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October 5, 2018 - Supply Chain Flagship Newsletter

This Week in SCDigest

bullet Trip Report - CSCMP Edge 2018 in Nashville bullet SC Digest On-Target e-Magazine
bullet Supply Chain Graphic & by the Numbers for the Week bullet Distribution Digest
bullet Cartoon Caption Contest Begins bullet Trivia      bullet Feedback
bullet Expert Column and Supply Chain by Design bullet On Demand Videocast



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Weekly On-Target Newsletter:
September 26, 2018 Edition

Cartoon, Top Undergrad Programs, Maersk Surcharge, Whose Leasing DC Space, Game Theory, More

Building the WMS Business Case 2018

Featuring Long Time WMS Industry Pros Kevin Hume of Tompkins International
and SCDigest's Dan Gilmore

Myopic and Hyperopic Supply Chain Planning

by Henry Canitz
Product Marketing & Business Development Director

Digital Data for Global Supply Chain Analytics

by Gary M. Barraco
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Amber Road

Why Business Leaders should think of AI as an Umbrella Term
by Dr. Michael Watson

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3


There have been two woman CSCMP Distinguished Service Award winners - can you name either?

Answer Found at the
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Trip Report - CSCMP Edge 2018 in Nashville

I am fresh back from Nashville and CSCMP's 2018 annual conference. It was a good week, and I spoke with lots of SCDigest readers- two who wanted selfies!

All told I give the event very good marks, with the best content in several years.

Thousands of you have watched my daily video recaps of the conference. You will find them here: CSCMP Day 1 Video Review, Day 2, and Day 3.


So now, "backward" Rwanda is leading the world in drone deliveries, with the US government asking how the country is doing it.


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Starting last year, the event is now called CSCMP Edge, after basically forever being just referred to as the CSCMP/CLM annual conference.

Once again, CSCMP said there were about 3000 attendees, the usual number for several years. I think it was actually a few hundred below that the last couple of years, but this year's event felt more crowded than last year for sure. The final days closing session it appeared to me was more crowded than usual.

The history of this is interesting: attendance peaked in the late 1990s, I believe surpassing 6000 at some point. But then the 9-11 attacks happened, taking the crowd sharply back down, as it did to many other events.

Attendance has been stuck somewhere in that just under 3000 range for some time. Can it ever be taken back to higher levels again? That is a key organizational question for CSCMP. I believe so, but it will take hard and smart work. As comparisons, the APICS conference has been drawing about 1800 attendees recently, the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference has been getting about 1900 of late, and the Institute for Supply Management conference gets a perhaps surprising 2500 or so.

From a big picture perspective, there were 21 breakout session tracks this year, ranging from integrated supply chain management to one on government and regulations. That was up from 16 last year, and 26 in 2013. The 21 number actually overstates the number of tracks a bit, as just for example there are two tracks for conference sponsor presentations.

All told the winnowing of tracks in my opinion is a good move. There were about 100 total educational sessions over the first two days by my count, a substantial number for sure.

Most prominent subjects/themes this year: transportation woes by far, followed by analytics, omnichannel and block chain. There were also more sessions than related to supplier management. Getting less play than usual: S&OP, forecasting, supply chain planning generally, supply chain design, and distribution, even though there was a track on the latter. I saw nothing on RFID, and little on Sustainability, for what that's worth. All of the above is observational, not a commentary. The breakout topics actually seemed pretty well balanced.


As an aside, CSCMP CEO Rick Blasgen said there were 137 breakout presentation ideas submitted by members for the 2018 conference, 30 of which made the cut. All the rest of the breakout slots - more than two-thirds - are basically developed by the individual track chairs. I must say I would be interested to see the member submissions that didn't make the cut.

There were again just three 75 minutes breakout session slots (usually with about 18-20 presentations in each slot) in each of the first two days, as has been the case for the past five years. That's down from four shorter 45 minute daily breakouts in 2013. As I have said for the past few years, I think 75 minute sessions are too long, and I would like to again see four session slots per day. One way this could be accomplished without adding bloat is to not have every session slot include every track, and/or to repeat the expected most popular presentations.

On the final day, Wednesday, the crowd pulls back to maybe one-third of the first two days. As usual in recent years, there once again were three 90-minute "mega-sessions" to choose from to start the morning, though at just 15 minutes longer than regular breakouts the "mega-session" term no longer really applies. The last day morning concludes with about 90 minutes or so of closing festivities, including as always a motivational-type speaker.

Once again this year, on Sunday before my arrival there was a group exercise of some 200 attendees packing meals for the poor across the globe. Again some 45,000 meals were produced, an operation funded for the fourth year by Bayer/Monsanto and CH Robinson.

I also missed a the second "supply chain unchained" feature at the Sunday evening welcome reception, in which a wide number of supply chain professionals sang or played instruments of all types in sort of karaoke fashion. Last year, CSCMP said the feature would move to Monday night so more people can participate and see it, but that didn't happen. Hope it does in 2019.

In his opening comments Monday, Blasgen as he often does touted the importance of the supply chain profession, noting that supply chain "elevates the standard of living around the globe" - so feel good about what you do. He also noted that "good ideas become commercialized through supply chain."

With the space I have left, this week I am just going to summarize the day 1 and 2 keynotes, and cover the generally good breakout sessions I attended next week.

The day 1 keynote was not a keynote at all but rather a panel discussion across a variety of topics from a trio of supply chain executives. I, in fact, proposed such an approach to CSCMP a few years back, naturally with me doing the moderation. I never heard back.


The discussion here was led by Kevin Smith, former head of supply chain for CVS and now of Sustainable Supply Chain Consulting. Panelists were Amazon transportation exec David Bozeman, Joanne Wright, head of supply chain for IBM, and Mike Brewer, VP of sourcing and manufacturing for Nike.


I applaud the approach, commonplace at the Gartner supply chain event, but the execution was so-so, a bit long on platitudes and short on insight. But there were moments.


Bozeman noted there is an important difference between having a customer focus and a customer obsession, where all decisions are made by what is best for the customer, as Amazon uses.


Nike's Brewer discussed Nike's focus on sustainability, and acknowledged sometimes that may result in decisions that add cost or decrease margins in the short term. But, he said, Nike is confident those decisions will be rewarded by consumers the long run. There was more - see the day 1 video.


That modest Monday disappointment was more than made up for by the Tuesday keynote, which for me was the highlight of conference. It was given by Keller Renoardo, CEO of Zipline, a company that is developing drone delivery systems for medical supplies and beyond.

The largest drone delivery system in the world is now fully operational in Rwanda, with hundreds of flights daily to deliver needed blood and plasma on-demand to more than 20 hospitals. The system is reducing costs, but more importantly saving lives.

The system using an airplane style drone not a quadcopter, and as a result has a far greater range, more than 300 KM already and sure to grow. As a result, the planes need a launching system, but after getting airborne and reaching their destination, the deliveries are dropped using a paper parachute with incredible precision, so much that the process has simply become routine.

On landing, the drone system uses a hook and line system similar to how it works on aircraft carriers.

So now, "backward" Rwanda is leading the world in drone deliveries, with the US government asking how the country is doing it.

This presentation has changed my whole perspective on drones and what is possible now. Make no mistake that for profit company Zipline has its sights set on the US market, not only for medical deliveries but likely beyond.

If I was FedEx or UPS, I would be paying attention.

So, all told a good two and a half days in Nashville, with better keynotes and breakout sessions than the past couple of years. The Diet Coke - Diet Pepsi actually - was for the first time in years readily available all week long (bit of an inside joke).


That said, I always have some suggestions, which will have to wait, as I am out of room.

I will happily be back for CSCMP 2019 next in Anaheim. Good job again this year by Blasgen and the CSCMP marketing team.


Breakout session summaries next week.

Did you go to CSCMP 2018? If not, why not? If yes, what are your thoughts on the conference? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.



On Demand Videocast:

Digital Transformation's Value to the Supply Chain

The Future of Order Management

This videocast breaks down what digital transformation is and how automated order management solutions equate to supply chain benefits.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Esker's Dan Reeve.

Now Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

Digitizing the Order Management Process

Orders Still come in Many Different Forms and Systems - Here's How to Get them Under Digital Control

This videocast discusses breaks down all the ways in which orders can arrive, the downstream challenges associated with each, and the benefits of digitization.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Esker's Sarah Joiner.

Now Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

Reducing Costs through Automated Inventory Replenishment & Analytics

How Motor City Industrial Taps into Data Visualization to Help Customers Identify Waste, Reduce Inventory

This videocast discusses how to connect people, processes and technology across commerce and supply chain operations to achieve unified commerce.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Joseph Stephens, CEO, Motor City Industrial, Jay Fielder, Supply Chain Technology Manager, Motor City Industrial and Mike Wills, Chief Revenue Officer, Apex Supply Chain Technologies.

Now Available On Demand


We received several emails on a recent s First Thoughts column on "RFID in the Supply Chain: A Look Back and Ahead." A selection is below.

Feedback on RFID in the Supply Chain: A Look Back and Ahead


Great recap of the Walmart RFID initiative timeline. Brings back memories.

Working in Technology Solutions for a 3PL serving one of the "Top 100", I was deeply involved in analyzing, designing, proposing and implementing the RFID solution to tag and verify pallets and cases.

From a technology standpoint, it was an exciting time. However, challenges were many...the RFID tags initially available were of poor quality, different products required different types of tags, some RFID "consulting" companies didn't have the expertise to add real value, name a few. The situation improved after the 1st year of production when tag quality improved, process became standardized and product packaging grew more RFID-friendly.

I don't think many people were surprised that the initiative eventually fizzled. Walmart was pressuring vendors for lower prices, more frequent and smaller deliveries and RFID tagging. Something had to give. However, I won't be surprised to see it eventually used in retail that can support and pay for a more complete RFID process through the stores. There are benefits to be had.

John Dillon




Great summary Dan! Thanks, and I will look forward to "What's Ahead".


My opinion of RFID has always been that it is interesting technology that likely has a place in managing some part of the supply chain, but it doesn’t really replace serialized barcoded labels and solid data integration via EDI like platforms (including blockchain) for the wide majority of uses. Give me a good ASN with that contains the required product data (even down to lot/serial numbers when required), and I don’t need electronic tags. I can track anything I need by referencing the SSCC.

A decent inventory management system and solid processes and procedures trumps tagging for inventory control. However there is clear advantage in the IoT world if you need to track things like temperature history etc. during transit and while in storage (another story)

Steven R. Murray
Lead Process Auditor and Senior Research Associate
Warehousing Education and Research Council






Thank you for an outstanding column and perspective.

Your timeline of the Walmart RFID initiative should go into some kind of supply chain history machine - don't lose it.

This was frankly a highly mismanaged program on many levels. How it went so wrong has never really been explained, though the lack of value for vendors as you note was in the end the key issue.

Bud Sigmund
Benton Harbor, MI



Q: There have been two woman CSCMP Distinguished Service Award winners - can you name either?

A: Ann Drake of DCS Logistics (2012) and Dr. Nancy Nix, from academia and more (2017).

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