Activities involved in creating a product.
The procurement and physical transmission of material through the supply chain, from suppliers to customers.
In Chapter 12, we defined production as “the activities involved in creating a product.” We used the term production to denote both service and manufacturing activities, because one can produce a service or produce a physical product. Although in this chapter we focus more on the production of physical goods, we should not forget that the term can also be applied to services. This has become more evident in recent years, with the trend among U.S. firms to outsource the “production” of certain service activities to developing nations where labor costs are lower (e.g., the trend among many U.S. companies to outsource customer care services to places such as India, where English is widely spoken and labor costs are much lower). Logistics is the activity that controls the transmission of physical materials through the value chain, from procurement through production and into distribution. Production and logistics are closely linked because a firm’s ability to perform its production activities efficiently depends on a timely supply of high-quality material inputs, for which logistics is responsible.
ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE Careers in Supply Chain Management
With increased outsourcing and overseas production sites and customers, supply chain management is a growing field. The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), a professional association with more than 8,500 members worldwide, says the industry offers a promising outlook. What’s more, potential employers are everywhere—manufacturers and distributors; government agencies; consulting firms; the transport industry; universities and colleges; service firms such as banks, hospitals, and hotels; and third-party logistics providers.
For more information about the organization and careers in this field, visit the CSCMP website at www.cscmp.org and its careers site, www.careersinsupplychain.org.
The production and logistics functions of an international firm have a number of important strategic objectives.1 One is to lower costs. Dispersing production activities to various locations around the globe where each activity can be performed most efficiently can lower costs. Costs can also be cut by managing the global supply chain efficiently so as to better match supply and demand. Efficient supply chain management reduces the amount of inventory in the system and increases inventory turnover, which means the firm has to invest less working capital in inventory and is less likely to find excess inventory on hand that cannot be sold and has to be written off.
A second strategic objective shared by production and logistics is to increase product quality by eliminating defective products from both the supply chain and the manufacturing process.2 (In this context, quality means reliability, implying that the product has no defects and performs well.) The objectives of reducing costs and increasing quality are not independent of each other. As illustrated in Figure 15.1, the firm that improves its quality control will also reduce its costs of value creation. Improved quality control reduces costs by:
• Increasing productivity because time is not wasted producing poor-quality products that cannot be sold, leading to a direct reduction in unit costs.
• Lowering rework and scrap costs associated with defective products.
• Reducing the warranty costs and time associated with fixing defective products.