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Supply Chain Management for Dummies

Richard Jefferson

I like information. Lots of it. But it should be clear, concise, applicable, and digestible. I am certain I am not alone in this pursuit.

That’s why I recommend Daniel Stanton’s Supply Chain Management for Dummies, 2018. It’s a comprehensive look at supply chain management, combining all the key elements of the discipline. Supply chain management has always been with us, from ancient commercial practices to today’s metalcasting producers, but now it’s a heavy-duty academic subject.

One of the best summaries of the discipline must be Stanton’s 2018 book of more than 300 pages.

If your work touches supply chain management at all, this is a book you want on your shelf for regular reference. After all, supply chain management is “about seeing your business as an interconnected system … the planning and coordination of all the people, processes, and technology involved in creating value.” That covers an immense amount of information.

For full disclosure, I was connected with Stanton on LinkedIn before his book was published. I discovered Supply Chain Management for Dummies in a post with a photo of Stanton on an airplane perusing a copy of his brand-new book. The timing was excellent, as I was looking into supply chains just then. I assure you, I will be using Supply Chain Management for Dummies for a long time.

Here at AFS, we seek to understand and connect with every part of the metalcasting supply chain. For those of us who always seek deeper understanding of our industry, this book is highly informative.

As a formal academic discipline, Supply Chain Management has only been around for 30-40 years. It’s an incredibly important subject, and increasingly, businesses seek to hire graduates of supply chain programs.  

As mentioned above, the scope of the management of supply chains is huge, as you can see from some of the chapters: Understanding Supply Chains from Different Perspectives, Connecting Supply Chain Process, Managing Supply Chain Software, Integrating Advanced Manufacturing into Your Supply Chain, Adopting Supply Chain Metrics, and Selecting a Supply Chain Career.

Viewing an entire business from a bird’s eye view helps understand a supply chain as an interconnected system, from the origins of all inputs to the final use of products and services.

It is beneficial to a business to explore certain parts of the supply chain in scrupulous detail, but to really “get” a supply chain, managers must strive to know all parts. It’s a demanding pursuit.   

Competent supply chain managers diligently seek ways to squeeze out more efficiencies. More efficiencies mean greater profits. Considering the need to increase margins in industry, supply chain management, according to Stanton, is likely to offer the best opportunities for greater efficiency and increased revenue.

Who in business isn’t looking for boosted efficiencies and more revenue?

There is probably much more information in Supply Chain Management for Dummies than you will need at any given moment.

Sections 1-4 have many immediately applicable parts. You might not need Section 5 on Building Your Supply Chain Management Career, but you might (see sidebar).

For those interested in pushing forward with their self-education in supply chain management, parts of Section 5 will motivate you to pursue advancement in managing supply chains.

Stanton’s book could be used as a business communications text. Supply chains are utterly dependent on clarity and precision in communications, and excellent communications in this context can be the difference between extracting needed efficiencies or missing opportunities

Click here to see this story as it appears in the May 2018 issue of Modern Casting

AFS & The Institute offer Casting Supplier Auditing, a class that teaches supply chain audits of metalcasting facilities. It covers audit requirements, developing and performing an audit, and closing the audit loop. For information, contact Bo Wallace via email at BWallace@afsinc.org.

For those considering careers in managing supply chains there are solid degree programs. You can also find lectures on YouTube by Dr. Sime Curkovic, Ph.D. Professor of Management in the Integrated Supply Management Program at Western Michigan University. Curkovic is an expert communicator, and his excitement for supply chains is highly infectious and persuasive. Curkovic has also offered to send resumes of graduates who can help companies better manage their supply chains.

The Reshoring Initiative offers a wonderful tool for metalcasters called the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator. The explanatory power of the TCO calculator could help metalcasters demonstrate to casting buyers and designers they’re leaving a lot of money on the table. Too many have ignored the hidden costs of obtaining castings from markets outside of North America. Hidden costs can be in engineering, workflow, pricing, logistics, availability, concept and design costs.

These hidden factors typically increase the total cost for product imported from Asia by 15 to 25%, sometimes making the cost higher than
domestically supplied product. See http://www.reshorenow.org/tco-estimator/.