Think Supply Chain

Think Supply Chain

Leading the supply chain conversation

Join the supply chain conversation with Sharon Rice, executive director of the APICS Educational and Research (E&R) Foundation. Explore topics including the role of supply chain planning in corporate success, how sustainability and corporate social responsibility enable the bottom line, global supply chain risk management, and more. Comments are welcome. 


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Apple Hiring Engineers and Supply Chain Managers Abroad

by APICS staff |   2014 | 0 | 0

Apple is looking to speed up product development and create a wider array of devices, especially in Asian markets. The company is hiring hundreds of engineers and supply chain managers in countries such as China and Taiwan often from rival tech firms including HTC, the Wall Street Journal reports.

This could reflect the need for engineering expertise at many of Apple’s Asian suppliers, which may be ramping up production for faster and more frequent product launches. Additionally, the Journal reports, the new supply chain talent could be a response to the criticisms of factory conditions at some Apple suppliers. Apple now has about 600 total staff in engineering and operations.

Lower-cost Android-based smartphones are cutting into Apple’s market share, and the company is trying to fight back by launching more devices. “Apple is building an engineering team in Taipei to drive new iPhone product development,” reads a recruiting email sent to rival engineers. Last year, the company launched the iPhone 5S and 5C models simultaneously, which marked the first time it released two smartphones at once. 

Transportation and Logistics CEOs Preparing for Infrastructure Challenges

Transportation and logistics executives are concerned about the readiness of the infrastructure, the strength of the workforce, and improving environmental footprints, according to PwC’s “17th Annual Global CEO Survey.” Furthermore, for the past several years, transportation and logistics leaders have been relatively pessimistic about future growth, but that is beginning to change.

According to the report, the bigger concern now is sluggish growth in advanced economies rather than slowdowns in emerging markets—unlike in most other sectors. Transportation and logistics professionals see growth markets such as Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Africa as important to joint ventures and strategic alliances.

Finally, high and volatile energy costs are a big concern for those in the transportation and logistics sector. This year, 71 percent of executives, compared to 61 percent last year, are “somewhat” or “extremely” concerned about energy costs. 

Study Highlights Increase in UK Reshoring

Reshoring is on the rise in the United Kingdom, as one out of six companies has brought back some production in-house in the past three years, up from one in seven a few years ago, reports a study by manufacturing group EEF in conjunction with legal consulting firm Squire Sanders. Moreover, one out of six survey respondents reported reshoring with a UK-based supplier. About six percent say they will reshore within the next few years.

Major reasons for reshoring include improving the quality of products and components, speed and reliability of delivery, cutting transportation costs, and reducing the risk of supply chain disruptions. However, only about 16 percent reported that labor costs were a significant factor in reshoring, despite a shrinking wage gap in China and other parts of the world.

Reshoring “makes increasingly sound business sense,” says Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF. His organization wants the UK government to support reshoring by keeping energy costs down and reforming skills and apprenticeship structures. 

 

Expensive Feed Leading to Organic Egg Shortages

Many grocery shelves are empty due to a shortage of organic eggs, NPR reports. This particularly affects upscale and natural-foods grocers such as Whole Foods. The problem stems from the fact that US farmers do not produce enough of the organic corn and soybeans needed to make organic eggs. “We continue to be frustrated finding enough domestic production to meet domestic demand,” says grain trader Lynn Clarkson.

Instead, the organic feed increasingly is grown in places such as China, India, and Argentina—more than half of the United States’ soybeans now come from abroad. This leads to the odd situation of the United States, a superpower in soybean production, shipping its conventional soybeans to other parts of the world for animal feed while Chinese farmers grow organic soybeans to send back.

Organic feed prices spiked to two-to-three times more than normal last summer, says David Bruce, a director at Organic Valley. At this point, many egg providers stopped production or switched to conventional feed, severely dropping the supply of organic eggs. Now, organic production may be beginning to come back, but the problem of expensive feed lingers. 

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