@ Supply Chain Management


Supply Chain Guru Predictions for 2012

SC Digest has compiled two reports on Supply Chain Guru Prediction on their site. Here are the two reports.

Supply Chain Guru Predictions for 2012 – Part 1 and Supply Chain Guru Predictions for 2012 – Part 2. The SC Digest editor Dan has assembled quite a field of gurus to give their views and I’ll be delving into them in a few posts going forward.


How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did

Or how Big Data is the wild wild west – where the saloon owners knew a lot more about who walked into their saloon than they themselves knew.

This article: How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did explores a real incident about the way that Target’s marketing and information based corporation targets its customers (and dare I say keeps even its own store managers at the front line in the dark.)

Read more at my blog post at pachydata.com.

Apple’s new Foxconn inspections could start chain reaction

According to this news report: Apple’s new Foxconn inspections could start chain reaction, Apple has asked for inspections of Foxconn’s operation from an independent team of labor rights experts. Good for them.

According to Apple, a team of labor rights experts started inspections Monday at Foxconn City. Foxconn makes the iPad and iPhone for Apple. The Fair Labor Association (FLA) described itself this way: "Incorporated in 1999, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) is a collaborative effort of socially responsible companies, colleges and universities, and civil society organizations to improve working conditions in factories around the world. The FLA has developed a Workplace Code of Conduct, based on ILO standards, and created a practical monitoring, remediation and verification process to achieve those standards."

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said in a statement: "We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers.

Cook has bristled at the argument that Apple doesn’t monitor its supply chain conditions. As noted before, Apple isn’t the only company that relies on China manufacturers for its wares.

In the relationship between Apple and Foxconn, I think it’s obvious where the leverage lies. For now. But tomorrow, who knows?

I wonder if this will not turn out into a shot from Rick’s café:  I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

The Silk Road – the First Global Supply Chain

Supply Chain Management Review blog has a post by Rosemary Coates called The Silk Road – the First Global Supply Chain.

I spent the holidays on vacation in Venice and Istanbul on a mission to understand more about these two important end points on the Silk Road. Starting around 200 BC and extending 4,000 miles, the Silk Road got its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade and tea trade in exchange for spices, nuts and jewels from Europe and the Middle East.  In addition, various science and technology innovations were traded along with religious ideas and the bubonic plague.  The Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great modern civilizations.


Very few people actually traversed the entire Silk Road.  Mostly it was made up of agents and merchants who bought and sold goods along the way.  At major points, great bazaars opened to facilitate a meeting place for traders, such as the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, which still thrives today.

Our modern supply chain story – the global supply chain story is not a new story. Rather it is an incarnation of an older story. The Silk Road (and I’ve explored its rich history along the different paths for my nascent book on the Supply Chain frontiers) is a recurrent theme because it fills a human aspiration – the social aspects of what it means to be human.

But take note, there was a heyday of the Silk Road and eventually it fell into ruin before it was reincarnated. Nothing in our Global Supply Chain story is permanent and this too shall pass when it comes under undue strain but the enormous benefits gained by individuals (rather than kingdom and the elites in the story of the Silk Road) this time round would be a profound loss.

Which brings me to my blog point – When Americans rue the loss of jobs to China, I doubt that what they’re really saying is that they’d like those jobs to come back as much as they’re wishing for the days of simplicity. Or in another sense, the days of yore and for questions for which we have ready answers. Those questions have been answered – it’s time to ask new questions which open up new frontiers.

Lastly, don’t buy the idea for a second that the ideas of tomorrow are those which only college education and college educated folks are only equipped to answer. There’s more under Heaven and Earth than can be found in the enclaves of academia.

How Hadoop is revolutionizing BI and Data Analytics

If you haven’t tired of my shameless promotion of my other blog – Pachy Data here, here’s another opportunity to say “Stop already”. At the very least, this shameless promotion should have some takeaways for SCM folks. Big Data is going to revolutionize the SCM landscape (and the Enterprise itself) in ways that you cannot begin to imagine. In fact, the resultant is going to be that either we have someone’s imagination thrust on you or you thrust your imagination on them.

Read more – How Hadoop is revolutionizing Business Intelligence and Data Analytics.

The Coming Tech-led Boom

The Coming Tech-led Boom is a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal.

In January 2012, we sit again on the cusp of three grand technological transformations with the potential to rival that of the past century. All find their epicenters in America: big data, smart manufacturing and the wireless revolution.

Now, that’s what I call timing because I’ve been staking out the ground on two of those technological transformation – Smarter Manufacturing here on this blog and Big Data (at my new blog: Pachydata.com). Alas, as far as Smarter Manufacturing is concerned, I’m more concerned about effective manufacturing and elaborating on the fundamentals of manufacturing carried out in an intensely competitive environment.

The Smarter Manufacturing that the authors of the article had in mind is as follows:

While we see evidence already in automation and information systems applied to supply-chain management, we are just entering an era where the very fabrication of physical things is revolutionized by emerging materials science. Engineers will soon design and build from the molecular level, optimizing features and even creating new materials, radically improving quality and reducing waste.

Devices and products are already appearing based on computationally engineered materials that literally did not exist a few years ago: novel metal alloys, graphene instead of silicon transistors (graphene and carbon enable a radically new class of electronic and structural materials), and meta-materials that possess properties not possible in nature; e.g., rendering an object invisible—speculation about which received understandable recent publicity.

This era of new materials will be economically explosive when combined with 3-D printing, also known as direct-digital manufacturing—literally "printing" parts and devices using computational power, lasers and basic powdered metals and plastics. Already emerging are printed parts for high-value applications like patient-specific implants for hip joints or teeth, or lighter and stronger aircraft parts. Then one day, the Holy Grail: "desktop" printing of entire final products from wheels to even washing machines.

Such a radical shift is definitely possible but that changes the very idea of manufacturing as it has existed over the last three centuries. It’s not Smarter Manufacturing as much as it is desktop manufacturing.

Ok, so one out of three – not bad at all.

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.

@ SCM Clustrmap

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February 2012