Much of the literature of the supply chain is on the exciting stuff of grand overviews and the latest amazing software tools. There is a place for that. Little is written in most of these book, articles and web blogs about the people out of the field forced to use this stuff, once implemented. Because that is area often ignored, it is fertile ground for me to cover.
Unlike the corporate world, where there is frequent turnover, plants and warehouses tend to keep employees for years and sometimes for decades if they are reasonably well managed. There is formal or informal process of continuous improvement at these facilities. Many times the machines in their operations are one of a kind designed by the plant management and plant engineers. Most importantly there is usually a direct connection between that facility and the end customer.
That last line is the most important business reason for corporate headquarters to regularly and continually send it corporate supply chain and logistics personnel to operational facilities. No new major plan can be fully successful with the support and understanding of the people in the field. Their knowledge of the customer and their operation needs to be added to the planning process of all major and many minor changes.
Another way of looking at this sustainability. Sustainability is not just being environmentally responsible, though it is important, but its higher level purpose to allow the company to survive responsibly, through the ever changing environment. I seen too many management plans not succeed in meeting the plan’s goals for lack of information from the field. In extreme cases, it has put a company out of business. But when all cylinders are running, it is change that allows the company to move up to the next level.