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Sept. 25, 2020 - Supply Chain Digest Flagship Newsletter

This Week in SCDigest

bullet Couch Report: CSCMP Edge 2020 and the Future of Conferences bullet SCDigest On-Target e-Magazine
bullet Supply Chain Graphic & by the Numbers for the Week bullet New Stock Index

New Cartoon Caption Contest

bullet Trivia      bullet Feedback
bullet New Expert Column bullet On Demand Videocasts



A new report from ARC Advisory analyst Clint Reiser lays out the
landscape across WMS, WES and Warehouse Control System (WCS)
software, detailing the WES value proposition, and describing
important changes in the WES market.


first thought


Supply Chain Graphic
of the Week
Are Healthcare Costs Killing US Manufacturing?

This Week's Supply Chain

by the Numbers

Soaring Trade Credit Insurance Rates an Issue
Big Robots Stalking Shelves in Tokyo
US Truck Volumes and Rates Rising


Container Carriers Pressured to End Blank Sailings


July 30, 2020 Contest

Show Us Your Supply Chain Wit

It' Back! SCDigest's Weekly

Supply Chain Stock Index



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:
Sept. 23, 2020 Edition

Cartoon, Top SCDigest Stories of the Week

Revisiting SCDigest's Framework on RFID Process Change

Dan Gilmore

What to Do about Lack of Gender Diversity in Supply Chain Management

Abel Tamanji

Senior Student at University Of Wisconsin-Whitewater

What was Amazon's profit margin percentage in Q2 (net income/revenue)?
Answer Found at the
Bottom of the Page

Couch Report: CSCMP Edge 2020 and the Future of Conferences

I have been to the CSCMP annual conference every year from 2000 on. In fact, I started SCDigest in September 2003, and attended that year's conference, under the then Council of Logistics Management (CLM) organizational banner, just a few weeks after Sue Petersen and I hit the send button on the first issue of SCDigest.


Make no mistake, this is where conferences are headed.


Send us your
Feedback here

I did a summary of that conference and everyone thereafter. In subsequent years I began doing daily video conference summaries - very popular - and later lumped my overall reviews for this and many other conferences in this column as "Trip Reports."

My how things have changed with COVID-19. Many supply chain-related conferences since the outbreak have been cancelled (e.g., WERC, MHI annual conference), rescheduled (Gartner Supply Chain Conference, NRF), or went virtual, ala CSCMP Edge 2020, which kept its original dates with an on-line event this week. I'll note the canceled WERC conference may have been the final financial straw that pushed the organization to be acquired by MHI this past summer.

So since my "trip" each of the three days of the CSCMP conference consisted of moving from my kitchen to the office or to the more comfortable living room sofa, I am calling this a Couch Report instead.

The entire conference was held using virtual conference platform, and did its best to mimic the structure of a normal in-person CSCMP conference. Because this is likely to be at least in part the wave of the future, I think reviewing the virtual experience is worth some paragraphs.

Along those lines, I will note MHI's ProMat trade show scheduled for April 2021 will be a hybrid show - part physical, part on-line.

What other choice does MHI have? No one knows whether in-person conferences will be viable by next April or not - so MHI has to hedge its bets by having a virtual back-up if the answer is no, but as a result of that is now committed to some virtual show now even if the answer turns out to be yes.

So how does it/did it work for CSCMP? I will start by observing that if the counter was believable, and I think it was, there were just shy of 1900 individual attendees at least entering the show. That's more than I would have guessed, and frankly roughly 75% of recent normal CSCMP conference attendees. The number was somewhat juiced by several organizations apparently providing registrations to two dozen or more employees, but that to an extent is true even for physical shows. Except with a virtual show, registration fees are lower - and travel costs are zero, so you can afford to allow a lot more staff to attend.

When you entered the Conference with a log in, you were taken to the "lobby," as shown in the screen capture below:



See Full Size Image

There front left is CSCMP CEO and my friend Rick Blasgen, and to the right is this year's conference chair, Steve Raetz of CH Robinson, with what I assume were other CSCMP staff members virtually welcoming attendee as well.


As you can hopefully see, there were various place to go from this virtual entry point. So for example, to the left you could click to enter the "main stage," which took you to video links for any of the three main keynote presentations and brief opening and closing remarks each day from Blasgen, with a screenshot of that shown below:


See Full Size Image

Also on the left is the "entrance" to the educational/breakout sessions. These were basically video webinars, with some 28 tracks and more than 100 offerings over the three days, with the webinars not starting until designated times (say 10:30-11:30 CT on Monday), with often a large number of presentations across tracks running simultaneously, just like a real show. Except with virtual, you can go back and view a session you missed.

Video webinars (video windows for speakers with supporting slides) are so mainstream that most should be familiar with the experience, which was generally fine.

A couple of notes. These educational sessions and I believe pretty much all the content were pre-recorded and broadcast in effect on-demand. You lose a little with that approach, but superman and the Flash could not manage all this live. Just getting all these 100 plus sessions and other content pre-recorded and posted for broadcast must have been an organizational and execution nightmare, and hats off to CSCMP for getting this aspect of the event almost all just right.

I attended a few sessions where there was significant video buffering from one or more of the presenters. At first, I thought the irritating delays were on my end, only later to realize that in most cases - based for example on comments from the session moderator - the buffering actually happened for a presenter during the original recording. Not much you can do about that.

To the right you can see the entrance to the virtual trade show. What is a virtual tradeshow? It worked like this: upon entering the "hall," you saw icons/logos of various companies with virtual booths. Click on one, and you get something like this, from logistics consulting firm St. Onge:





Mostly the idea is a visitor can watch a video at the booth about the vendor, and easily download materials such as brochures and white papers. There were also opportunities in specific time slots to engage in chat sessions with virtual booth staff. I am not sure how much that was used.

Of course, networking is a key aspect of normal CSCMP conferences. A little tougher to create on-line. There was a nice feature that allowed you to find and message any show attendee. I also attended (briefly) a couple of "Connection Cafe" sessions on specific topics (e.g., one on Supply Chain Digitization), which were basically moderated chat sessions that in the end were like a Reddit stream and very hard to follow.

There was more, but here's my verdict. Congrats to the CSCMP staff for putting together about as good an event as can be managed today given the evolving state of the technology and more importantly the experience know-how about making these virtual events really work for the attendee.

Smartly, there were decent amounts of "break times," as it would be almost impossible to sit through a full day staring at the computer the way you can manage to do at a physical conference. Even with the breaks, I found myself drifting over to email during some of the less interesting sessions.

But make no mistake, this is where conferences are headed, as once you offer a virtual option in an age of COVID and beyond, to eliminate that offering even if you again have a physical event will prove almost impossible.

I'll be back next week with another Couch Report on top keynote and breakout sessions from CSCMP Edge 2020.

Did you attend the virtual CSCMP conference? How would rate the experience? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button or 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


After our column last week noting we've turned from toilet paper shotages to "where's the beef?", our friend David Schneider of David K. Schneider & Company sent us this nice email explaning how the meat supply chain works. Now you know!

Feedback on the Meat Supply Chain:


For beef (and lamb/sheep), there are two stages of meatpacking - Primal and Final.

Primal Cuts are the large cuts - whole sections of the animal, cut away from the carcass, later packed for processing into final cuts.

Some of the larger packing operations run from kill to final in the same complex - the traditional way that people think of a meatpacking plant. But many of the new massive campus operations, including the JBL and Tyson sites in the news, ship under long term contracts meat packaged for retail or portion control use.

For decades the meat supply chain operated at two levels; packing houses that shipped primal-and sub-primal - packaged into vacuum bags and frozen for shipping to grocery stores - where meat cutters cut and package the final cuts for sale at that location.

Today, a sizable portion of the production from the kill line is still primal to package and shipped to other companies/facilities that do the Final cuts. Most of the consumers of primal and sub-primal are wholesale distributors, local butchers, Costco, and Asian grocery, where there is still local meat cutting.

A large portion of the US grocery market no longer operates local meat rooms in their retail locations. Walmart is one significant example of the retail scene, as is most of the Royal Dalheize group (Stop-n-Shop, Giant), Aldi, Lidl, and other growing chains. Those contracts with retailers are under tight margins, costs supported by the typically much higher foodservice contracts with bigger and steady margins.

The supply chain innovation that Tyson, JBL, and the rest employed was centralization and concentration of labor into these large campuses - close to the production of the animals. Our modern network of refrigerated logistics - temperature controls trucks and warehouses - helps facilitate the consolidation of the final steps of meat cutting from local to the market to local to the source.

Primal cuts flow between companies in the meat industry like cash - and interesting features in the USDA regulations allow for long term freezing of primal cuts that can sell later as fresh meat. There are times where hundreds of millions of pounds of frozen primal cuts sit in 3PL freezer warehouses. I suspect at this moment, hundreds of millions of pounds of frozen primal cuts sit in warehouses, unable to move to the market because there are fewer places that can do the final cut. I suspect the owners of this meat don't want to ship these cuts because to ship now erodes the future profit margin of the packaged and portion-controlled product.

The COVID virus exposes a substantial risk of consolidation and full-integration of production in the supply chain.

David K. Schneider
David K Schneider & Company, LLC    


Q: What was Amazon's profit margin in Q2 (net income/revenue)?

A: 4.1%, an all-time record

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