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I interviewed Akhil Srivastava who discussed Collaborative Commerce with Supply Chain 4.0.







Digitization brings transparency across value chain which will enable companies not just to react to disruptions but to anticipate them, modeling the network, and adjusting the supply chain immediately as conditions change. Additionally, Digitization helps onboard suppliers and customers across end-end supply chain enabling firms ability to pioneer Collaborative Commerce.


In a future Digitize economy, I envision creation of single platform of digitized foot print for physical goods will serve as a single source of truth empowering all stakeholders to make realtime efficient decisions. Steps in this direction would eliminate lack of trust and build resilent and transparent supply chains which would be both Agile and resilient. Once the integration is complete it will lead to lower costs and faster delivery by elimination of Inefficiencies resulting in Improved Customer Service and optimized Total Cost of Ownership thus increasing profits in a collaborative world.




Can you first provide a brief background of yourself?


Hi, Dustin. The pleasure is all mine. My name is Akhil. I have been working across the Fortune 500 companies as well as several successful startups in the area of supply chain for over 12 years. During this 12-year stint, I have covered end-to-end supply chain, including planning, distribution, manufacturing, customer service, and procurement. I see myself as having gone through the supply chain at various industries and companies at pretty different levels of involvement as well as engagement.


Can you discuss some of the issues in supply chain and some of the bottlenecks that are happening?


That's a pretty interesting topic, because when I see supply chain as a very, very new field, a lot of function within the business verticals, we have been hearing about sales, marketing through the early 19th Century. However, supply just evolved pretty decently. It was, in fact, [inaudible 1:21] years old concept when people said...and the word “supply chain” is actually coined then. Ever since the supply chain being a function has evolved, supply chain has been considered as a cost center by most of the organizations, including leading organizations, and that's where it is supposed to be more like a supporting function and a supporting role, unlike the core functions like sales and marketing. And this has led to a pretty limited development of supply chains over a period of time.


However, what we realize in the recent past of, say, the last 15, 20 years, that supply chain has enormous capabilities of transforming a company's bottom line, especially in terms of transforming the original investments because it is all about how beneficially you can turn around the assets, how effectively and efficiently you can service your customers, how are you able to quantify yourself across four basic parameters. One being customer service; second being cost; third being quality; and fourth being reliability. Most companies consider supply chain as a bottleneck because of the lack of transparency and visibility in the system. And that has been because our systems within this function has been pretty dated, and it has not evolved. However, as we see, there is been a lot of current emphasis in the transformational journey for supply chain.


There has been a lot of evolution in regards to what is happening, and I'm sure it will lead to supply chain being a leading function, especially in the new e-commerce world and the digital economy.


Is there any more you can say about bringing supply chain into being a profit center?


Right. In the current context, as I said, generally, companies imagine sales and marketing to be the profit center. However, sales and marketing is only bringing in the customer inside and bringing in your profits. However, supply chain is the function which controls most of the costs, including procurement, operations, manufacturing, logistics, distribution, and also hidden costs like total cost of ownership, which includes customer service over a long period of time and building a reliable infrastructure for servicing the customers.


Having said that, what I see is, in today's supply chain, there are bottlenecks because, A, the supply chain, unlike other functions, is a very, very collaborative role. It cuts across almost every function within the organization. It requires a lot more cross-functional interfaces, which means it requires a lot more visibility and transparency across different functions. However, at times, we that supply chains are basically working on their silos because it's pretty difficult to have a real-time information map across various functions.


That's what is one of the most limiting factors and, in fact, one of the most frustrating factors for many top-level executives to take a call on, because they don't know where exactly the inventory lies, how much inventory is in place, what is in transit, who are the vendors and supplies, are they all abiding by the code of conduct. In total, there is a huge issue in terms of overall visibility and the real-time information flow.


So let me back up a bit and also explain as to what is happening in the world of supply chain. Supply chain eventually is moving into a pretty fast transition game, especially with the onset of ecommerce.


There was not much talk of companies within the ecommerce space five to ten years ago, which means there something changed over the last 10 years. And what changed is about the flow of information using the Internet of Things. What we have seen is there are a lot of technology transfer. or information flow, which started happening across the value chain using the Internet of Things. And these IoT technologies are scaling up on an everyday basis, assumed to be to a tune of 30 billion pieces of IoT devices by the end of 2022, which means almost everything you touch, you are providing some signals, some information, through the cloud or the internet, to the service providers. This means the technologies exist to digitize the entire supply chain.


So in a version of 4.0, which we say is digital economy, we are looking at the supply chains today, would actually evolves to the next levels wherein people will have a lot more visibility and a lot more transparency. That is because, as supply chain players, we would be looking at digital footprints of physical assets. So today, for example, we are discussing what is the media right now, and we are recording it across... This is a digital footprint of what we are actually trying to communicate. A similar thing can happen as a digital footprint for a flow of material. Imagine a material being... Imagine a case of an Airbus which is getting made in France.


Now, Airbus requires more than a million particles to be assembled from various vendors globally, so they buy products from China, India, Asia, Australia, and all other places, and they come all together and assemble it in a particular location or a factory. Today, the biggest probably for any of the manufacturing plants is that their inventories don't have visibility. They don't know how much of the inventory is in transit, what amount of the inventory would be available to them, and whether that inventory qualifies to be fitting into the specifications. Hence, if everything gets digitized, which is when we're talking of digital supply chain, we are talking [inaudible 8:42] eventually of smart manufacturing.


We're talking of digital products. And we're talking of data analytics, which becomes part of the core competency. Evolving all of this together would help make the supply chain more resilient and responsive and will be really helpful for the leadership of the organization to take decisions on time and thus orchestrate a supply chain design, network design, which is pretty much more responsive and more agile to fulfill customer requirements. [Inaudible 9:23] I believe this leads into collaborative commerce and how that happens is the digital supply chains, once they're digitized...


Let's me back up a bit. The current systems on supply chains are pretty desperate. Some of the suppliers have an Oracle system; some of the suppliers have an SAP system; others have a different ERP enterprise system. These enterprise systems don't talk to each other, and hence, it results in a broken system of records, because of which there are several examples where the supply chain gets defunct. In a digitized world, which will get enabled, the supply chains will really help across, work at building collaborative commerce, because now you have a real-time inventory visible [inaudible 10:21] your vendor.


You have a real-time visibility in transit, and you have a real-time visibility across your own locations and places. That would really impact a new set of organizational design for supply chain which will help enable virtualized processes and involve flexible and integrated [inaudible 10:45], thus making collaborative commerce a reality maybe by 2025. [Inaudible 10:58]


About Akhil Srivastava


(B.Sc., M.B.A in Agribusiness and M.S. in Management, JN TATA & Forbes Marshall Scholar) - An Agripreneur and Supply Chain professional with over 12 years of progressive E-2-E Supply Chain experience with fortune 500 firms and successful startups. My experience of working and collaborating across end to end business domains - in conjugation with innovative technology and systems automation by utilizing skills of change management and design thinking has been of help in building successful and scaleable businesses globally. I visualize that in today’s competitive business ecosystem, consumer-oriented companies have an incredible opportunity to redefine their supply chain models and extract synergy across businesses by embracing innovative technologies as cornerstone in corporate business strategy. I aspire to establish scalable integration models helping transform Supply Chain as a profit generating function leading to onset of Collaborative Commerce….




About Akhil Srivastava
Akhil Srivastava supply chain 4.0 collaborative commerce



Akhil Srivastava

Strategy,Sales,Supply Chain,Product Management


LinkedIn Profile



I interviewed Christoph Szakowski who discussed Supply Chain and Logistics - Current Trends in China.








My name is Christoph Szakowski. Since I graduated with MBA from Hamburg University I have been involved in international  management and consulting roles for the logistics and shipping industry. For 7+ years plus I was with DB Schenker in regional responsibility for Eastern Europe and for Russia for example and for 6+ now I have been working as company’s advisor and interim manager in several roles which brought me also in the period of last 3 years or so closer and closer to the Asian Market, in particular to Central Asia and most of all China. Currently I am on a business trip in Shanghai learning more about the country and also giving some project advise for companies dealing with the New Silk Road Logistics.


What are the trends discussed currently in the China logistics and intermodal market?


Actually I had a good chance to be on the pulse of that what is happening in the intermodal market for Asia, and especially in China as I visited an exhibition called Intermodal Asia for a couple of days where I also was privileged to be amongst the speakers and experts.

Now, what are the trends?


One of this is the ideas of smart shipping. So all about strategies and technologies to encourage greater capability and profitability in the global container shipping supply chain  We need to keep in mind that the global container traffic in China amounted for 200 million TEUs which is 4 times bigger that for the USA and 7 times larger than for Singapore.  Also China is number 1  country as Logistics Emerging Market so huge development potential if companies apply wisely, automation, digitalization, platform collaboration, smart ports, big data in tracking etc. Another trend discussed is environment protection so China’s policy on multimodal, on standardization and improving land port operation together with cross border intermodal service rules.


There is also something I would call  supply chain optimization by freight forwarders to optimize the whole network and not only their own profit. This discussion I picked up more and more  often in China currently  We observe also that shipping companies strengthen their control of terminal resources like Cosco Shipping with Piraeus port.  Also ports are investing in shipping companies. So it is a very dynamic market and it goes in several constellations and directions.


Last but not least - that has been the key topic in the Industry Leaders Strategy Summit in Shanghai - the current and future development in One Belt and One Road initiative and its impact on the future of trade in Asia and internationally. This theme is something I am really passionate about because I have been in the grateful  position to develop business on the One Belt, One Road both as logistics service provider in a top executive role and as a consultant and advisor on companies strategies.


Which are strategies logistics service providers choose for the One Belt, One Road geography


There are obviously different scenarios for companies depending on some original factors regardingthe logistics company In discussion ,  so its philosophy and background , but generally speaking we have identified 5 types of core strategies :

Network mega expansion  is the first one. We could give here the publicly known case of Kerry Logistics , the Chine based integrated logistics provider with the CIS specialist Global Link. The vision behind it is clearly to establish a global footprint by expanding the product portfolio and the geography.


The second would be something I call product-based cooperation with some agreements in the first period . A case recently published was here Nippon Express making an agreement with KTZ (Kazakhstan freight rail and passenger carrier). The short-term objective here is improving the rail service offering by giving one partner the access to the infrastructure of the other. What probably will follow will be  targeting  some group of clients / verticals for example  fashion industry automotive suppliers, food, either east- or westbound.


The third  scenario companies is chose and this is really interesting is the innovation in for example in rail – based solutions where there is special software used for rates calculations and shipment tracking and this model combined with physical presence with offices along the New Silk Road could be a promising strategy for differentiation from another players.

We see also , especially in Europe for this moment, joint -venture strategies  where companies of similar values, family owned  ,  similar size with asset-heavy  model come together. They want offer in the One Belt One Road  “first class end-to-end intermodal rail and logistics solutions

There is also common interest to focus on a particular group of clients like cosmetics, pharma, packed goods, fashion, high – tech , automotive, time-critical and also to end with there are some small, flexible , local freight forwarders which see their strength in a flexible and near to client approach and serving on some particular trade lanes like Kazakhstan-South East Asia for example


Which are the recommendations for logistics companies seeking to establish or expand their footprint in Belt and Road geographies


In general I am recommending the top management to do the following:

  1. Demystify  the legends which are in the meantime often evolving emotionally in connection with the New Silk road. So deal with the facts , trade lane statics ,your assessment of your service either in multimodal, rail ,road or sea freight.
  2. After you made a decision and you are sure in which of the 6 trade corridors associated with the New Silk Road you will be focusing , go to implementation
  3. Than it is already nothing more and nothing less than a question of a smart management.  Very often it works well to start with a local team coordinated by an experienced expat manager who acts like a middleman to the company’s’ head office possible and also person to train and develop the local staff.
  4. Last but not least – be cautious and put your radar on cross-culture aspects. One Belt, One Road is a vast region and you deal there normally with WesternEuropean culture, Eastern European culture and the Chinese way of doing business. So be here wise to do it right with hierarchy, decision-making , communication style and the way how to motivate people.


So if you apply this frame work , you might improve your profit from the investments you do as a logistics company.


My personal observations based on the business trip to China


In all my times spent in China I quickly try to absorb and learn and I always see that  there is a lot of energy and entrepreneur spirit in local people  I meet. There is large openness to learn by the decision makers and I believe in consideration of that what I said earlier regarding tendencies on China’s logistics market that is a crucial aspect.


Last but not least this is a growing market even if is huge already where all this New Silk Road initiative started and my personal observation is that global leaders need to directly involve into this country’s  specifics . For my part I am happy I have had this occasion and this is good for my personal horizon and competencies.



About Christoph Szakowski







Christoph Szakowski


CEO / COO / MD / VP /Logistics / General and Interim Manager in CEE, CIS, Asia, Emerging Markets


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Akshay Mate who discussed Aftermarket Supply Chain.







What is the aftermarket supply chain.


So, Dustin, first of all, thanks a lot. Aftermarket supply chain is also known as the after-sales supply chain. So mainly it starts from the time product leaves the shelf to satisfy the customer demand. Aftermarket supply chain also goes with the scenario where customers come back to service centers either to repair or return the defective products. And most of the time, such services are bound by contracts such as four-hour service or next business day service, depending upon the [inaudible 0:00:48] of the business and the contact which the customers will have with the company. So we can say this is a synonymous [inaudible 0:00:57] the logistics.


And typically, service organization networks have different forward stocking locations backed by central distribution centers. So after-sales support actually is difficult to manage, and the companies that provide these service effectively can generate very good revenue out of it.


So there are some challenges related to the aftermarket supply chain. Some of these are [inaudible 0:01:25] supply chain service. Supply chain service executives need to deploy parts [inaudible 0:01:32] at different locations in the service network. This is a really challenging task as sales networks need to deal with unexpected demand which may arise due to unpredicted returns of the product. And after-sales networks need to support all products of the company, which included new and already-sold products. So each different generation of the product may have different parts and different supplies.


So obviously service networks need deal with more number of stock units from different generations. So that is really a complicated task.


Why do you feel that this is an important area to with within?


This is a really important area to work for all companies because this is the age of the services. And to prosper, every company must transform itself in the service business. So companies can sales products more aggressively if they are backed with a good aftermarket supply chain. In fact, well-managed aftermarket supply chain always provides the competitive advantage and helps organizations to generate more revenue.


Customers don't expect products to be perfect, but they do expect manufacturers to fix things quickly when they break down. And this is [inaudible 0:03:01] manage aftermarket supply chain.


Each product sold by a company needs to be backed by good after-sales services. After-sales services and the [inaudible 0:03:12] can help organizations, as I explained, generate revenue. So in [inaudible 0:03:17] study, it was found that the service organization can generate 30% to more than 50% of the revenue by servicing the products.


Forward supply chains are well backed by technology nowadays. But we can say that this is not the case in the case of aftermarket supply chain, as it is a more complex, difficult to manage, and unpredictable nature. So I think sooner or later, all organizations need to concentrate their efforts on improvement of aftermarket supply chain.


What are the problems that you address, and how do you do this effectively?


The main problem we come across in aftermarket supply chain is a backlog. So backlog management is a huge task. It is the result of inaccurate forecast. Accurate forecasting is the need of this area, as we discussed -- that forecasting service is a very difficult task. As a practical scenario, unexpected breakdown will happen, and it is a part and parcel of aftermarket supply chain.


To address this, the companies need to collect and store the data, depending upon the feedback of the product. If feedback of the product builds confidence, you need to find a why by which they can [inaudible 0:04:42] with their product, like in the case of taking inventory.


In a current scenario, we can say that big data and sensors can help us to do that. Sensors can help to check health of the product, depending upon the feedback from the sensors. Planner can forecast more accurately because they will have real-time data. In fact, in some cases, planner can predict the breakdowns and can make arrangement to make available the required spare parts for the repair.


So currently, I think IoT, Internet of Things, will help in this case. Although it is a nascent technology, but big data and IoT, collectively, both can help planners in this regard.


The second part is that [inaudible 0:05:33] is also a challenging task in case of aftermarket supply chain, as forecasting techniques plays a very critical role to predict [inaudible 0:05:43] quantity. That is a [inaudible 0:05:45] quantity. So a recent trend is to use a profile-based forecasting technique to predict this. What I mean to say is the profiles which are used in the forecasting techniques, these are developed for each part, depending upon the historical need of the part. And this is a more effective way to forecast, instead of shipment-based [inaudible 0:06:06].


A third problem is that the [inaudible 0:06:13] alignment is the problem. So [0:06:14] alignment is a major challenge as services are managed and struggle to maintain uniform [0:06:20] across the different geographies.


Uniform [inaudible 0:06:25] will enable a lot of organizations to implement single-order broker demand strategy so that they can buy from the one location considering the global demand.


So these are the main problems which we need to address in aftermarket supply chain.


Thank, Akshay. Can you provide a brief background of yourself?


So I have been working in the field of supply chain for almost eight plus years now. I started my career as a production engineer, so fortunately, working on the shop floor in the initial stages of my career helps me a lot to understand [inaudible 0:07:10] about flow and art of people management. Further, I worked as an aERP consultant for [inaudible 0:07:15] applications. For the last five years, I'm working as a supply chain consultant mainly for aftermarket supply chain.


I've worked with well-known manufacturing [inaudible 0:07:26] for ERP consulting and with high tech companies for aftermarket supply chain management. So in terms of education, I have a Master’s in business administration and operations management and a bachelors in production engineering from University of Pune.



About Julio Franca







Akshay Mate


Supply Chain Consultant


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Ding Lim Yeang who discussed Disruption Technology in Supply Chain and Warehousing.








It's good to speak with you today, Ding. I'm looking forward to hearing your views today on disruption technology in supply chain and warehousing. My first question is what disruptions are taking place with technology in supply chain and warehousing?


I think we look at it from various perspectives in logistics and warehousing today. A lot of people are focusing on automation. In fact, that's most common topics that people are exploring now.Talking about automation that take place in this industry, what that actually means for automation should be split into two parts. The first part, I call it the robotics and automation. But another part that is more crucial and often been neglected is called artificial intelligence. It's quite confusing, but these two terms actually work together.


From my own perspective, automation and artificial intelligence is two very different items that work together. The first part is automation. Automation means that some of the routine works that your laborers are doing, you actually try to automate it to save the labor costs. But on artificial intelligence, this is not only replacing the labor, it's the algorithms that you build based on your understanding of the operation strategy that you're going to implement in the warehouse. Sothe program build, is to support the operation managers or the warehouse manager to make quick decisions when they're running the operations.


When you implement automation and robotics system, you are reducing your labors.But as you implement artificial intelligence, you make the impact even higher in terms of your saving and your productivity, it can be in exponential. So this is the difference between automation and artificial intelligence. And these are the first things that I would say are the first things that take place in the disruption technology that currently is impacting a lot in the logistic and warehousing.


The second part is the big data. Big data -- all of us know that big data today is already in the industry. In fact, since more than twenty years ago, people have started collecting data. But a lot of times, people sit on the data and do nothing with it. Personally, I believe that this is something that we should explore and investigate and use it properly, especially when you are exploring artificial intelligence. If you are collecting the data, you should build the artificial intelligence and leverage on the big data that you have. Then your decisions will be pretty much been made quick, accurate and respond to the markets in a very sensitive way.


In the past we build system or sub-system in an isolated way that have limited communication between each other. Now with the development of information technology and Internet of Things that has took place. The linkage between each system and sub-system is much more complete. Because when you have Internet of Things, then you actually link everything to the cloud system. So now everything is under one single roof. We have less risk and more resilience against the fast pace of development in information technology. In fact, most of the technologies are linked to each other, and they are starting to taking over the conventional way of warehouse and logistic operation. So this is what my personal opinion the disruption technology in logistics and warehousing.


What's the significance of these changes?


When you mean significance, means the impact of it to the market. Right?




The impact depends on which regions or which markets we're looking at. For example, places like Singapore and Japan, the impact of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence is quite significant, mainly due to the aging populations in the markets. Furthermore, the youth generation tends to be choosy in jobs selection as well. To be fair, the education level of the social is higher than the past. And frankly it is not easy to get labors in the market now, sometimes even you offer a higher salary.


In the past, Industry always try to replace humans with automation. But often when you're replacing the human with robots, it may not be practical from financial evaluation.You will find that the cost impact of investing in the capital expenditure of the automations, may not make sense from IRR or NPV. Thatwhy youyou have to explore in artificial intelligence to magnify the productivity, then you actually will be able to make every single centsof your investment more valuable because the development of software algorithms is much cheaper than the hardware. So the impact that it can bring will bemore severe.


If you take a tour to the warehouses today, you will find that most of the operation team start to reduce the laborers in their operations and moving the operation to become human independent. In the old days, for example, even in Eastern Malaysia today, you can easily find that the warehouse operations is very human dependent where the warehouse operation have a single guy that has to remember where he puts all the SKUs, where he located the products. And he is the only one that can take the goods out from the warehouse.


I remember there is once I asked the owners, "If this guy comes and asks you, I want a 50% percent increment of salary or I will leave, will you want to keep him?" In this c,ase you have no choice because he is indispensable to the warehouse operation.You should have all operation manage by a system rather than an individual, hence the operationof the warehouse doesn't depend on a single person. This is an impact of the revolution of Logistics & Warehousing 4.0. A lot of the warehouse now is starting to make the changes. There are no needsfor all the way to become a fully automated warehouse, but we should embrace the revolution to take place.I believe a lot of semi-automated and the combinations of certain kind of the artificial intelligence will help the people to make a lot of decisions faster, response to critical issues in a better manner. The combination will also give a lot more sense in doia ng thing in a more productive way. It can bring a better impact in terms of economic evaluation as well.


How should we face these disruptions? Is there any more you can say about how to face these challenges?


I think the first of all we need to embrace the revolution that it is happening in the market. There is no way we can avoid it,if we are against it, we will be eliminated in the process. But we need to be very careful in making the decision in the level of acceptance should take place.Everyone should be awarewhen we discussed about automation, it doesn't mean that we need to go all the way fully automated as spoken earlier.


Let’s take a case in a conventional warehouse, we may have around 10,000 or 15,000 pallets in the warehouse that occupy in a very huge area. If we want to increase the space utilization, we can easily increase the volume by 100% with either mobile rack or AS/RS. For mobile rack, AGV cab be implemented together to help reduce the dependency on labors.But in both type of operationsit is not necessary to go fully automated for every single process. When we retrieve the pallets, most of the retrieving of the SKU can be done by AS/RS or the AGV. But there is no necessity to make every single piece picking, every single operation become automated which incur a lot of investment. Let’sgo back to the old days where we talk about the 80/20 rules. We should focus to automate the 80% of picking activities that is maybe involving around 20% of the A type of SKUs. The then rest of the 80% of B & C SKUs which involving around20% percent of activities,we can keep it in the selective racking and operate it manually or conventionally. The categorization of SKU A,B & C can be managed dynamically across season through artificial intelligence build in the system. This will help to keep the overall system and material handling equipment much simpler. And it will reduce the investment of the capital investments that is needed to be put in. So that is one way we should actually considered, rather than just do whatever we can to make it fully automated and cool.This is what I believe will take place in the market.


Another thing, collect the data and utilize the data.A lot of people are sitting on a big data, but actually not using it in a smart way that brings the impact to their own business in terms of business development. If we really explore into the data analysis and investigate, probablywe can find some seasoning trends or pattern is happened over and over.This is where we can find a complement plan or find a partner thatcan work together to complement each other during the peak seasons and the low seasons.There is not always a peak season for every product in the supply chain. An up-stream product/ raw materials may hit the peak earlier and subsequently the final manufacturing products.Beside that if you have heard about AirBnB Warehouse, we can also leverage on that to find the suitable partners for the low season. The supply chain can be synchronized, a lot of synergies can be generated. Personally, I believe this is wherea “one stop network systems”that everybody shares the same information can actually help the supply chain to further optimized.



Can you provide a brief background of yourself?


My background is actually mechanical engineering. I used to be anR&D engineers that specializedin statistics and mechanical design and product development. However around 12 or 13 years ago, by chance, a Swiss company has hired me from the R&D centers. There is whereI started my career in supply chain, logistics and warehousing design. From there onwards, I've designed a lot of warehouses and distribution center across ASIA Pacific from China, Japan to South East Asia. From F&B manufacturing plant’s warehouse, temperature controlled or cold chain warehouse to groceries & retails’ distribution center. I really appreciate the chances and knowledge given by my coach to me in my early career. The more I involved, discussed and the more I see, the better understanding about this industry. The better understand I have, the more involvement and discussion I have. Frankly, as I mentioned just earlier, there are seldom a fully 100% automated warehouse, but normally a combination.


And recently I have seen the opportunity in the market where a lot of the local corporate or SME in SEA particularly in Singapore started to explore the potential revolution in logistics and warehousing. I seen this as an opportunity as well as my personal passion in the industry. Hence I have started my own consulting firm AccTran Solutions. This will enable me to support the industry in a different and better ways as I have my own free hand to explore together with the clients.   



Thank you for sharing today, Ding.




About Mohamed Ali Eldabaa







Ding Lim Yeang


Supply Chain & Warehousing Automation Consultant


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Julio Franca who discussed Blockchain and Internet of Things.







Blockchain and Internet of Things


Other ambitious ideas come from using blockchain and IoT. One suggestion is for smart contracts to manage rentals of driverless cars. A smart contract could check for rental payments. If payment has not been made or simply at the end of the rental contract, the smart contract could lock the car and tell it to drive itself back to the renter.


Challenges to Be Met


Blockchain has its challenges too. Enterprises that want to harness blockchain power for their supply chain will need to watch out for the following.


Ecosystem still in progress


The first telephone was useless until the second one arrived. In time the phone spread all over the world and now we can’t do without it. The situation is similar for blockchain and companies that want to do business with specific partners. Those partners will need to buy into blockchain as well. For example, Tomcar mentioned above only uses bitcoin payments for about 2% of the parts it buys. However, niche uses of blockchain are on the rise. It may be just a matter of time until businesses “join the dots” for widespread acceptance.


Currency volatility


Bitcoin is an easy way to start using blockchain. The problem is that bitcoin exchange rates with other currencies can change rapidly. Payment terms must be short enough or flexible enough to be able to cash in bitcoin and recover the value expected. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (Ether for example for the Ethereum platform) are also volatile in another sense. If you lose the digital key (passcode) to your cryptocurrency reserve, there is no other way of getting it back.


Technology and knowhow


Blockchain programming takes a mix of software skills. It also helps to understand economies and businesses, especially your business. You may have to train staff or hire new people with these skills. You could also outsource your blockchain development to a third party. The best choice for you will depend on your current situation and future aspirations.




Blockchain was started by people who wanted to decentralise applications and operations. They wanted to make dependency on centralised entities like banks optional instead of obligatory. This is a new way of thinking. Don’t be surprised if it takes you or your colleagues a little time to shed your mental shackles and get into the swing of the blockchain movement.




Blockchain can transform supply chains, industries and ecosystems. Interestingly, even organisations like banks, who would seem to be losing out, can see opportunities to use blockchain to streamline their own business. In-depth transformation of supply chains will not happen overnight. However, supply chains can already start using blockchain for small portions of their operations. Smart contracts can help eliminate costly delays and waste currently due to manual handling of paperwork. From there, the door is then open to smarter, faster, more secure supply chain from one end to the other.


About Julio Franca







Julio Franca


Director at Spin Consulting


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Dr. Eva Ponce who discussed How MIT CTL is Addressing Supply Chain Talent Stream Need for New Ways of Upskilling the Workforce.







Today we're speaking with Dr. Eva Ponce, who is the Executive Director of the MITxMicroMasters in Supply Chain Management at the MIT Center for Transportation Logistics. And Eva is going to talk about the need in the supply chain for talent streams and for new ways of upscaling the workforce. So Dr. Eva, can you first provide a brief background of yourself?


Thank you, Dustin. It's my pleasure to talk with you today and participate in this podcast. So my name is Eva Ponce. I'm the Executive Director of the MITxMicroMasters Program in Supply Chain Management at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics. I'm also a Research Associate at the center. In terms of my research, I'm leading the Omnichannel Distribution Strategies research line, trying to analyze the impact of ecommerce in retailers, manufacturers, and the different actors in the supply chain.


Some of my background, I got my PhD in 2002. I had previously a faculty position, I was a professor in supply chain at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) for more than 14 years. In 2014, I moved to MIT, and since then, I am part of the Center for Transportation and Logistics at MIT.


How do we know that there's this need for supply chain talent?


Some recent reports, like the World Bank study in logistic competencies, highlight the need of more supply chain talent. They highlight that there is a shortage that ranges from a lack of truck drivers to senior positions in supply chain. There is a lack of executives with the capabilities that are required today when people need to manage supply chains.


Currently, we are talking more about global supply chains, and the complexity associated to those global supply chains is higher than before. So we need to train this workforce in supply chain management. And also, if we think about any product that we receive at home, or any product that we go and buy from a store, behind every single product, there is a supply chain. We need to manage the flow of materials, the flow of information, and the finance flow associated to each of these supply chains, from the raw materials to the end product that we are receiving at home or buying in a retail store.


So in addition to that, at the Center for Transportation and Logistics, we have more than 50 partners. Our partners come to us with different challenges that they have currently in different industries, and they also highlight the need for more people trained in supply chain management. So at the Center, we are offering, for more than 20 years, a Master's degree in Supply Chain Management. Companies like Amazon, Walmart, Starbucks, and other retailers, hire these supply chain professionals to help them to manage thier supply chains in a more effective and efficient way.


More recently, we are also offering online courses of Supply Chain Management. The MITxMicroMasters program includes - five open massive online courses (MOOCs). In these courses, we offer basic tools, the fundamental concepts in supply chain management, all across the world.Anyone from anywhere with internet connectivity can have access to these massive courses and in consequence they can have access to this basic knowledge in supply chain management.


Why is the supply chain management workforce and its training needs different from what they were in the past?


So currently, there is a need to manage these global supply chains. When we are talking about supply chains, typically we need to manage suppliers across the world, located in many different cities with different languages, different cultures, and we need to manage the relationship with all of these suppliers. If we talk about manufacturers, again, you have them around the world. And then customers, if we talk about ecommerce, they can be anywhere. So this adds an extra layer of complexity to these supply chains.


Also, there are new business models. The new technology is changing the way that the customers are buying the traditional purchase process is changing. So now with the mobile commerce, the mobile technologies, we can buy from anywhere at any time. And the retailers, the manufacturers, and the whole supply chain need to be prepared and be ready to deliver these products to almost anywhere. Consumer can order these online products from anywhere and ask them to receive at home delivery or at selected pick up point (e.g. they can chose to pickup these online orders in a traditional retail store or brick or mortar).


So these new technologies, mobile commerce, and ecommerce are also adding an extra layer of complexity. And the retailers and manufacturers need to be prepared to compete in this omnichannel environment, this is a new paradigm, and they need  to be ready to offer different distribution strategies that the customer is expecting to have consumer preferences are changing.


My final question is how can we prepare for the future supply chain by upscaling of the workforce in the face of new technologies?


So this is a great question, Dustin. According to a industry expert 's interviews that I have recently conducted, I've seen that data analytics is one of the skills that companies really need to have. There is now a lot of data available, but companies need also people with the right capabilities to analyze this data. So analytic tools, statistics, quantitative models, machine learning techniques — all of these techniques and tools that help companies to manage big data, to analyze and to use this big data in order to improve, let's say, the demand forecasting on any other process, is something that definitely is going to help them.


So we are providing, in our supply chain analytics and supply chain fundamentals course, these basic tools that we see that [inaudible 0:07:29] a company, our learners can apply in order to help companies to manage in a more effective and a more efficient way, the flows of materials, the flows of information, and also the financial flows.


So these online courses are really powerful to learn these kinds of techniques.


We are also offering the supply chain technology and systems course. This course focuses more on data analytics, data modelling, and machine learning techniques. In summary, this course offers basic techniquesthat help learners to analyze big datafollowing, again, a very industry applied approach.


Where can people go to learn about these courses, the supply chain courses?


These courses are available in our website. The program is called MITxMicroMasters in Supply Chain Management. So it's easy to google MITxMicroMasters in supply chain management. Learners just need to enroll in the course to have access to the materials. The program includes five courses. These go from SC0x - Supply Chain Analytics, SC1x - Supply Chain Fundamentals, SC2x - Supply Chain Design, SC3x - Supply Chain Dynamics, and SC4x - Supply Chain Technology and Systems. So basically, we cover the basic concepts, the basic tools in supply chain. We have a very industry-oriented approach. Every single technique and tool that we teach in each course is intended to be applied in a real-life problem.


Thanks for sharing today, Dr. Eva.


Excellent.It's my pleasure. Thank you so much.



About Dr. Eva Ponce









Dr. Eva Ponce


Executive Director of the MITxMicroMasters


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Julio Franca who discussed Applications of Blockchain in Supply Chain.







Applications of Blockchain in Supply Chain


The following examples are now in use or can be implemented today using existing technology.


Automotive supplier payments


Blockchain allows the transfer of funds anywhere in the world. Traditional banking methods are not needed. Transfer is direct between payer and payee. It is also secure and rapid – in minutes, compared to days for automated clearing house payments, for example. Bitcoin transfers specifically also offer lower fees. Australian vehicle manufacturer Tomcar uses bitcoin to pay suppliers. Currently, three partners in Israel and Taiwan accept this. Tomcar’s supplier agreements use standard terms. The advantage is in the cost savings. On the other hand, the firm is careful to avoid hanging onto too much bitcoin. While bitcoin is international by nature, some national governments see it as a way for companies to make an investment. Companies with bitcoin holdings may therefore be taxed accordingly.


Meat traceability


Product status at each stage of production can be recorded using blockchain. The records are permanent and inalterable. They also allow the tracing of each product to its source. Global retailer Walmart uses blockchain to track sales of pork meat in China. Its system lets the company see where each piece of meat comes from, its processing and storage, and sell-by date. In the event of product recall, the company can also see which batches are concerned and who bought them.


Electric power microgrids


This example shows how entities of any size can use blockchain. In other words, blockchain is not just for the big players. Smart contracts are being used for redistributing excess power from solar panels. The Transactive Grid is an application running on blockchain to monitor and redistribute energy in a neighbourhood microgrid. The program automates the buying and selling of green energy to save costs and pollution. The technology for running the program is the Ethereum platform, designed for building smart contracts of any kind.


RFID-driven contract bids and execution


RFID tags are commonly used in supply chain to store information about products. The tags can be read easily and automatically, then processed by IT systems. So, the logic goes, why not use them for smart contracts for logistics? The practical setup could be as follows. RFID tags for cartons or pallets store information on delivery location and date. Logistics partners run applications to look for these tags and bid for delivery contract. The partner offering optimal price and service gets the business. A smart contract then tracks status and final delivery performance.


Cold chain monitoring


Food and pharmaceutical products often need special storage. Also, enterprises also see the value in sharing warehouses and distribution centres, instead of each one paying for its own. Sensors on sensitive products can record temperature, humidity, vibration, and other items of interest. These readings can then be stored on blockchain. They are permanent and tamperproof. If a storage condition deviates from what has been agreed, each member of the blockchain will see it. A smart contract can trigger an action to correct the situation. Depending on the size of the deviation, this action may be to simply adjust the storage. However, it could also extend to changing “use-by” dates, declaring products unfit, or applying penalties.



About Julio Franca







Julio Franca


Director at Spin Consulting


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Mohamed Ali Eldabaa who discussed Capacity Constraints: Feed Stocks and Production Lines.








It's great to speak with you today, Mohamed. Looking forward to discussing this topic of capacity constraints, in particular, feed stocks and production lines. Can you first provide us with a brief background of yourself?


Hey Dustin, Sure, I'm Mohamed Eldabaa. I am currently working for 5+ years in supply chain management, managing supply chains for FMCG. I've also worked, before this, in the same field of the supply management and the procurement in oil and gas fields. So for today's topic, I believe we could have some good examples from both sectors — oil and gas and FMCG, which is mainly covering mostly the biggest section of the supply chains globally.


Can you first talk a little bit about what is involved with the capacity constraints in these two areas?


For sure. Currently, capacity constraints are the topic of the era, where we're seeing across all the industries globally that everyone has a business challenge in. Which is sometimes drives lots of money to be spent to make sure that this customer's needs are not a challenge to be a market leader.


So, in other words, the capacity constraints are a showstopper for anyone who tries to put his business strategy in action, versus the actual capacity that he can have. Today we will talk specifically on the feedstocks and production lines constraints. So mainly your feedstock suppliers. How can you do good capacity exercise with them and understand what exactly, what are your continuity plans, as well as your production lines. As an example, if you have an order with a hundred X units you are only able to produce 0.75 X Units because you can't. so the best approach would be to make sure that every single case is delivered for customers. Those are the two major points that we'll talk about today.


Can you talk about how it's done effectively?


For feedstocks, first, before we do our capacity to demand model in the beginning, if you are doing a new business, you should have a capacity study with all your suppliers, simpler what are your capacities? How can you feed my production lines? And you compare those Capacities to your demands and see if your demand is higher or lower than this capacity. If it's lower than this capacity, fine. Now you have a sufficient capacity that could cover any business demand increase or fluctuation that you should have. But if your capacity is less than your demand, now is the time to check for an alternative solution.


Some suppliers for feedstocks are having their capacity plans, producing the same feedstock for you from different locations, so you would check your supply chain with those sites/locations to make sure that those supply chains are active. So this is the first model which is if you are building a new supply chain or a new plant.


If you have an existing business already today, and you're having your feedstock capacity exercise to do, you should map all your supply chains and then define exactly what are the current capacities that you have. And you compare those with your business strategy and growth plans, if this plan is in line with your production capacities of the suppliers. If it's in line, you may need to make sure also that you're having a business continuity plan. By having other suppliers qualified in place or having other supply chains active in place. so you make sure whatever fluctuation happening in the business, that you are able to take those into consideration.


On the other side, and if your business is in some of the developing markets — so mainly India, Middle East and Africa regions, Asia Region or the Latin America Region, you need to make sure also that the supply chain itself is active and stable, if you're importing overseas, is stable, So this is for the feeder stocks capacity question.


If you face capacity constraints, it's just coming from feedstock suppliers, you have mainly two options. Either you invest with the supplier to his capacity, so he can give you more, and this could be a cost increase. Or you can go for another alternative solution option, which might be a more expensive option.


You will say that if I can produce a hundred cases of my product, the suppliers can support me with a hundred.Maybe he can support me with a 110. But if I need to produce 150, I will pay an extra X amount of money to make sure that these capacities are provided to me. So this is about the feedstocks and how we can think.


To wrap up, simply if it's a new business, you define your supply base, having the right capacity in place, and a backup plan. For an existing business, you need to make sure that your cross plans are in line with the supplier’s plans.


For the production lines, mainly, to make a very good, strong strategic plan in place, in advance of your production. So as simple as, what is my marketing plan? How the marketing plan is targeting the consumer and the customers, and how this plan is translated into numbers in terms of the produced product, so this produced product, when you are doing this capacity analysis to see what's the demand of the market and how can I support.


Again, it's more or less the same as the feedstock. Your production lines are able to produce a hundred cases of a product X, You need to increase this capacity another hundred. You need to make more. so your plan will be decided by losing market share because I will not invest in more capacity. So as simple as, it’s a choice of enabling the current suppliers to supply you with the right stock and finished goods. If not, because of the capacity constraints, one of the alternative options. For sure, you need to check always what if you cannot pay more for alternative solutions? Are there other same cost or maybe less cost options that are not revealed yet?


This is how you can map supply chain by checking the market studies, through the market intelligence to see how you can drive more value through getting less sourcing options, One of the things you should do is to check the market capability and understand how this capability is applied or support you to grow.


Do you have any success stories or examples you could share?


For sure. Actually, one of the major stories I could share from my previous company a feedstock issue with suppliers. And this feedstock issue actually was not because of the supply, Actually, it was because of the shipping capacity. It was the shipping lines was not able to ship certain quantity to a certain place. So we worked together as a customer and a supplier to work with the shipping line and other shipping lines to enable more capacity for this shipping line with the same cost. By applying the scale of this company — how we can enable this company and make sure that the scale is giving suppliers the scale the customer is giving the suppliers the best cost formula. How can you think of solving the capacity issues, without adding any extra cost on you or on the supplier.





About Mohamed Ali Eldabaa







Mohamed Ali Eldabaa


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Prateek Yadav who discussed Changing Trends in Supply Chain.






What are the three factors that are critical for any supply chain analytics project to be successful?


Thanks, Dustin. Good afternoon. Thanks for having me. I would say a lot of articles that you read in today's world, they talk about supply chain analytics being the next big thing with Big Data coming in, with the ability to analyze the values of machine learning and develop insights. What I’ve found over the last eight years since I've worked on such projects and looked at the analytics from supply chain information to look at strategy network design or inventory optimization or getting other insights from supply chain data, what I always, in the end, realize is that the software is, in my point of view, a less important factor in the success of such projects than some other soft part. I will define them one by one for you.


The first one is a manageable scope. I have often seen companies, when they're trying to do a supply chain analytics project,  they start building up projects which are very wide, very broad in scope, with a  lot of details, sometimes taking their analysis to an SKU level, and I always felt that this was really not helpful because, A, it really makes the scope unmanageable. You're focusing on too many parameters. And instead of simplification, you make your model very complex, and you really do not understand, at times, the implication of changes within the model.


Therefore, I would say manageable scope means, start small, start with a select group of products, and then gradually build on it. You add more and more complexity to it, instead of starting with big and complex and then going to the details. That's one thing.


The second thing is the right amount of data. Again, like I said, this is one of the most critical errors when you use supply chain analytics project that I've seen. People often underestimate the importance of the data. Most of the time, data collection, data cleaning, and data evaluation and validation is the part which almost makes 50 to 60% of the time within the project. That is the second most important thing.


The third thing is that about the people who are running such projects is a basic knowledge of mathematics or statistics.


It's easy to run a software, but it's difficult to understand what is behind that number — why the system is throwing this certain number. So these minor changes, how that is working in the back of a certain column or a certain output, even if you do not understand the whole mathematics behind it, conceptually you should be able to understand what is the statistics, what is the mathematics behind it. And I think these are the few things that I always fear people miss and often the projects are not as successful as they initially hope to be.


My next question is about the trend of inbound management. What are the benefits of it?


Inbound management. That's a very interesting topic. Just for the viewers and listeners, inbound management is the area where the company starts thinking about managing their inbound shipments — so their shipments that are coming from the suppliers to the factory or to the warehouse which is company owns. Usually, we assume that it's the supplier who is organizing the transportation and pays for it and then adds the cost of the transportation in his invoice to the buyer.


Now there's a growing trend, and there's also a growing interest in the industry — across industries actually — to see what are the benefits if you try to manage the inbound by yourself. So you essentially manage the shipments that are coming from the supplier to you. And I can tell you, a lot of big companies are working on it right now. For example, Amazon, they started a massive project in Europe three years ago to bring inbound under their control. And there are definitely benefits.


One is, of course, the scope. As the volume become larger, you have better ability to negotiate better rates than the suppliers. The second thing is visibility. Now, instead of the supplier telling you, you have the cost visibility. You know how much it's actually costing you to bring the product from the supplier to your factory. Previously, you were just getting an invoice where maybe there was a line item in the invoice saying, "transportation cost," or maybe it was not even there, and the supplier was charging you one fixed amount, one whole amount. So at least it brings visibility for the company to know what is the cost of buying from the supplier.


And the third thing is also the visibility in terms of the shipment. So what I've seen often in companies is that companies usually do not have an insight as to what would lack in their warehouse or in their factory production next day. Usually what happens is that you have... The morning of the shipment deliveries, the production company calls you up and says, "Hey, I have a shipment for you, and I will deliver it at 12:00." And that's, of course, [inaudible 0:06:51]. Now if you want control of your inbound, then through the messages like inbound shipping notification to the ability to manage the inbound, companies can actually already know in advance when the shipment is going to be picked up from the supplier, when it's going to arrive at the factory location or the warehouse.And if there is any issue dealing with transit, it could be easily visible for the company.


And what it does is, it can impact the visibility of the capital. Because if you have higher visibility and more transparency, you know that you do not have to keep as much buffer of inventory as earlier expected. Now you have more visibility. Now you know you have more information, so you can take better and more calculated risks. Instead of keeping a lot of buffer just to be prepared for every possible scenario.


So I think those three things — one, in terms of cost that you manage high volumes, so of course your cost per unit has to go down. Second, the visibility in terms of the cost itself. And the third is the visibility in terms of tracking and tracing the shipment which allows the companies to lower their debt working capital.


These would be my three keys things in terms of benefits of inbound.


What about centers of excellence? Can you talk about the 4PL concept — what is it and how it will impact the supply chain?


4PL concept is not new in the industry. It's been around for many years. And a lot of companies like Ford have actually already been doing this for more than 15 years now. The companies do it in different ways. Let me explain what  4PL means. 4PL basically means that if the [inaudible 0:08:57] is called [inaudible 0:08:58] logistic provider, which means that there is another party, which is managing the transportation on your behalf. So they act like an air traffic control tower, and they're seeing which shipment needs to go from here to there, and then they would organize the transportation. Then they would make sure they have a proper visibility of that shipment going from A to B. And if there is any alerts, any delays of the shipment, they can inform their customer. That's the guiding and the monitoring part. And the last part is the invoicing. So they also do freight [inaudible 0:09:40] and invoice and auditing. So they check the invoices that are coming from their freight forwarder, and they automatically either pay [inaudible 0:09:50] or help the customer to set up a system to pay them more easily. So that's basically 4PL concept.


And I think more and more companies are going towards this direction now. Either they are building their own centers of excellence of 4PLs within their company, or they're outsourcing it to companies like DHL or companies like UPS or [inaudible 0:10:14], [inaudible 0:10:15], etc.


So you can work it from both ways.


The way I see it is, if I have to think about the impact on the supply chain, then it all comes down to how are you managing the supply chain. Is it that... Are the experts managing it, or do you have some person located on the ground in a plant who is doing 500 things, and he's also doing transportation? So the key thing is how much expertise the company is [inaudible 0:10:46] within the function of supply chain.


And what I'm talking about right now is purely from a distribution point of view, [inaudible 0:10:55] and distribution. But it can also have a center of excellence for purchasing, for procurement. You can also have a center for excellence for indirect procurement, for material, for [inaudible 0:11:05]. There are different ways of setting up these centers of excellence.


I first received very, very big impact [inaudible 0:11:12]. Of course, they have to be done. There's no one-size-fits-all. It depends on the company [inaudible 0:11:20] — what is the culture of the company? Is it very decentralized? Is it only centralized? For companies like GE, which are very centralized, it's, perhaps, easier to go to [inaudible 0:11:31]. There's companies which are very decentralized would find it difficult to build these centers of excellence.


The impact on the supply chain, however, is definitely there. Maybe for some companies it's higher or lower. It depends also where the company is in terms of its maturity in the supply chain. But the impact of the [inaudible 0:11:51], it brings in expertise to handle your supply chain. Second, it allows you to bring the visibility [inaudible 0:12:00] centers of excellence [inaudible 0:12:03] with the latest systems, which allow to run the companies, to have a global visibility, where their shipments are, and also, it allows the companies to collect data, enough data to run the analytics later on, improving the supply chain. It also allows companies to consolidate the volume they purchase from the shippers. So, of course, if you have centers of excellence, every local station or plant finds their own transportation, you can actually combine [inaudible 0:12:42] into centers of excellence.


I would say those would be two very quick affects or impacts from [inaudible 0:12:53] concept. And of course, there are many more. I can go on and talk about it for hours. But I think if, in a nutshell, I have to think about it’s the visibility and the ability to [inaudible 0:13:05] which would drive down the cost, those would be the key ones.


Thank you, Pratik. Can you provide us with a brief background of yourself?


I've been working in the field of supply chain for almost 12-plus years now. I started my career a long time back when I was in India. I worked in supply chain consulting. I've worked in operations. And then I've also worked in European countries. I've worked in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, UK, and also Switzerland. I've worked with companies which provide freight forwarding services like [inaudible 0:13:53]DHL, like Marsh Group, and I've also worked for their customers.


In terms of education, I have a Masters from Crampton University in logistics and supply chain. I also have a special micro Masters from the USA — MIT, USA.


My interest, just to give you an idea, my idea is on, basically, if I could talk about one very big problem that I find very interesting is around how do you have sustainable transportation. And by that, I do not really mean have trucks which go with the carbon-free, less carbon emissions or warehouses which run on solar energy. But what I also mean is that actually, how can we collaborate across the industry. So instead of having two companies which have their, let's say, warehouses close by, why not find a way to bring them together and actually have the shipment going out of those locations and combine them. Often, the difficulty is how are you going to share the benefits [inaudible 0:15:25]. But I think that's something that we should work on, and we should be able to consolidate more cargo, bring down the emissions, and also improve the supply chain and make it more cost-effective.


We have already seen the example of such cases with businesses like Uber. What they're basically doing is that they want to make sure that the car or the asset is used as much as possible. And that could also be the idea around [inaudible 0:16:00], which is basically collaboration across the industry — to combine the cargo for a lot of different customers together.


In a nutshell, that's my background. That's all, Dustin.



About Prateek Yadav







Prateek Yadav


Quality & Supply Chain Management


LinkedIn Profile

I interviewed Moustafa Ibrahim who discussed Integrated Supply Chain Solutions and Demand Management.







Please provide a brief background of yourself


Hi, Dustin. It's my pleasure to talk to you. I hope that this interview is addling value for all of our audience. Basically I'm a mechanical engineer. I have a previous experience in maintenance, planning, production & fleet management. Currently I'm one consultant team of highly professional advisors company- hpa. hpa is a business solution company provides business training & hand to hand consulting services for more than 750 companies in middle east & north Africa. Within consulting projects I’m working on different projects, different industries & different functions within supply chain


What is your definition of supply chain solutions and demand management?

• Supply Chain solutions is a business solutions not just operation

• Through applying that, the business will be able to synchronize supply with market demand through delivering products and services from raw materials to end customers through many activities as:


     a. demand planning
     b. forecasting
     c. procurement
     d. Production
     e. warehousing
     f. inventory
     g. and logistics management


Through each stage of the previous functions, the adding value will be created through an engineered flow of information, physical distribution, and cash. It is business journey starting from customer need and finishing at customer satisfaction.

• Demand management is the function of recognizing all market needs as goods and services to support the marketplace. Proper demand management facilitates the planning to utilize of the available resources to achieve profitable business results.


Why is it important?


Supply chain is too dynamic processes. So, supply chain functions moved from silo concept to cross function concept Silo concept means managing each function separately regardless synchronizing with other functions


• cross function means managing each function by coordination with the predecessors & successors functions to achieve the integration and avoid any conflict of interest between all functions to achieve the business goals. The objective of silo concept is achieving operation goals while cross function focusing on achieving business goals. Integrated supply chain is very important to strength the main pillars of the firm goals.


• These pillars could be nominated as:


     a. Improve Financial Position of the firm
     b. Increase Customer satisfaction level
     c. Utilize Operation Costs
Financial Pillar (Improving Financial Position) could be achieved through:

• supply chain costs control to Increases business Profit

• Decrease the ownership of fixed Assets as possible such as plants, warehouses and transportation vehicles to reduce the working capitalIt’s applicable through redesign the distribution network to serve the same number of customers from minimum number of warehouses with minimum logistics cost. Increases Cash Flow and Cash to cash cycle though applying lean theories to plan the production capacities and distribution networks according to takt time. So the firm will be able to invoice the customer many days sooner.Customer satisfaction pillar could be achieved through:

• Applying quality systems to achieve The acceptable level of quality

• Minimizing the operation cost which will reflect on acceptable selling price

• Managing the production lines to produce the required quantity.

• Design a good distribution network to send the goods at the right location

• Accurate planning process to enhance the right delivery time

• Provide after Sale services to enhance customer retentionUtilize operation cost pillar could be achieved through:Decreasing Purchasing Cost which represents more than 62% from company expensesDecreasing Production CostMinimizing Inventory carrying cost as a CAPITAL COST, storing cost & risk costs which represents from 25 up to 30% from cost of goods Integration is too important to strength all of these 3 pillars leads to achieve business objectives in profitability, sustainability, customer loyalty with the minimum cost.


How is it done effectively?


Integration could be done effectively through:

• Continuous coordination & communication between the key players of cross-function supply chain

• Solid system to automate the linkage between all of them

One of the most important process to communicate is S & OP (sales and operation planning). Its objective is bringing relevant pieces of information and goals , from different points of view to help the organization make decisions that will help it achieve its goals. Business plan is one of most important inputs to S&OP. business planning process comes From a high-level view, it consists of five separate steps:

Product and Portfolio Planning, Demand Planning, Supply Planning, Financial Reconciliation & Executive Review.

S&OP goal “how to set a plan which will be able to achieve the business plan. S&OP is setting company plan for 1 up to 3 years (based on company volume). This process often repeated on a regular, monthly drumbeat to monitor the execution of the plan. Withn S&OP, the Information is brought together from multiple functions in the firm including sales, marketing, supply chain, finance, and senior management.

Customers and suppliers are often represented in the different stages of the process.

Companies frequently spend large amounts of time and effort to construct these processes, and they are often elegantly designed and comprehensive.

Cross-functional communication is an ongoing process of transferring knowledge from one functional area to other areas of the firm to get a mutual understanding of the business goals

Everyone within the supply chain has to know that the output of the predecessor process will be input for his process and the output of his process will be an input for the successor process and so.
So the responsible team for any process within the supply chain have to communicate with the team of predecessor process and successor process to agree with them on the headlines of the plan as time schedule of implementation, major characteristics of the product or service, desirable way of storing, shelf lifetime, storing conditions & way of physical handling

Thanks Dustin it was my pleasure to meet you. Bye Bye


About Moustafa Ibrahim







Moustafa Ibrahim


Supply chain corporate consultant


LinkedIn Profile