Supply Chain Lectures


Aug 25, 2021

Mathematical optimization for supply chain - Lecture 4.3

Mathematical optimization is the process of minimizing a mathematical function. Nearly all the modern statistical learning techniques - i.e. forecasting if we adopt a supply chain perspective - rely on mathematical optimization at their core. Moreover, once the forecasts are established, identifying the most profitable decisions also happen to rely, at its core, on mathematical optimization. Supply chain problems frequently involve many variables. They are also usually stochastic in nature. Mathematical optimization is a cornerstone of a modern supply chain practice.

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Jul 21, 2021

Blockchains for supply chain - Lecture 4.21

Cryptocurrencies have attracted a lot of attention. Fortunes were made. Fortunes were lost. Pyramid schemes were rampant. From a corporate perspective, the “blockchain” is the polite euphemism used to introduce similar ideas and technologies while establishing a distanciation with those cryptocurrencies. Supply chain use cases exist for the blockchain but challenges abound as well.

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Jun 30, 2021

Amsterdam, cheese brands (persona) - Lecture 3.2

Amsterdam is a fictitious FMCG company that specializes in the production of cheeses, creams and butters. They operate a large portfolio of brands over multiple countries. Many business conflicting goals must be carefully balanced':' quality, price, freshness, waste, diversity, locality, etc. By design, milk production and retail promotions put the company between the hammer and the anvil in terms of supply and demand.

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Jun 9, 2021

Modern algorithms for supply chain - Lecture 4.2

The optimization of supply chains relies on solving numerous numerical problems. Algorithms are highly codified numerical recipes intended to solve precise computational problems. Superior algorithms mean that superior results can be achieved with fewer computing resources. By focusing on the specifics of supply chain, algorithmic performance can be vastly improved, sometimes by orders of magnitude. “Supply chain” algorithms also need to embrace the design of modern computers, which has significantly evolved over the last few decades.

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May 20, 2021

Modern computers for supply chain - Lecture 4.1

Modern supply chains require computing resources to operate just like motorized conveyor belts require electricity. Yet, sluggish supply chain systems remain ubiquitous, while the processing power of computers has increased by a factor greater than 10,000x since 1990. A lack of understanding of the fundamental characteristics of modern computing resources - even among IT or data science circles - goes a long way in explaining this state of affairs. The software design underlying the numerical recipes shouldn’t antagonize the underlying computing substrate.

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Apr 28, 2021

Miami, an aviation MRO (persona) - Lecture 3.1

Miami is a fictitious aviation MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) in the USA serving a large fleet of commercial aircraft. In aviation, security is paramount. Parts and components must be routinely inspected and potentially repaired. Miami is in the business of keeping aircraft in the air at all times, avoiding AOG (aircraft on ground) incidents, which happen whenever a part needed to conduct a maintenance operation is missing.

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Apr 14, 2021

Writing for supply chains - Lecture 2.5

Supply chains involve the coordination of large teams. Thus, written materials are king. Modern supply chains are simply not compatible with oral tradition. Yet, supply chain practitioners often fare terribly as far as their written communication skills are concerned. Let’s review what usability studies, and some notable experts, have to say on these matters.

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Mar 31, 2021

Adversarial market research for enterprise software - Lecture 2.4

Modern supply chains depend on a myriad of software products. Picking the right vendors is a matter of survival. However, as the number of vendors is large, companies need a systematic approach in this undertaking. The traditional market research practice starts with good intent but invariably ends up with bad outcomes, as market research firms end up acting as marketing fronts for the companies they are supposed to analyze. The hope that an unbiased research firm will emerge is misplaced. However, the vendor-on-vendor assessment is a methodology that allows even a biased market research firm to produce unbiased results.

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Mar 17, 2021

Negative Knowledge in Supply Chain - Lecture 2.3

Antipatterns are the stereotypes of solutions that look good but don’t work in practice. The systematic study of antipatterns was pioneered in the late 1990s by the field of software engineering. When applicable, antipatterns are superior to raw negative results, as they are easier to memorize and reason about. The antipattern perspective is of prime relevance to supply chain, and should be considered as one of the pillars for its negative knowledge.

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Mar 3, 2021

Experimental Optimization - Lecture 2.2

Far from the naïve Cartesian perspective where optimization would just be about rolling-out an optimizer for a given score function, supply chain requires a much more iterative process. Each iteration is used to identify “insane” decisions that are to be investigated. The root cause is frequently improper economic drivers, which need to be re-assessed in regards to their unintended consequences. The iterations stop when the numerical recipes no longer produce insane results.

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Feb 17, 2021

Paris, a fashion retail network (persona) - Lecture 2.1.1

Paris is a fictitious European fashion brand operating a large retail network. The brand targets women and positions itself as being relatively affordable. While the design line is relatively classic and sober, the main business driver has always been novelty. Multiple collections per year are used to push waves of new products. Pushing the right product, at the right time, at the right price and with the right stock quantity is one of the core challenges.

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Feb 3, 2021

Supply Chain Personae - Lecture 2.1

A supply chain “persona” is a fictitious company. Yet, while the company is fictive, this fiction is engineered to outline what deserves attention from a supply chain perspective. However, the persona is not idealized in the sense of simplifying the supply chain challenges. On the contrary, the intent is to magnify the most challenging aspects of the situation, the aspects that will most stubbornly resist any attempt at quantitative modelling and any attempt piloting an initiative to improve the supply chain.

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