Supply Chain Article

Silke von Gemmingen’s picture

By: Silke von Gemmingen

Due to digitalization in Industry 4.0, internal logistics is subject to constant change. Internal traceability—i.e., tracking goods in the warehouse or production facility—increasingly plays a key role. Manufacturers and consumers are placing more emphasis on the safety and quality of products. Costly and image-damaging complaints must therefore be avoided. Automation systems can help to optimize goods control here and at the same time facilitate and accelerate the work of the operators—saving time and cost.

An example of the successful implementation of a system for internal traceability in intralogistics can be found at Schnellecke Logistics. At the Dingolfing site in Germany, a scalable quality assurance solution from Pose Automation GmbH in Kleve ensures comprehensive photo documentation for incoming and outgoing goods inspection. The P.Portal used in a logistics hall takes over the analysis and documentation of the condition of the goods and uses bright USB3 vision industrial cameras from IDS.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s picture

By: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientist and collaborators have demonstrated the first-ever “defect microscope” that can track how populations of defects deep inside macroscopic materials move collectively.

The research, which appeared last month in Science Advances, shows a classic example of a dislocation (line defect) boundary, then demonstrates how these same defects move exotically just at the edge of melting temperatures.

“This work presents a large step forward for materials science, physics, and related fields, as it offers a unique new way to view the ‘intermediate scales’ that connect microscopic defects to the bulk properties they cause,” says Leora Dresselhaus-Marais, a former Lawrence fellow and now assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University.

Multiple Authors
By: Adrian Hernandez, C. Michael White


he U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regularly inspects manufacturing facilities to ensure that drugs meet rigorous quality standards. These standards are vital to protect patients from drugs that are incorrectly dosed, contaminated, or ineffective.

But over the past few years, tens of millions of doses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs have failed FDA quality expectations. This includes the ongoing 2018 recall of thousands of batches of popular blood pressure, diabetes, and acid reflux medications containing the probable carcinogen NDMA.

For perspective, the number of individual tablets and capsules for prescription and over-the-counter drugs entering the United States each year is counted in the trillions.

David Cahn’s picture

By: David Cahn

Lean Six Sigma has improved manufacturing operations and processes for years now. Now the effect of the methodology is extending to supply chain and operations to help eliminate waste and reduce variation. Using lean to eradicate waste and Six Sigma to eliminate defects by reducing process variation creates a powerful tool for continuous process improvement and a resilient supply chain.

Building a resilient supply chain

An organization’s supply chain must be agile and quickly responsive to its customers changing needs. Companies that can deliver this will create a successful supply chain. In fact, there is a tool within Six Sigma known as critical to quality (CTQ) that requires organizations to measure progress in terms that customers consider critical.

Supply chain optimization

Today’s businesses must constantly seek out more efficient methods and processes. This has never been more evident when balancing demand, supply, and price optimization to sustain resiliency in this omni-channel world.

Dylan Walsh’s picture

By: Dylan Walsh

Supply chains are having a moment. In March 2021, one of the world’s largest container ships got wedged in the Suez Canal, blocking 10 percent of global trade for a few days and launching a flotilla of memes. Currently, home builders are waiting for more lumber, while a shortage of computer chips has slowed down the auto industry. Steel, coffee, ketchup, and toilet paper are also in short supply. Earlier this year, the Biden administration launched a supply-chain disruptions task force to address “supply/demand mismatches” as the post-pandemic economy restarts.

Of course, even when they’re not making headlines, supply chains are always there. Yet most people never give a thought to these invisible and surprisingly fragile networks of trade that make modern life possible—until they break.

Steven Stein’s picture

By: Steven Stein

Supply chain management (SCM) has been defined as “the design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand, and measuring performance globally.”1 With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance and, fortuitously, vulnerability of a number of supply chains have been highlighted. This is especially true with the disruption of overseas supply chains for personal protective equipment (PPE), e.g., gloves and masks, and pharmaceuticals.

Suppliers can be considered third-party organizations, but they are also extensions of your organization. One aspect of managing suppliers is to evaluate their capabilities to supply items or services that meet your requirements or specifications at a fair price, with on-time delivery, and appropriate customer service and support.

Multiple Authors
By: Terry Onica, Cathy Fisher

With recent disruptions critically impacting the automotive supply chain and costing manufacturers millions in lost production and sales, it is clear that supply delivery issues now need the same level of attention as vehicle safety and quality. What is really at the root of ongoing delivery performance issues, and how can automotive OEMs and suppliers overcome these systemic deficiencies to avert industrywide disaster?

Anxieties over late deliveries

Automotive vehicle quality and safety improved dramatically during the last three decades as OEMs and suppliers implemented process-focus in their operations and adopted advanced technologies for design and production. These positive advances, though, are threatened by a global supply chain struggling with supplier delivery issues that delay vehicle launches and cost millions of dollars in lost sales opportunities.

And it will only get worse without industrywide action.

Doug Devereaux’s picture

By: Doug Devereaux

The premise for the NIST MEP Digital Supply-Chain Network project is familiar to MEP centers—many small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) are often not ready for Industry 4.0 and don’t know how to implement it. Manufacturers with fewer than 50 employees often lag in digital supply-chain areas such as setting cybersecurity policies and leveraging data and information analytics.

The digital supply chain in manufacturing refers to the consistent and sustainable connectivity between the manufacturer and the lowest-level suppliers to the delivery of the product to the customers. It includes capturing operational data from sensors, machines, and other connected assets, but it also includes ERPs, sourcing, finance, and cybersecurity. A manufacturer that efficiently manages its digital supply chain has a head start on optimizing performance with better demand forecasting and automated inventory management, improved time to market, and lower-cost sources of raw materials.

Brian C. Black’s picture

By: Brian C. Black

When President Joe Biden took Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning pickup for a test drive in Dearborn, Michigan, in May 2021, the event was more than a White House photo op. It marked a new phase in an accelerating shift from gas-powered cars and trucks to electric vehicles, or EVs.

In recent months, global auto manufacturers have released plans to electrify their vehicle fleets by 2030 or 2035, setting up a race to see who can most quickly shift entirely away from producing vehicles powered by gasoline.

Benjamin Kessler’s picture

By: Benjamin Kessler

Suddenly, supply chains are in the spotlight. The practical details of how products arrive on supermarket shelves, for example, gained unwelcome relevance amid last year’s wave of panic buying caused by Covid-19 disruption. At the same time, the environmental damage wrought by wasteful industrial processes came under intensifying criticism from consumers, civil society, and regulators. Businesses have stepped up their search for “zero waste” or circular economy solutions.

You could say that Luk Van Wassenhove, INSEAD emeritus professor of technology and operations management, has spent most of his 40-year career inadvertently preparing for this moment. A pioneer in sustainability research, Van Wassenhove worked closely with Xerox during the 1990s as it became one of the first companies to remanufacture and sell a new “green line” of copying machines.

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