Archives for August 2014

Shake, Rattle, And Roll!

By Art van Bodegraven | 08/24/2014 | 9:01 AM

Another posting from the road, having completed bear and salmon encounters, chased the rain out of Seattle (fueled by Starbucks), and decamped for the delights of NoCal. The wake-up call came early today, and I had not even left one at the desk. But, at 3:20 am, I experienced a sensation best described as sharing a waterbed with an elephant. 15 or 20 seconds of rolling motion felt more like half an hour, and what I thought was the aroma of elephant might possibly have been something of my own making.

And, so the 6.1 Napa earthquake of 2014 got my heart to racing and my nether parts in some degree of uproar.

That the wine country tour was off is not important; too many have lost too much to have gawkers and visitors clogging up the works. Active recovery is underway, and resilient people are gathering themselves and moving forward. But, there has been some lingering damage to a fragile physical infrastructure, and normalcy will be put on hold for a while. Which raises the supply chain management issue of risk assessment and mitigation.

The topic is red-hot in our profession just now; here, the subject is immediate, tangible, and real. Many folks, no doubt, thought they might stock up at Wal-Mart if anything were needed. What to do when Wal-Mart is closed, along with chain grocers, chain drug stores, and liquor stores?

My concern is this. We somehow forgot about things like Katrina, and Yossi Sheffi's blueprint for creating resilient enterprises. We perked up when earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power collapse hit Japan - then promptly forgot. Will we forget today's focus on risk management and preventive measures? Will it take another earthquake - someday, perhaps, even the fabled and feared Big One - to do something more permanent about investing in preserving business continuity?

Confession. I do grow cynical about the fads that come and go. Our profession really needs to lead the movement to develop long-term, sustainable, and continuously improving risk mitigation strategies and tactics that are embedded in our day-to-day operations. It will take people and money to do so, and CFO's need to understand the value involved - and put any dominating cost mentality out of the equation.

How Cool Is The Cool Chain?

By Art van Bodegraven | 08/20/2014 | 9:45 PM

Way cool! And most people don't even know it exists. But, those who specialize in food logistics become passionately coherent on the subject. For Mr. And Mrs. Front Porch, it is clear that something has gone amiss when the local Wal-Mart goes out-of-stock on the Hunter Green XXXXL hoodie so favored by the old man.

It might be less clear that a cool (or cold) chain breakdown was the root cause of the 2 a.m. Gallops, after a sumptuous repast of seafood that passed the smell test, but had other problems. After a week in Alaska, I was overcome with the vapors upon seeing how much cool/cold chain excellence meant to the State's export (or shipment to the Lower 48) economy.

One evening, we fished until 10 at night, with several salmon giving their lives in a noble cause. Ice appeared, as if by magic, to safeguard the catch until the morrow. Then, it was off to a processor, who flash froze the catch, boxed it up, and shipped it FedEx for second day arrival, still frozen and pristine. This niche is continuing to grow, with an increasing variety of products from a broader cohort of providers benefitting from reliable environmental consistence across a spectrum of temperature band ranges. Fruits, vegetables, animal protein, cut flowers, products with tough specs that could be degraded by temperature extremes or variations, and on and on.

For myself, I can hardly wait to get home and see how my fish look, compared with the proud pictures, after filleting and freezing. In their natural state, they were impressive, and big enough that I could cradle them, like newborn babies, in my arms. Sounds easy? These dudes were three times a newborn's weight. Not to mention that I needed to be ready to bolt, as the Kodiak bear, whose dinner I had callously robbed, seemed interested in retrieving what was, so he thought, rightfully his.

Meanwhile, do not forget to give your cool chain leader a hug (or a handshake, depending on company policy). He or she can help you differentiate and stand out in an excellent competitive way.

Deep Fried Cotton Candy?

By Art van Bodegraven | 08/09/2014 | 7:59 AM

Hey, why not?  Almost everything else in the way of State Fair faux food is fried at least once, sometimes twice.  There is nothing quite like a stroll down the food aisle, navigating among the widebodies while admiring the creativity lavished on endless variations of cholesterol on a stick.

I am a slightly obsessed fan of the great Ohio State Fair.  Of course, I attend solely in a professional capacity, with logistics and supply chain management always top of mind.  There are, admittedly, diversions.  The freak show.  Rows of carnies lining the Midway, deftly separating rubes from their egg money with games of exeptional skill and prizes that may carry ebola.  Amazing examples of animal husbandry.  Meth-fueled ride operators, in whose care parents willingly leave their children as only-a-matter-of-time deathtraps whirl and spin.

The real amazement, though, is the triumph of exceptional logistics over chaos.  Although I usually wax incoherently regarding the place of logistics as an executional subset of the greater supply chain, it is the raw power of logistics that makes this fair, and all the others, even remotely possible to pull off.

Think about it.  This is about event logistics, surpassed in scale by military operations, but not by much else.  For the traditional games, rides, and eats from far away home bases, there is storage, unpacking, assembling, transport, unloading, setup, test runs, operations, shut down, tear down, repack, load, and transport - either to home base, or to the next big fair.  Complex, a mobile community unto itself, and manned (or womanned, as the case may be) largely by crews tht might struggle to get through a Dick and Jane book.

For the local participants, generally extensions of food sevice operations, there is planning for volumes based on history, forecasts, weather, and the economy.  Then comes the staking out of space, designing layouts for preparation, serving, order-taking and payment, seating, and such.  Contingency plans are made for transient weather conditions, unexpected demand shifts, and labor acquisition.  Then comes the hard labor of setup, teardown, and transport - all done as an add-on to the principal business located some miles distant.  (There is some element of supply chain management, and material flows in these operations, to be sure, but logistics is the ultimate trump card.)

It gets even more complicated when we reach the ostensible purpose of the event, the display of livestock and produce.  Exhibitors must plan stall, pen, cage, or shelf locations, then move their animals or products as well as themselves to the center of the state.  Next, they must pack up and move back home.  But, the animals, particularly, are not in place for the duration.  They are there for a few days, until the contests, exhibitions, and judging are completed for their sector.

They move out, and new breeds or species move in.  The logistics execution is constant.  And, once there, there are internal logistics movements to plan, manage, and coordinate.  For example, all the 12-year old beef cattle exhibitors must get their personal beasts to a designated staging area, in concert, then all together again move to and get aligned within an observation area, next moving out as a group, but in some order.  This makes way for the 13-year old exhibitors, and the process starts all over again.

This truly gives new meaning and understanding to the term "goat rodeo".  A little of this is exhausting, and moves many to seek refuge in the cool environs of the famous butter cow, and sample some very fine Ohio-made ice cream.

Butter pecan and logistics, all on the same day.  It doesn't get much better than that. 

Mille Grazie!

By Art van Bodegraven | 08/03/2014 | 1:34 PM

It is that time of year to do my early Thanksgiving message. This marks a largish birthday, somewhere between fifty and 100 - perhaps equidistant. It is also the 6th anniversary of my adventure with pancreatic cancer. Final score: Art - 4, cancer - nil. No shoot out required, and the extra time is for living, not for continuing the fight.

The thanking could go on longer than a first-time Oscar winner, but it starts with my amazing 24/7 caregiver, wife, coach, and extraordinarily capable health care professional. My surgeon, arguably, the best at his specialty in the country, perhaps in the world, deserves continuing salutations as a gifted and dedicated Ninja and an all-around great guy. The well-wishes of friends are still treasured, as is the Moose Munch from the miscreants at DC Velocity. Special thanks to all those who prayed.

I am not much on signs and omens, but came out of my post-anaesthetic dementia somewhat persuaded that I had more left to do beyond reveling in the aftermath.  Immodestly, I'll opine that this has been the most creative period of my life.  And, I have relished the roles of communicator and teacher that pretty much consume my attention between philosophical discussions with Robert Mondavi.

As to the applicability of the visitation of disasters to our supply chain playing field, there are takeaways. One is that disasters are only permanent if we allow them to be. Another is that catastrophe provides a huge opportunity to erase the slate, restate the thesis, reimagine future states, reinvent a persona, and unleash any newfound insights, creativity, or intellectual energy.

We, in the workaday world, certainly face our fair share of life-altering events. A hidden strength is the realization that we have the power to alter, and we cannot allow the event to do the altering. So, light candles in the dark of night, walk boldly when the cliff's edge is invisible, touch lives in small ways, and know that you have it within you to create good karma, no matter who around you is sadly working on bad karma.

Peace out.

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 Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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