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  • LeanATL 10:59 pm on November 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    The ‘Make-or-Buy Decision’ Tool for Supply Chain Managers 

    Kraljic Matrix

    APICS CLTD Version 1.1, 2018 Edition, page 2-92

    When designing your supply chain you will benefit by understanding the Make-or-Buy Decision concept.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines make-or-buy decision as:

    ‘The act of deciding whether to produce an item internally or buy it from an outside supplier.’

    Typically, a make-or-by decision involves a make-or-buy cost analysis defined in the APICS Dictionary, 15th edition as:

    ‘Comparison of all costs associated with making an item versus the cost of buying the item.’

    The make-or-buy concept is important to know for anyone pursuing CSCP and CLTD certification, although the specific definitions are not on the top terms list. CSCP approaches the concept from a strategic perspective; where does supply chain fit in the strategic plan, how should contracts be used, and what are the risks involved. CLTD takes a tactical view; contracting processes, break-even analysis, and sourcing materials.

    Fundamentally, make-or-buy considerations will factor in the possible consequences of giving the activity in question to another company, including:

    • Is the activity a core competency?
    • What are the consequences of losing related skills or knowledge?
    • What is the landed cost (total cost of ownership)?

    Given the potential large capital investment resulting from these decisions, CLTD goes one-step further to perform a break-even analysis.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines break-even analysis as:

    ‘A study of the number of units, or amounts of time, required to recoup an investment.’

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines core competency(ies) as:

    ‘Bundles of skills or knowledge sets enabling a firm to provide the greatest level of value to its customers providing growth in a way it is difficult for competitors to emulate.’

    Core competencies are those activities/processes a company should (will) insource assuming all things being equal (i.e. available capacity and skill supply).

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines insourcing as:

    ‘Using the firm’s internal resources to provide goods and services.’

    A key tool a supply chain manager has is ‘contracting’. If you are using a third-party logistics provider for your warehousing needs, a temp agency for seasonal labor or advanced telephony services for your call center, there are various forms these relationships can take, including outsourcing, and offshoring.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines outsourcing and offshoring respectively as:

    ‘The process of having suppliers provide goods and services previously provided internally.’

    Note; Subcontracting is a synonym for outsourcing and a top term to know for anyone pursuing CSCP certification.


    ‘Outsourcing to a company in a different country.’

    Note; While offshoring implies something done in a far-away country, across an ocean, the concept can apply to neighboring countries on the same continent (i.e. Mexico, USA and Canada). Often referred to as ‘near-sourcing’ (undefined by APICS).

    The CLTD Body of Knowledge further discusses leveraging make-or-buy decisions for raw materials and/or finished goods inventory. When considering materials sourcing options the supply chain manger can use the Kraljic or Purchasing Portfolio Matrix, a method developed by Peter Kraljic in 1983. The matrix is used to create a purchasing portfolio by segmenting items (products or services) into 4 dimensions. The result is supply chain managers can prioritize buying activities based on profit impact and level of risks involved.

  • LeanATL 6:41 pm on November 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Planning for Business Continuity 

    Business Continuity ManagementIn prior posts we discussed key concepts from the APICS Body of Knowledge, Supply Chain Risk

    and Supply Chain Risk Management.

    A related concept and important element of operational risk reduction is Business Continuity Planning.

    APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines Business Continuity Planning as:

    ‘Plans to ensure the organizational capability of continuing to deliver products or services at acceptable predefined levels of following a disruptive incident.’

    As risk management becomes a more important part of companies strategic plans they are leveraging Business Continuity Management System (BCMS).

    APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines Business Continuity Management System as:

    ‘Part of the overall management systems that establishes, implements, operates monitors, reviews, maintains and improves the organizational capability of delivering products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident.’

    From an APICS BOK perspective an astute student would also be familiar ISO 22301.

    APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines ISO 22301 as:

    ‘An international standard specifying requirements for setting up and managing an effective business continuity management system.’

    At a high level Business Continuity Planning is applying common sense and a bit of thought to potential risks facing the organization. For example:

    • Establishing emergency contacts and communication protocols,
    • Having contingency plans in place for getting operations back on line as soon as possible,
    • Insurance planning whether 3rd party or self insured.

    In a global supply chain world, supply chain managers are faced with more risks to their supply chains including regional labor unrest, natural disasters and terrorism. Things like tsunamis, hurricanes and wild fires seem to be occurring with more frequency potentially resulting in supply chain disruptions. But there are other, more probable disruptors. For example, episode 26 of Supply Chain Now Radio included a discussion on Business Continuity Planning, specifically, supplier risk. For example, one of the guests stated: “68% of all supply chain disruption is attributable to supplier insolvency”. A big statement, but if accurate, should be included in any planning process.

    If you are studying for CLTD, these terms are NOT on the top terms list, but it is helpful to understand the concepts around Business Continuity Planning. From a CSCP perspective, Business Continuity Management System and ISO 22301 are suggest top terms, along with Supply Chain Continuity defined in the APICS Dictionary, 15th edition as:

    ‘The strategic and tactical capability of an organization to plan for and respond to conditions, situations, and events as necessary in order to continue supply chain operations at an acceptable predefined level.’

  • LeanATL 4:39 pm on September 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Packaging and Waste in the Supply Chain 

    APICS Logistics

    From 2018 APICS CLTD Learning System

    In the 2018 APICS CLTD Learning System, Packaging is considered a core activity of Logistics. Packaging serves many purposes but can also turn into another important CLTD concept, Waste.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines Packaging as:

    ‘Materials surrounding an item to protect it from damage during transport. The type of packaging influences the danger of such damage.’

    and defines Waste as:

     ‘1) Any activity not adding value to the good or service in the eyes of the consumer. 2) A by product of a process or task with unique characteristics requiring special management control.’

    While many companies and government initiatives are leading efforts to minimize packaging as waste through forms or biodegradable dunnage and reusable packaging, I can personally see the downside of packaging by counting the number of empty Amazon boxes in my basement.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines Dunnage as:

    ‘The packing material used to protect a product from damage during transport.’

    By putting on your lean thinking cap you may be able to reduce both packaging waste and other forms of non-value added waste in your supply chain.

    Packaging 1As an example, I recently visited a warehouse who repackaged and distributed travel sized consumer packaged goods. Their value-add in the supply chain was converting bulk materials into small kits consumers would purchase at hotels or convenience stores. One of their products was a shaving kit where they would pair up a 10 ounce can of shaving cream with a disposable razor and a small packet of after shave.

    The assembly process involved removing the component parts from their shipping cases, putting the components into separate piles, putting one of each component into a bag and sealing the bag.

    Packaging 2As I observed the initial breakdown process it was easy to identify waste. Focusing on one component, the shaving cream was being shipped into the warehouse in cases with 24 each in pallet quantities. The operator would grab a case, move it to the table, open the case and remove all 24 cans from the case. Then stack the empty card board case on a recycle pile. A similar process was being done for all kit components.

    Using one of my favorite concepts picked up from Stephen Covey’s ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ “begin with the end in mind’, we can start to identify ways to eliminate waste.

    The kitting process needs components in individual counts. Could the company work with their suppliers to get the product shipped in large bulk containers? Doing this would potentially eliminate waste by:

    • The product would arrive in the state needed for kitting (individual counts) and allow operators to focus on the value added kitting process rather than the non-value added case breakdown step.
    • The excess case packaging would not need to be managed (stored, moved, recycled).
    • The overall product cost might go down with the elimination of case packaging.
    • The supplier may reduce costs in packaging labor and/or time.
    • If the new shipping containers were reusable we could potentially eliminate the cost of pallets (purchase and handling costs).

    Sure it may not be as easy as I present, but it never hurts to ask. While some costs may go up, if you take a total cost perspective I expect this would result in a system wide net benefit.

  • LeanATL 9:34 pm on May 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Broker vs. Freight Forwarder 



    In June 2017 we discussed the blurry line between and 4PL and LLP. Similar confusion can occur when discussing differences between a broker and freight forwarder.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines the following key terms:


    ‘An organization that helps match carriers to freight, adding value by helping the shipper and carrier obtain better rates and more fully utilize their capacity and equipment.’

    Freight Forwarder

    ‘The “middle man” between the carrier and the organization shipping the product. Often combines smaller shipments to take advantage of lower bulk costs.’

    Reading further in the CLTD learning system I prefer associating the term “middle man” to a broker than to a freight forwarder. A broker is primarily serving as matchmaker between a shipper and a carrier. Trying to find available carrier space to satisfy a specific shipment then connect the two. A freight forwarder provides additional value by potentially consolidating multiple shipments (from multiple companies) into larger loads to gain better truckload rates (assuming the original shipment was an LTL volume). This includes taking possession of the shipment and providing short-term storage prior to final shipment. Additionally, a freight forwarder can bring shipping expertise to find the best shipping routes, determining shipping costs, and coordinating the necessary documentation for customs requirements. Generally, a freight forwarder WILL also provide a BOL for the shipment while a broker WILL NOT.

    In essence, a freight forwarder is a 3PL providing shipping expertise. Working with a freight forwarder may be more cost effective than employing a team with this skill. An insource vs. outsource decision.

    When brokers work to match shipments to carriers they are serving as a freight broker.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines a Freight Broker as…

    ‘An individual or organization who finds appropriate carriers for shippers needing transportation. The broker helps negotiate terms and administers most of the documentation.’

    When brokers provide import customs advise and services, they are serving as a customs broker.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines a Customs Broker as…

    ‘A person who manages the paperwork required for international shipping and tracks and moves the shipments through the proper channels.’

    While freight forwarders can provide input and services on customs documentation, their focus is on getting product moved from point A to point B and processing freight through customs, rather than only coordinating the necessary documentation. In general a freight forwarder will work on behalf of the shipper (exporting product) while the customs broker works on behalf of the buyer (importing product).

    For more information on freight forwarders and customs brokers check out the Operations : Supply Chain Management blogs at

    Here is a good blog to start with…

  • LeanATL 10:35 pm on February 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right, But Three Rights Make a Left: Containers, Interstates and a Few Book Reviews 

    Two Wrongs Dont Make a Right

    Over the years I have espoused one of the things making the USA economically successful was the ease of transportation of goods. Driving around Atlanta I frequently see containers on trucks being shuttled either from a train yard or from the Port of Savannah to a near-by distribution center. Any student pursuing APICS CLTD certification will appreciate the need to understand transportation concepts and some finer details around container shipping. For example,

    Land Bridges:

    ‘An intermodal strategy ‘optimizes sea, road, and rail transport modes to provide alternatives for long distance shippers. Land bridges also minimize issues of immense ships too large for canals or straits. A mini land bridge combines ocean and rail carriers for reaching destinations across a country. A micro land bridge involves a combination of ocean and rail carriers for reaching an inland destination’

    [CLTD Version 1.0, 2017 Edition, Pg5-140]

    Panamax / Suezmax

    ‘Ocean ships are measured by their ability to move through the locks of Panama and Suez canals. Ships that can move through the Panama Canal (Panamax ships) must have a deadweight of 75,000 long tons; those that can move through the Suez Canal (Suezmax ships) must have a maximum deadweight of 200,000 metric tons.’ Ships larger are too long to too wide to move through these canals (Post-Panamax/Post-Suezmax)

    [CLTD Version 1.0, 2017 Edition, Pg5-106]


    Roll On, Roll Off (RORO)

    ‘Basically large ferries. The carrier drives automobiles and other motor vehicles directly onto the ship using built-in ramps and then drives or tows the vehicles off the ship at the cargo’s destination’

    [CLTD Version 1.0, 2017 Edition, Pg5-106]

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines the following key terms

    Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU)

    ‘a measurement used to describe the carrying capacity of a cargo ship or terminal’s handling capacity. One TEU equals a standard 20 foot x 8 foot x 8 foot (length x width x height) shipping container’

    Intermodal Transport

    ‘1) Shipments moved by different types of equipment combining the best features of each mode. 2) The use of two or more different carrier modes in the through movement of a shipment’

    As I reviewed these and other APICS CLTD content I became more curious on the history of containerization, the US interstate system and the evolution of our e-commerce society. Following is insight into what I uncovered and a couple short book reviews.

    On April 26, 1956 the first converted ship tanker set sail from Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, New Jersey headed from the Port of Houston, Texas with fifty-eight 35-foot Trailer Vans. This was the first commercial use of using containers to mass ship break-bulk product overseas. Already a successful transportation business magnet, Malcolm McLean went on to change the face of global trade.

    On June 29, 1956 the (US) Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower paving the way (pun intended) for what is now officially known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. While many groups and municipalities across the country were working locally to improve road conditions, with the signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act, a strategy and funds were in place to drive a coordinated effort of standardization across the states.

    While it took decades for containerization and interstates to evolve to mass success (the first standard TEU container ship started sailing in 1968; officially 1992 is the completion of the original Interstate plan) my thesis is both events formally occurring around the same time is a key factor in the integral success of both systems. As an example, container ships were in more demand as trucks could more easily get to and access ports, and more trucks and associated highways grew in demand to get containers from ports to inland distribution points.

    Following is a brief summary of a few books you can reference for additional context:

    The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways. Earl Swift

    Big Roads starts in the late 1800’s with Carl Fisher and his role in driving change by going from selling bicycles to starting and building the Indianapolis 500. Along the way the author discusses the history of major roadway projects such as the Lincoln Highway and the Dixie Highway, the many inputs into the inter-connected roads concepts leading up to the 1956 signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act, and the consistency of Thomas Macdonald leading the design and implementation of the interstate plan for 34 years under 7 different US Presidents.

    Biggest lesson learned, while the name is officially ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways’ as with most things political, Dwight Eisenhower was in the right place at the right time and was responsible for formally signing the 1956 Act kicking off formal federal leadership of the project. There were several other visionaries and leaders more responsible for the interstate system than President Eisenhower.

    The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger. Marc Levinson

    My key take away from reading The Box was the significant disruption the introduction of container shipping had on the entire shipping industry. Today we frequently talk about technology disruption, for example the taxi industry (Uber/Lyft) or smart phones disrupting multiple industries (music, photography, land phone lines).

    “In 1963-64, Manhattan (NY) employers used 1.4 million days of longshore labor. [as container shipping grew] Hirings slid below a million in 1967-68, breached 350,000 in 1970-71, and dropped to 127,041 in 1975-76 – a 91 percent decline in longshore employment in twelve years. Brooklyn’s (NY) followed, dropping from 2.3 million hirings in 1965-66 to 1.6 million in 1970-71 and to just 930,000 in 1975-76. Employment had fallen 78 percent in a decade. Brooklyn’s once mighty cargo-handling industry was just a shadow of its former self.”

    In 1957 it was estimated container shipping cost 39-74 percent less per ton than conventional shipping.  Additionally, loading standard containers significantly increased ship turn-around from weeks to days, typically single digit days. Both of these factored into making long distance out-sourcing of production economically viable.

    Overall this is a good quick read with a detailed history or Malcolm McLean, the evolution of container standards and a brief look into the current state of container ports around the world.

    Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation. Edward Humes

    Door to Door briefly discussed both the container and interstate evolution, but put more emphasis on the impact of containerization on domestic companies unable (or unwilling) to adapt to an off-shoring model and the future states of transportation in global trade with a strong hint toward the ageing (and in some places failing) US transportation infrastructure. For my interest, the book started and ended strong allowing me to quickly skim the middle information. Key points I picked up:

    • “’Your kids will never go hungry if they have degrees in global,’ says he head of UPS for the American West. ‘But we have to leave them a transportation system that works.’” [pg16] As an employee in the supply chain technology space, and the father of a near term college student, I found this point exceptionally interesting.
    • “But then came the big breakthrough, a world-changing invention that would be both boom and disaster, making most of our modern and common products, not the least smartphone, possible. It was not some new ship design or propulsion system that launched the revolution, nor the advent of some new exciting high technology or manufacturing process. The breakthrough was a low-tech as could be: a steel box or, as American longshoreman call it ‘the can.’ It’s best known away from the docks as the shipping container.” [pg29]
    • “Manufacturing jobs come and go, but the logistics field just keeps growing – 32 percent growth even during the Great Recession, while all other fields grew by a collective average of 1 percent. Some say logistics is the new manufacturing.” [pg39]
    • Aluminum (or more specifically bauxite) is an awesome reusable material and something we should all be recycling. For example, an aluminum beverage can has become the global poster child for recycling, the one “single-use” product that gets recycled more than it gets landfilled. Much of the aluminum extracted from the earth since the 1880’s is still in play, some of it recycled dozens or even hundreds of times. Aluminum is a shining example in the “cradle-to-cradle” reuse economy. American beverage cans on average are 70 percent recycled metal, 30 percent primary aluminum.
    • One of my life philosophies “two wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights make a left” has been validated by UPS. UPS implemented a no-left-turn policy in 2004 driven by their new route optimization tool, ORION. Through detailed analysis, engineers realized turning against traffic resulted in long waits in left-hand turn lanes wasting both time and fuel, and left turns also lead to a disproportionate number of accidents. Since implementing the tool UPS estimates the following benefits:
      • Reduce 100 million miles driven annually
      • Save $300-400 million annually
      • Cut greenhouse emissions by 100,000 metric tons annually. The equivalent of removing 21,000 cars from the road

    Click here to learn more about UPS ORION.

    • “The single most common product type shipped by UPS is – perhaps unsurprisingly in this age of e-commerce – the consumer retail product category. The next most common in order are car parts, medical supplies and drugs, professional services (mostly legal and real estate documents) and industrial supplies and products.” [pg247]
    • The US transportation infrastructure is showing its age and in many ways has outgrown its use. However, there are five important trends that may bring change and relief to our crumbling roads and bridges.
    1. China is transforming from a low-wage factory sweatshop economy into a true economic powerhouse where workers are getting better wages, benefits and work conditions.
    2. Higher wages in China make off-shoring of jobs and manufacturing less attractive to companies. Re-shoring – a resurgence of manufacturing jobs back to the US is happening.
    3. The emergence of 3-D printing as a viable solution is one of the major disruptive technologies on the horizon. The “factory-in-a-box” technology provides the ability to manufacturer products locally at a competitive cost, and in small quantities.
    4. The ridesharing world of traffic apps are driving cultural changes in car ownership
    5. The driverless car will disrupt transportation as much if not more than the invention of the car.

    Which brings me to the end of the book where I found a compelling view into the future of car ownership:

    “Open an app on your smartphone and summon a driverless car to your house. The app consults the latest crowdsourced traffic data and informs you the car will pick you up forty-five minutes before your meeting starts to ensure you arrive on time. At the appointed time, your phone buzzes: the car is outside your house. It takes you to your meeting, its route selected based on current traffic data; it drops you off at the curb and then takes off to pick up another passenger. During the ride you were free to do other work. Drive time has become productive time. Neither you nor the autonomous car has to worry about parking at the end of the trip – a process that, in once congested metro areas, used to be both time-consuming and expensive. Space once set aside for parking cars is now used more productively, in the forms of protected bike lanes, outdoor cafes, open space and mini-parks. At the end of your meeting you use your app to schedule a pick up to return you for the day.”

    While the above scenario is in practice today, the next evolution is removing the human driver from the equation. Driverless cars are projected to not only be more efficient but much safer by removing human error and human ego. This will significantly reduce and possibly eliminate the 35,000 deaths, and 2.5 million trips to the Emergency Room associated to the 5 million auto collisions a year.

  • LeanATL 9:35 pm on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Perfect Order Fulfillment (seven R’s, 7 Rights of Fulfillment) 

    As outlined in a prior post, Perfect Order Fulfillment is a SCOR® measure of how reliably a company can fulfill a perfect order.

    APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines Perfect Order Fulfillment as:

    ‘a measure of an organization’s ability to deliver a perfect order’

    Perfect Order is defined as:

    ‘An order which the “seven R’s” are satisfied: the right product, the eight quantity, the right condition, the right place, the right time, the right customer, the right cost.’

    In short, Perfect Order Fulfillment is the percentage of orders meeting delivery performance with complete and accurate documentation and no delivery damage or defects.

    Warehousing Education and Research Council (WRC) narrowed down the Perfect Order Fulfillment metric to four components.

    • Complete;
    • On time;
    • Damage free;
    • With the correct documentation and invoicing.

    Click here to read how WERC calculates Perfect Order Fulfillment.

    Through 2015 WERC reported the following for Perfect Order achievement:

    • Best in Class: >=99.13%
    • Bottom Performers: <85.7%
    • Median: 97.2%

    Tillman, J. M., K. Manrodt, and D. Williams. (2016). DC Measures Study. WERCWatch. Oak Brook, IL. Warehousing Education and Research Council. 

    Once you know your current state Perfect Order metric you can begin to make continuous improvement changes to improve your performance and supply chain reliability. Click here to learn about steps you can take to improve your Perfect Order metric.

     For the CLTD and/or CSCP student it is important to understand Perfect Order Fulfillment, the Perfect Order and specifically the 7 rights of fulfillment.

    To help remember the 7 rights of fulfillment you may consider this memory jogger:


    1. Think about the 4 P’s of marketing:
      1. Remember SCOR® is not concerned with Sales and Marketing (Promotion).
      2. Cost can be synonymous with Price
    2. 2 C’s,
      1. Everything revolves around the Customer
      2. The order needs to Arrive in the right Condition
    3. As an APICS friend, you are familiar with Total Quality (TQ). For the Perfect Order:
      1. Time
      2. Quantity
    • Product
    • Price (Cost)
    • Place
    • Customer
    • Condition
    • Time
    • Quantity
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  • LeanATL 1:13 am on December 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR®) model 

    A growing supply chain wide measurement and improvement tool is the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR®) model designed to measure cross-functional, cross-company supply chain processes at various levels.

    APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines SCOR® model as:

    ‘…a cross-industry, standard diagnostic tool for supply chain management. The SCOR model describes the business activities associated with satisfying a customer’s demand, which include plan, source, make, deliver, and return…’

    Unique to SCOR® is the focus on integrated processes (plan, source, make, deliver, return and enable) rather than individual (siloed) functions. Specifically SCOR® includes:

    • All customer interactions (order-to-cash cycle)
    • All product transactions (logistics)
    • All market interactions (forecasting thru order fulfillment)

    and SCOR® excludes:

    • Sales and Marketing
    • Research and Development
    • Product Development
    • Customer Support (some elements)
    • Training
    • Quality
    • Information Technology
    • Administration

    SCOR® is typically a strategic initiative lead by management to enhance their understanding of their supply chains and associated processes with the goal of improving systems and practices related to internal operations and links to suppliers and customers. SCOR starts with 3 standard Levels with a fourth defined on a company by company basis.

    Level 1 metrics are grouped by five supply chain performance attributes, Reliability, Responsiveness, Agility, Costs, and Asset Management. Each Level 1 process is supported by two more levels, Level 2 are operational metrics and Level 3 are individual processes used as change levelers to impact Level 1 improvements.

    Of specific interest to the CLTD and CSCP student is a measure of Reliability, Perfect Order Fulfillment; how reliably can the company’s supply chain fulfill a Perfect Order. Perfect Order Fulfillment and Perfect Order are covered in another blog post on APICS CLTD Coach.

    In summary SCOR®:

    1. Is A strategic initiative
    2. Considers integrated processes both internal and external to the company
    3. Is designed to help measure and improve supply chains

    Stay tuned to for upcoming workshops on SCOR® in the Atlanta area where you can learn more about using the SCOR® model and setting up continuous improvement initiatives for your organization. Click here for a video introduction to SCOR.



  • LeanATL 11:48 pm on November 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Mind Maps for Visual Learning 

    APICS_CLTD2017_v1_0We kicked off another CLTD workshop in Atlanta recently. In the workshops we offer tools, tips and strategies for successfully studying for and passing the APICS CLTD exam. One strategy we recommend to all students is creating a mind map of the CLTD learning system.

    A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. A mind map is hierarchical and shows relationships among pieces of the whole. It is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

    When I studied for the CLTD exam, I used Coggle, a free online mind mapping tool.

    First, I summarized the learning system by module and section, and highlighted the total number of pages within each section. I then created a separate mind map for each section and listed terms and/or concepts associated to the section, along with a page reference in the learning system. This allowed me to easily summarize key terms and concepts and link them to a topic.

    The end result was multiple pages of mind maps I was able to quickly reference. More importantly, the process of developing the mind maps helped engrain the core learning concepts I felt relevant to better understanding CLTD.

    You can send us a note and we will gladly send you the mind maps we have, but the real learning occurs when you create your own mind map and being to identify terms and concepts and associate them to sections and topics in the learning system. After all, while there are short cuts to learning, the best path to understanding is doing.



    • Khalid 4:30 pm on November 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I’d be glad to receive those mind maps.
      Thanks in advance!


    • Rafiq Khan 11:49 am on December 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I am preparing for the CLTD examinations. It’d be great if you can share the mind-maps you’ve created for CLTD. Please mail those to me at


    • Blair Williams 3:53 pm on February 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Looks very interesting. Pl send mind maps you have. Do you cover CSCP too?


      Blair Williams CFPIM, CSCP, CLTD, Jonah


    • Laila 2:40 pm on February 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for sharing. This is very useful not only for organizing our own ideas as we learn new concepts, but also for sharing these ideas with others and support group thinking.


    • Alan Milliken 1:07 pm on February 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Please forward me the CLTD Mind Maps. Thanks


  • LeanATL 2:30 am on November 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Break Bulk Warehouse 

    Break Bulk Warehouse 2


    Last post, we discussed a tool for distribution facility network design. Another factor potentially influencing network design is the role of the warehouse. For example, will all facilities be pure distribution centers, storing inventory and distributing to customers? Or will facilities be specialized, serving different purposes.

    Within a supply chain, it is common to have multiple warehouses serving specific roles to improve customer service levels, reduce transportation costs, or both. For example, a break bulk warehouse will allow a company to leverage inbound transportation truck loads which are typically better rates than smaller less than truck load rates. The warehouse in this case serves the purpose of receiving bulk shipments through economical long distance transportation from plant and breaking of these into small shipments for local delivery to various customers. This enables small shipments in place of long distance small shipments.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines break bulk (warehouse) as:

    ‘dividing truckloads, railcars or containers of homogeneous items into smaller, more appropriate quantities for use…’

    Another source, presents economic benefits of various warehouse roles and defines the benefits of break bulk a receiving bulk shipments through economical long distance transportation from plant and breaking of these into small shipments for local delivery to various customers. This enables small shipments in place of long distance small shipments.


  • LeanATL 12:35 pm on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Center-of-Gravity (modeling) Approach 

    Michael Jackson Lean 3

    Effective facilities planning and network design can result in both a strategic competitive advantage (serving customers quicker) and low cost differentiation. A good project will look at the location of facilities relative to customers and suppliers, and the types of facilities to help improve customer service while lowering costs.

    Click here to read an example, with results, of a network design project.

    Facility location decisions involve many logistics variables. Your job as a supply chain professional is to balance and compare these variables to optimize service levels, costs and flexibility. You have many modeling tools available ranging from simple to complex.

    One approach of interest to an APICS CLTD candidate is the Center-of-Gravity Approach.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines a center-of-gravity approach as:

    ‘a methodology for locating distribution centers at approximately the location representing the minimum transportation costs between the plants, the distribution centers, and the markets, in order to maximize revenue …’

    The Center of Gravity Approach seeks to compute geographic coordinates for a potential single new facility to minimize costs. The main inputs considered are:

    • Markets
    • Volume of goods shipped
    • Shipping costs

    This method is beneficial because it’s (1) Simple to compute, (2) Considers existing facilities, (3) and Minimizes costs.

    Click here to read more about using the center-of-gravity approach.


    You may think the National Archives is an unlikely place to learn about center of gravity and the secrets of Michael Jackson’s dance moves — but you’re wrong!

    • Shaida Allen Wilson 1:05 pm on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Great information! Thanks


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