March 23, 2022
Supply chain: Now is the time to innovate
Supply chain has been a hot topic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Panic buying toilet paper, early Christmas shopping due to perceived supply chain delays, and lumber being the new “gold” had the media buzzing. Extreme weather patterns, such as the flooding in British Columbia, has also affected how goods are transported from point A to point B.
Why supply chain? Why now? How is the discipline changing?
The Operations and Supply Chain Management area at the Haskayne School of Business has been a leader in this discipline for many years. Dr. Osman Alp, PhD, associate professor and area chair, and Dr. Marco Bijvank, PhD, associate professor, recently launched a new initiative called the Digitization for Innovative Supply Chains (DISC) Consortium. DISC aims to become a Canadian reference for advanced skills and research that help medium- to large-sized businesses who are interested in digitizing their supply chains.
It focuses on three components: smart logistics, data-centric supply chains, and sustainable and responsible supply chains. Digitization of supply chain brings down the walls between individual organizations, which allows them to become completely integrated and transparent. Members of DISC will be at the forefront of transforming supply chains through collaborative research and training activities.
The goal of digitizing a supply chain is simple: deliver the right product into customer hands as quickly as possible. Further, organizations should do this responsively and reliably, while increasing efficiency and cutting costs through the digital technologies. Supply chains can be digitized by integrating automation, robotics, drones, IoT and block chains and by optimizing operations through machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms.
“Traditional supply chains are managed by repetitive tasks based on reactive problem-solving,” explains Alp. “Innovation in digital supply chains is about making proactive decisions, for example when and how much you should order, based on real-time data and conditions, with the help of digital technologies and algorithms. The DISC Consortium wants to help organizations with this.”
Haskayne faculty are known for their research and teaching of supply chain. Areas of research include inventory control, logistics, health-care operations, distribution management, sustainable operations, and renewable energy operations.
Alp says it’s rare for business schools to have a supply chain specialization. Most universities include a portion of supply chain studies in an operations management major. The pandemic has brought on an increased interest in the discipline, with some saying it’s the next “hot” specialization for MBA students. Currently, Haskayne offers a specialization for BComm students and courses for MBA students.
“Students seek out Haskayne because of our program, especially BComm students,” says Alp “We’ve seen the importance of supply chain throughout the pandemic. Students want to study it and organizations are seeking talent to redesign and transform their supply chain, making them more resilient in an ever-changing environment with the help of digitization. It’s a popular specialization right now.”
The DISC Consortium is now accepting applications from organizations who want to innovate their supply chain practices. For more information, please visit their website.