Fall 2012 Supply Chain Executive Forum Focuses on Supply Chain Complexity

Posted October 19, 2012 | Atlanta, GA

The Georgia Tech Supply Chain Executive Forum held its 2012 fall meeting on October 9th and 10th around the theme of "Supply Chain Complexity". The two-day meeting was hosted by the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistics Institute (SCL), a unit of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and featured presentations and discussions by experts in the industry.

Jaymie Forrest, managing director for the Supply Chain & Logistics Institute, welcomed the group and introduced John Mariotti, author of The Complexity Crisis and President/CEO of The Enterprise Group. During his keynote, Mr. Mariotti discussed "Managing Complexity for Profitable Growth" and explained where complexity originates and why it goes unmanaged as well as the consequences of complexity and how they influence supply chains and ultimately entire companies.

Building on the keynote discussion, Dr. Don Ratliff, Executive Director of the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistics Institute, focused on the "Root Causes of Supply Chain Complexity". He suggested "it is not complexity or its growth that is the problem, but the fact that the capability to manage this complexity has not been growing at he same rate". He discussed this "Complexity Gap" and its drivers such as globalization, the changing logistics environment and slow advances in decision technologies. Dr. Ratliff then covered his "top ten" root causes for supply chain complexity: uncertainty, variability, synchronization, lumpiness, scope, speed, diversity and restrictions.

The first day of the forum ended with Kate Laneve, Director of Sales Operations, NCR Corporation and her presentation "Bringing Order to Chaos: Shaping Your Market by Pattern Analysis". Ms. Laneve promoted, "By guiding your sales force to offer your most popular configurations, you can begin to shape market demand, take control of the bus and drive directly to your desired destination!" She then illustrated how NCR was able to speed up their sales cycle, cut lead times, increase win rates, decrease error rates, increase responsiveness to buyers, and decrease the amount of time to train new salespeople through using customer buying pattern analytics to segment the market and push configuration recommendations to sales.

The second day of the meeting opened with a Supply Chain Complexity Forum led by Chris Gaffney, Senior Vice President - Product Supply System Strategy, Coca-Cola Refreshments. Mr. Gaffney opened with a video that briefly discusses complexity and references a diagram of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. The attendees discussed what connections or ideas mirror their environment and how they address supply chain complexity in their organizations. Mr. Gaffney then provided an overview of the internal and external challenges that The Coca-Cola Company faces as its portfolio evolves with an overview of the end-to-end operations of Coca-Cola Refreshments, the strategies taken to fulfill its changing customer & portfolio and the actions that CCR is taking to mitigate complexity.

After the forum, Matt Melrose, Vice President, Lean Operations, LeanCor LLC and Thomas Molleur, Former Vice President of Supply Chain for Saint-Gobain Abrasives presented a case study on "Reducing Complexity of Inbound Logistics Through Pipeline Visibility, Process Discipline and Lead Time Reduction". The case study provided an overview of the strategies and tactics collaboratively executed by Saint Gobain Abrasives and LeanCor to deliver operational improvements and measurable financial results. The session closed with a discussion addressing theory versus operational reality and the lessons learned.

Dr. John Bartholdi, Director of Research, Georgia Tech Supply Chain Logistics Institute closed the meeting with his talk "Preparing the Warehouse for Complexity" where he discussed current and evolving ideas for making the warehouse more nimble, so that it can readily adapt to changes in workforce availability, customer purchasing patterns, and even business models. Signaling automation and worker automation

The two-day biannual forum will meet again in May of 2013 for its Spring joint meeting with the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' (CSCMP) Atlanta Roundtable. To learn more about Georgia Tech's Supply Chain Executive Forum, visit http://www.scl.gatech.edu/scef/.

For more information contact:

Andy Haleblian
Supply Chain & Logistics Institute