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Think Tank

Blog Photo ... Think Tank is where the editors of SupplyChainBrain share their thoughts and comments on the latest supply chain trends and developments. Read what they have to say and then join the discussion by posting your own observations.
Hosts: Jean Murphy, Russell Goodman, Robert Bowman
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Let's All Focus on Supplier Risk - For Now

December 21, 2009
By:Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

Do supply-chain executives suffer from the same attention-deficit disorder that plagues the rest of our culture? There are times when that seems to be the case. One wonders whether many of them can see beyond the next quarterly report.When the economy took a dive, companies took a sudden interest in the concept of supplier risk. In good times, they seemed...[more]

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Can Supply Networks Be Too Flexible?

December 14, 2009
By:Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

"I will not tell you the obvious," says MIT professor David Simchi-Levi, and he means it. Take the issue of supply-chain flexibility. According to conventional wisdom, the more of it you have, the better off you are. But Simchi-Levi believes that companies can spend too much time and money on achieving total flexibility in their sourcing and fulfillment...[more]

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If Scrooge Can Change, So Can Supply Chains

December 07, 2009
By:Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

Ebenezer Scrooge had three spirits to worry about. Supply-chain executives can do better than that: they're haunted by at least five major nightmares. And while the list won't come as a surprise to anyone who's struggling to maintain a reliable flow of product during both a literal and figurative winter, it does offer some possible strategies for...[more]

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Here's What's Next for the Supply Chain. Or Not.

November 30, 2009
By:Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

Supply chain experts are well-accustomed to spinning their visions of the future before a room full of docile listeners, especially after a hosted bar and a full meal. It's less common for those prognosticators to be challenged on the spot. That was the idea behind a recent meeting of the San Francisco Roundtable of the Council of Supply Chain Management...[more]

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Notes From NIT League III: The World According to Widdows

November 23, 2009
By:Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

Call it a recovery if you want, but don't include ocean carriers in the picture. The economy is doing an excellent job of bouncing back without creating new jobs or boosting freight volumes. As a result, shipping lines are continuing to lose billions of dollars. Where's that bailout money when you need it?Offering up this tale of woe for the holiday...[more]

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Notes From NIT League II: On Transport Policy, The Same Old Same Old

November 20, 2009
By:Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

Those of us privileged enough to have reached a certain age with long-term memory intact will recall the decades of struggle by freight-transportation interests to have their voices heard in the corridors of power. How many times have shippers and carriers called for a national transportation policy, whatever that might mean? And how often have they been...[more]

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Notes from NIT League I: What's Your Favorite Letter?

November 19, 2009
By:Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

It's a bit like one of those bizarre psychological tests: pick a letter of the alphabet, and reveal something essential about your personality. That, in essence, was the question posed to an audience and panelists at the annual meeting of the National Industrial Transportation League in Anaheim, Calif.Specifically, which of the following letters best...[more]

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In a Credit Crisis, Small Importers Suffer the Most

November 18, 2009
By:Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

When it comes to economic news, Fortune 500 companies grab most of the headlines. But it's small businesses that make up the bulk of the American economy, which won't recover until they do. All the more ironic, then, that those enterprises tend to suffer the most in a credit crisis.In the weeks and months following the economic collapse of late 2008,...[more]

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i2 Acquisition Brings New Customer Base to JDA, and Also New Challenges

November 11, 2009
By:Jean V. Murphy, SupplyChainBrain

It looks like JDA Software will be successful in its bid for i2 Technologies this time around. While the deal has many advantages for JDA, it also presents its share of challenges, says AMR Research analyst Noha Tohamy. "The main challenge is from a functional standpoint, because there is a lot of overlap between i2's solutions and solutions from...[more]

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Will Buffett's 'All-In' Bet on BNSF Pay Off?

November 10, 2009
By:Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

Economic recovery must be coming. Warren Buffett says so. At least that's the assumption behind his decision to acquire 100 percent of the shares of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. (www.bnsf.com), the nation's largest Class I railroad. The Sage of Omaha, who has a reputation for basing his decisions on solid business fundamentals, is putting his...[more]

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