach in today’s plants? For the most part, the answer is no, especially when it comes to asset-intensive industries and smart factories. To illustrate that point, let’s consider three different maintenance strategies, when they’re effective and when they’re not – and how data can help improve them.
By Jeff Corbett, Senior Cloud Administrator
The cloud is everywhere now. Not clouds in the sky, but “cloud” as in “cloud computing.” As the internet came into being, the cloud was the go-to description for that wild area outside an organization’s firewall. It allows programs to be accessed over the internet instead of through an on-site network of hardware, applications and storage.
By Rich Adams, Regional Account Director TabWare EAM
Do you write Work Orders or do you have a Work Order System?
In meetings and conversations about Maintenance Operations over the years, the subject always seems to revolve around subject of the Work Order. Whether it is in the implementation or sales process, it is always interesting in how customers consider the value of a Work Order and its importance in their organizations.
I am not a Wall Street wizard who regularly follows public companies looking for the best investments. If you are like me, we wonder where to invest our money? The conventional wisdom seems to be that you should invest in products and services that you find yourself using. If you like it, and you see others liking it, then it is probably a good investment. I followed this advice a couple of weeks ago, when I found myself drawn to a coffee chain that I had not particularly noticed before. After a few months of including this stop on my route to work a couple of days a week, I observed that it was more crowded inside, and there were longer lines at the drive-thru. Some mornings I had to bypass it because the wait would cause me to be late to work. Then it dawned on me – I’m not the only one who has developed an affinity for this place, so the business must be doing something right. I bought some stock. It is up $2.43 in the 2 weeks since I purchased it. While admittedly not a rapid ascension to the top, it is at least up in value.
According to industry analysts, there are many facets of asset maintenance that can be articulated and quantified as characteristic of best-in-class companies. There are also many consulting companies who can help you achieve improvements in your business. However you can make progress yourself by applying just three elements – persistence, focus, and data. While this premise sounds simple, its execution is not; otherwise there would be no unplanned downtime in manufacturing operations. Imagine being a maintenance expert, working only 9 to 5, with no midnight calls that the equipment has shut down operations. While that scenario may not be realistic any time soon, there is no doubt that it can become more so with these three principles.
Remember that progress seldom is easy, though is certainly worthwhile. Persistence is the hardest of the three disciplines, yet the most important one. Focus allows you to avoid distractions that can allay your initiative. Good tools are essential in supporting your persistence, once you push your initiative uphill.
Your persistence and focus in executing depends on obtaining, analyzing, and acting on good data. Data, and its analysis with clear visualizations, is vital to supporting any initiative you undertake. Without it, you do not know where you are, where you are going, or where any improvements are being made. Without that information, your desire to persist will wane, and with it, your initiative. You will then be resigned to a tale of “well, we tried that once but…”
We all have so many initiatives that we wish we could tackle, but none will happen with just thoughts and wishes. You can only achieve success one step at a time. So consider your most important initiatives and apply these three disciplines to impact your current results. I suggest starting with an initiative that has a high impact, and a high chance of success, so that you can see positive results quickly and feel encouraged to tackle the next one. If one asset in your facility quickly comes to mind as one you would like to throw out of the window because it causes you so much trouble, then consider focusing on improvements to it. Just that one asset. Remember that a high-impact initiative does not have to be a broad one; it only has to positively affect your work environment in one small way. Once you see success there, you will be energized and more confident in tackling the next one.
Mark Twain said that “the secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Decide to tackle one asset. Decide to organize and control one small area of the storeroom. Own it. See results. Sell your success to your colleagues and management. And watch it grow. And then brag to me about your success, because I would truly enjoy hearing about it.
In 2016 the world was surprised by the passing of Brexit and Trump winning the US Presidential election. Looking to 2017 from a global trade perspective, these events make one prediction certain: trade barriers in the Western Hemisphere will not be lowered. To what extent there will be an increase in tariff and non-tariff barriers is unclear, but there is no time like the present to speculate a little.
An interesting year is ahead, and it’s being kicked off on January 1 with the 2017 Harmonized System (HS) Nomenclature overhaul per the latest World Customs Organization (WCO) directions. These changes to the HS Nomenclature will be one of the largest in recent years, with more than half of the changes impacting codes in the agricultural and chemical sectors. In total, there will be 233 sets of amendment revisions. These revisions are meant to address growing global concern around environmental and social issues as well as the importance of collecting HC trade statistics.
With customs professionals expressing a growing concern about their supply chain compliance/Global Trade Management (GTM) challenges, the recent political events in the UK and US have led to increasing uncertainty in the industry. Be prepared for an exciting 2017!
The average global rates have decreased over the years, yet the question is whether 2017 will buck that trend. Will the USA walk away from bilateral or multi-lateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), ban countries from General System of Preference (GSP), or increase duty rates for certain countries of origin to protect domestic manufacturing? Will Brexit have an effect on the UK – European Union (EU) duty rates? How will the UK re-create their own external tariff and will it be able to break off UK FTAs from the current EU FTAs? A step further, it is to be seen if any of these events will affect duty rates (initially) on a unilateral basis, if there will be repercussions, and whether a tit-for-tat culture will initiate a tariff war? It’s all not too likely. Negating FTAs is not easily done, and the UK will be cautious to create any economic upheaval that may negatively affect their status as a financial leader in the market.
However, the prospect of an increase in duty rates is realistic as a number of large economic forces will be closely reviewing their trade agreements and tariff structures. Who would have thought the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organisation (GATT/WTO) bound rates books would ever have to be dusted off to check possible rate increases would not violate these agreements?
Additionally, two other events could impact duties in 2017. It can be expected that the US will increase pressure on low cost manufacturing, which would lead to a significant number of new Anti-dumping duties/Countervailing Duties (ADD/CVD) cases as unilateral duty increases are possibly too obvious. Lastly, China’s growing debt may threaten current economic stability, but the association with duty rates will likely not be seen in 2017.
Most likely there will be additional paperwork required for goods to move between the UK and the EU, and equally likely there will be UK FTA specific documentation requirements once it is clear how the UK will rearrange its trade relationships with the current EU FTA partners.
On the artificial side of trade barriers, some token reactionary measures may be taken to hamper certain trade lanes (read: importing from China), but expect additional non-tariff barriers to be more in the security, trademark, and consumer marking areas, specifically security around additional compliance measures for dual-use goods (a global trend), a stricter enforcement of trademarked goods, and closer reviews of consumer marking where safety of products containing certain materials is concerned. For example, ‘simple’ accidents like smart phones catching fire will pave the way for more agencies ensuring all imported products are safe for handling.
Some 2017 predictions
And now the unofficial 2017 predictions:
One thing is for certain, 2017 will prove to be an interesting year in the Global Trade Management space.
Twist or turn it, compliance issues in global trade are a component of non-tariff barriers. With duty barriers ever decreasing, average duty rates went down from 8.55% in 2000 to 4.74% in 2014,[i] it is difficult to substantiate claims that non-tariff barriers have been put into place instead. However, the international focus on trade compliance, ranging from import facilities to export licenses for dual-use goods, has increased over the years, with more countries following the United States regarding the export compliance side and the European Union when it comes to simplified import facilitation.
A wide variety of legislation applies to the shipment of goods. An export shipment from the US going into the EU seems innocent enough, but at the very least a restricted party check has to be performed. If a dual-use item is shipped, product screening and possibly export licenses have to be applied. Shipping documents are required. Import and export declarations need to be filed. Customs value and HS codes need to be declared or identified. Not complying with these (inter-)national customs requirements results in delays at the very least to time in prison at the most, with financial penalties and export restrictions in between.
Often times, complying with customs legislation is complicated as some facets, such as license requirements, will be different based on the tradelane, and different types of licenses or compliance issues may arise based on the exact country of export and import combination.
Enforcement of export legislation has become particularly strict. A few simple rules will reduce the risks of non-compliance:
Having a compliance program in place does not ensure smooth sailing. Trade compliance is a collaborative effort, especially in the supply chain, where you are dependent on partners for certain data. Their efficiency will affect your programs. Getting your supply chain partners in sync with your compliance programs will result less issues and fewer delays, as well as faster resolution should compliance issues occur.
While it can be a challenge to get all supply chain partners on the same page, it is recommended to review opportunities for the following:
Prepare for the Unexpected
While it may be an over-used cliché, it applies to well-oiled supply and compliance chains. Run a mock audit. While not necessarily a fun exercise, it will point out the weaknesses in your compliance program. Ask your supply chain partners for support documentation on some invoices or customs values, ask a supplier for verification of an origin statement, challenge a logistic service provider with a few ‘what-if’ scenarios (‘what –if’ we have to change routing of a shipment or need to use a truck instead of a plane – will these chances affect paperwork needed and therefore our capability to be in compliance?).
In summary, it may not be as much about the risks associated with global trade management as it is about how to anticipate and deal with them. Identify the compliance requirements you are subject to, set up programs that make you compliant, and create a common understanding internally and externally about the importance of compliance. It can save you time in multiple ways: valuable time wasted in the supply chain or even time in prison.
[i] The World Bank, Tariff rate, applied, weighted mean, all products (%). http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/TM.TAX.MRCH.WM.AR.ZS