sc digest
December 13, 2019 - Supply Chain Flagship Newsletter

This Week in SCDigest

bullet No Supply Chain Blah, Blah, Blah 2019
bullet SC Digest On-Target e-Magazine
bullet Supply Chain Graphic & by the Numbers for the Week bullet Distribution Digest/Green Supply Chain
bullet New Cartoon Caption Contest Winner bullet Trivia      bullet Feedback
bullet New Expert Column bullet On Demand Videocasts

first thought


Supply Chain Graphic of the Week
The Six Key Factors in AI Success in Supply Chain

FedEx Drives a Long Way for Hub Workers
IMO Sulfur Mandate have Impact already on Container Carriers
eCommerce Losing Some Luster in CPG


Successful Long-Distance Autonomous Truck Test


October 31, 2019 Contest

See Who Took Home the Prize!



Feature Story: Interesting Developments in "Microfulfillment" Technologies


pic GSC Feature Story:Lego Continues to Pursue Eco Friendly Materials for Its Iconic Toy Bricks

The State of Retailer-Vendor Supply Chain Relationships 2020

Are Things Getting Better and More Collaborative - or Heading in the Other Direction? Third Biannual Study - Please Participate

Weekly On-Target Newsletter:
December 12, 2019 Edition

Last Chance Cartoon! Drone Questions, Procurement Skills, Microfulfillment, More

"Will the Real Digital Twin Please Stand Up?"
by Gary M. Barraco
Global Product Marketing

INCOTERMS® 2020: Is Your Organization Ready?

by Arne Mielken
Senior Global Trade & Customs Manager

Understanding the Options for Cloud WMS Deployment

by Dinesh Dongre
VP Product Strategy

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for the Next Recession?

by Henry Canitz
Product Marketing & Business Development Director



How many miles are there in the US highway system?

Answer Found at the
Bottom of the Page

No Supply Chain Blah, Blah, Blah 2019

It's time again.

In 2005 I wrote our initial (and somewhat infamous) First Thoughts piece on "Let's Stop the Blah, Blah, Blah." The basic theme: too many presentations at various conferences and other events don't say enough of real value. The jab was aimed primarily at speakers from the consulting, academic, solution vendor, author, and sometimes even the analyst community. This group, as we've noted before, too often tends to be focused on sound bites and restating the obvious, rather than delivering real insight.

As always, I include myself in the category of those speakers who risk blah, blah, blah-ness at times, and recognize how hard it is, especially if you speak frequently on different topics, to avoid going there now and then. I fully admit to falling into blah, blah, blah territory on a few occasions.


The bottom line: if you think you are safe from theft from use of cameras and security protocols, you are are almost certainly wrong.


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My sense again this year is that overall the quality of presentations is trending down: lots of good ones, but fewer great ones, for reasons not clear. We also lack a strong cadre of recognized supply chain thought leaders, as is common in other disciplines. Also, many of the conferences seem to be favoring panels versus presentations, which is a major factor, as it's just not the same as one or two supply chain professionals presenting or a case study.

I would be curious if you agree with me on supply chain conference presentation quality trending down.


All that said, I offer again our Audience Bill of Rights, which provides some reasonable guidelines for what you should expect and demand from presenters. We have even heard of conferences where organizers are now using some version of this document in communicating with speakers.

My conference schedule was light this year. In rough chronological order, I attended the National Retail Federation's Big Show, MODEX, the WERC conference, the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Forum, the annual CSCMP conference, and the Parcel Forum.

So now as always, in random order, is my list of the best presentations I saw in 2019, capped by SCDigest's best presentation of the year award. As far as I know, all those cited are still at the companies they were with at the time of their presentations, but of course that could have changed.


Annette Danek, SVP of Fulfillment, and Robin Sutton, VP of human resources, both from book publisher Penguin Random House (PRH), at the WERC conference. The presentation was on PRH's very progressive approach to DC worker benefits and policies - stemming from the philosophy adopted by PRH a couple of decades ago for all white and blue collar employees.


That includes offering 4 weeks of vacation after just 2+ years of employment. This in two DCs that employ 700 and 830 DC associates, respectively. There is a lot more. Danek and Sutton acknowledged that there a cost to all this but said those costs are much smaller than the benefits received back in terms of productivity, greatly reduced turnover, higher quality and more.


Thought provoking for sure.


Barry Bransman of Danbee Investigations was also at WERC, with another good presentation on theft and fraud in logistics. I've seen him before, and he always does a nice job. I was somewhat surprised to learn big city cops just don't have time to chase many of these thefts.


In one case, Danbee gathered solid evidence related to theft of $2 million in goods at one client, but New York City prosecutors said they would try get to it when they can, noting no one was hurt, and it wasn't all that much money for a large corporation.


The bottom line: if you think you are safe from theft from use of cameras and security protocols, you are almost certainly wrong.


Gartner analyst KC Quah, certainly had the best presentation title at the company's executive conference in May, with "The End of S&OP as We Know It."


The session itself didn't completely live up to the provocative title, but was interesting, with Quah citing several trends he said were bringing dramatic change to the now decades old basic S&OP process model.


Those include digital revenue opportunties, circular economy practices, and - in my view most accurately - the growth autonomous decision-making by supply chain planning software. Quah believes technology will take over many/most aspects of traditional S&OP processes.


I don't usually do this, but I am going to cite a panel discussion as one of the best, focused on the somewhat obscure subject of the impact of new rules on sulfur emissions from cargo ships coming from the International Maritime Organization, on the last day of the CSCMP conference in Anaheim.


There weren't many of us there, but the panel of shippers and logistics industry execs led by moderator Paul Bingham of IHS Markit predicted many billions in annual costs from higher priced fuel and on-board scrubbers - with it unclear whether carriers or shippers will pay the piper. Diesel fuel prices for trucking are also likely to rise sharply as a result of new demand from ships. Many container carriers could also go bust given the big new costs, and we may see "super slow steaming" to reduce operating costs even more.


I can't find in my notes who the panelists were, but whoever they were, they did a nice job.


Derek Leathers, CEO of truckload carrier Werner Enterprises, as usual did a great job on another CSCMP panel of trucking industry CEOs. Leathers operates in sort of "straight talk express" mode, and whether you agree with him or not he doesn't pull punches.


He started by noting that for a similar panel discussion at the 2018 conference, the room was twice as big and had 2.5 times the attendees. His point: shippers tend to only care about industry issues when rates are high and capacity is tight. There is a lot less interest in such issues now, when spot rates have fallen more than 20%. But the issues around driver shortage and rising costs haven't gone away, Leathers said, just abated for a bit.


There was a lot more good stuff from Leathers, and he deserves to be called out.


My winner for 2019 presentation of the year is Ravi Shanker of Morgan Stanley, who follows FedEx and UPS for the firm, on the topic of the impact of Amazon's growing logistics might.


You have to love the phrase Shanker coined for what is going in on-line retail and parcel shipping: the "negative flywheel of ecommerce." The basic idea: free shipping and ever faster delivery times are - at one level - unsustainable, yet Amazon keeps raising the bar, while everyone else is just hanging on hoping the can outlast the other guys.


Shankar also had a very interesting wealth of facts and figures - I enjoyed his lunch time presentation very much.

Just FYI, previous SCDigest Best Presentation of the Year award winners were:


2018: Keller Renoardo, CEO of Zipline, a company that is developing drone delivery systems for medical supplies and beyond. Really interesting.


2017: John Phillips, a supply chain executive at Pepsico, on the "eight supply chain disrupters," at the Gartner conference.


2016: Piyush Bharkava, a procurement executive at Dell, who presented at CSCMP on the company's remarkable development of an innovation culture to support its sustainability efforts.

2015: Sean Willems, chief scientist at Logility andĀ also of the University of Tennessee, on the "efficient frontier," basically a fresh look at supply chain tradeoff curves.

2014: Bill Nienburg, VP of Global Merchandise & Sales Planning at Under Armour, for an in your face description of how the apparel giant was going to use supply chain to win in the market - and he really meant it.

2013: Richard Murphy, CEO of Murphy's Warehouse Co., at the WERC conference, on the business case for Green investment in distribution. Great, practical detail.

2012: Raj Subramonian of Dell, with an outstanding, heartfelt presentation at CSCMP on use of "vested outsourcing" to transform a stale 3PL relationship.

2011: Rudi van Schoor, of SABMiller's South African operations at the SAPICS conference there, on stopping a major supply chain planning project in mid-stream and totally and successfully re-orienting the approach.

2010: Chris Gaffney of Coca-Cola, at Georgia Tech on how to bring balance into increasingly challenging supply chain careers, and how with the right formula less can really be more for both managers and the company.

2009: Jim Kellso of Intel at CSCMP, on rethinking Intel's supply chain to work for a new chip whose much lower price point required a dramatically lower cost supply chain.

2008: Matt Salmonson of Old Navy/The Gap stores group, who spoke at an i2 user conference on how to implement software the right way, and make change management happen.

2007: Michael Schofer of Coats North America at i2, describing his company's supply chain transformation as its traditional apparel sector customers were all leaving the US, enabling it to survive.

2006: Paul Mathews of The Limited Brands for his speech on aligning supply chain and the corporate boardroom at the North American Material Handling Show. This was motivational.

2005: Glenn Wegryn of Procter & Gamble, who presented at CSCMP 2005 on how P&G has developed a methodology and set of tools to drive supply chain strategy and planning into overall business strategy and planning - wonderful.

So, that's our list. Congratulations to the winners. There was a lot I missed of course. I welcome your nominees for any outstanding presentations you had a chance to see in 2019. Many ask if I have copies or links to these presentations, and alas I usually do not, but feel free to inquire, as I sometimes do.

Did you see any outstanding presentations, especially any that were highly visionary or motivational? In general, are you happy with the quality of presentations you see at conferences? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button (email) or Feedback section below.


On Demand Videocast:

Understanding Distributed Order Management

Highlights from the New "Little Book of Distributed Order Management"

In this outstanding Videocast, we'll discuss DOM, based on the new Little Book of Distributed Order Management, written by our two Videocast presenters.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Satish Kumar, VP Client Services, Softeon.

Now Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

The Grain Drain: Large-Scale Grain Port Terminal Optimization

The Constraints and Challenges of Planning and Implementing Port Operations

This videocast will provide a walkthrough of two ways to formulate a MIP, present an example port, and discuss port operations.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Dr. Evan Shellshear, Head of Analytics, Biarri.

Now Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

A Blueprint for WMS Implementation Success

If You Want a Successful WMS Project, You will Find the Blueprint in this Excellent Broadcast

This videocast lays out the keys to ensuring your WMS implementation goes smoothly, involves minimal pain, and accelerates time to value.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Todd Kovi of Radix Consulting and Dinesh Dongre of Softeon.

Now Available On Demand


Feedback will return next week.


Q:How many miles are there in the US highway system?

A: About 164,000.

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