Full Speed Ahead to Failure

AlexaCheater

Supply Chain SpeedVelocity. Speed. Quickness. In speaking with customers, I’ve heard a lot about how critical speed is in maximizing efficiency, agility, and profitability. I’ve heard how having the ability to know sooner and act faster in relation to opportunities and risks can make life a whole lot easier when it comes to supply chain management. And it’s abundantly clear that it does. All of the articles I’ve read and the examples I’ve come across have been focused on using speed to propel you toward success. But what about using it to take you full steam ahead toward failure?

To me it first seemed like a bit of a backward concept—until I learned to look at failure as just another form of victory in disguise. I went from asking myself why anyone would want to fail, to actually looking forward to my next mistake! And much to my surprise, what helped me come to this realization was hearing several prominent figures speaking about the failures they’ve experienced in their businesses and with their supply chains at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference.

Chris Tyas, Senior Vice President Global Head of Supply Chain from Nestle, gave a keynote on Supply Chain Innovation & Excellence: Engaging 36,000 Supply Chain Brains Across the World. While the focus was much more on crowdsourcing knowledge and ideas from within your own employee base, he did provide an example of supply chain failure. He mentioned the horse meat scandal from a few years ago, where several big businesses were found to have contaminated food products. Nestle originally came out saying there was no way they were involved—based on the fact their top tier suppliers weren’t implicated. Three days later, they had to retract that statement. A supplier much further along the chain, one they had no knowledge of, was using horsemeat in producing one of Nestle’s products.

What Tyas learned from that mistake was the importance of end-to-end visibility. What I learned was the importance of discovering your mistakes quickly—and then taking ownership of them. As soon as Nestle uncovered the problem, they took immediate action to correct the issue, from a public relations standpoint and from the supply chain side. It motivated them to be more aware of what was happening across their entire supply network, and more open and transparent with their customers.

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What is S&OP? By Accenture Strategy Guest Blogger

Steven J.Puricelli

S&OPA few weeks ago, I launched a new blog series on sales and operations planning (S&OP). In that introductory post, I outlined a number of important topics that I plan to explore in more detail throughout the summer. To make sure everyone is on the same page, I want to review the basics, the foundation, which is… what exactly is S&OP? I’ve seen and heard so many different answers and perspectives in response to this question. Therefore, I think it is important to share what I feel are some leading practices and also how leading organizations think about S&OP.

First of all, S&OP is indeed a process by most academic definitions (Merriam-Webster Link), as it follows a series of steps and activities with a particular cycle or cadence. And there are certainly meetings that occur throughout the process, but S&OP is not a meeting. S&OP is so much more than a process or a meeting. Yes, I’ve seen organizations that think they are ‘doing S&OP’ because they have a monthly meeting, but in fact they are actually missing the point of S&OP.

If one thinks about the purpose of S&OP, it is to ultimately match supply and demand, while balancing the cost (supply) and service (demand) tradeoffs of the supply chain. But as most of us know, addressing or solving this tradeoff is not linear in any way. Organizations face a recurring flow of supply chain imbalances that require decisions. S&OP serves to guide that decision making across the organization, making sure everyone is well informed and that trade-offs are analyzed and addressed properly. As a result, S&OP can be thought of more as an operating model to help organizations make better business decisions.

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Is Hyperloop the Next Great Supply Chain Technology?

MelissaClow
  • by Melissa Clow
  • Published

This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management.

hyperloopcargoWe’re always trying to stay on top of Supply Chain developments at Argentus. And this sometimes takes us into looking at the emerging technologies that are poised to have a significant impact on the function. We’ve talked about 3D printing, self-driving cars, automation and other 21st-century developments that could transform the way that products are brought to market – as well as the job descriptions and career paths of the Supply Chain professionals who manage that process.

Discussions of emerging technologies in the Supply Chain might be a bit far afield from the world of talent that we deal with as a recruitment firm, but they’re not as far away as you might think: the last decade’s emerging technologies (eCommerce and big data analytics) have already completely upended the skillset required by Supply Chain professionals, and changed the function from a talent standpoint into something very different than it used to be. So it doesn’t hurt to see what’s on the horizon.

Enter Hyperloop.

Hyperloop is a theoretical transportation technology, a long-awaited “fifth avenue” of transportation that uses vacuum tubes and linear induction motors to shuttle pressurized air capsules along a track, using a lack of friction to achieve speeds as high as 700 mph (approx. 1126km / h). The proposed first route between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cut travel times from 4 hours to 35 minutes. The idea sounds straight out of science fiction – like many of the other large-scale projects proposed and championed by its inventor, Elon Musk. But last week, Hyperloop had its first prototype test on an open track – and the test was successful – taking the idea from the realm of science fiction into actual possibility.

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The internet of (supply chain) things

JohnWesterveld

IOT Supply ChainLightbulbs that change colors from a command on your phone and turn on when you enter the room, thermostats that can figure out when you are in the house and adjust accordingly, refrigerators that e-mail you when you are out of milk, garage doors that let you know when they are open, doors that can be unlocked from your phone even when you are across the country, cars that drive themselves, tags you can put on your keys so you will never lose them again. These are all examples of the internet of things. Some of these examples are fluff and likely won’t pan out, others may be real game changers.

Being a bit of a techie nerd, I’ve been following the Internet of Things (IoT) evolution on the consumer device market for a while, but I honestly haven’t given much thought to how the IoT will impact supply chain. This morning, I happened upon a video presentation from MPI and Rockwell Automation titled A deeper dive into the industrial internet of things on the Industry Week website. The video was a report out and analysis of a survey that MPI had done on Internet of Things in the supply chain. There were lots of interesting facts and figures in the report, but one fact that stood out to me was this.

In a 2014 study, 46% of manufacturing executives didn’t know what the internet of things was. A logical extension of this is that they also wouldn’t know how IoT could impact the supply chain. Maybe it’s time to understand how IoT will interact with and ultimately change the Supply Chain.

So what is the Internet of things? The source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, describes the Internet of things as:

“…the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data”

For consumer devices, we’ve seen examples of this at work for a number of years. More and more devices are getting internet connections and are either sending or receiving data. But what about supply chain?

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Top 10 Reasons My Dad is Happy I’m in Supply Chain

BillDuBois
  • by Bill DuBois
  • Published

Father's DayWhen I told my dad I was going into supply chain, he grudgingly said, “That’s nice son,” and then whispered into my mom’s ear, “He’s not moving back in with us.” Well I think he finally came around after I moved all my stuff out of the house. Here are the top 10 reasons he was eventually happy I went into supply chain:

10. He doesn’t have to listen to me try to sing my way into the music business.
9. I could never be a doctor, I pass out at the sight of blood.
8. When I said I wanted to get into professional sports he said, “that’s fine son but I don’t think water boys make that much.
7. I wanted to be an inventor, but he didn’t like my solar powered night vision goggles idea.
6. He told me not to quit my day job when I practiced my standup comedy routine on him.

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Supply Chain Is at Its Best When You Can’t See It

JonathanMatthews

supply chain sightPlaying hockey the other night, there was a particularly boisterous individual on my bench. One of my teammates made the comment that essentially boiled down to, “they should be seen and not heard,” which started me thinking, strangely enough, about supply chain. When a supply chain is working at its best, the general population doesn’t see it and often has no concept of the complexities behind it. They’ll walk into the local department store, fill their carts with paper towel, clothes and cookies never taking a moment to ponder the supply logistics required to get those products into their cart.

They’ll of course see the transport trucks rolling down the road as they pass by, knowing their trailers are full of cargo, but they’ll never bother to think about how that order is triggered, the decisions involved with how much quantity to order, or the complexities (such as expiry dates) of getting that order to their local store. To our local consumer, supply chain is simply out of sight and out of mind; for all intents and purposes, it is invisible.

This is, of course, all thanks to supply chain managers working diligently to keep supply chain issues out of the news, but despite their best efforts, supply chain problems do happen. And unfortunately, when they do, it is spread throughout water cooler conversations, and if it is big enough, it’s on the news. For example, to look at an issue so painfully familiar with most, the absolute chaos of December Christmas shopping. Postal services get absolutely assaulted with packages, taxing them to the limit.

Moving a package from point A to B is simple enough… compared to other supply chain companies, such as a pharma company that needs to accurately forecast demand for a new drug which can be extremely expensive, manufacturing the product, and in some cases, worrying about expiration.

The Christmas rush, however, brings the supply chain process to the front of every consumer’s mind. Supply chain problems will be front and center of conversations with news media covering the whole spectacle. Delays here, even by a day, could mean a missed present on Christmas, which, to that 3-year old, means Christmas is ruined for the year.

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Leveraging Technology to Enable People

AlexaCheater

TechnologyPeople are the heart of your company and one of your company’s most valuable assets. That’s why practically every company strives to provide great compensation, benefits, offer new age work spaces, and cultivate engaging and fun cultures. All of this is needed just to keep up in the supply chain talent war. But one other key factor I’ve heard in talking with customers is providing the right tools for the job.

Give a quality tool to the right worker and they’ll create a masterpiece. It can be both that simple and that complex. Finding that tool, which in supply chain means technology, can be a daunting task. Balancing operating costs, and customer service metrics is no easy feat. But with the right supply chain technology, you can deliver breakthrough results. Processes that took days or even weeks can be effectively and efficiently accomplished in hours or minutes. Imagine higher customer satisfaction at lower costs. It’s about finding the best way to connect data, processes and people.

So how can you leverage supply chain technology to enable your team to achieve success? By ensuring whatever solution you deploy has a key set of capabilities designed to make it easier for you to work smarter, not harder.

Sense and Respond

Today’s supply chains are global, complex, and constantly shifting. Forecasts are often wrong. Knowing sooner when an event occurs, and the risks associated with any potential fallout, means less chaos. You and your team will be able to respond faster to change if you can rapidly make informed risk decisions based on scenario analysis and collaboration—two key features that should be requirements when evaluating any supply chain software solution.

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Design for the Supply Chain Pt 9: Thorough Down to the Last Detail

JonathanLofton

Design for the Supply Chain Can you believe we’re rapidly approaching the end of this series (Design for the Supply Chain) already!?! This week we’re talking about the meticulousness of the supply chain management solution.

Principle #8: Good design “Is thorough down to the last detail”

“Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.” – ‘Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design’

My first reaction to this was to say something about Apple and Steve Jobs (A Story About Steve Jobs And Attention To Detail), but I figured you’ve probably already heard those stories before. So I started reflecting instead on how best to pay attention to detail. “Nothing left to chance” means to me there’s a clear checklist of things that are carefully considered when establishing (or refining) the supply chain. This checklist would ensure the attention to detail goes beyond the vision of a single individual, or even trusting in corporate culture—both inevitably change over time. It would be systemic, a part of the structure of the company, and wouldn’t change without a conscience decision and a serious amount of thought.

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