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Supporting the Journey Toward Integrated Business Planning in an SAP Environment

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In previous Supply Chain Matters commentaries addressing supply chain teams utilizing SAP as their technology backbone, we have observed that utilization of SAP’s supply chain focused applications can serve as both a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes from the structural rigor for integrating enterprise-wide transactional, operational execution and master data with supply and demand planning.  This rigor is sometimes cited as a curse; since today’s highly dynamic business processes are expected to respond to ever increasing levels of network-wide complexity and changing business models. In June 2014, we called reader attention to SAP’s strategic intent to transition its supply chain technology, specifically the need for businesses to transform their supply chains to demand networks – which implies deeper, more agile support capabilities for integrated business planning (IBP). With this shift, SAP is acknowledging that many industries must transform to be more product demand-centric and that demand drives supply […]


Latest Reports of 2014 Smartphone Sales: Focus Beyond the Eye Catching Headlines

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This week, IT media publications are running the headline that in the last quarter of 2014, Apple edged out Samsung in smartphone sales.  While the Q4 smartphone numbers would indicate such an obvious eye-grapping headline, both of these smartphone producers, along with their respective supply chain ecosystems, should be more concerned with the implications of the total unit sales volumes in 2014. Media is actually reporting the latest shipment numbers provided by research firm Gartner.  While Apple sold 74.8 million smartphones in Q4, vs. the 73 million sold by Samsung, a review of the full 2014 data provided in a Giga posting provides more concerning trending.  According to Gartner’s analysis, 1.24 billion smartphones were sold to consumers in 2014.  That represents a lot of production, supply chain, LCD and semiconductor component capability. Both Samsung and Apple lost market share in 2014 by Gartner’s estimates, albeit Samsung took the brunt with […]


A Positive Example for Overcoming Effects of the U.S. West Coast Port Disruption

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Much has been written and shared regarding the effects and/or consequences of the U.S. West Coast port disruptions brought about my labor contract negotiations these past 6-7 months.  We thought it was time to share some positive examples and learning on how some shipping organizations raised to the challenge of delivering on customer service. One such organization was Hawaii based Matson Shipping Lines. A posting published by Hawaii News Now reports that the U.S. west coast disruption actually helped Matson to deliver not only more positive financial results but more business as well. Matson initiated a China Express service whereby ships destined westbound from Hawaii such as the country of Guam, also continued on to several large China ports.  Matson’s vessels sail much faster than today’s very large container ships, and the voyage from Hong Kong takes a more northern Pacific routing, arriving at Matson’s owned, far less congested terminal […]


Thought Leadership Commentary Related to the U.S. West Coast Port Disruption

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There is obviously a lot of commentary coming forward regarding the recent U.S. west coast labor contract negotiations and the consequent impact to multi-industry supply chains of dysfunctional ports. Supply Chain Matters has provided its own viewpoints, but we believe it is important to share other viewpoints as well. A thought leader that this Editor truly admires and respects in the area of logistics and transportation is Professor Yossi Sheffi, Elisha Gray II Professor of Engineering Systems and Director of the Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Supply Chain Matters previously provided our review of Professor Sheffi’s latest book, Logistics Clusters. Professor Sheffi recently posted a very timely Linked-In Pulse commentary, Lessons to Glean from the West Coast Port Dispute. Sheffi observes how memories of the past 2002 west coast port disruption were short-lived, and apparently not carried forward by industry supply chain […]


Lumber Liquidators’s China Based Supply Chain Linked to Reported Health Concerns

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Lumber Liquidators is reported to be one of the largest and fastest growing retailers of hardwood and laminate flooring in North America.  This weekend, a broadcast report from CBS News’s 60 Minutes program turned a public light on this retailer’s supply chain and the consequences are becoming quite troublesome from a brand and financial perspective. The 60 Minutes report concluded that: “Much of its (Lumber Liquidator’s) laminate flooring is made in China, and as we discovered during our investigation, may fail to meet health and safety standards, because it contains high levels of formaldehyde, a known cancer causing chemical.” All laminate flooring carried by Lumber Liquidators bears a label indicating that it is CARB Phase 2–compliant, referring to the California Air Resources Board, which sets standards for formaldehyde emissions in wood flooring. The program reported these findings after conducting its own sanctioned tests of select flooring and after interviewing workers […]


An Example of One Creative Technology Approach in Addressing U.S. West Coast Port Congestion

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Today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal includes an article, Ports Get Creative as Cargo Piles Up. (paid subscription or complimentary metered view) This article describes the application of innovation and creative use of Uber like technology can certainly help alleviate the current backlog across U.S. west coast ports. Supply Chain Matters trusts that industry teams will indeed employ other creative uses of technology to help alleviate the current congestion as well as more permanently avoid current choke points. The WSJ describes how the newer and far larger container ships have contributed too much of the current congestion citing observers noting that the containers are less organized on these newer ships. Rather than waiting with dock workers to extract specific containers from the stacks of piled-up containers and match them to a specific transport movement, a new approach is to schedule local short-haul truckers to pick-up the first container off […]


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