In addition to being up to date with the latest technology and demonstrating to the team that he has knowledge of new processes, the purchasing manager needs to develop some specific skills to obtain more expressive results – for the company and for his career in the digital era.
Read on and learn more.
3 key skills found in an effective purchasing manager in the digital era
All these skills remain essential, but the arrival of Industry 4.0 demands new capabilities.
The list below helps give good direction in allowing the identification of which of these skills are already part of your profile and which need to be developed.
1. Analytical Capacity
Nowadays, every company deals with a huge amount of data – in the case of the purchasing department it is information about suppliers, quotations already made, stock data, average delivery time and purchase order emission, etc. -, which requires the professional to have an analytical capacity to extract relevant information and have more assertiveness for the decision-making process (such as choosing the best supplier, for example) and increase the productivity of the department as a whole.
Essential in past times, when organizations did not have so many tangible elements for their management, the feeling was replaced by the collection, organization and analysis of data, turning them into indicators and decisive arguments for intelligent and strategic decision-making.
For this reason, the analytical capacity becomes essential to deal in an organized and intelligent way with an increasingly intense and complex volume of data from various sources.
2. Critical thinking
The ability to use logic and reasoning to analyze a problem, considering the possible solutions – with their pros and cons – and finally choose the one that offers the most benefits, now more than ever, is essential.
And the good news is that this ability can be developed and improved over time, the more we are tested, and we practice in this sense.
According to the World Economic Forum, creativity will be one of the main skills for modern managers, along with the ability to critically analyze information in search of complex solutions – learn more by reading the institution’s article on the subject.
New products, technologies and new ways of working require a more creative behavior in order to benefit from so many changes. And, contrary to what one may think, creativity is not the exclusive domain of artists.
Every person who can use varied information, transforming it into a new and positive idea, is making use of creativity. Allow yourself to think in an unusual way, letting your mind wander in search of different solutions – that is being creative.
How to acquire the skills of the 4.0 Purchasing Manager
As much as some people are more predisposed to have the skills considered important to the 4.0 purchasing manager, fortunately they can all be developed. Check out some tips to improve them.
Study various themes
Analyzing data and making decisions means integrating different information from various sources into positive insights, so the broader the knowledge, the deeper the conclusions will be. Diversified knowledge allows us to perceive more variables when evaluating situations and seeking solutions.
We live in a time when novelties appear almost daily and it is necessary to have the will to experiment them and learn how to use them. But be prepared: what has been learned today may soon become obsolete and you will need to restart the process!
To better understand this fast, volatile and uncertain world in which we are inserted, we suggest reading about the VUCA world.
Extend your observation and questioning skills
Analyzing what happens around you, paying attention to detail and seeking interesting and relevant conclusions, is a way to develop the capacity for analysis and to make more assertive decisions. But it is necessary to go further, elaborating the right questions and looking for answers in the available data.
Practice with logic games
More than just fun, this type of game allows you to find effective and quick solutions to a given problem, helping to develop analytical skills.
Sleep well and write down your ideas
Sleeping enough is essential to mature the knowledge that has been absorbed during the day – it is worth noting that the sleep time necessary for the well-being of each individual changes from person to person, but according to experts the ideal revolves around 6 to 8 hours.
Research conducted by the University of California, USA, pointed out that the stage of sleep called REM (when dreams occur), stimulates creativity, besides consolidating the memories of the previous day and organizing thinking – broadening the possibility of insights on the problems for which we are seeking solutions. Last but not least, a good night’s sleep prepares our brain for the activities of the next day, increasing mood, well-being and productivity.
If you are interested in going deeper into the subject, you can access the Sleep and Cognition Lab, which has the participation of Sara Mednick, one of the responsible for the aforementioned research.
And one last tip: don’t forget to have a notebook always at hand. The best ideas can come up at any time and, if not noted, may be forgotten in the face of the amount of daily tasks
The Purchasing Manager and Industry 4.0
Digital transformation has changed the way companies do business and execute their processes, but no matter how easy it has been, it still depends on the human being to direct and use resources, generating value for the organization.
In a largely digital age, the purchasing manager needs to know how to deal with the day-to-day of Industry 4.0, in which the emergence of new technologies, resources, regulations and ways of doing things requires specific skills – like the ones we cover in this blog post.
Relying on good suppliers and business partners at this time can be decisive. And Soluparts, a global company with offices in Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Hong Kong and the USA, will help your company to make a difference. With Soluparts, your organization can count on:
- Reduced prices – because we have a team of specialists that researches and negotiates parts aiming the best cost-benefit relation for your company;
- Reduced number of indirect material suppliers;
- Significant reduction in the number of quotations, with a consequent increase in the efficiency of the Purchasing Department
- Guaranteed supply of any item – we have access to the world’s most strategic markets.
Purchase manager, make your work more efficient and gain time to invest in yourself. Try our services: click and order your quote today!
3D printing technology has been around for nearly 30 years. However, while the industry is still discovering new applications, materials and printers, another technology is already starting to gain traction: 4D printing.
But how is it possible to add a fourth dimension to printed products? In 4D printing, a 3D-printed object is transformed into another structure through the influence of environmental stimuli such as light, wind, and temperature.
The 3D Printer
3D printers can print any kind of thing using three-dimensional printing technology. The materials used in printing are usually plastic resin, laser modeling and metal frame. By reading specific files for its operation, it is possible to create the most diverse types of objects, such as decorative pieces, food, and even tattoos.
In addition to being fast, the printers do not have toxic materials in their manufacture, and the materials used for printing do not deform over time. The equipment, which was already used by large companies, was available to the public at a high cost, but the price has been gradually decreasing, and today there are already very affordable models on the market.
When it was created, about 10 years ago, it was necessary to pay around 30 thousand dollars to acquire the technology. In 2009, it could already be found for five thousand dollars and today, it is possible to purchase a simple traditional model for less than R$700. This popularization allowed the purchase not only for industrial production, but also for personal use.
3D printers are also being studied for medical purposes. Shoes and insoles designed especially for people who suffer from orthopedic problems are some possible creations.
Scientists have also presented models capable of reproducing three-dimensional human tissues and bones, which can help — in principle, without side effects — in a variety of treatments.
How 4D Printers Work
4D printing, developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), emerged at the MIT Self-Assembly Lab and, although there is no consensus on it, some say that designer and computer scientist Skylar Tibbits coined the term 4D Printing in this context.
What is the fourth dimension?
Simply put, what 3D printers do is repeat a 2D structure several times, layer by layer, until a 3D volume is created.
Using a 3D printer, the institute’s scientists created a technique capable of generating three-dimensionally printed objects that can change shape over time, this being its fourth dimension.
So the big advance of 4D printing technology over 3D is its ability to change shape even after it’s ready.
This transformation is possible due to the programmable and advanced materials used by 4D printers, which can change the behavior of objects over time.
The most obvious advantage of 4D printing is that objects larger than printers can be printed as just one part. Because they can shrink and unfold, items that are too large to fit in a printer can be compressed and then become full size.
At the current stage of development of 4D printing technology, printed materials use a special type of ink that reacts when in contact with water. It undergoes physical transformations that alter its shapes and dimensions. For everything to work, the material to be printed is carefully calculated and formatted according to the transformations scientists want to obtain.
From there, the printer creates the three-dimensional object, applying a special substance at key points in the structure. This material absorbs water, which ends up causing it to undergo the changes that were previously calculated. Over time, these changes noticeably change the appearance of what was originally printed.
The so-called self-assembly is intrinsically related to 4D printing and can create objects that react to external stimuli to obtain specific results.
A team of researchers from ETH Zurich developed a shape-memory, temperature-resistant object. Flat 2D structures turn into three-dimensional shapes when in contact with hot water, which triggers shape change.
Despite being a relatively practical idea, the complexity of 4D printing lies in the search for other materials that match the desired stimuli.
In principle, what is needed for something like this to come out of the paper is a 3D printer even more complex than the current ones, capable of applying circuits and microchips to its printed results. With these circuits, the objects could interact with each other so that they would organize and assemble themselves.
The Future Impacts of the 4D Printer
4D printing can greatly impact the market. Clothes that increase or decrease in size, compact objects that reach their real shape when removed from the box, prostheses that accompany the growth of the body: those are just a few examples of what 4D printing will be able to do to benefit the population.
This new way of printing promises to revolutionize the world of materials as we know it today by stimulating the research and development of programmable raw materials capable of reacting to triggers and thus transforming themselves.
The impact on the purchasing department
A common reality in several sectors is the existence of equipment or machines that the manufacturer no longer offers the option of repairing — either due to changes in the production line or even the disappearance of that manufacturer.
Thus, we can conclude that 4D printing offers an even greater possibility for the company itself to produce replacement parts for its machinery, due to its technology being even more advanced.
How can a company prepare for this reality?
But this reality is still only a possibility, partially utopian and still far away since the intelligent materials discovered come at a very high cost.
Despite all its potential, 4D printing still requires more research and development, and it’s not available to everyone. In some laboratories or prototyping facilities, the technology is already used.
Most likely, in some time, we will come across 4D-printed objects without even knowing it, as in the case of adjustable medical implants or running shoes, for example.
Thus, preparing for this new reality requires research and adaptation on the part of companies, because as possibilities arise for objects to self-assemble and self-model according to requested conditions, the tendency is that some sectors may become obsolete.
There is still a long way to go until this novelty becomes present in our daily lives, however, with faster technological advances, we must, as end consumer and companies, be aware of this and keep up with the changes!
The term digital transformation already permeates all positions, industries, and sectors. Even so, companies face the challenge of adapting to this reality and successfully employing new technologies to find a better way to meet the needs created by the complex and rapid changes that the market has been facing.These changes have created new opportunities for innovation, but they have also created incredibly high customer expectations for purchasing products and services, not only related to price and quality, but also to the value embedded in them.
True transformation is much more than just hiring software and digitizing documents and transactions, it also involves new digital skills, rethinking processes and relearning.
A change management program that must act on an ongoing basis is critical. In the past, business plans took 5 years to be restructured, but today we must be alert to do it at all times — which may include small process improvements or even more robust and dynamic risk management.
Digitization and international trade
Digital commerce is not, by itself, something new. Digitally enabled transactions, both in goods and services, have been part of international commerce for many years and often raise the same or similar issues as non-digital transactions.
This is because digital commerce is not only about services provided digitally, but also about the rise of traditional commerce (including the supply chain) through increasing connectivity.
However, the scale of transactions, the emergence of new (and disruptive) players and business models are transforming production processes and industries, including many actors that were previously little affected by globalization.
According to authors Lopez-Gonzalez and Jouanjean, although there is no single, recognized and accepted definition of digital commerce, there is a growing consensus that it encompasses digitally enabled transactions in the commerce of goods and services. They can be delivered digitally or physically anywhere around the world, connecting businesses and customers from various countries.
Digital commerce includes business-to-business transactions, encompassing global value chains, as well as business-to-consumer or business-to-business transactions through online platforms, all of which are fundamentally supported by data.
Tracking Global Digitization
Of course, digitization is important for commerce, and commerce is important for the spread of digital technologies around the world. However, measuring international transactions has always been difficult, due to the lack of knowledge of the teams and the lack of tests regarding the best technology to be used, due to the rapidly increasing complexity of supply chains.
A scenario analysis will make it easier to measure these transactions, helping you to more assertively determine which technologies should be used to optimize your department’s operations.
A growing number of companies are already part of this movement, but there are considerable differences between industries and countries, and much remains to be done to unlock the potential of digital commerce in developing countries.
Some Benefits of Global Digitization
Digitization is linked to greater commercial opening, selling more products to more markets, according to Lopez-Gonzalez and Ferencz. A 10% increase in “bilateral digital connectivity” raises trade in goods by almost 2% and trade in services by more than 3%.
Digitization also increases the benefits that can be drawn from regional trade agreements (RTA). When combined with an RTA, a 10% increase in digital connectivity increases exports by another 2.3%.
It is indisputable that digitization has reduced the cost of engaging in international trade, connecting businesses and consumers, helping to spread ideas and technologies, and thus facilitating the coordination of global value chains.
There is currently a growing increase in small orders and lower value digital services being traded internationally. More services have become tradable, and goods and services are increasingly grouped into “smart” products.
These changes bring with them new challenges, going beyond managing digital disruptions to ensuring that the opportunities and benefits of digital commerce are shared more inclusively.
Global digitization and post-pandemic economic recovery
Thus, digital solutions are a crucial element to help increase supply and demand, for three fundamental reasons:
- Rapid changes in the supply and demand schedules for goods required the development of instant solutions for merchants.
- The hampered global commerce environment and rising trading costs have led customers to demand more continuous and comprehensive commerce service from logistics teams. Companies are now rushing to deliver door-to-door solutions for a better customer experience.
- The increase in customs controls required commercial entities to revitalize public-private cooperation to allow for smoother trade. This has required an unprecedented demand for knowledge transfer and capacity building from the private sector to support governments in adapting to new business challenges.
While beneficial, digital solutions are not a miracle formula for commerce and must be supported by broader political action.
The government’s need for alignment was compounded by the pandemic and the ensuing atmosphere of mistrust regarding the integrity of goods entering a country.
Looking ahead, it is imperative to think disruptively about how goods and services can move around the world and, in turn, improve the resilience of global trade. Partnerships and agreements will help to bring the dots together to achieve satisfactory and inclusive results.
As we emerge into a new business environment that has been completely transformed, bringing organizations together through a series of initiatives and enabled by digital services, will bring sustainable returns to communities and ensure a better future for all.
What can we infer then about commerce in the digital age?
Digitization has made it easier to engage in trade, coordinate Global Value Chains and spread ideas, changing the way companies engage in international trade.
Digital commerce is not new, but it is growing and posing new challenges, mainly so that its benefits are shared more inclusively, therefore increasing trade in goods and services across all sectors and allowing countries to extract more benefits from their Commercial agreements.
While existing World Trade Organization rules and agreements cover digital commerce, there are doubts about how well adapted to the new realities of the digital age are current frameworks.
Understanding the drivers of this new paradigm for commerce and finding solutions in dialogue with all interested parties will be fundamental to making digital commerce more inclusive for all.
Stay tuned to the main technological trends and innovations for global supply chains by following our blog!
The increasing use of technology that marks the so-called Industry 4.0, has been discussed by different economic sectors in order to meet the global changes that have occurred in recent decades.
This concern has been reinforced recently as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted (and will continue to impact, according to forecasts) our lives over the coming years.
There are several examples of technological advances and challenges that are happening in areas of the economy. In the supply chain, for example, one of the challenges is the automation of activities that are done by humans.
According to a DHL study on robotics in logistics, around 80% of operations center activities are still done manually, but this number will change dramatically in the near future.
Experiences are already being made in this regard and you will learn about some of them by reading this article. Come take a look!
Impact of robotics on the supply chain
A recent post from the RoboticsBiz portal, specialized in the subject, says that there are two relevant issues related to the modern supply chain: the first one refers to the growing need for technology to handle the quantity of deliveries (for example, data prove the increase in demand for online retail sales in countries like the United States, China, France, Germany, United Kingdom, among others). The second, on the other hand, points to the reduction in the availability of skilled labor focused on this type of service.
Forbes magazine also recently published an article on the subject, discussing the impacts of autonomous technology on the supply chain, by helping to transport goods without human participation (or with reduced interference) and more accurate inventory control.
Until recently, there were many technological difficulties for the implementation of robots in supply chains and logistics activities. However, this issue is developing rapidly and today we can see robots that have a high degree of accuracy in their functions, which helps to reduce costs and increase productivity.
Besides the use of robots in warehouses, a subject previously discussed in an article about the benefits of an intelligent supply chain, there are other solutions being developed that are in different stages of improvement and are also important for the modern supply chain. Check out some of them below.
1. Store Robots
There are already some cases of mobile robots and drones in stores, helping to control the stock and price of products on the shelves. Recently, Walmart announced it will use Bossa Nova Robotics company robots to carry out these activities, making the work of its units’ employees easier.
2. Autonomous trucks
Case studies of the use of stand-alone trucks, such as in iron mines in Australia, show that they can help increase the efficiency of companies and the safety of teams.
Several development tests of autonomous trucks have already been conducted in recent years. Uber, for example, has already conducted a successful experiment three years ago, but has decided to prioritize other fronts of its business – other important players in the stand-alone truck market are: Embark, Daimler/Mercedes, Volvo, Tesla and TuSimple.
However, there are a number of obstacles to this type of activity: there is a significant risk of accidents that can lead to people dying. The public perception of the safety of this type of vehicle is a crucial point that will influence the future of autonomous trucks.
Another challenge is to reduce investments in the development of autonomous trucks. Starsky Robots is a case in point: it has had successful experiences with this type of truck in recent years, but it is closing its activities because of the reduction of financial contributions.
One possibility for the future is the change of focus, from totally autonomous vehicles to simpler semi-autonomous models, which will allow the reduction of human action, with the participation of robots in certain stages of the supply chain.
3. Autonomous deliveries
The delivery system (among them the “last mile” from the distribution center to the customer) becomes more complex with the increasing demand for home delivery, which creates the need for investments in automation to reduce costs and support workers in order to increase productivity.
Several companies are already testing this technology in cities and university campuses. The idea is that robots take the order to people’s homes, and one must type a code to release the product that is in the trunk. Ford, for example, has been testing the technology to feel the reception of customers regarding this type of delivery.
It is important to note that robots can also help workers with more complex deliveries, with the use of exoskeletons that will help lift and handle larger and heavier loads. Drones can also be used for deliveries, in cases of people living in remote locations. And robots will be able to receive the order in the customers’ homes, in case they are not available.
4. Autonomous freight trains
Tests have also been conducted in the United States for this type of autonomous transport. Federal regulations in the country are tending towards a release of the product, however, the authorities reinforce the need for anti-collision technologies to avoid accidents. As a solution, cargo transportation companies have already begun to implement Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems in their safety protocols.
Challenges for the future
There are a number of initiatives that are promoting increased automation in the supply chain. For the improvement of this activity, advanced technology centers are being created to stimulate innovation and development of solutions (such as Honeywell Robots in the United States).
For example, an important new feature predicted is that the robots of the future will be connected to the cloud, which allows even greater control and accuracy in their tasks.
Challenges such as public perception, security and law enforcement will have to be addressed, including in the supply chain. However, experts indicate a promising future for this area.
The use of robots in the supply chain is still at an early stage, but promises to offer many facilities to companies.