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Supply chain management

  • Business management
  • Operations and supply chain management
  • Operations strategy

supply chain case study

A More Sustainable Supply Chain

  • Veronica H. Villena
  • Dennis A. Gioia
  • From the March–April 2020 Issue

supply chain case study

Global Supply Chains in a Post-Pandemic World

  • Willy C Shih
  • From the September–October 2020 Issue

supply chain case study

Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work

  • Leonard A. Schlesinger
  • From the July–August 2008 Issue

supply chain case study

Building a Transparent Supply Chain

  • Vishal Gaur
  • Abhinav Gaiha
  • From the May–June 2020 Issue

supply chain case study

Strategy for Start-ups

  • Joshua Gans
  • Erin L. Scott
  • Scott Stern
  • From the May–June 2018 Issue

supply chain case study

The Circular Business Model

  • Atalay Atasu
  • Celine Dumas
  • Luk N. Van Wassenhove
  • From the July–August 2021 Issue

supply chain case study

How to Negotiate with Powerful Suppliers

  • Petros Paranikas
  • Grace Puma Whiteford
  • Bob Tevelson
  • From the July–August 2015 Issue

supply chain case study

Overselling Sustainability Reporting

  • Kenneth P Pucker
  • From the May–June 2021 Issue

supply chain case study

The Strategic Challenges of Decoupling, French Version

  • J. Stewart Black
  • Allen J. Morrison

supply chain case study

The State of Globalization in 2022

  • Steven A. Altman
  • Caroline R. Bastian
  • April 12, 2022

Clusters and the New Economics of Competition

  • Michael E. Porter
  • From the November-December 1998 Issue

Building a Resilient Supply Chain

  • Paul Michelman
  • August 14, 2007

supply chain case study

How Kenvue De-Risked Its Supply Chain

  • Michael Altman
  • Evren Özkaya
  • October 18, 2023

supply chain case study

Rethinking Your Supply Chain in an Era of Protectionism

  • Justin Rose
  • Martin Reeves
  • March 22, 2017

Innovate at Your Own Risk: Deborah Wince-Smith on Competitiveness

  • Gardiner Morse
  • From the May 2005 Issue

supply chain case study

Are You Prepared for Bad Press About One of Your Suppliers?

  • Bridget Satinover Nichols
  • Hannah Stolze
  • Jon Kirchoff
  • July 10, 2020

How to Drive Value Your Way

  • Michael G. Jacobides
  • John Paul MacDuffie
  • From the July–August 2013 Issue

When Good Customers Are Bad

  • Remko Van Hoek
  • David Evans
  • September 01, 2005

Collaboration Rules

  • Philip Evans
  • From the July–August 2005 Issue

Beyond Offshoring: Assess Your Company's Global Potential

  • Diana Farrell
  • From the December 2004 Issue

supply chain case study

Case Study: How Should We Diversify Our Supply Chain?

  • Krishna G. Palepu
  • From the November–December 2023 Issue

supply chain case study

The Next Supply-Chain Challenge Isn’t a Shortage — It’s Inventory Glut

  • PS Subramaniam
  • September 29, 2023

supply chain case study

Using Technology to Improve Supply-Chain Resilience

  • Jonathan Colehower
  • September 25, 2023

supply chain case study

How Tony’s Chocolonely Created a Purpose-Driven (and Profitable) Supply Chain

  • Frans Pannekoek
  • Thomas Breugem
  • September 11, 2023

supply chain case study

Forecasting in Flux: Navigating Uncertainty through Strategic Supply Chain Flexibility

  • June 15, 2023

supply chain case study

Reducing Forecast Risk with Supply Chain Flexibility Webinar

  • June 01, 2023

supply chain case study

Rethinking Supply Chains for Greater Efficiency, Resiliency, and Sustainability

  • April 27, 2023

supply chain case study

How Tracking ESG Metrics Can Help Reduce Costs and Build Supply-Chain Resilience

  • April 26, 2023

supply chain case study

How to Build Supply Chain Resilience Without Sacrificing ESG Goals or Inflating Costs

  • March 29, 2023

supply chain case study

A Resilient Supply Chain Built for Competitive Advantage

  • March 07, 2023

supply chain case study

Marico’s Chairman on Innovating Across Every Part of the Business

  • Harsh Mariwala
  • From the January–February 2023 Issue

supply chain case study

Crate & Barrel Holdings CEO Janet Hayes on Navigating Turbulent Times for Retail

  • December 15, 2022

supply chain case study

How Smaller Companies Can Bring Manufacturing Closer to Home

  • Arnd Huchzermeier
  • December 07, 2022

supply chain case study

How American Eagle Reinvented Its Fulfillment Strategy

  • Shekar Natarajan
  • Thales S. Teixeira
  • November 07, 2022

supply chain case study

3 Ways to Build Trust with Your Suppliers

  • Kate Vitasek
  • Karl Manrodt
  • Gerald Ledlow
  • November 04, 2022

supply chain case study

Inflating Orders Can Worsen Supply Chain Uncertainty

  • Tarikere T. Niranjan
  • Shobhit Mathur
  • Narendra Kumar Ghosalya
  • Nagesh Gavirneni
  • October 27, 2022

supply chain case study

Beyond Disruptions: Building the Next Generation of Resilient Supply Chains Webinar

  • October 13, 2022

supply chain case study

How to Turn a Supply Chain Platform into an Innovation Engine

  • Kasra Ferdows
  • Xiande Zhao
  • From the July–August 2022 Issue

supply chain case study

The Ready-Made Garment Industry: A Bangladeshi Perspective (B)

  • Nien-he Hsieh
  • Saloni Chaturvedi
  • March 29, 2017
  • Roy D. Shapiro
  • Timothy M. Laseter
  • October 22, 2002

KFC China: Still "Finger Lickin' Good?"

  • Zhigang Tao
  • Claudia H. L. Woo
  • June 23, 2014

Indigo Agriculture: Harnessing Nature

  • Marco Iansiti
  • Michael W. Toffel
  • James Barnett
  • November 22, 2019

adidas: The Need For Speed

  • Allison Mnookin
  • Daniela Beyersdorfer
  • October 01, 2018

Olam International, Chinese Version

  • David E. Bell
  • Mary Shelman
  • December 16, 2008

ITC e-Choupal (B): Revolutionizing Agriculture by Propagating Technology

  • Philip Parker
  • October 28, 2016

Anglo American: Implementing a 'Social Way' for Global Mining

  • Christopher Marquis
  • David Plumb
  • Tom Blathwayt
  • January 27, 2014

General Motors: Supplier Selection for Innovation

  • Tingting Yan
  • Timothy Butler
  • Melissa Srock
  • James Preslar
  • Kate Plegue
  • Jilianna Meldrum
  • May 31, 2017

MedSource Technologies

  • Robert S. Huckman
  • November 07, 2002

The Ready-Made Garment Industry: A Bangladeshi Perspective (C)

Foxconn technology group (b).

  • Robert G. Eccles
  • George Serafeim
  • Beiting Cheng
  • November 10, 2011

Zhejiang Corporation of China Telecom

  • Seungjin Whang
  • November 20, 2008

iFixit: If You Bought It, You Don't Really Own It

  • Gerry Yemen
  • July 25, 2022

Genetically Modified Food Donations and the Cost of Neutrality: Logistics Response to the 2002 Food Crisis in Southern Africa

  • Rolando Tomasini
  • Luk Van Wassenhove
  • March 01, 2004

Supply Chain Finance at Procter & Gamble, Chinese Version

  • Benjamin C. Esty
  • E. Scott Mayfield
  • May 27, 2016

Tong Yang's Cement (B): Demand Forecasting and Globalization

  • Glen Schmidt
  • April 27, 1998

Hewlett-Packard and a Common Supplier Code of Conduct

  • Anne T. Lawrence
  • January 15, 2007


  • Richard Markoff
  • Ralf W. Seifert
  • December 08, 2021

Becton Dickinson & Co.: Multidivisional Marketing Programs

  • Frank V. Cespedes
  • Laura Goode
  • October 29, 1993

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Supply Chain Management Design & Simulation Online

Supply Chain Case Studies

SCM Globe comes with a library of case studies that explore COMMERCIAL , HUMANITARIAN , and MILITARY supply chains. When you purchase an account you have access to all the case studies and their simulations.

The case studies range from relatively simple beginning cases like Cincinnati Seasonings , to quite challenging advanced cases such as Zara Clothing Company , or Nepal Earthquake Disaster Response .  Case studies are laboratories where you apply what you learn in lectures and readings to solve supply chain problems in highly realistic simulations. Each case has a " CASE STUDY CONCEPT " showing the supply chain principles and practices highlighted in that case.


A map of Spain with a logistics hub circled in green and a manufacturing facility in red. There are arrows pointing at it and lines extending out. There is a data window to the sides.

Case studies presently available in the online library are shown below. You are welcome to use any or all of them. You can also create your own case studies, or we can create them for you. Cases are shown in the three categories. As you work with these cases you will gain an intuitive understanding of supply chain dynamics, and develop the analytical skills for designing and managing real supply chains.

We recommend people new to SCM Globe start with the  Cincinnati Seasonings case study . Work individually at first, not in groups. Do the three challenges shown in the online introduction to Cincinnati Seasonings. That's how you'll learn to use the software, and how to use simulations to analyze and design supply chains. Then you will be ready to work in groups or work on more advanced cases.  Click on the case studies below to see a description and introduction to each case.

Commercial Supply Chain Case Studies

A map of New York with supply chain routes highlighted in blue.

Collaborative Supply Chains

A satellite picture of the Luanda port in Angola showing high lighted routes between locations.

S&J Trading Company – Angola

A screenshot from SCM Globe zoomed out to a scale which shows the 'Java Furniture Company' global supply chain superimposed on a map of the world.

Java Furniture Company – Indonesia

Picture of a map from the SCM Globe app showing the suppply chain route from Cincinnati to Louisville.

Cincinnati Seasonings

Map of a supply chain of the Roman Empire that supplied olive oil to Rome

Supply Chains of the Roman Empire

Silk Road in SCM Globe Simulation

Ancient Silk Road – First Global Supply Chain

A screenshot of the Zara supply chain showing how products flow from factories to stores

Zara Clothing Company Supply Chain

screenshot of Fantastic Corporation's global supply chain

Fantastic Corporation – Global Supply Chain

Simulation on SCM Globe showing Unexpected Disruptions

Fantastic Corporation – Unexpected Disruptions

Humanitarian supply chain case studies.

A map of Dresden with blue and orange lines on it.

Disaster Response Supply Chains: Flooding Scenario

Map of Nepal Earthquake humanitarian facilities

Nepal Earthquake Disaster Response Supply Chain

A satellite image of the Hama Military Airport and the western part of Hama with a route highlighted in blue.

Humanitarian Supply Chains: Syria Evacuation Scenario (CIV and MIL)

Military supply chain case studies.

Satellite picture of the Japanese campaign in Burma.

Burma Campaign – 1944 Invasion of India

Map of Eastern Europe and Russia showing blue supply routes lines, and icons for combat units in Battle of Smolensk 1941

Battle of Smolensk – 1941 Invasion of Russia

Alexander the Great Banner

Alexander the Great Needed Great Supply Chains

New case studies.

New cases are added based on projects we do with instructors, students, and supply chain professionals. Here are the new supply chain models in the library:

  • Local and Sustainable Supply Chains – Blue Ocean Cooperative
  • Aerospace Manufacturing Cluster – Rockford IL
  • Hyderabadi Biryani – Paramount Restaurant 
  • Western Desert War – May 1941
  • Russian Logistics for the Invasion of Ukraine

Interactive Supply Chain Case Studies

Every case study has a main theme or concept that it illustrates. You will be challenged to use knowledge acquired in lectures and readings as well as your own real-world experience to expand and re-design the supply chains in these case studies.

In the commercial supply chain cases you need to improve and expand the supply chains to support new stores and still keep operating costs and inventory as low as possible. In cases that deal with humanitarian or military missions you need to create supply chains to deliver the right supplies to the right locations when they are needed, and do so at a reasonable cost.

A satellite picture of the Luanda port in Angola showing high lighted routes between locations.

We are glad to provide a  free evaluation account  to instructors, students and supply chain professionals interested in exploring SCM Globe simulations — click here to request an account —  Get Your Free Trial Demo  

See SCM Globe pricing for Academic and Business versions of the software.

The best case to start with is Cincinnati Seasonings . After working through the three challenges presented in the online introduction to this case you will be ready to handle further challenges in this case or move on to more advanced cases. Get a quick introduction to working with case studies in “ Working with Case Studies “.

Screenshots of the Cincinnati Seasonings case study in the SCM Globe application.

As problems are found in the simulations, you make decisions about how to fix them. Make changes to your supply chain model in the Edit screen. Then go to the Simulate screen and run a simulation to see the results of your changes. Depending on the changes you make, your supply chain simulation runs for additional days and other problems arise. As you address these problems you see about how supply chains work. Apply what you learn in readings and and lectures plus your work experience to solve the problems you encounter.

Keep improving your supply chain model until you get the simulation to run for 30+ days. Then download your simulation results and create a monthly Profit & Loss Report plus KPIs (as shown below). This provides an objective basis for evaluating the merits of different supply chain solutions.

spreadsheet reporting template showing monthly profit and loss for Cincinnati Seasonings

Monthly Profit & Loss Reports identify areas for improvement. They help you improve your supply chain to keep it running for 30 days and also lower operating costs and inventory levels. You can work on lowering the carbon footprint of your supply chain too. These are the challenges you address in SCM Globe, and they are the same challenges people face when managing real supply chains. What works well in the simulations will also work well with actual supply chains. Skills you develop in working with the simulations are directly transferable to the real world.

NOTE: You can run simulations for longer than 30 – 60 days, but there is usually no reason to do so. This is because most companies do not run their supply chains unchanged for longer than 30 days at a time. They use a 30 day S&OP ( sales and operations planning ) cycle and these simulations correspond to that monthly S&OP cycle. These simulations focus on the tactical realities of operating a supply chain from one month to the next, and finding what works best.

Accessing the Online Library of Case Studies

As shown in the screenshots below, logon to your account and access the case study library from your Account Management screen. Click on the “View Library” button (arrow 1) in upper right corner of the Account Management screen. In the Library screen you see a list of available supply chain case studies; click “ Import ” to load a selected case study into your account; give the imported case a Name , and click “ My Account ” to go back to your Account Management screen.

You are welcome to import any or as many of the supply chain models in the library as you wish. Once you have a copy of a supply chain model in your own account you can make any changes you want to it.

Screenshot of Account Screen and library screen

In Account Management, you “ Create a New Supply Chain ” or work with an existing supply chain by clicking the “ Edit ” button (arrow 2) next to the existing supply chain you want to work on. You can also upload copies of supply chain models sent to you by other SCM Globe users (arrow 3) , and check your account expiration date (arrow 4) .

Use the Default Values or Enter New Data

When you load any of the case study supply chain models from the SCM Globe library, they come with default numbers already plugged in. You can either accept the defaults or do some research to find more current data. This data (like data and prices everywhere) changes all the time.

Look for data on products, facilities and vehicles that are used in your supply chain and see what their specifications and costs are. Costs can vary widely in different parts of the world. Go to websites of commercial real estate brokers in cities of interest and see what you can find out about rent costs:

  • for cities in North America start with
  • and for cities in other parts of the world start with

Metric System of Weights and Measures

In the case studies all weights, volumes, distances and speeds are expressed using the metric system. The metric system is used around the world in every country except three: Liberia; Myanmar; and the United States. So it is good for supply chain professionals to feel comfortable with the metric system.

Register on SCM Globe for Access to all Supply Chain Simulations

Click the blue "Register" button on the app login page, and buy an account with a credit card or PayPal (unless you already have one). Then scan the "Getting Started" section, and you are ready to start. Go to the SCM Globe library and click "Import" next to the supply chain models you want.

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Supply chain management free case studies.

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Share these free Supply Chain Management case studies with your class 

Engage your students with real-world case studies that provide insights into supply chain practices, challenges, and opportunities. Share each case study with your students by simply copying and pasting the activity page URL into your learning management system (LMS).

Case 1: Rising Health Care Costs And The Role Of Outsourcing And Offshoring In The U.S. Health Care Sector

In this case study, your students will identify factors that are driving the health care costs higher in the United States than in peer countries. They will also discuss advantages and disadvantages of emerging trends in supply chain management such as adopting outsourcing in health care. After reading the case, they are encouraged to create an argument in favor of or against the view that health care offshoring is a threat to the U.S. health care industry.  See case study . 

  • Case 2: McDonald’s Reinvents Itself Again

In this case study, your students will identify factors that are affecting demand management in the fast food industry and evaluate the reinvention strategy that McDonald’s has used to keep their fingers firmly on the pulse of their international customer base. Students will also be asked to advice McDonald’s with regards to future trends and the changes it should consider. After reading the case, they are encouraged to research areas in which the company plans to reinvent itself in the coming years, particularly in light of the appointment of its new CEO and the COVID-19 pandemic. See case study

Learn more about our offerings for your Supply Chain Management course:

Supply Chain Management

  • Case 1: Rising Health Care Costs
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  • Digital Solutions for Your Course
  • Research Methods, Statistics, and Evaluation Catalog

supply chain case study

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The Supply Chain Management Casebook: Comprehensive Coverage and Best Practices in SCM

The Supply Chain Management Casebook: Comprehensive Coverage and Best Practices in SCM

Read it now on the O’Reilly learning platform with a 10-day free trial.

O’Reilly members get unlimited access to books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.

Book description

30 up-to-date case studies illuminate every aspect of modern supply chain management

• Risk management, analytics, global supply chain issues, and much more

• Innovative processes, technologies, strategies, and tactics

• An indispensable resource for both students and practitioners

This casebook brings together 30 focused cases addressing virtually every aspect of supply chain management, from procurement to warehousing, strategy to risk management, IT to supplier selection and ethics. A global team of contributors presents key challenges in industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to fashion and previews issues ranging from the “limits of lean” to the potential of 3-D printing.

Cases vary in length and complexity, offering maximum flexibility to both instructors and readers; a convenient table provides fast access to specific topics. Qualitative cases are supported by relevant discussion questions and sample responses;  quantitative cases are supported by completed numerical solutions, and, where applicable, associated spreadsheets.

Table of contents

  • About This eBook
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication Page
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Author
  • Objectives of the Book
  • Organization of the Book
  • Salvation Army: Origins and Purpose
  • United States Southern Territory and Salvation Army–Dallas ARC
  • Discussion Questions
  • Products and Markets
  • Vertically Integrated Supply Chain
  • The Manufacturing Process
  • Investment in Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment (CPFR)
  • Stanford Blood Center: “Give Blood for Life”2
  • A Snapshot of the SBC-SUMC Supply Chain in 2006
  • Company Background
  • Financial Risk Management Background
  • The Automobile Industry in China
  • Toyota China’s Production Planning and Demand Management
  • The Company
  • BESSI Leather Goods
  • The Central Role of Planning
  • The Challenge
  • Appendix 7-1 Gantt Chart of the Fashion Product Collection Definition (from Grid Definition to Start of Production)
  • Appendix 7-2 Fashion Product Collection Definitions
  • Appendix 7-3 Demand Forecasting Process
  • Case 9. Multi-Echelon Inventory Decisions at Jefferson Plumbing Supplies: To Store or Not to Store?
  • Introduction
  • The Indian Pharmaceutical Industry
  • The Indian Pharmaceutical Supply Chain
  • Upstream Supply Chain for High-Range Cements
  • Appendix 13-1: Baseline Data and Three Solutions Offered by UPS
  • Organization Background
  • Organizational Structure and Facility Layout
  • Operations Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Two Different Perspectives
  • Overview of Fair Trade
  • The Fair Trade Supply Chain
  • Criticism of Fair Trade
  • Starbuck’s Fair Trade Policy
  • Company Overview
  • The Rebranding Process
  • Background for the Cooperative and the Industry
  • Transaction Costs Approach
  • COAPEL Supply Chain
  • Process Reforms
  • Organizational Operations
  • Case 24-1: Helmets
  • Case 24-2: Puffs
  • Case 24-3: Sirop
  • Case 24-4: Blower
  • Jacket’s Decisions
  • The Meeting
  • Plant Visit
  • Bangalore: City Statistics1
  • Collection of Waste
  • Role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
  • About the Company
  • The Power Sector in India
  • Cloud Computing
  • Supply Chain Structure of CEL
  • Appendix 27-1: CEL’s Balance of Plants Business in the Power Sector
  • Appendix 27-2: Trends in Installed Generating Capacity of Electricity Nonutilities in India from 1970–71 to 2010–11
  • Appendix 27-3: Business Process of CEL Sourcing
  • Spare Parts Supply Chain Management at IGNYS Automotive
  • Industry Background
  • Introduction of the Case Companies
  • Search for an International Partner
  • Joint Business Development and Complementary Service Offering
  • Joint Project Illustrations
  • Mutual Benefits from International Logistics Partnership
  • Classification of Risks
  • General Supply Chain Resilience Model
  • European Case Study
  • Appendix 30-1
  • Financial Times Press

Product information

  • Title: The Supply Chain Management Casebook: Comprehensive Coverage and Best Practices in SCM
  • Author(s): Chuck Munson
  • Release date: June 2013
  • Publisher(s): Pearson
  • ISBN: 9780133367300

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supply chain case study

A forward-looking supply chain using demand forecasting

Tomorrow’s demands, forecasted today.


supply chain case study

Call for change

Looking out to see within

A leader in food marketing and distribution saw an opportunity to reimagine its supply chain management.

Accenture introduced the idea that by using unified view of demand, the company could develop a supply chain that anticipates and pivots around obstacles.

The goal was to combine internal data with new external data that had emerged during the pandemic to gain  greater visibility and flexibility .

From there, the company could scale the new solution across all of its operational sites to better inform inventory position and supply-side dynamics, future-proofing the company’s operations and giving it an edge over competitors.

supply chain case study

When tech meets human ingenuity

Stepping towards the future

Accenture proposed a five-week engagement to prove the value of unified view of demand by focusing on analytics and insights.

Accenture combined internal data (like sales and inventory) and external data (like weather and restaurant reservations) into  an AI-driven solution  that could easily forecast and improve demand sensing.

From there, Accenture replicated and expanded unified view of demand to additional sites while live piloting the solution against the company’s existing supply chain process and system. Following the new solution’s success, Accenture outlined the specific steps needed to implement unified view of demand, from design flow to staffing to project timeline and beyond.

A valuable difference

Test. Analyze. Refine. Repeat.

After piloting  unified view of demand  across several sites, the company discovered that it could  improve forecast errors by roughly 6-8 points, which could lead to $100-$130M in potential benefits .

Accenture also brought operational excellence to the table by introducing AI-enabled exception-based management.

Given the tens of thousands of stock-keeping units (SKUs) the company faces in each iteration, the proposed solution enables planners to focus solely on the SKUs with critical need, saving time and making the entire process more robust.

Now, the company’s leadership is looking for other areas to innovate which has led to a culture of continuous learning.

Today, the unified view of demand forecasting model is an AI-powered solution that can inform demand forecasting and better prepare the company for the future.

Future-proofing the supply chain

Supply chains matter. The plumbing of global commerce has rarely been a topic of much discussion in newsrooms or boardrooms, but the past two years have pushed the subject to the top of the agenda. The COVID-19 crisis , postpandemic economic effects , and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine  have exposed the vulnerabilities of today’s global supply chains. They have also made heroes of the teams that keep products flowing in a complex, uncertain, and fast-changing environment . Supply chain leaders now find themselves in an unfamiliar position: they have the attention of top management and a mandate to make real change.

Forward-thinking chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to future-proof their supply chains. And they can do that by recognizing the three new priorities alongside the function’s traditional objectives of cost/capital, quality, and service 1 Employee safety, food safety, and employee retention are considered operational preconditions, not supply chain objectives. and redesigning their supply chains accordingly.

The first of these new priorities, resilience, addresses the challenges that have made supply chain a widespread topic of conversation. The second, agility, will equip companies with the ability to meet rapidly evolving, and increasingly volatile, customer and consumer needs. The third, sustainability, recognizes the key role that supply chains will play in the transition to a clean and socially just economy (Exhibit 1).

Boosting supply chain resilience

Supply chains have always been vulnerable to disruption . Prepandemic research by the McKinsey Global Institute found that, on average, companies experience a disruption of one to two months in duration every 3.7 years . In the consumer goods sector, for example, the financial fallout of these disruptions over a decade is likely to equal 30 percent of one year’s EBITDA.

Historical data also show that these costs are not inevitable. In 2011, Toyota suffered six months of reduced production following the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. But the carmaker revamped its production strategy, regionalized supply chains, and addressed supplier vulnerabilities. When another major earthquake hit Japan in April 2016, Toyota was able to resume production after only two weeks.

During the pandemic’s early stages, sportswear maker Nike accelerated a supply chain technology program that used radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track products flowing through outsourced manufacturing operations. The company also used predictive-demand analytics to minimize the impact of store closures across China. By rerouting inventory from in-store to digital-sales channels and acting early to minimize excess inventory buildup across its network, the company was able to limit sales declines in the region to just 5 percent. Over the same period, major competitors suffered much more significant drops in sales.

Supply chain risk manifests at the intersection of vulnerability and exposure to unforeseen events (Exhibit 2). The first step in mitigating that risk is a clear understanding of the organization’s supply chain vulnerabilities. Which suppliers, processes, or facilities present potential single points of failure in the supply chain? Which critical inputs are at risk from shortages or price volatility?

Would you like to learn more about our Operations Practice ?

In 2021, for example, many companies in North America were affected by labor shortages  across their supply chain operations. Tackling those shortages has forced companies to be creative in their hiring and staffing strategy. One food distributor created regional floating labor pools of drivers, warehouse workers, and supervisors, recruiting staff in areas where they were more available and deploying them wherever they were most needed. Other companies are building their labor pipeline-management capabilities—from recruiting through retention—and sharpening their labor planning as well.

Today, most organizations lack effective systems to measure and monitor those vulnerabilities, and few have such visibility beyond their direct suppliers. In a 2021 McKinsey survey  of senior supply chain executives, just under half said they understood the location of their tier-one suppliers and the key risks those suppliers face. But only 2 percent could make the same claim about suppliers in the third tier and beyond. That matters because most disruptions originate in these deeper supply chain tiers.

Closing the industry’s current knowledge gaps will require it to increase its surveillance of supply chain participants and its understanding of the physical, financial, political, and social risks they may face (Exhibit 3). The complexity and diversity of supply chain risks require smart management tools, and leading companies are applying a range of new techniques, from digital alerting systems to track potential disruptive events to risk “heat maps” that help them focus their attention on high-risk regions and suppliers.

Companies will also need a management infrastructure to steer a proactive response to these risks. Such an infrastructure would include a dedicated team, headed by a senior leader, with the remit to identify, prioritize, and respond to vulnerabilities. Those responses might include structural changes to the supply chain, as well as the development of detailed contingency plans for disruptive events. Introducing resilience metrics into supply chain KPIs helps the whole organization to ensure supply chain design and execution decisions are made in a way that balances efficiency and vulnerability. And because supply chain risk is a continually moving target, the organization should conduct regular stress tests and reviews to ensure its resilience measures remain appropriate.

Increasing supply chain agility

Customer loyalty is no longer a given. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, 77 percent of US consumers changed stores, brands, or the way they shop . Much of that change was driven by necessity. People went online when they couldn’t access their regular stores, and two-thirds said that lack of availability was the primary reason for switching brands. The big winners of the crisis were companies, often the largest players, that could keep products flowing to their customers in a difficult operating environment.

In the postpandemic economy, established brands will face new challenges. As consumer-generated content replaces traditional brand marketing campaigns, companies have less control over the peaks or troughs of demand. Where a business might have once spent months preparing its supply chains for a carefully targeted promotional campaign, now a single viral video can bring attention from millions of consumers overnight. One consumer goods manufacturer experienced a surge in demand in 2020 after a video of a customer enjoying its product on a skateboard ride received millions of views and spawned dozens of imitators.

New players are disrupting retail channels too, widening available choices and creating space for smaller, independent manufacturers. While consumers opted for the security of big brands during the COVID-19 pandemic, a preference for smaller producers is rising, especially among younger cohorts. And the growth of comanufacturing businesses and third-party logistics (3PLs) organizations means new entrants can compete in consumer markets with fewer expensive manufacturing and supply chain assets.

For incumbents, the lesson is clear: move at the same speed as consumers. That means creating innovative products and brands that meet the changing needs of different consumer groups as those needs emerge. And it means greater skill in managing complex portfolios of brands with different market characteristics and delivering their products through multiple channels. These same pressures increasingly hold true for B2B businesses as well, as increased consumer product complexity and demand volatility trickle down the supply chain.

This fast-moving, fragmented, consumer-centric world will require a different sort of supply chain. Traditional supply chains sought to achieve stability and minimize costs. Future supply chains will need to be much more dynamic—and be able to predict, prepare, and respond to rapidly evolving demand and a continually changing product and channel mix. In short, supply chains will need to become agile .

The good news for CSCOs is that agility and resilience are highly complementary: an agile supply chain is inherently more resilient. To be truly effective, however, this agility would need to extend into R&D, procurement, planning, manufacturing, and logistics (Exhibit 4).

At the planning stage, for example, supply chain teams will need to work in a much more proactive way. As potential market opportunities are identified, the supply chain function can begin creating scenarios that are ready for implementation alongside the development of the new product or market offering. After launch, the use of advanced techniques for demand sensing and dynamic forecasting, aided by machine learning technologies, is set to become an essential part of day-to-day supply chain operations.

In supply chain execution, agility requires new capabilities and tools. Agile operations make extensive use of digital technologies in manufacturing, for example, and maximize the use of smart automation in both production and logistics settings. Unlike the rigid supply chain automation systems of the past, technologies such as collaborative robots and smart packaging machines are capable of faster changeovers and can handle a much wider range of products and shipment types.

The drive for agility may require companies to reassess make-versus-buy decisions. In manufacturing, for example, big players typically keep the production of their stable, high-volume products in-house, using comanufacturers for niche and special projects. Leading companies appear likely to invert this trend, investing in flexible core assets and skills that allow their own manufacturing to respond quickly to rapidly changing demands—and, in some cases, outsourcing stable, high-volume products to cost-advantaged external providers. In downstream logistics, meanwhile, greater use of 3PLs may become the most cost-effective way to increase asset flexibility and proximity to customers.

Agile supply chains will also need skilled, flexible people. An agile supply chain workforce is comfortable working with and alongside advanced technologies, and personnel may need a wider range of skills so they can move between tasks as business needs change. Accordingly, agile supply chains make use of agile teams and working methods, borrowing elements of the approach that have transformed flexibility, productivity, and quality in the software industry and beyond. Agile organizational principles are well-described elsewhere , but key elements of the approach include the use of tight-knit, cross-functional teams that work together to implement new concepts and solve difficult problems in short, incremental sprints. These principles are already gaining traction across a range of industries: one major consumer products manufacturer is using “flow to work” pools in its global support functions to dynamically allocate staff to projects, for example.

" "

Digital twins: The art of the possible in product development and beyond

Achieving supply chain sustainability.

Post-COVID-19 consumers have become even more likely to prefer brands that offer robust sustainability credentials and a strong purpose, but industry surveys conducted in mid-2020 suggested that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) topics slipped down companies’ list of priorities during the pandemic. Big players are now making up for lost time. In 2021, 29 percent of companies included ESG metrics in their staff incentive plans, for example, a seven percentage-point uptick over the previous year.

Companies looking to avoid the increasing reputational, regulatory, and financial risks of poor ESG performance are being pressed to act. And as companies such as Henkel have shown, strong environmental actions are also delivering real operational results: a digital twin connects and benchmarks 30 factories and prescribes real-time sustainability actions, which over ten years have reduced energy consumption by almost 40 percent and waste by 20 percent.

The supply chain has a central role to play in the enterprise sustainability transformation. Of nine ESG initiatives highlighted by senior executives in a 2020 industry survey, most either involve the supply chain directly, or have significant implications for supply chain setups (Exhibit 5).

The foundation for an ESG-focused transformation is a clear understanding of the organization’s baseline impact. That would include, for example, quantification of the resources consumed and emissions generated by the company’s direct activities (Scopes 1 and 2) and by participants in its wider supply chain (Scope 3). This baseline allows an organization to identify the largest opportunities for improvement, helping it set challenging but realistic goals and timescales that can be communicated to external stakeholders. Capturing those improvements requires rigorous sustainability KPIs and changes from the shop floor to the boardroom, including optimized operating practices, an ESG focus in procurement decisions , and the adoption of more sustainable technologies in existing and planned manufacturing or logistics projects.

These new priorities of resilience, agility, and sustainability can’t be tacked on to existing supply chain setups. Realistically, they will need to be built in from the foundation and considered in every element of supply chain design, organization, and operation. For many companies, that will likely require a change in mindset from the top, with risk, agility, and sustainability KPIs considered alongside traditional ones focused on cost, capital usage, service, and quality. To excel in these six supply chain dimensions, workforce management and digital capabilities will be essential.

Jan Henrich is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Chicago office; Jason D. Li is an associate partner in the Toronto office; and Carolina Mazuera is an associate partner in the Miami office, where Fernando Perez is a partner.

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Unprecedented supply chain disruption has stretched global supply chain management operations in ways few thought they would ever see.

Only 21% of supply chain leaders believe they have a highly resilient supply chain management process today. Increasing resilience in global supply chain management will be a priority for many leaders as they emerge from the current crisis and reset supply chain management strategy to anticipate disruptions as the "new normal" going forward.

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For more than 20 years, the goal of global supply chain management strategy was cost efficiency. But disruptions like Brexit, tariff disputes, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic have elevated the importance of resilience and agility in global supply chain management. In fact,  Gartner’s “Weathering the Supply Chain Storm" research identified resilience and agility in the supply chain management strategy as the two main priorities for almost all organizations, with about 90% planning investments to make their supply chain more resilient over the next two years. But there is fear that prioritizing resilience and agility in global supply chain management process will increase operating costs, and so supply chain leaders may be forced to make difficult trade-offs as part of global supply chain management decision making. 

58% of supply chain leaders believe that resilience results in additional structual costs to the supply chain network.

Keys to Effective Global Supply Chain Management

Global supply networks are complex, multitiered and often include highly specialized players in lower tiers that cannot be substituted easily. Visibility into extended supply bases has generally been poor. This is all an obstacle to effective supply chain management process, and creates a global supply chain crisis for the organizations.

To provide strategic leadership of global supply chain management, the Chief Supply Chain Officer should:

  • Create visibility in critical supply chains.
  • Use scenario planning to assess and address market needs.
  • Increase collaboration with key stakeholders including customers, suppliers, logistics providers and manufacturers.
  • Identify and prioritize key supply chain segments.
  • Prepare for volatility in supply and demand caused by supply chain disruptions.

How resilient is your supply chain network today? 62% say moderately resilient and 21% say highly resilient.

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What is global supply chain management.

Global supply chain management refers to the process of creating and fulfilling the market’s demand for goods and services globally. It is a set of business processes that encompasses a trading partner community engaged in a common goal of satisfying the end customer/consumer. 

Why do we need global supply chain management?

Global supply chain management is needed to improve shareholder and customer value by optimizing the flow of products, services and related information from source to customer/consumer. As the global supply networks are complex, multitiered and often include highly specialized players in lower tiers, global supply chain management becomes a necessity. 

What are the benefits of a global supply chain?

Although there are innumerous benefits of global supply chain, some of them are listed below:

  • Lower costs to manufacturers and industries.
  • New marketplaces and increase in customers.
  • Businesses expand into international markets.
  • High volume of inventory.
  • Greater variety of goods.

What are global supply chain management challenges?

The challenges faced by global supply chain management include supply chain delays, capacity constraints and severe material shortages emerging from the pandemic, hyperinflation, disruptive nationalistic trade policies in many parts of the world and the ramifications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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A global electronics company diversifies its manufacturing locations to increase its supply chain resilience.

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How can a supply chain deliver electronic devices on demand.

The electronics industry is facing steep supply chain challenges, reaching all the way back to the raw materials that make up those tiny components keeping people connected in real time. 

A leading electronics supplier that provides mobile devices to consumers and public entities was experiencing shortfalls due to overreliance on materials and manufacturing in Asia. A perfect storm of factors, including the COVID-19 global pandemic and widespread geopolitical instability, has weakened the global supply chain, and cross-border labor is no longer guaranteed.  

Transportation delays, both in the air and on the water, are extending production lead times. Country-specific tax and trade regulations are also threatening shipping timelines and slowing product delivery dates for customers.   

“Corporate leaders at this electronic device company recognized that supply chain resilience has become an urgent business imperative for their organization,” said Jim Morton, Executive Director for the Ernst & Young LLP Business Consulting supply chain practice. “With most of their customer base in the US, they recognized that they needed to diversify their sourcing and production options as effectively as possible, which meant varying manufacturing locations to complement their global portfolio.” 

Leaders engaged an integrated EY team experienced in supply chain modeling and optimization , tax and trade. The team developed a comprehensive plan that would diversify manufacturing and alleviate the organization’s long-term supply chain risk. 

EY teams’ extensive tax experience, deep understanding of global incentives and locations, and keen geopolitical business perspective showed the client how it can continue to help consumers access critical mobile devices and carve a sustainable new path forward for its business. 

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Diversified manufacturing locations reduce supply chain risk

With its deepest manufacturing roots in Asia, the mobile device provider needed to diversify its production footprint. Supply chain disruptions, longer ocean transport times, region-specific trade restrictions and frequent unexpected delays were pushing leaders to consider adding manufacturing sites closer to the US – the location of their corporate headquarters and most of their customer base. 

Research from EY teams  shows that 64% of companies have re-shored some elements to improve sustainability. In addition, 42% of companies said that ensuring sustainable and diverse sourcing was a priority. With data such as these in mind, the company turned to an EY cross-practice team for a strategy to augment core operations in more accessible and stable locations, reducing its overall supply chain risk while maintaining existing operations in Asia and elsewhere. Faced with a daunting and costly business decision, leaders needed assurance they could diversify their manufacturing and still procure the right materials, maintain quality standards, and deliver reliable products to meet urgent user needs.  

The EY team assessed and designed a more diverse supply chain network with the company’s global business in mind.

Supply chain optimization was done based on a computerized model to assess the global supply chain, mapping raw materials to flow of goods, to distribution centers and finally to customer locations. The model evaluated current networks against future state options, assessing millions of site variables rapidly to provide leadership with the informed perspective they needed. The EY digital model brought an integrated view of the tax considerations inherent in ramping up manufacturing in new sites and countries, including customs duties, direct and indirect tax implications and country-specific regulations. The EY Geostrategic Business Group provided clarity around government labor, trade policies and local laws to further optimize recommendations, blending speed and cost to enable on-demand inventory.

"With recent supply chain disruption, trade wars and geopolitical uncertainty, this global electronics leader needed an integrated supply chain model so they could successfully diversify their manufacturing portfolio, avoid production delays, and address country-specific issues,” said Morton. “The EY supply chain optimization model helped them make more informed decisions and select their new manufacturing site in North America.” 

End-to-end supply chain analysis was conducted by tracking the company’s highest-priority devices. Validated data inputs were primed and transitioned from a flow-constrained model to a demand-driven model. The analysis evaluated economic value added with the future state footprint, insourcing vs. outsourcing manufacturing operations, tax considerations, skilled labor availability, geopolitical factors, ESG and carbon footprint impact, and the reduction of supply chain complexity.

A supply chain scorecard was created by the EY team to help leaders evaluate manufacturing sites more critically, assessing six key supply chain factors:

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Political risks are creating both challenges and opportunities for global organizations, creating an imperative to develop more strategic approaches to managing political risk. The Geostrategic Business Group helps companies to do this by translating geopolitical insights into business strategy.

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Using the information gathered by the EY scorecard and digital assessment tools, the electronics company was able to ultimately select a new near shore location as its next manufacturing site. With this new location identified, EY teams will now work with the client to build out a roadmap to ramp up operations – including manufacturing providers, tax implications, geopolitical and regulatory guidance.  

Supply chain optimization keeps customers connected around the world

For a leading electronics provider that serves millions of customers around the world, keeping the organization’s supply chain operating smoothly is of paramount importance. Comprehensive EY supply chain modeling and optimization for this organization was designed with a future state supply chain in mind, so that the organization could vary its manufacturing portfolio, maintain current production quotas, mitigate risk and reduce excess product inventory by 27%.

The EY digital supply chain optimization model helped the electronics leader assess site locations across countries, geopolitical factors, trade implications, trade risk and tax regulations. The manufacturing site scorecard helped the company narrow down possible manufacturing sites and identify specific locations within countries that will help the organization further reduce their carbon emissions by 15%. The supply chain solution will also increase the organization’s efficiency by reducing the length of haul from production site to customer by 50%, and by lowering labor costs.  

Reduction in length of haul

From production site to customer.

 “Our integrated supply chain model, which included extensive tax experience and deep geopolitical business perspective across locations, provided this electronics powerhouse a solution that would help them diversify and de-risk their supply chain, allowing important communication devices to continue to be readily available worldwide,” said Morton.  

As the company works to ramp up its newest manufacturing location in North America, EY teams will be on board to help it conduct continued geopolitical and tax analysis, develop end-to-end supply chain analysis, establish timing, and evaluate distribution footprint expansion.

  • 50% reduction in the average length of haul from production to consumer
  • 27% reduction of excess product inventory in the pipeline
  • 15% reduction in future carbon emissions impact from transport 
  • Lower duty costs on products imported from the near shore location
  • Potential cost savings gained from business incentives provided by the near shore location

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Supply chain case studies

How CDP supply chain members are tackling emissions in their supply chains.

Ajinomoto Product innovation, supplier collaboration, consumer engagement.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Using a science-based approach to target setting and capability building.

METRO Working collaboratively with suppliers to find ways to multiply impact.

Sky Pioneering a circular economy model.

Braskem Addressing environmental challenges from an increasingly diverse supply chain.

Kellogg Company Developing a climate-resilient agricultural supply chain.

Royal Philips A systematic approach to supplier development and capability building.

Product innovation, supplier collaboration and consumer engagement to tackle the environmental impact of food packaging

The Japanese food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals corporation, Ajinomoto, operates 118 plants and employs over 30,000 people, selling its products in more than 130 countries worldwide. However, by far the biggest source of environmental impact related to the company’s operations occurs upstream in the supply chain.

Purchased goods and services account for over half of the group’s total Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, producing the equivalent of 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2016. Most significant within this category are the purchase of the raw and processed materials that go into manufacturing Ajinomoto’s own products, as well as the packaging materials that are used to contain and protect them.

By working to take action on the impact of these materials, Ajinomoto is therefore able to have a far greater potential positive influence than by focusing just on its own Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which together make up just 17% of the company’s total. This part of the supply chain is also where the majority of water and deforestation issues can arise, giving increased reason for action.

One of the areas where the company has been making good progress on sustainability recently is in packaging. This has upstream impacts from the production of packaging materials – particularly plastic, paper and cardboard – alongside downstream impacts from product logistics and post-consumer waste. In 2016 the manufacture of packaging for Ajinomoto’s products required 235,000 tonnes of raw material input, including 45,000 tonnes of plastic and 139,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard.

The business has taken a collaborative approach to create change, bringing together key stakeholders on a regular basis through events, including the Ajinomoto Group Food Conference and a Packaging Designers’ Liaison Meeting. The company also closely works with government and local authorities, particularly in Japan, to help overcome technical, legal and behavioural barriers to increasing the rate of packaging recycling.

As a company with a strong focus on R&D, one of the biggest areas of success for Ajinomoto has been through packaging innovation and redesign. To ensure a consistent approach is taken across all group companies Ajinomoto launched an updated environmental assessment procedure to be used before releasing any new or revised product. This involves going through two separate exercises: using an environmental assessment checklist , followed by scoring containers and packaging against the company’s own Eco-Index assessment table.

The checklist takes into account product design issues such as: ensuring material use is reduced, and wherever possible compatible with reusing or recycling; the sustainable procurement of materials; designing for loading efficiency in distribution; helping to reduce food loss; and promoting environmental consumer behaviour through labelling.

Packaging is then scored across a variety of points-based assessment criteria, such as whether it extends product shelf life, improves loading efficiency or has lower greenhouse gas emissions. This index is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it is driving positive outcomes, with the most recent revision launched in April 2017.

One example of this approach being put into practice is with Ajinomoto’s Blendy bottled coffee products. Ajinomoto AGF worked alongside the company’s packaging supplier, Toyo Seikan Group, to pioneer technologies that take post-consumer plastic bottles and recycle them into heat-resistant PET resin. Thanks to this work Ajinomoto has become the only company worldwide to sell drinks in 100% recycled heat-resistant PET bottles, reducing the use of virgin plastics from fossil fuels by around 2,000 tonnes a year.

A number of other innovations are being adopted, working alongside suppliers such as Acteiive Corporation, Dai Nippon Printing, SATO Green Engineering and Toyo-Morton. These include the use of plant-based bioplastics, which can make up more than a quarter of the packaging for some products, as well as using plastics that are able to absorb and lock away carbon dioxide during incineration.

To demonstrate the environmental credentials of its packaging Ajinomoto has developed the Aji-na Eco and Hotto-suru Eco labels, which are used to communicate to consumers the positive changes made by the company. These are often used to highlight improvements that may not be superficially obvious, such as the switching to certified sustainable timber and recycled paper, reducing the amount of packaging or removing an internal tray. They also encourage more environmentally-friendly behaviours, by making it clear that the product can be easily separated when recycling, or making it clear that containers can be refilled and reused.

Through its efforts to improve the sustainability of its packaging Ajinomoto has already made substantial strides in reducing upstream material use, helping to reduce supply chain greenhouse emissions, water use and deforestation. It is also having a positive impact in tackling downstream consumer food waste and packaging waste. The business intends to continue these efforts over the coming year, as part of its ongoing commitment to the environment.

Addressing environmental challenges from an increasingly diverse supply chain to support business growth in more sustainable product lines

Braskem is the largest petrochemical company in the Americas and the world’s fifth largest producer of basic petrochemicals and thermoplastic resins, operating in 70 countries around the world. It is also one of the few major petrochemical companies to integrate operations across both basic petrochemicals and thermoplastic resins, providing the company with a competitive advantage from increased scale and operational efficiency.

Given the nature of Braskem’s business, it is essential that the company has a secure and competitively priced supply of feedstock for making its core products. It is therefore a key part of the company’s strategy to continue to expand and diversify its feedstock profile, while working on the development of more sustainable technologies and solutions for the plastics supply chain.

In recent years the company has invested significantly into developing alternative feedstock sources that do not involve using virgin fossil fuels. These efforts have focused on two areas: on the one hand scaling up 100% renewable sources of plant-based feedstock; and at the same time building up a supply chain of plastic waste that can then be recycled into new material.

This strategy has been driven in part by Braskem’s recognition of the importance of taking action on sustainability issues, but it also reflects a growing customer demand for more sustainable products. For example, a number of large consumer goods companies have expressed ambitions to adopt more sustainable packaging that contains bioplastic or recycled plastic.

Thanks to the company’s research and development efforts, in 2010 Braskem was able invest in building a US$290 million facility that would make the company a world leader in biopolymers. The plant has an annual production capacity of 200,000 tonnes of polyethylene produced entirely from renewable resources.

This green polyethylene is sold around the world under the company’s I’m green™ brand. The product has also been certified as having a negative carbon footprint, as during its lifecycle the net effect is to sequester greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

The procurement of agricultural inputs – which currently account for 3% of Braskem’s raw material feedstock – has brought the company a different set of supply chain sustainability challenges, including deforestation and biodiversity issues. As a result of this Braskem has needed to develop and enforce a Responsible Ethanol Sourcing Framework for its ethanol suppliers, to cover a range of sustainable development principles and ensuring good environmental practices.

In November 2017 the company also announced that, working in partnership with Denmark’s Haldor Topsoe, it will build a demonstration plant in Denmark. This facility will produce monoethylene glycol, a key component of PET plastic, without needing to first convert sugar into ethanol. Although process this will initially use cane sugar, it opens up the possibility of having a more diverse supply chain that can use beet sugar, or potentially even second generation sugars made from biomass.

The other major initiative from Braskem, to help meet the growing customer demand for greener plastics, has been a focus on boosting initiatives to produce recycled plastics from post-consumer plastic waste, particularly within Brazil. This has had the additional benefit of helping to promote a more circular economy, growing the amount of recycled input available for future manufacturing.

As well as needing to develop the recycling chain to secure a regular and sufficient source of plastic waste for use as feedstock, avoiding excessive contamination is a key concern as this is one of the main technical problems that affects the quality of recycled products. To address this Braskem created the Wecycle platform, looking to increase the value of post-consumer plastic waste by building partnerships with Braskem clients, recyclers and brands to find better solutions for them that promote the use of recycled plastics.

Wecycle provides audit processes and quality assurance for recycled plastic materials, providing manufacturers with confidence to make greater use of it. It also works with businesses including Brazil’s largest retail chain, GPA Group, to support greater levels of consumer recycling.

Alongside this, Braskem has created the Ser + Realizador programme to support key waste management cooperatives in Brazil’s recycling supply chain, at the same time as helping to strengthen its own supply of recycled raw material input. This provides training and environmental education to waste pickers, as well as management consultancy support to waste-sorting cooperatives.

Through the programme Braskem also provides new equipment for waste pickers and investment for cooperatives to upgrade infrastructure. To date this has benefitted 1,300 waste pickers and 35 cooperatives. Braskem is currently working towards a 2020 target of providing development support for waste pickers in order to help them raise their incomes by 70%. In addition, the company aims to benefit 4,000 workers through training and better work conditions.

These combined efforts are allowing Braskem to expand its sustainable product lines and drive future business growth. As result of these efforts the company has recently been able to launch 100% recycled polypropylene and polyethylene resins produced entirely from recycled big bags and sacks.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Using a science-based approach to target setting and capability building to drive supply chain emissions reductions

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is one of the world’s largest IT companies, providing customers with a range of technology and solutions including servers, storage, networking, cloud services, software and finance.

The company noticed a clear trend, with corporate and public sector customers demonstrating increasing levels of concern about the environmental impacts of the products and services they purchase. Therefore an important part of the company’s strategy for future business growth involves strengthening its reputation as a trusted sourcing partner for these organisations.

HPE is achieving this by embedding the highest levels of sustainability and responsibility within core customer offerings. This involves implementing innovations that result in energy and resource efficiency, both in product design and HPE’s own operations. At the same time, a serious emphasis has been placed on reducing upstream environmental impacts through systematic engagement with suppliers.

The biggest area of focus is on the energy performance of HPE’s product portfolio. The company is aiming to radically improve this, with the aim that by 2025 it can improve energy performance by 30 times when compared to 2015 levels. This addresses the fact that close to 60% of the full value chain greenhouse emissions currently associated with the business come from the energy required to power its products.

However, the majority of the remaining value chain emissions occur within the manufacturing supply chain. Significantly, as product energy efficiency improves and electricity grids become lower carbon over the next decade, the overall proportion of total emissions accounted for by manufacturing is expected to increase. Reducing the emissions intensity from making its products has therefore become the major area of focus for sustainability efforts within HPE’s supply chain.

To set its ambition the company decided to use an objective external benchmark, so that HPE can be sure it is doing what is genuinely necessary rather than what is readily achievable. It is doing this by taking into account what the best available climate science says will be necessary within the IT sector to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement of keeping global warming well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

To deliver on this, HPE has set itself the goal of achieving an absolute reduction in its manufacturing-related supply chain emissions of 15% by 2025, which is in line with climate science. And this has been coupled with an engagement target for its supply chain, aiming to also have suppliers representing 80% of the company’s total manufacturing spend set science-based targets for their own operations by 2025.

By becoming the first company in the world to attempt such an ambitious and comprehensive supply chain engagement programme based on climate science, HPE is developing a new model for engagement built around making the most of the strongest levers it can use to influence suppliers.

The most obvious of these levers is procurement spend. By clearly stating that by 2025 80% of HPE’s manufacturing spend will go to suppliers with science-based targets in place, this creates a long-term commercial incentive for suppliers to set their own targets.

This requirement now sits alongside existing greenhouse gas disclosure expectations that already exist within the company’s social and environmental responsibility scorecard, which directly influence procurement decisions. And to ensure good data quality suppliers are also asked to verify their emissions, following CDP verification requirements.

But HPE has gone beyond just using spend, proactively working to demonstrate to suppliers the positive economic benefits from taking climate action and build their capabilities. Working alongside experts and NGOs – including the CDP supply chain program – the company helps drive best practice and disseminate content that supports suppliers in managing climate risks. It also helps them build a strong internal business case, for example through highlighting that according to CDP data the average internal rate of return for investments on emissions-reduction activities is nearly 40% in the IT sector.

HPE is working with partners to develop practical tools that suppliers can use to set and achieve their own science-based targets, putting the company on track to be the first in any industry to create customised science-based targets for suppliers. HPE will also provide them with tailored feedback and support, as well as webinars on renewable energy procurement and factory automation. This is helping suppliers overcome some of the complexities involved in target-setting, measuring ongoing progress and achieving reductions.

Alongside this HPE is using accountability and supply chain transparency as a lever for action. Since 2007 the company has published a list of its suppliers. As part of this list, HPE is going one step further and becoming the first company to now publicly track individual suppliers’ progress on greenhouse gas management, as well as the setting and achieving of science-based targets.

These combined efforts are being put in place to help increase the chances that HPE’s suppliers will adopt robust targets and follow through on their implementation. If they do, the impact could be considerable. The company estimates it will help suppliers avoid approximately 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of taking 21 million cars off the road for a year.

The final lever of influence for HPE is to engage its peers in collective action. By taking a leadership position, the company aims to catalyse the IT industry and other large corporations to make similar commitments. Partnering with BSR and POINT380, HPE is currently developing a white paper and open resource guidance that will help to solidify standards around supplier engagement on greenhouse gas reductions more broadly.

HPE believes that encouraging its suppliers to set challenging targets and build their own internal sustainability capabilities will have a positive ripple effect upstream through the supply chain, beyond its direct suppliers. And when customers use HPE’s energy efficient technology, manufactured in factories with science-based targets, they will cut downstream emissions, achieving more with less environmental impact.

Kellogg Company

Developing a climate-resilient agricultural supply chain that supports the 2°C Paris Agreement goal

Kellogg Company is one of the world’s largest food businesses, selling its products across 180 countries. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of cereals, the leading producer of frozen foods in North America, and since acquiring the Pringles® brand in 2012 is the second largest producer of snack foods globally.

As a global food company, the largest source of environmental impact in the company’s value chain is agricultural production. Kellogg recognises this sector faces sustainability challenges – particularly climate change and water scarcity – that are expected to increasingly impact the industry over the coming decades.

At COP21 in Paris, Kellogg formally announced that it would align its own emissions reductions with a below 2°C pathway, becoming one of the first global companies to commit to Scope 1, 2 and 3 science-based targets. This involved setting the goal of reducing its own Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 65% by 2050 on an absolute basis compared to 2015, alongside a challenging Scope 3 target of achieving a 50% reduction by 2050 from the same baseline.

These goals are the evolution of previously identified targets and foundational work already in progress. Kellogg acknowledges that no one company can do this alone, and has consulted with trusted NGOs and partners including Antea Group, World Wildlife Fund, World Resources Institute, CERES, Sustainable Food Lab and CDP to solicit expert feedback during the target-setting process and to assist with early implementation. One of the challenges with being among the first companies to set goals is getting an accurate baseline for 2015 Scope 3 emissions. To obtain the baseline, Kellogg is collaborating with CDP through their Supply Chain programme to collect high-quality primary data from direct global suppliers to gather three years of data. Although the company is making progress – by reaching 65 percent of supplier spend in 2017 – the process continues to be refined and improved.

In the meantime, Kellogg is taking action to drive improved sustainability practices across its entire value chain.

Kellogg has identified 10 priority ingredients – corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, sugar beet, cocoa, sugar cane, vanilla, palm and fruit – that together account for the majority of its supply chain. However, the company’s direct suppliers are not the growers of these ingredients, they are the millers and processors of crops. This means that Kellogg itself is typically operating one or two steps away from farmers and farm-level impacts.

Therefore, Kellogg works to set policies and develop initiatives that engage its direct suppliers on sustainability issues such as climate and water. The company also seeks ways to work with its suppliers to help farmers improve their agriculture practices. Today, Kellogg is actively engaging with over 70 major suppliers of its priority ingredients, ensuring they are measuring their environmental impacts, driving continuous improvement and investing in farming communities.

Kellogg is also involving itself in initiatives to identify and advance approaches for promoting climate smart agriculture, working with NGO partners and participating in international and regional working groups, as well as multi-stakeholder initiative. The company recognises that its ambitious goals come with common challenges, so working collaboratively is an important part of adapting to changing industry dynamics.

Many of the company’s direct efforts are enabled through the Kellogg’s Origins™ Programme. The programme provides farmers with support to help them adopt sustainable practices and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. This includes increasing yields, optimising fertiliser use, reducing water use and emissions, and improving soil health. It also supports farmer and worker livelihoods through training, improving market access, and making finances available. This global programme is directly benefitting nearly 300,000 farmers, including some farmers that are not in Kellogg’s direct supply chain.

Kellogg is proud of its progress to date, but recognizes that achieving its targets can be a challenging process. Since the announcement of its commitments, Kellogg’s progress to reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing per metric tonne of food produced has been slower than expected.

This is a result of several factors. Impacts from climate change can increase emissions. For example, droughts have limited clean hydropower output, and lower oil and gas prices encourage utilities to use more fossil fuels in some markets.Additionally, as the company continues to grow, more energy is needed to produce food for its expanding portfolio.

To address this, Kellogg is focusing on reducing emissions through increased use of renewable electricity, engaging in partnerships like RE100 to bring more renewables to local grids, and driving down the cost of green power for everyone. In 2017, Kellogg achieved 20% renewable electricity levels through contracts with local utilities and third party electricity providers in Europe and the United States. Detailed progress on these efforts will be reported in Kellogg’s 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report.

Kellogg continues to build supply chain relationships and implement plans that will deliver continuous improvements towards helping to achieve its goals. Through these efforts, Kellogg aims to play a major role in building a resilient, low carbon value chain that will help promote food security and support the company’s own sustainable growth for the future.

Working collaboratively alongside key suppliers to find ways to multiply impact through influencing customer choices and behaviour

METRO is a leading international company specialising in wholesale and food retail. The company operates in 35 countries and employs more than 150,000 people worldwide under the brands METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry and Real hypermarket, as well as associated delivery services and digital initiatives.

Through its wholesale business, METRO is one of the most important global intermediaries between major FMCG companies and other organisations. It has 21 million professional customers across 25 countries in Europe and Asia. These include restaurants and hotels, catering and hospitality businesses, smaller independent retailers, offices and public sector institutions.

The most significant environmental impact associated with a retail businesses typically occur upstream or downstream of that company’s own operations. These primarily relate to raw materials and the manufacturing of products sold in stores, as well as the way they are used and ultimately disposed by end customers.

METRO has introduced a sustainable sourcing policy, along with a range of sustainable procurement criteria and goals – particularly around its own-brand products. Nevertheless, the company recognises that in many cases its key branded suppliers are better placed to act on upstream impacts.

METRO’s most important direct suppliers are major global consumer goods businesses, who collectively produce a large proportion of food and non-food product ranges sold in the company’s stores. So whilst the company actively works to support its smaller suppliers on sustainability, METRO has taken a different approach to working with its larger suppliers.

Many of METRO’s largest suppliers already have in place their own advanced sustainability strategies, making substantial efforts to influence their supply chains and innovate product design in order to reduce negative environmental impacts.

METRO has therefore found ways to leverage its own position within the supply chain to help deliver positive sustainability impact downstream of its business. This has been achieved by working closely with these large suppliers to increase sales of more sustainable products and promote messages that drive better customer behaviour.

This approach has been put in action through the METRO Water Initiative, a global commercial campaign to raise awareness on water conservation. This reflects the fact that water scarcity and pollution have become a massive concern all over the world, with the consequences already being felt in a number of METRO’s key countries, such as Turkey, China and India.

When METRO developed this initiative, the company was not sure about the willingness on collaboration of its suppliers. However, when asked they were surprisingly eager to collaborate, seeing the initiative as an effective way to deliver on their own sustainability targets. The initiative now involves twelve major FMCG suppliers – Henkel, Unilever, P&G, Colgate, L’Oreal, Mars, Barilla, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Danone Waters and Diageo – that each have their own ambitions around influencing customers to use water more responsibly.

The product categories manufactured by these companies – for example those used in laundry and cleaning, bathing and personal care – are directly related to the overwhelming majority of water consumption in private households. An important part of the initiative is therefore working with these suppliers to grow the market in order to offer more sustainable products.

This collaboration involves jointly developing marketing and communication campaigns that encourage the sales of products containing fewer polluting chemicals, or require less water usage. The initiative now operates across more than 20 METRO Cash & Carry countries, with teams able to adapt their approach to suit their own local circumstances and culture.

METRO Water Initiative also encourages suppliers to put in place special promotions around products that may not be directly associated with unsustainable water consumption, but where sales can be used to automatically provide donations to NGOs working on water issues.

For example, in Pakistan the company has partnered with P&G to sell water treatment powder P&G Purifier of Water, raising money for Health Oriented Preventive Education (HOPE) to provide clean and safe water to disaster-struck communities. This has already helped providing 45 million litres of clean drinking water, supporting around 200,000 people for 4 months.

The METRO Water Initiative has proven to be a success so far, with the company stepping up efforts to grow it even further in 2018 and 2019. This will involve moving it to new countries and a wider range of product categories, such as dry packaged foods and beverages.

Through its work with suppliers on a commercial campaign that also delivers improved sustainability, METRO has found a way to enhance and coordinate the action being taken by several major consumer goods manufacturers that are facing similar challenges. This has a multiplying effect, engaging millions of METRO’s professional customers and cascading impact downstream to their customers and employees.

Royal Philips

Putting in place a systematic approach to supplier development and capability building to drive continuous improvement

Royal Philips is a leading global health technology company, specialising in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care products. Many of these products are complex in their design, requiring a huge variety of materials and components for their manufacture. This means the company has a broad set of procurement requirements, which in turn brings a wide spectrum of potential sustainability impacts in the supply chain.

In the past the company had put in place a supplier code of conduct, supported by a monitoring system based on third party audits, with around 2,500 of these conducted since 2006. However, when reviewing this data, it became apparent that many suppliers were just focused on compliance, rather than continuous improvement.

A lot of suppliers seemed to just be applying solutions primarily aimed to address areas of sustainability concern, without necessarily tackling the underlying issues. There was also a tendency for suppliers to shift priorities once they had reached an acceptable level of performance, rather than looking to build on their efforts.

To take action on this and move beyond a mindset that focused on audits, Philips developed a new Supplier Sustainability Performance (SSP) programme. This is used to systematically ensure that all suppliers surpass a minimum threshold of performance standards, putting in place structures for robust monitoring and regular engagement to drive continuous long term improvement.

Philips asks all suppliers to sign up to a code of conduct contained within its Sustainability Agreement, as well as expecting them to comply with certain international management standards, such as ISO 14001 or OHSAS 18000. Core principles are transparently explained in the Philips’ Supplier Sustainability Declaration, which sets the frame of reference for how suppliers are expected to help Royal Phillips deliver on its sustainability strategy.

The company developed a system that allows for differentiated levels of expectations based on relative performance and maturity levels. This recognises that smaller businesses do not have access to the same resources and capabilities as multinational corporations, so may require greater levels of support. Philips takes a flexible approach, determining the level of active engagement it needs to have with suppliers in order to deliver on its objectives.

The status of a supplier is determined by the self-completion of a supplier assessment questionnaire, providing supporting evidence to back up claims. Once suppliers have been rated across nine separate areas of management system elements, resulting in a single weighted score, they are then put into one of four separate SSP supplier categories that determine how Philips will interact with them.

Those that score greater than 90% on their questionnaire after validation are considered ‘Best in Class’. With mature, advanced sustainability programmes they can be used as examples for others to follow. At present they are only required to provide regular self-assessment.

Below them comes the ‘Do It Yourself’ category, for suppliers with good fundamental performance in place, but that are not yet achieving the highest scores. They are supported through peer learning and the sharing of best practices within the supplier network.

Strategically important suppliers who are expected to be within the supply base for an extended period, but do not yet have a good level of sustainability maturity, are put onto a Supplier Sustainability Improvement Plan. This means that Philips will undertake a site assessment understand the actual position the supplier is in, then collaboratively work with them to create an improvement plan. Proactive support and training are then offered to help them deliver on this.

The final category relates to suppliers that may be failing to meet expectations, who are considered through the lens of a ‘Zero Tolerance’ approach. There are certain areas where violations of expected supplier conduct are unacceptable, meaning that companies cannot enter into the Philips supply chain. These include systematically providing fake or falsified records, child labour, failure to comply with regulatory requirements, and causing immediate threat to either human beings or the environment.

When a company is identified as being of a ‘Potential Zero Tolerance’ status then they are asked to: propose a plan of action to mitigate or resolve identified issues; commit to following this through; provide regular updates backed by evidence of improvement; and avoid quick fixes. Where minimum requirements are met the company will then consider suppliers to be of ‘No Zero Tolerance’ status, and as such continue in one of the other SSP supplier categories.

The introduction of the Supplier Sustainability Performance programme appears to have improved supplier relationships, increasing levels of dialogue and improved transparency. By moving away from audits, which were seen by some suppliers as a drain on their time and money, the new approach is reported to be more like a partnership where suppliers they do not feel they will be punished for what they disclose. In response, they have demonstrated a higher level of commitment and a willingness to engage with their own sustainability performance on a deeper, structural level.

Thanks to successes so far, Philips is now looking to roll out its programme even further, looking to pilot it on a larger scale where it is potentially accessible to multiple organisations using similar supply bases.

Pioneering a circular economy model by using sustainable product design and reverse logistics to create a closed loop system

Sky is one of Europe’s leading entertainment and telecommunications companies, providing television, phone and internet services to 22.5 million customers across the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy.

The company has put in place robust internal procedures to address the environmental and social impacts of its supply chain, actively engaging with all new and existing suppliers which fall within the top 80% of Sky’s total annual supplier spend. As a result Sky is now able to report that 40 of its top 50 suppliers have integrated climate change initiatives into their corporate strategies.

In addition, Sky became one of the first broadcasters to make it mandatory for production companies to measure and reduce their impacts using the UK film and television industry’s albert+ sustainable production certification as part of commissions for Sky.

Sky understands that its main focus for its supply chain sustainability efforts should be on its most material impacts. As a way to help monitor and evaluate these impacts, Sky has been conducting life cycle assessments on its products for a number of years, which are used to drive ongoing improvements in their sustainable design.

This process has revealed that the use of set-top boxes, provided to customers so they can access Sky broadcasting, are one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s full value chain.

Indeed, customers’ use of Sky’s products – which includes broadband routers as well as set-top boxes – accounts for over half of the company’s total scope 3 emissions. And a further 20% of those scope 3 emissions come from purchased goods and services, which includes the manufacturing of that hardware by Sky’s suppliers. Continuously looking at ways to reduce the impact of the set-top box is therefore a priority focus.

The electricity consumption in the use-phase of a set-top box represents the majority of emissions across its life cycle. Sky has therefore been continuously working with suppliers to address the energy efficiency in product design. This is an area where good progress is being made. Coupled with detailed insight into how customers use its products, Sky has further developed three power modes which take advantage of energy efficiencies based on usage patterns.

But looking beyond energy performance, Sky has put a particular emphasis on reducing the embedded emissions related to the production of its set-top boxes. Product life cycle assessments have helped to identify hotspots of emissions, highlighting areas where improvements can be made. This has led to a reduction in the amount of materials that go into the box itself, as well as helping to remove metal components where lower impact alternatives can be found. Building smaller, lighter boxes has also reduced the amount of packaging they require, at the same time as cutting transport emissions.

Making proactive efforts to engage with manufacturing partners has helped Sky to overcome barriers, where those partners may previously have been concerned that improved sustainability would cost time and money. The company has gone beyond merely auditing its suppliers by providing consultancy support to improve performance and jointly develop strategies to reduce emissions. For example one manufacturer, Zinwell, has invested in a large-scale solar installation for its facility in China, which now provides half of the electricity needed to manufacture Sky’s products.

However, despite all this progress, Sky has now gone one step beyond just looking to reduce impacts. The company is aiming to close the loop with its new Sky Q set-top boxes, which have been designed with the circular economy in mind.

Design improvements have been made to allow boxes to be refurbished more effectively, including the ability to replace parts without dismantling the box. Sky is working with key partners for reverse logistics and distribution, enabling them to carry out product repair and recycling.

These partnerships operate with a zero landfill policy, ensuring that all material inputs are processed in the most effective way possible to retain their economic value. This supports Sky’s commitment to reuse or recycle all products returned to them.

Over the coming years, Sky will continue to take action on its supply chain, as well as helping to perfect its closed loop system. In order to strengthen its efforts, the company is currently focusing on increasing the accuracy of its scope 3 emissions data which will help inform subsequent reduction targets.

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L’Oréal: A Case Study in Supply Chain Excellence

Supply Chain Shaman

OCTOBER 5, 2018

to This is an example of managing a balanced portfolio and of driving a supply chain revolution. This case study is the best example we have seen of a customer-centric supply chain. In China, for example , more than 40% of the company’s business through eCommerce. L’Oréal’s Performance Compared to the Peer Group.

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Easy Supply Chain Savings: A Simple Supply Chain Case Study

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Supply Chain & Logistics case studies are always interesting. Maybe you have some similar examples you can share in the comments? Check out this article related to this topic: 7 Mini Case Studies : Successful Supply Chain Cost Reduction and Management. And it was an easy problem to fix!

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Supply Chain Case Study: the Executive's Guide

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BASF Video Case Study: The Value of Real-Time Freight Visibility

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NOVEMBER 20, 2023

But one thing you notice as you go to omnichannel software vendor’s web sites and examine customer case studies , the case studies may talk about retailers growing their revenues by 100% or more, but none talk about how much profitability grew. These new order fulfillment paths allowed retailers to rapidly grow sales.

TMS for SMB: A Case Study with Carhartt

OCTOBER 19, 2016

Carhartt is a great example . At the end of the day, the best approach is making the effort to truly understand and address the unique needs and characteristics of every company — both today and where they’re aiming to be in the future. Gibson highlighted in her presentation, Carharrt is experiencing rapid growth.

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Redesign to Improve Value: A Case Study of a Supply Chain Leader

JUNE 21, 2014

For example , we discovered that transportation and duties are 5x the expense of labor and overhead. For example , people want prestige beauty from the US, Europe or Japan. Take another example – few people know where their TV was made, but the buyer cares greatly about the reliability of that product. It wasn’t that easy.

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How Food Manufacturing Software Drives Profit [w Case Studies]

AUGUST 11, 2020

For example Stock Age by Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) can be cross-referenced with warehouse location to see which ingredients are sitting on the shelf and need to be moved (perhaps with a local promotion or price change). CASE STUDY 1: Gourmet Organic Herbs. CASE STUDY 2: Brandini Toffee.

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8 Examples of Kanban in Lean Manufacturing

MARCH 2, 2022

Here we give you eight real-world examples of how businesses use Kanban, a popular lean tool that’s helped companies in a huge range of sectors improve efficiency – especially those in the manufacturing industry. If you already know what Kanban is and just want the case studies , scroll down! Software development is an example .

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The Green Corridor: Saving Whales in California – A Case Study in Regional Collaboration

The Logistics & Supply Chain Management Society

AUGUST 19, 2022

The Green Corridor: Saving Whales in California – A Case Study in Regional Collaboration. This story is a great example of how, collaboration can happen in our fractured and decentralized commercial environment. The Green Corridor: Saving Whales in California – A Case Study in Regional Collaboration.

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[PODCAST] The Growing “Influence” of Content Marketing in the Supply Chain


MARCH 3, 2020

Business and Marketing Resources Marketing Logistics Services: A Discussion on Getting Attention Online Listen to the Podcast Example of an Effective Transportation Management Case Study View Case Study How Industrial Companies Can Pivot to Inbound Organizations & Increase Customer Experience More.

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Client Case Study Video Interview

APRIL 19, 2019

Client Case Study Video Interview with Lucid Motors, Menlo Park, CA. For example , certain areas were not quite to our liking and some of the formatting we wanted to change and you were quick to do that and it made our senior management very happy. Q: Can you give me one example of how the system has saved you time and effort ?

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Surgery Center Case Study: Less Time at Computer, More Time in OR

FEBRUARY 6, 2019

We now know, on a real-time basis, whether a contract has expired, for example . The post Surgery Center Case Study : Less Time at Computer, More Time in OR appeared first on Hybrent. In addition, Hybrent ensures we’re staying in compliance on contracts. Ready to Update Your Supply Chain? Request a Demo.

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Elevating The Voice of the Supply Chain Contrarian

JUNE 21, 2023

Many of the case studies being presented at today’s conferences were born during the pandemic and the post-pandemic turbulence. For example , Monster Beverages beats Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, while Celanese outperforms Dow Chemical. While companies talk digital, the projects follow traditional supply-centric paths.

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Migrating from Legacy ERP to Cloud-Based ERP and Its Impact on Data Collection Software

NOVEMBER 16, 2023

In this article, we will explore the state of ERP migration to cloud, its impact on barcode software and data collection, how businesses can retain custom supply chain processes when upgrading to cloud, and case studies illustrating successful transitions with mobile data collection.

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JAGGAER Webinar with Accenture Strategy and Attijariwafa Bank Case Study: Accelerating Trust in Banking – Internal, Suppliers and Customers

OCTOBER 22, 2020

A case study presentation by Youness Taghrichte provided a good example of how JAGGAER customers in the financial services sector are tackling these issues. Attijariwafa Bank has successfully implemented a source-to-contract solution with the JAGGAER ONE platform.

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Dynamic Fulfillment 101: Achieving Multiple Objectives for Better Margins

OCTOBER 17, 2023

Plus, you’ll get to check out real-world examples of major retailers who leverage this technology every day – for good reason. In the example below, you can see three different fulfillment options for an order, each with its own ship cost, labor cost, and expected revenue. Real-World Examples Looking for a feel-good fulfillment story?

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A Case Study in Reverse Logistics Optimization!

Supply Chain Game Changer

NOVEMBER 23, 2018

“This has been an excellent example of how ModusLink can deliver measurable value for our computing and hardware clients,“ explains ModusLink’s Vice President of Global Client Development. The post A Case Study in Reverse Logistics Optimization! Learn more at [link]. Check out Reverse Logistics and the Power of Your 3PL!

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Examples of How Supplier Quality Management System Implementations Pay Off

JUNE 11, 2015

We conclude our series on supplier quality management (SQM) today with a look at some case studies and examples of benefits derived from the application of a supplier quality management system. Examples and Case Studies from the Implementation of a Supplier Quality Management System.

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Melitta: Collaborating for an Improved Forecasting Process

NOVEMBER 2, 2020

For example , within an audit workflow multiple stakeholders across various regions can apply detailed market knowledge specific to their regions to the demand baseline forecast for a more accurate result. Read the full Melitta case study below. Read Case Study . Michael Youssef.

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The Green Corridor: To Realise the Circular Economy Dream – Reach Out to Your Community

NOVEMBER 22, 2022

In one example , Crust Group in Singapore provides a Southeast Asian example of a cross industry “circular economy” partnership. In my compost example , I save on buying fertilizer (along with all the processing, packaging and transportation associated with it). This is the challenge that industries face all around the world.

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Tackling Item Complexity

JANUARY 9, 2019

In Figure 1, I share a case study from a client engagement. One of the most read case studies written for my first book, Bricks Matter, is a case study on managing item complexity. It is frequently requested, so I wanted to reshare this case study with my readers. Governance.

New Case Study on Alcatel-Lucent Sustainable Procurement Best Practices

JULY 9, 2015

Case Study . We are pleased to publish a new case study detailing Alcatel-Lucent’s sustainable procurement program. Download the Case Study from the library. Long-time EcoVadis client, Alcatel-Lucent, has done all this and more.

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Unlocking the Value of Global Supply Chain: the Case Studies

JULY 7, 2014

For example , they make it easier for customers to locate products during shopping, pick the products, checkout, bringing products back home and install the furniture. Their unique selling points are products with good design at lower prices. To drive cost down, Ikea shifts some of their activities to customers or self service operating model.

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Cost to Serve Case Study that was Off the Scale! – with Steven Thacker

JULY 21, 2020

A Great Example . Let us watch the video below: Related articles on this topic have appeared throughout our websites, why not check them out? Robobyrne: Cost To Serve Lesson. Supply Chain Secrets: What is Cost to Serve? – Best Regards, Rob O’Byrne. Email: [email protected]. Phone: +61 417 417 307.

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Achieving the Value of Digital Twins

DELMIA Quintiq

JUNE 5, 2023

While the promise is clear, and we see a growing number of case studies proving the benefits of the approach, many companies struggle to create and maintain digital twins. I encourage you to listen to the webinar replay to hear more about these examples . So, are they achievable, from a practical perspective?

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Case Study: How Generac Power Systems Cut Millions from Its Global Transportation Spend

CH Robinson Transportfolio

MARCH 28, 2018

For example , Generac works with our global forwarding and port services experts to optimize containerized freight moving from the West Coast to Chicago and beyond. The post Case Study : How Generac Power Systems Cut Millions from Its Global Transportation Spend appeared first on Transportfolio.

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High Performance Inventory: The Supply Chain Differentiator

SEPTEMBER 13, 2023

Check out our library of videos, case studies , and other helpful resources here → Multi-Echelon Inventory Optimization So you have this great probabilistic forecast. Another example is Gaviota , a leading manufacturer of components, accessories, and systems for rolling shutters, awnings, and enclosures.

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10 Must-Read Supply Chain Analytics Books for 2023

JANUARY 23, 2023

It includes real-world examples from companies like Amazon and Starbucks, case study discussion questions, computer-assisted exercises, and programming projects, making it an ideal choice for anyone looking to learn about supply chain management and the analytics involved.

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Optimization and Execution: How Manufacturing can lead the Industry Renaissance

JUNE 9, 2020

Companies that were unable to meet these challenges have been left behind (for example , in High Tech think Blackberry and Compaq). In numerous case studies , manufacturers have found that the limited visibility to shop floor activities and poor planning led to problems with over-scheduled machinery and equipment.

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Strong Supply Chains Required For an Economic Rebound: Six Steps To Take

APRIL 15, 2020

No doubt about it, we are characters in a supply chain case study searching to define a new normal. Today, we find ourselves in the middle of a risk management case study . An example is a focus on moving and buying ventilators without an assessment of the availability of critical parts and skilled therapists.

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Supply Chain Profit Leaks in Real-Life

NOVEMBER 15, 2022

Here’s a real-life example . 7 Mini Case Studies : Successful Supply Chain Cost Reduction and Management. How to identify and fix your profit leaks? Related articles on this topic have appeared throughout our website, check them out: Cost to Serve – A Smarter Way to Improved Supply Chain Profitability.

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Walmart in a World on Fire

NOVEMBER 15, 2021

One of the companies she holds up as a positive example of a big company addressing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues is Walmart. A few years ago, for example , my oldest child explained to me that Walmart was a malignant force. Rebecca Henerson’s formula for fixing capitalism was a business best seller.

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Annual “Doing Good with OM and OR” Workshop focused on making an impact on society


Opportunities exist for OM and OR to increase their influence in fields which study policy, entrepreneurship, and developing economies, for example . Using two case studies , he illustrated how two startups that began as OM course projects, eventually became partners for research projects. the decision to take a CAT scan).

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Philip Morris Drives Manufacturing Insights Using A Digital Twin

MARCH 16, 2021

To help readers sort through the hype, we are writing articles on digital twin use cases to help companies gain a competitive advantage. Here we share the case study of Philip Morris using a digital twin deployment. This case study is written in a Q&A format. Let’s take some examples .

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Rockwell Automation: A Case Study in Supply Chain Excellence

DECEMBER 4, 2018

Solutions, for example , can take from 12 to 16 weeks to manufacture. Rockwell Automation is a case study of a company working a long-term plan focused on improving flows for the customer. From a manufacturing perspective, products vary significantly in complexity. The Rockwell Automation Supply Chain.

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Values Engineering (B): The Story of a Supply Chain

This short case study is a snapshot of the ethical challenges faced by members of a supply chain as they work on an apparently fictional high-rise renovation project. Although the story is set in the construction sector, it is relevant to any supply chain in any industry or any set of individuals working on a business project with real-world consequences. Case A starts with Bruce, the architect’s project manager, who adopts a fake-it-till-you-make-it approach and agrees to phase payments in such a way that his firm avoids the standard tender process. The narrative then moves to Simon, the contract manager for the “favoured” contractor, as he tries to drive down costs to meet the quoted price while maintaining profitability. Next we encounter Ben, a recently graduated project manager for his father’s specialist building-facade firm. Like Simon, his technical knowledge is insufficient, and he fails to follow up on crucial questions, instead relying on others in the supply chain to ensure compliance with regulations. We then encounter two suppliers of the materials for the facade and internal insulation. Deborah, a sales manager with minimal technical knowledge, supplies misleading information and oversells, partly due to pressure and poor communication from her bosses overseas. Jonathan, a young product manager, does the unthinkable by participating in a faked fire-safety test. He, too, is under pressure, both from experienced colleagues who present this as normal procedure, and from the cost-conscious private equity firm that owns the company. Case B reveals that these characters are real people who worked on the renovation of Grenfell Tower in London, where in 2017 a fire resulted in the death of 72 residents. Their stories and quotes are part of a vast and complex “supply chain” of failures revealed in the subsequent public inquiry.

The case, extracted from a complex and tragic chain of events, puts the reader in the position of five protagonists, enabling instructors and students to explore important lessons about business ethics and safety. It is intended to prompt classroom discussion of ethical failures and how they can be avoided, rather than solving a business dilemma. It provides scope to explore: •The dangers of “dehumanizing” the people affected by business decisions, especially at the end of a long supply chain •The risks of “passing the buck” in complex supply chains •The pressure to prioritize profit and aesthetics over safety and ethics •How an unhealthy culture can pervade a project, organization, profession, or industry. •Poor ethical leadership

  • Business ethics
  • responsible business
  • corporate social responsibility
  • supply chains
  • health and safety
  • construction
  • value engineering
  • issue moral intensity
  • diffusion of responsibility
  • cognitive biases
  • professional negligence
  • cost reduction
  • risk management
  • ethical leadership
  • Reduced Inequality
  • Responsible Consumption and Production

Values Engineering (A): The Story of a Supply Chain

By   N. Craig Smith ,  Erin McCormick


N. Craig Smith

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How to Solve a Supply Chain Case Study Interview

  • Last Updated January, 2022

Former Accenture

People can be nervous about approaching a supply chain case study interview.

Everyone has some level of experience with marketing and sales because they see these functions in stores and advertisements every day.

The supply chain that gets the product on a store shelf (whether it’s a physical one or digital) can be more opaque.

Supply chain management is the optimization of the process of designing and creating a good or service and getting it to the customer in the most efficient way possible.

Breaking the supply chain down into its component steps will allow you to look at essential parts of the process and uncover which steps may have problems that need to be addressed to better meet customer needs.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • The types of business problems that fall under supply chain management,
  • Why supply chain matters,
  • Key factors to consider in a supply chain case,
  • A supply chain case example, and
  • Our 7 tips on answering a supply chain case interview question.

Let’s get started!

What Types of Business Problems Fall into Supply Chain Management?

Supply chain management includes:

  • Product development, 
  • Sourcing parts and materials, 
  • Production, 
  • Logistics, and
  • Information systems that support this process.

Each consulting firm breaks down the group of consultants who work on supply chain problems differently. Some firms put the entire process under supply chain. 

In others, “production” problems are managed by an operations practice or service line. The supply chain practice is responsible for issues like:

  • How does a company get the necessary components that go into making its product in a cost-effective and timely fashion?
  • And how does the company deliver that product to the end-customer efficiently and at the required service level?

For example, before a company can manufacture a bike, it needs tires, steel, or aluminum for the frame, the bike chain, etc. To get the finished bike to market, they need transportation to retail stores or a chain’s distribution warehouse. 

For the purpose of this article, we’ll look at the broader definition of supply chain, the entire process from getting components parts, to manufacturing the product and delivering finished goods as cheaply and efficiently as possible while meeting or exceeding service level expectations.

Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 89.6% of our clients pass the case interview.

Why Does the Movement of Goods To & From a Factory Matter So Much?

Moving goods to and from a factory might not seem to be the most exciting thing in the world but it’s fundamental to business success. If you can’t get your innovative new product to market so your customers can buy it, it can’t add value to your bottom line. 

From a financial perspective, there are both inbound and outbound considerations. 

Inbound considerations include:

  • Transportation costs from supplier to factory/warehouse
  • Warehousing cost 
  • Carrying cost of inventory

Outbound considerations include:

  • Transportation costs from factory to customer or store

Let’s look at these in more detail.

Transportation Cost

Transportation costs include both receiving goods from suppliers and distributing them to the customer. There are several factors to be considered when calculating transportation costs, and they may have to be weighed against other factors.

For example, is it more beneficial to use a cheaper supplier that has higher inbound transportation costs? Is it better to use a more expensive carrier service that results in a lower rate of damaged goods or quicker transit time?

Warehousing Cost

The cost of storing inventory, whether component parts or finished products, needs to be considered in effective supply chain management. Warehousing costs can be significant and can be optimized in a number of ways:

  • Only renting the storage space you need and using it efficiently.
  • Optimizing product packaging to reduce the storage space required.
  • Researching less expensive potential warehousing locations.
  • Using a multi-client facility where several businesses share the cost (if not a lot of space is required.)

It’s worth bearing in mind that, like many things in supply chain management, there may be tradeoffs. Cheaper warehousing that’s poorly connected to a company’s distribution network could end up costing you more time and money than more expensive storage that’s well connected. It’s important to optimize total supply chain costs, not each individual cost in the supply chain.

Inventory Carrying Cost

In addition to storage costs, there are several other costs associated with holding inventory. These include:

  • Capital cost . Money that’s been invested in inventory cannot be used elsewhere.
  • Insurance . Storing inventory requires insurance to cover the risk of theft or damage.
  • Risk . Products may decrease in value or become obsolete during the time they’re stored.

Similarly, from a customer service level perspective, there are both inbound and outbound considerations.

  • Factory/production cell downtime due to lack of component parts. 
  • Missed sales due to stockout at retail stores.
  • Failure to meet customer service-level expectations.

In short, inventory levels are about managing supply vs. demand. If there is a problem with inbound supply, production will slow or cease. This is highly inefficient and reduces potential product profitability. 

For example, the blockage of the Suez Canal in early 2021 due to a container ship that ran aground was expected to delay shipment of $9.6 billion in goods a day on the 150+ vessels waiting to travel through the canal according to a BBC article. These delays are expected to cost companies substantial sums due to:

  • Lost sales as customers look to competitors to purchase out-of-stock goods,
  • Production downtime at manufacturers resulting from parts shortages,
  • Higher shipping costs on ships detoured to longer, more expensive sea routes to avoid the canal, and 
  • Higher shipping costs due to a worldwide shortage of shipping containers that was exacerbated by this accident.

Key Factors to Consider in a Supply Chain Case Study Interview

A supply chain process map.

When analyzing a supply chain case, the best place to start is by mapping out the steps parts go through as they come into the factory, go through the manufacturing and quality control processes, and then are finally shipped to the customer. A process map like the one above will help you identify key steps.

Imagine yourself walking the production floor following the process the parts and end-product go through. In a supply chain case with an actual client, you’ll do this.

An effective supply chain moves the various elements seamlessly in the most efficient manner, minimizing waste and maximizing profitability. The flow of information between supplier and buyer, production, and the market should also move freely. This means it can be used to improve supply chain decisions. For example, an increase in orders at Manufacturer A will be communicated to their supplier, Company B, so that they know that they expect a larger than normal parts order and are prepared to fulfill it.

Imagine How Raw Materials Arrive at a Factory and Move Through It

  • What steps are required to get parts into inventory?
  • Where are they stored?
  • How are they moved around the factory?
  • How are they changed to outputs – single step or multiple?
  • Is there an assembly step? A quality control step?
  • How are they packaged and stored?
  • Where and how are they prepared and loaded for delivery to market?

Tip! Look for steps in the process where inventory is piling up. This may be because parts supply or production is unbalanced, reducing efficiency. Find ways to improve these bottlenecks.

Tip! Look for areas where there are significant problems with quality control. Parts or products that need to be sent back to suppliers or go through production rework are opportunities to improve efficiency and quality and, by doing so, save money.

After you have a clear understanding of the company’s supply chain, there are 4 factors you’ll want to dive deeper into to find opportunities to improve efficiency:

  • Operational considerations,
  • Financial considerations,
  • Service levels, and 
  • Matching supply and demand.

Operational Considerations

The best supply chains are highly efficient, which means they have low to minimal waste and consistently operate at optimum levels. This means that labor capacity is well-matched to production requirements.

They are also reliable with robust supplier relationships and an effective transportation solution.

Questions to Ask about Operational Efficiency

  • Product development
  • How well do we understand customer needs and use that insight to develop next-generation products?
  • How efficient are we at designing new products to meet these customer needs?
  • Is there a good split of engineering resources allocated to incremental product improvements versus next-generation product design?
  • Do we regularly review contracts for cost-savings opportunities (both for direct spend on components that go into our end-products and indirect spend on things such as travel and office supplies)?
  • Do we optimize total cost of ownership rather than individual component costs?
  • Is the production process optimized or does work-in-process accumulate behind bottlenecked resources (equipment or employees)?
  • Does the factory experience production shut-downs due to a lack of raw materials?
  • Does the factory experience unexpected equipment downtime?
  • Are employees cross-trained to minimize rework?
  • How efficient is the inbound transportation network? Are raw materials received on a just-in-time basis? How often are there stock-outs?
  • How efficient is the outbound transportation network? Are end products received by customers on time? 
  • Are there product defects or quality issues caused by transport?
  • Information systems that support this process
  • Do information systems support the exchange of data up and down the supply chain to optimize decision-making?

Financial Considerations

There are both fixed and variable costs associated with getting a product to market that should be considered.

Fixed Production Costs

Fixed costs are costs that are independent of production volume (at least over the short term) — for example, factory leasing costs.

Let’s assume a factory can produce a maximum of 10,000 units of a product a year. To lease the factory is the same price whether you produce 1 unit or 10,000 units a year. 

Fixed costs can depend on production volume only when it exceeds a threshold volume.

For example, if sales increase and the business needed to produce 15,000 units a year, the company would need to lease another factory to deal with the increased production. In this case, volume does affect a fixed cost.

Fixed costs do directly influence the cost per unit, however. The higher the utilization of the fixed production volume, the lower the cost per unit. 

For example, if the factory mentioned above costs $10,000 to lease and the factory is producing at its full capacity of 10,000 units, then the fixed cost/unit of output is $1. If the factory is only running at 50% capacity, the fixed costs/unit of output would double to $2.

Variable Production Costs

Variable costs change in proportion to production volume. For every additional unit produced, an additional $x of variable cost is incurred. Examples of variable cost items include raw materials and hourly labor costs.

There are times when rebalancing fixed and variable costs can be an opportunity for savings. For example, is it beneficial to invest in machinery or automation (fixed cost) if it reduces high labor costs? Be sure to look for opportunities like this as well as optimizing fixed and variable costs on their own.

Questions To Ask About Financial Optimization

  • How do increases and decreases in production impact fixed and variable costs?
  • Are there variable costs that fixed costs could replace?  (Example: new machinery that could reduce labor costs as well as total costs of production?)
  • Are there fixed costs that could be reduced through outsourcing? (Example: costs of leasing and managing a warehouse that could be reduced by outsourcing?)
  • Where are the biggest opportunities for financial savings?
  • How could reducing or increasing costs affect other considerations such as operational efficiency?

Service Levels

In supply chain management, the term service level has a specific meaning. It relates to how well inventory levels fulfill customer orders. A good service level is one that can fulfill customer orders without incurring a delay.

This is important because customer loyalty may decrease if products are consistently out of stock.

Questions To Ask About Service Levels

  • What are the clients’ service level expectations?
  • How often are customer orders fulfilled successfully?
  • How would changing service levels affect buyer behavior or customer retention?
  • How would changing service levels increase or decrease costs?

Supply and Demand

Effective supply chain management is about ensuring demand for the product is equaled by supply, at the lowest cost to the business.

If demand is higher than supply, customers could turn to a competitor.

If supply is higher than demand, inventory costs can reduce profit margins. Storing inventory also increases business risk as the product may decrease in value or become obsolete as it waits to reach the market.

Questions To Ask About Supply And Demand

  • What factors influence supply?
  • What factors influence demand?
  • How good is the organization at forecasting demand?
  • How flexible is the organization at changing output (e.g., are workers cross-trained for different production cells?)
  • How well are supply and demand currently balanced?
  • If they are imbalanced, what factors are contributing to this and how can those issues be fixed?

Supply Chain Case Study Interview – A Sample Question

Problem: Intel is the world’s largest manufacturer of computer chips. In 2008, Intel launched its low-cost “Atom” chip . The supply chain costs of Intel’s chips were about $5.50 a chip, which were acceptable for chips that sold for $100 each. For the Atom chips, priced at $20, these costs were too high to generate a profit.

What factors should Intel consider in order to reduce its supply chain costs, and what actions would you recommend as a priority?

Mapping the Supply Chain

Mapping out the supply chain process for Intel’s Atom chip identified several steps that had already been optimized including:

  • Raw material costs, 
  • Packaging costs, and
  • Duty payments.

It also identified that customers required a 2-week service level for receiving orders after a purchase order was submitted. 

However, the order cycle for the Atom chip was 9 weeks. Order-cycle time is the time between when a customer order is received and when the goods are shipped. High levels of inventory were required to ensure that customer service levels could be met despite the long production cycle time.

Because of this, production time/inventory was identified as the key step that had opportunities for improvement.

Identifying Opportunities to Reduce Production Time and Inventory

The process for reducing inventory required reducing the order cycle time to meet the customer’s 2-week required service level. Getting to a 2-week cycle time from a 9-week cycle time was a considerable challenge. To meet this challenge, opportunities to improve order cycle time were addressed throughout the supply chain process. 

As described above, for a supply chain case, there are 4 main factors to consider:

  • Service levels, and
  • Supply and demand.

In drilling down on this case, the following opportunities were identified:

  • Financial: Intel moved to a vendor-managed inventory model where possible to save inventory carrying costs. Vendor-managed inventory is the process of having a parts manufacturer take responsibility for holding the required amount of inventory at the customer location.  
  • Operational: The team was able to identify multiple production process improvements to reduce order cycle time, such as cutting the chip assembly test from 5 days to 2 days.
  • Service levels : As mentioned, the 2-week required service level was not flexible, providing no opportunities in this area.
  • Balancing supply and demand: Intel introduced a formal sales and operation planning process to provide better demand forecasts and time production to better meet demand.

Our 7 Tips on Answering a Supply Chain Case Interview Question

Tip 1: walk through the supply chain process.

Start by mapping out the step-by-step supply chain process.

Understanding how materials arrive from suppliers, the steps to turn them into outputs, and what’s needed to get them to market is an important first step. Once you’ve done this, look for bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the system.

Tip 2: Clarify Your Understanding of the Case 

At the start of any case study, it’s important to make sure you understand the question. This includes any information you’ve received about the case and also what you think you need to do to solve it.

A simple way to do this is to repeat back to the interviewer what you know about the case and what you believe the task to be. This gives them an early opportunity to guide your thinking if you look to be going off track.

Tip 3: Ask Questions

If you don’t understand anything, ask! Even if you feel you should know something, there’s no point wasting time worrying about it. Just ask the question and move on.

Similarly, if there are gaps in the data provided, or you need more information in order to form a hypothesis or conclusion, ask your interviewer for more detail. They may provide further information that helps you choose an approach or strengthens your analysis.

Tip 4: Take Time to Structure your Thinking

Don’t be afraid to take your time when structuring your approach to the case. 

Moments of silence can feel endless in an interview situation, but it’s better to use some extra thinking time and respond clearly and logically than answer immediately in a rushed or haphazard manner.

If you need more time to think, it’s perfectly ok to signpost that to your interviewer by asking for a little more time to organize your thoughts.

Tip 5: Use A Framework

Frameworks are popular with both candidates and interviewers alike as they bring structure to your analysis. 

Case interviews can be daunting, and anxiety can make it tricky to think things through logically. Using a framework provides an anchor to organize your thoughts around and makes it less likely you’ll leave anything out.

In supply chain cases, the supply chain process itself can often be used as your framework.

Tip 6: Share Your Analysis

Speaking of analysis, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts aloud. A case interview should be more of a conversation than an interrogation!

Remember your math teacher always telling you to show your work? The same is true in case interviews.

Explaining your thought process helps the interviewer see how you process and make connections between pieces of information. They may also point out small mistakes in your arithmetic so that they don’t mess up your conclusion.

Tip 7: Provide a Recommendation

At the end of the interview, briefly summarize the information you’ve uncovered about the case and how it’s influenced your thinking. Then clearly state your recommendation for the client’s next steps.

Make sure you also share any other important details, such as any risks associated with your recommendation and how they might be overcome.

In this article, we’ve covered:

  • Which business problems supply chain management covers,
  • The reasons supply chain management is important,
  • The essential considerations of a supply chain case,
  • An example of a supply chain case, and
  • Our top 7 tips for acing the supply chain case interview.

Still have questions?

If you have more questions about supply chain case study interview questions, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s case coaches will answer them. Other people prepping for supply chain case interviews found the following pages helpful:

  • Our Complete Guide to Case Interview Prep ,
  • Case Interview Types , and
  • Case Interview Examples .

Help with Consulting Interview Prep

Thanks for turning to My Consulting Offer for advice on supply chain case study interview questions. My Consulting Offer has helped almost 85% of the people we’ve worked with to get a job in management consulting. We want you to be successful in your consulting interviews too. For example, here is how Tanya was able to get her offer from McKinsey.

4 thoughts on “How to Solve a Supply Chain Case Study Interview”

I need to do a power point for an interview. I have to do a Logistics Analyst Case Study answering questions regarding delivery data for the supply chain and I can’t seem to figure out how to go about answering the questions. I need some professional guidance to help me through the process. Thank you.

Supply chain cases are challenging.

If you’d like an overview of how to approach answering a consulting case interview, our Ultimate Guide to Case Interview Prep is your best source. If you’d like a one-on-one coach for case interviews, including learning how to case in as short as a week, you can apply here .

I would like some more information on supply chain cases – interview’s specifically but not only

Hey, Michael,

Here are a couple publically available cases that might help you: Steel Co. from the NYU Stern 2019 casebook. S.A. Shipping from the McCombs Texas MBA Casebook 2017-2018.

Best of luck on your supply chain case prep!

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3 Top Strategies to Master the Case Interview in Under a Week

We are sharing our powerful strategies to pass the case interview even if you have no business background, zero casing experience, or only have a week to prepare.

No thanks, I don't want free strategies to get into consulting.

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supply chain case study

How to Answer Supply Chain Optimization Case Questions in Management Consulting Interviews?

Learn how to ace supply chain optimization case questions in management consulting interviews with these expert tips and strategies.

Posted May 11, 2023

supply chain case study

If you're applying for a management consulting role, chances are you'll encounter supply chain optimization case questions during the interview process. These questions are designed to test your ability to break down complex problems, analyze data, and communicate your thought process clearly to others. In this article, we'll explore the importance of supply chain optimization in management consulting, the different types of questions you may encounter, and strategies for answering them effectively.

The importance of supply chain optimization in management consulting

Supply chain optimization is a critical component of management consulting projects. It involves analyzing the flow of goods and services from suppliers to customers, identifying bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the process, and developing strategies to improve operations and reduce costs. A solid understanding of supply chain management principles is essential for consultants working in industries such as retail, manufacturing, or logistics. By optimizing supply chains, organizations can increase profitability, reduce waste, and improve customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, supply chain optimization can also help organizations become more sustainable. By reducing waste and improving efficiency, companies can minimize their environmental impact and contribute to a more sustainable future. This is becoming increasingly important as consumers and stakeholders are placing more emphasis on sustainability and ethical business practices. Management consultants who specialize in supply chain optimization can help organizations achieve their sustainability goals while also improving their bottom line.

Understanding the basics of supply chain management

Before diving into supply chain optimization case questions, it's important to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of supply chain management. This includes the different stages of the supply chain (such as procurement, production, and distribution), the factors that influence supply chain performance (such as inventory management, transportation, and demand forecasting), and the metrics used to measure success (such as on-time delivery rate, lead time, and inventory turnover).

Another important aspect of supply chain management is risk management. This involves identifying potential risks in the supply chain, such as supplier bankruptcy or natural disasters, and developing strategies to mitigate those risks. Effective risk management can help ensure continuity of supply and minimize disruptions to the supply chain.

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The different types of supply chain optimization case questions

There are several types of supply chain optimization case questions that you may encounter during a management consulting interview. These include:

  • Process optimization: How can a company streamline its supply chain processes to reduce costs and improve efficiency?
  • Inventory management: How can a company optimize its inventory levels to minimize stockouts and reduce excess inventory?
  • Supplier selection: How can a company identify and select the best suppliers to work with?
  • Demand forecasting: How can a company improve its ability to predict demand and adjust production accordingly?

In addition to these types of supply chain optimization case questions, you may also encounter questions related to transportation optimization. This could include questions about how a company can optimize its transportation routes to reduce costs and improve delivery times, or how it can choose the most efficient modes of transportation for different products and regions. Another area of focus may be sustainability, where companies are looking to optimize their supply chains to reduce their environmental impact and improve their social responsibility.

Tips for breaking down complex supply chain optimization case questions

When faced with a complex supply chain optimization case question, it's important to break down the problem into smaller, more manageable parts. This can involve creating a flowchart to map out the different stages and processes involved, or developing a hypothesis to guide your analysis. It's also important to ask clarifying questions to ensure that you fully understand the problem and the constraints involved.

Another useful strategy for breaking down complex supply chain optimization case questions is to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most relevant to the problem at hand. This can help you focus your analysis on the most important factors and avoid getting bogged down in irrelevant details. Additionally, it's important to consider the trade-offs involved in any potential solutions, such as cost vs. speed or quality vs. efficiency. By breaking down the problem into smaller parts, focusing on relevant KPIs, and considering trade-offs, you can develop a more effective and efficient solution to complex supply chain optimization case questions.

The role of data analysis in answering supply chain optimization case questions

Data analysis is a critical part of answering supply chain optimization case questions. This involves gathering and analyzing data to identify trends, patterns, and opportunities for improvement. Some common data analysis techniques used in supply chain optimization include regression analysis, forecasting methods, and statistical process control.

One of the key benefits of data analysis in supply chain optimization is the ability to make informed decisions based on data-driven insights. By analyzing data, supply chain managers can identify areas of inefficiency and make targeted improvements to reduce costs, improve delivery times, and increase customer satisfaction.

Another important aspect of data analysis in supply chain optimization is the ability to monitor performance and track progress over time. By regularly analyzing data and tracking key performance indicators, supply chain managers can identify trends and make adjustments to ensure that their supply chain is operating at peak efficiency.

How to effectively communicate your thought process in answering supply chain optimization case questions

Effective communication is essential when answering supply chain optimization case questions. This involves clearly articulating your thought process, explaining your assumptions, and presenting your analysis in a logical and structured way. It's also important to use visual aids (such as graphs, charts, and tables) to help illustrate your points and make your analysis more engaging.

In addition to using visual aids, it's important to actively listen to the interviewer's feedback and adjust your approach accordingly. This shows that you are receptive to feedback and can adapt to new information. It's also helpful to practice your communication skills beforehand, whether it's through mock interviews or presenting your analysis to a friend or colleague. By practicing and refining your communication skills, you can effectively convey your thought process and analysis in a clear and concise manner.

Common mistakes to avoid when answering supply chain optimization case questions

There are several common mistakes that candidates make when answering supply chain optimization case questions. These include:

  • Focusing too much on specific details without understanding the bigger picture
  • Jumping to conclusions without analyzing the data thoroughly
  • Ignoring constraints or assumptions given in the question
  • Not communicating your thought process clearly and effectively

Another common mistake that candidates make when answering supply chain optimization case questions is failing to consider the impact of external factors. It's important to remember that supply chain optimization doesn't exist in a vacuum, and external factors such as market trends, economic conditions, and geopolitical events can all have a significant impact on the effectiveness of a supply chain strategy. Ignoring these factors can lead to unrealistic or ineffective solutions.

Strategies for presenting your solutions and recommendations

When presenting your solutions and recommendations, it's important to focus on the key insights and conclusions from your analysis. This can involve prioritizing the most impactful changes, discussing potential risks or trade-offs, and developing a clear implementation plan. It's also important to tailor your recommendations to the specific needs and goals of the organization you're working with.

Another important strategy for presenting your solutions and recommendations is to use visual aids such as graphs, charts, and diagrams to help illustrate your points. This can make your presentation more engaging and easier to understand for your audience. Additionally, it's important to be confident and clear in your delivery, and to anticipate any potential questions or objections that may arise. By being well-prepared and presenting your recommendations in a clear and compelling way, you can increase the likelihood that they will be accepted and implemented by the organization.

Examples of successful supply chain optimization case question responses

Here are a few examples of successful supply chain optimization case question responses:

  • Developing a transportation optimization strategy for a logistics company, which involved analyzing different transportation modes, carrier contracts, and delivery schedules to reduce costs and improve delivery times.
  • Optimizing inventory levels for a retail company by analyzing historical demand patterns, supplier lead times, and storage costs to minimize stockouts and reduce excess inventory.
  • Developing a demand forecasting model for a manufacturing company, which involved analyzing sales data, historical trends, and external factors (such as economic indicators and weather patterns) to improve production planning.

It is important to note that successful supply chain optimization also involves effective communication and collaboration between different departments and stakeholders. For example, a successful optimization strategy may require input from logistics, procurement, and sales teams to ensure that all aspects of the supply chain are considered and integrated. Additionally, ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the optimization strategy is crucial to ensure that it continues to meet the changing needs of the business and the market.

Preparing for supply chain optimization case questions in advance

One of the best ways to prepare for supply chain optimization case questions is to practice using case studies and mock interviews. This can help you develop your analytical skills, improve your ability to communicate your thought process clearly, and familiarize yourself with common supply chain optimization challenges. It's also important to stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices by reading industry publications and attending relevant conferences or seminars.

In addition to practicing with case studies and mock interviews, it can be helpful to seek out mentorship or guidance from experienced professionals in the field. They can provide valuable insights and advice on how to approach supply chain optimization case questions and navigate the industry as a whole.

Another important aspect of preparation is to have a solid understanding of the key concepts and principles of supply chain management. This includes topics such as inventory management, logistics, and demand forecasting. By having a strong foundation in these areas, you'll be better equipped to analyze and solve complex supply chain optimization problems.

Resources for practicing and improving your skills in answering supply chain optimization case questions

There are several resources available to help you practice and improve your skills in answering supply chain optimization case questions. These include:

  • Case study books and online resources, such as The Case Interview: 20 Days to Ace the Case and Case in Point
  • Mock interview services and coaching programs, such as PrepLounge and Management Consulted
  • Industry publications, such as Supply Chain Management Review and Logistics Management

How to apply your knowledge of supply chain optimization to real-world scenarios in consulting projects

Once you've mastered the art of answering supply chain optimization case questions, you'll be well-equipped to apply your knowledge to real-world scenarios in consulting projects. This may involve working with clients to develop supply chain optimization strategies, analyzing data to identify opportunities for improvement, or presenting recommendations to executives and stakeholders. By leveraging your skills in supply chain optimization, you can help organizations improve their operations, reduce costs, and drive growth.

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Supply Chain Case Studies Samples That Help You Write Better, Faster & with Gusto

Writing Case Studies is quite an arduous task on its own. Writing remarkable Case Studies is an even more ambitious exercise. Writing a perfect Supply Chain Case Study is, well, something supernatural. Yet, with the free repository of professionally written Supply Chain Case Study examples, the job is totally doable. Look through our directory, find a piece that satisfies your essential requirements and use it as a source of content arrangement and structuring ideas in order to develop your own original Case Study on Supply Chain .

In case you lack time or spirit for viewing abundant examples in search of inspiration or writing ideas, you can totally order an one-of-a-kind Supply Chain Case Study sample custom-written exclusively for you to be used as a basis for a completely original academic work.

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Supply Chain Issues Keeping CEOs Up at Night

Supply Chain Issues Keeping CEOs Up at Night

Building risk-resilient supply chains is one of the top issues CEOs are discussing on earning calls and in board rooms around the globe. The issue has gone from one priority among many to business critical. And CEOs are no longer just pursuing lower costs, shorter lead times, and higher quality.

Instead, they are recognizing the need to resolve supply chain disruptions in an integrated way, bridging the silos of various functions and going beyond dealing with supply chain disruptions as they occur. 

Taking a macro-view is also something governments have begun doing. Just think of the huge investments to “bring supply chains home”; for example, €43 billion in the EU for semiconductors or $100 billion in the U.S. for sustainable energy.  At the same time, diversifying supply chains and complying with new regulations keeps increasing their complexity.  

Companies take various approaches to these challenges, such as de-coupling their supply chains by building up costly inventories for critical components. Another option is reshoring or nearshoring, which brings manufacturing and supplier relationships closer to core markets, ideally in countries with similar political and economic systems. But all of these strategies come with downsides, including the cost of operations in globally competitive markets. 

At SAP, our vision is to embrace interconnected supply chains and optimize material flows — sustainably — with digital technologies. We believe in intelligent strategies to reduce supply chain uncertainties for the long-term by helping industries redefine their operations and by creating value chains that are more intelligent, connected, and responsive.  

Supply Chain Convergence Increases Agility  

Companies that resolve supply chain disruptions in an integrated manner bridge the silos of various functions such as procurement, logistics, or manufacturing. That’s how they can truly alleviate the impact to their organizations. Supply chain functions need to work in concert and extend into their ecosystem of suppliers. Even the most accurate supply chain plan is meaningless if material suppliers cannot commit to volumes and lead times. Through integrating supply chain planning, such as demand and supply plans with procurement collaboration, manufacturers have a much stronger strategic lever to avoid downstream shortages. 

At SAP, we call this approach design-to-operate . Our strategy is to deeply connect all relevant functions in a supply chain along end-to-end value chains and business processes. Going beyond the four walls of your own enterprise, into your ecosystem of suppliers and sub-suppliers — that’s the ultimate way to tackle supply chain challenges. In the case of supply shortages, for example, it is imperative to analyze the impact to the organization.  

With SAP Integrated Business Planning, affected production orders can be quickly identified . Impacted customer orders and revenue at risk are visible and informed actions can be taken to mitigate any shortages, for example, by changing production schedules. The SAP Digital Manufacturing system knows immediately about the changed production plan for the next shifts and adjusts labor and resources accordingly. Logistics departments in SAP Extended Warehouse Management orchestrate the new material flow, moving the right raw materials into production , and asset maintenance activities are re-scheduled to adhere to the new production priorities. 

As a result, supply chain leaders who follow a design-to-operate paradigm are highly agile and can take critical actions quickly to deal with supply chain disruptions. 

SAP’s Industry Business Networks: A New Paradigm   

Entire industries are recognizing the benefits of going beyond the four walls of their own enterprise. Consider a car company investigating faulty engines coming from one of their production lines. Now imagine it can trace the failure not only to a particular batch of components from one supplier but then dig even deeper to identify faulty basic parts from the supplier’s supplier. Instead of having to recall thousands of vehicles, it needs to recall only a few.  

Solving problems this way requires a mindset for radical collaboration as well as technology for efficient, cross-company data exchange. Catena-X is an open network that enables just that. It guarantees interoperability by defining common standards. The network is not owned by a single business and data providers keep their data sovereignty. For instance, they define for how long and for which purpose their data can be used. On the other hand, consumers can trust that data comes from a reliable source.  

SAP is one of the founding members of Catena-X, together with five other companies. Since 2020, the initiative has grown to 170 international auto makers, suppliers, and IT companies. Among them are Germany’s biggest car companies as well as many small and medium enterprises. Catena-X may soon become the industry’s standard.  

Naturally, the SAP Business Network for the automotive industry is ready for Catena-X. It readily connects Catena-X to SAP’s broad portfolio of automotive IT solutions to trace parts, measure carbon emissions and manage demand, capacity and quality. Recently, SAP announced business networks for more industries, including high tech, industrial manufacturing, consumer products, and life sciences , with more to come.  

Generative AI Adds New Types of Intelligence  

A key tool in solving supply chain complexity challenges is artificial intelligence (AI). Even before the recent groundbreaking advances in large language models (LLMs) and generative AI, our supply chain solutions have been infused with both “traditional” and “advanced” AI.

For instance, SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain creates demand forecasts based on historical demand patterns, but it also leverages advanced machine learning capabilities to improve forecast demand with point-of-sales data and improve planning quality using self-healing master data and lead time predictions. In the future, generative AI will enable completely new types of intelligent capabilities like these:

  • Facilitating human-machine interaction: Users will soon be able to interact with their system much more naturally via our new embedded generative assistant Joule . For example, they will be able to ask which of customer X’s demands for product Y are still unfilled in Central America. Joule will give the answer, intelligently combining data from various systems and domains because it will be embedded throughout the SAP cloud enterprise portfolio.
  • Supporting creativity: Much like a sparring partner, generative AI can help designers, engineers, and product managers create new product ideas in an innovation cycle and iterate them with SAP Enterprise Product Development.
  • Transforming unstructured data: Consider a truck arriving at a warehouse with inbound cargo. The clerk knows what cargo to expect and this is saved in an SAP system. However, what is really on the truck is written on a loading list, often in paper form. Making this data available digitally has been possible for quite a while and is known as optical character recognition (OCR). What’s new is that generative AI tools can now match the unstructured loading list to the structured data already in the system — in a split second.

Leveraging AI for companies to scale and sustain business operations will no longer be optional. Consider the increasing labor shortage facing manufacturing companies, among others. They will have a shortfall of up to 85 million employees by 2030 — roughly the population of Germany!

By automating mundane tasks with advanced AI capabilities, we will bridge the human resources gap and enable experts to focus on what really matters: making data-backed business decisions.

Human and artificial intelligence work hand in hand — it’s a duet, not a duel.

We already help our customers build risk-resilient supply chains and deeply connect enterprises to run productive, agile and automated operations. Now, by also leveraging the power of generative AI, we will ensure that supply chain resilience doesn’t have to be something that keeps CEOs up at night.

Thomas Saueressig is a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, SAP Product Engineering.

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You are required to participate in active case study, which will be...

You are required to participate in active case study, which will be the portfolio you have to submit. The purpose of the simulation is to test your knowledge, understanding and application of the core Industrial Engineering modules you completed during your studies. The case study will pose a problem to you where you have to plan and execute plans to ensure the organisation will become profitable again. the organisation being studied is known as The Fresh Connection (TFC). It is a producer of fresh fruit juices and is situated in Europe. Currently it is on the brink of bankruptcy and going out of business. The purpose of the simulation is to return the company to financial health. Your success will be measured by how well you answer the questions posed to you in the case study. Kindly study the information below before you progress with your studies.

Please note: You must study the links below intensively before you attempt to answer the questions posed to you in the case study. If you do not study the links, you will be unable to understand what is required from you when attempt to answer the questions. Once you are satisfied you grasp the concepts explained in the links, you can start preparing your portfolio.

Introduction Movie - The Fresh Connection - YouTube

TFC SC OPS SALES - YouTube TFC Overview - YouTube

The Fresh Connection Introduction Briefing by the Strategy Director - YouTube

Fresh Connection Final - YouTube

The Fresh Connection Business Game - Learnings

Through the application of the theory you studied, you must utilise your experience gained in the core modules of the Industrial Engineering modules in this real-life problem setting. You will have to reflect on the posed questions problems through feedback, evaluation, discussion and presentation of relevant facts. Thereafter you must conceptualise the solutions you propose. Consequently, you must apply your solution. It is important to note that you must pay special attention to the following Supply Chain Management (SCM) topics: Supply Chain Strategy Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) Demand Management Inventory Management Operation Management

Answer & Explanation

Sure, I can help you with this case study . I have reviewed the furnished hyperlinks and gained a complete understanding of The Fresh Connection (TFC) and its current economic situation. To assist TFC go back to profitability, I will awareness on the following areas:

Supply Chain Strategy

1. Optimize Supply Chain Network: Evaluate the modern supply chain network to discover inefficiencies and capability value financial savings. Reassess dealer choice, transportation routes, and warehouse locations to streamline the float of goods.

2. Implement Collaborative Supply Chain Management: Establish nearer collaboration with providers and vendors to improve conversation, demand forecasting, and stock management. This will help reduce lead instances, minimize stockouts, and optimize manufacturing schedules.

3. Embrace Supply Chain Risk Management: Identify and examine capability disruptions to the supply chain, which includes natural disasters, political instability, or deliver shortages. Develop contingency plans to mitigate dangers and make sure commercial enterprise continuity.

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)

1. Establish Accurate Demand Forecasting: Implement strong call for forecasting strategies to correctly expect patron call for for distinct products and regions. This will help TFC align production with call for, lowering excess inventory and stockouts.

2. Improve Sales and Operations Integration: Break down silos between sales and operations departments to make certain seamless coordination. Share call for forecasts, manufacturing plans, and stock tiers to optimize aid allocation and meet patron expectations.

3. Implement Rolling S&OP Process: Establish a normal S&OP process that critiques and updates sales and operations plans on a rolling foundation. This will permit TFC to conform to changing marketplace situations and patron possibilities.

Demand Management

1. Understand Customer Segmentation: Conduct market research and consumer segmentation to discover unique consumer segments with precise wishes and alternatives. Tailor advertising and marketing techniques and product offerings to precise segments to force sales.

2. Implement Dynamic Pricing Strategies: Employ dynamic pricing techniques to alter product prices based on factors including call for, deliver, and competitor pricing. This can assist maximize revenue and profitability.

3. Enhance Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Implement a CRM system to tune customer interactions, alternatives, and purchase records. Use this information to customize marketing campaigns, enhance customer support, and construct consumer loyalty.

Inventory Management

1. Optimize Inventory Levels: Implement stock management strategies to keep foremost stock ranges that decrease carrying expenses and stockouts. Use strategies which includes simply-in-time inventory (JIT) or economic order quantity (EOQ).

2. Implement Inventory Tracking System: Implement an stock monitoring machine to screen stock degrees, movement, and expiration dates. This will assist perceive ability problems and optimize inventory management decisions.

3. Reduce Waste and Obsolescence: Implement approaches to reduce waste and obsolescence in stock. This can also contain implementing product expiry monitoring, offering reductions on expiring merchandise, or exploring alternative uses for excess stock.

Operation Management

1. Improve Production Efficiency: Analyze manufacturing approaches to perceive regions for development. Implement lean manufacturing concepts to lessen waste, minimize non-price-delivered activities, and streamline operations.

2. Adopt Quality Management Techniques: Implement exceptional management strategies inclusive of Six Sigma or Total Quality Management (TQM) to lessen defects, improve product pleasant, and enhance consumer delight.

3. Optimize Workforce Management: Optimize team of workers scheduling and resource allocation to in shape production needs and limit exertions fees. Cross-educate employees to growth flexibility and manage fluctuations in demand.

By enforcing these strategies and techniques, TFC can enhance its supply chain performance, sales and operations making plans, demand control, stock control, and basic operations. This will in the end lead to reduced prices, increased sales, and a return to profitability.

Key references:

Nunes, R. J., & Parker, G. (2021). Institutional liminality, ideological pluralism and the pragmatic behaviours of a 'transition entrepreneur'. Geoforum , 126 , 215-223.

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Punjab bags award in global health supply chain summit

In a statement, chief minister bhagwant mann said the department of health and family welfare received first prize for its submission titled strengthening last mile delivery of drugs a case study from punjab..

Punjab bags award in global health supply chain summit

The Punjab government on Monday said that the state has bagged the first award in the global health supply chain summit held in Nairobi from November 14-16. In a statement, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said the Department of Health and Family Welfare received first prize for its submission titled "Strengthening last mile delivery of drugs: A case study from Punjab". He said 85 countries had participated in the conference and submissions from four countries including that from the government of Punjab, India were selected for final presentation. Mann said the state government showcased the success story of the 'Aam Aadmi clinics' and how the government of Punjab exponentially increased the number of primary healthcare and delivered quality health services.

Mann said the participating countries evinced keen interest in visiting Punjab to see the clinics and understand how 84 essential drugs and 40 plus diagnostics are being made available closer to households and without any cost to patients. Mann said the countries were also surprised to note that all such clinics are IT-enabled with end-to-end digitization of registration, doctor consultation, investigations, and prescriptions.

He congratulated the health department for this feat and expressed hope that it will continue to serve the people of the state with missionary zeal.

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