What’s One Supply Chain Misconception That Needs to Be Cleared Up Now?


What’s One Supply Chain Misconception That Needs to Be Cleared Up Now?

A lights-out supply chain? A systemic truck driver shortage? Cost-prohibitive sustainability? Readers tackle these misconceptions and more.

☒ Technology will fix everything. Technology is not a panacea. Enterprise resource planning systems are coming into their third decade now, and we still see the same data-quality issues crop up. Investing in our people and processes is the most efficient and effective way to build resilient supply chains—ones that can utilize everything the artificial intelligence revolution has to offer.

–Jessica Windham
Solving Work

☒ The supply chain sector will continue to be male dominated. More women are entering the supply chain workforce than ever before. Our 2023 Voice of the American Workforce survey shows 42% of supply chain respondents are female, and Gartner’s Women in the Supply Chain data finds 25% of supply chain C-suite roles are now filled by women—statistics not seen a decade ago.

–Kim Vindrine
Sales Excellence Manager

☒ Supply chains are necessarily becoming more resilient by shifting production out of China toward countries that have better relations with the United States and its allies. Shipping lanes between China and the U.S. West Coast are comparatively secure when compared to routes that require ships to pass through the Suez or Panama Canals regardless of the disposition of the country of origin.

–Robert Reavis
Vice President
ButcherJoseph & Co.

☒ Temperature-controlled environments are only suited to protect from heat or freezing. There is additional value; they reduce humidity while food products are stored or handled. Humidity can impact food quality and the shipping and inner carton stability.

–Frank Hurst
Executive Vice President – LTL
Echo Global Logistics

☒ Transportation causes major delays (i.e. OTIF penalties) in manufacturing. This is overblown. More than 80% of the time, the reason something is late to a customer destination is because it didn’t leave the source distribution site on time.

–Keith Moore

☒ Negotiations are a zero sum game. Conversations with suppliers, partners, and even competitors should center around opportunities for shared value creation, instead of an ultimately shortsighted “I win, you lose” approach. As Simon Sinek says, it’s an infinite game. Adopting binary mindsets will ultimately leave us shorthanded.

–Jason Hehman
Vertical Lead for Industry 4.0

☒ Supply chains are linear. Supply chains are nonlinear fluid processes that operate continuously. They are dynamic and consist of multiple chains that comprise a supply chain ecosystem. They are interconnected and living processes that do not start and end. Understanding this will make you more adaptable to change.

–Stephen Dombroski
Director of Consumer Markets

☒ Blaming the supply chain for products not being delivered on time and timelines being delayed. This is a cop out. It’s easier to place blame instead of understanding the requirements for the supply chain to flow correctly.

–Chip Barth
Managing Director, Global Supply Chain Practice
TBM Consulting

☒ You need to be an expert in supply chain. In a recent piece of research every interview started with “I’m not an expert on supply chain,” yet what followed was a rich discussion that often ran over time. Start a conversation with a team you don’t normally talk with.

–Anthony Monaghan
Transportation Leader

☒ A “lights out” supply chain. The value technology can bring is not to eliminate humans but elevate them, by automating the obvious and minimizing the mundane, so people are freed to work on higher-order, complex problems requiring contextual understanding and judgment.

–Polly Mitchell-Guthrie
VP, Industry Outreach and Thought Leadership

☒ Pressing pause on innovation and continuous improvement in a down market. This can actually be an opportune time to take action for the future. A company’s budget may not currently support launching new sites or fully automating an existing site, but there are lower-cost options to remove bottlenecks and improve operational efficiencies.

–Bryan Perkins
Senior Vice President, Engineering
Tompkins Solutions

☒ Supply chain disruption can be measured just by looking at the amount of stock in the supply chain. While volatility matrices may tell us we aren’t experiencing disruption based on measures of stock, we also need to look at logistics indicators like the Baltic Dry Index and the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI). Also, container imports and exports, and purchase, producer, and manufacturing indices.

–Gordon Donovan
Global Vice President Research
SAP Procurement and Supply

☒ The shortage of truck drivers is a systemic issue. This is just not the case. What we have seen are temporary fluctuations in capacity based on the demand for shipped goods vs. the supply of trucks available, often due to drivers leaving or entering based on the strength of the market.

–Eric Masotti
President of Logistics
Trailer Bridge

☒ Disruption is an aberration. It’s a state of mind. Agility isn’t something that happens just once or twice a year or when a crisis hits. It’s an ongoing capability and it’s business critical. The era of “this is how we do things, no need to adjust” doesn’t exist anymore.

–Tony Pelli
Practice Director, Supply Chain Security & Resilience

☒ Companies’ supply chain challenges are unique. We all face similar issues. By connecting and discussing our shared challenges, we open the door to collaborative problem-solving and can create shared value. Partnership and transparency are essential to building a smarter, more sustainable supply network.

–Dan Ahrens
Director, Customer Solutions

☒ The supply chain will return to “normal.” While supply chain disruptions that first arose in 2020 have been dissipating, new uncertainties have been arising at almost the same pace. From global tensions to artificial intelligence, continuous new challenges will keep us from our prior normal.

–Felix Vicknair
Vice President of Supply Chain Solutions

☒ You need an overly complex or resource-intensive process to obtain a complete picture of your spend across your supply chain. By integrating artificial intelligence with procurement best practices in classifying spend data, businesses can quickly gain insights, identify savings, and uncover risks.

–Scott Macfee

☒ Today’s supply chain technology focuses exclusively on automating people out of the process. While this may be the goal for some, many logistics firms build technology that enables their teams to deliver customer solutions faster and more efficiently rather than replacing human interaction altogether.

–Noah Sidenberg
General Manager of Canada Sales Operations
Arrive Logistics

☒ Artificial intelligence can replace human expertise. While it is an excellent resource for enabling the workforce to be faster and more efficient, it is a supplement, not a replacement.

–Melissa Somsen
Chief Commercial Officer
AFS Logistics

☒ The supply chain is a linear progression from raw materials to finished goods. However, the modern supply chain defies such simplicity, functioning more like a dynamic web of interconnected events orchestrating the creation and distribution of end products.

–Nirav Patel

☒ The terms “returning to normal” or “returning to the new normal.” They can be confusing. The last few years have exposed such unpredictable risks affecting the supply chain that any deterministic forecast is doomed to fail given that long lead times coupled with multiple risk factors can rapidly change the situation. Factoring risks into a probabilistic forecast model and ensuring the ability to mitigate them during the execution stage, such as deploying robust tools for in-season inventory optimization, becomes crucial for success.

–Inna Kuznetsova

☒ AI is a one-stop solution to remedy all supply chain challenges. While it is undeniably a critical asset in enhancing supply chain efficiency, its success hinges on a robust foundation of underlying technologies, well-defined processes, and skilled personnel. AI excels when it complements these elements, rather than replacing them.

–Martyn Verhaegen

☒ The supply chain is made up of silos of planning, transportation and warehousing. It’s a chain

–Tom Moore
CEO and Founder

☒ Traditional, large-scale logistics networks are always the most efficient for last-mile delivery. In reality, flexible, crowdsourced delivery models have proven highly effective, especially for urgent or same-day deliveries. These models offer scalability and adaptability, crucial for meeting dynamic consumer demands and coping with fluctuating supply chain pressures.

–Dennis Moon

☒ Only big companies can have effective supply chains. While being big ostensibly brings resources and capabilities, a company of any size can optimize their supply chain by focusing on the right fundamentals and may be better positioned to move faster on market innovations than the big players.

–Joe Adamski
Senior Director

☒ The driver who picks up the shipment is the same who will deliver. This is an old but reoccurring perception in LTL, predominantly from novice shippers. They assume any verbal instructions need only be kept in the driver’s memory. Include shipment instructions not only on the BOL but electronic records as well.

–Kevin Day
President, LTL
AFS Logistics

☒ The supply chain is a series of independent steps. Reality: It’s an ecosystem of interdependent activities serviced by multiple parties. Technology innovations have enabled a seamless exchange of information, access to real-time status of resources, and process alignment within the ecosystem for on-time delivery and customer delight.

–Nagendra Rao
President, Sales
Trigent Software

☒ You can optimize one aspect of your supply chain—transportation, inventory, shipping, e-commerce—without impacting the others. Today, every aspect of your business is so connected that optimization in one area may have unintended consequences in another. Modeling and simulation of the end-to-end supply chain can help you identify any issues and prevent these consequences.

–Josh Dunham
CEO and Co-founder

☒ Sustainability is cost-prohibitive. Too many retail brands are still beholden to this outdated notion. Through digitalization, companies can ensure socially and environmentally responsible sourcing while not only enhancing operational efficiency and increasing profit margins, but also growing loyalty among consumers who increasingly prioritize ethical practices in their buying decisions.

–Lilian Bories
Chief Marketing Officer

☒ AI is replacing the supply chain workforce. In fact, quite the opposite is true. An AI-powered supply chain enhances teams by providing more accurate data and previously inaccessible insights to inform smarter, more confident decisions. By providing accurate forecasts and optimization recommendations, AI also empowers teams to work more collaboratively and strategically to drive results.

–Alex Jobin
Senior Solution Principal, Forecasting and Replenishment
RELEX Solutions

☒ Brokerages are best suited for overflow demand. In reality, brokerages are core strategic carriers for shippers, who can offer massive capacity and specialized capabilities, including advanced technology. They’ve become integral players in the for-hire-truckload market, a trend that will continue, revolutionizing supply chain dynamics and meeting evolving industry demands.

–Jared Weisfeld
Chief Strategy Officer

☒ Technology alone can solve all supply chain challenges. While technology plays a crucial role in supply chain visibility, focusing solely on it neglects the criticality of people and processes. AI offers innovation, but it’s our people who truly deliver its value via quality processes.

–Omer Abdullah
The Smart Cube

☒ GenAI will quickly alter the course of supply chains. Yes possibly. However, there are two challenges to overcome—the underlying data infrastructure must be AI-ready, requiring a different technology approach, and supply chains must evolve their decision-making processes to combine human expertise with AI capabilities to realize GenAI outcomes.

–Ram Krishnan
Global Head, Customer Success
Aera Technology


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