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An Inspiring Visual Dialogue at ASCM 2019

September 20, 2019

I have just returned home after a week in Las Vegas at ASCM 2019. Our staff and volunteers made the event a huge success — I couldn’t be prouder of their dedication and talent. There were so many highlights this year: The conference kicked off with keynote speaker Fareed Zakaria, CNN Worldwide host, Washington Post columnist and best-selling author, who motivated attendees to take another look at their supply chains in order to thrive within the incredible complexity of Globalization 3.0.

The Price, and Value, of Keeping It Local

September 13, 2019

The American textile industry is the largest in the world. Yet remarkably few pieces of clothing actually carry a Made in the USA label. This circumstance can be traced back to the 1970s, when large textile mills emerged in Asia and Latin America. They offered inexpensive labor and materials, plus the ability to produce large orders very quickly.

Dominating the CSCP

September 11, 2019

At the beginning of the year, I decided to pursue the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation. In July, I sat for the exam and passed, which has led to my receiving countless questions about my journey. This article is intended to provide anyone considering earning this certification with all the lessons learned, tips and answers needed to be successful.

Goodyear Inflates Employee Know-How

September 6, 2019

The skills gap and ongoing talent shortage continue to be some of the greatest dilemmas facing today’s supply chains. According to the new Manufacturing Institute report “The Aging of the Manufacturing Workforce,” 97 percent of firms express at least some concern about their highly skilled workers retiring or leaving for other opportunities; almost half are “very concerned” about the issue. Next to brain drain, survey respondents worry most about related cost increases, lost productivity and apathetic employees.

Reconsidering the Purpose of Business

August 30, 2019

In 1776, Scottish economist Adam Smith asserted that the essential function of a business was to generate profit and increase shareholder wealth. Also known as the Father of Capitalism, Smith identified profitability as a corporation’s defining quality.

Hong Kong Airport Protests Shock Supply Chains

August 23, 2019

Last year, 5.1 million metric tons of air cargo passed through Hong Kong, making it the world’s busiest hub for air cargo traffic. When protests disrupt such an active facility, it’s no wonder that supply chains around the world are unnerved.

Online Stores Confront Soaring Return Rates from German Consumers

August 16, 2019

German shoppers send back 12% of their online purchases, creating huge economic and logistical issues for e-commerce retailers and compelling these businesses to reexamine their return policies. According to a new study by the University of Bamberg, German consumers sent back 5.5 billion euros worth of products last year — more than anywhere else in Europe. The Netherlands followed close behind, trailed by France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Poland.

How Ingersoll Rand Revives Exhausted Products

August 9, 2019

Industrial manufacturer Ingersoll Rand (IR) has long positioned itself as a company that prioritizes efficiency, energy savings and productivity. As its website states, “With principled leadership and ethical business practices, our high-engagement culture delivers enduring results that lead to a sustainable world.” Recently, IR saw potential to create added value by helping its customers meet their own environmental challenges. As a result, company leaders are taking the conservation philosophy to a new level.

New Brexit Deadline, New Supply Chain Difficulties

August 2, 2019

The United Kingdom had been scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019 — two years after it began the exit process. However, at this point, the withdrawal agreement has been rejected three times by UK members of parliament. The resulting six-month extension means Britain will now withdraw on October 31, 2019 — likely without a deal to ease its departure.

The 5 Principles of Customer Experience Leadership

July 30, 2019

Customer experience is one of the hottest business topics today. It has come to the forefront in nearly every industry as companies seek to both enhance how they deliver their offerings in a way that is unique to customer needs, fulfilling, immediate, low effort and personalized and create a service people would recommend and purchase again. Customer experience also is a key strategy for companies to differentiate their products and services from close competitors. Increasingly, company leaders have come to discover that creating a customer-centric business, combined with superior products and services, is the way to succeed.

A Shiny New Way to Secure Global Supply Chains

July 26, 2019

As 3D printing continues to transform the way things are made, supply chain professionals are facing a new wave of threats. The infinite number of computer-aided designs available online today significantly increases the likelihood of purchasing counterfeit components. These parts rarely meet required performance standards and make it alarmingly easy for hackers to inject malicious software in high-tech devices. In fact, Gartner says 3D printing can be blamed for the loss of $100 billion of intellectual property per year globally.

Parcel Lockers Ease Urban Gridlock

July 22, 2019

Whether you’re on the sending or receiving end of a package, it’s understandable to be worried about the price tag of urban last-mile delivery, which is estimated to gobble more than half the total cost of shipping goods. To mitigate that hit to the bottom line, it’s important to think strategically about how your supply chain interacts with the city grid — and the inevitable traffic that snarls it. Clearly, you don’t dictate how these things function; but you do have some control over how effectively you navigate them.

Amazon Invests in Potential

July 19, 2019

There is a long tradition of businesses inventing holidays. While Black Friday arose more-or-less organically, Cyber Monday was the brainchild of the National Retail Federation, according to The New York Times. Small Business Saturday was conceived by American Express to be Black Friday’s locally focused counterpart. And now we have Prime Day — Amazon’s annual global shopping extravaganza. Exclusive to Prime members, the sales event features lightning deals that last only until items sell out.

RDCs and Mathematical Optimization Transform a Global Health Supply Chain

July 17, 2019

In supply chain, companies often leverage a regional distribution center (RDC) model to balance performance and cost. For the global health supply chain operated by Chemonics International and a consortium of partners, including IBM, RDCs play a critical role in perpetuating a healthy and robust network. They serve as a demand and supply buffer to meet variation more effectively with limited manufacturing capability, support the pre-positioning of products closer to customers for faster responses, provide an economy of scale to meet storage needs, enable logistics consolidation and serve as holding points for more efficient logistics operations, and provide better access to logistic resources.

Africa Unlocks New Trade Potential

July 12, 2019

At the start of this week, African leaders launched a continental free-trade zone that, if successful, could be an economic game-changer. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is expected to unite the continent’s approximately 1.3 billion people, create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc and begin a new era of economic development, Reuters reports.

Will the Tariff War Extinguish Future July 4 Festivities?

July 2, 2019

My home of Illinois is one of the few states in the nation that has banned consumer fireworks, allowing the sale of only sparklers and other novelties. So, on my way to visit family for the July 4 holiday, it was no surprise as I crossed the border into Kentucky to see fireworks stands displaying Roman candles, fountains, jumping jacks and countless other pyrotechnics.

5 Strategies for Expanding Your Supply Chain Skill Set

June 26, 2019

Industry experts estimate that 270,000 new supply chain management positions are created each year. Furthermore, for every six job openings, there is only one qualified worker available to fill them. To address this ongoing talent gap and prepare to lead the supply chains of the future, industry professionals must hone their skills and continuously develop new capabilities.

5G Will Bring Exciting Advancements to Manufacturing

June 24, 2019

While the potential of 5G to disrupt a wide variety of industries is obvious, manufacturing is primed to benefit the most from these connectivity advancements. Business 4.0 is upon us, and it will bring emerging technologies and innovations that will transform the ways manufacturers operate. 5G will be the fuel for this transformation.

Pioneering Supply Chain Integrity

June 21, 2019

The importance of social responsibility, economic sustainability and ecological stewardship continues to intensify for corporations around the world. A Washington Post article highlights this development with an in-depth look at child labor in the cocoa industry. The Wall Street Journal examines how Bayer is working to earn back consumer confidence after thousands of lawsuits alleged that Roundup causes cancer. And Bloomberg reports that Gap Inc. is acknowledging problems associated with the garment industry’s extraordinary water requirements.

Meat-Free Burger, Hold the Stockout

June 14, 2019

When you envision eating at Burger King, Del Taco, TGI Fridays or White Castle, nutritious plant-based food probably isn’t part of the picture. But in an effort to attract new diners — particularly people seeking healthy, sustainable foods and those following special diets — about 20,000 restaurants across the United States now offer imitation meats such as those produced by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Signaling Truth Amid The Noise

June 10, 2019

Hailed as “the most influential foreign policy adviser of his generation” by Esquire magazine, Fareed Zakaria is host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria Global Public Square (GPS),” a Washington Post columnist, contributing editor at The Atlantic and a bestselling author. He was recently named a “Top 10 Global Thinker” by Foreign Policy magazine.

Why Dollar General Is the Master of Its Own Destiny

June 7, 2019

If you are in the United States, chances are excellent that there is a Dollar General within a five-minute drive. In fact, the discount chain’s enormous footprint reaches so many rural areas that 75 percent of its stores are in towns with 20,000 or fewer residents. This is by design.

The Hidden Costs of Cheap Bananas

May 31, 2019

“The sticker price of bananas seems to remain remarkably steady, almost if by magic,” writes Joe Fassler in The New Food Economy. In reality, bananas are cheaper today than a decade ago. But the lower grocery bills are making things a great deal tougher for banana plantations, their employees and the environment.

Is Your Supply Chain Making an Impact?

May 24, 2019

Mismanaged waste causes hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest people to die each year, according to a recent article in The Guardian. Many of these deaths are easily preventable, particularly those that stem from the dangers of discarded plastic.

People Skills: An Aerial View

May 21, 2019

My daughter and I have been looking at colleges recently, and I must admit that I’m both proud and a little dismayed that her top choices are thousands of miles across the United States. But traveling with her and exploring new parts of the country together has been a wonderful experience that I know will bring us both fantastic memories.

New Tariffs Threaten Technology and Agricultural Supply Chains

May 17, 2019

The escalating tariff war between China and the United States is set to shake up the consumer electronics and agricultural industries.

Three Ways to Uncover the Hidden Job Market

May 10, 2019

The “hidden job market” can be a confusing expression, as most employers aren’t going out of their way to actually hide available jobs. In fact, the hidden job market simply refers to open positions that are not listed in the public domain for candidates to discover and apply for. So, why would a business choose not to publish an open position? There are many reasons:

Can a Robot Do My Grocery Shopping?

May 10, 2019

Grocery shopping, though a necessary part of life, can be a chore. You write a shopping list, perhaps check the supermarket website for what’s on sale, try not to forget your reusable shopping bags, drive to the store, fill your cart, wait in the checkout line, scan your coupons or loyalty app, pay, load your groceries in your car, drive back home, and put everything away.

Be a Supply Chain Ambassador

May 10, 2019

“In the first three months of 2019, employees got so much more work done that they smashed productivity forecasts,” writes Alexia Fernández Campbell for Vox Media. “That’s great for businesses (they earn more money) and for the economy (GDP grows faster). The problem is that companies aren’t rewarding their employees for the extra hard work.”

Leadership Advice, Woman to Woman

May 9, 2019

Recently, I found myself thinking a lot about the challenges that women still face when it comes to proving to others that we can be impactful. Having served in a variety of positions in my 19 years at IBM — and now as chief technology officer at global power solutions company — I have faced the many challenges associated with achieving leadership success. I have also learned that, oftentimes, women doubt ourselves and stand in the way of our own success.

African Swine Fever Hits China’s Hog Industry

May 3, 2019

First identified in the early 1900s, African Swine Fever (ASF) has been responsible for the deaths of countless domestic pigs around the globe. According to the 2018 report African swine fever: A re-emerging viral disease threatening the global pig industry, the virus increased rapidly in throughout sub-Saharan Africa in the last century.

An S&OP Must

April 30, 2019

As I go through life, I see naturally recurring cycles. Ideas, concepts, music tastes and even foods fall in and out of favor. (I’m still waiting for disco to make a comeback so I can bust out my hustle.) Similarly, every four or five years, the conversation about supply chain and sales and operations planning (S&OP) metrics circles around, creating a brief flurry of activity.

5 Creative Ways to Tackle the Truck Driver Shortage

April 25, 2019

Marketing brings to mind campaigns that build brands, hone customer awareness and increase sales. But for transportation companies, targeted marketing has strong potential to create a completely different outcome — identifying and engaging prospective truck drivers.

Unique Logistics, Sweet Deliveries

April 24, 2019

Most of us cringe when vendors show up at our front steps. We crack open the door begrudgingly or even pretend we aren’t home. However, those of us in the United States are eagerly awaiting the sound of the doorbell these days. It’s that wonderful time of year when door-to-door salespeople become welcome guests: Girl Scout cookie season.

10 Strategies for Writing a Winning Awards Entry

April 24, 2019

The 2019 ASCM Awards of Excellence deadline is fast-approaching, so I thought it would be useful to reshare a blog I wrote last year, which includes 10 tips on what really makes an entry stand out. To do so, I first asked our judges what they’re looking for. Then, to get the inside scoop, I spoke with two-time winner Michael Morand, CPIM-F, CSCP-F, CLTD-F, senior manager of supply chain at Johnson & Johnson.

Supply Chain Cybercriminals Get Creative

April 19, 2019

As supply chains become longer, more dependent and extraordinarily complex, cybercriminals are finding alarmingly innovative ways to attack them — and these strikes often trickle down to business partners, processes, information technology (IT) and equipment. Taylor Armerding writes in a recent Forbes article that attackers are increasingly aiming to leverage the relationships among supply chain stakeholders in order to breach every facet of the primary victim’s network.

Accelerating Supply Chains With the Internet Of Things

April 17, 2019

Connected cars, machines, wearables, home appliances and other consumer electronics comprise the internet of things (IOT). These innovations are on the brink of surpassing mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices.

How Novartis Heightened Business Performance

April 12, 2019

With headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis has a global reach of approximately 129,000 associates worldwide and sells products in 155 countries. The company offers a diversified portfolio consisting of medicines, generic and biosimilar pharmaceuticals, and eye care.

Sharing Supply Chain Stories

April 12, 2019

Last night, several ASCM board members, key women team members and I joined 130 remarkable women, who were recognized at the annual Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Awards gala. The 100 honorees and 30 emerging leaders embody excellence from the factory floor to the C-suite and — perhaps most importantly — are committed to mentoring and supporting the next generation of female talent.

Generative Design and Engineering Productivity

April 8, 2019

The market for software with generative design tools will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 24 percent, reaching $44.5 billion by 2030. According to a new report published by ABI Research, these sales include licenses and subscription revenues for computer-aided design (CAD) products with generative design tools or standalone generative design software products.

Which APICS Certification Is Right for You?

April 8, 2019

The question I’ve been asked most often, in my 25 years as an APICS volunteer and staff person, is “Which of the APICS Certifications is right for me?” APICS is recognized by corporations around the world as the premier provider of certifications in Operations Management, Supply Chain Management, and, now, Logistics, Transportation and Distribution Management, and it can be a little confusing determining which of our certifications will most help your career.

The Supply Chain Secret Is Out

April 4, 2019

For those of us in the field, it’s no surprise that supply chain encourages innovation and generates high-paying, rewarding jobs. Thanks to a new joint research project by the Copenhagen Business School, Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the value of the supply chain economy is now evident to people of all backgrounds and disciplines.

4 Imminent Supply Chain Shakeups

April 4, 2019

With the gathering storms of trade wars, extreme and unpredictable weather conditions, a record-breaking driver shortage, and upended retail practices and customer expectations, there are clearly some momentous shifts coming our way. Supply chain professionals will need to be rethinking their networks, strategies and processes, with four areas in particular deserving our attention:

Stop Pedaling and Start Navigating

March 28, 2019

When was the last time you sat down with your team to thoroughly review your supply chain organization’s progress and future direction? These days, some professionals are so busy that they fail to notice when they’re running to stand still. If most of the work you do involves decisions and activities that affect the next 30 days, then being reactive is your norm. Furthermore, you probably want to do everything yourself because trust is lacking, which may cause high levels of employee turnover.

S&OP and the Digital Supply Chain

March 28, 2019

Unfortunately, according to Gartner’s four-stage, higher-maturity, S&OP model, nearly 70 percent of companies are stuck operating in the reacting and anticipating phases. These areas are most often centered around making a plan and maintaining a regular S&OP meeting in order to balance supply with demand for the good of the enterprise. Consequently, they are totally focused on inward processes and tend to require at least four years to solidify.

Hackers Help Eliminate Supply Chain Vulnerabilities at GM

March 28, 2019

General Motors (GM) designs, manufactures and distributes vehicles and vehicle parts. One of its specializations is technologically advanced cars, such as those with built-in 4G LTE connectivity, semi-autonomous vehicle and electric vehicles.

ASCM Seeks Volunteers for New Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce

March 22, 2019

The majority of people credit diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs with boosting both innovation and employee retention at their companies, according to an executive survey by global consulting firm Korn Ferry. Nevertheless, 59 percent of respondents say they still experience unconscious bias, which is defined as forming social stereotypes about certain groups outside of our conscious awareness.

The Business Case for Empowered Women

March 15, 2019

There are approximately 190 million women working in supply chains around the world today. The jobs they hold assembling products on factory floors, packing cartons in warehouses, and harvesting crops in farm fields should translate to economic independence and a brighter future for their families. Regrettably, that is too often not the case.

Steer Clear of these Five Innovation Killers

March 11, 2019

Innovation is difficult to come by. It is a fleeting concept that eludes most companies. In fact, experts say the odds of a new product idea reaching full commercialization are less than 4 percent. That said, innovation is difficult, but not impossible. Chances are, if your organization is struggling to innovate, you’re doing one or more of the following:

Shifting Gears in Automotive

March 8, 2019

Everybody remembers their first car. Mine was an old Lincoln Continental with doors hinged at the rear, often referred to as “suicide doors,” which are apparently being brought back by the automaker. It was a behemoth of a car — barely getting nine miles per gallon, at a time when the United States was dealing with a gas price spike from 38 to 55 cents!

The Red Queen Hypothesis

March 1, 2019

The Red Queen is a fictional character from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. In the book, the Red Queen explains to Alice that her world works differently: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

The View From Digital Supply Chain Control Towers

March 1, 2019

As supply chains becomes longer, more global and increasingly complex, supply chain management professionals need a bird’seye view of their networks to ensure that all of the parts are moving together and performing as expected. Some industy experts believe digital supply chain control towers are the best approach for end-toend management.

Women's Worth

March 1, 2019

Today marks the beginning of International Women’s History Month, a global celebration of the social, economic and political achievements of women, as well as a call to advance gender equality worldwide. This is a significant time to reflect on where we have come and what still must be achieved:

Spacious Potential in the Sharing Economy

February 22, 2019

The sharing economy is no longer just a catchy turn of phrase; today, sharing, renting and subscription services are everywhere. AirBnB for your holiday rental; WeWork for freelancers who prefer the office environment; Rover for the pup’s midday walk; Uber and Lyft when you need someone to drive you places; and Zipcar, LimeBike or Bird Scooters when you’d rather do the driving yourself. The potential applications are endless.

Unlock the Potential of Digital Factories

February 20, 2019

If smart manufacturing vendors hope to fulfill the potential of their solutions and platforms for digital factories, they must build environments where apps can deliver immediate results with stream processing and cloud integration at the edge.

Conversation Stoppers

February 15, 2019

Although the second-most popular Valentine’s Day confection was missing from store shelves this season, the conversation was kept alive — largely thanks to agile competitors who saw a market need and filled the emotional void with comparable offerings. Sour Patch Kids produced hearts with teen slang, such as “BAE” and “TOTES.” Krispy Kreme baked up doughnuts with pastel icing and more traditional phrases of affection. And Rival Brach’s has long made nearly identical conversation hearts to the Sweethearts variety.

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