I attended my first Council of Logistics Management annual conference in 1988, and as a then-newcomer to logistics journalism, I received over those three days a rapid education in transportation, warehousing, litigation, regulation, and more. All these years later, I still come away from those annual sessions with new insights.
The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), as the group is now called, continues to offer both novices and seasoned professionals an excellent education in the latest thinking and practices as well as the challenges currently facing the industry. We send a full complement of editors to the conference every year not so much to report as to learn. It is one of the most important events we attend each year and is crucial to us in thinking about what we ought to be writing about in the months to come.
No single report on the recent conference in Philadelphia, which attracted something north of 3,000 attendees, can do justice to the breadth of opportunities available to attendees. Conference goers had choices of sessions from among 30 tracks, with topics ranging from insights into everyday operations to views from military leaders on the challenges they face. A few examples: Greg Forbis, a senior transportation manager for Walmart, described that company's extensive inbound transportation initiatives across its vast and diverse distribution network. Representatives of medical device maker Hospira and sporting goods manufacturer Easton Bell Sports discussed how they are working within their companies to develop a common set of metrics for decision making across logistics, sales, marketing, and finance. Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich of the U.S. Navy talked about the implications of budget cuts on the military supply chain. In a compelling keynote presentation, Chiquita Chairman and CEO Fernando Aguirre described his experience on the TV show "Undercover Boss," which included time operating a forklift in a warehouse. (And, yes, he was properly certified beforehand.)
In a shift adopted a few years ago, the final day of the conference is devoted to a handful of mega-sessions on major topics. This year, they looked at the looming capacity crisis in trucking, safety initiatives in the works for commercial carriers and what they might mean for operations, ways to develop the next generation of supply chain talent, and how social media may affect supply chain operations.
In a business environment where budgets are tight and operations are often short staffed, it may be difficult to justify spending the time and money on a conference like CSCMP. But for the thousands who do attend, it generally proves a worthwhile investment.