Blockchain for Traceability and Transparency

Blockchain for Traceability and Transparency

April 23, 2018

Supply chain management continues to lack traceability and transparency due to analog gaps and proprietary technologies.  Blockchain technology offers a needed solution to resolve these issues.

With blockchain, transaction data cannot be manipulated. Public ledgers throughout the supply chain create visibility.  Therefore, traceability and transparency issues are more adequately addressed.

Blockchain technology can also decrease total costs in the supply chain by removing costs associated with lost or stolen inventory, and use of unethical practices.

This post is based on the NASDAQ post, Using Blockchains to Increase Supply Chain Efficiency, by Reuben Jackson, April 9, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / ElnurSee previous posts on OM in the News for more on how blockchain can increase tracking sources of foodreduce counterfeit products, and reduce forced labor.

Discussion Questions:

1. What would prevent a company from embracing a blockchain solution?

Guidance: Students should consider competitive advantages that may be compromised, loss of profit margins due to visibility, impact on unethical business practices for companies that rely on such poor behavior to compete globally.

2. How would you implement a blockchain solution for contract manufacturers in the fashion industry?

Guidance: Continue reading

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Aisle of Lost Toys

Aisle of Lost Toys

After failing to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the iconic toy retailer, Toys ‘R’ Us, is going to liquidate all its stores in the U.S..

The demise of Toys ‘R’ Us hits small toy vendors and makers especially hard as they may not be able to collect the $14 to $15 million owed.  The loss of a major specialty toy retailer like Toys ‘R’ Us also leaves toy makers without a mass distributor or a physical showcase for innovative toys.

This post is based on the Reuters article, ‘Exhausted’ Toys ‘R’ Us suppliers weigh options as huge retailer shuts, by Tracy Rucinski, Richa Naidu and Melissa Fares, March 17, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Marko Poplasen.

Discussion Questions

1. What are the impacts of the liquidation of Toys ‘R’ Us on the retailer’s suppliers?

Guidance: Discussion points include loss of a key downstream partner, loss of payment for goods shipped to the retailer, and the effort required to find new partners/mass distributors.

2. What are the impacts on the toy industry’s supply chain of liquidation by Toys ‘R’ Us?

Guidance: The many losses include loss of a mass distributor, loss of a physical showcase for Continue reading

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Medical Supplies Plagued by Shortage

Medical Supplies Plagued by Shortage

March 20, 2018

Hurricane Maria highlighted a growing issue with medical supplies. The pharmaceutical industry is plagued by quality issues, manufacturing problems that are kept secret, and supply chain disruptions.

In previous posts, we talked about hospitals’ responses to the IV bag shortage. But according to the FDA, Hurricane Maria’s damage to the production infrastructure on Puerto Rico affected dozens of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. Months later, 10 drugs are still in short supply.

This post is based on the CBS News article, Why so many medicines are in short supply months after Hurricane Maria, by Walecia Konrad, Feb 12, 2018. Image source: Peopleimages / Getty Images.

Discussion Questions

1. What are the considerations a pharmaceutical company should contemplate when choosing a manufacturing location?

Guidance: Students should review location analysis, manufacturing strategies, and quality management.  If there is time or perhaps a homework assignment, students could be asked to research the pharmaceutical industry for the suppliers of, and demand for, IV saline or another generic medicine.  Consider assigning a two-page report: page one is background on the locations, supply chain network, quality issues for their assigned medicine; on page two, recommendations to improve quality, change locations, identify Continue reading

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