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Monday 30 December 2013

Offshore outsourcing can and should be a source of innovation.

I think some people have an ill-informed view of what offshore outsourcing can do to help any business and perhaps are jaded by a poorly executed call centre experience. 

The days of only outsourcing the menial tasks are gone. The fact is that increasingly high end activities are being successfully offshored. Apart from helping you stay globally competitive it can be source of fresh thinking to gain an edge.

Offshoring R&D and innovation can have some amazing upside and some big companies such as Apple and Procter and Gamble are embracing it. Not only is it more cost effective but frequently there is greater opportunity to create and innovate from outside your company than from within it. The people on the outside are not necessarily bound by the thinking of long held ideas and dogmas of products, services, clients and markets. Furthermore different education systems and cultures create different approaches to problem solving which can lead to some major breakthroughs. The perspectives from offshore are very different and therein lies the ability to differentiate yourself from competitors.

From an internal management perspective any offshore team must be respected and treated 100% as equals to the team you have at home. They must have the same latitude to create, experiment, fail and develop ideas in a collaborative manner with the rest of the team no matter where they may be in the world. This little thing called the "Internet" makes this entirely possible.

The other aspect is that a failure of a concept developed offshore will cost you way less than the cost of a similar failure at home meaning you can afford to experiment and fail more and therefore learn more than your competitors can too!

At Depth Offshore we have some clients executing this aspect of their strategy well with a hybrid approach of team members both offshore and at home focusing and collaborating on new ideas. Currently most still keep their head of R&D at home and support this person with great people offshore but I can really see this changing as companies take a more global view of how they need to compete. For most industries you simply MUST MUST be thinking globally or pretty soon you will not be in the race.

I firmly believe that being open to external innovation is one of the keys to building a high performance business in this ever more competitive "us too" global economy.

Innovate, differentiate, get noticed or die!

All the best for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014 and thanks for following, sharing and commenting on my blog.

+Brad Skelton 

Thursday 19 December 2013

Investment is flowing back into shipping with confidence reaching a 3 year high.

A November survey of ship owners has found their market confidence is the highest it has been since August 2010. Most owners are again optimistic and forecasting improving markets. The World Trade Organisation predicts growth in shipping volumes of 4.5% in 2014. The Baltic Index has pushed past 2000 for the first time since 2011 after bottoming in December 2008 at 663 points. All good news and these factors combined have most industry players feeling like we are in the early stages of a global shipping recovery.

Despite this positive sentiment many European banks are currently selling their shipping loan books to investment funds as the banks see them as problem areas of their portfolio. Admittedly some sectors of the shipping industry remain under extraordinary pressure and some loans are not performing.

Consequently private equity funds are buying loan books at discounts between 15 and 20% off their nominal value and are punting that recovery is finally underway and they can ride the market up and enjoy good returns.

Banks that have sold loan books to strengthen their own balance sheets include; Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, Commerzbank and HSH. US based private equity firms are the main buyers.

So what does this mean for shipping?

As confidence and demand returns ship values will rise again and so will freight rates. There are already reports that bulk carriers currently being built have changed hands at up to 25% gains.

On the other hand, if a recovery falters, then ship owners will have a different type of creditor to deal with in an investment fund rather than a bank. Fund managers are typically far less patient to get their returns than the banks have been if payments fall into arrears.

I think the bottom line is that improved confidence and financial returns in shipping is bringing investment back for the first time in about 5 years. That is a really positive thing for everyone in the industry and I think this investment trend is gaining momentum.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Monday 2 December 2013

Drone delivery of your goods in less than 30 minutes via Amazon Prime Air

Here is another really cool example of how technology will continue to radically change business and our economy.

Amazon are working on delivery of their customers orders within 30 minutes via drone octocopters right from their warehouse to your door.

Check out this 1.19min YouTube clip demonstrating the concept.

This delivery method, assuming it gets aviation authority approval, will impact the road courier logistics industry massively. This will become the superior delivery method without doubt. Cheaper, faster, no driver, no traffic..no traffic jams....and more environmentally friendly too. If Depth Logistics were in the parcel courier field of logistics then I would scrambling to get my own fleet of octocopters ready to serve my clients before my client start buying their own. Maybe we should.....??

Think about the other potential applications of this delivery method to numerous industries. What about pizza delivery? Then again, would the downdraft from the rotors mean cold pizza on arrival? I'm kidding but the possibilities are incredible and exciting for any lightweight parcel needing delivery across town that is time sensitive. The medical and pharmaceutical industry is one.

I congratulate Amazon for the vision they have for their customers and the logistics service they hope to provide. This will be a definite game changer for another sector of the logistics industry.

All for now,

Thursday 28 November 2013

The fastest ship in the world

The fastest ship in the world is the "Francisco" which is a 99 metre long vehicle and passenger ferry built by Incat in Hobart, Australia. She is capable of speeds of up to 58.1 knots or 107.6 km per hour with 150 cars and 1000 passengers on board.

The technology in the "Francisco" is amazing. She is a wave piercing catamaran and is powered by two GE gas turbines with modified Boeing 747 jet engines. The two engines combined produce 59,000 horsepower!

The primary fuel is LNG and Incat claim it to be the fastest, environmentally cleanest and most efficient high speed ferry in the world. The vessel will be operating between Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Below is a short YouTube clip about the ship.

The technological advances in the maritime industry producing vessels with capabilities like the "Francisco" are game changers for the industry. Much like what the Concorde did for world air travel when they were first launched although fuel economy and environmental impact were not really a big consideration back then.
All for now,

Thursday 14 November 2013

Depth Logistics is a finalist for Freight Forwarder of the Year in the Australian Shipping and Maritime Awards

I am very proud to advise with less than a year of operations +Depth Logistics is receiving recognition from it's industry peers.

We have been told this week that the company is a finalist in not one, but two categories of the 2013 Australian Shipping and Maritime Awards!

Depth Logistics stands to win the "Freight Forwarder of the Year" category and +Jenny Ruffell Smith of our team is in the running to win the "New Generation" award.

The awards ceremony is Thursday the 21st of November in Melbourne and I'll make some Google+ posts to keep you updated as the night unfolds.

Thanks to our great team and everyone else who has supported the company and enabled us to create some innovative new shipping services, powerful logistics and technological resources that makes shipping easier for our clients.

Depth Logistics - The Art of Logistics Management and Technology

Please wish us luck!

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Wednesday 13 November 2013

So why do we still need phone numbers?

All of my companies and I use Google Apps for Business as our communications platform. It gives us the full suite of Email, Instant Messenger, Hangouts(video conferencing) and Drive(cloud storage) and Google+ for social networking. It is cheaper than any other platform I am aware of to run and in our experience hangouts have proven to be far more reliable and easier to use than Skype and we can have up to ten of our team members around the world in a single Hangout simultaneously. The connectivity to our Android phones is seamless too.

Whether you personally prefer Google, Apple, Microsoft or others, the one thing that has become a common denominator among them all is that you set up an account that creates a unique personal ID or profile and gives you access to the online resources. The advantage Google+ has is that from this single platform you can initiate hangouts, IM and emails as well as access to numerous other Google based applications such as YouTube.

I believe applications like Hangouts and Apple's FaceTime are gradually taking over from phone calls. After all they are more personal if you choose to video conference than a phone call and cheaper too. They also go beyond international borders for no extra cost per minute. Not to mention you can share photos and other files which you can't do in a phone call. 

Instead of having a phone number and using the phone system to speak to someone you can use the internet and mobile data connections to do the same. So why do we need a personal phone number anymore when you have your profile or account ID that allows people to find you and then connect more easily than ever?

If you are not familiar with Hangouts, check this 1.23 minute YouTube clip out to see what I mean.

Retailers are suffering because in many categories of goods buying online now provides the superior consumer experience. Communications are the same. With modern smartphones enabling Hangouts, FaceTime and the like so cheaply and internationally, phone calls and texts no longer provide the superior communications experience. Increasingly mobile phone plans will be about the data plan you have and not the voice or text.

As for email...well if you really want feel old....the younger generation sees this as "old school"! Their main communication is done via their preferred social network.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan

Last Friday at 4.30am local time Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. There are unconfirmed reports of up to 10,000 people dead and millions now homeless and currently without food and water. UNICEF estimate 4 million children are seriously impacted right now. 

A "super typhoon" is defined a by it's wind speeds. A typhoon with wind speeds over 241km per hour that are sustained for longer than a 1 minute in duration is classified as "super". Can you imagine the affect of sustained winds at this speed? Devastating!

Typhoon Haiyan from space
Haiyan hit the south of the Philippines hardest. Depth Offshore has it's team located in the north so I am relieved to report that everyone is okay there. Some of our team members have been unable to contact family and friends in the south since last Thursday as communications infrastructure has been wiped out.

The people in the Philippines need help to overcome this massive natural disaster.

There are numerous aid agencies with appeals running. Our team and associates outside the Philippines are going to support UNICEF and I urge anybody reading this blog post to do the same or make a donation to another reputable aid agency.

Please make a donation and share the link or this blog to friends and family. Thank you!

All for now,

Thursday 31 October 2013

The ghost ship "Flying Dutchman"

Throughout the ages seamen have reported seeing ghost ships at sea.

The most famous and legendary of all was the "Flying Dutchman". The sight of which to a sailor meant doom was imminent.

The "Flying Dutchman" was a Dutch man-of-war built in the 1700's. As the story goes she was a Dutch East India Company ship that was rounding the infamous Cape of Good Hope when she hit a severe storm. Rather than find safe harbour, the captain said he'd hold his heading until judgement day and the ship and her crew disappeared into the storm to never be seen again......

Until.....sailors started reporting sighting her all the way through to the 20th century. Even King George V claimed to have sighted her between Sydney and Melbourne in 1880 while he was on board the "HMS Inconstant". 

She was often said to be seen with dark clouds above her and she would pass across other ships bows right before something terrible happened.

Happy Halloween!

+Brad Skelton 

Monday 28 October 2013

Which carrier wouldn't allow a marine surveyor on board their ship?

Today I had a client with a crane being loaded and shipped with one of the worlds largest RoRo shipping lines ex Brisbane. The client and his underwriters requested that a marine surveyor conduct a survey on the cargo and most importantly the lashing and securing of the cargo once on board the vessel. A fair and reasonable request and one that goes to the heart of the cargo's safe delivery, integrity and also to maritime safety in general.

To everyone's surprise and frustration, the shipping line refused to allow a marine surveyor on board their ship to conduct the survey. This is an unbelievable, arrogant and potentially risky stance adopted by the carrier and one that has caused my client to tell me to never ship cargo with them again. 

Marine Surveyors are highly qualified to inspect cargo, vessels and equipment on behalf of shippers, shipping lines and underwriters. On the waterfront they are highly respected as many of them are retired ships captains with tremendous experience who understand from first hand experience the power of the sea and it's effects on ships and cargo alike. Furthermore their ethics are considered by all as being beyond reproach and in my experience they have always conducted themselves in a neutral and highly professional manner. 

They play an essential role in shipping and one that is key to maintaining safe and high standards in maritime operations for all stakeholders and the environment. Many times they have raised concerns prior to or during loading of a ship that has potentially avoided dangerous incidents.

Any carrier who denies a marine surveyor on board their vessels in my view is short sighted, unreasonable and perhaps should not be entrusted with my clients cargo. Marine surveyors should be allowed to go anywhere and draw attention to any concerns they see. It is in EVERYONES interest to have such experienced people present to conduct a survey!

Many ships have capsized or sunk in heavy seas as the lashings on the cargo have not been correctly done or weren't secure enough to stop the cargo moving and slamming into the hull of the ship or other cargo. Several years ago a wheel loader broke it's lashings at sea during heavy weather. Every time the vessel pitched and rolled the bucket and it's teeth rammed into the hull. The machine was stowed below the waterline and eventually the teeth poked a sizable hole in the hull which lead to the entire vessel sinking.

Would anybody like to take a guess at which carrier denied my client a survey of his cargo? You can leave a comment in the field at the footer of this post.

All for now,

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Cargo transhipment re-invented - lower handling costs and better for the environment.

+Jenny Ruffell Smith from my team recently attended a seminar hosted by the Nautical Institute.

Sea Transport spoke about a new concept for transhipment of cargo.

Costs of moving materials, such as iron ore, can be significantly increased if transport infrastructure and/or deep-water ports, are not located close to mine sties and easily accessible  Usually mining companies are faced with transporting materials long distances either by road or rail and frequently building an expensive terminal and jetty facility.

Transhipment allows smaller vessels with shallower drafts to transfer materials from a small harbour close to the mine site and then transfer to a oceangoing export vessel stationed offshore.

The latest innovation is the Floating Harbour Transhipper (FHT - pictured). A self-propelled feeder vessel berths in the FHT's aft well dock where the FHT unloads the feeder vessel and transfers materials to onboard stockpiles or straight to an ocean going vessel. 

Transhipment - Sea transport

The FHT can withstand 4m wave height, which reduces down-time, demurage and feeder damage. Also, due to the feeder and FHT both being enclosed, this ensures a dust free transshipment and dry cargo. Due to the shallow draft of the feeder, vessels can be used from very small ports eliminating the need for dredging sensitive areas, constructing large jetties and reducing port charges. It also eliminates the need for large sheds ashore for stockpiling. 

This method of transhipment also has potential to handle containers as well in remote ports.

Transhipment - Sea transport

This innovation new vessel would be very beneficial in Australia where millions of tons of raw materials are exported every year and much of it in an environmentally sensitive area and transported long distances by rail and road.

Great to see such innovative ideas gradually becoming reality.

All for now,

Tuesday 15 October 2013

4PL "us too"...and a FREE supply chain health check.

Perhaps imitation really is the sincerest form flattery. 

My team and I launched a 4PL (Fourth party Logistics) service specifically for heavy industry and major projects earlier this year. By leveraging the enormous direct knowledge and experience we have gained in owning and operating in all manner of transport operations from cranes, trucks, freight forwarding companies, customs brokerages, warehouses, storage yards and quarantine facilities we have been able to save clients millions of dollars in some instances.

Since launching this new service we have noticed competitors, large and small, saying "us too" and now advertising they are 4PL providers when indeed most of them are not or perhaps even properly understand the concept or role they need to play.

The essence of being a 4PL provider is that you are 100% neutral. To be truly neutral you must be non-asset based. This means that you do not operate your own warehouses, trucks, planes, cranes or ships. If you do then immediately you have a conflict as you will naturally favor cargo traffic for your own assets ahead delivering the best solution for the client no matter who the provider is. This is one of the keys.

The other key is a good 4PL provider must have it's own in house IT capability and systems to support it's clients logistics and supply chain management.  Off the shelf software packages that most 3PL forwarders run do not have the modules or analytical sophistication to support a 4PL supply chain strategy.

I back my team and I to find efficiency gains and cost reductions in your supply chain whether that be domestically and/or internationally. Therefore between now and the 30th of November this year I am offering a FREE 4PL supply chain health check. There are no fees for our time if we cannot find gains for you.

If you'd like to take advantage of this offer, please email or call me. Ph: +61414362707

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Thursday 3 October 2013

I'm proud that this humble blog has been recognised as a key global shipping industry website!

I'd like to thank Logistics Degree for rating my blog as one of the 95 key websites for global shipping & freight. You can click on the badge below to see the full list.

Thanks to my blog readers who by subscribing and following have helped this be achieved.

Now the pressure is on more than ever to keep the entertaining, informative and thought provoking posts coming.

Stay tuned!

+Brad Skelton 

Monday 30 September 2013

Robotics & the "OK Principle" - Two of the keys to future competitiveness.

Last Friday I attended a luncheon in Brisbane at PWC's office to meet with other mining service providers to discuss the current state of the market and best practices to grow your business in this climate.

It was unanimous that mining company expenditure in Australia is radically down and impacting most companies represented. Furthermore everyone agreed that price was the main driver of these companies in this climate and most people said their profit margins are really suffering.

What struck me was that some of the companies represented there seem to be living in hope that the market will soon improve and they will ride it out and return to pre-global financial crisis sales and profitability. I personally believe those days are gone for good and that Australian mining, like many other industries, is undergoing a transformation in a bid to be globally competitive.

So what is the transformation? There are numerous things changing rapidly however the two big ones in my view is labor and equipment costs. 

Aussie miners cannot compete globally while paying equipment operators $140k++ per annum. The reality is that equipment operators in African mines are lucky to get $1000 per month. Rio Tinto is tackling this with unmanned(robotic) Komatsu mining trucks now operating in Western Australia. The truck fleet can be operated from a control room not even situated in Australia if they wish. Rio have also moved to unmanned trains to deliver the ore to port. 

Unmanned Komatsu mining trucks
The other trend is miners are offshore outsourcing business tasks to remain competitive and importing equipment from suppliers in China, India and other countries at lower costs. At lunch I must have heard it at least 4 times where an exec complained about margin pressure due to cheaper imports and how they were trying to convince their clients about quality. Admirable and it would be nice to keep Aussies employed but WAKE UP! The quality of Chinese imports is rapidly improving so the argument about quality is just about null and void. Many of the worlds biggest equipment manufacturers now have factories in China and the quality is excellent. You know the market is currently driven by price so that is what you need to give your customers. The best price. Period! The reality is that unless Aussie suppliers either go offshore for their manufacturing or transform their factory productions lines to be completely robotic they will cease to exist. You can't swim against the tide.

It is fair to say that mining in Australia has had an incredible run of growth for a long time. A "BOOM" is what has been proclaimed. At the height of it one of my major mining equipment supplier clients told me "It's like drinking water from a fire hose and swallowing as fast we can!". The boom is over now though and my belief is that while undergoing change the market is also normalising. 

So what is normal? Pre-boom volumes and conditions. It's not their fault but many of the execs at the luncheon and their employees(many of which are still on astronomical and nonsensical salaries...which are coming back to earth) have never seen anything but boom times so they are floundering.

A sense of urgency is required for these companies to fully accept the dynamics and state of the current market and re-engineer their businesses to be able to play in it in the long term as if the current climate is the new norm. They also need to be ready for volatility as the global economy is still very sick. 

To grow and survive they will have to adopt the "OK Principle". What is that? My team are probably sick of me saying it......

"Overheads Kill!"

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Sunday 29 September 2013

Beautiful Day

The Depth Industries team and I are doing the MS Moonlight Walk on Friday the 18th of October to raise funds to support people with Multiple Sclerosis and help end this disease.

We would be grateful if you would sponsor us and share this blog post to help us achieve our target.

We will post updates of our progress and the walk itself on +Depth Industries .

Thank you!

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Offshoring - A business growth strategy.

A good offshoring strategy has become a key enabler of high growth and performance in companies that recognise that their competition is increasingly coming from overseas where cost structures are lower than at home.

We truly do have a global economy now and it is not only here to stay, but developing rapidly. The internet and modern transportation methods have largely neutralised the competitive advantage that distance and geographical reach once gave companies. Free trade agreements between countries are also changing the competitive landscape with import duties and taxes less of a concern. Now people can easily and quickly source goods and services from anywhere in the world. Therefore it's not optional anymore for your company's own prices and overheads not to be internationally competitive.
In operating Depth Offshore my team and I are helping clients relieve cost pressures by up to 75% in salaries and other expenses associated with employing people locally. In some cases it has meant that our clients business has maintained its viability and then be able to go after foreign markets themselves.
Smart operators are keeping their IP development team and top minds at home and then supporting these people with a talented offshore team to enable them to cost effectively accomplish more important and dollar productive work.

Here is a short list of some more reasons to offshore:

  • Offshoring is a business growth strategy.
  • Fend off global competition and therefore remain viable with globally competitive labour rates.
  • You can save up to 75% on salary costs and liberate working capital for business development and growth.
  • If your prices are globally competitive then you can grow your company's market internationally from home.
  • You do not have to be a huge corporation to offshore! SME’s are successfully doing this with Depth Offshore's assistance.
  • Distance doesn’t matter any more. Free and nearly free internet technology like corporate Gmail, Skype, VOIP and video conferencing makes communicating with your offshore team like they are in the same building but on different floor. Depth Offshore will help you with this.
  • Offshore to a single person or build a team.
  • Be able to afford a higher performance team at home with the savings made on support roles locally.
  • Increase productivity of your local staff by supporting them with an offshore team.
  • Handle simple, repetitive tasks through to complex technical tasks offshore. Or handle a single project offshore.
  • Flexible workforce. Scale your team size up or down rapidly and easily.
  • No long term commitments.
  • Great, well educated talent that will work your preferred business hours.
  • Hard working intelligent people with excellent English.
  • People are dedicated solely to your business so they become part of your team. +Depth Offshore does not believe in accomplishing tasks by allocating work to a pool of people.
  • Free up your office space locally and lower your capex on office furniture and equipment.
  • Far less administration required (no super to monitor, no workcover, insurance, payroll tax, FBT, vacation and sick leave administration, record keeping related to payroll, etc)
  • Access to skills and resources that might not be currently available internally. Nearly any task can be outsourced.
  • Outsource more menial/repetitive tasks to allow you to focus on the more important aspects of your business.
  • Assign tasks to be completed overnight and ready for you to keep going the next day.
  • Don’t have to worry about onerous employment laws and regulations. If a resource is no longer needed, or required for less time, the service is flexible.
  • Faster turnaround time on some tasks as hours and days worked offshore are generally longer than most western countries.
  • Good confidentiality and IP protection.
  • One monthly fee that covers everything including office equipment. No additional charges or costs for superannuation, insurance or other benefits to pay and administer.

All types of work can be successfully offshored from menial tasks through to highly technical work where special skills, experience and qualifications are needed. We have helped our clients get offshore support from clerks through to mechanical engineers, CPA accountants, graphic designers and top notch computer programmers. There are so many tasks that can be offshored these days with phone and internet technology coming so far.

In my own country, Australia, politicians seem to think they can keep placing more and more responsibility and cost on employers and magically businesses can absorb this. Well they can't and many SME's are groaning under the strain! What our governments are actually doing is making it harder and more expensive to employ people locally and thus making Aussie companies unable to compete internationally.

A classic example of this is payroll tax. In Australia, if you manage to grow your business and employ more people then you get hit with a tax for doing this. Companies actually have to pay a tax calculated on the annual salary expense.

What incentive does this give companies to employ more people locally?

All for now,

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Competing with Bustin Jieber

The rules of business as we have known them until now are being changed rapidly. The old models of a post industrialised world in numerous industries are being tipped on their head and rendered virtually useless by digitisation.

New economy businesses are leveraging digital and virtual platforms, different employment models to strip out overheads, infrastructure and the need for large capital investment. With digital platforms even a one person enterprise can competitively take on huge corporations and destroy their business model. It is no longer about how many offices and locations you have, how many people you employ or the size of your capital reserves. The internet is spawning a new breed of customers who have virtually no loyalty in "old school" terms because they can go to another competitor with one "click" and get what they need.

The new emerging generation of young entrepreneurs have a completely different mindset. They have grown up in an environment where, via the internet, they can access all types of services, groups and information for free or nearly free. Downloading apps/games, solving problems and accomplishing things for FREE in so many aspects of their life is their expectation. They also expect to get what they want NOW because more than ever before in human history they can. FREE and NOW is their default mindset and not only are they the entrepreneurs of the future they are also the customers of the future so we better be pleasing them.

They don't believe in intellectual property rights, confidentiality, corporate structures, boards of directors, business rules and regulations or even borders between countries. They don't need them. Nor do they believe in personal privacy. Their view of the world is put it all out there and grow the collective intelligence of their generation through sharing and collaboration. This is a massive contradiction to traditional business thinking.

Such a young entrepreneur on the rise is Thomas Suarez who is now about 14 years old. Check out the presentation he gave to +TEDx when he was 12.

He is a perfect example of the type of competitive force that I am talking about. If you are old school you will probably be thinking..."So what?! He writes games apps about Justin Bieber. I don't need to worry about him". Well you do!! The lessons and breakthroughs he and others like him are inexpensively gaining building fun apps helps them refine their approach to be able to attack traditional business models. If an app he writes fails then it doesn't matter as it has only cost him his time and his parents 99 bucks. A cheap education in my book!

Thomas is selling his Bustin Jieber app for 99 cents a download and it has gone completely viral. As he said he taught himself how to build the app and used a FREE software development kit to do it. Then for just $99 he is in the game competing against other huge multimedia companies putting enormous investment into finding the next killer app. Can you imagine the rate of return on that investment? Astronomical and enough to make the directors of an old school company weep.

You cannot underestimate that globally there are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of developers and people out there right now doing exactly the same thing. There is bound to be at least a few of them thinking about your industry or business model and how they can change it, better it and ultimately defeat you.

James McQuivey and his thinking on this subject has been very influential in my own business approach. I credit him for some of the ideas in this blog and I strongly suggest you check out his work. 

All for now, 

+Brad Skelton 

Monday 12 August 2013

3D printing technology - total game changer for many businesses and logistics providers!

I have been watching with interest the development of 3D printing technology and it's ever growing numerous applications. The impact of this technology for business and logistics companies is hard to forecast except to say it is huge!

3D printers such as the one pictured below are now available for home use at less than $2000 for a basic model.

So what are the possibilities and implications for business?

Lets say I want new water bottle cage for my +Specialized Bicycles mountain bike like this one.

Currently I could buy it online and have it shipped to me in a few days or I could go to my local bike shop to get one.

I think pretty soon the other alternative will be to buy the 3D file online and have it downloaded to my computer, just like a book from +Amazon.com or music from +Google Play or iTunes. I can then use the 3D file to print my own water bottle cage immediately at home.

So, no waiting, no freight charges, no warehouse storage, no inventory to carry for the seller, no sale for the bike shop or online retailer and the supplier of the 3D file gets paid directly. Furthermore no import duty or taxes are being collected by Customs and there is a reduced environmental impact as there is no packaging required to then dispose of later. Nor will there be any carbon emissions from the ship, plane and courier van that would have delivered the item in the old school manner.

Now a water bottle is not exactly a highly complex item but I think it illustrates the point I am making. The technology exists now to make simple items like this at home at affordable prices. 

3D printing technology is coming along in leaps and bounds and the composites now available are incredible and even allow electronic circuitry to be printed. Printing with molten metals is becoming a reality. One bloke in New Zealand is even 3D printing his own +Aston Martin DB4 in his garage! Read more

Imagine what this technology can do to improve service from your typical mobile repair guy that might come to your house to fix your dishwasher for example. If he needed a part to complete the repair he could have a 3D printer in his van, or use yours, and create the part and install it on the spot rather than ordering it and coming back later if he didn't already happen to have it on board.
The possibilities and applications are virtually endless. The efficiency gains for the end user and the supplier are immense.

For the shipping and transport industry this 3D printing technology combined with densification of products will lead to a shrinking freight task. By densification I mean things such as, flat packed furniture, data hard drives being superseded by USB sticks, CD and DVD's gradually being eliminated by digitisation and online delivery, detergents and even food being shipped as concentrates. This all means less transport capacity required and a diminishing need for customs brokers and warehouses. Freight forwarders will increasingly be transporting the printers and composites rather than the finished goods themselves.

3D printing might even prove to be a great equaliser for the rest of the world in competing against low labour cost countries such as China and India. If consumers can make their own items efficiently at home they will be looking for the best design as the manufacturing and freight costs will be pretty much eliminated. Price will be less relevant.

You really need to be thinking ahead about how 3D printing and other technologies will impact you and your business and start re-engineering the way you do things now. It will revolutionise more things than we can currently imagine.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton