April 23, 2019
Column | big picture

No silver bullet

The complexity of today's supply chains underscores the need for good information to make the right decisions.

By David Maloney

I recently saw an interesting quote from Lyndon B. Johnson that read: "Presidents quickly realize that while a single act might destroy the world they live in, no one single decision can make life suddenly better or can turn history around for the good."

That statement will resonate with a lot of supply chain managers. We live in a rapidly changing environment, where one wrong supply chain decision can seriously affect a company's ability to remain competitive and sometimes even survive.

At the same time, there is no single silver bullet that will make a supply chain more efficient or less costly. It usually takes a combination of the right moves to achieve meaningful gains.

Today's supply chain decision-makers face greater challenges than ever before. The pace of distribution is faster, customer demands are greater, and competition is no longer just the guy around the block, but also the guys on the other side of the planet. These are just some of the challenges (and opportunities) that require supply chain professionals to make good decisions every day.

These are also what makes this industry exciting. In my 20-plus years covering this field, I've learned that no two situations are exactly alike. Each company's needs are different, based on the products it handles, the customers it serves, and the size of its network, to name just a few of the factors that determine how it designs its supply chain. These differences always give us fresh stories to tell.

As we saw at the recent ProMat show in Chicago, no two solutions are exactly alike either. That's why there were more than 1,000 exhibitors on hand, all showcasing different supply chain solutions. The approximately 45,000 attendees were there to match those solutions to their specific applications.

While traditional hardware such as lift trucks, conveyors, and storage racks will always find a place in distribution operations, we also saw how the digital age is impacting supply chains. Data is indeed king, and many of the solutions addressed the need to capture and manage data for better decision-making.

Robotic systems were also front and center at ProMat, with an increasing number of automated solutions on display. Even the aforementioned "traditional" equipment and systems are getting makeovers to incorporate the latest technologies.

The complexity underscores the need for supply chain professionals to stay informed, so they can make smart decisions. We will continue to be here to help you keep up. Let's enjoy the ride together.

About the Author

David Maloney
Editorial Director
David Maloney has been a journalist for more than 35 years and is currently the editorial director for DC Velocity and Supply Chain Quarterly magazines. In this role, he is responsible for the editorial content of both brands of Agile Business Media. Dave joined DC Velocity in April of 2004. Prior to that, he was a senior editor for Modern Materials Handling magazine. Dave also has extensive experience as a broadcast journalist. Before writing for supply chain publications, he was a journalist, television producer and director in Pittsburgh. Dave combines a background of reporting on logistics with his video production experience to bring new opportunities to DC Velocity readers, including web videos highlighting top distribution and logistics facilities, webcasts and other cross-media projects. He continues to live and work in the Pittsburgh area.

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