Posts tagged as 'Supply chain'

Design for the Supply Chain Pt 7: Honest


We’re getting into the second half of 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 the honesty of the supply chain management solution.

Principle #6: Good design “Is honest”

“It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.” – ‘Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design’

This principle immediately brings to mind for me the Gartner hype cycle. As an example, below is the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2015.

Design for the Supply Chain is Honest

Source: Gartner

I like to think about the hype cycle as being similar to Tuckman’s model of group development: Forming–Storming–Norming–Performing where:

  • Innovation Trigger and Peak of Inflated Expectations ≈ Forming
  • Trough of Disillusionment ≈ Storming
  • Slope of Enlightenment ≈ Norming
  • Plateau of Productivity ≈ Performing

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Video: Trinity Rail – Building a Sense-and-Respond Supply Chain

  • by Melissa Clow
  • Published

How do you face uncertainty in your supply chain?

According to Mike Hegedus, vice president of supply chain management at Trinity Rail, one of the most difficult things a supply chain manager faces is uncertainty in the supply chain. In their business, there are so many different possibilities of train cars that can be built. And among those different car types, they’re customized in many ways for each customer – making it nearly impossible to forecast what the customer’s going to require.

Realizing that “the forecast is always wrong,” Trinity Rail opts instead to focus on creating a “sense-and-respond” supply chain, to deal with real-world developments in demand for transportation equipment.

In this video, Mike Hegedus explains how their ability to quickly satisfy those customer demands has improved since moving to a sense-and-respond operating model: “we get our executives from sales, operations, finance, and supply chain together on a weekly basis. And we review the demand situation to make decisions; very important decisions about how to handle these orders.” Having supply planning technology in place to have a flexible supply chain is an important component to make it possible to deliver on their business strategy.

Watch now: Trinity Rail – Building a Sense-and-Respond Supply Chain

Trinity Rail: Building a Sense-and-Respond Supply Chain

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Supply Chain Lessons from Prince and Other Fallen Musical Heroes

  • by Bill DuBois
  • Published

Musical Hero

The past year has not been kind to our musical idols. Although many have passed, including David Bowie, BB King, Glen Frey and most recently Prince, we’ll always have a phenomenal body of musical works to keep them alive in our hearts and minds. When you hear these names and their music you don’t immediately think supply chain, but for all the supply chain nerds out there we’re always thinking, ‘what’s the impact on the supply chain?’ Aside from family, now that my hockey team is out of the NHL playoffs, supply chain and music are what’s running through my brain.

As a guitar player myself, I was in total awe of Prince’s prowess on the fretboard. Check out the YouTube video of Prince soloing on While My Guitar Gently Weeps during George Harrison’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The smile on Harrison’s son at 4:46 of the video says it all when it comes to Prince. While watching the video I was thinking two things. He is the ultimate axe slinger / showman, and there will be a huge demand spike for everything purple. Thinking about the musical geniuses mentioned above there are few other helpful lessons we can take away in their memory.

Challenge the Status Quo

I’m huge Eagles fan. I couldn’t believe someone could tear up the guitar as well as Prince. So I paid close attention to the careers of both Glen Frey and Prince. From the time a song idea popped into their heads, until that song ended up as soundwaves directed at fans’ ears, they both were meticulous about the entire process. That includes the song writing, recording, and distribution of their works. Glen Frey for the most part fired Glyn Johns, the same guy who produced The Who, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones, because he wasn’t satisfied with the recording process. Glen and Prince also challenged the way music was distributed. For example, the Eagles completely bypassed the record companies to distribute their album The Long Road Out Of Eden. Instead they inked a deal to distribute directly with Walmart. If Prince had been a supply chain leader (just imagine that) he would likely be asking the same questions he asked during his musical career, ‘Why are we doing things this way?’ or ‘this isn’t good enough, what else can we do?’ We should ask the same questions about our supply chain processes and technologies all with the goal of achieving excellence.

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6 Prophetic Supply Chain Quotable Quotes

  • by Bill DuBois
  • Published

Prophetic Supply Chain Quotes

When I was growing up my parents always had a Reader’s Digest on the coffee table. When a new one came into the house I immediately went to either the ‘Points to Ponder’ or the ‘Quotable Quotes’. I guess they were your grandparent’s Twitter. In both cases there were great lessons in a couple sentences, most which would meet Twitter’s criteria of 140 characters. Although I don’t pick up Reader’s Digest as much, I still love a great quote. Here are six interesting supply chain quotes that provide some lessons along with a prophetic vision of the supply chain future.

1. “You need to start your supply chain conversation.” S&OP Demand Planning Manager, Sonus

Sales talk to Operations and Product Line Managers? What happened to just throwing it over the fence and letting things happen? In most cases the customer got what they wanted, close to when they wanted it. This quote is powerful because it implies getting ahead of potential problems and immediately driving to a solution that likely includes compromise, trade-offs, and dialog. Reacting and seeing impact after the fact won’t cut it anymore; start your supply chain conversation.

2. “If you had to wait a week for Google to respond, would you use it?” Dominic Thomas, VP Business Consulting, Kinaxis and Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine 2016 Provider ‘Pro to Know’

I was fortunate enough to hear Dominic present and when this line came out I committed it to memory. My immediate thought was the supply chain planning community is either extremely patient or has surrendered to Excel and legacy planning systems. This gets back to starting your supply chain conversation. Today asking a supply chain question like, ‘what’s the impact of a 20% demand increase?’ could mean another meeting while those who have to answer try and piece the response together. I didn’t include it as one of the quotes but I once heard a supply chain executive say, “It takes me three weeks to get the wrong answer.” Future supply chain planning processes should no longer include ‘waiting’ as one of the squares on the Visio flowchart.

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Video: Amgen Transforms Its Supply Chain Planning

  • by Melissa Clow
  • Published

Looking to transform your supply chain? Need some inspiration? In this video, Paul Collier, supply chain senior manager of Amgen, talks about the major initiatives that the company has undertaken to improve supply-chain planning, collaboration and regulatory compliance.

Amgen knew that the business was going to be coming into some major transformative change, in terms of international expansion and product candidates that were coming through for approvals. To make this transformation, they needed supply chain planning technology that would be able to respond to that transformative change in a fast, effectively and a quality manner.

Watch now: Amgen Transforms Its Supply-Chain Planning

Amgen Transforms Its Supply Chain Planning

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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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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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