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Creating the Optimal Supply Chain – Review (Flexibility in the Face of Disaster: Managing the Risk of Supply Chain Disruption)

In the continuing review of the report titled – Creating the Optimal Supply Chain published by experts from Wharton and BCG, I took a look at the section titled – Flexibility in the Face of Disaster: Managing the Risk of Supply Chain Disruption in this post. In earlier posts, I had reviewed the first two sections namely, You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure’: Maximizing Supply Chain Value and Avoiding the Cost of Inefficiency: Coordination and Collaboration in Supply Chain Management. The report – Creating the Optimal Supply Chain is available online as well.
Supply Chain disruption is making headlines in recent times because of events that occurred in recent months past such as terrorist strikes, hurricane Katrina and the longshoremen strike at the US West coast ports. I must reiterate again, that the macro picture against which such supply chain disruptions might occur is the globalized, outsourcing/offshoring manufacturing/procurement business world. That implies that while the world’s resources and manpower is at a firm’s disposal, more or less, so also are the world’s problems – in a global supply chain, the disruptions even though occurring locally might have multiplied effects far beyond the locally known or observed effects. Also, those effects might not even be noticed by those decision makers who sit far removed from the means of procurement or production and the first intimation of the crisis might be at the supply level by which time it might be far too late.
The authors state,

Today’s leaner, just-in-time globalized supply chains are more vulnerable than ever before to natural and man-made disasters — a reality that creates greater demands on companies to keep supply chains flexible and integrate disruption risk management into every facet of supply chain operations.

That’s just way off-base. Today’s globalized supply chains, whether or not they are just in time, cannot be in any sense leaner than before. Given the fact that lead times have increased in a globalized world through outsourcing/offshoring, inventories have gone up in every stage of the supply chain – so how have globalized supply chains become leaner? But it is also true that exposing one’s lines of supply (just as in the case of war strategy) globally, the risks of disruptions have also increased. Now, the question has to be asked, was it worthwhile to have gone the route of globalization in procurement/manufacturing on the basis of per unit cost without taking into account the total costs of procurement that are involved for the supply chain?

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About me

I am Chris Jacob Abraham and I live, work and blog from Newburgh, New York. I work for IBM as a Senior consultant in the Fab PowerOps group that works around the issue of detailed Fab (semiconductor fab) level scheduling on a continual basis. My erstwhile company ILOG was recently acquired by IBM and I've joined the Industry Solutions Group there.

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