Supply Chain for Everyone: Real world lessons that really make a difference

Applying supply chain management (SCM) principles makes the world a better place. From saving money when stocking the pantry to helping others by regularly passing on the things we don’t need. Once we start benefiting from the application of supply chain principles, it can become addictive.

US-based business scientist and supply chain consultant Keith Launchbury (CFPIM, CIRM, CSCP), went through an organising process in his house using the 5S principle and managed to declutter an entire family’s lives considerably.

SCM for the home

One family member – who loves shopping – used to buy more items than the home can afford or had place to store.

“When the family designed and implemented an inventory control system in the pantry with minimum and maximum levels, the spendthrift husband could see what was possible to buy before he left for the store. It worked a charm and avoided many disagreements over such a small thing,” he says.

Examples of how SCM application makes life better abound. Like using those last few minutes before bed to put out one’s clothes for tomorrow, or putting out three baskets for laundry so that it’s already sorted by the time you do the washing. One supply chain student even reduced his laundry time by over 50% by using the principle of overlapping operations.

“One of the things that make this successful is when everyone in the house shares the same vision to make life simpler,” says Launchbury. “But I would not recommend moving forward with any kind of project without the complete agreement of your family.”

SCM for the greater good

In another example, a supply chain expert used SCM principles to streamline her voluntary work. This enabled the smooth distribution of leftover food at supermarkets, from the efficient collection thereof, to its sorting and eventual redistribution to homeless shelters according to a carefully devised route schedule.

“The faster the food can be distributed, the fresher it is when it arrives at the various shelters around time, to the benefit of its recipients,” comments Jenny Froome, general manager of SAPICS, a South African network for supply chain professionals.

SAPICS beneficiary Operation Smile also benefits from smart SCM solutions. “A warehouse management system we implemented has helped Operation Smile to become more efficient in managing the supplies it needs to enable each medical mission,” says Froome.

“This means donations go further and planning is more efficient. Also where the assistance of the entire team was required to pack up all the equipment and make a proper inventory of all the medications and supplies that were left over, the technology and system we’re using now enable this massive operation to be completed by just a couple of volunteers.”

“The implications for Operation Smile in terms of saving money and time are enormous,” explains Froome. “It means they will be able to help more children in the long run – and that’s why we just love applying smart supply chain principles.”

“There are plenty of ways to use the principles that are contained in the SAPICS curriculum at home. In fact, once you start, it’s easy to become obsessed with applying the tools in one’s everyday life!” concludes Froome.

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