Inside Logistics

Supply Chain Canada: Leaning the supply chain

Focus on people, process and purpose


May 16, 2012
by Carolyn Gruske

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario: Asking questions,  managing collapse and providing leadership are some of the key things an organization can to to Lean up their supply chains and their businesses in general.

Giving a keynote speed at Supply Chain Canada’s 45th Annual Conference and Trade Show, Robert Martichenko, CEO of LeanCor LLC, which is based in Florence, Kentucky, reminded those in attendance, that they need to keep striving to shorten up their supply chains.

“There is no mathematical argument that can be made that says a longer supply chain is a more efficient supply chain.”

He stressed that it wasn’t enough to recognized inefficiencies in the system. Business leaders need to proactively make changes to eliminate those inefficiencies, otherwise it’s just a waste of time and resources.

“If you know, but you don’t do, you really don’t know,” he said. “It all comes back to leadership.”

That leadership should be hands-on. He quoted one of his co-workers who says that team leaders need to lead from where the work is being done. They need to spend more time with their people.

He also reminded those in the audience that leading isn’t just about imposing their will from the top down. It should be about finding solutions to hidden problems.

“You should be asking, ‘How can I help?’ This needs to be said on the floor and in the trailer yard where the work is being done [since] it’s the floor where the value is being added.”

Continuing to talk about value he explained value originates from three sources: purpose, people and process.

Being able to manage process and not let it overwhelm an organization is a continuing and vital task.

“We need to be process thinkers. If we want to service our customers, it’s the processes that are doing it.

“Processes want to fall apart. It’s their job. It’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics, so we need to put more pressure on them to make them not fall apart. It can be very, very tiring.”

Martichenko outlined the steps organizations need to take to deal with their processes:

1. Expose Problem A

2. Knock Problem A out at the root cause

3. Expose Problem B by completing step 2

4. See step 1. Substitute B for A. Continue with (n+1), essentially repeating the process of find, fix and repair infinitely

“If you’re not focused on waste reduction, then there’s a chance you won’t be in business in the future,” he said.