Skip To The Main Content
Main Navigation Toggle

Innovation and Global Trends

  • Maneuvering a New Supply Chain Learning Curve

    • Gary A. Smith
    May/June 2017
    For thousands of years, technology evolved at a snail’s pace. Generation after generation lived essentially as their parents did, and, when innovation did occur, the rate of adoption depended on the speed of your horse. However, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, we have jumped from a technology curve that was somewhat linear in nature to one that is on an exponential upswing.......Read More
  • Attracting Future Workforces

    • Jennifer Proctor
    May/June 2017
    This department focuses on the future of supply chain and APICS’s use of futurecasting to develop an ongoing strategic framework, called The Rise. By studying these factors, industry professionals begin to see where the workforce intersects with supply chain’s future. Unquestionably, meeting the needs of both the young and the elderly as well as women—as both professionals and consumers—will be crucial.......Read More
  • Improving Visibility and Transparency with Blockchain

    • Jonathan Thatcher
    May/June 2017
    I keep hearing more and more about blockchains becoming part of supply chain management practice. What are they, and where do they fit?......Read More
  • Reinventing the Silk Routes of Eurasia

    • Richard E. Crandall
    May/June 2017
    Trade routes between Asia and Europe date back at least 3,000 years. At that time, the center of civilization was in Mesopotamia, an area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that roughly corresponds to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish-Syrian and Iran-Iraq borders (Mark 2014). These routes, known as the Silk Routes—because they moved silk from China to other parts of Eurasia—thrived during some periods but, at other times, were blocked or destroyed by invaders. Now, centuries later, China is looking to rebuild the routes to improve international trade.......Read More
  • Drones, Hyperloops, and Automated Trucks Carve Their Distribution Niches

    • Jennifer Storelli
    May/June 2017
    In the last two centuries, planes, trains, and commercial trucks changed the distribution industry and improved the way goods are transported. Now, a new era of innovation is ushering in a second generation of these delivery vehicles, namely drones, hyperloops, and automated trucks. ......Read More
  • When Technologies Intersect

    • Jennifer Storelli
    May/June 2017
    Although drones, hyperloops, and automated trucks each have the ability to improve the distribution industry on their own, they also can make contributions when combined with each other and other modes of distribution into innovative systems.......Read More
  • Cities and Continents: the Rise of Urbanization and Africa

    • Jennifer Proctor
    March/April 2017
    In the January/February 2016 department about the future of supply chain management, I wrote about how APICS used future-casting to develop an ongoing strategic framework, which APICS leaders call The Rise. In this and future magazine issues, I will dig deeper into the rise of supply chain and how it corresponds with other factors.......Read More
  • Could Blockchains Help Uncover Product Pasts?

    • Richard E. Crandall
    March/April 2017
    As a supply chain manager, wouldn’t you like to know everything about your products’ histories, including the origin of individual materials at the mine or farm, who fabricated or assembled each item, how and when the products were transported, who approved or certified their quality, and dozens of other bits of information? Of course you would. But most companies have too many products, and most supply chains are too complex, to track completely and with 100 percent certainty.......Read More
  • Industry Transitions and the Employment Disruptions They Cause

    • Eric P. Jack
    • John P. Collins
    January/February 2017
    Do you long for the good old days when you could employ more workers? Do you wish to go back to a time when people could spend their days on assembly lines and earn enough money to provide for their families? It’s true that many manufacturing jobs have become automated or even vanished altogether. Products are still getting made—just with significantly fewer workers.......Read More
  • Impacts of the Panama Canal Expansion on Global Supply Chains

    • Richard E. Crandall
    January/February 2017
    The Panama Canal opened in 1914 after decades of deadly struggle between humans and nature. The French first attempted to build it but gave up after eight years of torrential rains, mudslides, engineering mistakes, and mosquitoes carrying yellow fever. Americans then took over the project—first getting rid of the mosquitoes and next using state-of-the-art engineering and earth-moving equipment to finish the job. The fact that the canal operated for a century without major modification is a testament to the skill and foresight of its creators (McCullough 1978).......Read More
  • Schedules Are Worthless, but Scheduling Is Everything

    • Dave Turbide
    January/February 2017
    Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower once gave this great advice: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. The same can be said for production schedules and production scheduling. No matter how they are derived, production schedules will almost never play out as planned. Nevertheless, scheduling is an essential tool for managing the flow of work and completing jobs on time. Production schedules provide visibility and direction to the plant floor, supporting resources, materials, and much more. Let’s take a brief look at the most common scheduling approaches.......Read More
  • Futurecasting the Supply Chain

    • Jennifer Proctor
    January/February 2017
    Futurecasting is a “framework to develop a vision for the future and then a way to figure out what we need to do to build it,” explains Brian David Johnson. And he should know: He’s a renowned technologist, author, and futurist—currently the futurist in residence at Arizona State University. APICS engaged Johnson to work with its leaders, volunteers, and staff to help envision the future of the supply chain profession and how the organization can best continue furthering the profession.......Read More
  • Supply Chain Ripple Effect

    Broad-ranging strengths can build exponentially
    • Judith M. Whipple
    • Patricia J. Daugherty
    November/December 2016
    In previous “Beyond the Horizon” departments, we have discussed phase one of an APICS and Michigan State University research project that involved insights from more than 50 in-depth interviews.......Read More
  • Shaking Up Supply Chain

    Essential corporate social responsibility industry upsets
    • Eric P. Jack
    • John P. Collins
    November/December 2016
    Since the industrial revolution, various forms of disruption have posed seemingly never-ending challenges for supply chain management professionals. Today, some of these challenges continue under the broad umbrella of corporate social responsibility (CSR). So, as we work together to take the necessary steps to address these important issues, perhaps it will offer some insight if we reflect for a moment on how we successfully addressed previous trials.......Read More
  • Hacked

    A true story of cybercrime in the supply chain industry
    • Jennifer Storelli
    September/October 2016
    Editor’s note: As industry becomes increasingly digitally connected, companies have more and more opportunities to gather information and share it with their supply chain partners. Unfortunately, this also means the data is increasingly accessible to malicious outsiders. The rising number of connectivity points offers cyberattackers more opportunities to enter a digital network and spread malware throughout a supply chain.......Read More
  • A New Dimension of Productivity

    Virtual and augmented reality unlock training and efficiency benefits
    • Richard E. Crandall
    September/October 2016
    Imagine being able to train an employee to fight fires, perform surgery, or replace a truck engine without risking danger to the worker, others, or the equipment. That’s exactly the type of functionality that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology are bringing to the workplace. As the platforms become more affordable, businesses are experimenting with them and finding productivity and training benefits. The Conversation even named VR as one of the six disruptive technologies that will shape business in the years ahead, so it’s definitely a media supply chain managers will want to keep an eye on.......Read More
  • Integrating Intelligence

    The challenges of assimilating AI in advanced manufacturing
    • John P. Collins
    September/October 2016
    The word “robot” comes from the old Slavonic word rabota, which describes the servitude of forced labor. The term was coined in 1920 by Czech playwright Karel Capek in “Rossum’s Universal Robots.” In the play, soulless workers are mass produced using the latest biology, chemistry, and physiology. “They couldn’t love. They couldn’t have feelings. But they could do all the work that humans preferred not to do,” University of Michigan Professor Howard Markel told NPR in a 2011 program. “And, of course, the [fictional] company was soon inundated with orders.”......Read More
  • Augmented Reality Is Now For Real

    Technology offers industrial applications
    • Dave Turbide
    May/June 2016
    It may seem that virtual reality (VR) is the stuff of science fiction and video games—and that’s still essentially true at this point in time. Augmented reality (AR), however, is on the verge of becoming an important advancement for industry, particularly in manufacturing and service. A remodeled computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing developer recently demonstrated just how powerful this technology can be.......Read More
  • The Digital Factory Dilemma

    Leveling the path to automated manufacturing
    • Philip E. Quigley
    May/June 2016
    A few weeks ago, one of my students gave me a copy of an article from The Guardian titled “Mercedes-Benz Swaps Robots for People on Its Assembly Lines.” The story makes the point that the automotive manufacturer has a huge number of options on its cars, including heated or cooled cup holders and four different types of tire-valve caps.......Read More
  • Rising Upward

    Optimism Powers SAP's Bill McDermott
    • Karen Huelsman
    May/June 2016
    Bill McDermott, the CEO at software giant SAP, has always thought big. As a high schooler, he seized the opportunity to buy a deli in his Long Island, New York, neighborhood. Aided by the encouragement of his family and his natural tenacity, he grew the business while finishing high school and college. ......Read More