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Supply Chain: Efficient or Flexible or Constructal?

What do you consider the “Ideal Supply Chain”, and how can you bring it into the real world? This post on the SCM blog looks at three elements that might be the answer to how to make the best supply chain: efficiency, flexibility, or the application of constructal theory. The last point (constructal theory) is the most interesting and the focus of the blog post. Constructal theory points to the manner in which nature designs systems as a way that man-made systems could become more effective and resilient. According to the post, there are two qualities that are apparent in nature’s networks: Redundancy: In nature, the networks that last over the generations are those that have the right amount of redundancy. Excess capacity, extra nodes, and bypass routes. The efficient network with minimal capacity, node-to-node connections, and no parallel routes fail. This is especially true in push environments. Dynamic reconfiguration: Likewise, in nature, the networks that stand the test of time have the ability to reconfigure under stress. Networks with the most centrality have the greatest failure rate. The post explains that the premise of the theory “is for flow systems (in this case, flow of materials in a supply network) to maximize flow access.” This is directly transferrable to supply chains, as the importance of maximal flow of product is an essential element of a healthy operation. Nature’s manner of reconfiguration can also be a great element to a supply chain: instead of having a very efficient supply chain that often cannot cope with any changes, imagine a supply chain that can adapt to any changes. You may sacrifice some efficiency, but your supply chain could make up for that loss with less down time and more responsive to potentially damaging changes.

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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