Supply Chain science and tech

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Terabyte Scalability for Supply Chains

The relevant amount of historical data when considering large supply chains frequently exceeds one terabyte. As a result, inventory control requires two distinct flavors of software: transactional software (e.g. an ERP) to manage the resources, and predictive software (e.g. Lokad) to optimize the resources.

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Why Safety Stock Is Unsafe

Safety stocks are an inventory optimization method that enforces an extra quantity of stock beyond the expected demand in order to maintain a target service level. This method relies on key statistical assumptions about the demand forecast, most notably that the error is normally found in the distribution.

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Generations of Machine Learning

Machine learning is an umbrella term that includes diverse algorithmic approaches. In supply chain, the historical way of doing machine learning was time-series forecasting. However, this approach has been superseded by a series of superior forecasting approaches.

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Why Lead Times Are Nearly Always Underappreciated

The lead time is the total amount of time, typically counted in days, associated with the inventory replenishment cycle. The amount of stocks that a supply chain needs to operate tends to be roughly proportional to its lead times. Accurately estimating future lead times is critical for accurately estimating the amount of inventory needed to fulfill future demand. However, it is a fundamental factor that is often overlooked by companies, with a far greater importance being placed on forecasting.

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Service Level vs. Fill Rate

In supply chain, the service level defines the probability of not hitting a stock-out during the next ordering cycle. However, the fill rate defines the fraction of the customer demand that will be properly served. Service levels and fill rates are distinct, and should not be confused.

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ABC Analysis does not work

The ABC analysis is a widespread inventory categorization method used in many supply chains. Its intent is to prioritize management's attention to where it matters most. Yet, this method has many flaws, and can no longer be considered as state-of-the-art.

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Modularisation in Supply Chain

While the physical infrastructure supporting most supply chains is highly modular, their software infrastructure counterpart, e.g. inventory control or demand forecasting systems, tends to be monolithic and brittle. As a result, large scale 'software' supply chain failures are still ongoing.

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Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) is a corporate practice intended to deliver superior supply chain execution by leveraging a deeper alignment with other divisions beyond supply chain - most notably sales, finance and production. Despite the claims from multiple vendors that the best-in-class businesses operate under S&OP, most implementations suffer from similar flaws, which are intrinsic to the very nature of S&OP.

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Data Jobs in Supply Chain

Supply Chain Management (SCM) practices are increasingly data-driven and quantitative. New roles have appeared such as the Supply Chain Scientist. Companies need to make strategic decisions about whether these competencies are developed in-house or externalized.

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