Sustainability, Operations and Supply Chain Management in Manufacturing and Service Industries

Tourism is a huge and dynamic industry that is comprised of a wide variety of service businesses that reflect the same dynamics and priorities that a manufacturer would have for operations planning (OP) and supply chain management (SCM). One such service business is the cruise ship sector in which vacationers travel via these types of vessels to various destinations.

While manufacturers produce tangible products and wastes, service companies also produce waste, but their products are intangible. For example, the product that a personal trainer might produce is a healthier client. Operations Managers (OM) in both industries share similar interests in eliminating waste and delivering quality products.

The two main intangible products that the vacationer (end user) buys, and a cruise ship company “manufactures” and delivers, are pleasure and relaxation – the total experience that allows vacationers to “suspend” their everyday reality for a period of time and immerse themselves in pleasurable experiences. The mission of the cruise ship industry is to deliver this experience to them in a way that surpasses their customers’ expectations, and it depends a great deal on the manufacturing industry to make this possible.

Comparable Dynamics and Priorities in Manufacturing and Service

The movement and connection of goods and services from the point of origin, or the original source, to the end user is referred to as “the supply chain”. Supply Chain Management is a part of the Operations Management that involves the effective management of many inter-firm processes such as:

Supplier/Vendor relationship management
Order Processing
Information Systems management
Sourcing and Procurement
Production Scheduling
Inventory Management
Warehousing and Distribution
Customer Services
Environmentally sustainable practices

Just as in the manufacturing industry, in the cruise ship industry it takes the coordination of a variety of resources – financial, material and human – working together to manage these processes in order to achieve organizational goals.

Operations Management involves the management of all the activities that produce an output (a product). In operations management a multitude of processes must be managed in order to produce and distribute products and services. Policies must be formulated; daily operations must be managed, and so must the use of human and material resources. OM also demands the effective utilization of technology and communications systems to allow for timely ordering and delivery of materials and products, and the servicing of customers and stakeholders.

Policies in both the manufacturing and service industry sectors might include social and environmental impact considerations such as the use of resources and the disposal of wastes. Religious, cultural, political and legal issues such as human rights, use of child labor, wage and hours; human resource impact issues such as age, gender and other forms of discrimination must also be considered.

In a manufacturing situation these considerations would impact the goods and services that the cruise industry might use. Some of these goods include foods, linens, toiletries, furnishings, packaging, electronics, fuel, etc. All of these products are outputs of a manufacturing process that a cruise ship might use and all of these products impact the environment from the original source to the end-user.

Organizations in both industries need to develop a sustainability mind-set and identify where waste being generated in their companies and along their supply chains; the reason why and when, at what stage it is being produced.

So, for example, the OM of a cruise line that is socially and environmentally conscious, and who wants to improve their SCM and incorporate a closed-loop method of operation in her organization, might be considerate of the inputs that a manufacturing company utilizes in its production process and in the processes that it utilizes to convert the raw materials into products; the timely deliverance of those products; the quality of customer service after the product is delivered, and the impact that disposal of these products have on the environment.

Likewise, manufacturing companies (whose products the cruise lines use) also wishing to do the same might, in turn, be considerate of the inputs that their suppliers utilize in their operations. As mentioned before, these inputs include – but are not limited to – various impact considerations previously mentioned.

This backward view of the supply chain links the end user of the services of the cruise ship to the beginning of the supply chain – and that includes all the companies that, working backward, might make up the chain to the original source. An original source might be cotton growers and the policies they have in place that might affect the methods that they use to grow, harvest and supply the converters of the cotton.

Questions that an Operations Managers might ask, for example, are:

· Ate the cotton growers using harmful, earth polluting chemicals in growing the cotton?

· Is child labor being used in harvesting?

· Are working conditions safe, and are wage and hours legal and fair?

· Are materials being delivered on time – and if not, what are the reasons that are preventing this?

These questions impact the management of the supply chain and organizations can gain or lose competitive advantage if they do not consider such questions because, in the case of a cruise ship, for example, an enlightened vacationer might hardly be impressed that the soft cotton sheets that she uses on the cruise line were made from cotton picked by children who live in slums and who earn mere pennies a day for back-breaking labor – and are denied an education because of these poor labor practices.

These types of considerations and decisions faced by a cruise line Operations Manager will affect his or her own company’s financial bottom line and will also affect the operations management of their down-line suppliers, as it also would in manufacturing. One can easily see that the considerations and activities of Operations Managers in service industries easily affect supply chain management in their organizations.

Maintaining a Competitive Advantage

Today’s consumers are more sophisticated and keenly aware of the global impact that their actions have on the environment and many consumers already take actions to reduce their “carbon footprint”, that is the contribution to the environmental impact of human beings and their activities upon the planet.

For example, the more waste one leaves behind in one’s daily activities, the larger one’s carbon foot-print. This idea has been capsulized in the term “going green”. Consumers are not only modifying their own habits in order to minimize waste and thus reduce their carbon footprints, but they are also holding corporations accountable for their impacts on the environment. This has put pressure on many corporations to go green by embracing more environmentally friendly processes in their operations.

What You Should Keep in Mind When Selecting Office Furniture and Supplies

Finding the right way to outfit your new office can be a very large and daunting task. With all of the different office furniture suppliers around, all claiming that their furniture is the best for you, it can be an even more difficult task. It’s your job to make sure that not only do you get the best possible deal, but you find the right, quality furniture that will be both durable and long lasting.

It’s easy to overdo your new office and spend much more money than is necessary trying to make it look lush or homey. That is why one of the most important questions you should ask yourself when purchasing your new office furniture is “What is the primary purpose of this furniture?” Office furniture does not have to look fancy or bring to mind sweet memories of home. Its main purpose is to be practical, durable, and reliable. An example of this idea can be found in Safco Executive Chairs, which emphasizes all three of these Ideals. Sound expensive? It doesn’t have to be.

It is easy to find low cost office furniture and supplies that will not only fit the office setting, but your budget, as well. After all, there is no need to spend extra money at another store when you can get better quality, longer lasting office furniture with us.

Unfortunately, it’s also easy to over spend trying to keep up with appearances. You should keep in mind that this is furniture for an office, not a home. An office should have simplistic furnishings. A chair should be a comfortable but professional computer chair, not a super-comfortable recliner. A desk should be able to accommodate all of the necessities (monitor, computer, printer, so on), allowing for a small amount of space for personal affects. It does not need to be a glorious oak masterpiece to be admired and handed down for generations.

Filing cabinets and overhead cabinets do not have to be elaborate or “cool”. They simply need to plain and accommodating. The same things can be said about office supplies. Whether you’re looking for post-it notes or fine business envelopes, quality should be your top consideration not the items price. Do they look professional? Do they have enough space? Do they get the job done? Those are the things that matter.

Do not misread the situation. Just because you don’t have to spend a lot of money and keep things simple and professional does not mean that you will end up with junk items. Buying affordable office furniture and supplies just means that you have good, common sense and a wise way of spending money. There are many suppliers that specialize in office appropriate furniture.

Professionalism is important in an office setting, and that’s what office furniture should inspire. It should provide an atmosphere that allows an appropriate amount of comfort for a workplace setting, clean and orderly conduct, and focus on organization. This is very different from the way we choose our home furniture, which we tend to fit around us – our comforts, our likes, our personal identities – which promote relaxation and a laid back atmosphere.

Keep in mind that you are outfitting an office, not a house or lounge, and look for the best prices for the best quality office furniture.