The notion of "breaking the rules" comes from a reaction to the long list of operations and processes that "must" be followed - for no other reason than tradition. "Technology, the marketplace and customers change," says Sabath, "but folks don't keep up." He praises those companies that have "broken out of the pack."
Sherman says innovation isn't possible without a certain amount of rule-breaking. "It's all about doing things differently - creating new and disruptive technology, processes and ways of doing business."
One of the most potentially disruptive technologies today is that of optical imaging and recognition, Sherman says. Warehouse workers no longer need a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. They need only take a picture of the item, and its characteristics are automatically tied into the facilities' records. Image search could mean an end to the entire automated identification industry, he says.
Those who insist that every company is created equal merely ensure that "the worst customers get better service than the best," Sabath says. Companies need to be thinking about new and creative strategies for serving their most valuable customers, whether that be zone skipping or consolidation of orders.
How can companies determine which rules need breaking? "If it's something that everybody does, and people can move from company to company and plug in how it's done, often it's worthwhile to sit back and say, "˜Do we ever have to do that?'" says Sabath. Every procedure should be subjected to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, he adds.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, inventory management, inventory control, global logistics, transportation management, warehouse management, supply chain planning, supply chain systems
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