The Supply Chain Category

Commodities Roundup: Cotton, Aluminum, Steel and Nickel were this Week’s Big Newsmakers

For the buyers and category managers out there, especially those of you deep in the weeds of buying and managing commodities, here’s a quick rundown of news and thoughts from particular commodity markets. From price movements to policy decisions, we scour the landscape for what matters.

Healthcare Consumerism: Supply Chains that Follow the Patient Home

There’s been a lot of talk about “healthcare consumerism” lately. Is it really about increasing competition among insurance providers? As the acute care market continues to consolidate and vertically integrate, aren't the insurance pickings for most of us getting conspicuously slim, especially if employers are making our coverage decisions? Here’s where I’ve landed: If healthcare consumer advocates are relying on insurance companies to drive “consumerism,” then they’ve put the cart before the horse. My money is on the jockey, and the jockey in this race is good old-fashioned consumer preference.

As Sessions Tries to Kill the High, Cannabis Industry’s Domestic — and Global — Aspirations Continue Speeding Up

The new year began with a bang — especially for those in the U.S. Pacific Time Zone. That’s because the entire contiguous western seaboard has now officially legalized and instituted recreational marijuana sales and consumption, with California joining Oregon and Washington on Jan. 1 as the latest state to open dispensary doors for rec sales. Many in the pot press were quick to point out that with more than 50 million people, California represents the single-biggest individual market for recreational cannabis as the world’s sixth-largest economy. Various analysts estimate the state’s total value of the pot market will eclipse that of all other U.S. states with recreational markets combined in just a few years or less. But everything that goes up (in smoke), must come down (from its high).

As Industrial Supply Chains Undergo Digital Transformation, Talent Gaps Persist

The digital transformation of supply chains is well underway, but finding the right talent to drive this transformation remains a challenge for many industrial companies. According to a survey of senior executives from the industrial manufacturing sector conducted by Korn Ferry, talent is viewed as the “secret to sustainable success” when it comes to digital transformation, regardless of whether a company is in the beginning stages of digitization or well along in the process.

Is Three a Trend? UK Supermarket Giants Reveal Antibiotic Use in Food Supply Chains

Marks and Spencer (M&S) recently released data on the quantities of antibiotics used by their meat and dairy suppliers, and fellow leading U.K. supermarket chains Waitrose and Asda have done the same. In all three cases, antibiotic use was below industry averages or targets. The fact that antibiotic resistance is a growing health crisis is old news, and health organizations and activists have long been calling for a drastic reduction in the use of antibiotics on farm animals, a key cause of antibiotic resistance.

Hurricanes, Geopolitics, Cyberattacks and More: Top Risk Posts of 2017

As far as risk goes, if 2016 was characterized by political turbulence, then 2017 was all about disasters, natural and manmade. This past May saw a worldwide ransomware attack that hit more tha 300,000 computers in 150 countries, disrupted hospitals and manufacturing plants, and caused economic losses that are estimated to be in the billions. Then there were the Harvey and Irma hurricanes of late summer and the ongoing California wildfires. And we haven’t even mentioned geopolitics, commodities, finances and all of the other risks out there that need to be on procurement’s radar these days. As part of Spend Matters’ year in review, here are the top risk posts from 2017 that you don’t want to miss.

Former Boeing VP John Byrne on How the OEM Optimized its Direct Materials Supply Chain Visibility

MRO

If you’re a direct materials procurement professional, what would force you to change the way you do business? For John Byrne, former vice president of aircraft materials/structures at Boeing, it was nothing short of a supply chain emergency. “The situation we faced at Boeing was initially borne out of a situation driven by a crisis,” Byrne said in the recent webinar “Supercharge Your Approach: Managing Direct Materials Across Global Supply Chains,” hosted by our sister site, MetalMiner.

What One of Canada’s Richest Men Really Cares About When It Comes to Global Trade

Barry Zekelman's story sounds like the typical American dream — a tale of how he and his brothers were thrust into their father’s fledgling business after his sudden passing. Zekelman left college to help save the steel pipe manufacturer. He and his brothers innovated to help transform the firm from a $2 million company with five employees and no profits into a $1.2 billion behemoth by 2006. But, to hear him tell it, he cares more about how his company can help build a lasting community than profit margin.

More on Healthcare’s Saline Bag “Shortage”

The saline bag “shortage” in healthcare has been going on for a few years. I’ve got some strong opinions on the matter, as I have had the pleasure of interviewing the assigned category managers at the nation’s largest healthcare GPOs, health system sourcing professionals and executives at Baxter, B.Braun and Hospira, the nation’s three largest manufacturers and suppliers of the product. It turns out that there are very few resin producers that make the type and grade used to manufacture saline bags. Not only did these producers cut production, but they’ve increased their pricing by more than 300% in the last year. Why?

New Research: Using Collaboration in Bringing Competitive Advantage to Your Supply Chain

If your organization wants to create competitive advantages through its supply chains, collaboration is crucial, according to new research from the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. The findings were presented in a white paper, End-to-End Supply Chain Collaboration Best Practices, written by Mike Burnette, managing director of the institute. Burnette and other supply chain faculty at the university interviewed 17 leading companies in eight industries to determine the best practices that help organizations achieve success through collaboration.

Commodity Price Volatility in the Cannabis Supply Chain: The Biggest Growing Pain?

As I write this on the eve of participating in a conference panel discussion about how corporate communications can better work with trade media firms, I can’t help but think about my relationship with the legal cannabis industry — and particularly its supply chain. Sounds like a stretch, right? Not so much.

The Latest Worst Kept Secret: Amazon’s Move into Pharmacy

“I think Amazon getting into the PBM business (pharmacy benefits management) is a bunch of B.S.,” said Vishnu Lekraj, an analyst with analyst firm Morningstar. “I don’t understand how a company that can ship goods to a consumer can take over every single industry.” According to state pharmaceutical boards, Amazon has received approval for wholesale pharmacy licenses in at least 12 states: Arizona, North Dakota, Nevada, Alabama, New Jersey, Michigan, Louisiana, Connecticut, Idaho, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Oregon, with applications pending in other states. In fact, some of the license types go beyond prescription drugs and include approvals for products and devices that fall under the durable medical products category, such as oxygen and other medical gasses.