CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
September 21, 2019
CSCMP Notebook

2018 CSCMP EDGE Conference Report

Here's our roundup of events at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' annual CSCMP EDGE 2018 conference held in October in Nashville, Tennessee.

With its focus on cutting-edge technologies, leadership development, and industry disruptors, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' annual conference lived up to its name: CSCMP EDGE. Attendees at the event, held in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, in October, represented all facets of the supply chain. They came to gain a glimpse of the future of the discipline and celebrate the fact that, as CSCMP President and CEO Rick Blasgen said, "Supply chain professionals are perfectly positioned to contribute as change agents, making a difference in people's lives and elevating the standard of living worldwide with what we do."

While there, attendees enjoyed three days of educational seminars, the annual Academic Research Symposium, site visits, networking receptions, and the Supply Chain Exchange exposition, which showcased supply chain technologies, equipment, and services.

Not able to attend the conference this year or unable to sample everything that was offered? This roundup of the conference's sessions will help you fill in some of the gaps. (More articles and videos from the conference can be found at

CSCMP session sampler

With 20 tracks, three keynote presentations, and over 100 educational sessions, CSCMP EDGE 2018 attendees had a wide variety of educational opportunities to choose from. Here are highlights of just a few that sparked interest at the conference.

Customer obsession. During the opening keynote, executives from Amazon, IBM, and Nike stressed how the customer must now be central to the supply chain. David Bozeman, vice president of transportation services for Amazon, talked about how the e-commerce giant's culture of "customer obsession" has seeped into its supply chain. Joanne Wright, vice president of enterprise operations, and services for IBM, said her company has also transformed itself so that its key focus is on the customer experience. "Our enterprise clients want the same one-click experience that they receive from Amazon," she said. Nike even sees its supply chain sustainability efforts as part of the company's overall mission to serve athletes. "After all, it's not possible to go for a run if you live in a super-polluted city with poor water quality," said Mike Brewer, vice president of global sourcing and manufacturing for Nike.

No longer the last mile, now the "last yard." For years supply chain has been obsessed with the last mile. Now it's time to focus on the last yard, according to the 23rd annual "Third Party Logistics" study, which was released at the conference. The last yard refers to the status of a shipment once it is delivered to a customer or consumer, and how the shipment, once in the end user's possession, is routed to the specific location. There are several last-yard logistics issues that may occur at delivery locations, such as delayed, damaged, and lost deliveries. Shippers can help matters by improving their internal processes for delivering items to point of use or by relying on 3PLs to take greater responsibility for shippers' last-yard services.

High demand for tech skills. Back in the day, employees who couldn't cut it in manufacturing went into supply chain, but that's not true anymore.

"Supply chain's cool now," says Mike Orr, the senior vice president for operations and logistics at Genuine Parts Co., during a breakout session. "Now that supply chain managers are getting a chance to recruit the best young graduates, they must turn their attention to a new challenge: training the latest wave of supply chain pros to be techno-savvy the day they arrive on the job, with the ability to handle tasks and technologies such as optimization, network analysis, robotics, and the digital supply chain.

Keller Rinaudo, Zipline's chief executive officer and founder, speaks during the EDGE Tuesday, October 2 keynote. Photo courtesy of Robb Cohen Photography & Video

Emerging technology saves lives. In a keynote session, Keller Rinaudo, Zipline's chief executive officer and founder of drone delivery company Zipline, shared how the company uses aerial vehicles to deliver blood to remote areas in Rwanda. The company uses 40-pound autonomous aircraft to deliver blood to hospitals, bypassing the country's poor road system. The aircraft are launched from a catapult-like structure on top of Zipline's distribution center (DC). They then fly at 30 feet across a varied landscape and through all types of weather before dropping paper parachutes carrying boxed blood to hospitals across rural Rwanda. The aircraft then return to the DC, where they are caught by a combination of guide wires attached to poles and an inflatable landing pad. It now takes five minutes from when the hospital orders the blood to when it is received. Zipline has succeeded in reducing blood waste to zero, while increasing access by 170 percent, said Rinaudo.

How to improve supply chain risk. More and more companies are recognizing the need to have a robust supply chain risk management program. During a breakout session, Shawn Winn of Supply Chain Visionsrecommended that companies think both in terms of mitigation—steps to reduce a risk from happening—and preparedness—a plan for what to do once the risk has occurred. Other tips included:

  • Put risk compliance under the supply chain management function. This will help create a more collaborative relationship between risk compliance managers and supply chain managers.
  • Make risk management part of your company's culture. Review your top four risks as a part of your regular supply chain planning meetings.
  • Design risk responses that fit with the overall culture of your organization. If your company is naturally aggressive, develop fast responses to risk. If your culture is less aggressive, have a risk response that takes more of a wait-and-see approach.

Capacity improvements lie with shippers. Truck capacity in the U.S. could increase by up to 5 percent just by shippers improving their internal processes to enable drivers to pick up, transport, and deliver freight more efficiently. Derek J. Leathers, president and CEO of truckload and logistics companyWerner Enterprises Inc., explained during a breakout session that the impact of the year-long rise in freight rates could be mitigated if shippers examined how their freight flows between themselves and their carriers. Truck rates have escalated since the fourth quarter of last year, as capacity has tightened while demand has picked up. Part of the blame falls on the shortage of qualified drivers. But Leathers said responsibility also lies with the lack of consistency in how, when, and where freight gets moved. Improving those processes will keep drivers more productive, and capacity more available, he added.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you're not already logged in, you will be asked to log in or register.

Want more articles like this? Sign up for a free subscription to Supply Chain Executive Insight, a monthly e-newsletter that provides insights and commentary on supply chain trends and developments. Click here to subscribe.

We Want to Hear From You! We invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about this article by sending an e-mail to ?Subject=Letter to the Editor: Quarter 2018: 2018 CSCMP EDGE Conference Report"> . We will publish selected readers' comments in future issues of CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. Correspondence may be edited for clarity or for length.

Want more articles like this? Subscribe to CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly.