Archives for November 2018

Channel stuffing on an international scale

By Steve Geary | 11/25/2018 | 9:20 AM

The impacts of U.S. trade tensions with China are starting to show up in the numbers.

According the Census Bureau, an unbiased provider of trade data, in September of 2018 the United States imported over $50 billion in goods from China. Compare that figure to 2017, when it was a little over $45 billion. That $50 billion is an all-time monthly record.

A look at the Census Bureau statistics for manufacturer’s inventories shows where many of those imports are going. Year over year, US manufactures inventories are up 6.7%. 

There will be no debate here on whether or not the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration are a good or bad. What is clear is that because of the tariff situation uncertainty is creeping into the supply chain. Uncertainty makes me nervous.

Anybody who relies on China as a source of supply is looking at the risk profile. Long term, there is a need to realign global supply chains with a more deliberate view toward supply chain risk. Tariff uncertainty is a part of that equation.

We are already seeing the pragmatists react to the uncertainty. They are stuffing their DC’s, as shown in the Census Bureau numbers.  There is no choice but to hedge against supply chain risk by stuffing the pipeline with inbound supplies. 

Build a buffer, stuff the warehouses, and buy a hedge. 

Then say a prayer that the politicians in Washington and Beijing find a way out.

The United States Army has a vision.  Do you?

By Steve Geary | 11/20/2018 | 3:29 PM

The headline for an Army News Service article reads, “Army must update logistics operations as part of modernization efforts.” The article details remarks made to an Association of the United States Army Institute Land Warfare breakfast in early November by Lieutenant General Aundre Piggee.

Piggee’s opinion matters: he is the Army's deputy chief of staff for logistics.

He drove home four points:

  1. Self-Sustaining Brigade Combat Teams. Translating this into commercial terms, we need to delegate responsibility and authority to operating teams, and let the team run with it.
  1. Additive Manufacturing, or 3D Printing, is a “game changer.” The benefit to an operating force operating thousands of miles down the supply line is real. The same opportunity exists in the private sector. A seismic shift may is coming. This technology might actually be more fundamental than Block Chain.
  1. Global Supply Visibility: the Army has been working on this for years, and their system is now fully fielded. That was the easy part. Now that they have global near real time data, what are they going to do with it? Once again, the general is on target, saying “we have to make sure we are using all this data that we're pumping out to make good decisions."
  1. Autonomic vehicles enabled by Artificial Intelligence are within reach, and some would argue that they are already here. How does this capability reshape logistics and material handling? Piggee offered an idea: autonomous vehicles could be a key element in resupply. Are we going to be able to do the same thing in the private sector? If we can't do it over the road, can we do it in the warehouse?

We have to give the General credit, and his thoughts should serve as a catalyst for any logistician.

Gartner Academic Rankings for Supply Chain Academic Programs

By Steve Geary | 11/04/2018 | 10:38 AM

If you are getting ready to search college campuses for Supply Chain talent, Gartner has a list.  

The top 25, according to Gartner, are:  Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Tennessee, Michigan State University, Rutgers University, the University of Minnesota, he Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Arizona State University, The University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University, Northeastern University, the Ohio State University, North Carolina State University, Texas Christian University, Wayne State University, the University of Southern California, Howard University, The University of Texas at Austin, University of South Carolina, Syracuse University, University of Houston, the University of Washington, and the University of San Diego.

All are solid, so if you want to go looking for freshly minted talent, these schools are a great place to start.  An article in the October issue of DCV highlights the top school on the list, but if you are searching for talent in today’s tight market don’t ignore the other schools on the list.  They’re all over the country.

 (disclosure:  the author is on faculty at the University of Tennessee, which clocked in at number 3 on the Gartner list.)

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Steve Geary

Steve Geary

Steve Geary is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Tennessee's College of Business Administration, and is on the faculty at The Gordon Institute at Tufts University, where he teaches supply chain management. He is the President of the Supply Chain Visions family of companies, and Chief Operating Officer at ROSE Solutions, consultancies that work across the government sector. Steve is a contributing editor at DC Velocity, and editor-at-large for CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, and Who's Who in Executives and Professionals. In November of 2007, Steve was recognized for "Selfless Service to Our Nation and the People of Iraq" by the Deputy Secretary of Defense.


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