@ Supply Chain Management


Acceleration of Eco-Operation

Acceleration of Eco-Operation is a new report published (free report : the kind I like) by the Business Performance Management Forum.  I think it would be well worth your time to register and download the report if you want to keep up with the trendiness of green washing everything. I will read and review the report a little later but in reading the executive summary, two comments caught my eye:

"Building better links in high-tech supply chains.the sprawl and complexity of such networks have made it harder to manage end-to-end operations smoothly. Many technology companies are grappling with volatility and disruptions across their supply networks and eliminating waste from duplicative efforts is an ongoing challenge. As product
life cycles shrink, we see inventory build-ups in the supply chains of some companies, while others cope with rising distribution costs, ontime delivery problems, or delays in getting new products to market."
The McKinsey Quarterly

Becoming green is no longer an end in and of itself, but the byproduct of optimizing a supply chain. At the same time, transitioning to a Green Supply Chain while also maximizing efficiency is not a clear-cut process."
Industry Week – Diamond Management & Technology Consultants

There is so much confusion in the above two posts that I can’t help but roll my eyes.

In the first snippet, there is a lot of talk about eliminating waste. If you collapse the global supply chain into a simple manufacturing floor and pretend for a moment that various work centers were indeed different countries and ports, then you would see that all the effort of bygone years that went into batch size reductions, reducing setup times and inefficient steps and processes, reducing physical movement times by workers (all lean related activities) on the manufacturing floor have been turned to naught. We’re back again to big batches, carrying work items from one end of the floor to the other end and then sending it back half way across the floor because we’ve decided to outsource and increase lead times. If anything that is the one root cause of everything that is outlined in the snippet from The McKinsey Quarterly. In short, you cannot eliminate waste on the one hand by creating mounds of it with the other hand. All these management consultants have been doing this for a decade now – I hope that one of the upcoming articles in the quarterly will be titled – "We were wrong to recommend outsourcing," but I’m not holding my breath here.

In the second snippet, ask yourself this question – Would you subject one of the most critical aspect of your operations to some befuddling calculation of carbon emissions sustained in your activity, calculations that no one can even agree on whether they’re the right ones? And it’s not just calculations, but using these calculations to dictate what you would do? This is precisely the back assed way of doing things. Give me a way/technology that surmounts your latest world is ending dogma and I’ll move to it; just don’t ask me to end the world on account of your dogmatism. Archimedes once said, ‘If you give me a lever and a place to stand, I can move the world.’ Today, we’re told, "If you cut your emissions, you can save the world." But cutting emissions means that the industrial activity of the world would decline (and rapidly) across the world returning many parts of the world to the poverty they were just leaving behind barring some new technology that effectively and efficiently replaces the carbon based energy source. And to those who would say that this technology (batteries, wind, solar, geothermal etc) would do it – all I would say is that on your next transatlantic conference or vacation either use one of your "this technologies" in making the trip or use a carbon neutral sail boat or raft. I really don’t believe in nor have the time for first class or corporate jet traveling world messiahs who want me to cut down on my carbon emissions. Neither should you!

And that’s before reading this report. Those are my initial conditions. Now, let me read the report and be enlightened.

Category: Strategy, Supply Chain Management


One Response

  1. Larry Loucka says:

    Any chance that the shift to alternate technologies can help drive industry, create jobs and prosperity? Wondering what buggy whip manufacturers were thinking at the dawn of the automobile age.

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July 2009