Blog

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Amazon in Brick and Mortar: The Retailer’s First Move into Omni-channel

In late fall Amazon announced they were diving into traditional retail by opening their first stores. In January, the first Amazon Books store opened in Seattle. Amazon has announced plans to open 300-400 other bookstores across the nation. But are bookstores really the only focus for Amazon in this new effort? And why is this ecommerce giant now moving to an old model that by some accounts is a dying...  Read More
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Accurate Inventory Levels are the Key to Balancing Supply and Demand

Does your business still swing between periods of high and low inventory depending on business priorities? Smart inventory planning determines the optimal quantity and timing of inventory and aligns it with sales and production capacity. Your job is to empower and your teams to regularly review safety stock levels and amend policy parameters to provide the elasticity required to yield the quickest return. AgustaWestland Uses Optimiza to Identify and Redistribute...  Read More
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Trip Report: SMC3’s Jump Start Conference

In January I attended Jump Start, SMC3’s annual conference, this year held in Atlanta. SMC3 is a long-time partner of LLamasoft and their annual conference gathers together representatives of nearly 300 shippers, trucking companies, third-party logistics providers, and technology companies to discuss the latest tech trends and examine trucking industry challenges on the horizon. There were many break-out sessions on a wide range of topics including a great session from...  Read More
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Our Take: The Post-Holiday Retail Inventory Strategy Reset

Every year, like clockwork, within the first few weeks of the New Year stories trickle in about retailers’ inventory fiascos during the busy holiday shopping season. This year was no different, from big box stores to shoe and other specialty retailers, many faced challenges implementing the right inventory strategy to carry through the industry’s busiest and most profitable season. Arguably the worst thing that can happen to a brick and...  Read More
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Transportation Route Planning Software

LLamasoft Transportation Guru transportation network design software is an ideal tool not only for network optimization and simulation, but for route scheduling as well. You are able to compare optimal multi-stop routes to less-than-truckload shipment costs to find ideal mode mix for your fleet routes. You can use this route optimization software to develop alternate routes based on various vehicle sizes and carriers, and designate vehicle routes as round-trip or...  Read More
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Managing Excess Maintenance and Repair Costs while Covering Overall Demand

The aerospace and defense industry is affected by a changing business environment; shrinking budgets, changing acquisition models, globalization and increasing customer demand. The industry is faced with increased pressure to create sustainable results for equipment uptime while delivering improved financial performance to the bottom line. Increased service issues, often a direct result of inefficient supply chains, has resulted in enormous cost overruns, delayed product rollouts and missed delivery dates. Many...  Read More
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Trip Report: The NRF Big Show 2016

Every January the National Retail Federation hosts the retail industry’s biggest tradeshow of the year, aptly called “The Big Show” at the Javits Center in New York City. Thousands of retailers, technology vendors, and supply chain professionals provide thought leadership on the current and proposed future state of the industry. The quantity and quality of powerful presentations is massive, but there were pervailing themes that resonated throughout. Here are a...  Read More
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Creating a Supply Chain Design Center of Excellence (CoE)

Establishing an Internal CoE Expands the Benefit of Supply Chain Modeling Enterprise-Wide Some of the best-run supply chains in the world are making supply chain design a core business function, and using this competency as a competitive weapon for their business. They are establishing internal supply chain design centers of excellence which utilize modeling technology to continuously optimize the end-to-end supply chain and stay ahead of other companies in their...  Read More
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Logistics Optimization Software and Tools

Simplified Logistics Optimization and Simulation In the past, network design initiatives were performed every one to three years to help a company realign its manufacturing and distribution center locations and minimize transportation costs. These logistics optimization projects could take four to six months or longer, and model accuracy was limited by the need to limit the number of products and sites. Logistics Optimization: Supply chain design is now an essential...  Read More
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Building a Business Case for a Supply Chain Optimization Project

Supply chain optimization can enable businesses to keep up with the pace of change and sustain a competitive advantage by significantly improving in the areas of cost, service and risk. You may recognize possible benefits and savings for your organization, but getting there can be a challenge. Executives are short on time and resistant to commit resources unless they can clearly see resulting value. And without those resources, your project...  Read More
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Collaboratively Build and Maintain Demand Forecasts Across Functional and Regional Teams

No matter your level of maturity in formalizing and structuring your demand and supply processes, the need to generate a forecast is constant. Forecast accuracy can yield the greatest equivalent returns on a company’s financials than any other planning activity, yet many businesses still struggle with multiple versions of a forecast for multiple purposes: financial and budget planning, incentive management, procurement planning, warehouse sizing or production planning. Case Example: Carnival...  Read More
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Our Take: Preparation the Key to Smooth Software Implementation – Finish Line’s Recent Challenge

In the news last week, Finish Line announced a rough performance in the competitive and dynamic athletic apparel market.  The company president pointed to two major supply chain-related causes to the poor performance in the fourth quarter:  inadequate inventory of key items in important categories, and problems with a new Warehouse Management System (WMS) deployed in October of 2015.  LLamasoft’s Vikram Srinivasan recently wrote about developing strategies for a holistic...  Read More
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Retailers Improving Data Analytics and Getting Creative with Omni-Channel Fulfillment in 2016

A new year is upon us and lots of publications are issuing trends to watch for in 2016. With the constant and rapid pace of supply chain innovation, it’s hard to imagine what could happen in the span of just a year. Retailers are just coming down from peak season and reevaluating what worked well and what didn’t in order to better align strategies for success in the coming year. ...  Read More
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2015 Year in Review

It’s certainly been a big year for LLamasoft.  With multiple acquisitions, a continued hiring surge and expansion into new products, it was a historic year for the software company. Here are a few highlights. In February LLamasoft experts landed on the Supply and Demand Chain Executive Pros to Know list for the sixth consecutive year. Director of Global Health Neelima Ramaraju and Vice President of Solutions Mike Detampel were honored...  Read More
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Supply Chain Collaboration – Tips from the Experts

There are plenty of quotes and sayings about the perils of operating in a bubble. But there is also plenty of support for collaboration and the same applies to supply chain design. Supply chain design is a must-have capability for businesses to keep up with the pace of change and to sustain a competitive advantage by significantly improving in the areas of cost, service and risk. Many of your industry...  Read More
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Utilizing Supply Chain Modeling for Both Long-Term Strategy and Daily Operations: A PriceSmart Case Study

I recently had a chance to talk with Frank Diaz, Executive Vice President of Logistics and Distribution at PriceSmart and Dan Gilmore, Editor of Supply Chain Digest for a videocast on the topic “Using Supply Chain Modeling to Improve Operations and Outperform the Competition.” Frank and his team at PriceSmart are users of the LLamasoft supply chain design platform and have been leveraging supply chain design for both long-term strategy...  Read More
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Trip Report: Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference – South Africa

As part of the LLamasoft Global Impact Team I get the opportunity to travel around the world to work with various public health agencies to improve the supply chain networks that carry essentials vaccines, anti-malarial and ARV treatments, as well as basic medical supplies. I recently attended the Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa to learn about some emerging trends and best practices in the industry. The...  Read More
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Trip Report: Digital Supply Chain Conference 2015

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Digital Supply Chain Conference at the British Museum in London. The venue was very impressive, as were the sessions guided by some of the brightest minds working in the supply chain industry today. I was pleased to attend to oversee the “Setting up a Successful Supply Chain Design Center of Excellence” workshop (a topic you can learn more about here), but was...  Read More
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LLamasoft Acquires Barloworld SCS – A Letter from CEO Don Hicks

Today Barloworld and LLamasoft announced a deal that will redefine the supply chain software industry.  Although LLamasoft and Barloworld have been respectful competitors over the years, our two companies share many values and ideals, including deep commitment to serving customers honestly and energetically, and a shared passion for the importance of supply chain design and planning technology to help our customers survive and thrive. After months of discussions and getting...  Read More
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Developing the Right Strategy for a Holistic Inventory View with Inventory Modeling

Most organizations have the same goal when talking about inventory: improve service while reducing on-hand inventory. And as most supply chain professionals can tell you, finding that balance is easier said than done. In a recent survey of top supply chain officers, the biggest barriers to effectively manage inventory were cited as “Can’t Optimize Network Holistically” and “Demand Volatility”. However, several leaders are taking new approaches to think about old...  Read More
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Internal Politics in Supply Chain Design: 5 Key Tips to Corral, Communicate and Understand

During a supply chain modeling project kick-off meeting a couple of years ago with a major new client, the LLamasoft team and I were seated with 25 people from the customer organization from a number of different departments including supply chain, transportation, merchandising, store operations, finance and more. The goal of the meeting was to lay out the expectations and deliverables for the project. However, as we worked our way...  Read More
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Trip Report: Young Operations Research Conference

A couple of weeks ago some of the LLamasoft team headed to the Young Operational Research (YOR) Conference at Aston University in Birmingham in the UK. The conference, held every two years, is a meeting for young professionals who are just starting their careers either in corporate operations, academia or consulting. As has been established, the demand for young talent to who hold the expertise that pertain to these career...  Read More
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LLamasoft Live from CSCMP

This week the LLamasoft team headed to sunny California to participate in the CSCMP Annual Global Conference in San Diego. The conference wraps up today after busy start over the weekend. When participants weren’t hitching a ride on the LLamasoft pedicabs, the LLama team was happy to meet with attendees in the booth and present several sessions....  Read More
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Trip Report: LLamasoft EMEA Regional User Group and Optilon Conference

At the beginning of the month LLamasoft headed to Scandinavia to participate in the Optilon Supply Chain Conference as well as host a meeting of the LLamasoft EMEA User Group. Both events were a huge success and included presentations from Ericsson, Syngenta, Unilever and more. We are always happy to get together with customers in a Regional User Group to discuss best practices, challenges and more as we continue to...  Read More
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Our Take: Gartner COE Research Part 2 – Challenges and Considerations

A couple of weeks ago we discussed Gartner’s research on centers of excellence (COEs) and covered several of the benefits of establishing a supply chain design center of excellence. Today in Part 2, we’ll discuss some challenges and considerations when preparing to launch your own COE. Challenge 1: How Do You Define a COE? Organizations face a number of challenges when forming their own supply chain design COE. One of...  Read More
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Visit LLamasoft at the CSCMP Annual Global Conference

Supply chain modeling technology has proven to eliminate a lot of unnecessary work for its users, making it truly the workhorse of the supply chain industry. LLamasoft is getting ready to kick off a very busy fall events season with supply chain tradeshows and conferences spanning the globe to share this message. The schedule includes one of the biggest supply chain events of the year: the Council for Supply Chain...  Read More
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Our Take: Gartner Center of Excellence Research – Part 1

Last spring Gartner released research on the implementation and success of “centers of excellence” in the supply chain industry (“Centers of Excellence Are Critical Enablers of Success in Supply Chains”, 21 April, 2014, Ken Chadwick). Their findings demonstrated the value of the model as those who have implemented centers of excellence can cite the following results: A broader supply chain span of control Are more often viewed as “partners to...  Read More
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The Supply Chain Talent Shift

Take a look at your company’s career webpage. What types of supply chain roles are listed? What skills are important for new hires to possess in order to manage this increasingly critical area of the business? Are you accurately depicting the needed skills in your description? Many of the best practices LLamasoft has advocated related to supply chain design as a repeatable, sustainable process have been demonstrated in a recent...  Read More
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How to use benchmark data to calibrate your rates for design

Any modeler can tell you: a huge part of the supply chain modeling process is spent collecting and reconciling data. Hours spent to find data, adding it to the model, to only find that maybe the data was not quite as accurate as originally thought. When building models to optimize your network to uncover savings in cost, service, risk and sustainability, there will invariably be a point in which a...  Read More
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Case Study: Cardinal Health Cuts Inventory Holdings to Identify $2.8M in Savings

With several different teams using several different supply chain modeling tools across the enterprise, it was challenging for Cardinal Health to get an accurate picture of their current network. The healthcare services companies delivers medical products and pharmaceuticals to upwards of 100,000 locations every day and knew they could be conducting business more efficiently. However, without even the ability to get an accurate view, the prospect of identifying opportunities for...  Read More
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My Take: The 6 Fundamental Supply Chain Disciplines

I recently saw a report from LEGACY Supply Chain Services, CSCMP and Adelante SCM on the “6 Fundamental Supply Chain Disciplines that Retail Leaders of Tomorrow Must Master.” While this particular piece of research speaks about key elements and how they apply to retailers, I think the message applies more broadly to a number of industries. The research calls out six main disciplines that will be essential for supply chain...  Read More
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Using Supply Chain Design on an Operational Level

Supply chain design technology has been fairly widely accepted as a key piece of any high level supply chain strategy, driving improvements in cost, service and sustainability. However, more and more organizations are seeing its value on a tactical and operational level and are benefiting from major savings as a result. One major recycling broker was dealing with over 100,000 pounds of recycled materials every week. With thatvolume of product,...  Read More
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Design Your Business to Thrive with a Smart Supply Chain Modeling Platform

The value of supply chain modeling for businesses to continuously optimize their supply chain operations and adapt to ever-changing market conditions and to answer a variety of scenario-based questions is becoming widely adopted. But a sustainable and impactful supply chain modeling platform is more than just great technology. So what else does it entail? Let’s analyze four of the key components of a smart supply chain modeling platform that drive...  Read More
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SummerCon 2015 Recap – Pt 2: Days 2 and 3

Continuing our coverage of the SummerCon 2015 supply chain design conference, here are some highlights from days 2 and 3! Day 2 Keynotes Day 2 of SummerCon 2015 kicked off with a keynote address by science historian James Burke. Burke discussed centuries of history and interesting anecdotes about how some small innovations led to huge movements and sometimes changed the course of human history.  He also shared some insights into...  Read More
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SummerCon 2015 Trip Report – Part 1

The fifth annual celebration of all things supply chain design, otherwise known as SummerCon, took place at the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah last week with nearly 400 customers in attendance from all over the globe. Training More than 100 attendees arrived early to the conference to participate in two days of training courses conducting by LLamasoft’s team of experts. The training component of the conference has been offered...  Read More
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Leveraging Supply Chain Simulation with Optimization: British American Tobacco Case Study

When assessing the current state of your supply chain and evaluating the various challenges your organization faces, it can be overwhelming. You may know you have inefficiencies or unnecessary spending, but where? And what strategy can best address these challenges for improvements? Supply chain optimization has become widely used technology and a key piece of any smart supply chain strategy.  But equally important and a powerful differentiator is the utilization...  Read More
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Transportation Challenges and Best Practices: The Supply Chain Design Perspective Panel

The transportation and logistics marketplace often talk about volatility in the industry, but today they seem to be facing more challenges than ever. From the driver shortage, increasing compliance complexities, volatile fuel costs and constantly-evolving consumer demand, the tension between cost-cutting and maximizing profit is at a fever-pitch. Using Transportation and Network Optimization for Continuous Improvement With the mounting challenges in the industry, it can be difficult for supply chain...  Read More
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SummerCon 2015 Sneak Peak – Don’t Miss Sessions

LLamasoft will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the SummerCon supply chain design conference June 24-26 in Park City, Utah. The conference serves as a rare opportunity for supply chain and logistics professionals to gather and engage in training, discussions and idea-sharing centered around the topic of supply chain design.  This year’s conference boasts an impressive roster of customer speakers spread across 30 breakout sessions. Here is just a preview of some...  Read More
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How will you be prepared? Forecasting the future strategy of your transportation system

The transportation world faces an ever-changing environment of new challenges.  To be successful, businesses must know how to quickly adapt their transportation system to address these challenges.  Challenges such as driver capacity constraints, spikes or dips in shipment volumes, government regulations, or sudden changes in fuel costs can all have negative effects on a transportation system’s costs and efficiency if businesses don’t have the right strategy in place to support...  Read More
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LLamasoft Virtual User Group

Check out this post from Opex Analytics’ Mike Watson on the first LLamasoft Virtual User Group for both users of LogicNet and Supply Chain Guru. There is still time to register for tomorrow’s event!...  Read More
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Video: Tips for Elevating Supply Chain Design from a Project to a Differentiating Business Process

Supply chain design has been adopted as a necessary piece of smart supply chain strategy for several years now. But many large organizations still think of modeling as an project that is initiated and completed every one to five years. The problem is, when the same question comes up the next year, the business must start again at square one. Think about what happens in the course of a year:...  Read More
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How to Build a Smarter Supply Chain with Transportation Optimization

There is a lot of volatility in the transportation industry today. The current driver shortage and recent West Coast port strikes, changing government regulations, natural disasters of recent years, and the changing landscape of customer demand, moving products and materials from Point A to Point B is more complex than ever. Those challenges, in addition to internal factors like mergers and acquisitions, adding SKUs and product lines, and globalization, many...  Read More
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Welcome to the Supply Chain Design Blog!

It has been well over a decade since LLamasoft first took our technology to market, and the supply chain industry has changed dramatically in that time, especially the area of modeling and analytics.  What was once a periodic look at the supply chain network structure has evolved into a critical business function called Supply Chain Design.  Companies that continuously design their supply chains to keep up with ever-changing market conditions...  Read More
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Experiencing Inventory Inefficiencies? Check Out 3 Advantages to Inventory Optimization

For any organization, inventory inefficiencies can be disastrous to the bottom-line.  What’s necessary for a healthy bottom-line is finding that elusive balance between overstocks and lost sales. Our team works with many organizations that struggle with the push and pull of inventory inefficiencies. With so many flavors of inventory optimization applications available, why do so many companies still struggle with inventory inefficiencies? It’s because traditional inventory applications fall short in...  Read More
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How is Money in a Coat Pocket Like Hidden Supply Chain Cost Savings?

Is there anything better than putting on last year’s jacket and finding money in the pocket? The money was right there, but hidden just below the surface of that coat pocket. There are a few things that make this “found money” so great: It’s fast—you just reached into your pocket and there it was in your hand. It’s easy—you didn’t have to toil away for long hours to earn it....  Read More