Thursday, 12 September 2013

Social Resposibility of Supply Chains and Its Components

Sustainability and social responsibility in supply chains

Supply chain sustainability is a business issue affecting an organization's supply chain or logistics network, and is frequently quantified by comparison with SECH ratings, which uses a triple bottom line incorporating economic, social, and environmental aspects. SECH ratings are defined as social, ethical, cultural, and health' footprints. Consumers have become more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases and companies' SECH ratings and, along with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are setting the agenda for transitions to organically grown foods, anti-sweatshop labor codes, and locally produced goods that support independent and small businesses. Because supply chains may account for over 75% of a company's carbon footprint, many organizations are exploring ways to reduce this and thus improve their SECH rating.
For example, in July 2009, Wal-Mart announced its intentions to create a global sustainability index that would rate products according to the environmental and social impacts of their manufacturing and distribution. The index is intended to create environmental accountability in Wal-Mart's supply chain and to provide motivation and infrastructure for other retail companies to do the same.
More recently, the US Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Obama in July 2010, contained a supply chain sustainability provision in the form of the Conflict Minerals law. This law requires SEC-regulated companies to conduct third party audits of their supply chains in order to determine whether any tin, tantalum, tungsten, or gold (together referred to as conflict minerals) is mined or sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and create a report (available to the general public and SEC) detailing the due diligence efforts taken and the results of the audit. The chain of suppliers and vendors to these reporting companies will be expected to provide appropriate supporting information.
Incidents like the 2013 Savar building collapse with more than 1,100 victims have led to widespread discussions about corporate social responsibility across global supply chains. Wieland and Handfield (2013) suggest that companies need to audit products and suppliers and that supplier auditing needs to go beyond direct relationships with first-tier suppliers. They also demonstrate that visibility needs to be improved if supply cannot be directly controlled and that smart and electronic technologies play a key role to improve visibility. Finally, they highlight that collaboration with local partners, across the industry and with universities is crucial to successfully managing social responsibility in supply chains.


Management components

SCM components are the third element of the four-square circulation framework. The level of integration and management of a business process link is a function of the number and level of components added to the link (Ellram and Cooper, 1990; Houlihan, 1985). Consequently, adding more management components or increasing the level of each component can increase the level of integration of the business process link.
Literature on business process re-engineering buyer-supplier relationships, and SCM suggests various possible components that should receive managerial attention when managing supply relationships. Lambert and Cooper (2000) identified the following components:
  • Planning and control
  • Work structure
  • Organization structure
  • Product flow facility structure
  • Information flow facility structure
  • Management methods
  • Power and leadership structure
  • Risk and reward structure
  • Culture and attitude
However, a more careful examination of the existing literature leads to a more comprehensive understanding of what should be the key critical supply chain components, or "branches" of the previously identified supply chain business processes—that is, what kind of relationship the components may have that are related to suppliers and customers. Bowersox and Closs (1996) state that the emphasis on cooperation represents the synergism leading to the highest level of joint achievement. A primary-level channel participant is a business that is willing to participate in responsibility for inventory ownership or assume other financial risks, thus including primary level components (Bowersox and Closs, 1996). A secondary-level participant (specialized) is a business that participates in channel relationships by performing essential services for primary participants, including secondary level components, which support primary participants. Third-level channel participants and components that support primary-level channel participants and are the fundamental branches of secondary-level components may also be included.
Consequently, Lambert and Cooper's framework of supply chain components does not lead to any conclusion about what are the primary- or secondary-level (specialized) supply chain components (see Bowersox and Closs, 1996, p. 93) —that is, which supply chain components should be viewed as primary or secondary, how these components should be structured in order to achieve a more comprehensive supply chain structure, and how to examine the supply chain as an integrative one (See above sections 2.1 and 3.1).

Reverse supply chain

Reverse logistics is the process of managing the return of goods. It is also referred to as "aftermarket customer services". Any time money is taken from a company's warranty reserve or service logistics budget, one can speak of a reverse logistics operation.

Systems and value

Supply chain systems configure value for those that organize the networks. Value is the additional revenue over and above the costs of building the network. Co-creating value and sharing the benefits appropriately to encourage effective participation is a key challenge for any supply system. Tony Hines defines value as follows: "Ultimately it is the customer who pays the price for service delivered that confirms value and not the producer who simply adds cost until that point".

Global applications

Global supply chains pose challenges regarding both quantity and value. Supply and value chain trends include:
  • Globalization
  • Increased cross-border sourcing
  • Collaboration for parts of value chain with low-cost providers
  • Shared service centers for logistical and administrative functions
  • Increasingly global operations, which require increasingly global coordination and planning to achieve global optimums
  • Complex problems involve also midsized companies to an increasing degree
These trends have many benefits for manufacturers because they make possible larger lot sizes, lower taxes, and better environments (e.g., culture, infrastructure, special tax zones, or sophisticated OEM) for their products. There are many additional challenges when the scope of supply chains is global. This is because with a supply chain of a larger scope, the lead time is much longer, and because there are more issues involved, such as multiple currencies, policies, and laws. The consequent problems include different currencies and valuations in different countries, different tax laws, different trading protocols, and lack of transparency of cost and profit.

Supply chain centroids

In the study of supply chain management, the concept of centroids has become an important economic consideration. A centroid is a location that has a high proportion of a country's population and a high proportion of its manufacturing, generally within 500 mi (805 km). In the US, two major supply chain centroids have been defined, one near Dayton, Ohio, and a second near Riverside, California.
The centroid near Dayton is particularly important because it is closest to the population center of the US and Canada. Dayton is within 500 miles of 60% of the US population and manufacturing capacity, as well as 60% of Canada's population. The region includes the interchange between I-70 and I-75, one of the busiest in the nation, with 154,000 vehicles passing through per day, 30–35% of which are trucks hauling goods. In addition, the I-75 corridor is home to the busiest north-south rail route east of the Mississippi River. 

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