We humans like to celebrate our penchant for innovation, but we’re more in love with the status quo than we’d like to think. We can lean on legacy and ideas and systems for years, until they finally become impossible to sustain. Sometimes it takes a crisis to spur real change.
Without question, that truth has been validated repeatedly over the last 20 months. Global supply chains were clearly in trouble before COVID-19 arrived on the scene, but when it did, the weakness of our time-honored strategies for procurement, production and delivery became shockingly evident.
To paraphrase an old maxim, then, necessity breeds innovation. But we can still honor the phenomenon whenever it occurs. And in the world of supply chains, there’s no better opportunity to shine the spotlight than the Supply Chain Innovation Award, launched 16 years ago by SupplyChainBrain in partnership with the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.
The award, given out each year at CSCMP’s annual conference, celebrates innovation within every imaginable stage of the supply chain, whether it be the raw-materials producer, factory, warehouse, retail store, software development lab or the offices of supply and demand planners. Winners over the years have hailed from a variety of industries, including healthcare, consumer goods, retail, high tech, transportation, logistics and consulting. Each has taught us a valuable lesson about the need for constantly rethinking the way in which product gets to market.
Read SupplyChainBrain Magazine's 2021 Supply Chain Innovator of the Year issue here.
This year’s group of finalists was no less bold in their determination to enact change in difficult times. The winner was Management Sciences for Health, the global non-profit that advises on setting up health-management systems in the poorest countries and communities. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, MSH set up a means of delivering medicines in a safe and affordable manner in Ukraine, where such capability had been greatly lacking. The initiative coordinated previously fragmented services from multiple government agencies, while employing a private logistics provider that adheres to best practices for distribution.
The achievements of other finalists in this year’s competition were equally compelling. They included:
River Logic and Philip Morris International, who together created a digital twin of PMI’s global manufacturing network in order to optimize product sourcing and enable rapid adaptation to changing market conditions.
Philip Morris International’s effort to combine end-to-end supply chain planning under a single global synchronization hub, with the goal of enabling multi-category product management.
Controlant’s initiative to ensure the successful distribution of COVID-19 vaccines on a global scale, relying on data and automation to keep products safe while in transit.
Holman Logistics, which partnered with OneTrack AI to use artificial intelligence to reduce injuries and accidents in the warehouse, and achieve measurable results in less than three months.
National Logistics Services, working with 6 River Systems to automate the management of NLS’s fluctuating labor force through the use of collaborative robots at multiple warehouses.
SupplyChainBrain congratulates all of the finalists in this year’s SCIA competition. And we look forward to the next group of entrants when submissions open for the 2022 awards. Together they provide proof that the best and most forward-thinking companies can thrive in times of turmoil.
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