Posts categorized as 'General News'

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


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


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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Show Them They Can Fly: Changing Mindsets About Supply Chain Management


Biplane flying in the skyI recently had the opportunity to hear our CEO John Sicard talk about the challenges supply chain software providers such as Kinaxis face when demonstrating to businesses the value in updating their supply chain management practices. It likely doesn’t come as any big shock to most of you that a lot of times, organizations are resistant to change. Very resistant. It seems like it’s just a basic part of human nature.

Unfortunately, in the case of supply chains, desperately trying to hold on to antiquated practices like relying solely on spreadsheets and spending countless hours attempting to build the perfect plan are doing more harm than good. In fact, they could be contributing factors in why a supply chain isn’t yielding positive results when it comes to key performance indicators (KPIs).

Innovation and evolution are part of growth. That’s a concept we firmly believe in here at Kinaxis and has been one of the driving factors behind our RapidResponse® solution. Since this isn’t a sales pitch, I won’t go into details about how we’re challenging the norm when it comes to traditional supply chain management practices. Suffice to say, it’s pretty mind blowing how game changing it has been for our customers (you can learn more here).

But since it’s human nature to resist change, how then do you convince the decision makers at a company it’s time to try something new? Simple. You show them they can fly!

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Amazon Shakes Up the Omni-Channel Supply Chain – Again


Woman utlizes omni-channel retailing by buying via her tablet.It seems like these days everyone in the retail space is playing a game of catch up to Amazon. The online retail giant has had an overwhelmingly strong impact on the way in which businesses sell their goods to the end consumer. Practically defining the very concept of omni-channel, they were early adopters of online and mobile sales. The switch they helped flip in consumer purchasing trends caused companies worldwide to scramble, desperate to play in these emerging and evolving new spaces. The result was a lot of stress on the supply chain, and the emergence of omni-channel strategies. Supply chain managers utilize a central stock pool to control a number of functions such as pricing, fulfillment, sales, stock management, and ordering. These orders are then fulfilled through numerous retail channels including physical stores, online, and now increasingly on mobile devices.

This shift to an omni-channel world has caused new concerns about supply chain efficiency, on-time delivery rates, customer satisfaction levels, and visibility. Flexibility and the ability to respond quickly are now paramount. Retailers have to worry about not only meeting demand, but ensuring they have the right amount of the right product available at the right location – whether that’s in a specific retail store, or a distribution center feeding online and mobile sales. Add in the fact they have to be able to deliver those goods in record time – in some cases same day – and the challenges for supply chain mangers in this omni-channel environment have skyrocketed.

With their domination in online sales, retailers had one final safe haven where Amazon wasn’t constantly a threat knocking on the door – the world of brick and mortar stores, still very much surviving in this digital age despite early predictions. Now that last bastion may have been breached.

Credited with starting the shift away from traditional retail outlets, Amazon is now beginning to buck the very trend they created. They opened their first physical location in November. An homage to their roots, Amazon Books in Seattle, Washington appears to be very much like your average bookstore. And while one location in itself may not be enough to cause widespread concern, the fact another 400 locations may be on the horizon, could be.

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Design for the Supply Chain Pt 2: Innovative


A look at kanban from an innovative viewpointI recently began reflecting on if the “10 Principles of Good Design” applied to supply chain and how we design for it. In this blog I will explore the first of Dieter Rams’ ten principles for good design to see how it applies to the supply chain and what practices are emerging as we transition to Industry 4.0.

Principle #1: Good design “Is innovative” – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.

Let me start by how I personally interpret these individual statements:

  • The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted.
    • I take this to mean that even with a new ‘twist’ added to it, the designed solution should be sound and adaptable enough to stand the test of time … to evolve. At the end of the day, it can’t be a fad.
  • Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs.
    • As technology evolves, the designed solution will not get thrown out but be further enabled to provide even more productivity, efficiency, etc.
  • But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
    • The designed solution should have an eye towards what’s coming next. I believe this statement is what makes the previous two achievable even though I’m not sure anyone could have seen all that’s been enabled through technological advances in the past 10-15 years.

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The Ongoing Impact of E-Commerce on the Supply Chain


e-commerce transaction on mobile phoneA recent post on Logistics Management cites some figures supporting the idea that e-commerce is a runaway train continuing to gather momentum. Based on data for the latest major shopping days, Cyber Monday has eclipsed Black Friday when it comes to sales numbers and what consumers did to meet their holiday shopping needs.

This finding continues a clear statistical trend. In Q2 2015, the U.S. Commerce Department reported e-commerce sales grew at 4.2 percent (compared to 1.6 percent for overall retail sales). This growth, combined with the impact digital commerce has on consumer behavior, has what the Wall Street Journal called “an outsize impact” on the supply chain.

Increased e-commerce volumes and omnichannel strategies are putting unprecedented demands on the supply chain. The rapidly changing demands of consumers (e.g., click and collect or click and next-day delivery) present a whole new set of challenges to retailers and e-tailers. They’re desperately searching for new supply chain and fulfillment solutions at every stage of operations, which includes demand forecasting, inventory management, warehousing strategies, technology integration, and distribution practices. Increasingly, manufacturers are turning from a traditional supply-driven orientation to demand-driven solutions to effectively meet e-commerce and omnichannel challenges to the supply chain. In fact, an article on the Journal of Commerce website notes visibility into the supply chain and agility in responding to change are key to mitigate risk and maximize opportunity in meeting the challenges e-commerce growth and the digital consumer present to the enterprise.

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Design for the Supply Chain Pt 1: Industry 4.0


good supply chain designMaybe because I was a Mechanical Engineer in a previous life I carry around a strong bias for good design (without debating what ‘good’ design is, I’ll just reference ‘Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design since it’s seemed to have stood the test of time). I’m always commenting to my wife about whether I think something is designed well or not.

These comments were more frequent and probably annoying when my boys were smaller and I had to assemble toys for Christmas! It seems that everywhere I look these days there are articles on design, the rise of Design Executive Officers (or some other term combining ‘creative’, ‘design’, ‘executive’, …). Without realizing it, I’ve amassed a decent sized favorites folder of web sites related to design.

I was recently reviewing the series of excellent blogs by John Westerveld (“Your supply chain is costing you money – …”), which got me to reflecting on my personal experiences and research to see if I could connect the dots between some of these costly shortfalls and the concept of ‘good’ design for the supply chain.

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