University of Tennessee

Cutting-Edge Research and Industry Practice Connect at Haslam’s Supply Chain Forum

May 1, 2019

The Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, held its semi-annual Supply Chain Forum in mid-April, hosting networking events and drawing speakers from industry-leading companies. The institute debuted two white papers during the forum, “End-to-End Supply Chain Planning Framework and Key Concepts,” and “Driving Shareholder Value with your Supply Chain.”

“The forum continues to grow in size and influence in the supply chain community,” said Mary Long, managing director. “We had a great mix of best-in-class companies, a dynamic set of speakers and the opportunity to bring together cutting-edge research with industry practitioners. Additionally, we provide a talent pipeline for member companies recruiting the best and brightest young supply chain professionals. That’s always an exciting aspect of the forum.”

In his opening talk, “Next Gen in Supply Chain Management – Roles and Dynamics for the Future,” Karl Gernandt, executive chairman of Kuehne Holding AG, spoke of his vision for a future supply chain system modeled on the architecture of the internet. A decentralized transportation system would enable physical packages to flow along paths that adapt to risks factors like political instability and closed borders.

“The physical internet will dramatically help manufacturers and owners focus on developing products and services,” Gernandt said. “They will not have to expend their efforts making sure materials make it to the factory and goods make it to the consumer in line with the level of demand.”

Michael Ku, vice president of research and development for supply chain with Pfizer, spoke about supply chain innovation in the pharmaceuticals industry. Innovation, he said, must be novel or new, but also useful.

“There are differences to the practice of medicine throughout the world,” Ku said. “To practice supply chain, you need the right insights to serve a patient in the UK, the United States or China. Complexity is not a bad thing; you just have to pay attention. It’s not just about getting the right product to the right place at the right time, it’s about getting the right dose, the right temperature if necessary and making sure that product is prepared properly.”

Pharmacists, he said, play a huge role in this important area. “We have empathy for what patients and healthcare providers need,” Ku said.

Other topics included an economic overview by Don Bruce, Douglas and Brenda Horne Professor of Business, and strategic sourcing and procurement’s role in mergers and acquisitions, as well as breakout sessions about blockchain technology and international trade issues.

Haslam’s Global Supply Chain Institute connects companies to the college’s globally ranked research and educational programs. It seeks develop the next leaders in supply chain management, and its white papers can be download at: