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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Toilet Paper: A Potential Bullwhip Example

Toilet Paper: A Potential Bullwhip Example

April 19, 2020

Toilet paper demand from retailers is up 25% due to the pandemic.

Even though manufacturers are already operating their mills 24/7, the capacity may be constrained as the workforce is reduced to prevent the virus spread.

Demand may or may not be an issue, depending how long the panic buying associated with the pandemic lasts.  As of the date of this post, most retailers reported being able to resupply stores from their warehouses.  Some manufacturers are shipping directly to retailers to cut lead time and restock their warehouses.

There are two major questions confronting the mills:  Can the mills increase capacity if the pandemic lasts multiple months? Will demand drop because consumers overbought and bullwhip the mills?


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the CNN article, Toilet paper makers: ‘What we are dealing with here is uncharted’, by Parija Kavilanz, March 19, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Comstock Images/Alamy Stock Photo.

Discussion Questions:

1. How can the Continue reading

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Despite Empty Shelves, Supply Chain Is Still Strong

Despite Empty Shelves, Supply Chain Is Still Strong

April 15, 2020

The pandemic has spotlighted several issues in the food supply chain.

The hallmark of a good supply chain is to plan on disruptions and build in redundancies in the network.  The current spike in demand could lead grocery stores to increase capacity that may not be needed when the pandemic ends.  Without careful management and communication, it’s a potential example of the bullwhip effect.

In addition, the health of farm workers upstream in the supply chain is a major concern, the longer the pandemic lasts.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the CNN article, How grocery stores restock shelves in the age of coronavirus, by Danielle Wiener-Bronner, March 20, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

Discussion Questions:

1. How would you mitigate the bullwhip effect for paper towels?

Guidance: This is a good time to review the bullwhip effect.  Students likely have been to a grocery store where certain items may Continue reading

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