Supply chains never catch a break. When economic times are tough, they struggle to keep costs down, while maintaining the flow of product to depressed markets. When times are good, they scramble to ramp up manufacturing and secure enough capacity to handle the surge. But what do they do when their problem is all of the above?
The conundrum of COVID-19 is that manufacturers, retailers and distributors have had to cope for more than two years with shuttered factories, congested supply lines, a dearth of labor, inadequate warehouse space and demand patterns that skew in both directions, depending on the product and industry. More recently, they’ve been clobbered by record inflation and soaring fuel prices. For the beleaguered supply chain professional, the word “unprecedented” doesn’t begin to describe the pain.
No supply chain is an island, however; by definition, the term describes a complex assemblage of partners striving toward the common goal of transforming raw materials into finished goods and getting them to the customer in the most efficient manner possible. The story of precisely how that happens varies from company to company, depending on industry, country, region, logistical requirements and the nature of the product itself. But with the coming of the pandemic, certain similarities — call them instances of shared pain — have become evident. And that’s what we’re exploring in this latest edition of our annual roster of 100 Great Supply Chain Partners.
The list is made up of supply chain service and technology providers that have been nominated by satisfied customers — on-the-ground proof of their effectiveness. We’ve said many times that it takes solid partnerships to weather crises — or, for that matter, the day-to-day business of supply chain management. In this issue, we present instances of true collaboration in the face of enormous challenges.
A couple of common themes emerge. One is how companies today are managing dramatic growth in a time of constrained resources. Another is the need to cut costs while simultaneously boosting customer service — two goals in theoretical opposition. Yet each case study also has its own unique angle. You’ll learn how:
Coyote Logistics, with the help of Vector, managed parcel delivery drivers under a redefined notion of “peak season.”
E.D. Etnyre, with Tada Cognitive Solutions, overcame the limitations of legacy systems to deal with a massive influx of data.
Farmer’s Business Network, with SnapFulfil, scrapped the manual processes that were hampering efficient warehouse management.
Fruit of the Loom, with OneStream, brought its financial management system up to date.
HJI Supply Chain Solutions, with Alpine Supply Chain Solutions, overcame roadblocks to implementing a new warehouse management system.
Horizon Hobby, with Jones Lang Lasalle, dealt with an expected doubling of business while enhancing both supply chain efficiency and the customer experience.
Inova, with Logility, shook off the “curse of the spreadsheet” by undertaking digitization of its planning capabilities.
Levi Strauss, with TGW, running out of room in its European distribution centers, consolidated operations and embraced the omnichannel model.
Palo Alto Networks, with Anaplan, acquired technology that simultaneously addressed supply issues and its sales and operations planning (S&OP) process.
Parts Town, with Bastian Solutions, managed to keep high amounts of inventory on hand while controlling costs.
Philipp Plein, with 7Bridges, turned to artificial intelligence to manage logistics for its high-end luxury brand.
Plant Shop Seattle, with Circuit, pivoted to direct delivery when the pandemic locked down customers and kept them out of the store.
All creative solutions — and all accomplished through strong partnerships. Which, as you’ll see from what follows, is the hallmark of any successful supply chain, in good times and bad.
This year's 100 Great Supply Chain Partners:
Methodology: The list is made up of solutions providers who have received multiple nominations from their customers and/or whose customers agreed to be interviewed by SupplyChainBrain for a published, in-depth study.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.