As colleges restart, so too does ASCM’s supply chain competition for students

The 2020 ASCM Case Competition, previously called the APICS Case Competition, is an event that allows student teams to use their knowledge of supply chains to solve real-world business problems. It is hosted by the Association of Supply Chain Management, which evolved from APICS, and Deloitte, the consulting firm that helps companies combine supply chain initiatives with business strategies.

Students will have to present solutions to an end-to-end supply chain management problem that may involve distribution, logistics, raw materials management, factory efficiency, inventory, sales and operations planning, and more. It has grown into a large event that reaches students at institutions in North America, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

Registration for the 2020 Case Competition opened Aug. 1, and the event will officially begin during the college/university round on Oct. 1, when the case problem will be released. Teams will be required to submit their first-round entries by Oct. 31. From Nov. 1-15, each school will assess the first-round entries they received and choose two teams to advance to the virtual round. ASCM faculty members and volunteers will judge the virtual round from Nov. 16-30. The top college/university round winners will be announced and invited to the regional round on Dec. 9. Student teams will only compete in designated locations during the regional round, which will be held worldwide in 8 Deloitte offices from Feb. 14-15, 2020. The final competition will be held from Sept. 12-15 in New Orleans, where the winners will be announced.

Worldwide competition

Although the official winners for the 2019 Case Competition have not been selected yet, some of the finalists from the 2019 Case Competition include student teams from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, India Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Queretaro in Mexico, George Brown College in Toronto, Canada, and Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.

Ken Olsen, managing director and global supply chain planning lead at Deloitte, said the goal of the competition is to “prepare the next generation of supply chain leaders for the myriad of evolving and complex challenges that the supply chain faces today.”

ASCM was originally founded on APICS certifications and training, which is the global leader in supply chain certification programs. Formerly, the competition was simply a few APICS chapters and districts hosting various regional competitions, so only APICS chapters along with colleges and universities participated. That changed in 2017 when a team of APICS volunteer leaders and staff collaborated with a team from Deloitte to reimagine the student event.

“The ASCM Case Competition is a widely accessible, highly scaled event that utilizes problem-solving, communication and real-world inspired decision-making skills to find students who represent the brightest and best of supply chain professionals across the globe,” said John Stults, the Director of Customer Experience at ASCM.

Participating students will be exposed to networking opportunities, mentorships and internships. They will acquire and strengthen their problem-solving skills and improve their ability to incorporate technical knowledge toward different tasks. In addition to the recognition, $7,500 will be distributed among the three best-performing student teams and departments/schools.

In each round, students are tasked with issues that include both internal constraints (resources, efficiencies, etc.) and external challenges (third-party suppliers, distribution issues, etc.).

An example can be seen from the 2019 Regional Round Case, where the client was Amigo Toys. The company was unable to meet customer demands and encountered instances of underutilization of capacity, production mismatch and quality defects. In this case, the student teams would need to revamp the setup by thinking of a new manufacturing process and increasing its productivity.

UPDATE from Sept. 19, 2019Winners of the Annual Case Competition – Harvey Mudd College

  • Harvey Mudd College students worked on a case that involved a fictional U.S. dairy products company that was facing issues in forecasting market demand for its make-to-stock and make-to-order products. Case Competition teams worked together to devise ways to improve forecast accuracy, enhance order management processes, and streamline internal warehouse operations. First, second and third place student team winners split a $7,500 prize pool and receive industry recognition for their accomplishments.

Real problems for students

Stults said students will be challenged in this upcoming College and University Round in October to find a solution to improve a company that is the worst-performing plant in their network on the basis of efficiency/yields of the packaging lines. Although there is no set theme to the yearly case problems, they are all inspired by real-world business issues encountered by Deloitte’s global supply chain practice and become more complex as participants progress from the College & University rounds in October, Regional Round in February and to the Final Round in September, which is in conjunction with the ASCM annual conference.

To be eligible to participate, students are required to be at least 18 years old and attending a college or university at either the undergraduate or graduate level. All the members of student teams have to be current ASCM student members (membership is free). To register for the competition, all teams must have a mix of four undergraduate and/or graduate student members. Each student team also needs to secure a faculty adviser who will oversee the team and their activities. It is important to note that students are not required to be part of a business or engineering program to participate. The ASCM Case Competition is for anyone who wants to explore their interest in supply chain management.

Getting involved will equip participants with the knowledge, experience and exposure necessary to be successful in the industry. As Stults said, participating in the ASCM Case Competition helps students become “more effective as they enter the next stage of their professional careers.”

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