The author of this report is asked to conduct an analysis and issue a report for the ongoing operations of Acme New Mexico. First, there will be a focus on two data-collection techniques, those being sustainable supply chain management and decision support systems. The purpose of each technique chosen will be explained in addition to why each choice benefits the company. However, the limitations of each option will be explored and discussed as well. The costs and training of each technique will be mentioned. The problem, opportunity or challenge of Acme Mexico City will be mentioned as well as the roadblocks associated with achieving the necessary metrics and outcomes.
The reasoning behind the two techniques selected is not hard to decipher or justify. Sustainability is often dismissed a sham or unrealistic, even when it comes to supply chain topics. While petroleum is by no means going away anytime soon in the near future, its use and prevalence in energy and other sectors will become less and less as renewable and/or cleaner energies comes to the forefront. Indeed, energy use around the United States is at 2001 levels at this time and we are more than a decade removed from that year. The use of LED and LCD televisions instead of CRT televisions as well as the use of more energy-efficient car are but two examples of how energy use is actually dialing down and not up in the United States at this time.
Supply chain topics and logistics are no different. Planes and trucks that use renewable or at least cleaner technologies such as natural gas, hydrogen and electricity are the wave of the future even if the profitability quotient is not quite up to snuff with petroleum and similar energy sources at this time. It is only a matter of decades, if not years, before that changes. However, fuels for transportation and shipping are far from being the only topic that can and should be looked at when assessing supply chain sustainability. Just as a real-world example, Wal-Mart ships a lot of its goods in mixed packages that they call "break packs."
For example, half a dozen to a dozen or more different small packs of goods are packed into boxes and sent to the stores in a mixed fashion. The boxes are broken open and the goods are sorted by department and the distributed to the relevant departments. The boxes are then broken down and sent back to the distribution center from which they came. It is emblazoned right on the box that the re-use of the boxes saves the company more than a dollar every single time a box is sent back. The boxes are also used to store layaway goods for customers and such so as to save money on having to purchase new boxes. Cardboard that is discarded, such as that from manufactuers and makers of goods that sell goods in Wal-Marts, is placed into a baler and sent to a recycler (EL, 2009).
It is quick and easy tactics like this that Acme New Mexico should look at. Even if the "per instance benefit" of these tactics is fairly paltry, the repeating of this sort of tactics en masse can add up to a tidy sum over time and this can only help the bottom line of the company over the long-term. Also, it is the right thing to do. Obviously, the level of need regarding supply chain and logistics for a home improvement store is going to be an overarching concern. It would not be to the extent of a factory since good sonly have to be shipped in, and not out, for the most part but every little bit helps irrespective of what is being shipped and why. Acme Mexico City should do its part to keep things lean and mean at its base of operations in Mexico City and should also facilitate the use of green energy and efficient tactics for any and all shipments that go to and from vendors, to and from customers and to and from other Acme offices.
Acme could really go a step further in terms of energy conservation in many parts of the world and allow employees to work remotely rather that commute to an office if their physical presence is not required in the store, although Mexico City is not really in a place where this can be done (CareerBuilder, 2014). However, it is something that can be allowed for and planned for the future if/when the infrastructure and regulations allow. Mexico City is not well-known for corruption-free politics and good infrastructure, so Acme needs to be realistic and wise about its locus of control as doing what is done commonly in the European Union nations as well as the United States and other corners of the world is just not an option in Mexico City at this time.
The other vein of analysis selected was decision support systems. Decisions have to be made every day. Some of them are major and some of them are fairly inconsequential. However, big or small decisions add up and this is especially true if they are very good or very bad. As such, it is imperative to have support systems and frameworks that allow for the collection, assembly and analysis of data that allows for proper and informed decisions to be made. This is something that cannot be done casually or with haste because giving too much favor to a decision framework is wasteful but giving too little does not allow for the proper data collection and analysis to take place (SearchCIO, 2014).
Despite the benefits of the two items above, there are costs and limitations to them as well. As far as limitations, supply chain sustainability can sometimes be a little more pricy, at least initially, than conventional techniques because the technologies are more nascent in nature and this can lead to startup and operational costs being a little on the high side. Re-use and conservation benefits are pretty clear-cut but converting to greener tactics and technologies and the fact that there are fewer companies supporting the greener energies than the conventional ones can lead to issues such as shortages, long turnaround times on support and so forth. As such contingencies and backup plans are a must. As far as decision support systems, limitations on those include the fact that not all data is good data and not all data is looked at in the right way.
Numbers can only be harnessed and wielded so much. Sometimes, it takes drilling down and truly getting to the bottom of what is causing a trend and/or impeding progress and if the underlying methodology is not up to snuff, the outcomes won't be all that great. Just as one example, if the average number of customers on a given day is 1000 an hour, that is a good starting point of analysis but looking at the day as a whole can be exceedingly unwise or even obtuse because breaking it down by hour or even in halves or quarters of a day would be much better, if not by hour. For example, if the first half of the day was 1,500 customers an hour and the second half had 500 customers an hour, the overall average would be 1,000, just as noted above, but the first half of the day would be entirely different than the second. That is a very basic example, but it gets the point across.
There would be costs involved as well. While decision support systems might be fairly easy to justify, one need only look at things like ethics programs, managerial accounting costs (very close to being the same thing as decision support systems) and social responsibility efforts. Some view those as vital and important while others view them as poppycock and a waste of dollars that could or should go to profits. Sustainability energy concerns are no different. The aforementioned cost curves being a bit trickier for green energy right now would be the foothold that someone needs to urge Acme to stick with conventional energies until society and the economy make it clear that the newer energy types have truly arrived and are ready for mass consumption at a lower price. It is a risk to embrace new methods and technology but staying mired in the old ways is less than wise and can be much more damaging over time.
Training is not a huge concern with supply chain sustainability as reusing boxes and using alternative fuels does not take a whole lot of training to get the point across. However, staffing the positions related in any way to decision support systems is something that should not be taken lightly. For a line item that can easily be justified as something to pare down or even eliminate, the people and managers behind decision support system frameworks need to be on their game and…