The Supply Chain Revolution

Supply Chain

I’m a supply chain lifer.  I started in manufacturing, but early in my career made the transition to supply chain and never looked back.  It was never easy to explain to others what I did though.  I would say, “all the stuff between manufacturing and sales.” Still, I don’t think they really understood the complexity of network design, demand signals, manufacturing capacity, and other terms that people in our industry take for granted.  Now, the events of the last couple of months have made everyone very aware of the basic supply chain principles, supply and demand. “Supply Chain” is mentioned during daily update calls by officials on TV and in the social media pages of my local grocery store chain along with many other places.  Stay at home orders have changed the way we consume and purchase goods, at least in the short term, and that has had a significant impact on the supply chains for food and household items.   As a mostly empty nester and frequent traveler, I was used to keeping very little “inventory” at my house.  I might’ve stopped on the way home from the airport or made a quick run out to pick up a few things to throw together for dinner.   Best practice now is to go out to the store once a week, and even then, you may not find everything you want!

I’m fortunate that Profit Point encourages working from home, and we can continue to drive solutions for our clients while working remotely. Working from home was not an option for many of our client’s employees until recently. Now, I’m collaborating and supporting several people who, for the first time, are working remotely. 

In a scheduling space, information is “king.”  Decisions have to be made quickly, since every day, there is a new set of challenges.  Day one might be having enough raw materials to produce, then day two brings new guidelines around social distancing, and day three might be logistics issues.  Schedulers need to be able to quickly sift through data on what is available, what is required, and what resources they have.  One of the challenges that remote schedulers face is getting reliable information in a timely fashion.  Replicating onsite communications across the conference table and between work groups can be an interesting challenge.  We’re helping them work out the details to make this remote communication process efficient.

It’s clear that supply chains have changed in the short term in many areas. This temporary change may become permanent as we come out of this pandemic period and find a “new normal.” 

On the bright-side, with a new awareness of supply chains, more people will be attracted to our industry and profession.  As additional resources flow into our environment, we can expect to see novel ideas and solutions to improve our existing supply chain infrastructure. I predict that, in general, we will see many innovative improvements to the world’s supply chain. Exciting new software applications and improved practices will be invented. All of these anticipated changes will help create an efficient supply chain globally. This movement is refreshing and encouraging to me.  I welcome this revolution to my world.

About Kim Piotrowski

Kim has extensive experience driving optimization in chemical manufacturing supply chains. She has a passion for building strong relationships at strategic and tactical levels to drive sustainable change.

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