Resilience A Priority in Global Supply Chains—McKinsey

I love irony. No sooner had I discussed with a colleague about the time I worked for a couple of McKinsey alums than I received an email promoting a new study undertaken by, you guessed it, McKinsey. Actually the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI). The paper’s authors researched global supply chains very timely in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The report highlights vulnerabilities in global supply chains and how resilience takes priority, calculating ongoing cost of shocks and prospects for production to shift.

In brief:

  • Industries experience month-long disruptions every 3.7 years on average
  • Companies can expect supply chain disruptions to erase 40 percent of a year’s profits over the course of a decade on average—and extreme events take an even bigger toll
  • Up to a quarter of global trade flows could move to different countries over the next five years if companies restructure their supplier networks and governments take action. But moving supply chains is not the only way to build resilience.

The idea of chasing low-cost labor across the globe while ignoring supply chain risks and costs always seemed goofy to me. For, I didn’t waste my years as the unofficial chief manufacturing cost analyst for a medium-sized manufacturer. But here is some weighty analysis that emphasizes the risks.

The stakes are high, according to Risk, resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains, a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI). MGI analyzed 23 industry value chains to assess their exposure to specific types of shocks, including pandemics, conflicts, cyberattacks, trade wars, natural disasters, and climate risks. Industries have different exposure to these shocks based on their geographic footprint, factors of production, and other variables.

Based on the frequency and cost of disruptions, MGI scenarios show companies in most industries can expect shocks to erase 45 percent of one year’s EBITDA on average over the course of a decade. A single extreme event could cause even bigger financial losses. On top of this bottom-line impact comes the additional cost of rebuilding damaged physical assets, losing market share to competitors that are able to sustain operations, and significant societal harm such as loss of life, loss of jobs, shortages of critical goods, and damage to communities.

Geographic concentration can often produce supply chain bottlenecks when a shock hits. MGI finds 180 goods that are exported primarily from just one country, worth $135 billion in trade annually. Another issue is that large multinationals can have thousands of suppliers—but most have little visibility beyond the top tier of those tightly interconnected networks.

Will companies restructure their supply chains as part of a flight to safety? Yes and no, the report finds. There is an economic logic behind the way industry value chains have evolved. Given the scale, complexity, and interconnectedness of value chains, they are harder to move than is commonly realized.

MGI estimates that 15 to 25 percent of global goods exports, worth $2.9 trillion to $4.6 trillion annually, could conceivably move to new countries over the next five years. This is based on both economic factors, such as the cost of relocating production, and non-economic factors, such as governments changing policy to promote domestic production of goods deemed essential or important to national economic security.

“The prospect of a significant geographic rebalancing in global supply chains represents a risk for the companies and countries that might lose out—but a potentially significant opportunity for those that manage to capture a share of this production. This could have important consequences for future growth and employment,” says Susan Lund, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute. “But supply chains involve thousands of independent firms, reflecting specialization, access to consumer markets around the world, substantial sunk costs, and long-standing relationships. Relocating is not a simple task.”

To attracting more production, countries need to develop strong supplier ecosystems, specialized workforce skills, robust infrastructure, and an attractive business environment.

There is more to resilience than changing where goods are made, however. Operational choices and the structure of a company’s supplier network can heighten or lessen vulnerability to disruptions. Common practices such as sourcing from a single supplier, relying on customized inputs with few substitutes, and carrying substantial debt can magnify the financial impact of a shock if they are not calibrated to account for current levels of risk.

Among the steps companies can take are mapping the sub-tiers of their supply chains in detail and connecting them digitally for better transparency; building the capacity to flex production across multiple sites; holding more inventory; and strengthening their balance sheets.

The COVID pandemic is prompting action at a time when cost structures are changing across countries and revolutionary digital technologies are gaining traction in global manufacturing.

“Supply chain shocks are not a new phenomenon, but only a handful of leading companies have really moved to minimize their risk until now,” says Katy George, senior partner and global leader of McKinsey’s operations practice. “That’s largely because of a perception that resilience has to come at the cost of efficiency. But that’s no longer true. Now companies have new tools at their disposal to become more resilient and more productive.”

Virtual Trade Show and Conference

This week I am attending the Festo Virtual Trade Show and Conference . The website provider is the same one as the Danish company I “toured” last week. It is similar to a concept I saw 20 years ago, but modern technology and design have made the experience very good.

I sat in a couple of conference sessions deepening my understanding of the latest in pneumatics and digitization. The discussion of digitizing and motion was good showing examples from OEE and energy savings. I am not a fan of OEE, but many companies seem fixated on it. It is a number–but I learned how the sausage was made 30 years ago and I remain unconvinced of its real utility. However, if you can digitize to calculate OEE, then you have data you could use in better ways for decision making.

I also learned about applications in process and water treatment.

The metaphor is a trade show lobby with doors for the auditorium for conference sessions, the show floor, information booth. Entering the show floor, there are a number of icons representing booths. Click on a booth and you can choose from short video demonstrations, downloadable papers, and product overviews.

You can attend yet today. It’s worth a look to see what perhaps may be a chunk of the future. I miss the energy and serendipity of live events. But this is an efficient way to collect information saving both the exhibitor and me great expense.

US Congress Briefed on Manufacturing

John Dyck is now CEO of CESMII, a US government initiative promoting Smart Manufacturing. I worked with him some at MESA International and in his previous role at Rockwell Automation. He sent me this note the other day, “I wanted to share with you a link to a recording of a Congressional Briefing (virtual) that I participated in (with ASME) on rethinking the manufacturing supply chain. My contributions start at the 10:20 mark and are ~10 minutes. This is part of a significant initiative that we’ve started here, which you see in the final 2 minutes of my presentation.”  There are few people in Congress with any kind of science or engineering background. Let alone manufacturing and production. I hope they take the time to watch and learn.

 Unlike the initiatives in Germany and China that have the full support from the top of the government, American government might fund initiatives such as CESMII, but as far as the top reaches of Congress and the administration are concerned, the outcomes are more along the lines of wishing and anxiety.

If you are American and involved in this area, listen and see where you might help. If you are outside America, you’ll find it interesting what we’re working on.

Data Remains Key Challenge for Artificial Intelligence Projects

70 Percent of Companies Report C-Suite Involvement into AI Projects, with COVID-19 Driving Acceleration of AI Strategies – But Businesses Still Name Data as Key Challenge.

“Artificial Intelligence is neither,” according to my favorite quip. This field of computer science is perhaps the most misunderstood thanks to possibility thinkers like Ray Kurzweil and the many dystopian movies. Nevertheless, AI in its realistic form powers much modern technology. And not only for home artificial listening devices. Business and industry use it often, as well.

Appen Limited, the leading provider of training data for organizations that build effective AI systems at scale, has announced its annual State of AI Report for 2020. The report highlights increasing C-suite involvement and investment in enterprise AI projects as well as data being a key challenge as AI models get more frequent updates in production. The report also reveals the recent acceleration of AI strategies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the report, nearly 75 percent of businesses now consider AI critical to their success, and AI continues to grow in importance across companies of various sizes and industries. Yet, almost 50 percent of those who responded to the 2020 State of AI survey feel their company is behind on their AI journey, suggesting a critical gap exists between the strategic need and the ability to execute.

“Many organizations have adopted the use of the internet at the core of their processes, and AI is on a similar journey from fringes to core value offering. Increasing investment in AI projects and greater involvement by the C-suite, along with accelerating enterprise adoption in the wake of COVID-19, are clear indicators that AI is core to business success,” said Appen CEO Mark Brayan. “However, most companies are still in the early stages and facing challenges, especially around training data.”

Key Takeaways from the 2020 State of AI Report

The C-Suite is now far more heavily invested and involved in the development of AI projects

Executive visibility and involvement in AI have increased over 30 percent year-over-year, with 71 percent of organizations reporting C-suite involvement in AI projects. What’s more, the percentage of companies investing over $5 million has effectively doubled compared to last year. With this level of executive involvement and increased budgets, ethics, governance, and risk management initiatives have become important topics for technologists building AI.

COVID-19 is not slowing AI Investment

Continuing investment in AI shows that businesses are choosing to spend in times of turbulence. Two-thirds of companies do not expect any negative impact on their AI strategies. Nearly 50 percent of companies have accelerated their AI strategies, 20 percent doing so “significantly,” betting their AI projects will have a positive impact on their organization’s resiliency, efficiency, and innovation.

“COVID-19 has changed everything about the way companies are operating today, but not everyone has adapted in the same way,” added Wilson Pang, CTO at Appen. “The State of AI report shows despite turbulent times, more than two-thirds of respondents do not expect any negative impact from COVID-19 on their AI strategies. Those that are prioritizing AI see the power of digital transformations as a way to improve their resiliency and long-term performance.”

Data remains the key AI challenge

Training data is the key to successful AI, with 3 out of 4 companies updating their models at least quarterly. However, 40 percent of those updating quarterly feel that a lack of data or data management is a challenge.

“Many businesses are still early on their AI journey and they are finding that their data needs span beyond in-house resources when looking for high-quality, annotated training data that drives AI success,” added Pang. “Industry leaders are turning more and more to third-party providers like Appen to help them deploy their AI projects.”

Updates With GE Digital

GE Digital had not updated me for a while. So, an invitation to a conversation with new GE Digital CTO Colin Parris was welcome—even if in the middle of several virtual user conferences. Naturally we talked about digitalization, something GE Digital was early to the game with. Also AI. Digital Twin continues to form the base of the company’s strategy.

Most welcome, there was no talk of optimization and Six Sigma. Instead business transformation through Lean plus Control plus Digital Twin was the focus of conversation.

As an example of the importance of digitization, he discussed a business that was so focused on optimization that it didn’t want to invest in digital. Then COVID came knocking. The company had been reluctant to digitize, but did it in five days when forced to when employees had to work from home. It then improved the system over the ensuing three months.

Here is another example Parris related.

The Prime Minister of India asked citizens to turn off their lights for nine minutes in a show of solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. With meticulous planning by India’s Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO), national and state agencies, and supported by the GE Digital Grid Software team and Advanced Energy Management System (AEMS) solutions, the nation’s power grid withstood a 31- gigawatt drop and recovery.

When the request came down, POSOCO and its extended team of national and state agencies had less than 60 hours to prepare. For 1.3 billion consumers this would be a simple, yet powerful, way to unite with their fellow countrymen and the world, but it would also put tremendous stress on the nation’s power grid. A sudden decrease in demand could cause grid instability, leading to system collapse.

Due to national lockdowns associated with the pandemic, the normal daily peak demand of 160 GW had already fallen by 50 GW due to the significant reduction in demand from the commercial and industrial sectors. For the April 5 “lights out” event, POSOCO estimated a reduction in demand of 12 GW within two to four minutes. Power systems can handle gradual drops, but a sudden drop caused by lights switching off across the nation risked collapsing the world’s largest synchronous grid. Consumers would expect the power to return at full capacity at the end of the nine-minute vigil.

Preparations to meet the unprecedented reduction in load and recovery began in earnest on April 3 to create and test guidelines for reliable grid operations across POSOCO’s five regions. Hydro and gas generators, which require the least amount of time for ramp-up, were tested the morning of April 5. The Ministry of Power announced that the country’s electricity grid was robust, stable and ready to handle the demand.

At 9:00 pm on April 5, an estimated 80% of the nation’s citizens (approximately a billion people) turned off their lights and illuminated candles, lamps and flashlights in a show of national strength and unity. The resulting power drop and recovery was 31 GW – more than double the projections, but by connecting with control centers remotely, observing key parameters, and continuously monitoring system health, POSOCO was able to provide uninterrupted supply to consumers.

Given India’s strict lockdown response to COVID-19, the GE Digital teams were not able to hold in-person planning meetings, but by using GE Digital’s remote work capabilities, the team’s engineers were able to support POSOCO while working safely from their own homes.

I also received update information about GE Digital’s APM 4.4 (Asset Performance Management).

  • GE Digital’s APM 4.4 uses Digital Twins, Advanced Visualizations, and improved Connectivity to help Asset and Process Intensive Companies in Power Generation, Oil & Gas and Chemical Processing Industries to Rapidly Reduce Costs while Adapting to Changing Market Conditions
  • Power Generation companies using existing APM solutions enjoy availability / uptime increases of up to 20%; with O&M Cost Reduction up to millions of dollars per year
  • Oil & Gas and Chemical Processing companies using APM enjoy up to 6% improvements in availability, up to 40% reductions in reactive maintenance and up to 20% reduction in costs associated with Health, Safety and Environment issues

Available both as a cloud and on-premises solution, APM allows companies in asset and process intensive industries like Oil & Gas, Chemical and Power Generation to align key technologies with critical work processes and functions across their businesses.

This release has focused on driving tighter integration across capabilities within the APM solution as well as to existing systems such as Enterprise Asset Management / Computerized Maintenance Management System (EAM/CMMS) solutions. In addition, APM focuses on automating work processes with enhancements to allow users to automate tasks and provide a more seamless experience to have the right information at the right time to make critical business decisions.

“Our software helps customers to better operate, analyze and optimize their business processes with simplicity, speed and scale,” said Linda Rae, General Manager, GE Digital Power Generation and Oil & Gas. “APM helps industrial companies to efficiently and rapidly reduce costs while adapting to changing market conditions. With more than 30 years’ experience delivering software for our partners in industry, we’re always learning how to help them rise to today’s challenges.”

The latest APM release added more than 30 new Digital Twin blueprints for Oil & Gas, Chemical, Fossil and Nuclear Power Generation as well as Mining, to its catalog of more than 300 pre-configured analytic and diagnostic models for various equipment classes and systems across industries. Built by reliability subject matter experts, the blueprints monitor asset health by detecting degradation or performance loss across the asset or system to provide a diagnostic recommendation. This significantly reduces the time to value for our customers, with built-in detection and remediation information guidance.

Several new reports are also available for predictive diagnostic users including Sensor Health Reporting and the Predictive Diagnostic Coverage report. These help users understand diagnostic coverage relative to an asset’s designed capabilities.

For Predix APM cloud customers, Advanced Visualization capabilities are being introduced to enable rich dashboarding, analysis, and reporting on APM alerts, cases, and more. Dashboards are now available through the integration of a Business Intelligence (BI) tool for additional dashboarding capabilities.

GE Digital has also announced enhancements and unlimited availability of Predix APM for European customers via its Frankfurt, Germany operations center. In partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), GE has made technology investments to enhance customer experience and further support GDPR regulations.

The GE Digital APM Roadmap continues to advance the state of technologies for APM as well as features and functions. APM 4.4is now generally available from GE Digital. More information can be found here.

Pandemic Becoming a Trigger for Certain Enterprises to Accelerate Transformation

We only need look out the window to understand that the current situation with keeping people apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has slowed commerce and manufacturing to a crawl.

Wind River surveyed a set of executives in China and the US to see what they think the impact of the slowdown and then recovery will be. There are many similarities in outlook, although there are some differences. Wind River attributes most of the difference to the timing of the survey. China was beginning to come out from the shutdown, while the US was in the midst of it.

This is an IT-oriented report, but it is also quite relevant to us all given that operations and information areas are working ever more closely aligned.

[Note for my OT readers: DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and information-technology operations (Ops) which aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality.]

[Note 2: A subset of DevOps relating specifically to data is called DataOps. See my writing on Hitachi Vantara and HighByte for more on this. This is relatively recent.]

Highlights

  • More than 1 in 3 executives in both the U.S. and China are seeing COVID-19’s impact as impetus to digitally transform their businesses
  • COVID-19 is influencing which technologies will receive increased attention, with enterprises desiring transformation placing 50%+ extra focus on investment in areas such as 5G, containers, and cloud-native technologies.
  • 75% of C-suite, IoT, and DevOps leaders are modifying corporate strategies due to COVID-19.

Wind River, a deliverer of software for the intelligent edge, has issued new research investigating how technology executives—specifically, C-suite leaders and senior executives in areas such as IoT, DevOps, security, and embedded development—from both the U.S. and China are realigning their focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their insights are embodied in the Wind River commissioned report titled “COVID-19 and Corporate Strategies in the U.S. and China: A Seismic Event Demanding Change and Action from Top Executives.”

Seismic events can disrupt our focus and thinking and force reassessment of drivers of future business success. The current COVID-19 pandemic is one of those major events producing a worldwide impact, especially given its reverberations on the two largest global economies, the U.S. and China.

“Prior to the pandemic, the vast majority of corporations were looking toward advancing their digital transformation. However, we’ve entered a different landscape that is triggering leaders in DevOps and IoT development to make profound decisions about the speed and nature of their technology investments,” said Kevin Dallas, president and chief executive officer, Wind River. “As we’ve seen from our study, in this COVID-19–shocked world, those most optimistic about the future of their business and the direction of their technology and development investments are the enterprises viewing this as a time to accelerate and even change the nature of that transformation.”

Looking inside the minds of technology executives in major sectors such as telecommunications, healthcare, automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing/industrial provides a view into how leaders are redirecting their focus and accelerating or delaying investments. The report surveyed 400 senior-level technology executives from the U.S. and China at enterprises with revenues ranging from $100 million to $1 billion.

With COVID-19–related challenges creating new pressures, enterprises are rapidly falling into the categories of simply surviving, pivoting to adapt to new realities, or doing nothing. While the U.S. and China are in different phases of the pandemic, in several aspects the responses from each country split in similar ways. More than 1 in 3 executives—39% of U.S. and 43% of Chinese leaders—are focusing on surviving this crisis, while 35% in the U.S. and 33% in China are spurred to make a transformation due to COVID-19.

The enterprises focused on transforming have a much higher propensity to accelerate key technology investments compared to those who are merely surviving. Those with a desire to digitally transform are placing 50%+ extra focus on key investment areas such as 5G, containers, and cloud native. The research findings among these leaders indicate that they understand the core technology components that will be vital for digital transformation. For these enterprises, executives are increasing spend in the following areas:

  • 5G projects: by 63% in China, 37% in the U.S.
  • Cloud-based application development: by 62% in China, 35% in the U.S.
  • AI: by 61% in China, 37% in U.S
  • Container-based development: by 56% in China, 38% in U.S.
  • IoT: by 60% in China, 33% in U.S.
  • Applications at the edge: by 57% in China, 25% in U.S.

As enterprises have had to implement changes to their business processes due to the pandemic, 98% in China and 90% in the U.S. note that their ability to meet customer demands has been impacted. Given recent needs, the interest in growing DevOps practices has risen across enterprises, with executives now placing more importance on DevOps (46% in U.S., 36% in China).

Regardless of region, most enterprises realize that the road ahead will be tough. Fifty percent of enterprises in the U.S. and 77% in China are seeing heavier workloads across their teams. They also anticipate the need to implement major initiatives such as accelerating new business models (83% in U.S., 89% in China) and building in more agile development (82% in U.S., 86% in China).

To tackle these challenges, there is a clear recognition among leaders that they will require transformative focus and skills. Therefore, in order to successfully lead a digital transformation, C-suite leaders and executives in DevOps/DevSecOps and IoT anticipate increased importance in their roles (ranging from 60%+ in the U.S. to 73%+ in China) as their businesses exit COVID-19.

As the world grapples with the disruption caused by COVID-19 and enterprises begin to understand major gaps and the resources required to deliver on customer needs, they must identify the right strategies and experts to help them accelerate a digital transformation and realize long-term success beyond the pandemic.

For information about Wind River’s efforts to support the battle against COVID-19.