The Sensing + Intelligent + Social Supply Chain: Why do you need it?


For Global Supply Chain Visibility and Faster Decision Making

Global supply chain visibilityMy earlier blog talked about what the Sensing + Intelligent + Social Supply Chain is. So why do you need one? If you’re experiencing supply chain pain points around lack of visibility, slow decision making, or poor collaboration, these may be the symptoms that will help answer that question.

Most existing planning solutions were developed in the 1990s. At the time, they represented big improvements in planning capacity. But, most companies still had supply chains that were almost entirely housed within their own four walls. That’s not the case anymore. Supply chain globalization has exploded. Market needs have expanded exponentially. Companies have surpassed the capabilities of these dated solutions and need full global supply chain visibility.

Today’s supply chains often have data housed in multiple locations. These can include multiple enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, product life cycle management systems (PLM), ad-hoc databases, and most commonly, mass amounts of Excel spreadsheets. The inherent latency in these islands of data reduces the speed and effectiveness of decision-making. More time is spent collecting and consolidating data than making planning decisions.

No matter how many systems are used, or how much data is available, if decision-making isn’t rapid, the quality of those decisions will suffer. Planning delays lead to higher inventory levels, lower capacity utilization, and subpar on-time delivery performance. As companies become leaner, it becomes clearer that decisions must be made more quickly.

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3 Challenges to Supply Chain Collaboration


Supply Chain CollaborationToday’s supply chains are more complex than ever before. Businesses are facing greater volatility, more uncertainty and unprecedented and unexpected risks. The time it takes to make critical decisions is lengthening, dramatically cutting into companies’ bottom lines. Why? In large part due to the negative impacts of poor collaboration.

So what’s causing this lack of communication across companies? The answer is threefold.

  1. Data extraction and analysis is happening in siloes. Each department is taking a vertical approach to reporting, where the focus is on individual functional metrics, instead of the health of the entirety of the supply chain network.
  2. Processes and functions have conflicting goals. Managers across the organization are responsible for one specific department, one set of priorities. Oftentimes they’re unaware of what other departments are doing. There’s an absence of communication between departments and business units.
  3. Globally distributed teams. There’s nothing wrong with having teams spread out over vast geographies, but there needs to be effective and continual communication. Without it, decisions are made with little understanding of cross-functional impact, causing minor speed bumps to become road closures.

Essentially, there’s a fundamental disconnect between the data, the processes and the people overseeing the supply chain, which is impacting the ability to collaborate. It’s time to break down these communication siloes and work together harmoniously.

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Supply Chain Risk Management: Could You Face a Category 4 Supply Chain Disaster?


Supply chain risk managementWith Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful storm to threaten the Atlantic Coast in over 10 years that has already brought severe damage to Haiti, the Bahamas and several Southeastern U.S. states, obvious disruptions to supply chains and supply chain risk management were a given. Many of the states affected contained key ports and supply destinations, as well as transportation and logistics hubs. These ports accounted for 18.3% of U.S. container import shipments and 49.8% of east coast and Gulf of Mexico imports in September, according to an article from the Business Information Industry Association.

  • Starting with Miami, this port primarily handles containerized cargo with small amounts of breakbulk, vehicles and industrial equipment. It is the largest container port in the state of Florida and ninth in the United States.
  • Going up the coast in Jacksonville, FL, there is a huge port that receives the second-most automobiles in the US along with all types of cargo.
  • Heading further north along the coast is Savannah, GA, home to the largest single container terminal in the United States. In 2015, the Port of Savannah moved 8.2% of total U.S. containerized loaded cargo volume and more than 18% of the East Coast container trade.
  • A little more northward up the coast is the port of Charleston, SC. In 2016, this port handled 1.1 million containers, moved 1.2 million tons of non-containerized cargo and had the most productive crane moves in the U.S.

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Building a Supply Chain Masterpiece with Concurrent Planning


concurrent planningThere’s something to be said about the resiliency of a really good supply chain. One that’s able to quickly respond to those unexpected problems, easily adapt to changing industry conditions and make waves with its innovative, yet still efficient, processes. It’s like a piece of moving artwork – all those intricacies and people working behind the scenes to deliver exactly what the masses of the world want, when and where they want it.

But as a seemingly growing number of companies face very public breakdowns in their supply chains, it’s becoming increasingly clear very few organizations actually have these masterpieces within their midst. Failure to keep pace with consumer demands. Inability to react to unanticipated risks like environmental disasters or political unrest. Breakdown in cross-functional communication. All present supply chain challenges that need to be overcome.

Traditional supply chain processes tend to be linear in nature. Plan, then execute. Plan demand, then plan supply, then plan capacity, then plan inventory, etc. If a potential risk interrupts one of those steps, it’s back to the beginning, starting all over again with a new plan – and that’s assuming they even noticed the problem before execution, which wasn’t always the case… Doesn’t seem like a very efficient model, does it?

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Crossdocking a Way to Marry Your Supplier with Your Customer


The major concern of big organizations in implementing an efficient supply chain network is improving the flow of material throughout a complex network. One way to improve the flow is with crossdocking and to expedite the process of materials throughout the supply chain channel. In this post, I would like to review the transformation of distribution center operations by using IT solutions to expedite the flow of products and minimize the cost of inventories.

The Trouble with Traditional Supply Chain Networks

Let’s start with a simple example (figure 1): The distribution center provides a consolidation point in the supply chain network and acts as a buffer to reduce the number of shipments and manage uncertainty. In a daily distribution process, the shipment of plants 1 and 2 arrive to distribution centers 1 and 2, are off loaded, and stored. When the distribution centers receive the demand from the customers (C1 to C4), they begin the replenishment process by retrieving the products from storage, loading them, and shipping them off. These processes are non-value added from the customer point of view, and considered waste. The best solution to eliminate or reduce these non-value added processes is to get the plants to the distribution centers at the right time, consolidate on the spot, and ship to customers with the right quantity.

This holistic view of supply chain operations was hard to achieve in the past. In traditional supply chain networks, each site only corresponds to its next level transfer site, and lacked the information and visibility to connect the supply and demand efficiently. However, the beauty of end-to-end supply chain solutions with the help of IT is having the visibility of the entire network beyond one site and customer.Cross docking

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Ooh, Scary Stuff, Kids. Tales from the Supply Chain Crypt.


Halloween Supply Chain ManagementWarning: This blog post isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, I should include a PG-13 rating on it. Just kidding, although, for those involved, the scare factor must’ve been pretty high at times.

Halloween is big business. In fact, National Retail Federation’s annual survey estimates that enthusiastic celebrators will spend an estimated 8.4 billion on Halloween – an all-time high in the survey’s 11-year history. You could say the pressure’s on for retailers to deliver the costumes, treats and decorations demanded by the estimated 171 million Americans planning to partake in Halloween festivities.

But the scary truth is that sometimes retailers can’t deliver. Often, unexpected events such as suppliers failing to deliver, software glitches and even Mother Nature can wreak havoc with even the best supply chains.

On that note, I’d like to share some tales that undoubtedly still “haunt” the parties involved.

The great pumpkin shortage scare

What are Halloween and Thanksgiving without pumpkins?  In October 2015, it was a frightening thought for fans of falls’ favorite flavor. Predictions warned that only those who got to the store weeks before Thanksgiving would find canned pumpkin. A pie-making crisis was inevitable.

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Improving Supply Chain Collaboration: Connecting Data


Supply chain collaborationWelcome to the first blog post in our three-part series discussing three ways to improve supply chain collaboration.

Maybe I’m stating the obvious but… a lot has changed in the world of manufacturing since Keith Oliver of Booz, Allen and Hamilton Inc. coined the term “supply chain management” in early 1982.

Move over, 1982, it’s 2016.

It’s no surprise that today’s supply chains are more complex than those of three decades ago. They face ever-growing volatility, uncertainty and risk. Lack of visibility and collaboration in supply chain management is dramatically impacting the time it takes to make critical decisions. And, in the end, sometimes those decisions end up being wrong ones.

Making informed decisions fast comes down to collaboration – how effectively the data, processes and people who oversee the supply chain can connect, communicate and interact with one another. But, for many organizations, there’s a distinct disconnect between data, processes and people that is preventing collaboration.

What’s inhibiting collaboration and, more importantly, what can be done to fix what ails? You’ll find the answers in the new eBook, 3 Ways to Improve Supply Chain Collaboration. The book looks at how companies can foster ongoing supply chain collaboration by eliminating the disconnects between data, processes and people.

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Future of End-to-End Supply Chain Management: 3 Megatrends to Watch For


End to end supply chain managementSupply chains today are in a state of transition. Demand patterns are changing. Key supplier locations are shifting. Technology is evolving more rapidly than ever before. And making sure your end-to-end supply chain management is equipped to keep up has become a looming challenge on every supply chain manager’s mind.

Kevin O’Marah, the Chief Content Officer for SCM World, shared his predictions on three megatrends coming to the supply chain industry as the opening keynote presenter at Kinexions, Kinaxis’ annual user and training conference.

First on the list was people – changing demographics and population growth. New projections by the United Nations suggest the world’s population may surpass 10 billion by 2100. Asia and Africa will continue to widen the gap as the most populous regions. More people means more demand. Growth in Asia and Africa means shifting logistics and manufacturing locales to make meeting that demand in a speedy and efficient manner possible.

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