One way to think of business is as a multiplayer game between the supply chains of different companies. New technology and procedures are continuously employed to enable new ways of purchasing supplies, making products and delivering them to customers. Companies can lower operating expenses and find ways to appeal to more and more customers. An example is the competing supply chains of Walmart and Amazon. Once Walmart introduced new technologies and procedures and changed how their supply chains operated and it drove their fantastic growth. Now Amazon is introducing new technologies and procedures to yet again change how supply chains operate. And it is driving their fantastic growth.
Information technology is merging with traditional technologies used in manufacturing and supply chain operations. Traditional technologies such as machines that make products in factories, forklift trucks that move products within warehouses, and vehicles that deliver products to customers are all taking on new capabilities as they merge with information technology. Activities involved in moving physical products from one location to another remain the same, but the ways in which these activities can be planned and carried out are changing in a big way.
A supply chain is an organization composed of many different individual companies that each have their own businesses yet all work together to make and deliver products to different markets and customers. It’s one thing to talk about securing the operations of a single company, but what about a whole group of companies? How do we provide security – both cyber and physical – to a whole supply chain?
Imagine there is suddenly a real opportunity to stop the fighting in Syria. After months of tense negotiations and years of carnage, all the parties reach an agreement. But unless this agreement is implemented quickly it will collapse into chaos once again. The diplomats and politicians have reached agreement on strategy, now they need professionals to make it happen. And that means logistics and supply chains to support the movement of 500,000 refugees. Immediately.
SITUATION REPORT: The UN Security Council has approved the Munich Security Conference recommendation previously endorsed by the 17-nation International Syria Support Group. In this UN Security Council resolution, a Chapter VII Peace Enforcement mission is authorized with participant nations committing Peace Keeping (PK) forces as part of the approved Peace Support Operation (PSO). The mission has been assigned the code name “Inherent Rescue”.
Gonzalo Florez-Giraldo is working on his degree in global supply chain management and logistics at Houston Community College. A degree in supply chain management opens up a lot of opportunities, because Houston is a hub of commerce with its busy seaport and its location at the center of a transportation network serving much of the Southeastern and Midwestern United States and parts of Mexico.
Using supply chain simulations Gonzalo won first place in an internal contest at Houston Community College, and went on to represent the college in a city-wide contest titled “Houston Logistics Talent Show 2016’, organized by the CSCMP Houston Roundtable (Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals). The contest was an opportunity for innovative and entrepreneurial students at colleges and universities in the Houston area to present their ideas and show how they could improve supply chain operations.
The other day I was indulging in one of my favorite ways to waste time online. I was exploring in Google Maps with the satellite view turned on. I found myself cruising up the Ohio River heading east from Cincinnati, and I came upon a little river town named Gallipolis, Ohio (population 3,641).
Towns like this with their orderly grid pattern of streets, and their quaint downtowns and storefronts, and their Victorian houses and tree lined streets just fascinate me. I zoomed in, switched over to street view, and started cruising along a road called 1st Avenue running parallel to the river. I turned left on a street called State Street, and there in the middle of the block, as I looked to the right, I saw an image of the past and an image of the future caught in a moment of time as they overlapped.
Moment to moment it’s all about creativity and courage. Over the longer term though, it’s about supply chains and sustainability.Cuba is a case in point; its history is so visibly shaped by the interaction of these short term and long term realities.
Arriving in Cuba for the first time is like stepping into a time capsule that has preserved different periods of the country’s history. There’s old Havana filled with cobblestone streets and Spanish colonial buildings. Then there are art deco houses and buildings from the 1930s, and brightly colored and polished American cars from the 1950s: Cadillacs; Ford Fairlanes; and Chevy Nomads. Then there are the little Russian Lada sedans, and the big soviet-style apartment blocks. And mixing in with all that, you can see new Hyundai cars, and recently restored Spanish colonial buildings and art deco houses being turned into art galleries and restaurants. There was then, and is now, a different supply chain connected to each of these periods that made them possible.
Che Guevara and Fidel Castro – 1960 (courtesy Cuban Ministry of Education) Continue reading
Simulations are a great way to learn about and teach about how supply chains work. What used to be so complicated only a small group of experts could understand, is now accessible to anyone wishing to use simulations to analyze supply chain operations and explore different possibilities – SCM Globe.
Simulations show the best way to support a continuous flow of merchandise on the ancient Silk Road was to have large stocks of inventory at key locations. They would act as buffers to absorb the fluctuations in product supply inevitably created by the bullwhip effect. Two such locations are shown in the screenshot below. [This article picks up where the second article “Taming the Bullwhip on the Silk Road” left off]
And this observation raises a big question: Who would have owned and operated the facilities where these huge inventory buffers were located? It required someone with a lot of money to store and protect the inventory, and It required someone who looked to the long term to make money, not just from one year to the next. Let’s see what emerges.
How was it possible in the year 210 A.D. to maintain a continuous flow of merchandise on the Silk Road and to match supply with demand as conditions changed from one year to the next? How could people without telephones or any form of communication faster than the pace of a camel caravan figure out how to operate this vast supply chain without continuously running out of products in one city and building up too much somewhere else? [This article picks up where the first article “Ancient Silk Road – First Global Supply Chain” left off]
Based on simulations of Silk Road operations, and a bit of historical research, an interesting answer emerges. This answer cannot be absolutely verified, yet it fits the available facts and provides a simple and coherent explanation. Let’s start with the simulation results. In the initial simulation the supply chain runs for eight weeks and then silk inventory runs out in Palmyra (4), as shown in the screenshot below.
(click on image for bigger picture) Continue reading