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Supply Chain Matters Book Review: Supply Chain Network Design

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From time to time throughout the year, authors send us various new books dealing with timely content related to global supply chain management. One this author’s 2013 New Year’s resolutions is to be more timely on providing our Supply Chain Matters readers with some select reviews and/or recommendations regarding books written on timely and important topics.

The subject of this review is the book: Supply Chain Network Design, Applying Optimization and Analytics to the Global Supply Chain.  This book is authored by Michael Watson, Sara Lewis, Peter Cacioppi and Jay Jayaraman, and reflects the author’s collective practical experiences working with supply chain network design software. The authors gained their experiences while part of the former LogicTools, which was subsequently acquired by IBM. This author has followed the adoption of supply chain network design technology since its market inception in 2000, and thus was pleased to receive a copy of this book from Michael Watson, whom we have known for several years.

If any organization is still considering the deployment and use of supply chain network design technology, or wants to gain broader benefits from an existing deployment, this is a book you should definitely consider.  As the authors point out, strategic network design is about selecting an optimized number, location and size of supply chain wide facilities, as well as supporting supply chain wide decisions by quantifying supply chain wide facility investment options.  Many global supply chain teams have gained positive and quantified business benefits from leveraged use of this technology, either by continuous or periodic use. So much so that some organizations that relied on outside consultants to perform this type of analysis have since transferred this capability to in-house expertise.

The book itself is educational in approach, while providing sufficient detail on how to build multi-echelon and multi-objective supply chain models.  It addresses what can be very technical in an easy to understand tutorial on leveraged use of this technology. I managed to get through the book in just a week or two of periodic reading. Many practical examples for building supply chain models are provided along with some rather important insights.

The book begins by providing the basics of proper modeling, and builds toward building complex models with multiple objective optimization.  What I appreciated was that the book is written in clear, rather easy to understand language vs. one that is anchored in academic formulae. In Chapter 13, the authors focus on the critical importance and yet challenging aspects of network design, that being data aggregation and proper grouping of key data. That chapter, in my view, is one of the more important and valuable portions of the book. Again, the authors provide easy to understand examples of what, and what not to do in either aggregating customer, site or product data needs. Chapter 14 provides practical advice for creating a design team and running a successful network design project.

If your work or inspirations lead toward the ability to build and deploy supply chain network design decision support models, or teaching teams to successfully deploy these methods, consider reading this text.

Bob Ferrari

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