Big changes coming to the supply line, just not where you thought they’d be


Self-Driving TruckWhen talking about exciting new advancements that are coming to the supply chain, the discussion will always usually end up focused around 3D printing. Rightly so, as the 3D printer has opened up new opportunities never before possible in the supply chain. Rather than having to wait for a specialized part, companies can now print the part they need right on site. This can be a huge time and cost saver for companies involved in projects, but when looking at the overall supply chain worldwide, 3D printing is a pretty niche example. Even with 3D printers popping up everywhere, changing the way companies rely on the supply chain, there will always be limitations.

Sure, 3D printers might be able to print space habitats on Mars, but they can’t print everything and there will always be a need to transport an item(s) from one destination to another. 3D printing is revolutionary, but there is another absolute game changer about to deploy in the supply side that is an evolution; self-driving trucks. When looking at the amount of freight moved just in America alone, there was 9.2 billion tons (primary shipment only) moved by truck representing 67% of the total tonnage moved in 2011.

We’ve all heard about Google (to be correct, Alphabet since Google Inc re-organized itself into its new hierarchy structure) and Tesla in their efforts to create self-driving cars for the mass car buying public, but other companies, especially trucking companies, have not been standing idly by in this field either. As reported by The Guardian a number of European truck manufactures recently collaborated on creating a convoy of more than six semi-autonomous (semi-autonomous because there was still a back-up human driver) trucks that drove from Sweden and south Germany to a port in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Although not ready for complete autonomous driving yet, we can certainly see in the very near future (2018?) a convoy of trucks, completely unmanned driving across the highways of the world.

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Tesla’s Big Gamble


TeslaIf you’re a supply chain nerd like me, you’ve probably noticed that Tesla’s been making some pretty big waves in the auto industry. It seems Tesla is poised to be the first company to truly take advantage of a new market segment. People are looking for vehicles that are environmentally responsible, technologically advanced, safe, sexy, and affordable to the average Joe. Their new Model 3 meets all of this criteria, and has a range about double that of comparable vehicles. They’ve nailed the customer requirements so well that they’ve received over 320,000 pre-orders in the first week, even though deliveries aren’t slated to begin until the end of 2017.

To meet this demand, Tesla hopes to reach a production rate of 500,000 vehicles per year by 2020. Wait… what? 500K per year, but not until 2020? Even if they managed to accelerate their production schedule to achieve 500K per year at the end of 2017, they still have at least an 8 month backlog before they even deliver their first car. On the surface, this seems like an unprecedented supply chain challenge. Their level of success at building this new supply chain will make or break their business. To make it even harder, due to the incredible amount of money involved and the sex-appeal of the product, they’ll be undergoing their supply chain revolution with a level of public scrutiny normally limited to the latest iPhones!

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Video: What’s Driving Change in Supply Chain Management?

  • by Melissa Clow
  • Published

How are companies meeting the challenge of big data, the Internet of Things and the need for change management? How does the big trends affect supply chain management?

In this video, hear a wide-ranging roundtable discussion with industry leaders about how companies are meeting the challenge of big data, the Internet of Things and the need for change management — all with the goal of improving the planning function and achieving end-to-end supply-chain visibility. This discussion features Mark Ramirez, chief technology officer with Trinity Rail; Josh Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting, Trevor Miles, vice president of product innovation with Kinaxis; and Bob Bowman, managing editor of SupplyChainBrain.

Watch now: What’s Driving Change in Supply-Chain Planning?

What's Driving Change in Supply Chain Planning?

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Connecting the Supply Chain Dots


While recently watching a great video series featuring supply chain leaders from companies like Roland DG, Merck, Schneider Electric, TrinityRail, and more, one thing really stood out. The value of connecting the dots. Connecting the Supply Chain Dots

While connecting the multitude of dots in your value chain may seem like an insurmountable task, rest assured it can be done—and without pulling out all your hair in the process! These global enterprise companies are proof of that. But don’t let growing complexity in your own supply chain keep you from trying. By developing more agile processes and a better picture of your end-to-end supply chain, you’ll be able to quickly and confidently make the necessary decisions to support your business’s corporate goals.

What does it mean to connect the dots?

Connecting the dots means being able to draw a continuous line from one end of your supply chain all the way to the other—from customers to as far down the supplier network as you can get. It’s a complete look at both your upstream and downstream nodes, and also includes all your internal data steams coming from existing ERPs, distribution centers, factories, etc. But be warned, this isn’t about a one-way flow of information. Your relationship with your suppliers and customers should be symbiotic, with information passing freely back and forth, feeding into the same data pool—the same version of the truth—to ensure everything is on track and running smoothly, or provide the necessary details to analyze and course correct if it’s not.

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Design for the Supply Chain Pt 6: Unobtrusive


We’re continuing to reflect on the “10 Principles of Good Design” as applied to supply chain and supply chain management (Design for the Supply Chain). This week we’re talking about being able to use supply chain management tools in an uninhibited way.

Principle #5: Good design “Is unobtrusive”
Swiss army knife
“Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.” – ‘Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design

I really like the idea of leaving room for the user’s self-expression. To me this means making sure there’s space for creativity and innovation (Principle #1). We need to have parameters or ‘guardrails’ in place to ensure that proper business process flow is occurring, otherwise it becomes hard to produce consistent results. On the other hand, we have exceptional professionals who are capable of bringing new ideas to bear on the supply chain design. We want the user to be able to take the designated management tools (e.g. reports, multi-dimensional analysis, dashboards, scorecards, etc.) and reconfigure them to see information in a way that makes the most sense to them individually (recall Principle #4). We also want the user to be able to create scenarios to experiment with various ideas about what can be changed to improve results.

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Video: Merck’s End-to-End Supply Chain Vision

  • by Melissa Clow
  • Published

Does your organization struggle to make sure all the nodes within the supply chain are connected? Do you have an approach to collaborative planning?

In this interview, Andy Walker, head of supply chain strategy with Merck, details how they are making sure all the nodes within the supply chain are connected so they do not work in isolation. Because the supply chain is connected from an end-to-end perspective, they can take true customer demand and drive that through the supply chain down to manufacturing sites and suppliers, which allows the company to respond faster to customer needs.

Andy also speaks about the company’s new approach to collaborative planning. From an execution perspective, the company ensures there’s a consistent set of information being delivered to the manufacturing facility, or contract manufacturer, to enable them to do what they’re really good at, which is scheduling and manufacturing the product. The net result is less inventory sitting around, better balance between supply and demand, knowing the revenue risk, working out the profitability and having a true understanding of the margin.

Watch now: Merck’s End-to-End Supply Chain Vision

Merck's End-to-End Supply Chain Vision

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Amazon’s Supply Chain Innovation Delivers Results


There’s no denying Amazon is a Goliath in the online marketplace. Selling more than 480 million products, a mix of its own items and products drop-shipped by others; its supply chain is a force to be reckoned with.

I’ve written before about how the company is revolutionizing omni-channel strategies, but a recent post and infographic by MBA@Syracuse, the university’s online MBA program, shines a spotlight on just how customer-centric Amazon’s supply chain really is.

According to the article, “Amazon continues to reinvest all of its free cash flow into growth initiatives rather than shareholder dividends and to pioneer innovative approaches, such as delivery drones.” That plan appears to be working as many customers see Amazon as the golden standard when it comes to fast, reliable, online retailers.

By beginning with the customer and working backwards, Amazon’s supply chain management team has had to up its game, keeping pace with the company’s constantly evolving definition of rapid delivery, which now includes Prime Now, promising two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items to Amazon Prime members.

So how does the supply chain handle it all? Through the use of innovative technology like 1-Click ordering, patented in 1997, and ‘anticipatory shipping’, a predictive algorithm patented in 2013 that starts boxing and moving products before the shopper clicks buy.

MBA@Syracuse notes that after an order is placed, “delivery takes one of several paths, depending on the order’s dollar amount, size and weight, geography, and customer inputs.”

Take a look at a simplified view of its supply chain.

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Proud to be Recognized as One of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers for 2016

  • by Melissa Clow
  • Published

As a leading supply chain management cloud provider, we are proud to be named one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers.

Kinaxis Awarded Canada's Top Small & Medium Employer

First created in 2014 by the editorial team at Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Kinaxis has won the national honor every year since its inception. Designed to recognize outstanding private-sector commercial organizations with fewer than 500 employees, the award helps Canadians learn what the most innovative small and medium employers have to offer.

“Given our recent rapid growth, we’re thrilled to again be recognized as one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers,” says Megan Paterson, Vice President of Human Resources at Kinaxis. “We believe no matter the size of the business, employee satisfaction should always be a priority. We aim to provide our team ample opportunity to be adventurous and self-empowered in their roles, encourage them to be real in their interactions with each other and our customers, and to laugh often—after all, it is a key ingredient to a happy, healthy life!”

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