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Operations Continuum


The Operations Continuum 2017 was organized on 29th July 2017 with a theme that reflects the current trends and challenges faced by operations & supply chain managers. The central theme for this year’s continuum is:


“Building an agile & resilient supply chain in volatile business environment”


Following luminaries participated for delivering lectures at Operations Continuum 2017 on July 29th, 2017 at SJMSOM, IIT Bombay:


Ø  Mr. Aashish Kshetry, Vice President - Supply Chain, Asian Paints

Ø  Mr. Rakesh Shah, Director – Supply Chain Management, Merck India Ltd

Ø  Mr. Venugopal B, Head- Operations (Home Town), Future Group

Ø  Mr. Manoj Kothari, Head – International Sourcing

Ø  Mr. Vinay Deshmukh, Vice President – Oracle India Pvt Ltd

Ø  Mr. Chandan Verma, GM – Global Procurement & Sourcing, Biocon Ltd

Ø  Mr. Pramod Sant, Vice President and Head of Import Export and Export Control and Customs at Siemens Ltd

Ø  Mr. S.K. Krishnan, Vice President at Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (Automotive Division)

Ø  Mr. Vikas Chandra, Director – Distribution & Logistics at Abbott


Listed below are the some of the suggestive and non-restrictive sub-themes for discussion:

1. Managing supplier relationships in VUCA world

Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) has been a well proven approach used for engaging with suppliers such that the needs & priorities of the customer organisation are met in the best possible way. One of the critical aspect of SRM is that it identifies the different strengths and limitations of each supplier and then allows for collaboration such that both are mutually benefited.

SRM is believed to be used for primarily reducing both prices paid and costs to the organisation. However, different suppliers would need to be dealt with using different strategies. Suppliers have expectations as to how the customer will act and are often positioned to respond in kind. Key to developing a highly functional SRM approach is a well understood supply base especially when the volatility is so high. It needs to be acknowledged that suppliers themselves might be as vulnerable to disruption in VUCA world as the customer organization. It is hence imperative to develop robustness in upstream supplier networks to minimise disruptions in downstream.

In order to exploit the complete potential of supply chains, the supplier relationships are as critical as inhouse process improvements. Aligning the mutual interests while minimizing the conflicts between suppliers and organization would unlock new synergies for all those involved. It is also critical to rapidly identify and understand what the supply market and individual suppliers are capable of delivering to the organisation. Good SRM ensures that there is collaboration and not competition at any level.

 2.   Splintered Supply Chains vs Integrated Supply Chains


Many global supply chains are engineered to manage stable, high-volume production by capitalizing on different arbitrage opportunities in low-cost countries. But in a future when the relative attractiveness of manufacturing locations changes quickly, such approaches can be risky. As a result of this, organizations are preparing themselves to better counter these challenges by splintering their traditional supply chains into smaller & more agile ones which are better equipped to manage higher levels of complexity. By following this approach of compartmentalization, the organizations are dividing the associated risks in their supply chains. However, it needs to be ensured that we do not go over- board to the point when the limitations of dis-integrated supply chains outweigh the benefits of splintered

supply chains.


3.   Competing in Volatile Markets using Real Time Analytics in Supply Chains


Real time analytics in supply chains enables us to track and trace events across a complex supply chain in real-time, providing us with end-to-end visibility and the agility to manage both peak requirements and unexpected disruptions. When retailers can analyse streaming data, they are able to make better predictions, decisions and adjustments in real-time, before the customer experience is negatively affected.

Applications for analysis of unstructured data has already been found in inventory management, forecasting, and transportation logistics. In warehouses, digital cameras are routinely used to monitor stock levels and the messy, unstructured data provides alerts when restocking is needed. Forecasting takes this a step further – the same camera data can be fed through machine learning algorithms to teach an intelligent stock management system to predict when resupply of stocks will be needed.


4.   Leveraging India's unorganized sector to counter last mile uncertainties


Schemes like the government's flagship rural job guarantee scheme (MGNREGA) have increased work participation rates and, to some extent, also narrowed the gap between male and female workers. Clearly, the much-hyped scheme has been unable to provide work for the promised number of days. Even if MGNREGA provides work for the maximum of 100 days, it wouldn't be enough as it focuses on unskilled manual work and is not training workers in any skill. In the 11th and 12th Plans, the Planning Commission is targeting the creation of about 116 million jobs, which would absorb the 85 million rise in the labour force and cover some of the existing gap between jobs and job-seekers. This prognosis, however, has two big ifs. It can happen only if the projected number of new jobs materialise. Equally, the benefits of these new jobs can accrue only if people with the relevant skills are available.

5.   Reducing Supply Chain costs with Consolidated Procurement Strategies


Consolidated procurement strategy aims to reduce the number of suppliers and also to have centralized procurement function within the organization – this is often made possible by single MRP system where requirement and fulfilment can be managed through a single system. This is evident from the recent case of Mother Diary Fruit and Vegetable Private Limited, which started leveraging on Sourcing and Procurement platform built by TCS to deliver sustainable savings on procurement and on sourcing. It has helped Mother Diary to consolidate and standardize sourcing across its 18 plants in India for categories such as transportation, packaging and travel. Besides this, the company was also able to reduce cycle-time, thereby improving the efficiency of the process and bring transparency in the supplier selection process.


6.   Strategies & Logistics for Integrating Forward & Reverse Supply Chains


Initially, the growing attention on Reverse Logistics and Closed-Loop Supply Chain issues originated with public awareness which is now a revenue opportunity for manufacturers instead of a cost minimization approach. If we consider forward and reverse supply chains simultaneously, the result network will construct a closed-loop supply chain.

Whether a company is establishing a reverse supply chain by choice or necessity, it will face many challenges. It will have to educate customers, establish new points of contact with them, decide which activities to outsource and which to do itself, and in general figure out how to keep costs to a minimum while discovering innovative ways to recover value. It will also have to meet stringent environmental standards.

 7.   Supply Chain Redesign: Turning Risk into Opportunity


In today's global economy, risk is unavoidable. But it also provides opportunity, as a company's ability to adapt in difficult circumstances is a true source of competitive advantage and precisely defines a winning approach to risk responsiveness. Managing supply chain risk means recognizing that things won't always go according to plan, and having the right infrastructure in place to succeed even through the unexpected. Highly resilient supply chains should have these qualities:


1.  Multi-tier visibility: An early warning allows us to mitigate supply disruptions before operations and performance are negatively impacted. Enabling real-time visibility and alerts across multiple tiers requires the right technologies, expertise, and commitment from senior management.


2.  Real-time collaboration: Real time collaboration in the event of large-scale shutdowns or inventory losses enables companies to switch among alternate suppliers, and match short-term demands with order information. Knowing the options and acting immediately makes all the difference in market share as the industry recovers.


3.  A flexible response plan: Supply chain disruptions cannot always be predicted, so evaluating potential outcomes well before they actually occur can make or break a response plan.


8.  Impact of demand and distribution management on supply chain success

Demand management has always focused on creating a methodology used to forecast, plan for and manage the demand for products and services. Effective demand management follows the concept of a "closed loop" where feedback from the results of the demand plans is fed back into the planning process to improve the predictability of outcomes. It is both a stand-alone process and one that is integrated into Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) or Integrated Business Planning (IBP).

Distribution management primarily oversees the movement of goods from supplier or manufacturer to point of sale. It is an overarching term that refers to numerous activities and processes such as packaging, inventory, warehousing, supply chain and logistics.

Effectively managing the entire distribution process is critical to financial success and corporate longevity. The larger a corporation or the greater the number of supply points a company has, the more it will need to rely on automation to effectively manage the distribution process.


9.  Role of Integrated Business Planning: Linking S&OP with CPFR

Uncertainty and poor information reduce decision-making effectiveness, increase costs, and lower customer service. Yet, much of the information we need to make decisions is known by someone else in our firm or supply chain. When Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) and Collaborative Planning, Forecasting & Replenishment (CPFR) - are integrated, they provide the information we need for decision making.

Companies succeed when they identify customer needs, develop customer-centric value and build world-class processes to deliver as promised. Success emerges when companies position the right product at the right place in right time, and at the lowest cost possible. Managing materials flow effectively is absolutely vital. Specifically, demand management supported accurate forecasting, excellent management, agile production, and responsive supply management enhance a company's ability to efficiently high levels of customer value. Implication is clear: Now, more than ever, various functions within a firm as well as the companies within a chain must work in unison to create the value that customers demand.

 10.  Lean and Green synergies in supply chain management

With the rise of lean manufacturing and the increasing concerns for the environment, the market dynamic has changed. Historically, productivity has been the dominant concern for manufacturing organizations. However, with the growth of quality management tools and increase in customers’ demands for better prices, besides environmental regulations, companies have been forced to rethink how they manage their operations and processes. Since the 1950s lean manufacturing has been gaining fame in a wide range of industries all around the world, disseminating the concept of waste reduction.

As lean manufacturing aims at the elimination of waste in every area of production, design, supplier network and factory management, the combination of lean and green seems natural. Lean is a management approach that has helped companies to improve competitiveness and operational results. Green, on the other hand, is an initiative that has emerged from the concern for the environment and the rise of new regulations, norms, and standards on pollution prevention and control.

11.  Blockchains: Ushering new era of transparency in Supply Chains

The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value. With blockchain technology, the core system that underpins bitcoin, computers of separately owned entities follow a cryptographic protocol to constantly validate updates to a commonly shared ledger.

In a nutshell, this is a global system for mediating trust and selective transparency. Its advocates say it will take the internet’s empowering potential to the next level. Although much attention and money has been spent on financial applications of the technology, an equally promising test case lies with global supply chain relationships, whose complexity and diversity of interests pose exactly the kinds of challenges this technology seeks to address. The technology can reveal hitherto hidden information and allows users to attach digital tokens — a unique, negotiable form of digital asset, modelled on bitcoin — to intermediate goods as they progress along the production, shipping and delivery phases of a supply chain and as title to them passes between different players. This could give businesses far greater flexibility to find markets & price risk, by capturing the value that they have invested in the process at any point along the chain. What we end up with are dynamic demand chains in place of rigid supply chains, resulting in more efficient usage of resources for everyone.


12.  Gearing up for Digital Business and IoT in Supply Chain Planning


The Internet of Things market is set to have a considerable impact on the electronic aspect of supply chain, affecting everything from purchasing to design to the shop floor. It will play out in different ways for each party, but industry watchers agree that the potential for 50 billion connected devices by 2020 (according to technology company Cisco and others) means increased business opportunities across the board. The internet of things (IoT) is now an essential driver for digital supply chains. As a live, visible network of smart objects and sensors, it changes dramatically how work is done.

Firstly, the IoT transforms the consumer end of the chain – how people buy – through omnichannel sales and superfast shipment. Companies such as Amazon and Alibaba are able to deliver in one hour of order, and rely on the technology to move every item with accuracy and on time. But the IoT is no longer exclusive to such giants. True connectivity and efficient processes enable the basis of product components, such as shoe walls, covers and laces, to be produced in different places, then made available to stores to assemble with their own 3D-printed insoles.

 13.  Leveraging global synergies in Supply Chains to manage risk

Consider a world where there are no standards in shoe sizes from country to country, but where imports and exports of trendy footwear add tremendous costs to the supply chain in terms of labelling this footwear for shipment and sale abroad. While shoe sizes may not be the most problematic example of an absence of global standards, there is a need for a set of standards across the board. And what’s changing is that more and more players are working together to build these synergies, which is a good sign.