@ Supply Chain Management

Icon

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year

Here’s wishing all of you and yours a Happy New Year – an exciting and fun-filled year ahead. Over the break, I’ve been doing some hard thinking about the direction of my life, career and blog. So I’m done with the thinking and now comes the execution – I’ll be making some changes to the blog and my life trajectory (and believe me this is going to come out of left field).

I’m still going to be blogging about the supply chain but I’m expanding my focus to the enterprise as a whole but a specific part of the enterprise that is undergoing a lot of exciting changes.

More of that to come in the days ahead…

Apple supply chain sees smooth sailing ahead

Apple’s succession story has been in the news lately – or rather a story made necessary by Steve Job’s health situation. In this article on CNET : Apply supply chain sees smooth sailing ahead, the new head of Apple – Tim Cook, is reputedly a supply chain pro. In one sense, that’s a great thing but then I take a step back and ask myself : Is that what Apple really is?

I don’t think of Apple as a supply chain company with great products but a company with great products that has honed its supply chain quite well.

There is one quote from a Jeffries Analyst that speaks to the supply chain management voodoo at Apple:

"Even with the unfortunate events in Japan around the time of the iPad 2 release, Tim Cook was able to double or sometimes triple source component suppliers. To date, no competitor has been able to gain meaningful share in the tablet market; and, in our view, Cook’s leadership during the introduction was critical to this."

Perhaps, we will see Tim Cook elevate the next avatar of Steve Jobs from within Apple’s ranks that puts the key competitive advantage of Apple front and center. That would be “Giving people what they didn’t even know that they needed”.

Not easy but necessary.

The D.W. Morgan “Last Mile” Scholarship

I want to highlight a “cool” scholarship made available by D.W. Morgan for college students – “Last Mile” Scholarship. I urge you to pass it on to individuals who may (and better yet, may not at this time) be considering a career in Supply Chain Management and/or Transportation Management. Talent is always going to be the differentiator when it comes to the Supply Chain Edge and such scholarships and experiences go a long way in creating those edges.

From the scholarship write up:

The D.W. Morgan “Last Mile” Scholarship
Imagine you’re a senior in college.  An ambitious, successful college senior, ready to take on the real world.  You graduate, move back in with your parents, and begin your job search.  Wouldn’t $5,000 be helpful?  $5,000 and your dream internship to help you get started?  I wish I had had that chance when I was there.
DW Morgan is making exactly that possible for 4 talented seniors by sponsoring a scholarship for students interested in supply chain, logistics and transportation management.
The task is simple: come up with a way to revolutionize the industry while making a positive global impact.  Easy, right?  Ha.  It’s called the “Last Mile” Scholarship, and the four winners are picked to receive $5,000 each, and the grand-prize winner out of those four gets the opportunity to intern at a DW Morgan location in the summer of 2011.
Interested?  Check out the website: www.lastmilescholarship.com for official rules, qualifications, submission guidelines and other information

The Living Wage

In my earlier post, I had said that I was working on the idea/concept of a Living Wage. Some eyebrows might have popped at this – if not, this would be a good time to go a popping. After all, what is the connection between a Living Wage and the supply chain?

Take a look at this report for instance: Why is Wal-Mart blocking 35 cents an hour for Bangladeshi workers?

From that article,

Senior sewers are paid 1.7 cents for each pair of Wal-Mart jeans they sew. (Each worker must sew 10 pairs of jeans per hour, or one pair every six minutes—which is 10 percent of an hour. Ten percent of their 17-cent-an-hour wage amounts to 1.7 cents.)

That’s an hourly wage of US$ 0.17 for experienced sewers and the current demand is to raise the wage to US$0.35 (and up to US$ 0.51 by some accounts that I have researched).

The obvious question is : Is an hourly wage of US$0.17 a living wage? Is an hourly wage of US$0.35 or US$0.51 a living wage? If you think that US$0.17 is an absurdly small number, what do you make of US$0.35 or US$0.51? If you’re mortified by the idea that the designer jeans that you’re donning tonight was sewn together in misery, will you be gratified by the notion that they will be paid double that wage if you just bully the capitalist/retailer to forgo that marginal hit to his profits?

Now coming back to stateside, take a look at this site from Penn State that enables you to work out what constitutes a living wage in America, by state, by county – Living Wage Calculator. I live in Newburgh, NY and so I took a look at what constituted a living Wage for Newburgh, NY – A  living wage for Newburgh, NY.

A family with two adults and two children require a wage of $60,274 in order to “live” in Newburgh, NY which works out to a $28.98 hourly wage while the Minimum wage is $7.25 and Poverty Wage is $9.83.  Of course, this calculation does not include any governmental assistance which spans the spectrum of wages from ~ $20,000 to ~ $60,000 depending on family configuration.

The critical issue with the living wage is that is has nothing to do with living or working – it has to do with calculations in Ivory towers. There is no such thing as a living wage (just as there is no such thing as a minimum wage) – the effort to create a living wage is about replacing the antiquated notion of a minimum wage by something more substantial. What the residents and denizens of Ivory Towers and various social justice movements don’t understand is that a Living wage like the Minimum wage before it is a calculation that looks good on paper and might even absolve the bean counters and theoreticians from enjoying their privileged lives. It will do nothing to lift those Bangladeshi garment workers out of poverty and neither will it change the lives of those living stateside.

All that it will accomplish is that the annual wage of CEOs in the millions will then become in the billions, the annual wage of the consultant in the hundred thousands will be in the millions and so on. The poor will still be poor and probably poorer still because for the decade or so (and it will be much faster than that) that it would take to adjust, they will have adopted habits and lifestyles that will leave them worse off.

If you don’t believe what I say, take the hypothetical Bangladeshi worker who, through all the unrest in Bangladesh, doubles (from 17 cents to 35 cents an hour) or triples (from 17 cents to 51 cents an hour) his/her hourly wage. When that dramatic increase in wage happens, what I’d like you to do is tell me what happens to his/her life?

1. Wage – we know this already because it is a given, doubled or tripled.

2. Rent Cost – ?

3. Transportation Cost – ?

4. Food cost – ?

5. Medical cost –?

6. Taxes – ?

7. Entertainment costs – ?

8. Other costs – ?

Do you think items, 2 through 7, increase, decrease or remains the same?

I think that such misguided thinking betrays a mistaken notion of the concept of profit. I think that the most fundamental error that the calculators always make is to think that all that needs to be done is to carve out a portion of profit and return it to labor. And what always happens is that the profit margin remains unchanged or is impacted ever so slightly and everything else is adjusted accordingly.

Profit is notoriously difficult for the Ivory Tower to understand. And the reason is quite easy as well – they’ve never really worked in the real world. For some Profit is a subtraction of numbers and for others it is the recompense for overcoming fear – these two worlds will never meet.

A living wage is a confident calculation about the static nature of human enterprise and economy. And that calculation is wrong. Profit is a dynamic calculation of the nature of human enterprise and economy.

Manhattan Associates sees uptick in supply-chain business

That sort of view should warm the cockles of anyone inhabiting this space but what is it based on? In this article Manhattan Associates sees uptick in supply-chain business, an interview with the CEO of Manhattan Associates is presented.

If you read the article, you would be able to immediately grasp the underlying thought process that produces this sort of view namely the theory of business cycles and the availability of new technology. Perhaps that is sufficient to warrant the intimation that there is going to be an uptick in the supply chain business but color me the skeptical – me thinks only green (i.e. dollars) indicate that.

Even though that lesson has been drilled into CEOs time and again, many aggressively cut R&D and key projects during tough times, just like they do with operating expenses.

But when important capital investments are put on the back burner, companies risk future growth in what can be a penny-wise, pound-foolish move.

Still, many did just that during the height of this recession — if one bellwether firm’s experience is indicative. Some had no choice, given the credit crunch.

“Companies didn’t know where they would get cash, so they postponed investment,” said Pete Sinisgalli, president and CEO of Manhattan Associates.

That’s business cycles right there – nothing more. As for new technology, well, it’s the same old technology – just different this time.

Instead of focusing on just one part of a company’s supply chain, such as inventory control, Manhattan Associates is now selling software that ties together the different stages. The software can maximize efficiency throughout the entire process, from planning to inventory control to distribution.

That’s in contrast to individual software packages that can produce the optimum result in one area, but neglect to factor in others. Without stitching the software together, a company could arrive at the right inventory solution, but it might be tying up too much capital.

I did find this particularly humorous though

“We’re constantly inventing new math and science to help companies operate more efficiently,” said Sinisgalli, who has headed Manhattan Associates for the past six years.

Maybe, we could do with less “new math and science” in the business world for a little while longer until we’ve recovered some business-skeptical sense, given how that just “old math and science” did just a few years ago.

I’ll take the time now to laugh : A very dignified guffaw.

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

Locations of visitors to this page

Subscribe by email

Enter email:
Delivered by FeedBurner

Enter email to subscribe
November 2022
S M T W T F S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Archives