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supply chain planning

Imagine 2030: Supply Chain Talent

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This year’s Supply Chain Insights’ annual global conference moves to our hometown of Atlanta, a town deep in supply chain history from the crossroads of the early train routes to the hub of many of today’s leading brands, and supply chain services and technology providers. As we welcome the industry thought leaders, practitioners, educators and more, I started to think about the conference’s theme, Imagine 2030, and a topic on the minds of many supply chain executives: talent. While 2030 may seem like a long way off, it will be here before we know it. In that time, the supply…

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Supply Chain Lessons from Camelback Mountain

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It was a hot afternoon in Scottsdale on the day after Labor Day with temperatures over 100o F when about a dozen of us assembled for a hike up on Camelback Mountain. The hike was intended to be a networking activity for attendees at this year’s Supply Chain Insights Summit.  We had arrived from near and far – some from as far away as Europe.   Before starting on the hike, our guides gave us three lessons:  First, the journey is itself the goal.  Reaching the summit will be nice but it is not our objective.  Our goal is to enjoy…

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Characters standing on puzzle pieces

A Buy-Side Blogger’s View (Part 1): What I Learned at the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit

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Lora was kind enough to invite me to attend the global summit a few weeks ago and while I meant to do some live blogging, I was too busy taking it all in and writing it all down, and now I’m staring at 12 pages of ‘knowledge inventory’. The value of flow and moving smaller lot sizes is not lost on me here. Anyway, needless to say, it was great to be back at the Phoenician with Lora (an homage of sorts to the good old AMR days), and with a broader supply chain community. Procurement and inbound SCM is…

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Imagine (Sometimes it takes a Supply Chain Brain)

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Imagine.   Later today, Lora Cecere’s Global Summit kicks off in Phoenix.   This is the flag ship program for Supply Chain Insights (the analyst firm run by Lora Cecere) and it is absolutely a team effort, with lots of work by those who work for and with Lora.  But I purposefully called it Lora Cecere’s Global Summit, because it is Lora’s unending energy and passion around supply chain that makes this event unique among the growing number of supply chain events being held around the globe.  More importantly, it is her ability to challenge us to stop, even if for a…

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Supply Chain of 2025: Global with Strong Regional Characteristics

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Recently, I participated in a podcast with Lora Cecere where we discussed the following question: What would the supply chain of 2025 look like? Questions like this are always fun to consider. Of course, they would be easier to answer if one had a crystal ball. Below is where my mind went as we discussed this topic. One of the things I have found quite remarkable in the last couple of years is how quickly cutting edge products are becoming available through big parts of the developing world. It seems the information revolution and the internet age have ensured people…

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Steps 4 & 5 to Regain Manufacturing Prowess

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4. Construct and deploy sensible metrics The current manufacturing metrics of efficiency, keeping all machines busy all the time (utilization), and overhead absorption were developed after the stock market crash of 1929. Any manufacturing manager can tell you what products are really the most profitable. Rarely does the formal accounting system come up with the same answer. Sensible metrics must be deployed that encourage better integration of various components within the company. These metrics align resources, working capital, and activities to the company goal of being sustainably profitable. Sustainable profitability is far more important than short-term operational efficiency. 5. Learn…

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My Vision for Supply Chain 2020? Deep integration!

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I recently got interviewed as a blogger for the Global Summit. The question was how I imagine the Supply Chain in 2020. My first thought went to ‘deep integration’. What strikes me the most when I’m consulting or teaching companies is the lack of integration in today’s supply chains. If I look at retailers it is still common to have private label suppliers stuffed with inventory, central or regional DC’s stuffed with inventory and shops stuffed with inventories. We all demand high service levels from one step to the next. There seems to be a lack of trust, a lack…

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Steps 2 & 3 to Regain Manufacturing Prowess

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Develop and use “Thoughtware” Companies must invest and unleash the intellectual capital within their organizations. Too many companies are spending fortunes on hardware and software and getting little return on that investment. While technology continues to advance, there is still no substitute for thinking. Hardware and software are ineffective without the right “thoughtware.” Currently America’s educational system prepares students for more education rather than teaching them to think critically and adapt to a changing environment. The late Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt, author of “The Goal,” frequently commented that the average manager would rather spend $5 million than spend 5 minutes thinking….

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Car manufacturing production line

Five Steps to Regain Manufacturing Prowess

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Supply chains reach around the world but in this first blog, since the upcoming conference is in my home town, I am going to focus on what is going on here at home.  Reading the news  so many proclaim that American manufacturing is gone, never to return. The numbers certainly are frightening. In just the last 10 years, America has lost more than 2 million manufacturing jobs. The unemployment rate in manufacturing continues at double digits today.  This same situation is found in several countries around the world especially in Europe. Yet other signs point to a possible resurgence.  A…

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How Do We Get to Outside-in?

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While supply chain leaders will stand up at conference after conference and brag about how they saved money, improved inventory and driven improvements in customer service, we find that nine out of ten supply chains are stuck—not making progress—at the intersection of inventory turns and operating margin. So, did these supply chain leaders deliberately lie in their presentations? No, we don’t think so. Why the gap? I think that three things have happened: Project Focus within Vertical Silos. Most of the stories told at the conferences are vertically-focused projects within an organization. These projects are approved based on a defined…

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