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CSCMP’s Supply Chain of the Future: A Step in the Right Direction


“Are you guys a 3PL?”

“Do you sell network design/package design software or services?”

“Do you have presence in Brazil? We could really use these solutions there.”

“Can you apply network optimization to wine/food/tobacco etc. products?”

“Do you still have warehouses in Utah?”

“How can we partner with ModusLink?”

These were some of the most common questions that I recently fielded while manning the ModusLink booth at the recently concluded first annual CSCMP Supply Chain of the Future lab in the beautiful city of San Diego.

ModusLink’s quadrilateral-shaped booth showcased our expertise in supply chain design, supply chain execution, aftermarket solutions including returns and repair and value recovery solutions.

This lab, spread over 100,000 square feet of the San Diego Convention Center, consisted of a cornucopia of approximately 100 organizations in the supply chain arena offering:

  • Software solutions (from strategic network design and decision making analytics  to transactional warehouse management systems)
  • Automated equipment solutions (mobile fulfillment systems, automated palletizing and high-speed case packing solutions to right-sized on-demand packaging solutions)
  • Value-added solutions (forward and reverse supply chain solutions)
  • “Next-generation” and sustainable products (pallets/packaging etc.)

While the CSCMP Annual Global Conference, which attracts close to 3,000 supply chain professionals, has traditionally been designed across various educational sessions, the Supply Chain of the Future was meant to depict a “real-time, fully integrated operating supply chain.”

Did this “lab” achieve the goal of depicting a real-time and fully integrated operating supply chain? Only partially; and I feel this way primarily because this was just the first year of the event.

While some of the participants did preview some “cool” innovations such as robotic picking and shipping systems, the majority of the exhibitors used this forum to demonstrate and market their current service offerings and network with potential clients and partners.

Also, as opposed to a fully integrated supply chain, as one walked into the exhibit hall the first impression was of a compartmentalized supply chain grouped by functional areas and separated by makeshift boundaries, each “compartment” trying to differentiate itself and its offerings from its neighbors.

In my opinion, adding an event like this to the educational conference is commendable and a step in the right direction. It adds the missing practical component to an otherwise largely academic and theoretical endeavour for a targeted gathering of supply chain professionals from across the globe.

In future years, I expect this event to only get better and become the preferred conduit for futuristic and economically feasible solutions for the supply chain space.

If you attended the Supply Chain of the Future, what were your thoughts?



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