APICS is the leading professional association for supply chain and operations management.
News Landing Page

APICS News

Boeing Scrutinizing Suppliers to Boost Production

By APICS Staff | 12 | 1 | January 03, 2012

Boeing Scrutinizing Suppliers to Boost Production

The aircraft giant Boeing subjects its about 1,000 suppliers to extensive reviews of production materials, schedules, finances, and tools, reports the Wall Street Journal. This year, Boeing’s test regimen prompted one supplier, Vaupell Holdings, to make significant changes, such as replacing its shop floor management software. “Boeing has become much more proactive,” says Joe Jahn, Vaupell’s chief executive. A Boeing employee is at a Vaupell factory nearly every day. Formerly, it was once a week, Jahn says.

Boeing’s skill at stress-testing is critical as the company faces a large number of backlogged orders. Boeing seeks to boost output by about 60 percent in the next three years. Currently, about 3,500 commercial jets are contracted and are valued at more than $270 billion.

In the past 18 months, Boeing has increased its staff of examiners and the number of visits to suppliers. Each evaluation can take days to complete. The intensified scrutiny is a large component of the manufacturer’s efforts to speed up production of nearly all of its commercial jets without encountering bottlenecks and delays. Boeing executives also hope supplier scrutiny will help the company perform against competitors such as Airbus, which recently capitalized on Boeing production delays with the 787 Dreamliner.

California Law Targets Supplier Labor Conditions

Beginning in 2012, a California law requires major companies performing business in the state to disclose the steps they take to ensure their suppliers and partners do not use forced labor, reports Reuters. Companies can be sued by the state attorney general if they disregard the law, but some experts say the court of public opinion will have a greater effect on cooperation, as consumers who care about ethical working conditions will take an interest in how their favorite brands create products.

According to the US Department of Labor, children and forced laborers produce 130 kinds of goods in 71 countries. And according to the International Labor Organization, more than 12 million people are victims of forced labor. Apple is among the corporations that already have come under fire for its labor practices. Suicides that took place at Apple supplier Foxconn raised questions about working conditions in southern China, where many iPhones are made.

The California law applies to retailers and manufacturers with more than $100 million in global sales, which includes some 3,200 companies. Many of these businesses are starting to take a closer look at their practices to improve them. The law ensures that companies will take the opportunity to get a better handle on ethical issues in their labor forces, says Jon Sohm, a lawyer at McKenna, Long, & Aldridge. He adds, “Anything that can harm your brand should be taken seriously.”

Steven Gold's Supply Chain Predictions for 2012

Steven Gold is managing director at global professional services firm Alvarez and Marsal and formerly chief supply chain officer at PepsiCo. In an interview on Spend Matters, he made some predictions for 2012 based on his extensive experience in supply chain management at large, multinational companies. Following are some of his insights.

Gold predicts that 2012 will be inflationary. There is a high probability that input costs, from potatoes to cotton to oil, will rise. Therefore, large-scale companies will need to ask themselves how they can cut costs in a market where consumers expect finished goods prices to remain flat at best. Companies should aim to reduce both their rate of inputs and their consumption, which may require extensive supplier collaboration.

According to Gold, on the procurement front, most organizations are unprepared when it comes to hedging or demand aggregation. But some companies are taking new approaches in 2012. For example, two large North American food and consumer packaged goods companies are comingling, aggregating costs for truckload procurement. Together, these companies represent sufficiently large spend, overlapping transportation routes, and volume to create an impact on carrier pricing. In another example of comingling, two industrial manufacturers are aggregating purchases of finished metals including wires, cables, bearings, and chains to reduce costs.

The fundamental challenge for many industrial companies in 2012 is lack of visibility into historic spending and future demand. Gold argues that new leadership skills are necessary within supply chain groups to overcome this challenge. There may not yet be enough depth of talent in supply chain and procurement to meet the demand for leadership, which means companies may aggressively pursue talent. 

e-News Solutions

Don't forget to register for upcoming APICS CSCP exam dates

  • Registration now open
  • Exam window: December 3, 2011-January 14, 2012

Note: Your eligibility application must be completed two weeks prior to exam registration. Apply for eligibility now. Already eligible? Don't delay: Register today. Learn more.

Save the date: Events to keep your eye on

Mark your calendars! It's time to start getting ready for the 2012 APICS conferences. Visit apics.org/events for information.

  • 2012 APICS Asia Supply Chain & Operations conferences
    April 2-3, 2012
    Seoul, South Korea

    April 5-6, 2012
    Shanghai, China
  • Best of the Best S&OP conferences, presented by APICS and IBF 
    May 10-11, 2012
    London, England 

    June 14-15, 2012
    Chicago, Illinois, USA
    Hilton Chicago
  • 2012 APICS International Conference & Expo 
    October 14-16, 2012
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    Colorado Convention Center

Volunteer for 2012 APICS committees

Apply today to be a volunteer and play a pivotal role in shaping the future of APICS.

As the global leader and premier source of the body of knowledge in operations management, including production, inventory, supply chain, materials management, purchasing, and logistics, APICS is calling for volunteers to serve on its 2012 committees. 

Committed, active, and talented volunteers are at the heart of what makes APICS successful and are essential to achieving the APICS mission to enable our community of members, affiliates, and customers to lead in the global marketplace.

Volunteering for APICS provides a variety of opportunities to lead, learn, and guide the APICS body of knowledge. Committee success depends on a strong partnership between volunteer leaders and staff members with clear roles and responsibilities. APICS committees are strategic in nature and function in alignment with the APICS strategic plan. 

You are invited to apply to volunteer with APICS in 2012. Applications are due before December 14, 2011. If you prefer, download a volunteer application form and fax it to +1-773-639-3076 or email it to chays@apics.org

Now available! Purchase APICS supply chain risk and supply chain strategy folios 

Assess risk, develop your organization's supply chain strategy, and understand how you can successfully implement or grow your organization's sales and operational planning process with APICS folios.

$19.95 APICS member
$39.95 nonmember

New! APICS Supply Chain Strategy Folio: Make the Most of Supply Chain Strategy
Understand challenges and identify areas where senior management and operations management can work together to maximize the effectiveness of your supply chain strategy. Access this APICS folio to delve into critical supply chain functions and tasks that may not be effectively supporting your supply chain strategy.

New! APICS Supply Chain Risk Folio: Protect your Business with Risk Management
Mitigate and anticipate supply chain risks at your organization-from rising and falling demand to natural disasters, market uncertainty, and varying levels of trust among supply chain partners. Purchase this APICS folio to identify tools to deal with risk at your organization.

Don't forget to access
APICS S&OP Folio: How to Be an S&OP Champion
Predicting the future generally is thought impossible; yet, S&OP users seek to do just that by strategically directing businesses to achieve competitive advantage. Purchase this APICS folio to understand how you can enable your organization's bottom-line effectiveness with S&OP.

Access New APICS career development resources
Introducing APICS career packs. Use APICS career packs to understand your career path and next steps, evaluate candidate qualifications, or establish consistency across your organization's hiring.

Free! APICS member
$29.95 nonmember

Individuals seeking to advance in one of the career pack job title areas can evaluate their knowledge and skills, plan their next steps, and identify areas for improvement and growth.

Hiring managers seeking qualified candidates can identify specific knowledge, skills, and experience required when evaluating prospective employees and building job descriptions.

Organizations interested in developing their workforce can create consistency and establish required competencies for individuals in each of the career pack job title areas.

APICS career packs:

For each job title, APICS career packs compile essential information to help you understand the job role, including

  • career path information
  • core competencies required of qualified candidates
  • job descriptions and keywords
  • how to use job titles and descriptions.

Download the APICS members-only report 2011 S&OP Practices and Challenges and purchase the APICS Folio: How to Be an S&OP Champion 

Predicting the future generally is thought impossible; yet, S&OP users seek to do just that by strategically directing businesses to achieve competitive advantage, and-more and more-are expected to do so to enable their employers' bottom line profitability.

Supply chain professionals: Take the APICS CSCP Learning System Free Demo today

By earning the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation, you will demonstrate significant commitment to your profession and your career, distinguish yourself as an industry expert, and excel with your newly acquired specialized knowledge. 

Upcoming Webinar

APICS Vendor Webcast: Manage What Matters
January 31, 2012
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET
Register now.

Webinars On Demand Available

APICS Extra Live: Real-World Strategies for Improving Operational Efficiency
Watch the webinar now.

APICS Extra Live: Racing Toward Operational Success with Kaizen
Watch the webinar now.

APICS Extra Live: The People Factor in Supply Chain Excellence
Watch the webinar now.

APICS Members-Only Webinar: Operations Management Résumé Benchmarking Survey Résumé Structure and Organization
Watch this webinar now.

APICS Extra Live: Advancing Your Supply Chain with Foreign-Trade Zones
Watch this webinar now.

APICS Extra Live: Merchandising for a Lean Supply Chain
Watch this webinar now.

APICS Extra Live: Keep Projects Flowing with Visual Project Management
Watch this webinar now.

APICS Members-Only Webinar: Résumé Formatting Best Practices

Watch this webinar now.

Download the APICS Exam Pass Rate Report
The report details the 2010 average pass rates for all APICS CSCP and CPIM exam modules taken internationally and in North America. This valuable report helps you understand how your colleagues performed on APICS certification exams and provides information on

  • how the pass rates are monitored
  • how the cut score is determined
  • how the courseware aligns to the exams.

Click to download the report.

Take the APICS CSCP Learning System Free Demo to get started on your way to earning the APICS CSCP designation.

APICS CPIM exam study options

APICS offers a variety of study options to help candidates prepare for the APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) exams and enables them to choose the option that matches their preferred learning method.

Instructor-led courses

For students who learn best in a classroom-based environment, there are instructor-led courses.

Find courses at your local APICS chapter or find an APICS partner outside North America to find courses in your area.


Online certification review courses

Online courses are ideal for professionals who enjoy taking a structured class, but need more flexibility.


Other APICS self-study options

APICS offers a wide variety of tools for candidates interested in studying on their own, including the

  • APICS CPIM Exam Content Manual
  • APICS CPIM practice questions
  • APICS CPIM study notes.
See a list of self-study tools.