Conversation

  • Re-balancing?
    Last week Bloomberg interviewed the CEO of Sysco, who claims, “Restaurants are busy. They’re booming. They’re bouncing back in a strong way. They’re not up just over 2020, they’re up versus 2019 as well.” USDA statisticians agree, finding substantial increases in demand for food away from home since March 2021. Expanded food away from home […]
  • Increase in the inventory to sales ratio
    According to the US Census Bureau, for the first time since February inventories showed a slight improvement compared to sales. The ratio increased to 1.09 in May from 1.07 in April. Moderating May demand helped. But much tighter-than-normal inventories reflect several impediments to upstream capacity achieving pre-pandemic velocity (especially spatial/temporal accuracy). Dwell times and other […]
  • Preexisting Pull Patterns
    In most mature networks, especially those with higher volumes and greater velocity, population demand tends to persist. Sharp, sudden deviations are unusual and almost always result from externalities. Even in these atypical circumstances, it is often not so much that demand itself has changed as the ability to express continued demand has somehow been displaced. […]
  • Consolidation’s impact on price discovery
    The Fed and some others perceive that over-heated physical friction in supply chains is being gradually worked out. Demand has been seriously disrupted and diverted. As — if? — demand settles — sources, channels, and modes of supply will catch up. From this angle, recent price hikes help demand determine what is really needed/wanted, when […]
  • Volatility: from Latin volātilis (flying, swift, temporary): volō (I fly)
    Supply of lumber has increased. Even more important, demand has decreased. Increasing prices have, as usual, diminished demand. Alternative spending opportunities displaced lumber. On June 16 Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, said, “Inflation has come in above expectations over the last few months. But if you look behind the headline […]
  • Proving the benefits of diversity
    I apply a self-conscious heuristic — let’s go with the Anglo-Saxon and call it a rule-of-thumb — that more diversity breeds more resilience. In most disaster contexts I do NOT have data or really much evidence that this assumption or principle or guess accurately fits the immediate problem-context. But I have seen enough data and […]
  • A narcissism of small differences?
    Friday’s Executive Order includes, “over the last several decades, as industries have consolidated, competition has weakened in too many markets, denying Americans the benefits of an open economy and widening racial, income, and wealth inequality.” Maybe this is just another way of saying: “A more diverse set of economic players will be more responsive to […]
  • The actual Executive Order
    Here’s the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. I have not yet read it, but consistent with my early morning, immediately prior comments, I have done a word search for “demand” and “diversity” — neither of which appear. After a careful read — and perhaps receiving your impressions — I will be […]
  • Consolidation, competition, and unintended consequences
    Later today the President will sign a new Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy (according to the early morning fact sheet). I have not yet seen a final draft of the actual order. But be forewarned, the “facts” require fourteen sheets of 12 point type, more than 3600 words. I did see […]
  • Demand is up. Supply is not keeping up.
    This is not news. But the duration and depth of the disequilibrium is cause for concern. Above is what the US Census reports for April and prior. The May report will be released next week. Any bets on turning up or continuing down? Despite Census bureau statistics, grocery distributors are stockpiling. Many manufacturers, facing longer […]
  • 2021 State of Logistics
    For thirty-two years the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals has sponsored an annual comprehensive review of the field. This year’s report was released on June 24. According to CSCMP, key findings include: The K-shaped recovery of 2021 reflects changed consumer habits. Hospitality, restaurants and airlines struggled. Grocery retail, home improvement and e-commerce prospered. E-commerce […]
  • Supply chain thinking at Cornwall
    The Group of Seven joint communique gives significant attention to the vaccine supply chain then extends several anti-pandemic principles toward achieving greater economic resilience. Here is a long-quote that makes the pivot: The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the risk to economic resilience posed by global crises and shocks. These can manifest from acute shocks, for […]
  • Supply chain thinking at the White House
    The 100 Day Supply Chain Review delivered on June 8 is aimed at solving four big problems. Six much more comprehensive supply chain reports are due to be delivered in February 2022. The Executive Order framing these reports emphasizes, “The United States needs resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains to ensure our economic prosperity and […]
  • 100 Day Supply Chain Review
    On Tuesday, June 8 White House staff and cabinet agencies delivered a supply chain report to President Biden. Instructions for the report were set out in a February 24 Executive Order. This is the first of two related reports. This initial output focuses on current supply chain challenges involving semiconductors, high capacity batteries, critical and […]
  • Demand and Supply Disruptions
    My month long hiatus is the result of too much demand and too little supply, especially of personal time and energy. I was surprised by how surprised so many seemed to be by the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack. Anytime so much supply capacity for such a high demand product is so tightly concentrated, risk accumulates and […]
  • Post-Colonial Challenges
    How long Friday’s shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline persists is the critical issue. Most news reports indicate this infrastructure carries “roughly 45% of gasoline and diesel fuel consumed on the East Coast.” This is accurate, but significantly understates market dependence between Atlanta and Washington DC. In many local markets dependence for some fuel categories is […]
  • Disequilibrium
    The headlines tend to bounce between semiconductor chips and vaccines. But mismatched supply and demand extends into many more channels, nodes, and products. Each mismatch has its own tale to tell. Yet similar protagonists and antagonists are shared: disrupted production, congested transport, and shifting demand are each and all implicated, even when differentiated as cause […]
  • India: Biology or Behavior?
    Of course it is each, both, and the push and pull in between. It will be months or years before we can accurately deconstruct the interplay and proportions behind the exponential surge in disease and death across the subcontinent. More contagious variants are implicated. Some of these variants may be innately more lethal. It is […]
  • The Next Year: Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Prescription
    Last week an earnest well-intended political leader said, “All it takes to beat this virus and return to normal is getting shots in arms.” It is tempting to make this claim. Mass vaccinations are making a positive difference. The closer we get to or beat 80 percent vaccination rates, the less our risk of wide-spread […]
  • Demand Management in Action
    From a supply chain perspective, pandemic response can be conceived as a local-to-global effort to manage demand for health care. Supply chain professionals typically work to deliver more faster. But in this case, we want to deliver fewer covid patients to hospitals and slow overall deliveries. To do this, various methods have been deployed to […]
  • Patterns suggest principles to inform practice
    On April 19, the Wall Street Journal published a substantive, concise piece on the semiconductor supply chain. Please read: Why the Chip Shortage is so Hard to Overcome. Several generalizable Supply Chain Resilience principles are articulated (but not headlined) in the WSJ piece. I bet I could find a WSJ piece from the second-quarter of […]
  • One in 884 million
    I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on April 17. With this jab I joined just over 131 million residents of the United States — and 884 million fellow humans — who have been vaccinated against covid in the last five months. Among my U.S. age cohort (over 65) about 80 percent have […]
  • Near-term Vaccine Flows
    The recommended pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will have modest near-term network-level impacts. For a host of reasons, J&J has not been expected to begin releasing large numbers of doses until late April and May. This week (April 12-17) the J&J allocation for states was sized — pre-pause — at about 700,000 […]
  • Michigan’s Message?
    As U.S. covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to climb, the situation in Michigan is cause for particular concern. Michigan hospitalizations have surged sharply since mid-March. Michigan has a higher proportion of the B.1.1.7 variant circulating than any other state. Early observations have found that B.1.1.7 and two other variants are more easily transmissible. Some […]

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