Agility and flexibility in the age of digital supply chains – Insights from the 2017 Supply Chain & Logistics EMEA summit & expo

Dr. MadhavDurbha

2017 Supply Chain & Logistics EMEA summit & expoAs supply chain professionals, we can grow insular in our thinking, as on a day-to-day basis we risk confining ourselves narrowly to our domain of responsibility or solving challenges specific to our regions. However, from time to time, it is important to find opportunities to network with our peers from different regions or from different functional domains and learn from each other. The 2017 Supply Chain & Logistics EMEA summit & expo was one such opportunity. About three hundred supply chain professionals from various pockets of the world representing manufacturers, retailers, logistics providers, and technology vendors took part in the summit. It was a 3 day event with some very provocative content while providing sufficient opportunities for networking and peer-to-peer learning. Here are the key takeaways for me from the event.

1. Innovation in the warehouse: Markus Kückelhaus of DHL trend research, in two separate panels gave very compelling presentations on the innovation DHL is driving in the warehouse. One of them is Augmented Reality (AR). Through the pilots that DHL conducted, AR is showing tremendous productivity gains in the warehouse such as a 25% gain in picking productivity. Through the use of wearables, employees are able to navigate, scan, pick, and put away product. These wearables are eliminating the need for the associates to carry scanners, freeing up both hands to be more productive. There was also some discussion around AR vs VR (Virtual Reality). While VR has some potential in terms of testing out layouts and such, Markus observed that for the most part the potential for VR seems to be fairly minimal in the warehouses as compared to AR.

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Winds of change in freight transportation supply chain: Platooning technology

CarmenHumplik

Freight transportationEvery year, the city of Ottawa hosts an event called Doors Open Ottawa. Approximately 150 historically, culturally, and functionally significant buildings open their doors to the public. If you’re a resident of the city, it’s a great way to explore your own backyard as it allows you to gain access to buildings that are normally closed to the public.

This year, my family and I decided to take advantage of the event and visit National Research Council (NRC), Canada’s 9 m wind tunnel testing facility. This is the third largest wind tunnel testing facility in the world. Their testing spans across many industries including aerospace, automotive, surface transportation, construction, energy, and sports.

Our tour guide, one of the researchers at the facility, was speaking about both their past and current projects. I found it interesting to discover that one of their current projects has direct impact on supply chains; more specifically, on freight transportation. They are currently testing the aerodynamics of trucks driving in a peloton formation, which is also known as platooning.

Platooning is a technique that is similar to those employed in cycling road races where cyclists ride in close formation to help them conserve energy and reduce drag. When you reduce the distance between trucks (somewhere around 5 to 10 meters), you can also reduce drag, and, as a result, save on fuel and lower C02 emissions. Advocates for truck platooning also claim that it could have the added benefit of improving highway safety because it better controls speed and could help reduce chain collisions.

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Kinaxis RapidResponse selected by Santen for supply chain planning

MelissaClow

Santen Pharmaceuticals Santen Pharmaceuticals has begun a significant transformation of its global supply chain environment. Santen is headquartered in Osaka, Japan and the company sells ophthalmic pharmaceutical products in approximately 60 countries. The company was looking for a single end-to-end planning platform that would reduce global planning cycle times and raise efficiency.

I’m thrilled to share that Santen Pharmaceuticals has selected Kinaxis RapidResponse for supply chain planning. Following a thorough evaluation, Santen selected Kinaxis RapidResponse because of its concurrent planning capabilities. With the deployment of RapidResponse, Santen will reduce global planning times, manual activity and eliminate the use of multiple disconnected spreadsheets. Having a consolidated view of the entire supply chain, Santen will plan for its expected performance, monitor its progress, and respond to variations to the plan as reality hits.

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4 unstoppable forces that WILL change your end-to-end supply chain

AlexaCheater

ChangeIf there’s one thing you can count on in supply chain, it’s that things will change. Often. It could be as relatively small as a last minute order or engineering change, or as big as an industry-wide shift that sends your end-to-end supply chain spinning in an entirely new direction. At the recent Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, there was a lot of talk about the latter. As it turns out, that future state we’ve all been speaking about for years isn’t as far off as you might think. It’s already here and the impacts on your supply chain are happening right now—whether you’re aware of them or not.

Gartner Research Director Tom Enright gave an enlightening presentation on Future Supply Chains for the Digital Era and Beyond, and shared some unstoppable forces in motion right now that will change the very notion of supply chain. If you haven’t already started to embrace and prepare for this new digital future, you may already be too late.

1. The customer

Customers have always been at the heart of supply chain. That much isn’t new. What’s changing is how they want to engage and interact with it. As I mentioned in an earlier blog about the Gartner conference, customers are demanding you deliver an experience, not just a product. They want a continuous, seamless experience that blurs the lines across companies, retailers and partners.

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The changing role of IT organizations in supply chain management

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Information technology in supply chain managementI recently read this very interesting book, “Be the Business: CIOs in the new era of IT” by Martha Heller. In the book, the author made several very interesting observations about how the role of a Chief Information Officer is changing in the age of cloud computing, personalization of tech, and the rise of shadow IT. As I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own experience of working with IT organizations over the last two decades I have been in the supply chain business. Let us examine the shifts that happened. I will lean on the Supply Chain Planning space as an example and relate to the broader shifts in the role of IT in supply chain management.

1. The disillusionment with the establishment: In the late 90’s, i2 Technologies (the company where I started my career) was blazing a new trail in supply chain planning technology as most companies know it today. Manugistics was a strong contender to i2. However, the market was small enough that it was largely ignored by the big ERP vendors for a while. With the promise of these newer and exciting technologies at the time, IT organizations opted for a “best-of-breed” strategy bringing together the best of the ERP platforms and the specialty supply chain vendor capabilities.

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The top 25 supply chains and Survivor

CJWehlage

Gartner top 25 supply chainA few years ago, Kevin O’Marah said Gartner’s Top 25 Supply Chains was getting increasingly boring. Apple and P&G were annually #1 and #2. So Gartner looked at the numbers and created the Masters category. The criteria in qualifying for the Masters category is any company who has been in the top five rankings for at least seven out of the past 10 years. This year, Amazon was voted off the regular list, and joins Apple and P&G in this Masters category. In 2019, it’s likely both Unilever and McDonald’s will also be voted off the island and move into the Masters category, as well.

Gartner’s Top 25 Supply Chains has become like watching Survivor, the reality TV show that places people on a remote location, where they outwit, outplay and outlast the others. I laugh when they vote out the Navy Seal or the Triathlete. Then, they have no food and lose the following week’s challenge. At tribal council, they wonder why they lost. Easy answer here – vote out the best and the tribe gets weaker. Or, as Nature Boy Ric Flair says, “If you want to be the man, you gotta beat the man.” Something needs to be done differently in the Masters category if Gartner wants to avoid simply having two lists.

Once again – Peer vs Gartner

Another change needed is the vast difference between how the 169 peers vs the 38 Gartner analysts rank the companies.

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[Video] Digital Technology and Strategies for Effective Knowledge Sharing

MelissaClow

This blog is part of a video interview series. Check out the video below as well as links to other supply chain practitioner and Kinaxis executive interviews.

Even though some traditional forms of learning continue, companies are turning more and more to digital technology and learning tools to collect, analyze and share knowledge, says Sarah Sedgman, Kinaxis chief knowledge officer.

While familiar forms, such as instructor-led teaching, continue to some degree, industry is shifting to digital knowledge networks because of the flexibility the technology offers. “Among other things, that flexibility means there is instant access to information when people need it,” says Sedgman.

Companies that may once have been slow to invest in such technology see now that they become more efficient and make better decisions, Sedgman says. “It’s important for us to invest in these technologies and become more familiar with them, and that’s true all the way up to the executive team, not just those who are actually using these technologies.”

Strategies for Effective Transfer of Knowledge

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A game changer for today’s e-commerce companies: How efficient supply chain management helped Home Depot evolve

IlyasKucukcay

e-Commerce supply chainOver the last few decades, small and medium size (SME) companies have been leveraging their daily and long-term operations by using more efficient supply chain delivery and optimization techniques. Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) companies are also following this trend to step their game up and deliver their goods and services by shorter production and delivery times.

Logistics is one of the critical subjects for e-commerce companies. In a sense, logistics refers to the art of managing the flow of materials to deliver the product to the customers. Throughout the process of designing, manufacturing and delivering the product, companies can utilize their logistics activities within –and certainly not limited to- two domains.

Physical supply

Physical supply refers to the portion of logistics that covers activities to deliver the product-related materials to the suppliers.

Physical distribution

Physical distribution is the part where the company plans the delivery of the final product to the customers.

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