@ Supply Chain Management


Its alive, its alive, its alive… (to be read along with suitable music)

SC Digest has an article by Dan Gilmore, editor, on Creating a “Living Supply Chain”, a concept put out by Dr. John Gattorna of the Sydney Business School (Australia) and Cranfield School of Management (UK).
So what is a living supply chain?

In part, because in the end, it isn’t driven by networks and assets and technology, but by people. Somehow, too many of us tend to lose sight of that. “The reality is that it is people who drive the supply chain, both inside and outside your business, not hard assets or technology,” Gattorna writes. “They are in fact living systems, propelled by humans and human behavior.”

Ok. This is also why management is an art and not a science, its why management consultants are paid mega bucks whether or not the strategies that they recommend are finally put into action or fall by the wayside. So what’s new about that?
Most of my recent posts about supply chain collaboration namely, REA, a semantic model for Internet supply chain collaboration and Using Prediction Markets for Collaboration deal with essentially how to structure one’s supply chain around people and ideas around this particular subject.
One of John’s key observations about a dimension of competitive advantage that is begging for exploitation is recounted below,

It is the failure to understand that human element, or indeed the lack any real body of knowledge in this area of supply chain, that is a major force in why some many strategies go unrealized, and many efforts at collaboration produce little value. Harnessing that dimension is the next and only real source of competitive advantage. “If you can understand and correctly apply a more enlightened approach to managing this ‘human factor’ in the supply chain, you’ll discover a primary source of performance improvement. It’s all there for the taking.”

While harnessing the power of people within the supply chain is not the only real source of competitive advantage but it is one of the important sources and should be tapped. Well, then the automatic question is – HOW?

Read the rest of this entry »

Cardinal Health Releases RFID Pilot Results

Cardinal Health Releases RFID Pilot Results in a recent news release. They report,

Test data shows promise and gaps of the technology that will affect widespread adoption across pharmaceutical industry

The aims of the RFID pilot program were as follows:

The pilot program tested whether ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio frequency identification (RFID) tags could be applied, encoded and read at normal production speeds during packaging and distribution of pharmaceuticals. Verifying the authenticity of medications along each step of the distribution process adds an additional layer of security to lessen the chance of counterfeit pharmaceuticals entering the supply chain. It is also hoped that RFID data could improve efficiencies in the supply chain.

The results of the pilot program:

Overall data collected by Cardinal Health supports the theory that RFID technology using UHF as a single frequency at the unit, case and pallet levels is feasible for track and trace. However, several challenges remain before it can be adopted industry-wide. Some of those challenges include:

  • Technology and process improvements to achieve:
  • Case-level reads in excess of 99 percent at all case reading stations;
  • Unit-level read rates in excess of 99 percent when reading from tote containers at the distribution center and pharmacy locations;
  • Allowing unit-level “inference” to become acceptable practice in the normal distribution process at stages where unit-level read rates are unreliable, but case level reads approach 100 percent (*Three stages marked in chart above);
  • Barcode technology to be used as complementary and redundant technology to RFID;
  • Management of the cost impact to implement and sustain the technology;
  • Improved collaboration across the industry to identify opportunities to significantly improve efficiency.

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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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November 2006