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DC Velocity has published a great article pointing out the way in which logistics (and by extension, supply chain management) comes through time and time again–and occasionally with a high profile effort. In this case, the author writes about the logistics efforts that were essential to the successful roll-out of the latest, and final, Harry Potter book. I mention the author, Peter Bradley, focuses on the logistics necessary to deliver 12 million books in quantities large (and small) around the globe for a single, timed, opening. This of course goes beyond a simple planning and execution initiative. It required coordination, as Bradley mentions, between the publisher, and a network of transportation providers (carriers.) He writes:
Scholastic’s success was no act of magic. Rather, it was a carefully planned and executed distribution effort that required close collaboration among members of the company’s logistics team and a core group of carriers. Planning for the rollout began in January, even before Scholastic had the finished manuscript. Internally at Scholastic, the project would require tight coordination among members of the logistics staff and their colleagues in sales, purchasing, customer service, and manufacturing. Yablin points to Ed Swart, director of operations, and Francine Colaneri, vice president of manufacturing and procurement, as key partners and team members. The close collaboration also extended to Scholastic’s logistics partners: J.B. Hunt, Combined Express, Yellow Transportation, and ActivAir. J.B. Hunt, one of the nation’s largest truckload carriers, moved the majority of the books—all but about a million of the copies. Hunt operated in partnership with Combined Express, a Bensalem, Pa. based logistics and trucking company that specializes in publishing and retail shipping. Yellow Transportation, a major LTL carrier, handled domestic LTL shipments. ActivAir, an international forwarder that specializes in book and magazine distribution, managed international shipments to 32 destinations in 29 countries.
I would like to point out that contemporary to this initiative was the release of the much-touted iPhone. That release required a delivery between 4 and 6 pm local time, for a store opening of 6 in the evening. Another opportunity for logistics to shine. Let’s not lose sight of the importance of collaboration across the supply chain for both of these products. In both cases, there was a line in the sand–a promised delivery date for large scale release. Satisfactorily meeting these dates required not only a close coordination of “in house” production but also coordination among all the suppliers that provide key elements to your product. In the case of the iPhone, there are many components that make up the phone, from numerous suppliers. According to their analysis (as reported in RFDesign)these suppliers include: South Korea’s Samsung (The processor core), German-based Infineon (providing the RF and broadband functions), and National Semiconductor (a single chip.) In addition, the most exciting part of the iPhone, the multi-touch screen, has many providers:
It is believed by iSuppli that the supplier for the touchscreen module in the model torn down by iSuppli was Balda, with its partner TPK Holding. It is believed by iSuppli that the iPhone LCD display itself is multi-sourced through Epson Imaging Devices, Sharp and Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology. The cost of the LCD used in the iPhone is estimated at $24.50, representing 9.8% of the 8 Gbyte version’s costs. source: RFDesign
Coordinating such a complex, and global, supply chain and ensuring pinpoint accuracy in delivery (both spatial and temporal) shows how a collaborative supply chain can truly deliver.