Today, I would like to draw your attention to one of my favorite articles in the field of supply chain management: Design for Postponement by Swaminathan & Lee (2003). The article identifies three key postponement enablers: First, process standardization, where the initial steps of a process are standardized across a product line and distinct personalities are added at a later stage (e.g., localized manuals or power supply modules of a printer). Second, process resequencing, where more common components are added at the beginning of a process (e.g., cut of clothes), whereas components that create product differentiation are added later (e.g., color of clothes). Finally, component standardization, where key components are standardized to postpone decisions. The article also explains interesting concepts like “vanilla boxes” and “partial postponement”. I believe that postponement should be a key element of a supply chain management curriculum and that this classic article is really helpful to teach it.
Swaminathan, J.M., & Lee, H.L. (2003). Design for Postponement. Handbooks in Operations Research and Management Science, 11 (Supply Chain Management: Design, Coordination and Operation), 199-226 DOI: 10.1016/S0927-0507(03)11005-5
New York Times reports: “As companies look for more efficient ways to move freight from factories in China to consumers in Europe, the Mary is among the newest giants, known as the Triple-E’s. Owned and operated by A.P. Møller – Mærsk of Denmark, the world’s largest container shipping company, the Triple-E’s went into service last year, muscling their way into the $210 billion container industry.” Watch the video from the article.
Some weeks ago, Thomson Reuters published the impact factors of well-known management journals as part of their Journal Citation Reports. I looked up the impact factors of several supply chain management journals. At least two SCM-related journals have an impact factor larger than 3, indicating that they belong to the best in class in the management realm: Journal of Operations Management and Journal of Supply Chain Management. Moreover, two other journals have an impact factor close to 3: Supply Chain Management: An International Journal and Journal of Business Logistics. Four additional journals were able to reach an impact factor between 1.5 and 2: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, Decision Sciences and International Journal of Operations & Production Management. Slightly smaller is the impact factor of the International Journal of Logistics Management. Finally, International Journal of Logistics: Research & Applications and Interfaces have impact factors smaller than 1. However, keep in mind that journal rankings have a downside and should not be the only criteria for judging the value of our research.