Understanding Supply Chain

Topics: Supply chain management, Supply chain, Inventory Pages: 19 (5312 words) Published: April 9, 2013
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Understanding the Supply Chain

LEARNING OBJECTIVES After reading this chapter, you will be able to: I. Discuss the goal of a supply chain and explain the impact of supply chain decisions on the success of a finn. 2. Identify the three key supply chain decision phases and explain the significance of each one. 3. Describe the cycle and push/pull views of a supply chain. 4. Classify the supply chain macro processes in a finn.

In this chapter, we provide a conceptual understanding of what a supply chain is and the various issues that need to be considered when designing, planning, or operating a supply chain. We discuss the significance of supply chain decisions and supply chain performance for the success of a finn. We also provide several examples from different industries to emphasize the variety of supply chain issues that companies need to consider at the strategic, planning, and operational levels.



A supply chain consists of all parties involved, directly or indirectly, in fulfilling a customer request. The supply chain includes not only the manufacturer and suppliers, but also transporters, warehouses, retailers, and even customers themselves. Within each organization, such as a manufacturer, the supply chain includes all functions involved in receiving and filling a customer request. These functions include, but are not limited to, new product development, marketing, operations, distribution, finance, and customer service. Consider a customer walking into a Wal-Mart store to purchase detergent. The supply chain begins with the customer and his or her need for detergent. The next stage of this supply chain is the Wal-Mart retail store that the customer visits. Wal-Mart stocks its shelves using inventory that may have been supplied from a finished-goods warehouse or a distributor using trucks supplied by a third party. The distributor in tum is stocked by the manufacturer (say, Procter & Gamble [P&G] in this case). The P&G manufacturing plant receives raw material from a variety of suppliers, who may themselves have been supplied by lower-tier suppliers. For example, packaging material may come from Pactiv Corporation (formerly Tenneco Packaging) while Pactiv receives raw materials to manufacture the packaging from other suppliers. This supply chain is illustrated in Figure 1-1, with the arrows corresponding to the direction of physical product flow. A supply chain is dynamic and involves the constant flow of information, product, and funds between different stages. In our example, Wal-Mart provides the product, as well as pricing and availability information, to the


Chapter I • Understanding the Supply Chain


Timber Company

Paper r. Manufacturer r.

Pactiv Corporation

P&G or Other

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Chem;cal Manufacturer


Wai-Mart or Third Party DC


Wai-Mart Store






Stages of a Detergent Supply Chain

customer. The customer transfers funds to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart conveys point-of-sales data as well as replenishment orders to the warehouse or distributor, who transfers the replenishment order via trucks back to the store. Wal-Mart transfers funds to the distributor after the replenishment. The distributor also provides pricing information and sends delivery schedules to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart may send back packaging material to be recycled. Similar information, material, and fund flows take place across the entire supply chain. In another example, when a customer makes a purchase online from Dell Computer, the supply chain includes, among others, the customer, Dell's Web site, the Dell assembly plant, and all of Dell's suppliers and their suppliers. The Web site provides the customer with information regarding pricing, product variety, and product availability. Having made a product choice, the customer enters the order information and pays for the product. The...
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