Hauling New Treasure Along the Silk Road (NYT)

Hewlett-Packard, the Silicon Valley electronics company, has pioneered the revival of a route famous in the West since the Roman Empire. For the last two years, the company has shipped laptops and accessories to stores in Europe with increasing frequency aboard express trains that cross Central Asia at a clip of 50 miles an hour.

Wal-Mart pushing back inventory to Distribution Centers (WSJ)

The retailer is holding goods longer at distribution centers, increasing flexibility and trying to meet e-commerce competition and the changing consumer expectations.

The African Startup Using Phones to Spot Counterfeit Drugs

A Ghanaian entrepreneur thinks he has the answer to Africa’s fake medicine problem – MPedigree sells software that manufacturers use to label individual packs of medication with a random 12-digit code hidden under a scratch-off panel on the packaging. When a person buys medicine, she can text the code to MPedigree for free and get an instant reply telling her whether the product is authentic. Today, MPedigree says it has labels on more than 500 million drug packets. Clients include the drug companies AstraZeneca, Roche, and Sanofi.

Chinese Textile Mills Are Now Hiring in Places Where Cotton Was King

Textile production in China is becoming increasingly unprofitable after years of rising wages, higher energy bills and mounting logistical costs, as well as new government quotas on the import of cotton. At the same time, manufacturing costs in the United States are becoming more competitive.

The Evolution Toward Software-as-a-Self-Service

Software-as-a-Self-Service envisioned as the ability for a shipper to visit a website, enter their credit card information, go through a setup wizard, and within an hour or two be up and running with a TMS. If done right, this self-service approach would enable solution providers to reach, in a more scalable and cost-effective manner, all of those SMB companies currently using spreadsheets and fax machines to manage their transportation operations.

Why Sustainability Meant Opportunity to Innovate for Nike

Nike identified water inadequacy and resource cost volatility among the risks, opportunities and challenges surrounding its business. This became the driving force behind the forging of the relationship between Nike and Dutch award-winning startup DyeCoo, a Dutch company that launched the world’s first ever industrial dyeing machine that uses high pressure carbon dioxide (CO2) as a replacement for water to dye polyester. The CO2 used in the process originates from other industrial sources and is 95 percent recyclable. On top of that, the technology uses less chemicals and about half the energy of conventional dyeing techniques.

Inventory Management in the Age of Big Data (HBR)

We are on the verge of a major upheaval in the way inventory is managed. This revolution is a result of the availability of the huge amounts of real-time data that are now routinely generated on the internet and through the interconnected world of enterprise software systems and smart products. In order to make effective use of this new data and to stay competitive, managers will need to redesign their supply-chain processes.

SanDisk’s Journey to Supply Chain Excellence (Forbes)

Sandisk improved its supply chain through deployment of vertically integrated sourcing, reduction in variability, manufacturing flexibility analysis, postponement, customer segmentation and other modern supply chain concepts.

Camper successfully applies Operations Rules concepts

Camper’s journey to supply chain success was achieved by implementing the manufacturing 2-flexibility and push-pull concepts developed by David Simchi-Levi.

IKEA Can’t Stop Obsessing About Its Packaging (WSJ)

Retailer increasingly designs furniture with shipping costs in mind from the start. Efficient packing—and the concomitant benefit of lower transport costs—is at the heart of IKEA’s ability to stay affordable. “We hate air at IKEA,” is a mantra that is repeated throughout the company.

How Bird Flu is Impacting the Egg Supply Chain

For the first time in more than a decade that the US has been forced to import eggs from Europe due to a massive shortage. This is because of an avian flu outbreak that has affected more than 47 million birds, which is nearly 16% of the US stock.

JDA Takes Supply Chain Software to Google Cloud (WSJ)

Software providers say retail customers are reluctant to give business to Google rival Amazon Web Services

Microsoft Picks Unusual Place to Make Its Giant Surface Hub: The U.S. (NYT)

There is nothing ordinary about Surface Hub, a gargantuan touch-screen computer that Microsoft is about to start selling to companies as a high-tech replacement for conference room whiteboards. Just as unusual is where Microsoft is building the Surface Hub: Wilsonville, Ore., just outside Portland.

Find the Weak Link in Your Supply Chain (HBR)

David Simchi-Levi describes the concept of Time to Survive and how it was implemented at Ford.

Help Wanted: Black Belts in Data

“Data scientists are the new superheroes” The qualifications for the job include the strength to tunnel through mountains of information and the vision to discern patterns where others see none.

Big Data At Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: How Analytics Drives Restaurant Performance

Barbecue and Big Data do not seem to be the most natural bedfellows – but one U.S. restaurant chain has thrown them together to increase sales and its understanding of the customer. Dickeys Barbecue Pit, which operates 514 restaurants across the U.S., uses a proprietary system it calls Smoke Stack.

Big Data Brings Relief to Allergy Medicine Supply Chains (WSJ)

Advancing supply-chain technology has enabled pharmaceutical companies to keep their allergy-relief products in stock. Many vendors now are combining data from thousands of stores of different retailers and cross-referencing it with weather, pollen and other data to make sure they can meet consumer demand—and not miss out on potential sales.