APICS 2009 Convention: Day 3

Today’s general session showcased people from around the world (Mexico, China, Italy, South Africa, Poland, India, Egypt, US, etc.) and their stories about what work in manufacturing and supply chain means to them. The idea behind this was to show us how supply chain concepts are being embraced worldwide—and the presenters did it by showing media clips and images from different continents.

Instead of learning sessions and case studies, this morning we attended two different mini workshop sections: despite the fact that I’m a business analyst and supposed to preach about eliminating spreadsheets, I attended the Excel workshop for better inventory management, while my colleague Gabriel wanted to understand what SCREAM (Supply Chain Risk Evaluation and Management) was all about.

I was very intrigued by the description of the session: “Microsoft Excel can bring order to the chaos when your enterprise resource software can’t get the job done.” In other words, when your car doesn’t work, use a bike, or just walk! In my opinion, when your enterprise software doesn’t do the job, the last thing you should do is use spreadsheets.

Gabriel was part of demonstration simulating an H1N1 epidemic in Toronto. The audience was divided into four teams, delegated to take care of communications, medical first response, and other measures taken in this type of situation. It was a very good exercise which showed us that we are not at all prepared for such events. Nor are supply chain companies, since out of the hundred people attending, just a few said they were prepared for the unpredictable.

The first half of the day ended with a session on supply chain performance management by IBM Cognos, which included a short demo of the product. Speaking of IBM, the vendor seems to have the most interesting booth here, where they show several different software solutions (most of them open-source) for the supply chain and distribution industries. Some other vendors we saw are offering solutions for inventory management, forecasting, demand management, sales and operations planning, etc.

Follow our blog post series to find out specific details on particular vendors and solutions we’re meeting at the APICS Expo.
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