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APICS Supply Chain Management Now

Good Ideas to Inspire Your Own

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE - January 24, 2014

Supply Chain Management Now

When was the last time you heard a great idea? Better yet, when is the last time you had a great idea? Last week, Fast Company shared “5 Visions of What Transportation Will Look Like in 2030,” and I want to highlight them for you—not just because they are cool. But because they might help you think about your work challenges with a new and innovative perspective.

The magazine focused on the most innovative ideas presented in Rights of Way: Mobility and the City, an exhibition at the Boston Society of Architects gallery space that demonstrates a global exploration of mobility and transportation in cities.

First off is something pretty simple. Since the 1880s, bicycles have been one of the most efficient and abundant machines anywhere. But now, bicyclists have to fight for road with cars (dangerous) and pedestrians (messy). Mount a set of LightLane lasers under the bike’s seat, and the system projects your own personal bike lane. This and other designs like it “allow the individual to snatch some freedom and safety from existing infrastructure,” Sydney Brownstone writes.

Two great sharing ideas come from Howeler + Yoon, a Boston architecture firm. The first is an entire vision for the Boston-Washington corridor, which includes a surface-switching road-replacement called a Tripanel. The Tripanel changes between grass, asphalt, and photovoltaic cells depending on who or what is using the space. Similarly, the firm is developing what it calls Sharestays, which enables apartments to be rented out based on time spent at home. These plans correspond with the “idea that shared spaces create more consideration for other people using them,” Brownstone writes.

Across the globe, in the population-dense Shenzhen region of China, the air quality index is rated “unhealthy” 20 percent of the time. Cars there are one major reason for this, so NODE Architecture & Urbanism is seeking a solution. The firm’s experts propose that by 2030, the city redefine itself and put transportation below ground—facilitating more housing and public space above ground.  

Lastly comes a far-above-ground idea already being put into action in Caracas, Venezuela. There, cheap gas and inadequate infrastructure mean the city’s roadways are jammed with cars day and night. Urban-Think Tank proposed using gondolas to connect the hillside barrios to the existing city public transportation system. In 2010, the first gondola route commenced, and the city leaders have plans to expand. 

Putting ideas into action

Consider the complex ideas expressed in the definition of the simple word “transportation” from the APICS Operations Management Body of Knowledge Framework: “The function of planning, scheduling, and controlling activities related to mode, vendor, and movement of inventories into and out of an organization.” Now think about how some of the ideas described previously could influence and revolutionize transportation as it is defined here.

We at APICS know you are searching for innovative ideas to solve common and newly uncovered challenges. That’s what we strive to provide at all of our conferences and events. In addition, we provide valuable networking opportunities, so you can interact with your peers. Conferences this year include APICS 2014 Shanghai, taking place April 17 and 18 in Shanghai, China, and APICS 2014, October 19–21 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. There’s even more in store this year. Visit apics.org/events to find out the latest about APICS events.