Posts categorized as 'Supply chain risk management'

From Grower to Garden: The Complexities of the Nursery Supply Chain

AlexaCheater

A woman holding a plant brought by the nursery supply chainToday is ‘Take Your Plant for a Walk Day’ (yes, apparently that is a real thing), and in honor of houseplants everywhere I thought I would look at the supply chain of an industry that has long fascinated me – the nursery industry. What exactly goes in to getting all those lovely shrubs, trees and flowers from the grower to the garden?

Let me start by saying that I personally do not have a garden. Why? Because while I love plants, they do not love me. No matter how enthusiastically the very knowledgeable staff tell me that this plant or that one can survive anything, the sad truth is none has survived my very, very black thumb, despite years of trying.

That of course does not stop me from visiting my local nursery to see what they have in stock. From seeds to shoots to seedlings and fully-grown shrubs, trees and flowers – the complexities of getting these plants to the end consumer are many.

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The Fashion Supply Chain: Unraveling the Reality

AlexaCheater

Racks of clothing represent one stop on the fashion supply chainWhether you’re a fashionista or overly fond of the frumpy look, chances are you’re buying into the multi-billion dollar clothing industry. And whether you realize it or not, the garment industry supply chain is changing – both for the better and for the worse.

Cambodia, China, Taiwan, India – look at the ‘made in’ labels on your clothing and you’re likely to find these popular clothing manufacturing countries. A recent Wall Street Journal article reveals African nations such as Ethiopia may soon be added to that list thanks to their lack of minimum wage regulations. Apparently, the $67 a month workers make in Bangladesh was getting to be too costly. This represents what many feel is wrong with the industry – large companies willing to sacrifice human dignity and safety to save on their bottom line.

There have been countless examples of big fashion brands finding themselves caught up in controversy thanks to their supply chain, and the use of factories that pollute, employ child labor, mistreat workers or worse. Sadly, it took a major tragedy to open the eyes of millions to see exactly what goes into making the clothes on their backs.

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A Chocolate Addict’s Plea: Know Your Supply Chain Risks!

AlexaCheater

Cocoa powder represents a supply chain riskHi, my name is Alexa and I am a chocoholic. It’s been less than a day since my last indulgence.

There’s no two ways about it. When it comes to the cocoa-laden confectionery, I’m hooked. It doesn’t matter if it’s milk, dark or white. Anything with even a hint of chocolatey goodness will suffice – and sadly for my waist line, one little taste is never enough.

What’s even more unfortunate than the effect on my figure is that it’s about to get a whole lot more difficult to feed my addiction thanks to a lack of insight into supply chain risk. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently posted an article about the huge shortfall in the cocoa crop in Ghana. Dry weather coupled with the late application of vital pesticides to cocoa trees has caused the crop to shrink significantly, and sparked fears growers may not be able to deliver enough cocoa to fulfill their contracts. That means manufacturers will likely be scrambling to find enough cocoa to satisfy their chocolate producing needs.

Skyrocketing prices aside, this latest news is enough to send any chocolate lover to the store to stock up, and really puts the spotlight on a major supply chain risk in the $7 billion cocoa-futures market. As the WSJ points out, there is a drastic over reliance on the Ivory Coast and Ghana when it comes to the global cocoa supply chain. Together they account for more than half of the world’s cocoa supplies!

With that much of the world’s supply coming from one region, it’s no wonder the price and availability of chocolate fluctuates as wildly as it does. Natural disasters, poor growing conditions, pandemics, war, political and social unrest, terrorism and accidents can all have huge consequences on supply chains relying on either a single supplier, or suppliers who are all in the same geographic region.

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Step Five: Stage Five Supply Chain Planning System of Record (SCP SOR)

CarolMcIntosh

Forward Thinkers

Car on a foggy roadAs you can probably guess, this is the last step in reaching Stage Five for your Supply Chain Planning System of Record (SCP SOR).

Why can’t we predict everything?

Predictive analytics are one way to forward think. Quantitative analysis has really become popular and there is no lack of data. Data scientists are the new generation of supply chain planners. However, the assumptions and variables can be wrong… leaving you with a lot of data, but zero visibility. How do you manage the risk?

Supply chain is a risky business!

Risk management is being seen as a strategic imperative in supply chain. Events like natural disasters, world economic issues, regulatory changes, demand volatility all wreak havoc on your supply chain. With shorter lead-times and fierce competition, a missed delivery can result in losing customers and missing financial projections. A generic pharmaceutical company I worked with told us that when they miss a delivery to Walmart for a SKU they can loose the sales for the entire product line.

On the other hand, I have worked with a company that within a few hours after learning about the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011, were able to determine the impact of supplier late deliveries and very quickly find alternate sources of supply. How was this done?

They already had a risk management strategy in place using what if scenarios. When they modeled the impact of the tsunami, they created multiple versions of the data with different variables and assumptions. The scenarios were compared and quickly the best course of action was agreed upon. A recent Forbes article said ‘the more paths travelled the greater the likelihood of coming up with the best answer’. That is really what risk management is about. In a study completed by Accenture, they found that more than 75% of the 1,000 plus executives they interviewed consider operations risk management to be very important in addressing supply chain risk issues. They also learned that various industries have their own approach. The levers that they value for trade off decisions were different.

How does risk management relate to a SCP SOR?

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What your Dad can teach you about effective supply chain

AndrewDunbar

Co-author: Alvaro Fernandez

Dads can teach you a lot about supply chainHappy Father’s Day to all those hardworking dads out there! Ever notice how your dad’s advice always seems to come from a place of experience? He’ll always let you make your own mistakes, unless he’s already made those same mistakes himself. In honor of these dads’ accomplishments in the field of trial and error, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 lessons your dad can teach you about supply chain.

10. First pants, then shoes – Whether you’re getting dressed for work or increasing your supply chain maturity, it’s important not to get too far ahead of yourself. Make sure your supply chain solutions help you excel at each capability as you progress through the maturity model.

9. Know the risk – Ex. In principle, just-in-time processes are very efficient. You get to hold on to your hard earned money for longer, you don’t have to store extra inventory, and your workspace isn’t cluttered with things you don’t need yet. In practice, these high rewards comes with high risk. Dads have learned this the hard way by applying this approach to things like anniversary gifts, anniversary cards, and sorry-I-missed-our-anniversary flowers. It’s important to understand the risks in your supply chain, and to have the right mitigation strategies in place.

8. Never trust the salesman – As the saying goes, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Save yourself the hassle and choose proven and recognized solutions.

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Non-Traditional Supply Chain Pt 2: People

AlexaCheater

People can be considered non-traditional supply chainIn part one of this series I talked about how businesses trading in data as a commodity could be classified as using non-traditional supply chain. It was the most obvious case to prove non-traditional supply chain is actually a valid concept. After giving it some careful consideration, I can come up with an additional area that falls into the non-traditional supply chain category – people.

Take my sister for example. Her job requires her to travel to multiple hospitals in the region to provide a service, and she often has to visit more than one location in a single day. As her employer it would be nice to know exactly where she is, how much she has left to do at each location, and what her ETA is for arriving at the next one. Short of installing a tracking device and camera to monitor her every move (I’m sure she’d love that!), the only option is to put in place a standardized procedure where she checks in with her supervisor at regularly scheduled intervals to give a status update. Great in theory, but full of potential pitfalls in practice.

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What if… you really could “what-if” in your supply chain?

JohnWesterveld

What-if?We’ve all asked ourselves the question… what-if? What if I bought that new car? What if I took that job? What if I won a million dollars? It’s fun to dream. But sometimes the what-ifs are slightly more mundane yet still important…. especially when you say “what-if” with your supply chain.

  • What if I could decrease the lead time on this part? What impact would this have on safety stock?
  • What if I accepted this large order? Could I build it by the due date? What other orders are impacted?
  • What if my key supplier suddenly couldn’t deliver for three months? What would that do to my revenue? What customers are affected?
  • What if I shifted production to a new supplier that had much lower costs but higher lead times? What would that do to my margins? My inventory levels?

The list goes on… we’ve only barely scratched the surface of the types of what-if analysis that supply chain professionals try to do every day. The challenge supply chain planners and analysts face every day is that the tools they are provided really don’t support what-if analysis. ERP systems don’t support multiple simulation scenarios, they have fixed, part-by-part reporting that doesn’t support further investigation, and it takes hours to run the batch processes needed to evaluate a significant change.

Since they can’t effectively perform what-if analysis in the ERP system, supply chain analysts often need to model these key decisions using Excel. And while Excel is an excellent tool for doing basic models, it simply cannot effectively capture the complexity of a real supply chain. Layer on top of this, the errors that inevitably end up in any Excel model, and you are often making key strategic and tactical decisions based on a flawed model.

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Non-Traditional Supply Chain Pt 1: Data as a Commodity

AlexaCheater

Data represents a non-traditional supply chainAn interesting topic came up the other day at the office, the idea of non-traditional supply chain. Not non-traditional in the sense of a company that thinks and acts a little outside of what’s considered to be ‘normal’ supply chain operating processes. Rather, supply chains that don’t deal with material goods at all. Perhaps it’s because I’m a Millennial, part of Generation Y, and came of age at the same time the internet did, but my very first thought was of course there’s such a thing as non-traditional supply chain – just look at the data!

Anyone who works in traditional supply chain knows data is king. It plays an integral role in managing not only your sales and operations planning (S&OP), but rules the roost so to speak when it comes to making sure your supply chain is operating effectively. Without accurate and timely data, that’s also easily visible, you’re likely not making the best decisions for your business.

But what I’m talking about isn’t using data to enhance your supply chain. I’m talking about data as a commodity – and it’s a booming business right now.

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