Tag Archive | Guest Post

The Science of Sustainable Supply Chains (Guest Post by Dara O’Rourke, UC Berkeley)

My guest post today comes from Dara O’Rourke. In his recent Science article, The Science of Sustainable Supply Chains, Dara argues that the field of supply chain management needs to significantly improve and integrate sustainability measurement systems and decision-support tools.

The science of sustainability measurement has progressed alongside efforts to advance supply chain traceability, impact assessment, and aggregation of data into sustainability indicators. Advances in life-cycle assessment (LCA) and product “footprinting” are increasingly being deployed in efforts to turn data into decision-support tools for global brands and retailers. However, the speed and dynamism of modern supply chains creates challenges for incorporating sustainability data into sourcing decisions. In addition, the use of divergent methodologies, data sets, and system boundaries have led to confusion across assessment initiatives. In order for these systems to generate accurate sustainability assessments, there is a need for consistent LCA inventory data and common data sets for up-stream activities; consistent life-cycle impact factors; better uncertainty analysis; localization of LCA data sets; modeling of nonlinear responses and ecosystem dynamics; and improved systems for valuing ecosystem services. Better data, decision-support tools, and incentives are needed to move from simply managing supply chains for costs, compliance, and risk reduction, to predicting and preventing unsustainable practices.

Dara O’Rourke is a professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the co-founder of GoodGuide, Inc. which recently launched PurView, a supply chain sustainability data platform for retailers and brands. You can follow Dara on twitter @DaraORourke.

O’Rourke, D. (2014). The Science of Sustainable Supply Chains. Science, 344 (6188), 1124-1127 https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1248526

Climate Extremes Will Challenge Our Supply Chains (Guest Post by Anders Levermann, PIK)

In his recent Nature article, Climate Economics: Make Supply Chains Climate-smart, Anders Levermann argues that supply chains need to adapt to extreme weather. He discusses this topic in the following guest post.

Extreme weather events are likely to intensify the more greenhouse-gases we emit – and these extremes are more than just a local risk. Links in global economic chains and world markets mean that flooding or heat-waves in one place can have repercussions elsewhere. Extreme rainfall and typhoon Yasi paralyzed the world’s fourth largest coal exploration site in Australia in 2010/11. Coking coal prices went up by 25% in 2011. In order to estimate the impact of climate change on our society we need to understand both future weather extremes and our global economic network. In Potsdam we recently set up a website to collect and analyze this data. Everyone can register and contribute expertise. In a similar fashion as Wikipedia we hope to gradually generate a global community that creates a system of checks and balances to obtain an up-to-date database of high quality and detail to induce a global adaptation of our supply chains. For news follow @ZEEANit on Twitter or register at zeean.net.

Anders Levermann is a physics professor for the dynamics of the climate system and co-chair of the research domain Sustainable Solutions at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Levermann, A. (2014). Climate Economics: Make Supply Chains Climate-smart. Nature, 506, 27-29 DOI: 10.1038/506027a

Introducing the Journal of Operations Management (Guest Post by the Editors-in-Chief)

In today’s guest post, Thomas Y. Choi and Daniel Guide, Editors-in-Chief of the Journal of Operations Management, provide an introduction to their journal, which is a leading journal of our field.

The Journal of Operations Management (JOM) is an empirical journal whose mission is to advance the theories of operations management (OM) and supply chain management (SCM). The goal is to publish original, high quality, OM and SCM empirical research that will have a significant impact on theory and practice. Regular articles accepted for publication in JOM must have clear implications for operations managers based on one or more of a variety of rigorous research methodologies. It is the premier ranked journal, repeatedly ranked above other journals in the discipline. It is one of the OM-SCM focused empirical journals used by both the Financial Times in its rankings of Business Schools as well as by the University of Texas at Dallas in its assessment of scholarship. In terms of citation share, in 2011 JOM was given the following ISI category ranking: 1/73 in “Operations Research & Management Science” and 7/166 in “Management”. The current impact factor (IF) is 4.40 and the five year IF is 7.13.

Thomas Y. Choi is a Professor of Supply Chain Management at the W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University. Daniel Guide is a Professor of Supply Chain Management at the Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University. They have published their research in numerous academic and managerial journals.

A Moral Revision of Electronic Supply Chains (Guest Post by Bas van Abel, Fairphone)

To make the supply chain more transparent, Fairphone opens up the entire system to understand what shapes our economy. I am happy to share the following guest post by Bas van Abel, CEO and founder of Fairphone. Thank you for contributing to my blog.

Business practices in the supply chains of the electronics industry are in urgent need of moral revision. What do we know about the production of complex electronic devices and the people who make them? By making a phone, Fairphone wants to uncover and expose each link in the supply chain and step-by-step make interventions to improve the way things are made. Instead of hiding behind the complexity of the supply chain, Fairphone wants to unveil the problems associated with the smartphone production like poor labor conditions, the use of conflict minerals and the rise in electronic waste. To do so, we are searching for solutions by engaging in partnerships to come with alternatives to current models. In the first Fairphone that will be released in December 2013, conflict-free tin and tantalum from the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been integrated in the manufacturing of the phone, but that’s only a first step. By growing a movement of people who can share best practices and by creating a platform for discussion, Fairphone aims to raise the bar for the industry meanwhile giving people a choice for fairer electronics.

Bas has a background in interaction design and is an active member of the Maker Movement. He supports open design principles. He has set up projects such as the Waag Society’s Fablab and the Instructables restaurant (an open source restaurant). He is co-editor of the book “Open Design Now”.

Full Product Transparency (Guest Post by Ramon Arratia, Interface)

In his new book, Full Product Transparency, sustainability pioneer Ramon Arratia argues that we have to move from corporate to product sustainability. I am happy that Ramon followed my invitation to contribute to my blog:

The conventional approach to exercising corporate responsibility in a company’s supply chain is to draft a company supplier standard and then audit for compliance using that document. Positive and usually well-intentioned, the impact is inherently limited by the narrow scope of the dialogue and the teacher–student nature of the relationship. The typical 700 questions questionnaire sent to suppliers usually asks meaningless things such as: “Does your organisation have an environmental policy in place?” Or: “Does your organisation have an environmental management system (EMS) in place?” This is just bureaucracy for the sake of it, taking lots of time from both parts and adding little transformative value to the real environmental impacts of the products. The ideal question for suppliers is: “Send me the environmental product declaration (EPD) of your product and your plan to radically improve it”. After all, you are not buying the whole company. Besides, around 80% of the environmental impacts of products are not in the manufacturer’s realms but in their supply chain.

Ramon Arratia is a sustainability director at Interface and has previously been employed in similar roles at Vodafone and Ericsson. Interface is the winner of the International Green Awards 2012. Ramon is also a blogger of Cut the Fluff.

Logistics Clusters (Guest Post by Yossi Sheffi, MIT)

Logistics clusters play an increasingly important part in logistics & supply chain management. I am happy to share the following guest post by Professor Yossi Sheffi, a distinguished expert in logistics clusters. Thank you for contributing to my blog.

Logistics clusters are agglomerations of firms that come together to share logistics expertise and know-how. As I argue in my new book Logistics Clusters: Delivering Value and Driving Growth (MIT Press, October 2012), these entities have a number of unique, and generally underestimated, attributes. First, they are self-reinforcing in that logistics clusters use the high volumes of freight they generate to capture economies of scope and scale and reduce costs while improving service quality. These benefits attract more companies, which in turn bring further efficiencies within reach. Second, resident companies use the cluster to pool expertise and equipment, which buffers them against fluctuations in demand. Third, logistics clusters are major creators of employment opportunities that tend not to be “offshorable” and not tied to the fortunes of any one industry. Finally, these entities are building considerable expertise in environmental sustainability. These are some of the reasons why I believe that the private and public sectors need to invest more in logistics clusters.

Yossi Sheffi is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he serves as Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics.