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@ SCM Archives is working now!

Since I’ve been very busy with the move that I’m making, I’ve had very little time to spend on blogging. I’m relocating from Green Bay, WI to Fishkill, NY or thereabouts. This last weekend, my wife, son and I spent some time visiting Lambeau Field and taking the stadium tour and I’m pretty sure that we’ll be back there for at least one game.

However, I found that blogging (the making changes to the blog structure part of blogging) is a great reliever of stress. I have been toying with the archives part of the blog and finally I got the Extended Live Archives part to work. This is a great WordPress plugin that I would recommend for any site that uses WP for blogging.
Documentation for how to get this plugin to work is available at 24FightingChicken’s blog.
Take a look at the archives as it is now. In the coming weeks, I will style it in the manner that I’d like but for now it is what it is.
Also, over the last week, I have put in a new Share plugin as well (courtesy of Alex King. You can get the plugins from this page here.)

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The supply chain bloggers are tagged!

3PLWire alerted me to a recent article by InboundLogistics.com that rounded up a few of the supply chain bloggers out there in the blogosphere. I’m glad, over the top happy, that I made the list and here is the mention,

@Supply Chain Management
at-scm.com
Blogger: Chris Abraham, supply chain management consultant.
Audience: General logistics and supply chain professionals.
Content: The newly redesigned blog provides Abraham’s insightful take on news articles, trade publication features, and research reports pertaining to SCM and logistics. It also includes a comprehensive list of recommended logistics blogs and a fun map showing the location of site visitors throughout the world. (Kudos to Abraham for drawing visitors from as far away as Africa and New Zealand.) The blog is updated regularly and provides a moderate amount of user commentary.

The article by Amy Roach Partridge (on a side note, I was quite puzzled by a user who used a Thomas Publishing Company IP and I hadn’t the faintest idea who that might have been. Now, I do!) highlights some of the other supply chain bloggers who are linked to from my site as well. In the blogosphere, Know thy links is the right adage. Here they are:

  1. 3PL Wire
  2. BlogonLog
  3. China Logistics News
  4. Lean Blog
  5. Logistics List
  6. SCM Pulse
  7. Supplychainer
  8. Who Said Supply Chains Are Boring?

My thanks to Amy. Now to greater blogdoms!!

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Is an underperforming supply chain Home Depot’s pressing problem today?

I reported in this post (Item 2) – SCM Newz Roundup (originally reported at SC Digest) about Home Depot’s brand new panacea that is going to help it return to the top of its game. Only its no panacea. Its just foolhardy.
Here’s the gist of the SC Digest news report:

The moves clearly reflect in part the impact of Home Depot’s VP of Supply Chain Mark Holifield, who came to the post after a similar and well-respected stint at Office Depot.
He said that Home Depot would focus on improved inventory management, implement a system that will provide better visibility and control over products delivered to the home, improve visibility of product flow from suppliers all the way to the store shelf, and cut order-to-delivery lead times, and improve inbound distribution.
Home Depot said the company is also looking to improve its supply chain technology is in several other areas, including:
* Supply chain analytics and decision-support
* Demand planning and forecasting
* Store replenishment
* Financial planning relative to merchandising
Home Depot noted the power of inventory improvements, saying that every one-tenth improvement in inventory turns means drives an additional $200 million in cash flow.

Here’s what Home Depot wants to do – improve its operations in order to drive better cash flow through its supply chain. But is that Home Depot’s problem?
Like I have said before, I have not done a comprehensive survey of customer attitudes to Home Depot. So I do the next best thing i.e. stick my thumb in the air and ascertain the direction of the wind. And which way does that blow?
1. Home Depot’s Real Problem
Here’s what she recounted as her Home Depot experience:

I recently visited Home Depot so I could use a gift card. Was all primed and ready to spend several hundreds of dollars (in addition to the $50 gift card) on paint, ceiling fans, and the like. Net-net, I didn’t spend a dime at Home Depot. I ended up going to Lowe’s and Samon’s. Why? Well, the Depot was dirty, cramped and cluttered. I couldn’t even find the aisle with the ceiling fans. The paint selection was far smaller than that of other stores. Nobody seemed interested in helping me and I don’t know that I blame them. The employees I did see (huddled around the end of aisles or at the checkout counter) looked terminally depressed. Overall, a dismal shopping experience.

Whoever gave Mary Schmidt her gift card actually contributed to Home Depot’s cash flow except that it lost out Mary Schmidt in the process. That’s like getting a ‘F’ in Business 101


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Job change!

I will be making a job change in the near future – by the end of this month. I have decided to leave my current position in Logistics Engineering at GENCO (a 3PL provider in the US). I have accepted an offer at ILOG as a staff consultant in their FPO group (ILOG Fab Poweops) which is part of the Planning and Scheduling group at the firm.
More as it happens.
In my career trajectory, I seem to be moving from the high level strategic planning for supply chains down into the nitty gritty of real-time scheduling but I think that I will be back up to the strategic planning level in the not so distant future. I think that I will benefit immensely from the bottoms up approach and that’s why I think this is a good move. Moreover, it takes me from the logistics function of the supply chain into the manufacturing function.

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Logistics Quotient: Midwest USA

LogisticsToday and Expansion Management offers a matrix that summarizes the state of logistics practices, environment and competencies by cities in the Midwestern part of the US – they call it the Logistics Quotient : Midwest.
The methodology,

The Midwest Regional Logistics Quotient matrix provides an overall ranking of each city within the Midwest region, assigning a rank of 5 stars to the top tier, 4 stars to the next group and so on down to a 1-star rank

LogisticsToday and Expansion Management also list their 10 logistics categories in which the midwestern metro areas are ranked. They are:

* Transportation and distribution industry–based on business and employment base providing transportation, distribution, warehousing and related services.
* Work force–geared to existing and available logistics-related workers in the area.
* Road infrastructure–measures factors like available lane miles per capita, interstate highway access, miles of paved
roads etc.
* Road density, congestion and safety–ranks the city on traffic volumes and delays as well as accident statistics and other factors affecting the smooth flow of traffic.
* Road condition–draws on state performance and includes condition of highways and bridges among other measures.
* Interstate highway–includes access to interstate highways, spending on highway construction and maintenance.
* Taxes and fees–provides a measure of logistics-related costs, including highway and fuel taxes and related business activity taxes.
* Railroad–offers a state-based rank of access to Class 1 and other rail services and miles of track.
* Waterborne commerce–includes ocean port capacity as well as inland waterways.
* Air cargo–ranks the city on its access to cargo services, including wide-body passenger service by combination carriers, international and expedited services.

This kind of information is invaluable to me when I engage in Supply Chain Network modeling and consulting on the basis of this. This sort of matrix allows for easy comparison between geographical locations and the costs thereof of operating within them.

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SCM Newz roundup

1. State of Washington Considering Restrictions on RFID Technology
SC Digest reports on an effort by a lawmaker from the state of Washington to restrict the use of RFID technology. He has introduced an “Electronic Bill of Rights”,

that would put significant restrictions on the use of RFID in an effort to protect consumer privacy

So what is the scope of this legislation?

The proposed bill would outlaw the collection, storage, and disclosure of information gathered through radio frequency identification technology without notifying consumers. The bill states that all companies using active and passive RFID devices would have to either disable the devices or gain consumer consent.
The measure would prohibit companies from mandating that consumers have RFID tags for service or refunds. It would also prohibit people and companies from scanning or reading the devices to identify consumers without first obtaining consent.

Firstly, I didn’t think that companies really wanted to know how many cans of Coke are in your fridge at this present moment? Assuming ofcourse, they’re able to differentiate that from the number of crushed/used coke Cans that are in your garbage. Such a level of granularity might be quite important for marketing purposes but I would think that its efficacy would decline on an operational level as far as the consumer is concerned. Nevertheless, who knows what an innovator would come up with in order to invade a consumer’s privacy? But isn’t it within the purview of the consumer to punish such a firm by not consuming such a product?

2. Supply Chain Strategy: Home Depot says it’s Ready for Supply Chain Transformation
SC Digest reports on a new initiative by Home Depot with regards to its supply chain.

In the face of slowing sales growth and a slumping stock price, home improvement retailer Home Depot plans to increase investment in logistics infrastructure by $900 million, with a big focus on inventory management and improved central distribution.
The comments came from Home Depot execs at the company’s annual meeting for financial analysts.
The moves clearly reflect in part the impact of Home Depot’s VP of Supply Chain Mark Holifield, who came to the post after a similar and well-respected stint at Office Depot.

Hey, I’m all for supply chain improvements but this is a joke. Just look at the news item itself. In the face of slowing sales growth and a slumping stock price, what does Home Depot plan to do? Improve its supply chain? What is wrong with this firm?
Anecdotally, Home Depot’s sales growth is slowing because Home Depot sucks at selling. Is sales growth slowing because of the lack of the proposed solution below:

improved inventory management, implement a system that will provide better visibility and control over products delivered to the home, improve visibility of product flow from suppliers all the way to the store shelf, and cut order-to-delivery lead times, and improve inbound distribution.

What is Home Depot smoking? And on the same note, what is Lowes doing right?
Read the rest of this entry »

Why Change Management fails most of the time?

I am on the road this week and so have little time at hand for blogging. But as I was flying to the east coast yesterday evening, I had an interesting thought. Change management projects and initiatives have a high failure rate, estimates that I have across put it about 60% failure rate. If anyone has a better number or figure for the failure rate for change management projects, send me a note.
Why?

The principal reason that I thought of yesterday was that change is not a part of the daily work schedule, part of the daily work objective – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” creates a working environment that doesn’t emphasize change sufficiently. Instead change is something that happens when something goes wrong, has gone wrong and now is a festering sore or is about to go wrong and some alert group or individual recognized it just in time.
What I’d like to find out is whether change management failure rates are comparable for firms that have a continuous improvement culture and those who do not.

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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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