State of the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: Key Takeaways from LogiPharma US 2016

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Pharmaceutical Supply ChainPart of what makes my job very exciting is attending conferences. These events provide great opportunities to share, learn, network, and have fun. Earlier this week, I attended the LogiPharma conference, a wonderful event for supply chain professionals working in the pharmaceutical industry. Apart from taking part in numerous interactive presentations and roundtables, I had the opportunity to host a luncheon alongside my colleague, Bill Dubois, for a packed room of pharmaceutical industry executives and SCM practitioners.

All-in-all, it was a great validation of my point of view about where the pharma industry is with regards to its supply chain challenges, maturity and where it needs to go. In this blog, I want to share some key challenges faced by the pharma industry and pharmaceutical supply chains. And, in a future blog I will share some recommendations in light of these challenges:

1. Revenue pressures: With several blockbuster drug patents expiring (a.k.a. “patent cliff”) and with patent extensions harder to come by, large pharma companies are looking for opportunities to unlock additional value within their enterprises and across the value network as revenues remain under pressure.

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Everyone’s Anxious About Increased Job Stability – But is it a Myth?

  • by Melissa Clow
  • Published

This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management.

Supply ChainEvery once in a while, we like to take a step back and assess the state of the job market, as well as the state of how people feel about it. It’s clear that the world of work is changing. The workforce is becoming nimbler, and it’s less common than ever for someone to stay at one job, or one company, for your whole career. From multinational consulting companies to us at Argentus, everyone seems to be talking about the rise of the” gig economy” – the contingent workforce that moves from contract to contract, trading long-term job security for higher wages and flexibility.

When we write about the benefits of this kind of contingent work in our area of Supply Chain and Procurement, we sometimes get pushback from commenters. They say that contingent work – or “precarious employment” – is taking the place of what used to be permanent, secure jobs, leading to less stable employment and worse career outcomes across the board. We find jobs for quite a few high-skilled workers who actually prefer contingent work, so we know that lots of people find contingent work to be a vital alternative to long-term employment. But we also recently read a really interesting and thought provoking New Yorker piece proposing that increased “job instability” is actually more of a myth than we might realize.

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The Sensing +Intelligent + Social Supply Chain: End-to-End Supply Chain Agility

  • by Trevor Miles
  • Published

End-to-end supply chainGlobal supply chains are getting bigger and more complex. As a result, companies are facing added pressure to respond effectively to fluctuating demands and unexpected change. Add in more frequent supply disruptions, managing product life cycles, and increased regulatory controls, and it’s no wonder it’s getting more difficult to protect the bottom line. So how can businesses profitably keep pace with the challenges of today? The answer is increased end-to-end supply chain agility.

What is the Sensing + Intelligent + Social Supply Chain?

Reducing lag time in decision making is critical. To achieve success, organizations need to connect data, processes and people across the entire network. Until that happens, demand translation and response will be cumbersome and slow. Competing metrics need to be visible, and actionable insights easily accessible. That is the heart of what a Sensing + Intelligent + Social Supply Chain addresses. Its hallmark characteristics are:

  • Sensing—alerting decision makers when an unexpected supply chain event occurs, and identifying impacts on other parts of the network.
  • Intelligence—providing rapid understanding of business issues and consequences, and allowing tradeoff analysis of multiple alternatives by comparing metrics side-by-side.
  • Social—bringing the right people together in a collaborative environment to share assumptions, vote on alternatives, and discuss opportunities.

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Did Pokémon Go Solve a Historic End-to-End Supply Chain Problem?

  • by Alexa Cheater
  • Published

Pokemon Go Solving End-to-End Supply Chain ProblemsGetting the Right Product in Front of the Right People

It took an augmented reality video game and a host of made up monsters to seemingly solve one of end-to-end supply chain’s biggest problems–getting the right product in front of the right people. Too bad the tactics Pokémon Go has implemented aren’t easily repeatable by the rest of us mere mortals.

In fact, their tactic isn’t really a tactic at all. It’s more a case of demand far outstripping supply. People are so crazy about catching the variety of Pokémon running amok on their smartphones, they’re actually willing to travel to where the supply is—it doesn’t matter the location, or the time of day, these folks are prepared to do darn near anything to get the inventory they want. Much to the envy of every supply chain manager out there. Who wouldn’t love hordes of consumers coming directly to you?

For those that aren’t quite familiar with this new craze sweeping the globe, Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. Making use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices, the game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world.

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NASCES 2016: End-to-End Supply Chain Management Transformations

  • by Trevor Miles
  • Published

I was at the North American Supply Chain Executive Summit in Chicago earlier this week. I’m a pretty jaded conference goer, so it is difficult to please me, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the keynotes and sessions I attended. The general theme of the conference was about transformational change. What kept nagging at me though is that the presentations were largely about “righting the ship” rather than “moving from ship to air.”

Undoubtedly there were many case studies on companies making huge leaps in performance, and great advice on how to get change. But I couldn’t help think that much of the advice was focused on doing well what we have been doing in supply chain for the past 20-30 years. I’m trying to determine what we will do differently over the next 10-20 years.

Peter Gibbons of Mattel said we should focus on behaviors rather than culture. He said that in all companies there is a lot to be valued in the culture, but, more importantly, trying to change the culture will usually be met with strong resistance. Changing behavior is a lot easier, and if the behavior changes, the culture will change in the manner desired. Another great piece of advice from Peter is to focus on the outcome, the “what”, not on the method, the “how”. Perhaps most importantly though, was Peter’s view that you cannot get transformation without disruption.

NASCES 2016: End-to-End Supply Chain Management

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Advantages and Pitfalls of Push and Pull Strategies in Distribution Networks


What’s driving your supply chain – immediate consumer demand or future projections? In either case, the goal is likely the same: to provide the best customer experience. A truly customer-oriented supply chain strives to fulfill the customers’ demands on-time. Success is defined by the on-time-delivery to request (OTD-R).i In other words, when the product actually gets to the end consumer.

Supply chains are planned based on when a product is produced, delivered to distribution centers and made available at retail stores. The most common strategies for moving from upstream to downstream sites are push and pull strategies, or some mix of both. A pull strategy is when customer demand drives the entire production process. On the other hand, a push strategy is when production is based on long term customer forecasts.ii So which one is better? The answer is, it depends. There are pros and cons to using push vs. pull strategies within your distribution network.

Let’s put the concepts of push and pull strategies into a real-world example. Assume you own a restaurant and for simplicity sake, you only serve breakfast. The main processes (Figure 1) to get a customer his or her order would be procurement (buying ingredients), manufacturing (cooking), and delivery (serving the customers).


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Kinexions Supply Chain Conference Breakout Sessions


Kinexions ’16 Supply Chain Conference Lineup Hits All the Right Notes

Kinexions Logo KinaxisOur annual supply chain conference, Kinexions, is right around the corner, and we’re thrilled to be bringing our attendees some stellar supply chain content. With more than 30 outstanding sessions, including a variety of amped-up customer presentations from supply chain superstars like Ford, Roland DG, Keysight Technologies, Xilinx and Vizio, there’s something for everyone.

This year our breakout sessions will focus on four areas we believe are critical to supply chain planning:

Organizing for Success

Take your RapidResponse-enabled supply chain to the next level! Learn about integration options, increasing user adoption, building a Center of Excellence, and how to make the most of some of our hottest new features.

Preparing for the Future

Explore how a focus on inventory optimization, concurrent planning, ROI optimization, and organizational change management (to name a few) can help get your supply chain ready for what’s coming next.

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Supply Chain Risk Management in the Spotlight: Lessons from Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Supply chain risk management in the spotlight

Supply Chain Risk ManagementA few days ago, the world’s seventh largest container shipping company by volume, Hanjin Shipping, filed for bankruptcy protection. A lot of the products being shipped by Hanjin are headed to U.S. and European retailers (toys, electronics, clothing, furniture, etc) getting ready for the holiday season. However, many ports are not allowing these ships to dock due to the risk of creditors seizing the ships, and any such event will cause congestion in the ports.

According to sources, Stevedores are demanding advance payment in cash. As Hanjin is fighting to prevent seizure by creditors, several ships remain marooned in the sea. A contact of mine with firsthand knowledge of the matter commented that it is a nightmare to claim containers from a bankrupt shipper. In short, it is a mess!

Such risks are on the rise. Companies are spending more on outsourced products and services than in the past. There is a constant push to free up working capital by leaning down on the inventories. Lead times are in weeks and months in cases where manufacturing is outsourced to firms on the other side of the earth. Linear supply chains as we know them are turning into supply networks with more players and parties than ever before. To understand the geopolitical risks, all you need to do is to turn on network news. Given all this, one would think that supply chain risk management is more prominent now. However, a 2014 report by University of Tennessee on managing risk in global supply chains points out that 90% of the firms surveyed do not quantify risk when outsourcing production!

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