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I interviewed Nick Vyas who discussed Future Trends in Supply Chain.







It’s good to speak with you today, Nick, and I look forward to hearing your views on future trends in supply chain. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?

My pleasure, Dustin. Nick Vyas, Director, Center for Global Supply Chain Management at University of Southern California, USC, Marshall School of Business. I also teach Application of Lean Six Sigma, lean supply chain management and supply chain management in international settings.


Thank you. My first question is: What do you believe are the future trends in supply chain?


There are several things that are happening concurrently. Few dimensions of technology is rapidly evolving, and rapid evolution will have a significant impact of how the supply chain will look three, five, ten years from now. If you look at it in terms of—the biggest paradigm shift is about smartphone and mobile technology. I think new technology platform has created a huge paradigm shift, which focuses on how technology adoption changes the priority in company. If you start to review its impact in the areas, such as cross-channel inventory optimization, distribution-level management, wireless devices and applications, integrated product catalog, or even product-information management. All of these things will have to be integrated, as the point of sale in the future will be multimode, inventory will have to be streamlined, single pooled and made visible across each of the pipelines almost making it as “Glass Pipeline.”


If you continue on from social media and smartphone combination, there are three key technology drivers that I feel are really going to change the trends. First, the drone-based delivery and its impact on transportation network. Some of the robotic technology application has already been introduced in to supply chain such as ASAR modules as well as robotic load and unload modules. I think the drone-based delivery has some merit to it, especially in the tier-one, densely populated areas as well as some of the remote locations where last mile infrastructure is difficult. I think it can be very exciting to see how this is viewed and adopted into mainstream supply chain. Second technological trend that I am really bullish about is Google Glass and voice-technology integrations, meaning: How does the future warehouse distribution, replenishment functions can be integrated by having pantry capabilities, where your peak orders and your location details are all viewed on the horizon with your Google Glasses integrated with the voice command technology. This can have a significant impact in terms of how we manage the cheaper, better faster evolving needs of the ecommerce supply chain. And last but not least,which I’m very interested about, is this 3-D printing.This technology front can have a huge impact on supply chain in terms of how we define traditional view of “design to delivery” network concept.  How we plan our sourcing, network design and transportation network design decisions. Once the economy of scale has been achieved, this can literally change the entire supply chain design decision requirement.


And how should companies respond to these trends?


In terms of the earlier conversation on social media, I think companies certainly need to start to look at it and understand the opportunities that exist in this area. They need to find ways to manage real-time inventory monitoring.  How do you monitor supply performance (KPI) dynamically in real-time? Management must find ways to stay ahead of the change curve.  In order to  be assimilated with the mobile technology and blurring lines of supply chain verticals, you definitely have to look at the exception management, focus on technology that allows you to have real-time visibility across the span of your supply chain. The company needs to adapt the agility that comes with this visibility and participate rather than shying away from it.


Thank you. Did we cover all the points you wanted to make about the future of supply chains?


Yes.  In terms of some of the new technologies that we talked about;


Drone-based deliveries, the 3-D printing, and Google Glass voice-technology adoptions—those are still early stages, so I don’t think we will see something emerging right away, but my guess is that we will see some activity in the very near—two, three years’ time—horizon. As you know, six states in the U.S. have been granted a testing site permits by the FAA to start using, start testing their drone-based applications, so things are moving in that direction. 3-D printing also has some prototyping applications happening, and Google Glass is obviously, they’re going in to production early, second quarter 2014.


Thanks, Nick, for sharing these views on the future of supply chain.


Thank you, it’s my pleasure.




About Nick Vyas



Nick Vyas

Director, USC Marshall Center for Global Supply Chain Management

LinkedIn Profile


I interviewed Beat Schlumpf who discussed the Operation Efficiency Assessment







Thank you Dustin for giving me the opportunity to talk about “Operation Efficiency Assessment”. But before that just a brief introduction about myself.


My name is Beat Schlumpf. I am the owner and CEO of a company called GSL Consulting. We specialize in providing logistics and supply chain assessment worldwide. I started with a Diploma in International Forwarding and Transportation. I have more than 35 years of experience in Logistics and Supply Chain Execution in various management functions in Switzerland and internationally. That led me to be one of the few experts worldwide with operative experience of all carriers - sea, air, road, rail and all speeds from heavy lifts to mail.



What is the Operation Efficiency Assessment?

Today’s companies can choose from a variety of methods for checking, monitoring and optimising their businesses. The advocates of all these methods claim that they reduce operational costs, increase productivity, raise market shares and reduce error rates. At the same time companies are constantly engaged in the attempt to acquire specific methodologies like SixSigma, SCOR, EFQM including the necessary software to implement them in day to day operations.



All this is only made possible through building up internal and also external resources, which requires the time-consuming accumulation, analysis and interpretation of data, the creation of standard operating procedures, the writing of checklists, manuals, training courses, reports and last but not least substantial investments.


The problem with all these methods is, however, that they are largely based on theoretical knowledge of processes and their effects on the company, that is, the data obtained from spot checks, short interviews, hypotheses and self-evaluations. Figures often reveal a weak point but often not the reason behind it.


Furthermore, many conclusions are based on subjective perceptions or to put in another way: For the same problem we obtain different feedbacks about the possible causes.


Based on experience, including the one as ISO Auditor, I refined a method which I call the “Operation Efficiency Assessment” that originated from an inspection process developed by Swiss Postal Services for review of their work flows from sender to receiver.



Why is it important?

The Operation Efficiency Assessment offers major advantages in comparison to conventional methods based on theoretical approaches.

With a reduced investment of time and resources, the weak points in business processes are quickly identified at the workplace, thereby generating many suggestions for increased efficiency.


Remember: It’s not like normal ISO 9001 audits where you make the appointment for interviews well in advance and make sure that your departments and the concerned employees are informed and have enough time to prepare themselves.


The method is very efficient, fast and includes the workforce and therefore cost-effective and accepted even by Trade Unions.



How is it done and what are the benefits?

The process takes just seven days:

Day 1 and 2 – Preparation in close cooperation with the staff concerned. The targets are precisely defined.

Day 3 and 4 – Two days on the spot with observation and recording of the workflows and operational processes on site from the first to the last seconds of the working day and conducting interviews with employees. It includes all working manuals, instructions, invoices, processes etc. as defined earlier.


Day 5 and 6 – Analysis and Evaluation.  Comparing the results with two pre-defined reference days and state of the art technical resources such as computer simulation and benchmarks.


Day 7 – Results are presented in an easy-to-understand manner and with concrete proposals both for immediate as well as for long-term increase of the efficiency and optimization of processes.

We do know for example how many employees you need for a particular process. Or what the situation is about freight costs and the current supply chain. Does your organisation follow working manuals and internal instructions? Does your company obey working regulations? What about the skills of the employees to fulfil their tasks?


Operation Efficiency Assessment has to do with the reality or in other words “Practice being put to the test”.

About Beat K. Schlumpf




Beat K. Schlumpf

Owner and CEO

GSL Consulting LLC

LinkedIn Profile