Earlier this spring, dozens of local and regional professionals charged with managing operations for their respective companies met to learn more about the fast-growing realm of supply chain management (SCM).
Sponsored by the Center for Supply Chain Transformation at the Raj Soin College of Business, the First Annual Supply Chain Conference helped professionals share ideas, gain insights and network.
SCM is the management of interconnected businesses involved in the ultimate delivery of goods or services to the consumer. Coined in the 1980s, the phrase refers to the deliberate practice of actively monitoring the supply chain to seek improved efficiency and cost savings.
SCM has grown in popularity among managers and business school students as organizations have sought expertise for managing the complex relationships required in software development, manufacturing, health care and high-tech industries.
Supply chain managers scour their respective networks for lean opportunities—those protocols or practices that can be further developed because they add value or could be cut because they rack up unnecessary costs.
“The theme for the conference this year was ‘Supply Chain Management in a Reset World,’ but the idea for future conferences is to grow the event into something that can be a great source of SCM knowledge sharing, both among area professionals but also educators at Wright State,” said Dwight Smith-Daniels, Ph.D., professor and chair of information systems and operations management in the Raj Soin College of Business.
Held in the Berry Room at the Wright State University Nutter Center, about 60 supply chain professionals from industry, government and academia listened to a bank of professional speakers, including David Spencer, president and COO of Corbus LLC, an international solutions provider for information technology (IT), SCM and Project Management (PM) services.
“Not only did it provide an opportunity to share with participants the insights Corbus has gained over the decades of being in the SCM services space, but it also allowed us the chance to hear from both clients and prospects about their unique challenges that Corbus could help them address,” said Spencer. “This combination makes this event a true win-win!”
Wright State educators are hoping the success will translate into further development of the Supply Chain master’s program too.
Steve Allaire completed the Soin colleges Master of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management program last summer. He and his partner for the degree’s capstone project developed a plan that Allaire believes could save Dayton Power and Light (DP&L) 4.5 million dollars through improvement in replenishment logic, supplier relationship management and inventory control systems.
“In some cases the need was 48 months of inventory, but we found 480,” said Allaire. “We believe there was great opportunity to reduce inventory carrying costs and improve understanding of past usage availabilities.
In 2010, Allaire was promoted to manage about 65,000 items totaling roughly $50 million in inventory for DP&L. Two years later with a new degree in hand, he spoke at the conference. Motivated to spread the word about resources at Wright State, and idea swap with other supply chain professionals in the region, Allaire jumped at the opportunity. Allaire has since spoken at a variety of conferences about the project, including a meeting of the Dayton Chamber of the Institute for Supply Chain Management.
“Dayton is fairly recognized as a crossroads for logistics. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base of course would be recognized, but many companies in the area are earning a reputation now too and I think supply chain expertise is becoming a core strength of the area,” said Allaire.
In the end, that’s what Smith-Daniels is hoping to harness. The goal is a yearly exchange of the latest supply chain trends, applications and theories through the Center of Supply Chain Transformation’s conferences, research and industry engagement.
“Supply chain is exciting because there are so many ways to provide value through supply chain transformation, including improved service, reduced costs and rapid new product and service creation,” said Smith-Daniels. “If done right, this conference should be an annual springboard for new ideas that helps all of us add value, stream out costs and grow valuable relationships chains.”