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.

Zara Builds Its Business Around RFID (WSJ)

Inditex parent of the Zara chain, says it has learned from competitors’ experience and is rolling out RFID technology throughout the operations of its signature brand. RFID chips can store information about whatever item they are attached to and, when prompted, emit that data via radio signals to a scanner. Inditex is burying the chips inside its garments’ plastic security tags, an innovation that allows the “fast fashion” chain to reuse them after the tags are removed at checkout.

Infographic: Apple Perfects Global Supply Chain (EBN)

The effort that went into putting out the newest Apple product, from idea and design into actual end product, is a fascinating supply chain story. This single product has the potential to impact the economies of entire nations. For example, the iPhone 6 release may increase Japan’s electronics exports by 5% and Taiwan’s by 8.6%. What about the United States? Bringing iPhone manufacturing to the US would cost Apple $4.2 billion. A US-assembled iPhone would cost only $4 more than the current globally manufactured product. Though the iPhone 6 is mainly assembled in China, Apple supports almost 600,000 jobs in the US. The Chinese spent more than $1 billion on iPhone 6 assembly machines purchased in Japan.

Alibaba: It’s the world’s largest 3D printer. (Bloomberg)

Alibaba enabled me—with little knowledge and even less experience—to have 280 pairs of fluorescent denim pants custom made in 28 days for $4,503, including shipping ($16.08 per).

A new era for supply chains as faster IT systems push data into the driving seat

Supply chain’s influence is expanding into product life-cycle management, business planning and corporate social requirements. This requires access to whole new sets of data, and for that data to be made available across an organisation.

Is Apple’s Supply Chain a Risk to the Company? (Motley Fool)

If two of Apple’s three products for this event are delayed, coupled with the iPad Mini Retina last year, does this mean Apple’s supply chain presents a risk of sorts to the company?

2014 Top 20 Global Supply Chain Management Software Suppliers

The market for supply chain management software (SCM), maintenance and services posted another year of solid growth, generating $8.944 billion in 2013, including applications for procurement software. That represented a nearly 7.4% increase over 2012 revenues, according to Chad Eschinger, vice president of supply chain with research firm Gartner.

Combining machine learning and optimization in supply chain analytics

A technology that has not been implemented widely in supply chain until recently is Machine Learning and combined with optimization it can produce breakthrough results. A recent award winning pricing project at Rue La La shows how this is done.

2014 FM Global Country Resilience Index (Spendmatters)

FM Global evaluated the relative risk – and resilience capacity to recover from disruptive events – of 130 countries. Their analysts developed risk index scores for each nation.

“The Internet of things” at home – Quirky spawns Wink

Quirky, is a startup that fields product ideas and selects some to produce. Recently, one in four Ideas is for Home products that can communicate with a smartphone or a household Wi-Fi network. These ideas are pursuing the much-promoted vision of the smart home, or the consumer Internet of things.The vision has been around for years, but the reality has remained elusive. To change this, Quirky is setting up a separate company, Wink, whose main technology is software intended to be the equivalent of an open operating system, helping to seamlessly connect all kinds of automated home devices.

Nielsen Rewards Innovations of Successful New Products (NYT)

Of the nearly 3,500 new consumer goods introduced in 2012, just 14 managed to generate at least $50 million in sales in their first year and sustain that momentum into their second, according to the market research group Nielsen.

Implementing “Time to Recovery” to Mitigate Supply Chain Risk

There is a question that you need to ask your suppliers that will help both you and your supplier reduce risk and improve performance. The question is “What is the expected time to recovery if the site from which my part is supplied goes down?”

The supply chain and the NSA

Cisco Systems Inc’s chief executive officer has written a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to curtail government surveillance after evidence circulated showing the National Security Agency had intercepted Cisco equipment, a company spokesman said on Sunday.

A List of Things Starbucks Has Run Out Of (WSJ)

Starbucks must have become so successful recently that its supply chains are strained. It seems to be running out of things more than it used to. While the shortages may be a sign of solid expansion, they are also likely to alienate customers. Supply chain issues cut two ways.

Internet of Things Infographic (EBN)

The Internet of Things (IoT) has gone from being a topic best left to technology futurists to one that is about as common as corn flakes. Despite a lot of talk, there remains confusion about just how important this technology breakthrough will be for the supply chain.

After decades of exodus, companies returning production to the U.S. (LA Times)

After three decades of an exodus of production to China and other low-wage countries, companies have sharply curtailed moves abroad. Some have begun to return manufacturing to U.S. shores. Although no one keeps precise statistics, the retreat from offshoring is clear from various sources, including federal data on assistance to workers hurt by overseas moves. U.S. factory payrolls have grown for four straight years, with gains totaling about 650,000 jobs. That’s a small fraction of the 6 million lost in the previous decade, but it still marks the biggest and longest stretch of manufacturing increases in a quarter century.

Gartner Says Worldwide Supply Chain Management Software Market Grew 7.3 Percent in 2013

With supply chain continuing to be a key source of competitive advantage and business growth, the worldwide supply chain management (SCM) and procurement software market grew 7.3 percent to US$8.9 billion in 2013. The market performed well as supply chain investments kept their priority status, even as IT budget decision makers remained cautious.