Productive partnerships, a customer-centric approach and innovative deployment of technology and analytics are among keys to supply chain efficiency, according to Georgia Logistics Summit presenters, including leaders of such consumer giants as Kimberly-Clark, Lennox, Wal-Mart and The Home Depot.
“Customer-focused supply chain strategies are critical,” said Sandra MacQuillan, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer of Kimberly-Clark Corp., the Dallas-based maker of such paper-based products as Kleenex tissues and Huggies disposable diapers.
“Globally creating value from source to shelf” is the objective of the Kimberly-Clark supply chain, MacQuillan told some 2,000 attendees in the May 17 closing address of the two-day event at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
MacQuillan, who is based in suburban Atlanta, said supply chain priorities should include collaboration with the right partners, having the appropriate people in place internally and externally, defining of focus areas in concert with consumers, placing the customer “at the center of everything we do,” and application of “metrics, data and insights.”
MacQuillan said that, when she joined Kimberly-Clark two years ago, following 14 years with snack food and pet care conglomerate Mars Inc., the $18 billion-plus-a-year-in-sales company “did not have a supply chain,” but it now boasts eight supply chain organizations and five business units engaging some 30,000 supply chain employees worldwide, held together under guiding principles of simplification, standardization and collaboration.
“We want to experiment, we want to learn, we want to fail,” MacQuillan said in urging advancement of “a supply chain that senses rather than a supply chain that reacts.”
In one of several panel discussions, that philosophy was echoed by Tom Wainwright, Atlanta-based senior manager of regional operations for Richardson, Texas-headquartered climate control leader Lennox International Inc.
“Failure is the best teacher,” Wainwright said, noting that distribution network team members are encouraged to ask questions and recognize faults.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest company, is looking to deploy data and technology in moving its supply chain forward, according to J. Brock Toole, general transportation manager at the Monroe, Georgia, logistics center of the Bentonville, Arkansas-headquartered mega-retailer.
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