“The Great American Logistics Machine” Catches the Coronavirus

“The Great American Logistics Machine” Catches the Coronavirus

June 30, 2020

Logistics – the seemingly simple process of moving goods from Point A to Point B – has been an American strength and continually improving science.  Witness the ability of Amazon to deliver in as little as 2 hours in some markets.

The public has taken this capability for granted.

But now, in the Coronavirus era, we are experiencing rationing of meat, shortages of basic goods (paper products) and necessary ones (masks, drugs).  Even for products and ideas not invented here, starting with the industrial revolution and most currently demonstrated by the smartphone, Americans improved and mass marketed better products in smoother supply chains.

How else could Walmart serve 200 million customers a year across 11,000 stores?

Even the remarkable performance of Amazon is enabled by Google mapping of the earth.

The much maligned U.S. postal service delivers more letters per employee than any other country in the Group of 20 (per this 2012 Oxford study).  The historical success of the public-private partnership that landed a man on the moon 51 summers ago is now struggling to deliver testing kits despite a much publicized appearance of industry leaders with the President in the Rose Garden.

The Continue reading

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Ramping Up Retail’s Rapid Response Capability

Ramping Up Retail’s Rapid Response Capability

Retailers can take some immediate actions to improve their supply chains during the pandemic, to create a rapid response capability.

Some of those actions include overriding algorithms to redirect inventory to high-density areas, daily meetings with suppliers, suppliers delivering directly to stores, a reduction in product variety, and a relaxation of same-day/next-day delivery requirements.

See the Supply Chain Digital article for additional recommendations by McKinsey & Company that focus on suppliers, merchandising, distribution, logistics, and fulfillment.


Video Spotlight:


This post is based on the Supply Chain Digital article, COVID-19: five priorities for retail supply chain, by Georgia Wilson, April 3, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Travel mania/Shutterstock

Discussion Questions:

1. Why does the Supply Chain Digital article mention a focus on reducing product variety for suppliers?

Guidance: Guide students thru the model in the article by highlighting that fewer products means faster response throughout the Continue reading

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The Interconnected Modern Supply Chain

The Interconnected Modern Supply Chain

The supply chain for medical needs during the pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses of modern global supply chain management.

In lean operations, demand management, procurement management, and fulfillment management are integrally interrelated. The removal of redundancies in the supply chain, the reliance on offshoring, and the lack of a larger safety cushion are part of the just-in-time global supply chain design.

During this pandemic, the just-in-time system has backfired, causing critical healthcare supplies to be insufficient in both quantity and location.


Video Spotlight:


This post is based on The Hill article, Supply chain management is a vital weapon in the war against coronavirus, by Ricardo Ernst and Jerry Haar, April 15, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: McGraw-Hill Education/Sandra Mesrine

Discussion Questions:

1. The article notes that 95% of surgical masks and 70% of tighter-fitting respirators such as the N95 mask are made overseas, mainly in China.  How does this negatively impact the supply chain in getting masks to hospitals in the United States?

Guidance: Continue reading

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