There is an ugly, high-speed collision right now between the lean production, just-in-time inventory strategies companies have been working hard to perfect over the last twenty years and the overpowering imperatives of globalization.
On the one hand, maximizing efficiency requires minimizing inventory costs - by shortening supply lines, reducing order quantities, depending upon pull-based replenishment, and developing close customer-supplier relationships capable of responding quickly to demand changes. On the other hand, the overwhelming labor and material cost advantages of overseas sourcing come at the price of slow bulk shipments, push-based orders, and an inflexible, committed in-transit inventory pipeline. How can companies reconcile these critical, but apparently mutually exclusive, initiatives?
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