What is supply chain management and how it works?

Supply chain management is the handling of the entire production flow of a good or service to maximize quality, delivery, customer experience and profitability.

The industry with the most supply chain jobs is the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing involves the production of goods on a large scale, which requires a complex supply chain to source raw materials, manage inventory, and distribute finished products. Within the manufacturing industry, various sectors such as automotive, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods have significant supply chain operations and thus employ a large number of professionals in supply chain roles.

How Supply Chain works in FedEx

FedEx is a global logistics and transportation company with a well-established supply chain network in the United States. Here is an overview of how the supply chain typically works in FedEx USA.

  1. Order Placement: The supply chain process begins when customers place orders with FedEx. This can be done through various channels, including online platforms, phone calls, or in-person visits to FedEx retail locations.
  2. Pickup and Transportation: Once an order is placed, FedEx arranges for the pickup of the shipment from the customer's location. They offer various pickup options, including scheduled pickups, drop-off locations, or using their self-service options. The shipments are then transported through their extensive network of vehicles, planes, and/or ships, depending on the service level chosen by the customer.
  3. Sorting and Distribution Centers: Upon reaching a FedEx facility, the shipments are unloaded and sorted based on their destinations. FedEx operates multiple sorting and distribution centers strategically located across the United States. These centers employ advanced technologies and automated systems to efficiently process and route packages to their respective destinations.
  4. Transportation Network: After sorting, the packages are loaded onto FedEx's transportation network, which includes trucks, planes, and sometimes ships. FedEx operates a dedicated air fleet and has a large number of ground vehicles to facilitate the movement of shipments across the country.
  5. Tracking and Visibility: Throughout the supply chain process, FedEx provides tracking and visibility to customers. Each package is assigned a unique tracking number, allowing customers to monitor the progress of their shipments online or through mobile applications. Customers can access real-time updates on the location and estimated delivery time of their packages.
  6. Last-Mile Delivery: FedEx focuses on efficient last-mile delivery to ensure packages reach their final destinations. They have a network of drivers and delivery personnel who are responsible for delivering packages to residential and business addresses. In some cases, they may partner with local couriers or subcontractors to handle last-mile delivery.
  7. Proof of Delivery and Returns:Once a package is successfully delivered, FedEx provides proof of delivery to the customer, including the recipient's signature or other confirmation. Additionally, FedEx offers return services, allowing customers to initiate returns and manage reverse logistics through their network.

FedEx continuously invests in technology, infrastructure, and operational excellence to optimize their supply chain and provide reliable and efficient logistics services in the United States and worldwide.

How Supply Chain works in iPhone

The iPhone supply chain involves numerous components, manufacturing processes, suppliers, and distribution networks that span the globe. Here's an overview of the iPhone supply chain as an example.

  1. Component Sourcing: The iPhone's components come from various suppliers worldwide. For instance, semiconductor components may come from suppliers in the United States, Taiwan, South Korea, and elsewhere. The display components are often sourced from companies in Japan and South Korea, while the casing and aluminum parts might be produced in China.
  2. Assembly: Most iPhones are assembled in China by companies like Foxconn (also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.). These assembly facilities are massive and employ hundreds of thousands of workers.
  3. Logistics: After assembly, the iPhones are packaged and transported across the globe to reach their final destinations. This involves a complex logistics network of shipping, air freight, and distribution centers.
  4. Retail: iPhones are sold through various channels, including Apple Stores, third-party retailers, and online platforms. Each of these channels has its own logistics and distribution networks.
  5. After-Sales Service: Apple also has to manage a supply chain for replacement parts, repairs, and warranty services, which includes logistics and inventory management for spare parts.
  6. Software Updates: Software updates, which are a crucial part of maintaining the iPhone's functionality and security, are distributed globally over the internet. This involves content delivery networks (CDNs) and data centers.
  7. Environmental Considerations: Apple is committed to environmental sustainability and sources materials responsibly. The supply chain includes considerations for recycling, responsible sourcing, and reducing the carbon footprint.

How Supply Chain works in Boeing's

  1. Supplier Network: Boeing works with a vast network of suppliers and partners worldwide. These suppliers provide a wide range of components and materials, including avionics, engines, fuselage sections, landing gear, and more. Many of these suppliers are specialized companies with expertise in specific areas of aerospace manufacturing.
  2. Global Manufacturing: Boeing operates production facilities in multiple countries, with major manufacturing centers in the United States (Seattle, Washington; Charleston, South Carolina; St. Louis, Missouri) and other locations around the world. These facilities are responsible for assembling various aircraft models.
  3. Just-in-Time Manufacturing: Boeing employs just-in-time manufacturing principles, which means that parts and components are delivered to assembly lines precisely when they are needed. This minimizes inventory costs and improves production efficiency.
  4. Logistics and Transportation: The logistics involved in transporting large aircraft components are complex. Oversized components, such as wings and fuselage sections, often require specialized transportation methods, including custom-built aircraft transporters, ships, and even the Boeing Dreamlifter, a modified 747 used to transport large components.

Careers for Supply Chain graduates would be like Supply Chain Manager/Director, Logistics Manager, Supply Chain Analyst, Procurement Manager, Inventory Analyst/Manager ..etc.

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