Founder, Naviga Supply Chain
Recently, we announced that we have rebranded to Naviga Supply Chain. While most people can immediately understand our focus, we do get the question “why Naviga”?
Simply put, Naviga means “to navigate”. And so, our focus, is to help firms navigate their supply chains in order to be able to see and anticipate the impact of strategic and tactical decisions.
Not just any firms – Naviga is specifically focused on Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Manufacturers.
Why SME Manufacturers?
Because they have the most complex, most variable, and most volatile supply chains anywhere. Low volume high value manufacturing environments are not static, they are fluid, highly dynamic, and come with challenges that are not fully addressed by conventional “best practices” developed in large scale manufacturing firms. Some of these challenges include:
The majority of Canada’s manufacturing fits into the SME category. This is why Naviga’s primary focus is the development of a supply chain resilience framework, built to recognize and accommodate the specific challenges of these manufacturers.
Why a resilience framework?
Because SME Manufacturers have highly variable supply chain challenges, with equally variable risks and threats to their operations. There is no “one size fits all” approach to identifying the best solutions. But a framework can bring forward an organized approach that considers all major elements of any supply chain as an integrated system. This allows any firm who uses the framework the autonomy to focus on those elements most relevant to their specific challenges, as well as solutions that fit in their specific business realities. And, they can leverage a greater understanding of the integration of those elements to arrive at solutions that benefit their supply chains overall.
By far, the most requested support from our clients has been around improving resilience in their supply chains. Globally, manufacturing firms of all sizes are recognizing supply chain resilience as a top priority.
Our work empowers SMEs them to see both risks and opportunities inherent in their existing supply chains in a quantitative fashion, and provides them with a means to prioritize and measure the cost/benefit relationship of solutions. Of course, all of this is done through a System Thinking approach, in that the outcomes must benefit the firm as a whole, not some small piece of it in isolation.
The benefits of this approach are many:
Putting System Thinking to Work to Build Resilient Supply Chains for SMEs
The Naviga team has been taking a System Thinking approach since we were founded in 2016. In addition, we have a specialized focus and understanding of low volume, high value/mix manufacturing. Applying this approach to supply chain resilience through a comprehensive framework is the logical next step for Naviga to support the manufacturing community.
If you would like to find out more about how this could be applied to your company, feel free to reach out directly to Matt Weller.
This car is “green” - Why context is key, especially when it comes to supply chain resilience
Founder, Naviga Supply Chain
And not just literally green in colour! True, it’s a big old boat with a V-8, that gets roughly 19 miles per gallon, and it predates modern emissions systems. But, it’s more environmentally friendly than it first appears.
I’ve owned this car for 26 years. Usually it gets a thumbs up, people smile and wave. Recently however it gets some comments like, “you shouldn’t be allowed to drive that, you’re killing the earth”. This was said by a proud Electric Vehicle owner who just got back from a vacation in the UK.
So how can this car be “green”? The answer is simple, and it is the same answer that applies no matter if you’re talking about politics, the environment, or the many supply chain problems we have today:
Context is everything!
We are bombarded daily with sensational messaging that abandons context to manipulate emotional reactions, for anything ranging from political views to your next purchase of a good or service.
No matter the subject, if you’re serious about making real results, details and context matter. I’ll give an example and show how it applies to supply chain.
A basic example:
My ’69 Chevy Impala has driven a total of 13,000 miles in the 26 years have owned it. That averages to 500 miles per year. Antique cars don’t get around much by modern driving standards!
In 13,000 miles, my car has burned approximately 684 gallons of fuel in the name of my own enjoyment. The hobby of owning and maintaining this car not only brings me joy but also challenges engineering problem solving skills, sourcing skills, and forces learning new skills (such as welding). It helps me to relax and encourages me to take time to productively de-stress.
Now let's look at how that compares to a vacation to the UK
Boeing advertises that a 777 averages between 150-200 gallons during taxiing and 4,000 to 10,000 gallons during take off. On average, a 777 carries 301 passengers and burns 0.013 to 0.017 gallons per passenger per mile Based on this, a rough (but not at all exact) understanding of fuel burned to take a flight to the UK for the sake of comparison, can be attained. The detailed math has been provided at the end but the chart below shows the summary data.
Distance to UK (Toronto Pearson to London Heathrow)
7 hours 5 minutes, 5707 kilometers (converted to miles = 3546.165)
If I add up total consumption of fuel over the entire lifetime of my car (53 years, 133,000 miles averaging 19 mpg) including the first 20 years when it was a daily driver, it equals roughly 7,000 gallons, still less than half of a one-way trip to the UK by the lowest estimates!
Without context, my car of course looks like it is causing more harm to the environment compared to a fully electric car. However, when looking closer at fuel consumption of our recreational habits, a one-way trip across the ocean caused approximately 27 times as much impact in just a few hours (41 times if you rely on the high estimates) than my car has in 26 years.
But wait! You’re comparing personal use with an entire aircraft you might say. Well, the data from above shows us that a single passenger accounts for between 60 and 122 gallons one way. By the time my friend makes his return trip, he’s burned the equivalent amount of fuel that my vintage car would use in 4.5 years on the low side, 9.3 years on the high side! However, if you consider how many planes are in the air at any given time, vs vintage cars on the road, the CO2 contribution of old cars becomes so miniscule that it is statistically irrelevant to the global (or local) problem.
To be clear, I am not suggesting people should not travel. Nor am I suggesting they shouldn’t feel good about owning an EV. But I am suggesting everyone should look at their own individual lifestyles and decide what impact they are having, what benefits they receive from it, and what is the compounded effect. There are no one-size fits all solutions, context is key and without seeing the whole picture we are basing judgements on assumptions that are likely to be false.
Why is Context Important for Supply Chain Resiliency?
We are living in a world of endless disruption, challenges, and problems. And just like environmental and political concerns, the problems are very real but many solutions are often “shell games” of selectively reporting and concealing different aspects of the problem, and almost always with a spin.
So how can you build a supply chain that is agile and resilient? With context! Dr. W Edwards Deming, a world-renowned engineer and statistician, would refer to this as appreciating and understanding the system in which your business operates. There are two principles of systems I want to highlight:
It is important to note that tampering is the inevitable result of making changes - no matter how big, small, or well intentioned - while not understanding the system fully and quantitatively. And two concepts that go along with these are:
For any business with a supply chain (which is pretty much any business!), you cannot understand your own system from within. It requires persons and/or data from outside your system to detail out the realities, unbiased by internal interpretations, goals, preferences/beliefs, or politics. It also requires a structured approach to evaluate those realities that can stand up to scrutiny. It requires specific investigation into the business since while fundamentally all businesses have the same overall challenges (profit/loss, labour/productivity, markets) the details (context!) are what makes one fail and the other succeed. No two companies have the same details. The variables in every system must be understood in detail to provide proper context.
Without this level of attention, things get worse. Today’s supply chains are a global example of this in real time where solutions are attempted in isolation rather than considering the entire system. We are making public policies, trade decisions, staging political campaigns, throwing money at some areas while ignoring others, and we still try to do this from an isolated solution-selling point of view, not from a data-based system solution point of view. Locally, at the individual business level, (particularly Small and Medium Enterprises) surviving the day takes priority. So, in turn, as an overall system, things get worse at the local level, which in turn drives global system errors, which feeds back to the local level in a runaway feedback loop.
We can’t “tamper” our way out of these challenges. And we can’t improve any system that we do not see or understand. When you see social media posts especially about supply chain that say “25% of companies have X supply chain problem” or “40% of manufacturers think Y” as an example, you know immediately it’s misleading if it doesn’t specify: what companies, in what industry, making what products, based on what commodities, in what geographies, under what trade agreements, based on what data, from what source, collected for what purpose, funded by who, etc. Because it all matters.
Context is King. Beware any person or product that evades providing specific (data based) context to anything, as they are not contributing to the solution. The only way out of our biggest business challenges are straight through them, navigated by context.
Math calculations explained
Fuel consumed in flight (gallons per passenger)
Low end: 0.013 x 3546.165 = 46.100
High end: 0.017 x 3546.165 = 60.285
Taxiing consumption (gallons per passenger)
Low end: 150 x 2 (taxi at take off, and at landing) = 300 ÷ 301 passengers = 0.997
High end: 200 x 2 (taxi at take off, and at landing) = 400 ÷ 301 passengers = 1.329
Take off (gallons per passenger)
Low end: 4000 ÷ 301 passengers = 13.289
High end: 10,000 ÷ 301 passengers = 33.223
Total consumption (gallons per passenger)
Low end: Flight (46.100) + Taxiing (0.997) + Take off (13.289) = 60.386
High end: Flight (60.285) + Taxiing (1.329) + Take off (33.223) = 122.000
Total fuel consumed by the aircraft (gallons):
Low end: 0.013 x 3546.165 = 46.100 gallons per passenger x 301 passengers = 13,876.100
High end: 0.017 x 3546.165 = 60.285 gallons per passenger x 301 passengers = 18,145.785
Low end: 150 gallons x 2 (taxi at take off, and at landing) = 300 gallons
High end: 200 gallons x 2 (taxi at take off, and at landing) = 400 gallons
Take off (gallons)
Low end: 4000 gallons
High end: 10,000 gallons
Total fuel consumed by aircraft (gallons) =
Low end: Flight (13,876.100) + Taxiing (300) + Take off (4000) = 18,176.10
High end: Flight (18,145.785) + Taxiing (400) + Take off (10,000) = 28,545.785
 How Much Fuel Does a Plane Use? Executive Flyers, August 15, 2022
Introducing Naviga Supply Chain
Over the past 6 years, the Berlin KraftWorks team has been working with manufacturers to help them achieve scaled operations. When Matt Weller and Peter Heuss formed Berlin KraftWorks (BKW), their goal was to make modern manufacturing understandable and accessible, while also working to build a stronger network between local manufacturers here in Waterloo Region. They did this by aligning engineering and supply chain which optimized solutions from initial product design through to delivery to customers.
However, in 2020 things began to change. Our clients were facing continuous supply chain challenges, partly due to the pandemic, and they needed help. We were hearing from more Small and Medium sized Manufacturers (SMEs) who needed help navigating the complexities and risks of modern supply chains. While the pandemic has receded, the need has only continued to grow.
At the same time, Peter Heuss was getting ready to start his retirement. BKW would never be the same without Peter and this was an opportunity for Matt to reassess what our clients needed from us.
We are pleased to announce that Berlin KraftWorks is now, Naviga Supply Chain. We still believe in a system thinking approach and use that methodology with our clients, however our focus is now on supply chain resiliency.
The Naviga team is made up of supply chain and operations professionals with decades of hands-on experience in manufacturing, giving us insight to the unique supply chain challenges of SME’s here in Canada. We are looking forward to helping our clients prepare for resiliency by building supply chains that are competitive and easier to navigate.
Do you have any questions about Naviga Supply Chain? We’d love to hear from you. Please reach out to Matt Weller via email, email@example.com.
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Co-Founder, Berlin KraftWorks Inc.
This is the 5th and final installment in my series concerned with Creating a Supply Chain from Scratch.
Through the previous 4 installments, I’ve talked about key foundational elements for any supply chain – regardless of the product. The capstone that brings it all together is Supplier Management, and I will describe my own approach in this final article.
Please note, in order to keep this down to a reasonable read, I will speak in general terms. For a detailed explanation of any of these elements, please contact me and I will be happy to expand on specific elements with examples.
Supplier Management: The Approved Vendor List Process
I refer to this entire process as the Approved Vendor List (AVL). The AVL is the output, but the underlying processes are required to identify reliable sources of supply and manage a supply base capable of delivering goods and services at the right price, quality, quantity, and date. The core components of the AVL are required to make the list functional. There are four (4) core processes and two foundational components which underlie this (and other processes), without which the ability to manage suppliers is compromised.
Foundation Stones: Material/Service Specifications and Purchase Order Terms and Conditions
Material / Service Specification
The Bill of Materials (BOM) dictates the materials/service specifications and is part of the design intent. It is the foundation for all supplier management processes, and the last word in what is required in combination with individual material specifications for items in the BOM. To better understand the Material/Service Specifications, please refer to part four of this series.
Purchase Order Terms and Conditions
Purchase Order Terms and Conditions are critical to any supplier interaction. From the beginning of an interaction, they set the tone of the relationship, define who is responsible for what, establish how quality will be determined and measured, and finally they stipulate how disputes will be resolved. Failure to clearly communicate with the supplier is by far the #1 root cause of poor supplier performance complaints that I have seen over the years. Ultimately, you own responsibility for communication as part of design responsibility, but also as part of your business strategy. It is unwise, and unfair, to rely on suppliers to assume they know what you need.
The Four Core Processes
In order to ensure an adequate level of due diligence, a non-disclosure agreement should be signed prior to the exchange of any sensitive information with any party. You will want to find out key things related to your supplier’s capabilities, status, and stability. You will also need to share with them key details about your own operations for context. It is best if this agreement is mutual. Please Note - While NDAs are used globally, they are not necessarily valid in some countries! Do your homework to ensure your confidentiality agreements will be recognized in foreign jurisdictions.
In order to have a baseline set of data upon which to evaluate any new supplier, a Supplier Self-Survey should be completed. (Please contact me directly if you would like some examples around how to create a supplier self-survey). I use this survey to reveal summary process capability, financial status, and organizational fit information pertinent to making a reliable determination about a supplier's suitability to provide any product or service. This document should be reviewed in a cross-functional manner with input from Finance, along with any other functional group which is involved in defining the product or service requirement such as Engineering and Customer Service. Don’t overlook Quality personnel, their input is critical. In many situations QA staff will champion this part of the process.
Under no circumstances should this survey be used as a replacement for an initial supplier visit/site audit. It is critically important to see your supplier’s operations firsthand, as this always reveals information you would not otherwise know. Most often, it reveals information that is beneficial to everyone involved as it may uncover previously unknown opportunities. A site visit with a completed self-survey in hand, helps to guide and verify the supplier’s suitability.
New Supplier Approval Process
This is required to validate new sources of supply, and ensure new suppliers can meet the needs of the organization reliably and in a repeatable fashion. This process depends on the Supplier Self-Survey as a data collection framework, as well as the NDA Process as a means to ensure due diligence in sharing sensitive information. You will need to consider how to “try out” this potential new supplier, with a trial, samples, or first-off production. There are various ways this can be done as it depends on many factors, your specific requirements should be considered to determine the best practice here.
If the trials go well, the same group that considered the survey details should reconvene to determine if this supplier should be placed on the AVL. Its best to add a supplier on a conditional basis, such as a set period of time or the successful completion of a set volume of production before they are on the list unconditionally.
Keep in mind that the AVL will be used by Engineers and Designers as the first consideration of available resources as they do their work, and Sourcing professionals will use this list to validate if their needs can be first met within their existing network (best case) or if work must be done to find a new supplier. From an R&D standpoint, it can be a waste to spend days searching for suppliers if the existing supply base is capable to meet the requirements. As such, this list needs to be maintained as a living document. Business decisions will rely on it, and supplier status can change drastically from approved to disqualified in short order.
Want to read more in the Creating a Supply Chain from Scratch Series? Click the links below:
Part 1 - Understanding What a Supply Chain is and When to Start Establishing Your Product's Supply Chain
Part 2 - Understanding Chaos and How to Work With It
Part 3 - The Planning Hierarchy: Unlocking the Path Forward
Part 4 – The Bill of Materials: The Journey is at Least as Important as the Destination
Featured Manufacturer - MSD Machine Tool
Based in Kitchener, Ontario, MSD Machine Tool Inc. serves the Power Generation, Medical, Telecommunications, Automotive, and Industrial Automation industries. MSD Machine Tool utilizes the latest in CNC and CAD technology to manufacture precision automation components and they offer a wide range of manufacturing services to their customers across North America.
Asking for Help - A pet peeve
Peter Heuss, P.Eng.
Co-Founder, Berlin KraftWorks Inc.
I need to start this post with the admission that I am a mechanical engineer and I’ve been as guilty of this as most. I’ve had a good career that has included a fair amount of component and system design and I have learned my lesson; I just wish that I could have learned the lesson sooner.
Designing a new product takes a great amount of creativity and ingenuity. A designer, or team of designers, will develop great new product ideas, often under very short time frames, using what is quick and convenient. And these first samples can be amazing. But making a small number of units is not production.
Taking that prototype into production requires a significant amount of additional input.
The problem often is that we designers (this is where I’m guilty as well) are smart people and believe we can solve all the problems. If we don’t know something, of course we can learn it. I’ve heard many designers say that they want to have the journey, to learn as they develop the product. There’s a personal pride in being able to deliver a final working product. BUT, there’s no way that any one person, or team, can have all the experience or current knowledge to adequately plan and design for all of the factors that go into successful production.
When planning for production, every aspect of the design has to be questioned and weighed against producing in the required volumes, at that right time, and at the right price. It has been my experience that one of the major considerations that gets ignored is that, in production, manufacturing won’t be done by the design team. Everything must be available and go together as simply as possible, the same way every time. The end product can’t need to be ‘tweaked’.
There will be long list of stakeholders in production, and they all need to have a say to make the product a success. The design team needs to understand:
And the list goes on.
To successfully plan and execute taking a product into production any team is going to have solicit information from elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with asking what will be required, or for bringing in outside resources to provide all of the specialty functions that are only required during NPI.
The right time to start asking for help is from the start. The earlier you get input, the quicker you have a viable production plan.
The team that developed the product are going to be smart people and could likely learn everything required (given enough time and resources). However, that is very rarely the right answer for a company trying to launch a new product and make a profit.
The Magna Centre for Supply Chain Excellence (MCSCE), addresses the problems facing today's value chains with the application of Integrative Supply Chain Systems Thinking and Intradisciplinary Collaborations. Located within the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor, the MCSCE can be found in Conestoga @ The Foundry Gaslight District.
MCSCE supports the supply chain ecosystems through initiatives such as:
MCSCE connects industry to leading researchers and provides access to a range of talent to fill the needs of today’s diverse supply chains. From September 2017 - May 2021, 61 Conestoga’s Supply Chain and Operations Management program facilitated 61 industry value stream mapping projects, totaling a financial impact of over $178 million!
MCSCE serves a diverse range of clients including:
Some of the specific industry partners who MCSCE has collaborated with include:
The MCSCE is pleased to collaborate with industry, professional associations, government, and other centres of excellence to develop solutions to improve performance using an intradisciplinary approach to solve complex problems.
Case Study - Brink Bionics Inc.
The gaming industry is a dynamic landscape of constantly changing and improving technology. When competing digitally, success can hinge on laser focus and split-second reaction time. Brink Bionics wanted to help gamers achieve their best, and have developed the Impulse Neuro-Controller to improve click speed.
The Impulse Neuro-Controller is a fingerless glove with sensors that detect the first neural impulse that goes into the finger. This detection then reduces the time between intent to act and execution. Brink Bionics had a 3D-printed proof of concept and were beginning to plan for production when they were introduced to Berlin KraftWorks (BKW). As a new company they were advised to have a design review, and review of their electronics to set themselves up for scalable manufacturing.
Based in Cambridge, The SMART Centre supports both funded and fee-for-service collaborative applied research in manufacturing and recycling. The SMART Centre helps to develop high-performance manufacturing/recycling solutions (robotics, automation) as well as design, prototyping and testing of new mechanical, electronic and software products. The SMART Centre works with small to medium sized companies who require assistance to solve advanced manufacturing or recycling problems through applied research. Driving innovation, commercialization, productivity improvement and competitiveness for Ontario's manufacturing sector, the SMART Centre serves the following industries:
The SMART Centre works as an extension of a company's R&D team.