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21st Century Supply Chain

1,229 posts
by Mike McAllister

Business Reporter: The Future of supply chainTrevor Miles on achieving the path to supply chain transparency

When it comes to creating the perfect supply chain, it all starts with transparency.


That’s the stance of Kinaxis thought leader Trevor Miles (follow @milesahead on Twitter), who recently sat down with Business Reporter journalist Alastair Greener in London, England to discuss the future of supply chain, and what the perfect supply chain might look like.


According to Trevor, achieving supply chain transparency removes the “I didn’t know” excuse from the supply chain equation – an excuse that can be traced all the way back to the 1960s.


“Most of the processes we use to manage supply chain were defined in the 1960s when there weren’t any real computers, the advent of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) was nowhere on the horizon, and the internet and web browsers were just figments of our imagination,” says Trevor.


Fast forward 60 years.


Modern-day technologies exist to manage the supply chain, yet we’re still using processes and organizational structures defined from ideas dating from the 1960s.


Why the future of the supply chain looks different

Join Trevor as he identifies the barriers that are still in play and explores the difference between doing digital and being digital. He’ll also discuss how only one is the path to supply chain transparency and a future featuring the perfect supply chain.


Watch Trevor Miles’ interview, “Business Reporter: The Future of the supply chain.”


Watch Trevor Miles’ interview, “Business Reporter: The Future of the supply chain.”


Business Reporter: Future of Supply Chain - Kinaxis


Originally posted by Mike McAllister at

by Alexa Cheater

Don’t let incorrect design assumptions affect supply chain performanceWouldn’t it be nice if your supply chain actually performed the way you designed it to? That doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. Supply chain perfection just got one step closer with the Self-Healing Supply Chain and its ability to improve supply chain design assumptions.


Supply chains are complex and full of inter-dependencies. A problem in one area can wreak widespread havoc on others. Suppliers who are always late or one market consuming all available supply for globally required parts can destroy your ability to meet customer demands.


But it doesn’t have to be that way. Machine learning is the new frontier of supply chain analysis, planning and design.


Achieve supply chain excellence with the Self-Healing Supply Chain

According to Josh Greenbaum, Principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, the Self-Healing Supply Chain is bringing supply chain excellence that much closer to reality. He says in an ideal world, planners would have the ability to compare their supply chain as it was designed, to how it’s actually performing in the real world and make adjustments to select variables to improve overall performance.


“In this ideal supply chain world, monitoring a supply chain’s behavior and identifying when certain elements of the supply chain are both outside expected performance levels and are significant enough to have an overall impact on revenue, customer satisfaction, overall inventory and other business metrics can help planners make adjustments and reduce the risk,” says Greenbaum. They’d be able to identify the root cause of the discrepancy between the reality and expected performance “so that corrective action could help return the system to a more ideal state.” 


Enter the Self-Healing Supply Chain. Built using advanced machine learning algorithms, it bridges the gap between supply chain planning and execution and gives you the visibility you need to spot potential issues and take corrective action before they impact planning performance.


It isn’t just about getting the numbers right. It’s about fueling confidence that your supply chain can deliver on your promises to customers.


A Self-Healing Supply Chain detects inaccurate planning parameters, analyzes the impact on key performance indicators (KPIs), automatically corrects issues and monitors design assumptions to drive continued value over time.


Interested in learning more about improving your supply chain performance?


Download Greenbaum’s white paper, Kinaxis’ Self-Healing Supply Chain: Machine Learning in Service of Supply Chain Excellence.


Download Greenbaum’s white paper, Kinaxis’ Self-Healing Supply Chain: Machine Learning in Service of Supply Chain Excellence.


Business Reporter: Future of Supply Chain - Kinaxis


Originally posted by Alexa Cheater at

by Mike McAllister

Josh Greenbaum & Trevor Miles | The Self-Healing Supply Chain WebinarThe future of supply chain planning has arrived

The notion of a supply chain that heals itself sounds futuristic. Mix in notions such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and you’re not entirely wrong. But unlike that flying car the Jetsons promised we would have by now, the self-healing supply chain is real.


Having already proven its value for companies like Schneider Electric and MSD (also known as Merck & Co., Inc. in the US and Canada), the Self-Healing Supply ChainTM is forcing us to re-imagine what’s possible when it comes to supply chain planning.


Register to watch this on-demand webinar to hear industry experts Josh Greenbaum, Principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, and Trevor Miles, Thought Leader at Kinaxis, discuss:


  • What a self-healing supply chain is, along with the concepts and technologies that lie behind it
  • How the Self-Healing Supply Chain has already helped companies realize improvements in supply chain planning
  • Practical advice on what it takes to implement the Self-Healing Supply Chain, and how you can get started today

Find out how the Self-Healing Supply Chain can help you take the robot out of the human, and how you can start trusting your data again. Join us for this supply chain webinar today.


Self-Healing Supply Chain webinar


Business Reporter: Future of Supply Chain - Kinaxis


Originally posted by Mike McAllister at

by Dr. Madhav Durbha

Dana Stiffler - Gartner Supply Chain Executive ConferenceSupply chain insights from leading industry experts

Supply chain skills in high demand, digital twins, disruptive technologies, and other takeaways from the 2018 Gartner supply chain conference


I just returned from the highly engaging and inspiring Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. With more than 2200 supply chain professionals in attendance, the event had a very good representation across practitioners, technology providers, and consultants.


Here are some key takeaways from the Gartner supply chain event:


1. Disruptive skills in high demand

During her keynote speech, Dana Stiffler, research VP at Gartner shared statistics highlighting how hard it is to find professionals who have the supply chain domain competence and strong knowledge of AI/ML technologies in the greater Chicago area.


Population of greater Chicago ~ 3,600,000
of these, those who know Production Planning and Forecasting ~ 5,600
of these, those with advanced digital skills (Tableau, SQL, Python) ~ 270
of these, those with AI/ML skills ~ 35


While the absolute numbers can be debated, I have to agree with how narrow the funnel gets as one hones in on the skills needed to enable truly digital supply chains. Dana stated that leading supply chain organizations such as Amazon are looking for disruptive skills such as Lean/six-sigma, SQL, project management, R, Perl, and Python in addition to the core supply chain skills, as compared to lagging organizations primarily looking for ERP and excel skills.


Through my interactions with college students majoring in supply chain, I do see them taking a wide variety of courses that cross over into newer tools and technologies. This should partly address the need for such skill scarcity. However, this shortage will remain for the foreseeable future. This provides a great career opportunities for highly motivated professionals willing to invest time into picking up some of these new skills through very affordable courseware such as Coursera, Udemy, etc.




2. Fostering innovation through employee engagement

Ana Dzura of Unilever talked about how her organization established a “Digifund” to drive innovation at the grassroots level. Anyone in the organization may submit a four-minute video pitching their idea. From the time of submission, the governance committee has 48 hours to review the idea. If approved, the idea gets funds allocated to the tune of ten thousand Euros or so.


Here are some real results from such “Digifund” initiatives:


  1. Significantly improved on-shelf availability for one category for one country for one retailer.
  2. Direct to consumer online shop launched with fully functioning billing, payment, shipping capabilities. The site was launched in eight weeks. New product was directly tested with consumers and the online shop was taken down upon successfully completing the consumer trial.
  3. Partnered with a plastic packaging company and technology company to collaborate and reduce the plastic content in the packaging for a particular product by 15 percent.
  4. Partnered with some African governments to ensure respect for human rights of farmers working in tea plantations while significantly improving their livelihoods and creating local jobs.

Given the success of such microfunded projects, “Digifund” idea is gaining further traction across other organizations in Unilever.




3. Decoupling of economic recovery and job creation

In a highly inspiring key note presentation at the supply chain conference, Fareed Zakaria of CNN spoke about how the jobs recovery following the 2008 recession lagged the economic recovery by as much as 64 months while the same metric for the previous recessions was significantly narrower. He attributed this decoupling of economic recovery and job creation to the rise of the innovative digital technologies and automation.


While observing that US and Israel are lagging several other countries such as Singapore and South Korea in standardized tests, he attributed the innovation of US and Israel to the high self-esteem of the students, fostering entrepreneurial spirit. He concluded his presentation by urging the audience to think of how we as supply chain community can ensure that human beings are not left behind amidst tech powered productivity gains.


4. Digital process prototypes

“Digital twin” was the in thing at this year’s Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference. The rise in computational power and storage capacity is making it practical for organizations to create a digital copy of their entire end-to-end supply chain in the cloud with all the data and knowledge of the business. This digital twin allows supply chain professionals to simulate a variety of conditions and implement them in their physical supply chains with little to no latency. Agile implementation methods are allowing organizations to test new ideas quickly. One of the technology vendors commented that doing six-month long process assessments before taking on technology is a thing of the past. His view is that technology has reached a point where the process assessment can take place by prototyping ideas on technology platform, learn quickly and evolve. I fully concur with this point of view.


5. Preparing for direct-to-consumer business models

Simon Bailey of Gartner spoke about how the traditional companies need to pivot towards direct-to-consumer (DTC) models. Manufacturers that are used to shipping pallets and cartons to retailers will need to be prepared for the world of shipping eaches to consumers and do so economically. This will call for partnerships with service providers, enabling the ‘Uberization of transportation’ and warehousing.


Simon advocated that traditional metrics such as on-shelf availability (OSA) will need to be augmented with the likes of online availability (OLA). He gave examples of how large companies are acquiring digital startups. L’Oreal’s acquisition of NYX cosmetics, Walmart’s acquisition of, and Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club were all cited as examples of how learnings from the acquired entities are being applied to the acquiring companies’ DTC capabilities.


6. Beefing up the bottom line while saving the earth

James McCall of P&G shared how his company was able to save US$2 billion in ten years by investing in the ‘circular economy’ wherein the waste produced by their operations is used as raw material for making other products instead of leaving it to the landfill. Here are some examples he shared:


  1. Surfactants from shampoos were recovered and converted into car wash solution
  2. Plastic shampoo sachets in India are now being recycled into building panels
  3. In China, cake derived from the waste water sludge from Pantene and Head & Shoulders is being used as raw material to make bricks by a local company
  4. Absorbent materials from feminine care products are being turned into industrial spill containment fabric

To influence the culture change in the organization, he said the organization now refers to waste as ‘assets to be recovered’. Co-presenting with James was Pam Fitzpatrick of Gartner who said that such initiatives are gaining traction with the boards of corporations who are viewing them as investments in resource efficiency. A win-win proposition for corporations and the environment alike!


7. Blockchain, cloud, mobile, and familiar faces

Beyond the aforementioned topics and supply chain insights, Blockchain was talked about but not as much as I expected. Not totally surprising though, as this tends to be a more dominant topic these days in life sciences or food industry specific forums due to trace-ability and regulatory requirements.


Another general theme was that not one company can do it all in enabling a true digital experience for consumers. Ecosystems will need to be formed across makers, movers, and merchants of physical goods, and technology providers. Cloud and mobile technologies will be pivotal to powering such ecosystems.


Besides all the learnings, Gartner supply chain events provide a great venue for reunions and reconnecting. I could not walk more than twenty steps at a time throughout the conference without running into someone I know of from the past. The hairs have turned grey and the hairlines grew thinner in some cases. There sure were more wrinkles on the faces. But the warmth and the friendly nature was intact.


In all cases, we were able to pick up the conversations from where we left them years ago without skipping a beat. Yet another reminder of the power of humanity, which the machines are yet to replicate!


The Self-Healing Supply Chain: Machine Learning in Service of Supply Chain Excellence


Originally posted by Dr. Madhav Durbha at

by Alexa Cheater

Is your supply chain data fake news?Reality doesn’t always reflect your intended supply chain design

Closing the gap between how you designed your supply chain to work, and how it’s actually performing improves your ability to predict revenues, satisfy customer demands and maximize financial performance.


Just look at assumed lead times. When assumptions don’t reflect the as-demonstrated state, there are big impacts on crucial metrics like revenue-at-risk, customer satisfaction and inventory costs. But for most, finding ways to detect, measure and correct this vast divide isn’t only painful, it’s virtually impossible.


Correcting inaccurate supply chain design assumptions means you’ll be able to:


  • More reliably model revenue and profit so you have a better picture of your company’s health
  • Spot performance degradation faster so you can take action before it impacts the bottom line
  • Empower your team to focus on exceptions and stop wasting time chasing down the everyday

Machine learning can help — if you can cut through all the hype

When it comes to fake news, some machine learning supply chain solutions are full of it. Whether it’s over-hyped promises with no practical application, or functionality that’s been around for years dressed up to look like something new. Real-world solutions are out there, though. You just have to look for them. To avoid making a big investment that only yields small results, choose a solution:


  1. Built with a practical use case in mind
    Advanced algorithms won’t benefit you if they aren’t performing a function that improves your supply chain performance.
  2. Developed with customer input
    Academics in ivory towers can only provide so much insight. There’s something to be said for hands on testing by peers with similar goals.
  3. Designed to focus on data accuracy first
    If the data’s wrong, the results will be too. It’s as simple as that.

Revolutionize performance with a Self-Healing Supply Chain

Implement machine learning in a way that actually provides value. The Self-Healing Supply Chain™, makes it easy to compare your as-designed and as-demonstrated supply chain performance and then automatically corrects any inaccurate design assumptions.


  • Detect inaccurate design assumptions, such as lead times, using historical data so you know where to focus your attention first
  • Alert you when discrepancies are discovered, providing a summary of the findings and recommended actions so you can get moving on next steps
  • Analyze and provide a visualization of potential impacts on critical business metrics so you understand how making corrections can help your success
  • Suggest actions for supply chain design inconsistencies outside the automatic correction thresholds so you can collaborate with stakeholders and suppliers to quickly address outstanding issues
  • Automatically monitor and adjust design inputs based on personalized tolerance thresholds so your supply chain is always in top health, letting you see increasing value over time

Get started with your own Self-Healing Supply Chain, part of Kinaxis® RapidResponse®.


Visit to learn how.


Self-Healing Supply Chain - Kinaxis




The Self-Healing Supply Chain: Machine Learning in Service of Supply Chain Excellence


Originally posted by Alexa Cheater at

by Mike McAllister

The Self-Healing Supply Chain Register. Meet. Greet. That’s always a solid day one at any conference.


If you’re lucky (and not too jet lagged), you’ll sneak in an early session or two, and you might even find time for cocktail that evening.


To add a bit of extra zing to day one at this year’s Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in Phoenix, AZ, Kinaxis announced the launch of the ™ to improve supply chain performance and keep it operating in top health, automatically closing the gap between design and actual results.


Watch the teaser video below, and drop us a note to find out how you can put the Self-Healing Supply Chain to work for you.


Play the video on


Stay tuned for more on the Self-Healing Supply Chain on the blog in the days to come. In the meantime, here are a few highlights featuring what Kinaxis was up to on day one, along with a reminder to redeem your door drop for your pair of super comfy and totally cool Stance socks. Finally! A give away people will actually use!


Day one at Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference started, as such events do with registration — sponsored by Kinaxis. Lines were long, but they moved fast — because we’re all about allowing you to get to your meetings and sessions quicker (so you can ‘know sooner’), and we don’t believe in doing much waiting around (that’s the ‘acting faster’ part).




Kinaxis Product Manager Jennifer Bell was already attending sessions on day one, and makes a great follow for supply chain professionals near and far.




Later in the day, while our new CMO Jay Muelhoefer was arriving, our marketing team was organizing a rather daunting mountain of new Stance socks, adorning them with the Kinaxis stickers in preparation for Monday night’s door drop.




Just bring the Kinaxis door drop card (the one with all the socks on it) to the Kinaxis booth (401) to get your feet on the best pair of socks you’ll ever own.


Have a great Tuesday, and we’ll see you at the booth!


Automotive industry spotlight


Originally posted by Mike McAllister at

by Teresa Chiykowski

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin


Well said, Mr. Darwin. As the world changes around us, so must the supply chain. That’s why we invite RapidResponse users to join us from October 14-17, 2018 for Kinexions ’18 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD.


With a focus on supply chain digitization, transformation and revolution, Kinexions promises to be the premier event for the RapidResponse user community, including customers, partners and prospects.


“More” awaits attendees at Kinexions ‘18

Each year, attendees join other Kinaxis customers from around the world to engage in two full days of networking, motivational keynotes, informative general sessions and compelling breakouts delivered by customers, product experts and partners. At the heart of the sessions will be how conference-goers can get more from their supply chain, more from their RapidResponse investment and more from their overall Kinexions experience.


Inspiring keynote speakers

This year, we’re pleased to welcome two distinguished keynote speakers to Kinexions ’18.


Megan J SmithMegan J. Smith is an award-winning entrepreneur, engineer and tech evangelist. As the third U.S. chief technology officer, Smith helped President Barack Obama and his teams harness the power of technology, data and innovation to advance the future of our nation and the world. She recruited top tech talent to serve across government and to collaborate on the most pressing issues of the day, from data science, AI and open source, to inclusive economic growth and criminal justice reform. Smith recently co-founded a company, shift7, focusing on tech-forward networked innovation for impact and economic inclusion.


Dr. Tricia WangDr. Tricia Wang is a global technology ethnographer who helps companies innovate and grow by integrating big data – all that you know about your customers and your market – with thick data, the human element that is invisible to quantitative data analysis. Dr. Wang is the cofounder of Sudden Compass, a consulting firm that helps companies achieve growth by scaling and extracting insights from data about their customers.


Stay tuned for more…

Over the coming months, we’ll be updating you on the latest plans for Kinexions ’18. In the meantime, reflect on supply chain events and key takeaways from Kinexions ’17 and visit our website to learn more about Kinexions ’18.




Automotive industry spotlight


Originally posted by Teresa Chiykowski at

by Nazli Erdogus

How to Prepare for the EU’s New GDPR Data Protection Rules – KinaxisThe EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most important change in personal data privacy regulation in 20 years. It’s aimed at tech giants and small and medium enterprises alike.


As we count down the days until the GDPR enters into force on May 25, it’s important to recognize how your supply chain is affected and how it can become GDPR compliant.


What is GDPR and how will it impact my supply chain?

I’d like to take this opportunity to point out a few critical issues that will have a direct impact on your business and supply chain.


You may be wondering, “If I’m in North America, am I’m bound by these new rules?” Well, the EU data protection regulation makes it very clear that its new rules do apply, no matter where you reside or where your business is based.


As this broad territorial scope suggests, all companies processing personal data for those residing within the EU must comply—regardless of company location. Previously, this was subject to interpretation—but the rules are much clearer now.


Penalties for breaching GDPR are unforgiving

Organizations not in compliance with GDPR can be fined up to four percent of annual global turnover or €20 Million, whichever is greater. This would be the maximum fine for the most serious infringements, such as not having sufficient customer consent to process the data or a direct violation of the core of the GDPR’s Privacy by Design concepts.


Impact of GDPR on supply chains

The impact of GDPR on supply chains is no less severe. As the new rules apply for EU data—regardless of a company’s location—each tier in a supply chain (from third party suppliers to distributors) must comply and be transparent about the steps they’ve taken to comply.


The amount of data produced today (let’s call it ‘big data’) fuels a company’s ability to make key decisions across all aspects of their business. The revolutionary technologies that have enabled modern business—such as infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, software as a service and business processes as a service—all need to be reexamined under the new rules.


And what about your supply chain tiers?

If your company is working with a new supplier, your contract with that supplier needs to precisely state what data will be shared, how long it can be kept and what happens to it at the end of a contract.


For existing suppliers, contracts will require an update to reflect the new rules and must also go through a full review. Some suppliers may even need to complete an audit or be trained to ensure their infrastructure lives up to the new contracts. On top of that, the EU data protection regulation will also apply to all cloud software solutions used in your company.


The prevalence of cloud-based BI tools from multiple vendors for different departments in the organization must also be considered. Any platform that collects and analyzes data deemed ‘personal data’ in your supply chain—be it raw, customer specific (i.e. price, volume) data or analyzed data through special analytics in calculated reports—are also very sensitive and must be in compliance.


As you can see, GDPR permeates all levels of an organization and its supply chain, and it brings into play personal data management within supply chains very quickly. GDPR impacts specific measures such as data encryption within purchased services to ensure security, confidentiality, integrity, morality and resilience of data.


How have you prepared for the GDPR data protection rules? Is your supply chain ready for it? Let us know in the comments.


Automotive industry spotlight


Originally posted by Nazli Erdogus at

by Dr. Madhav Durbha

LogiPharma 18


In early April I attended the LogiPharma Europe 2018 conference in Montreux, Switzerland, an event that attracted more than 800 attendees, including practitioners and executives from pharma and medical device industries, along with software vendors and many service providers.


Here are some key takeaways from a content-rich, fun and exciting pharma supply chain conference.


1. Patient-centric networks are reshaping pharma supply chains

In a thought provoking presentation, Philippe Francois, global head of supply chain for Novartis, observed that while pharma companies have been talking about patient centricity for years, a typical pharma supply chain links the Active Pharma Ingredient (API) to manufacturing, distribution, retail/pharmacy, and finally to patient—with the patient always at the end of the chain!


Francois talked about how cell and gene therapies are personalizing medicine, putting individual patients at the center of the supply network. Francois discussed the specific example of CAR-T cell therapy for certain types of cancers wherein immune cells harvested from a patient are reengineered at a production facility, and are then reinjected into the patient so the reprogrammed cells fight cancer. In this instance, the supply chain begins and ends with a specific patient, providing an extreme example of personalized medicine. Given that the cells involved are living, they have very short lifespans and must be shipped in tightly managed, cryogenic conditions in a timely manner. From the moment the cells are harvested, downstream visibility is extremely important with no margin of error.


Interestingly, just a day before the LogiPharma conference, Novartis announced the acquisition of AveXis, a gene therapy company for US$8.7B. While this announcement brings some very exciting opportunities for Novartis, it ups the ante in terms of the required supply chain competence. Francois said such advances in personalized medicine are forcing pharma companies to think differently. Also, reimbursements in such treatments are linked to outcomes, truly placing the patient at the center.


2. Lessons from Amazon for pharma companies in enabling patient centricity

Philippe Hemard, former VP of Logistics Europe for Amazon, discussed what pharma companies need to learn from Amazon:


  1. As life expectancy grows, there will be more patients with mobility issues. Delivering the product in the most convenient way—when and where they need it—will be a differentiator.
  2. Patients will need to enjoy the benefits of same-day delivery, something Amazon has clearly demonstrated is feasible in the non-pharma space.
  3. Excellence in operations driven by end-to-end visibility into inventory levels will be important. Amazon manages millions of SKUs with such visibility, which is something pharma distribution networks must quickly aspire to.
  4. Bring cost and affordability to patients by reducing the costs of delivery.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done. Amazon has the scale to manage the distribution in a cost-effective manner. It will be interesting to see how pharma rises to the challenge, especially with Amazon’s entry into the space looming on the horizon.


3. Concurrent planning breaking down silos

In a very compelling presentation, Brian Thornley of Merck spoke of his organization’s journey from siloed, node-to-node planning to concurrent planning. To highlight his point, Thornley shared this example: The API was manufactured in China, granulation was performed in Puerto Rico, and then packaging was performed in Netherlands. In his previous reality, planners were very focused on these individual steps but not for the end-to-end flow.


Now, with concurrent planning, planners not only have end-to-end visibility of the product flow plans but also can simulate a variety of scenarios. For example, what if sales were to increase by 20 percent, or what if a piece of equipment goes offline? Do I have the system-wide ability to support the demand in such situation and still manage my assets and inventory effectively? Planners can now quickly assess impacts and evaluate options based on such scenarios.


4. Taming supply chain planning complexity through automation

Niall Kennedy of Gilead Sciences spoke about how an integrated supply chain transformation program is helping his company keep pace with the growth in the business. Some of Gilead’s drugs contain up to four APIs, with each API having several variants. This results in significant planning complexity that must consider regulatory compliance regarding where the lots are made and where the lots are eligible to be sold based on genealogy.


Planners once carried the burden of this complexity in their heads as previous planning systems could not account for regulatory constraints. This resulted in plans that were not feasible to execute. Today, Gilead leverages Kinaxis RapidResponse® to integrate its regulatory database with supply chain planning. With this, the full level pegging of demands to the supply in various stages in their master production schedule honors regulatory rules, making the plans realistic and feasible. This makes for a powerful pharmaceutical supply chain management story!


5. Pharma supply chain projects are moving from linear to agile

Several presenters commented that their organizations are moving away from linear-style project management to a culture of experimentation. Hussain Mooraj of Deloitte said it well with the “think big, start small, scale fast” approach that he sees more and more companies taking. This observation matches what I am seeing in pharma companies and in other industries I work with. The days of massive implementations with questionable payoff are numbered. We’re tackling more and more projects in smaller chunks, with pay-as-you-go models. Clould-based offerings are enabling such consumption models. The rise of cloud-based technologies is evidenced by the number of software vendors, 3PL and 4PL companies in attendance at the event who were there speaking to the virtues of cloud.


6. Smart devices enable digital supply chains

Simon Orchard of Pfizer spoke of the pilot projects his team is working on in the field of GPS-enabled temperature sensing to monitor cold chain logistics. Orchard also discussed a pilot that leverages drones for inventory cycle counting in warehouses. Instead of conducting labor intensive cycle counts once or twice a year, Orchard described how Pfizer uses drones to perform cycle counts overnight to significantly improve inventory accuracy and reduce labor costs. Several vendors at the event showcased a variety of IoT devices, most of which provided temperature and location monitoring and logging such information in the cloud.


Of course, a pharma supply chain conference is not complete without talking about Blockchain. However, it is clear the presenters on the topic had more questions than answers. Supply chains for personalized medicine need to operate with 100 percent precision, and in my view Blockchain could very well prove to be useful in such contexts. The high revenue opportunity associated with personalized medicine (with therapies costing hundreds of thousands of dollars!) can help justify the investment in the Blockchain technology.


This pharma supply chain conference was both energizing and thought provoking. LogiPharma Europe 2018 was a great opportunity to reconnect with several customers and business partners, while establishing new connections, which will no doubt prove long lasting.


Automotive industry spotlight


Originally posted by Dr. Madhav Durbha at

by Alexa Cheater

The solution to supply chain issues in the automotive industry

Don’t put your supply chain profits and productivity at risk. New technologies, emerging and shifting markets, disconnected regional processes, increasing volumes and added customer demands—these are just a few of the speed bumps automotive supply chains are facing. And not addressing all that mounting complexity could be putting your supply chain profits and productivity at risk.


But shining the headlights on these potential issues isn’t enough to solve them. To keep your automotive supply chain on the road to success, you’ll need to realign, consolidate and coordinate supply chain planning across all tiers and regions in your network, including suppliers. And that means connecting data, processes and people into a single supply chain planning platform—one that utilizes concurrent planning.


No more wasting time chasing down disparate data, struggling to harmonize regional and global processes or trying to get your worldwide workforce to collaborate. With concurrent planning, you can plan expected performance, monitor progress and respond when changes happen. That will help drive down costs, improve efficiency and better prepare you to stay competitive in an increasingly demanding landscape.


By facing complexity head-on, you can achieve:


  • Higher customer satisfaction levels – With improved demand forecasting, you’ll be better equipped to understand which cars with which options customers in each region want.
  • Lower inventory costs – Better supply and demand alignment means you’ll have less capital tied up in inventory, since you won’t be holding the wrong parts in the wrong locations.
  • Greater revenue and market share – With properly balanced supply and demand, you’ll have enough of the right products to meet customer requests—something your competitors could still be struggling with if they haven’t overcome complexity.

Interested in learning more about overcoming complexity in your automotive supply chain?


Download our industry spotlight to see how concurrent planning can help you steer clear of speed bumps and fuel your supply chain profits.


Download Automotive Industry Spotlight


The post Is global complexity driving your automotive supply chain to the edge? appeared first on The 21st Century Supply Chain.


Automotive industry spotlight


Originally posted by Alexa Cheater at

by Bill DuBois

Top 10 signs you’ve been working in supply chain too long


Boomers, millennial leadership and supply chain management jokes. Is it time for the older generation to move on?

It’s no secret supply chain talent has been top of mind for many executives for some time. Research firm Gartner even has it listed as a hot topic for its Supply Chain Executive Conference in Phoenix, May 14–17.


There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is the aging population. A number of reports from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and Pew Research Center state 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day. It’s easy to speculate there would be some supply chain talent retiring. The question is: How do you replace the knowledge gap created by those retirements?


Secondly, there are more millennials entering the supply chain workforce. While millennials are often given a bad rap for being hypersensitive, they certainly bring another level of leadership to supply chain management.


Is it time for us boomers to make way for millennial leadership? If you have any doubts, check out this list of the top 10 signs you’ve been in supply chain too long.


Top 10 signs you’ve been in supply chain too long:

  1. The mission statement at your first inventory management job was, “If they can build it, we can store it.”
  2. When you first started your career, your supply chain started at the front door and ended at the back door.
  3. You know all your planners’ names… and the names of their children… and grandchildren.
  4. The early days of capacity planning consisted of calling Joe in operations to see if his team could produce a few more units.
  5. The young gun on your planning team only has 15 years of experience.
  6. Your first mentor was Henry Ford.
  7. Globalization used to mean ordering Chinese for the office lunch.
  8. When you asked your demand planner about the forecast, he or she would give you the chance of rain.
  9. You have a new boss—a millennial—who also happens to be best friends with your children.
  10. You don’t find this or any other supply chain top 10 list amusing.

Supply chain management jokes aside, we hope to see all supply chain millennials and millennials-at-heart at the Kinaxis booth at the Gartner Executive Supply Chain Conference.


Stop by and say hello!


The post Top 10 signs you’ve been working in supply chain too long appeared first on The 21st Century Supply Chain.


Automotive industry spotlight


Originally posted by Bill DuBois at

by Alexa Cheater

Artificial Intelligence in Supply Chain Management – KinaxisFaster, smarter, more profitable supply chain decisions

Transitioning from hype to reality, artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining momentum across industries thanks to an explosion in computing power and storage, the emergence of IoT (Internet of Things) and big data, and algorithmic advances. While there have been numerous examples of how AI can boost profits in supply chain execution—most notably in the form of autonomous vehicles and smart robotics—the benefits related to supply chain planning have largely been ignored.


But that’s starting to change as future-focused executives see the potential to improve profitability and productivity by making faster, smarter supply chain planning decisions. The first step in achieving those benefits is understanding AI and the other technologies associated with it, and where they can help improve your supply chain planning initiatives.


Emerging technologies and how they relate to supply chain planning

People often use AI as a catch-all term for any kind of technology that involves smart machines. And while many of those fields do fall under the AI umbrella, it’s still important to know some of the key differences between the terminology. Here are three simple definitions of AI and related technologies, plus how they apply to supply chain planning.


1. Artificial intelligence

The ability of a machine to perform human-like functions such as perceiving, reasoning, learning, interacting with the environment, problem solving and exercising creativity to form plans, make decisions and achieve goals.


Use in supply chain planning:


  • Amplify the value of your existing processes and people with machine-assisted planning, which can help you bridge the knowledge gap between experienced and inexperienced planners, and gain real-time recommendations based on historical and current data analysis.
  • Improve your supply chain visibility and risk insight by using AI to track and predict possible supply chain disruptions based on inputs and correlations across multiple data sources, including weather forecasts, news and even social media.

2. Machine learning

A subset of AI, machine learning is a method of data analysis where machines use algorithms to detect patterns, learn to make predictions and make recommendations by finding hidden insights in your data without being explicitly programmed where to look.


Use in supply chain planning:


  • Unlock new sources of revenue savings by implementing a self-healing supply chain that can continuously observe, monitor and correct out-of-tolerance lead times for all related products based on historical data and slope.
  • Increase customer service levels with more accurate demand behavior for new products by using algorithms based on early-sell signals to optimize inventory levels and replenishment plans.

3. Deep learning

A subset of machine learning, deep learning leverages neural networks to understand vast amounts of unstructured or unlabeled data in either a supervised, semi-supervised or unsupervised way, drawing conclusions, learning if those conclusions are correct and then applying that learning to new data sets.


Use in supply chain planning:


  • Save time and money with an always-on automated planning agent that automatically handles low impact exceptions as they arise, delivers detailed reports on its observations and the corrective actions it took, and send alerts to the right people when larger issues arise.

Companies are making big strides in developing and deploying real, practical applications of AI in supply chain management and planning. Before jumping on the bandwagon, ensure you’re not getting caught up in the hype and truly understand what you’re signing on for, because while AI is helping pioneer a new future, it still has its limitations.


How are you exploring AI in supply chain planning? Let us know in the comments section.


The post An executive’s guide to AI in supply chain management appeared first on The 21st Century Supply Chain.


Avaya digital transformation - Kinaxis


Originally posted by Alexa Cheater at

by Bill DuBois

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to changeOn March 14, 2018, the world lost an unbelievable talent in Stephen Hawking. Tributes continue to pour in around the globe for a man who gave so much to science, all while fighting motor neuron disease since the age of 21. As astronaut Chris Hadfield commented on Twitter, “Genius is so fine and rare.”


Fortunately, for us, Hawking’s genius will live forever as his words continue to inspire generations. He had many great quotes that motivate anyone regardless of profession. Like many others, I try my best to apply Hawking’s wisdom to my work. If you’re reading this, that work is likely improving supply chain planning and our lives in general. The two often intertwine, which makes the wisdom even more valuable.


With that in mind, I thought I’d pass along some of my favorite Stephen Hawking quotes and tie them to supply chain planning. Here are my top five favorite quotes from the brilliant mind of Stephen Hawking:


1. “Quiet people have the loudest minds.”

How often have you been in a meeting or on an implementation project with one silent person? If this quote has taught me anything, it’s that everyone has a voice. In supply chain planning, that’s especially true for the people doing the planning. The most successful projects I’ve witnessed are those where everyone has a voice. Sometimes people just want to get on with planning, but when they take the time to open up about current challenges, solutions start to become more obvious.


2. “Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.”

From a supply chain perspective, when I hear the word survival, my first thoughts are about managing unexpected change. In particular, change caused by natural disasters such as the tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes that have occurred in recent years. Ultimately, it’s the active minds of the supply chain communities who look for the solutions to these problems, as well as continuing education that leads to significant process improvements. It’s not uncommon for companies to invest in centers of excellence to learn and share best practices. I admire how Hawking could maintain a sense of humor in spite of his disability. You can’t deny that he loved what he did because his work made him so happy. He didn’t have time to complain, which brings me to the next quote.


3. “It’s a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life, and I haven’t done badly. People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”

Time is the most precious thing we have. It’s so valuable you can’t even put a price tag on it. You’ll give it freely to people you love and find interesting. However, start wasting someone’s time and see how fast they disengage. When solving supply chain planning problems, complaints don’t help. It would be easy to complain about those unexpected changes and make excuses for expedites, excess inventories, and missed deliveries. Who could blame you after facing supply chain challenges, such as natural disasters?


True supply chain leaders replace excuses with lessons learned. They don’t get angry, they get motivated to do better the next time and improve supply chain planning so that managing unexpected change becomes as easy as a pit crew changing a tire for a Formula One car. People are interested in solutions, and motivation— unlike anger and complaints—is contagious.


4. “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

Supply chain planners have become masters of change. Explore any supply chain blog for a list of challenges planners face and the extent that change in the supply chain has intensified. Decades ago, successful supply chain leaders realized that they would have to get good at change. Maybe it’s supply chain intelligence, wisdom or—as mentioned in the second quote—survival. Whatever you call it, adapting to change is smart and can be profitable.


5. “I have no idea what my IQ is. People who boast about their IQ are losers.”

It’s difficult to define a human being by a number. Education, experience, hardship, relationships— among so many other things—make a person who they are. It’s that mix that makes a person a valuable team member, not just an IQ number. When working with other companies on their supply chain challenges, not once did someone ask me my IQ. However, they did want to hear about other companies and the experiences our deployment teams brought to the table. If it’s good enough for Stephen Hawking not to know his IQ, it’s good enough for me.


Do you have other favorite Stephen Hawking quotes? Let us know in the comments.


The post A brilliant mind: 5 Stephen Hawking quotes appeared first on The 21st Century Supply Chain.


Avaya digital transformation - Kinaxis


Originally posted by Bill DuBois at

by Ilyas Kucukcay

Space: The final logistics and supply chain management frontierRecent advancements in the space launch market may indicate an increased need for logistics and supply chain management in outer space operations. Humankind’s ongoing curiosity about space has countries competing to prove they have not only the technology, but also the resources and collective knowledge to go beyond our imagination.


Accessing what’s beyond our globe has become an accepted source of socio-political promotion. It’s an indication of a society that can use advanced supply chain technology to achieve the best, and to find and harvest the undiscovered.


The space industry was born from military-related needs during and after World War II, and evolved into a commercially beneficial industry for governments and accredited companies all around the world. Today’s government-based space agencies collaborate to advance the science, technology and services needed to support their programs. In parallel, privately held and publicly traded companies like SpaceX, Arianespace, Orbital Sciences and Sierra Nevada Corporation boost the number of manufacturing options for space-related programs while contributing to the innovation of space and rocket technology.


SpaceX recently launched the revolutionary Falcon Heavy rocket, an internally funded program that’s the most powerful operational rocket in history. The achievement proves to the world that components can be successfully re-used to launch and lift relatively bigger supplies into outer space, underscoring the importance of streamlining multi-purpose inbound and outbound delivery operations in the near future.


Improvements and innovations like Falcon Heavy are also a clear indication that logistics and supply chain management will become that much more important for the space industry in the following ways:


Supply and Logistics of Materials


This is the material that will be used for routine activities and operations, from the supply of food to the staff who’ll operate the missions to the re-usable technology that will allow humans to travel and work in space. Also included are critical materials such as fuel needed to support renewable energy sources within the spacecraft, oxygen to sustain life and spare parts that may be needed during the mission.


Space Logistics and Supply Chain


Space-related operations are projected to form humankind’s largest supply chain network. This network will help deliver humans and technology to outer space with the lowest possible operational cost and risk. In the long run, the supply chain will help make space exploration sustainable, giving us the ability to harvest resources from other planets and deliver them to earth to provide new sources of raw material and enable various industries. Managing the supply chain and logistics in space will not be easy and is still speculative on many levels.


However, many organizations have already started working on a variety of space-earth supply chain technology concepts. For example, MIT’s Interplanetary Supply Chain Management and Logistics Architectures (IPSCM&LA) project is funded to “develop an integrated capability for guiding the development of the interplanetary supply chain that will be required to enable sustainable space exploration of the Earth-Moon-Mars system and beyond.”


Space exploration is no longer a competition between superpowers. In addition to NASA and Roscosmos, other players like China Aerospace Industry Corporation (CASC), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and European Space Agency (ESA) are planning to expand their space operations to increase efficiency, while independent companies like SpaceX and Arianespace provide cost-efficient launch and delivery programs with re-usable technologies.


The field of logistics and supply chain management is key to sustainable space exploration. Governments and private and public organizations boost the level of competition, providing new sources of technology, scientific research and human capital, and create new supply chains and logistics to efficiently deliver the material for these initiatives to succeed.


The future holds exciting and innovative discoveries in space exploration. While it’s exciting to witness early improvements in the industry, a diverse network of players will add value to the mix and push innovations in aerospace supply chain management and supply chain technology even further.


I would love to hear your ideas about how companies like SpaceX and Arianespace will change the nature of supply chain management and logistics. Looking forward to your comments!


The post Space: The final logistics and supply chain management frontier appeared first on The 21st Century Supply Chain.


Avaya digital transformation - Kinaxis


Originally posted by Ilyas Kucukcay at

by Alexa Cheater

Digital Supply Chain Strategy: Challenges and Next Steps – KinaxisGoing digital has become top of mind for most supply chain leaders these days. But finding success through digital transformation is still an elusive venture. According to recent research by the Korn Ferry Institute, all 100 senior supply chain executives the firm surveyed said digital supply chains have the potential to revolutionize businesses. Seventy-four percent admitted they still have a long way to go before that becomes reality. So, what’s standing in their way (and possibly yours as well)?


Lack of a clear digital supply chain strategy

Nearly half of respondents noted that while they have started on digitization, their strategy only considers the impact on the business, not how to implement digital in the supply chain. This could be due in part to lack of engagement at the executive and board level.


“The missing capability is understanding of supply chain at the board level. Supply chain is seen as cost down, whereas we should see it as a new revenue model generator. Everything comes back to the leadership challenge; why are we failing to get the right leadership at the top?” called out Janet Godsell, University of Warwick’s professor of operations and supply chain strategy at Warwick Manufacturing Group, in the report.


“UK boards are dominated by commercial and financial backgrounds, and even if you change the gender and ethnic mix, this does not overcome every angle of the lack of diversity. fficers are a relatively new addition to the executive board, but are not usually on the main board at the top table.”


But a lack of a clear digital strategy isn’t the only barrier to success.


Limited availability of digital talent

Just over half of survey participants stated they have a formal leader in place for their supply chain digitization movement, with many feeling top digital talent is hard to find and attract. As Korn Ferry points out, Generation Y gets bored easily, and keeping them engaged at your company adds to the challenge.


The consensus from the survey results is that hiring talent with the necessary skills is the preferred way to build and develop digital capabilities in the supply chain, with internal training coming in second. However, the survey also notes a lack of financial commitment to develop those skills internally, with two out of three executives allocating less than 10 percent of their learning and development budget to digitization.


Those with clear digital leaders in place and a plan to attract new talent or develop existing resources are ahead of the pack. A staggering number—three out of four respondents—said they haven’t formally assessed the digitization readiness of their existing supply chain employees, and roughly half have no plans to do so.


Next steps toward digital supply chain success

Supply chains have transformed over the past decade, moving front and center into a strategic role within organizations. But that lack of representation at the executive and board levels is preventing the supply chain’s rise to digital transformation.


Another stumbling block is the mentality that going digital means just slapping digital capabilities onto traditional supply chains, which results in hybrid models and added complexity.


As Korn Ferry puts it, “Even companies that embrace the value of an effective and sufficient supply chain often stick with incremental changes rather than choosing a high-risk/high-reward transformation towards a truly integrated, re-invented supply chain whose DNA is fundamentally digital.”


Is your organization’s supply chain truly ready to go digital? Let us know in the comments area below.


The post What’s keeping you from realizing digital supply chain success? appeared first on The 21st Century Supply Chain.


Avaya digital transformation - Kinaxis


Originally posted by Alexa Cheater at

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