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Jonathan Thatcher, CSCP, writes the “Ask APICS” department for APICS magazine.

  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Leveraging the Internet of Things (IOT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT)

    Imagine having eyes and ears everywhere our supply chain exists. You would know exactly what’s going on in your operations—including what’s working, what’s not working, and how. This is similar to the future promised by the internet of things (IOT) and the industrial internet of things (IIOT).
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Supply Chains and New EPA Toxic Chemicals Regulations

    New regulations resulting from the 2016 amendment to the TSCA may impact chemical supply chains.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Fitbit and Pebble: Supply Chain Strategy, Entrepreneur Vision, Developer Community and Enduring Loyalty

    To fans of the wearable tech company Pebble, news on the company’s Kickstarter page this week came as a shock: “Fitbit has agreed to acquire key Pebble assets. Due to various factors, Pebble can no longer operate as an independent entity, and we have made the tough decision to shut down the company. The deal finalized today preserves as much of Pebble as possible.”
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Defensive Plays: Hanjin and Solving Broad-Based Supply Chain Risk

    What happens when all partners in a global supply chain find themselves in a purely defensive position? The current situation surrounding the Hanjin bankruptcy provides an example of this. Since the global shipping giant declared bankruptcy, it has had trouble moving its ships into port. In some locations, Hanjin ships are barred from entering, because port operators feared Hanjin would not pay the port fees. As a result, some ships had to idle in the middle of the ocean or return back to their ports of call, carrying mountains of undelivered cargo. Because of this, port operators, longshoremen, customers of Hanjin, and ship-leasing companies all are on the defensive.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Drop Shipping and Digital Supply Chains

    Digital supply chains may become known as the great levelers. In this era, small businesses that lack the capital of their larger competitors can use information and digital supply chains to make up the difference. For example, online property rental marketplace Airbnb does not own any hotels, yet it is responsible for millions of overnight stays. The Uber online transportation network does not own any taxis, but the company has delivered many millions of trips. Although the business models of Airbnb and Uber are new, leveraging the assets and inventory of others is an old business strategy. Take drop shipping, for example.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Defining Digital Supply Chains and Digital Ecosystems

    Given today’s rapidly evolving supply chain environment, APICS Research has recognized a need to define the term “digital supply chain.” It has become a challenge, since few people agree on how to summarize the integration of so many different technologies, activities, and outputs. Digital supply chain must define the future of digital collaboration, risk management, supply chain flows, and so on. In this series of blog posts I will highlight some relevant topics in the developing area of digital supply chain.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    China’s Yuan Devaluation and Supply-Side "Xionomics?"

    In August 2015, China rattled global trade by suddenly devaluing the yuan against the US dollar. The devaluation came at a time of weakening China exports, falling stock prices, rising debt levels, and a new long-term strategy to increase Chinese domestic consumption. Global concern at the time was for stability. What has happened in the 12 months since? More devaluation and a new supply-side recovery strategy.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Cars and Cartels: Ethics and Supply Chain Professionals

    Trust is at a low ebb for some in the European auto industry. Various automakers are facing investigations and fines for excessive diesel emissions. Investors are nervous about expensive R&D bets made on electric battery powertrains and SUV designs. On top of this, the German Federal Cartel Office reported making major raids on six automakers and parts suppliers on June 23, 2016 as part of a large steel price-fixing cartel investigation.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Autognostics: The Rise of “Self-Aware” Digital Supply Chains

    Building self-managing networks seems like a modern solution to overcoming complexity that scales beyond human comprehension. The Internet is a common example. But human beings have actually been building complex, self-managing networks for a very long time—even before computers.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Out of sync: The US industrial recession and consumer spending

    2015 saw the beginning of a decline in US industrial output. By February 2016, US industrial production had fallen five times over six months. Capacity utilization fell to 75.3%—4.7% below long-term historic averages.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Will the next 15 years be a logistics golden age?

    Logistics professionals help keep the world running in ordered motion. Their vision and imagination continually solve daunting challenges of time and space, yet forecast trends for the years 2016–2030 reveal a wave of change, which will test those talents.
  • 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
    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
    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
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    The Perfect Storm: Commodities at Sea and the Baltic Dry Index (BDI)

    The so-called Baltic Dry Index (BDI), introduced in 1985, is a basket of dry cargo freight rates, and provides a handy way of tracking global commodities and raw materials. Not limited to the Baltic Sea, the index reflects the price of moving dry materials by sea across 23 key shipping routes. The movement of commodities and raw materials provides insight into the upstream status of many supply chains.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    The Future of Production Control and Inventory Management in 5-10-20 years

    A summary of what is commonly suggested from technology platform providers and media sounds like a birthday present wish list. By 2020-2035 how much more sophisticated and mature will our profession and its practices be?
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Supply Chain Meets Complexity Theory In New Research

    The study of supply chains and the study of complexity theory, both relatively new fields, came together in our recent research with interesting results.
  • Posted by
    Jonathan Thatcher
    Director, APICS SCC Research

    Finding Hidden Supply Chain Leaders

    Supply chain leaders exist at all levels of management. We may only see the formal leader, the one with a senior management title, but there are informal leaders at all over our profession. Out of the spotlight, they do a job of true importance.

Southern California Wildfires

As we witness the ongoing effects of the wildfires, we’re concerned for those impacted. If your ability to take your scheduled APICS exam is affected, contact Pearson VUE at apics.org/pearson-vue
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