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Thinking Supply Chain

Insights, analysis and ideas to advance your supply chain.
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  • Posted by
    David F. Ross
    Senior Manager, Professional Development

    What is “push” and “pull” distribution?” – Part 17

    In the previous blog we introduced DRP by reviewing the definition from the APICS Dictionary. It was stated that because of the differences in replenishment lead times, DRP was the best choice when the supply source is a company plant.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Brexit: What Does this Mean for Supply Chain Professionals?

    Last week, UK citizens voted to leave the European Union (EU) with the passing of a referendum known as Brexit—British Exit. The tidal wave of reaction and speculation which followed the announcement signals far-reaching effects from this historic change, and many supply chain professionals are asking, “how does Brexit impact my supply chains?” While I can’t answer that directly, I can provide a framework for developing an answer.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    Panama Canal Expansion Equals Trade Expansion

    The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World include The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in Turkey, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in Iraq. The modern world has its own wonders. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Panama Canal is one of those wonders. Its expansion will open June 26, and The Wall Street Journal reports that this improvement is critical to Western trade in the economic long run. The canal accommodates about one-third of Asia-to-Americas trade but required infrastructure upgrades to keep up with the latest shipping trends.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Can Your Supply Chain Keep Up?

    According to a Reuters report, Target is cracking down on suppliers to better compete with Amazon and Walmart. Target’s new policies, which took effect May 30, require suppliers to provide a single day arrival date for shipments to Target's warehouses and do away with delivery “grace periods.” Suppliers who fail to deliver on time will be charged late fees of 5 percent of the order cost, an increase from their previous 1 percent to 2 percent.
  • Posted by
    Jennifer K. Daniels
    Vice President, Marketing

    A Winning Way to Market your Supply Chain (Hint: get a little help from your friends!)

    A highlight of the annual Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference is the release of the top 25 supply chain list that ranks the best supply chains. (BTW, it was satisfying to see that 50% of the companies on the 2016 list work with APICS!) Winning an award presents a great opportunity to do some marketing, and that got me thinking that supply chain organizations should do more to market themselves.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    Recruiting the Right People for the Right Jobs

    I’ve had many conversations recently about the same theme: Supply chain and manufacturing offer great career opportunities. But how do we attract more people to these areas? We at APICS are not alone in this quest. I know this discussion is happening at many different employers, suppliers, and affiliated associations. Now, the topic has attracted the attention of mainstream media. Last week, The Wall Street Journal featured the article “How Manufacturers Are Recruiting Millennials.”
  • Posted by
    David F. Ross
    Senior Manager, Professional Development

    What is “push” and “pull” distribution?” – Part 16

    If we summarize the discussion in the previous blogs, inventory replenishment in a multiechelon supply channel occurs in three possible ways: product is allocated down the supply chain using some form of dispersion algorithm; a form of reorder point pulls product from supplying to satellite facilities; and distribution requirements planning (DRP). For distribution channels supplied from a production plant or have long-lead time items purchased from outside suppliers, planners would most likely choose DRP.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    Recalls: Not What They Used to Be

    Water heater, car steering wheel, and frozen peas: These seemingly disparate things have recalls in common. And, according to The Seattle Times, they are just a few examples of the thousands of recalls manufacturers have issued in the past year. “The deluge shows no sign of slowing,” writes Stacy Cowley. “Across almost every product category, the scope and complexity of recalls are on the rise.”
  • Posted by
    Jennifer K. Daniels
    Vice President, Marketing

    The CMO and Supply Chain

    The number of CMOs becoming more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about supply chain management is increasing as leading companies lean on supply chain attributes to position, promote and differentiate products, services and brands. If you’re a marketer looking for a great story to tell about your company—one that will capture the hearts and minds of a generation of customers—you may need to look no further than your supply chain.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    3-D Printing Hits on All Fronts

    3-D printing already has started shaking up the engineering, design, and manufacturing fields, and now it could reshape the distribution industry as well. Two major developments last month are changing the way products are produced and shipped to customers— potentially condensing the entire supply chain, according to Trucks.com.
  • Posted by
    David F. Ross
    Senior Manager, Professional Development

    What is “push” and “pull” distribution?” – Part 15

    In the previous blog we examined closely the mechanics of the reorder point (ROP) pull system. Although reorder points do provide an effective technique for multiechelon inventory replenishment, they have several important drawbacks.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    New Ideas for Team Building

    The headline “How Coty Reinvigorated Its Supply Chain,” encouraged me to read with keen interest last week’s article in Harvard Business Review. Coty is a global beauty company, and its fragrance and color cosmetics portfolio includes such well-known brands as Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Nautica, Sally Hansen, and others.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    Better Relationships for Your Bottom Line

    Trust and positive relationships with suppliers lead to more than general goodwill for automakers. According to Planning Perspectives President John W. Henke Jr., it can mean winning a supplier’s newest technology and most innovative designs, plus getting the best prices. This week, The Detroit News highlighted the results of the 2016 North America Automotive OEM Buyer-Supplier Study, conducted by Planning Perspectives.
  • Posted by
    David F. Ross
    Senior Manager, Professional Development

    What is “push” and “pull” distribution?” – Part 14

    In the previous blog a variety of pull system techniques were introduced: electronic techniques (EDI, CPFR, QR, and POS); a lean technique (kanban); and computer application-based (ROP and DRP). It was also stated that there are two essential criteria to consider when selecting a pull technique: 1) distribution lead time, and 2) the originating source of replenishment: either an outside supplier or an internal plant.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    All Aboard the Rate-Hike Express

    Company decision makers whom rely on railroads to ship their goods are finding that their prices are increasing even though freight volume is decreasing. Bloomberg reported last week that all major North American railroads increased prices in the earlier part of 2016, but freight is the lowest it has been since 2009.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Customizing 3-D Printing's Latest Advance

    MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has reported a breakthrough. It is now possible to 3-D print hydraulic devices in a single step—liquid and solid components being fabricated concurrently—using commercially available 3-D printers. Researchers predict a future when consumers will be able to easily create a fully-functional, customizable, robot on demand.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    RFID Meets Big Data

    It sounds like a joke: What do you get when you combine radio frequency identification (RFID) with big data? For Johnson Controls, an auto parts maker, that winning combination enabled the firm to buy fewer $150 containers and $1,500 racks. Last week, The Wall Street Journal highlighted how the company is working to keep its expensive boxes and racks from disappearing.
  • Posted by
    David F. Ross
    Senior Manager, Professional Development

    What is “push” and “pull” distribution?” – Part 13

    In the previous blog we revisited the concepts of push and pull as a prelude to a full discussion of pull system inventory replenishment techniques. To summarize, in a push system inventory flows down the bill of distribution echelon structure in anticipation of customer demand.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    Truth in Transparency

    It’s been three years since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh that killed 1,135 garment workers when an eight-story building collapsed. The tragedy pushed company leaders to seek greater transparency in their supply chains. It pushed consumers to think about where their goods come from and the definition of supply chain itself. This week, Reuters asked in its headline: “Three Years After Rana Plaza Disaster, Has Anything Changed?”
  • Posted by
    Peter A. Bolstorff
    Executive Vice President, APICS

    Performance-Driven Learning

    Use it or lose it. Both applied and academic research conclude that the application of professional learning within a short time span helps increase retention. The longer we wait, the less we retain.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    Apple: A Sustainable Example for Supply Chains

    Supply chain transparency is becoming more important to business leaders and consumers, both of whom increasingly are concerned about working conditions, human rights, and environmental preservation. Apple, a company well known to both groups, recently released its “Supplier Responsibility 2016 Progress Report,” which highlights the tech company’s rigorous push for corporate social responsibility standards. Based on the firm’s success, other companies should “take note, and look for ways they can improve their supply chain sustainability to stay competitive,” writes Jessica Lyons Hardcastle for Environmental Leader.
  • Posted by
    David F. Ross
    Senior Manager, Professional Development

    What is “push” and “pull” distribution?” – Part 12

    This blog continues the discussion on the basics of distribution replenishment “pull” systems. In the previous blog we reviewed the mechanics and purpose of the bill of distribution (BOD). We saw that the BOD enables planners to link together the facilities constituting the supply channel.
  • Posted by
    Peter A. Bolstorff
    Executive Vice President, APICS

    Webcast: SCOR 101: An Executive Guide to Implementation Best Practices

    Maintaining a competitive advantage with the supply chain as a core competency has never been more essential than in today's business environment. Supply chain leaders need to connect the latest industry advancements and insights with proven best practices to deliver operational excellence and shareholder value.
  • Posted by
    Abe Eshkenazi
    APICS CEO

    Automotive’s New Power Source

    With its strong industrial and economic force, the automotive sector plays a dominant role in the world’s business. This week, Slate ran an article highlighting how Tesla is disrupting automotive norms and experiencing rising success.
  • Posted by
    Peter A. Bolstorff
    Executive Vice President, APICS

    Infographic: Paths to becoming a supply chain manager

    The talent shortage for the supply chain industry has been examined very thoroughly over the last few years. Frequently this conversation focuses on educating students and recent graduates on the job market, encouraging them to pursue supply chain careers, or creating better college and graduate level programs to support this career path. There is one angle that is often ignored – hiring. Could the solution be as simple as changing what you are looking for?