Customers and readers know that our firm is a long-time proponent, booster, member and champion of APICS (the American Production & Inventory Control Society). They are, as noted in the organization’s vision statement: “the world’s leading community for end-to-end supply chain excellence.” APICS chapters nationwide boast 43,000 members in an organization that has been building supply chain excellence since 1957.
Recently, APICS merged with the American Society of Transportation and Logistics (AST&L). The merger is an illustration of the importance that logistics maintains in the overall supply chain. As a recent article in APICS Magazine pointed out, the original APICS logo consisted of a stylized representation of a car’s rear axle and differential – an appropriate symbol of today’s merger in illustrating the importance that the movement of product from point A to point B holds even today, as transport remains an integral part of supply chain and operational management.
The key message, APICS notes, is simply this: “Production and inventory control is not an island.” The productive functioning of the inbound/outbound supply chain is critical to delivering customer value, and transport and logistics thus occupy a key piece in the global supply chain puzzle. The focus shifts over time from the plant to the supply chain as a whole. This is merely a broadening of the definition of the term supply chain, and it simply recognizes that what a customer buys is not just a product but an entire experience.
As the APICS Dictionary itself points out in defining the ‘perfect order’ – it’s “an order in which the ‘seven Rs’ are satisfied: the right product, the right quantity, the right condition, the right place, the right time, the right customer, the right cost.” As the APICS article notes: the plant can’t do that all by itself.
And so, just as APICS has recognized this simple fact in its merger with the AST&L, all manufacturers do well to remember that success comes from catering to the customer’s perception of value, “and anything we can do to enhance that customer value will encourage sales, revenue growth and satisfaction. Products aren’t purchased strictly on the value inherent in the physical item all by itself.”
Price, promotion and place all play crucial roles, and so too as we deal with internal issues like planning, scheduling and materials availability, it’s important to remember that we’re all part of a global supply chain – from production through transport, and often back again. It’s all about coordinating and collaboration across all these lines – whether you’re a national organization like APICS or just a small business like yours, or ours.