Tag: supply chain

On August 25, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast with severe effects in the Houston metropolitan area, other parts of Texas, and Louisiana. When such disasters happen, we are all emotionally affected by the human tragedy, injuries and death (close to 50 deaths accounted for so far), devastation of properties that families had worked long and hard to build, and the desperation that follows as people try to pick up their lives.

Part of a supply chain manager’s job is to think about how such natural disasters will affect their company’s supply chain. In the tightly connected global supply chains of today, there is a high likelihood that there will be an impact, regardless of how far away the event occurred. Many recent disasters serve as examples of this global impact: Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami north of Tokyo, or the flooding in Thailand. American and Western European car companies’ plant operations that sourced components from Japanese suppliers were halted within a week. And PC makers were disrupted due to the loss of 40% of worldwide capacity in hard disk drives in the Thai floods. Hurricane Harvey is another strong reminder of lessons learned in supply chain risks and their management, and how devastating and far reaching the effects of such events can be for supply chains.

It is perhaps a bit hyperbolic, but rightly so, to say that the whole world will feel the pinch of Harvey.

As a supply chain manager, your first level reaction is to consider which customers, products, facilities, employees and suppliers will be the most exposed to Hurricane Harvey. What is the overall revenue exposure, and how long will it take to recover? Houston is a metropolitan area with an economic output of half a trillion dollars, and companies in almost all industries have some type of location or sales outfit there. In most cases, the impact will be nothing more than a flooded basement, power outages, and restricted access to facilities due to other infrastructure failures, and some delayed shipments. Home Depot and Lowes reported close to 60 temporary store closures due to flooding, but given the increased demand of their products in infrastructure and home improvement projects, their recovery will most likely be swift.

The most important part, and the company’s first priority, is to check for employees that are located in affected areas, and quickly verify their wellbeing. Procter & Gamble’s Folgers plant in New Orleans was exposed to Hurricane Katrina, and one of the company’s biggest challenges after the event was tracing the fates of its employees and ensuring their safety. In the oil drilling, refining, and chemical manufacturing industries, some of the main production and distribution facilities are in the Houston area, so one needs to think about the first order effects on businesses from flooded, non-operable facilities. Some news outlets reported that 25% of the U.S. oil refining capacity was closed by the end of August, including the two largest refineries. This will imply serious disruptions to gasoline supply in the Southeast and the Midwest. Based on my own causal observations, gas prices in the St. Louis area were 20-30 cents higher this Labor Day weekend, with increases expected to last for a month. Depending on how fast the refineries recover, and the overall supply conditions of crude oil in the area, fears of fuel shortages might drive gas prices up, inevitably affecting the logistics costs of all businesses. Twenty percent of the offshore crude oil supply was shut down as flooding disrupted wells and caused pipeline operators to close their taps. But this might be welcome, as some of the crude oil demand is down at the same time due to the idled refineries. Crude oil prices slid down by almost 50 cents a few days after the hurricane. Natural gas production has been disrupted as well, with potential implications for heating and power generation fuel supply and prices.

hurricane-harvey

Hurricane Harvey

Infrastructure damages to ports, airports, and roads have immediate effects on all supply chains. The major airports in Houston were not affected much beyond some delayed flights (around 1,000 flights over a day or two) and unexpected delays in reopening. Even smaller airports were back in operation by the end of August. However, port traffic is more seriously affected. The ports of Houston and Corpus Christi are two of the largest in the U.S. (second and sixth, respectively), with both ports’ operations severely affected for more than a week. East of Houston, Port Arthur is completely underwater, and the closure of regional railways and highways led to FedEx, UPS, and USPS halting all deliveries to impacted areas. Major railroads (KC Southern, BNSF, Union Pacific, et al.) completely halted or reduced their level of operations around the coastal region and surrounding areas. Facilities receiving shipments from suppliers in the area should expect moderate to significant delays. Retailers and manufacturers far from Texas will be affected by the impact on transportation and rail networks, and should expect increased logistics costs to eat into their margins. In the trucking industry, which had capacity shortages prior to the event, the impact will be an additional shortage of 10%. As increased emergency shipment prices and demand shift some of the capacity to the Southeast, prices will rise nationwide. Capacity shortages and increased fuel costs might have a double-whammy effect on transportation logistics costs for all companies, particularly those in the grocery, food, and beverages industries.

As any supply chain manager understands all too well, it is not necessarily the original event (in this case, the hurricane), but the ripple effects of the event that cause the major supply chain disruptions.

In retrospect, the Japanese earthquake of March 2011 was the least of their worries. About half an hour after the shaking ended, a tsunami—two to three times higher than projected—inundated the shores nearest the quake’s epicenter. And 180 kilometers away from the quake’s epicenter, the nuclear power plant at Fukushima Daiichi flooded, incapacitating the backup diesel generators responsible for cooling three of the six nuclear reactors. Within 24 hours of the tsunami, these reactors exploded, spreading harmful radiation. Hurricane Harvey caused a similar scenario, albeit with substantially fewer consequences. As the hurricane blew in, employees of the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, TX had to make sure that the plant’s volatile chemicals remained refrigerated. When the power went out and the floodwaters knocked out the plant’s generators, the only alternative was to move the chemicals to nine huge, refrigerated trucks, each with their own generator. However, when six feet of water swamped the trucks (described by an Arkema spokesman as “watching physics at work”), a series of explosions followed. Fortunately, the fire and blasts were not as dire as feared, but in the eyes of a safety investigator, it was “a wake-up call for an industry and their safety regulators who have not adequately taken action on lessons from Hurricane Katrina, as well as the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.” A large number of the more than 1,300 chemical plants in Texas—many of them driven there by the access to gulf ports and shale gas operations—are vulnerable to flooding events.

If someone were trying to anticipate the ripple effects on supply chains resultant from the Harvey disaster, ethylene and its derivative products, polyethylene and PVC, will be the proverbial “usual suspects” to cause a bullwhip effect. Sixty percent of the U.S. ethylene capacity has been closed due to Harvey-related floods. Ethylene and its derivatives are used to produce plastics, antifreeze, house paint, vinyl products, and rubber; thus, shortages of it will affect multiple manufacturers and consumer markets. With the U.S. accounting for 20% of the global ethylene production, and with current utilization being very high, any small hiccup will drive supply-demand imbalances. It is too early to predict the magnitude of shortages, but petrochemical plants in the Gulf region are already advising customers of their inability to meet their commitments for polyethylene, polypropylene, and PVC. And the “bullwhip” game begins (!) with bigger firms hoarding capacity, smaller ones scrabbling to find any capacity at any price, suppliers rationing orders, inflated projections of demand, and rapidly escalating prices. The complexity of the ethylene manufacturing process, the longer restart times for closed operations, the lead times required to ensure safety of operation, and the current transportation bottlenecks make for an inflexible supply chain, incapable of adjusting to any small supply or demand shocks. Ethylene-dependent industries are in for a roller coaster ride in the next few months, and the rest of us might have to pay for it.

There are two main tools the supply chain manager possesses to effectively mitigate the damage of major disaster events and drive the quick recovery of supply chains. The first is redundancy, as in having extra resources, capacity, and people, and the second is operational flexibility, as in dynamically reallocating the resources based on updated information and the needs of the realized situation. Thus far, both of these tools have been deployed by federal agencies and companies in handling the Harvey disaster aftermath. Experts expect that the effects on gas prices will be less severe because gasoline inventories are higher than they were in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008. Also, the crude oil supply concerns can be alleviated through some release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves by the U.S. government. Going forward, it is better to plan ahead for some excess capacity and location diversification in our stretched energy infrastructure, as the heavy concentration along the Gulf Coast, together with very high utilization, makes it particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. Our ports have learned from the past, either through hurricanes or labor strikes, to be ready to effectively reroute shipments to meet logistics needs for customers. Global logistics companies have real-time information on the location and the container load of their ships and can drive dynamic rerouting as needed. Maersk is dynamically deciding whether to wait at the Houston port or reroute its container ships to other ports. Manufacturers fearing shortages of ethylene supplies are looking for substitute materials or alternative global suppliers. Hopefully, some of the downstream retailers have adequate inventories of needed products to handle a short period disruption in logistics services. Alternatively, price increases can also drive the demand away from low inventory products to other substitutes.

Wall Street is counting on the resilience of the supply chains. The stock markets have weathered the Harvey storms and have even gained in the aftermath. Effectively, the market is counting on companies to have learned lessons from the past and to have prepared their supply chains accordingly, either through careful planning, redundancy, or operational flexibility to manage the impacts of this disaster. The markets are comforted by the fact that any financial losses in the region will not propagate, as home insurance policies are not covering flooding and the major insurers will not be exposed to catastrophic losses. Other companies’ exposures on the service and delivery side are dealt with by supply contracts, which include “force majeure” clauses for events that result from natural and unavoidable catastrophes beyond the firms’ control. But I prefer the more optimistic explanation that markets trust the supply chain executives as consummate risk managers who have learned the lessons of the past. Hopefully they will be able to use the real-time information and data they have, and exercise a flexibility in their decision making to adjust operations for whatever outcomes result. Markets are betting that the companies using the best risk management techniques will find competitive opportunities against less-prepared rivals, and fully leverage the new opportunities created by the recovery efforts. Let us all be optimistic for the resilience of our supply chains and the fast recovery of the Gulf Region!

Panos Kouvelis is the Director of The Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation and Emerson Distinguished Professor in Operations and Manufacturing Management. He has consulted with and/or taught executive programs for Emerson, IBM, Dell Computers, Boeing, Hanes, Duke Hospital, Solutia, Express Scripts, Spartech, MEMC, Ingram Micro, Smurfit Stone, Reckitt & Colman, and Bunge on supply chain, operations strategy, inventory management, lean manufacturing, operations scheduling and manufacturing system design issues.



For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

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The Boeing Center

Supply Chain  //  Operational Excellence  //  Risk Management

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Research published by Olin faculty in the area of supply chain management is ranked #24 worldwide in the annual ranking published by The SCM Journal ListTM. The ranking is based on output in the leading supply chain management journals that are primarily analytically-focused including: Management Science, Manufacturing and Service Operations Management, Operations Research, and Production and Operations Management. Each year’s ranking is based on the research published in these journals during the prior five years.

In congratulating members of the Operations & Manufacturing Management (OMM) faculty on their prolific and high quality publications in top journals, Todd Milbourn, Vice Dean and Moog Professor of Finance, said, “Keep in mind that our faculty is smaller than many of the schools in this ranking, and some of the supply chain management research in these journals comes from engineering schools. The competition is stiff and Olin should be proud of this recognition of our excellent output in this field.”

Milbourn also pointed out that if the ranking were limited to purely OMM focused journals such as Manufacturing and Service Operations Management, and Production and Operations Management, Olin would be ranked #10 rather consistently over the years.

Operations and Manufacturing Management faculty:
Sergio Chayet | Kaitlin Daniels | Lingxiu Dong | Amr Farahat | Jake Feldman | Panos Kouvelis | Iva Rashkova | Danko Turcic | Dennis Zhang | Fuqiang Zhang


Dan Hazlett and Matt Gordon of Anheuser-Busch InBev are constantly trying to incorporate new technology into their supply chain to ensure fresher, better-tasting beer to the consumer. In this highlight, they describe the complexity of the beer supply chain, from breweries to distributors to retailers. They mention some of the challenges associated with shipping and inventory management, as well as some of the innovative technologies they are employing to improve the visibility of their payloads, from the breweries all the way to the retailers. This would allow them to take into account weather and traffic, and schedule more accurate loading and unloading times.

Some of the new initiatives at AB InBev are focusing on three main areas: scaling out the visibility capabilities to import/export operations, integrating tracking and planning applications across the whole supply chain, and developing smarter algorithms and predictive analytics. All of these efforts will enable AB to improve the efficiency of their already outstanding supply chain, and shorten the time between the brewery and your stomach.


For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

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A Boeing Center digital production

The Boeing Center

Supply Chain  //  Operational Excellence  //  Risk Management

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Automation, or the use of robots and other artificial intelligence to perform tasks, has increased dramatically over the past couple decades. And while a Skynet scenario in the near future is unlikely, we are undoubtedly on the brink of an automation revolution.

John Stroup, President & CEO of Belden Inc., recently paid a visit to The Boeing Center to discuss some of the economic drivers for a revolution in automation. He believes that the United States is well-positioned for increased automation in manufacturing due to recent technological advances. In fact, the majority of manufacturing jobs lost in the last 10-15 years are a result of increased automation, not offshoring (as is commonly thought).

One of the economic factors Stroup credits for the automation revolution is the rise in minimum wages. As labor costs increase, companies look for ways to decrease spending, often turning to machines to replace their human counterparts. But despite the downward trend in manufacturing jobs, there has been a massive uptick in productivity due to robotics and other technology. He predicts that by 2025, the global average of tasks performed by robots will be around 25%, more than double what it is today. Stroup then went on to describe his experience at a “lights-out factory,” or a factory that doesn’t turn on the lights because it utilizes only robots and artificial intelligence.

Stroup went on to mention that Europe is often ahead of the curve in terms of automation due to relatively expensive labor. Regardless of one’s opinions about automation, we are likely to see its increased adoption as global labor costs rise and the cost of implementing AI falls.

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

• • •

A Boeing Center digital production

The Boeing Center

Supply Chain  //  Operational Excellence  //  Risk Management

Website  • LinkedIn  • Subscribe  • Facebook  • Instagram  • Twitter  • YouTube




Twenty years ago, through the exceptional generosity of the McDonnell Douglas Foundation, The Boeing Center for Technology, Information, and Manufacturing was endowed in the Olin Business School. Since then, we have served as a powerful catalyst for technology-driven innovation, process optimization, risk management, and global supply chain excellence.

In honor of our 20th anniversary, and to more accurately reflect our focus, we adopted a new look and changed our name to The Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation. And with a renewed vigor, we completed the most successful year in our history. Not only did we work on a record number of corporate projects, but we also hosted several events featuring exceptional speakers and supported research on a number of cutting-edge topics.

This spring, we welcomed Mike Pinedo, the Julius Schlesinger Professor of Operations Management at New York University, to talk about operational risk management in the service industry at our 13th annual Meir Rosenblatt memorial lecture. And we welcomed John Stroup, President and CEO of Belden Inc., to share his perspectives on Industry 4.0 and the emerging technologies that will impact the manufacturing industry and beyond. Both presentations were intellectually stimulating and thought provoking.

We also held our inaugural project competition and awards ceremony, the Project of the Year Symposium, which highlighted our top five corporate projects from the 2016-2017 academic year. The Symposium featured presentations from our student teams that worked on projects for Anheuser-Busch InBev, Belden, Boeing, Emerson, and Monsanto. The teams competed for awards in “Project of the Year,” “Greatest Immediate Business Impact,” and “Presentation Excellence,” and split a $10,500 prize pool. A summary of all our spring projects can be found below.

Our 3rd annual Supply Chain Finance & Risk Management Conference took place on May 14-15. The aim of the conference, which was attended by prominent academic researchers from top business schools from around the world, was to stimulate interactions and knowledge sharing at the interface of operations and finance, and supply chain risk management. The conference featured presentations based on current research trends, including real operations and risk management, crowd funding, finance, trade credit, and hedging. There was also a panel discussion on emerging themes and directions of the field.  One of the initiatives resulting from the conference will be an edited book, comprised of short papers submitted by attendees, to be published this fall as an issue in the Foundations and Trends in Technology, Information and Operations Management book series.

We would also like to share with you some of the corporate projects The Boeing Center and student teams have led for our corporate clients this year.

Lastly, we would like to thank all of our corporate member companies for providing us with the opportunity to offer valuable experiential learning to our students, who dedicated long hours to ensure delivery of insightful and impactful supply chain solutions. We hope you all had an awesome summer, and we look forward to working with you again soon!


Learn more about sponsored projects and membership through The Boeing Center.

Anheuser-Busch InBev

This project revolved around optimizing the inventory mix at distribution centers for some of ABI’s craft beer products, particularly Stella Artois. The team utilized mathematical models with the potential to reduce accessorial costs and increase product freshness. Student team:  Miles Bolinger, Sam Huo, Huyen Nguyen, Roberto Ortiz, and Jon Slack.

 

Belden

The team working on this project used the QR inventory modeling approach to identify opportunities and costs for improving service levels at PPC, a Belden subsidiary in Syracuse, NY.  Student team:  Bonnie Bao, Michael Stein, Yuying Wang, and Yuyao Zhu.

 

Boeing

The goal of this project was to determine the most influential order and part characteristics affecting on-time delivery statistics of Boeing’s transactional spare parts business.  Student team:  Vineet Chauhan, Phil Goetz, Brian Liu, Sontaya Sherrell, and Fan Zhang.

 

Edward Jones

The team’s objective was to analyze the technology deployment process at Edward Jones. They did this by conducting interviews and collecting survey data to run a capacity analysis and generate a personnel network diagram.  Student team:  Huang Deng, Wyatt Gutierrez, Cynthia Huang, Drew Ruchte, and Jamie Yue.

 

Emerson

The Emerson project team worked with ProTeam’s Richmond Hill facility to determine the optimal product mix, optimize inventory management of stock, and develop a data analysis model to facilitate future upkeep of the system.  Student team:  Kushal Chawla, Serena Chen, Kai Ji, Jeffrey Lantz, and Zoe Zhao.

 

Express Scripts

The purpose of this project was to optimize Express Scripts’ distribution network by considering logistics costs, formulary configuration, and inventory vs. service levels.  Student team:  Himanshu Aggarwal, Jinsoo Chang, and Janet Qian.

 

MilliporeSigma

In this project, the team worked with MilliporeSigma’s facility in Temecula, CA to develop a model to help determine the economic production quantity for each SKU based on customer demand, production cost, inventory value, and shelf life.  Student team:  Perri Goldberg, Youngho Kim, Ayshwarya Rangarajan, Prateek Sureka, and Flora Teng.

 

Monsanto

The objective of this project was to understand, define, and map out the credit processes within Monsanto.  Student team:  Hai Cao, Yanyan Li, Ashwin Kumar, Jonathan Neff, Tom Siepman, and Xukun Zan.

 

West Pharmaceutical Services

This project sought to accurately compute the approximate safety stock levels, reorder points, and replenishment quantities at West Pharma’s Kinston plant using a continuous review model.  Student team:  Matthew Drory, Rohan Kamalia, Mrigank Kanoi, Ray Tang, and Jiani Zhai.

 


For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

• • •

A Boeing Center digital production

The Boeing Center

Supply Chain  //  Operational Excellence  //  Risk Management

Website  • LinkedIn  • Subscribe  • Facebook  • Instagram  • Twitter  • YouTube


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