Supply Chain Matters has provided a number of previous commentaries regarding when is it appropriate to execute a more vertical integration strategy within a specific industry supply chain. Our commentaries on this strategy focused on General Electric in aerospace engines, Delta Airlines in airline service operations, Hon-Hai Precision in high-tech contract manufacturing services and Hyundai Motors in automotive manufacturing.
This week, general, business and social media as abuzz with the announcement that electric automobile maker Telsa Motors has announced audacious plans to build its own $5 billion electric battery “gigafactory” capable of supplying up to 500,000 electric vehicles per year. This strategy is fairly savvy, given that when one reflects on the entire value-chain and cost-of-goods sold (COGS) for an electric powered automobile, the batteries are indeed the highest portion of cost. The location of this factory is stated as somewhere within the U.S. Southwest, with locations in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas all being explored. The area of the U.S. is an obvious choice because of its proximity to the supply of lithium carbonate, a key raw material for lithium-ion batteries. Another neat aspect to the proposed 10 million square foot production facility are plans to have the factory green and sustainable, including solar and wind farms for supporting internal power needs. Telsa’s blog features a presentation that describes the conceptual plans for the proposed “gigafactory”.
According to published reports, the total cost of the plant is estimated in a range of $4-$5 billion, with $1.6 billion raised through a convertible bond issue and a $2 billion investment from Telsa. Panasonic is the current primary supplier for Telsa’s lithium-ion batteries and in its reporting, the Wall Street Journal indicated the possibility that Panasonic and other unnamed Japanese suppliers could contemplating a $1 billion investment in this proposed facility. Reports caution, however, that Panasonic’s plans are still fluid.
Telsa currently supplies batteries for the Toyota RAV4 EV and the Mercedes B-Class electric. In its reporting, the San Jose Mercury Times notes that Telsa’s prime assembly facility in Fremont California is directly located on a Union Pacific railway spur line and that the “gigafactory” will more than likely be serviced by rail as well, to control transportation costs in shipping batteries to the final assembly point.
Telsa expects that the new factory would reduce its current battery costs by 30 percent in its first year, which as we all know, is a significant contribution to COGS, and further opens up opportunities to produce electric cars for the mass market. The WSJ further reported that Telsa is attempting to break through the $200 per kilowatt hour cost point which affords the opportunity for these types of batteries to be economical as backup power supplies for electric utilities along with other forms of static energy storage. Telsa CEO and principal owner Elon Musk also is chairmen of SolarCity Corp., a solar energy provider, and that is fueling additional speculation among certain Wall Street analysts that Telsa could morph to become a power storage company.
From an industry value-chain perspective, reports that that the proposed facility will produce more lithium-ion batteries than the entire global supply for 2013 has incredible meaning with the implication for establishing a highly significant alternative energy value chain capability within the United States. It is obviously an attempt to provide a more competitive lithium battery sourcing strategy from current areas such as China, South Korea and other countries. By our view, is a rather exciting and bold announcement, one that has the potential to add more to U.S. manufacturing and value-chain momentum for alternative energy, high-tech, consumer electronics and other industries.
Investors seem also impressed since Telsa stock has shot-up since the announcement.
Forms of vertical integration or closed supply chain strategies do indeed have their applicability and seem to be garnering additional favor.
In our Supply Chain Matters 2014 Predictions Research Report (full research report available for complimentary downloading in our Research Center) we specifically addressed consumer product goods supply chains where combinations of external forces are providing unique challenges. These forces include, among others, contraction of global growth rates and margins from previously expanding emerging markets, a certain group of activist investors demanding more cash value, and now, increases in key commodity costs.
While we have already provided a previous specific CPG supply chain commentary, an event held last week provided stronger evidence for additional thoughts.
One of the premiere events for consumer product goods companies is the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) Annual Conference, traditionally held in February. For those unfamiliar with CAGNY, it represents an organization of Wall Street analysts, investment bankers and others whose focus is specifically on CPG industry investment and performance. The conference which was held last week, is where a number of CPG senior executives provide a detailed business overview of their companies’ strategic goals.
Since 2008, Supply Chain Matters has utilized the content presented at this conference as reliable indicators for the upcoming challenges for CPG supply chains, and this year was no exception.
Thus far, we have reviewed presentations from Campbell Soup, Mondelez International, The Hershey Company and PepsiCo. We elected this initial grouping because these firms are exercising product growth strategies predicated on higher growth and margin businesses such as snacks, and because this grouping represents differences of corporate size, culture, as well as different perspectives, positive or otherwise, on supply chain challenges, capabilities or accomplishments.
Our initial analysis was to screen for common messaging regarding industry challenges and required business outcomes. That was not difficult, at all.
Mondelez, which has its sole business focus on a global snacks business, addressed the potential of a $1.2 trillion global snacks market, yet has experienced some realities of declining growth rates among snack categories in 2013. Hershey, a company that traditionally has been grounded in North American markets addressed a growth plank indicating that geographic expansion will be the key to growth and become Hershey’s #2 market by 2017. Campbell Soup, a company demonstrating positive results of late, stated its goals as growing faster in snacks and healthy beverages and expanding international presence.
As each CFO addressed his or her company’s segment it was clear that current signs of slowing growth among emerging markets has placed a pointed emphasis on improved operating margin and cost savings. Once more, such savings are to be re-purposed into product innovation, acquisition and/or increased sales and marketing initiatives to accelerate consumer demand. A clear common message was increasing stockholder value and operating cash flow, the obvious response to activist investors circling the industry. As examples: Mondelez expects to deliver an additional $3 billion in gross productivity savings, $1.5 billion in net productivity, and $1 billion in incremental cash; Campbell Soup stated its restructuring programs have yielded $160 million in annualized savings.
That leads to the stated priorities for each company’s supply chain.
Mondelez addressed four current supply chain priorities:
- Step change in leadership talent and capabilities, articulated as changing 40 of 115 key leadership roles;
- Transform global manufacturing platforms with an emphasis on new biscuit, chocolate and gum platforms across a global presence;
- Redesign the supply chain network- with 30 plants already “streamlined”, closed or sold and 3000 FTE’s reduced; and
- Drive additional productivity and margin improvement programs to fuel growth.
Hershey, which has demonstrated positive supply chain successes to-date, addressed its supply chain goals as:
- End-to-end supplier integration focused on increased on-shelf availability, improved freshness, and localized regional production;
- Strategic procurement partnerships for product innovation, sustainability and cost control;
- Insights-driven supply and value-chain stressing deeper analytics; and
- Global shared-services
Campbell Soup and Pepsico similarly articulate expansion of on-shelf availability, innovative direct-store delivery programs, leveraging direct online commerce and expansion in faster growing markets as supply chain priorities.
We highlight CPG industry challenges because our industry readers need to quickly internalize the implications, both for their organizations and for their careers.
CPG supply chains have always been driven by sales and marketing, along with efficiency and responsiveness. That is not, obviously, going to change. What is changing is the need for bolder leadership skills which is now articulated by talent management being ranked as a top goal. There are many implications to talent management, too many to articulate in this singular commentary. Suffice to state, it implies a far broader set of management skills that span international business markets, translating required business outcomes for margin improvement into prioritized strategies, and in-depth understanding of what is required to be both market and business outcomes driven.
Emerging CPG supply chain leaders will require more depth in the tradeoffs of incremental business process improvement with cost-conscious information technology investments that enable the best end-to-end network response capabilities grounded in more predictive insights as to what to expect. They will now have to manage with less fixed capital and resources, with no choice but to have more reliance on partners and suppliers, including third-party logistics providers. That unfortunately, will lead to the dynamic of passing more cost and risk burden lower into the supply chain. We maintain that this will require total visibility to what’s occurring across the global supply chain, and that implies an end-to-end B2B platform integrating suppliers, contractors, trading partners and other key value-chain participants.
The notions of striving for product forecasting accuracy, driving incremental improvements in business performance based on historic metrics, or elongating timetables for achieving certain levels of supply chain maturity no longer make the cut, and are a relic of the past.
We, as thought leaders and/or consultants, need to stop feeding these fallacies and deliver more straight talk on what skills and competencies supply chain leaders, and their teams, need to be more successful in their efforts, keep teams motivated as well as enjoy coming to work every day. Technology vendors need to stop the endless re-purposing of supply chain visibility or competency acronyms and get to the essence of supporting CPG supply chains with more cost-effective and responsive solutions to immediate needs.
Finally, CPG firms themselves in need to quickly come to the realization that the supply chain leaders and individuals they require, today and in the future are indeed scarce, and be willing to recognize such leadership and technology savvy skills in compensation, incentives and management development and mentoring opportunities.
Throughout 2014, Supply Chain Matters will do our part in hard-hitting straight-talk commentary.
© 2014, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC and the Supply Chain Matters Blog, All rights reserved.
In late August of 2011, three of Japan’s liquid crystal display (LCD) component producers, Sony Corporation, Toshiba Corporation and Hitachi Ltd. merged their, at the time, money-losing LCD manufacturing operations to form a single company that was named Japan Display. Each of the former suppliers could not financially afford to continue to compete with the likes of other industry competitors such as Samsung Electronics and Sharp Corp., who were major suppliers to Apple and some other consumer electronics OEM’s. This new venture was financed primarily by $2.6 billion in funding by The Innovation Network of Japan, a government backed agency with strong industry influences. Each of the merging companies was reported to hold 10 percent ownership in the new venture while the government agency held 70 percent ownership. The goal at the time was to position Japan Display and its technology in strategic markets related to small and mid-sized LCD displays, and to have the new company operating as an independent entity by early 2016.
This week, Japan Display announced its intent to raise upwards of $4 billion in an initial public stock offering (IPO) which the Wall Street Journal characterized (paid subscription) as the largest IPO from Asia this year. The WSJ further noted that if successful, it would represent a rare turnaround for Japan’s manufacturing industry. The report indicates that Japan Display currently supplies LCD displays for Apple’s iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C and its customer list now includes other top Asian and U.S. smartphone makers. The supplier has been skillful in improving the overall energy efficiencies of its LCD products while integrating touch sensors directly into the display, eliminating the need for a separate touch screen layer. Japan Display also appears on Apple’s 2013 listing of its top suppliers, and according to the WSJ report, garners up to a third of its current revenues from supply agreements with Apple.
While Japan Display made a small profit for its fiscal year ending in March 2013, it has not indicated to business media what its profit figures are for the current fiscal year. That information should presumably come with the IPO disclosures.
Reports indicate that $1.7 billion of the IPO proceeds will be utilized to enhance production capacity and develop new technologies. The remaining proceeds will be directed at current investing shareholders who will be unloading their stakes
With this announcement, it would appear that the timetable for Japan Display to become an independent operating company may be accelerating. Then again, with current favorable basis of Japan’s currency, the IPO may have more to do with opportunistic timing.
In either case, this IPO marks a significant positive milestone in resurrecting previous un-competitive LCD suppliers in Japan into a singular entity that is now holding its own. It represents another positive indicator that industry and government came come together to resurrect a supply eco-system, similar to what has occurred in Europe and the U.S.. It provides a reference model for other suppliers and supply ecosystems as well.
This is a follow-up posting to our previous Supply Chain Matters commentary concerning Apple’s 2014 Supplier Responsibility Report.
In addition to charting progress in social responsibility actions, Apple is one of very few manufacturers that will publically identify its suppliers. This effort first began in 2012 with the advent of Tim Cook as the company’s CEO and his goal to make the company’s supply chain, previously clouded in high secrecy, must more open and transparent. Even though this listing represents the top 200 suppliers for Apple, it does provide important pointers to how the company strategically and tactically manages its supply needs.
Readers can view the 2013 supplier listing at the following web link.
Scanning the full list, we share some of our observations relative to previous disclosures:
Once again, consider for a moment the scale required by a supplier to be able to support Apple’s production volume needs on a global basis, and at the same time, manage geographic supply risk. The complete listing remains small by high tech industry standards, reflecting Apple’s procurement strategy for concentrating influence on a select few strategic suppliers, yet tasking these same suppliers to manage scale, operational and supply chain disruption risk.
A sampling for matching select supplier names with individual supplier geographically based facilities reveals:
3M Company- 9 facilities
Intel Corporation- 14 facilities that span China, Costa Rica, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, United States and Vietnam
Maxim Integrated Products- 9 facilities
Micron Technology Inc. – 10 facilities that include Israel, China, Taiwan, Singapore and the United States
Molex Inc., (a Koch Industries company) – 10 facilities, only two of which are located in the United States
Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. – 12 facilities that span China, Indonesia, Japan. Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam
Panasonic Corporation- 31 facilities, 20 of which are located in Japan and 6 within China
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (subsidiary of rival Samsung) – 9 facilities
TDK Epcos Corp. – 20 facilities
Texas Instruments Inc. – 21 facilities, 9 of which are located in the United States
Vishay Intertechnology Inc.- 25 facilities which include Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Israel, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines, Portugal, Taiwan and the United States
In 2011, the widespread floods that occurred across Thailand severely impacted what was estimated to be upwards of 30 percent of existing hard disk drive supply at the time. Two of Apple’s prime HDD suppliers remain listed as Seagate Technology and Western Digital. A review of plant facilities indicates that Seagate has but one plant listed in Thailand, with two listed within China. Western Digital is noted with a total of 5 facilities, two located in Thailand, 2 within China and one within Malaysia.
In previous Supply Chain Matters commentaries, we have observed how Apple has strategically sourced in LCD Display needs among a number of strategic suppliers. The 2013 supplier listing reinforces that existence of that strategy with the names of LG Display Co. Ltd. (7 facilities), Samsung Electronics (noted above), Sharp Corp. (9 facilities) and Japan Display (3 facilities).
Finally, a commentary on Apple suppliers is not complete without addressing contract manufacturers. Last year, Apple announced that it would expand its contract manufacturing presence beyond its prime provider Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. (Foxconn).The 2013 listing includes 29 Foxconn facilities, 26 of which are located in China. Flextronics International Ltd. is listed with 4 facilities, two of which are located in China, the other two noted as Austin Texas and Sao Paulo Brazil. Apple’s newest contract manufacturer, Pegatron Corp. is listed as 8 production facilities, all located within Shanghai and Jiangsu China. By our count, these three CMS suppliers equates to 36 production facilities across China. That, ladies and gentlemen amounts to a lot of manufacturing-driven employment and provides further evidence of how Apple manages margins.
As a community we very seldom get the opportunity to review any company’s listing of suppliers, let alone the supply chain rated highest. Learn from this opportunity and share in praising Apple for its openness.
As in previous year’s commentaries related to the Apple supplier listing, readers are welcomed to share any additional observations and thoughts in the Comments section below this posting.
In the industry-specific section of our 2014 Predictions for the current year, (full research report available for complimentary downloading in our Research Center) we specifically addressed consumer product goods supply chains where combinations of external forces are providing unique challenges. That force includes contraction of growth rates and margins from previously expanding emerging markets, a certain group of activist investors demanding more cash value, and now, increases in key commodity costs.
Some CPG supply chains are rising to the task while many continue to deal with challenges on multiple fronts.
Global CPG giants such as Nestle and Unilever have managed to meet investor quarterly earnings expectations yet continue to report growth headwinds concerning emerging markets along with currency challenges. The CEO of Unilever recently told business network CNBC that emerging markets use to be in the range of 6 to 8 percent but now range 5 to 6 percent. Nestle’s organic growth targets of between 5 to 6 percent are currently trending at 4.6 percent. Unilever currently garners 60 percent of its revenues from China, India and other emerging consumer markets. Mondelez International reported its fiscal fourth quarter earnings this week and reported that organic sales rose declined 6.1 percent in the Asia-pacific region while revenues specifically in China declined by the mid-teens. Supply Chain Matters featured a previous commentary regarding the Kellogg Company.
Noted exceptions of late have been Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark. P&G recently reported that demand for its products in emerging markets such as Brazil and China remains strong. However, P&G reported a 16 percent drop in profits largely due to unfavorable exchange rates. Kimberly-Clark reported that its emerging market business continues to grow strongly. Today, Campbell Soup indicated a solid quarterly performance including growth in certain emerging markets.
The U.S. market further presents its own challenges as economically distressed consumers continue to opt for price-sensitive products in their purchases. Today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal reports that many European based consumer goods companies had relied on sales in Brazil, China, Mexico and other Asian countries to maintain revenue and profitability momentum while developed markets remained sluggish. We would add that these same companies made significant investments in supply chain fulfillment networks in these regions as well.
On the activist investor front, PepsiCo indicated this week that it continue to focus on expanding its soft-drink product revenues instead of taking actions to split-up the company, which certain activist investors are demanding. To continue its course, the company indicated it was investing $8.7 billion in stock buybacks, increasing its cash dividends by 35 percent in the current year, and will initiate $1 billion in productivity gains, including job cuts, through 2019.
There is now the additional challenge of increased commodity costs. On the occasion of Valentine’s Day here in the United States, the Wall Street Journal featured a report that growing demand for chocolate products, particularly from emerging consumer markets, has driven commodity prices for cocoa up 9 percent this year, to levels not reached since 2011. Once more, an industry trade group boasts that demand will outstrip limited supply for the next five years, the longest shortfall since 1960. This week, U.S. cocoa futures hovered in the high $2900 a ton range, a 29 month high. The implication is that with these current signposts, chocolate makers such as Hershey Foods, Mars, Mondelez, Nestle and others will face decisions for raising prices, adding more pressure to existing product demand and profitability trends.
Indeed, consumer product goods industry supply chains have extraordinary challenges to overcome. Supporting emerging market growth objectives requires laser-focused investments in channel customer fulfillment and distribution capabilities. Companies such as P&G provide evidence that such a laser focus can provide benefits and continued growth.
Continued relentless pressures for continued productivity and cost reductions are impacting the marrow of people resources, and further require out-of-box thinking. A dependence on past efforts at continuous improvement or past industry productivity benchmarks will not help in the current environment. With added challenges for increased input materials costs for certain key commodities, the challenges become ever more dynamic.
In 2014, CPG supply chains will require bold leadership and innovative thinking. Business-as-usual has long passed, and so has continuous improvement mentalities. Integrated supply chain management, more timely and responsive decision-making and the laser-like investments in productivity and cost management loom large.
We certainly encourage our readers residing in consumer goods supply chains to share learning from the current environment in the Comments section below.
© 2014 The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC and the Supply Chain Matters Blog. All rights reserved.
Disclosure: The author of this posting has a modest holding in Unilever stock.
The Supply Chain Council (SCC), facilitators of the Supply Chain Operations Model (SCOR) and M4SC frameworks, among others, will once again be conducting its annual Supply Chain World North America Conference on April 13-15, 2013. Supply Chain World, with specific variants across broad global SCC regions, is the conference focused on broader supply chain management strategies, challenges and insights.
This year’s North America conference will be held in Nashville Tennessee, which is situated within close proximity and drive to the nearby hubs of automotive, industrial and high tech manufacturing and supply chain activity located in the southeastern portion of the United States.
The theme for this year’s conference is: The Tuned Supply Chain- From Strategy to Resources. The conference planning team is current reviewing numerous speaker content submissions and will be publishing a more detailed agenda in the next few weeks. Previous editions of Supply Chain World North America have featured a diverse variety of knowledgeable speakers with numerous opportunities for networking with fellow supply chain leaders. This year’s conference facility is located within close proximity to the Grand Ole Opry, the shrine of country music and to, of course, Nashville the hub of the same. A very attractive negotiated hotel rate affords the opportunity to check-in on the country music scene, gain important insights and network with fellow cross-functional supply chain professionals.
It is our pleasure to announce that once again, Supply Chain Matters will be one of the media sponsors of this event. We know that there are many supply chain conference options for our readers to consider but trust that Supply Chain World North America is a venue that provides great timely content and multiple industry supply chain perspectives and networking opportunities.
Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor has once again been invited to chair, recruit and facilitate the Supply Chain Industry Analyst and Influencers panel discussion which is tentatively being slotted on the afternoon of Monday, April 14. Bob is in the process of recruiting an exciting and diverse panel with broad perspectives on the conference theme.
Please consider joining us for this year’s conference.
Readers can gain additional information on venue, agenda and registration information for this upcoming conference by clicking on logo located in our Conferences panel on the right-hand side or clicking on the above embedded web link.