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Supply Chain's Link to a Better World

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | October 07, 2011

It's not often that I read a news article linking supply chains to medical aid and disaster relief. However, this week, the Toronto Star highlighted the story of an international development worker, Simon Berry, who found that in 1988-era Zambia, Coca-Cola was more readily available than medical supplies.

"As Berry watched crates of Coke travel on mules, bicycles, and handcars, he noticed a potentially life-saving resource in the delivery cases: the empty space between bottles. If that space were filled with basic medicine, like oral rehydration salts, he believed treatment could reach mothers in remote regions of developing countries__where one in five children die preventable deaths before they turn five."

Berry worked with medical stakeholders, governments in Africa, and local mothers to design a prototype, and the AidPod was born. "It's a wedge-shaped plastic container, kind of like a pencil case, containing medicine like rehydration salts for at-home diarrheal treatment. Designed to fit snugly into Coke's delivery cases, AidPod can hitch a ride on its supply chain. Packaging is recycled as a measuring jug."

More than two decades after Berry's initial idea, Coke's experiment with the AidPod starts this month with a trial in Zambia. After the initial testing, the company will determine how the project can be modified for other countries.

Supply chain skills for life

The Toronto Star story hints at something bigger: Supply chain expertise is needed everywhere. Manufacturers need it in China, and governments need it in Africa. Medical facilities need it in North America, and retailers need it in India.

APICS partners around the world develop professionals who make significant contributions to their regions. For example, hunger is a worldwide problem__and a crisis in areas such as Somalia. Yet, the complex issues of getting food to those in need can cripple governments and aid organizations. SAPICS, the Association for Operations Management of Southern Africa, an APICS associate, works with our other partners in Africa to train operations and supply chain professionals from all over the continent. These experts, like all of those with APICS training, have the skills to make a difference.

APICS also partners with the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) to provide resources and expertise to disaster organizations. ALAN's network of associations represents thousands of supply chain professionals who are able to provide unique resources, both intellectual and tangible, to effectively and efficiently respond to disruptions and disasters. These individuals are recognized leaders in designing, equipping, and operating supply chains. ALAN is a vehicle through which individuals and companies can contribute to humanitarian relief efforts. For more information about ALAN, visit www.alanaid.org.

Consider how you can apply your operations and supply chain management knowledge to help people in need. Your skills are valuable in numerous ways. 

In other news

How APICS Operations Management Now relates to you

Operations management is everywhere. Today, operations management professionals have unprecedented impacts on the global economy. Consider these questions and how today's edition of APICS Operations Management Now relates to you and your career. 

  • Where can you discover innovations like the AidPod in your supply chain?
  • Have you ever used your supply chain expertise in a place you never expected? How has that helped you in your career?
  • How does your organization help people in need? 

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