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Report from the Supply Chain Management Conference

The 2001 Supply Chain Management Conference, presented by The Conference Board and sponsored by A.T. Kearney, was held June 25-26 in Chicago, Illinois. Long considered one of the industry’s most important events for senior procurement and supply chain executives, the conference had for its theme this year “Extending the Enterprise-A Practical Approach to Supply Chain Management.”

Major session topics centred around the concepts of collaborative supply chain management, leveraging the e-Information conduit, managing global supply chains and streamlining material flow.

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About 30 executives attended representing companies such as Quaker Oats, Starbucks, Georgia-Pacific and EDS.

eBreviate’s Strategic Alliances Director, Michael Pollard and Account Executive, Eric Lynch provide us with their observations of the event’s highlights.

Michael reports that Jim Morehouse, a Vice President in A.T. Kearney’s Strategic Sourcing practise, gave the opening keynote address in which he made a number of key points.

To resolve key business issues in the future, an “intelligent agent” (IA) will be a required tool. IA’s will go well beyond our current search engines and will not only describe items but will recommend changes to processes and tools to address specific business requirements.

Global competition and advancements in information technology are key factors in business organizations’ ability to continue to drive ROI upward. This will inevitably result in “dysfunctional processes” (like the current supply chain process) receiving greater corporate support resources.

In the future, the supply chain process will require its participants to share data or be given data visibility. Furthermore, the sharing and reuse of information will impact the consumer product development process.

Suppliers are presently below capacity on a global basis and this will result in ongoing price reductions. The outlook, on the whole, is for fewer suppliers to thrive but expect those to be bigger and stronger.

All supply chain data must be digitized. This will not only accelerate information flow and solutions development throughout the supply chain but will also impact the decision making of all participants resulting, for instance, in materials warehousing and flow being optimized.

Morehouse was followed by a presentation by Dr. E. Hermann Krog, Executive Director, Group Logistics at Volkswagen AG. Dr. Krog spoke about VW’s successful efforts in attracting and rationalizing its supplier base through the introduction of new processes, emphasizing that it has horizontally and vertically integrated the supply chain. This integrated process provides VW with tremendous insight into its delivery tracking capability, cost management process, and demand capacity. Krog reported that VW has also standardized its workflow with the supplier community by VW personnel teaming with suppliers.

Eric reports that the featured Day Two speakers on Managing Global Supply Chains were Carl Curry, Vice President, Global Purchasing and Logistics at Quaker Oats; and David Norton, Vice President, Logistics at Starbucks. Quaker, one of the earliest adopters of eSourcing, is leveraging the successful processes of their logistics operations by integrating purchasing (and by extension, eSourcing) into the logistics function.

Curry reported that Quaker has dramatically reduced its logistics supply base and is now making the same move toward single or strategic supplier selection in its purchasing activities. Norton’s presentation was focused, not surprisingly, on retail supply chain issues.

His mantra was simple: develop relationships with the consumer. His goals are to enable the Starbucks supply chain to reach thirsty customers almost wherever they are: at the grocery checkout line, at gas stations, bookstores and the like. He closed the session by stating that the global supply chain is indeed shrinking the world but making purchasing and logistics more complex, not less.

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Report from the Supply Chain Management Conference. (2021, Feb 02). Retrieved July 9, 2021, from