Supply chain risk management in 2017

BillDuBois

Financial crisis. Check. Environmental catastrophes. Check. What’s next? Is this the year of political disruption?

Supply chain risk managementWorking in supply chain is like starring in a Rocky movie. You keep getting knocked down and you have to keep getting back up.

You don’t need to go back any further than a decade to understand the many challenges supply chains have endured over the years. Interestingly enough, the first episode of Breaking Bad that aired in 2008 reflected what it was like being in supply chain risk management at the time: “Hey, a science teacher is cooking meth, how much worse could it get?”

If you were a fan of the series, you were on the edge of your seat amazed at the plot’s crazy twists and turns. My guess is people who didn’t see the show were the supply chain practitioners too busy trying to ride the storm of the 2008 financial crash.

Supply chains had to deal with squeezing margins and dramatically cut costs, which included significant downsizing. Doing more with less wasn’t an option; it was a necessity. Maybe the one good thing to come out of it was some companies figured out how they could survive with lower inventories. Some suppliers weren’t so lucky. In 2009, I’m sure most we’re thinking, “How much worse could it get?”

Well, it got a lot worse.

Read the full story

Moore’s Law and supply chain planning systems

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Supply chain planning systemIt was in 1965 that Dr. Gordon Moore made a prediction that changed the pace of tech. His prediction, popularly known as Moore’s law, was with regards to doubling of the number of transistors per square inch on an integrated circuit every 18 months or so. As a result of the innovations attributable to the endurance of Moore’s law over the last 50+ years, we have seen significant accelerations in processing power, storage, and connectivity. These advances continue to have major implications on how companies plan their supply chains. In my nearly two decades as a supply chain professional, I have seen quite a few changes.

Let’s look at some of the big shifts that have taken place in the supply chain planning space.

1. Planning community gets bolder in tackling scale:

Early on in my career, I remember working with a large global company who had to take their interconnected global supply chain model and slice it up into distinct independent supply chain models. This was because the processing power at the time was simply not enough to plan their supply chain in a single instance. This surgical separation of supply chains required a high degree of ingenuity and identifying the portions of supply network with the least amount of interconnections, and partition them. This was not the most optimal way to build a supply chain model, but they did what they could within the limitations of the technology then. With the advent of better processing power, they were able to consolidate these multiple instances into a single global instance leading to a better model of their business. This is just one of many such examples.

Read the full story

MSD’s journey to remove silos in its end-to-end supply chain

AlexaCheater

End-to-end supply chainEliminating silos from any company’s supply chain planning processes comes with challenges. And those challenges are only amplified the bigger your supply chain is. When you’re a large global pharmaceutical company operating in more than 100 markets across four geographical regions, overcoming operational silos in the end-to-end supply chain  may seem like an insurmountable feat. That’s how MSD ’s supply chain planning story began.

Supply chain planning challenges

Known as Merck & Co., Inc. in the US and Canada, MSD was desperately seeking a way to connect its end-to-end supply chain, which spans four planning hubs, over 80 distribution centers and more than 20 internal and external sites. Setting out on a journey to standardize its enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform meant finding a way to sync its supply chain data and enable access across all those divisions and locations to support better business decisions.

Henrik Frojdh, Supply Chain Planning Lead at MSD, quickly realized the only way to elevate supply chain planning capabilities to support that level of synchronization and at the same time optimize inventory levels, was the adoption of an integrated solution – one that enabled end-to-end supply chain planning, visibility and decision-making.

Read the full story

Looking at the sustainable supply chains behind some classic Valentine’s Day favorites

TeresaChiykowski

Sustainable supply chainChocolates, wine, flowers, jewelry? What will you buy for the special person in your life this Valentine’s Day? Not planning to buy anything at all? You might want to seriously rethink that decision before you show up empty-handed.

Over the years, Valentine’s Day has become big business.

As you know, Valentine’s Day is an annual holiday, celebrated on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus. Today, Valentine’s Day is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world.

Commercial celebration is right.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are poised to spend more than $18 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2017. That comes to about $137.57 per person. I’d really love a $137.57 box of chocolates. Heck, let’s round it up to $140 and skip the sentimental greeting card.

Read the full story

Improving Supply Chain Collaboration: Connecting People

TeresaChiykowski

This is the final blog post in our three-part series discussing ways to improve supply chain collaboration.

Supply chain collaborationIf you’ve read the first blog posts in this series, you should have a pretty good idea of two main reasons why supply chain collaboration is failing – fundamental . You should also have a better understanding how to fix what’s “broke” when it comes to data and processes.

Today, I’m going to tackle a third fundamental reason collaboration is failing: the disconnect between the people overseeing the supply chain.

The challenge: Disconnected people

Supply chains don’t run themselves – not yet anyway.

From demand and supply planners, to inventory managers and capacity planners, humans play a pivotal role in keeping the supply chain moving and customers happy and loyal.

But there’s a problem. Not everyone in the supply chain talks to each other.

Read the full story

Is it time to take your supply chain glocal?

AlexaCheater

supply chain glocalNope, that’s not a typo. I really did mean glocal. In case the term is new to you, glocal, in a supply chain context, is the blending of global integration with local responsiveness. I first heard the term only a few months ago during Zoltan Pekar’s presentation at our annual training and user conference, Kinexions. Pekar, the VP of Roland DG’s Global SCM Division, gave some interesting insights on the changing role of IT in supply chain. You can check out a recap of his presentation in my blog The Changing Role of IT in End-to-End Supply Chain Management or check out his presentation yourself on our YouTube channel.

What really jumped out for me during his session was this idea of glocalization. As defined by the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, “glocalization is the adaptation of globally marketed products and services to local markets.” And apparently the term has been around since the late 1980s, first appearing in print in the Harvard Business Review.

Global companies have been using glocalization for years when it comes to products and services. Restaurant mega chain McDonald’s is an example easily identified by most. Their regional menus offer things like the Chicken Maharaja Mac in India, the Croque McDo in Belgium and the KiwiBurger in New Zealand. Automotive manufacturers are another great example, although many of the differences between European and North American car models are due to specific regulations, with the most obvious being which side the steering wheel is on and whether the speedometers show miles per hour of kilometers per hour.

Read the full story

Xilinx: Fight the urge to be precise – How supply chain technology is helping Xilinx

MelissaClow

For Xilinx Inc., a supplier of programmable logic devices, the focus is more on speed than optimization, says Alex Brown, vice president of supply chain.

That’s not to say the latter is unimportant. After all, Brown was trained in the area of optimization, but he says data, always uncertain, changes every day. “We want to make decisions quickly, we want to be able to run things quickly, we want to know as fast as we can the sensitivity of a problem and what the key parameters are that affect decisions. Then, too, we focus on speed because it allows us to focus on problems other than just planning. It’s the data management problem, for example, where we make mistakes.”

Alex Brown shared a great quote by Steve Jobs who shares his philosophy:

Steve Jobs Philosophy

Fight the urge to be precise. Try to think about solving the business problem not the price mathematical issue. Their lesson was you have to get your core infrastructure straight so that you can model your core complexity well. And what allows Xillinx to embrace and tame this complexity is their supply chain planning technology.

Read the full story

Technology questions YOU should be asking

JustinKing

Supply chain technology questions

For most humans, the fear of public speaking ranks #1 on the list of ‘things most feared’ – often scoring higher than death. Apparently my genes were cross-connected at some point and I actually enjoy opportunities to speak. In my role as a Technology Evangelist for Kinaxis, I jump at any opportunity to talk to our customers or prospects about their technology needs. A typical day might have us sitting down with those who are evaluating the solution and walking through the planning process. The business team would show the capabilities live in the tool and then at the end of the session we will often open up the floor for questions. Usually I’ll get very thought-provoking questions that are quite relevant to the conversation . Occasionally I’ll get “that guy” who wants to sound smart, asking what color network cables we use or why we don’t use 8,192-bit keys rotated on an hourly basis. Recently, I was asked a question that really took me by surprise. The prospect asked, “What questions should we be asking, but aren’t?”

At the time, I was taken by surprise and probably didn’t come up with a good answer; however, I’ve given this much thought and now have compiled a list of questions that I think every organization should ask their technology vendor – regardless of what they are buying.

1. How many products are you offering?

Read the full story