Supply Chains for Everyone

Think about any product you have ever used or looked at.  There is a good chance that behind the scenes of the product there was a supply chain, hopefully we well-designed and efficient one.   The design of a supply chain is something we definitely tale for granted because we often have no idea how it is created, nor do we really care.  As consumers, supply chains are a very important piece of or lives, we just don’t actually see them at work most of the time.

Obviously big companies like Amazon and Walmart need and efficient supply chain to be able to operate well, but in explore this topic, I am going to focus on another industry: construction.  Watching all of the construction that has been going on around campus and around the city as a whole got me thinking about the supply chain that goes into construction projects.  From the time the project is even thought of as an idea, planning must be started in order to get things where they need to be.

I am by no means an expert on the construction process, but an efficiently designed supply chain definitely helps this process move a lot smoother.  Once a project is created, the construction company has to put together a timeline but for that timeline to be able to be met, it must be relatively realistic and there must be an established supply chain.

In the case of a construction project, the construction company is the consumer that needs products in order to continue its operations.  The company needs a relationship with suppliers in order for the individual products to be produced.  Then there must be logistics in place to distribute and store the products somewhere so the construction company has access to them when they are needed.  In the end, this chain of events gives the construction company access to the products necessary in order for them to complete the project at hand.

While what I’ve talked about has to deal with the supply chain at work in the world, there are companies that help create these successful supply chains.  UPS is one company who is very efficient and effective at what they do, and they have now transitioned into teaching and helping others in designing their own supply chains.  UPS has recognized and established the importance of a good supply chain in today’s global marketplace.  If you would like to read a little bit more about UPS’s supply chain planning, see this link…

Whether you realize it or not, supply chains are at work everywhere in the world.  Most companies need a supply chain in order to operate, but there are also other companies that are there to help create or restructure a supply chain if that is what is necessary.

3 thoughts on “Supply Chains for Everyone

  • April 12, 2018 at 7:13 am


    You bring up an important point that I just addressed in another comment. As consumption-oriented humans, we are becoming increasingly detached from our supply chains. Some consumers will focus on where their product is sourced from, but many are guilty of not even that. If you asked me where half of the items in my bedroom originated from, China would be my best guess. Most of the time I will not even go out of my way to look at where my fresh produce and meats are being sourced from. I think this is a mindset that consumers have adopted from always being in an age of consumerism.
    As a drastic difference, we can look at colonial America. Everything the colonies used they had provided for themselves: food, furniture, tools, clothing. They were dependent not only on the weather but on a finite availability of resources. Many colonials wore the same outfit every day and would only replace their shoes once they could not be worn on their feet any longer. They knew exactly who to go to for iron products, wood products, textiles, leather products, agricultural products, etc.
    Now we live in an age that we can sit on our computer, in our bed and type in ‘Green Tutu’ and it will be at our front door the next morning. As consumers in a consumer-based society, we are so desensitized to any step before the ‘last step’ in the supply chain, which is delivering the good to us. This new era is ultimately a product of time and development: new technology, increased communication, open trade, e-commerce, etc. However, as consumers, it should still be our duty to consider our values and apply them to what we are buying and from what origin.

  • April 11, 2018 at 11:11 pm


    Thanks for your post. It really made me realize the prevalence of supply chains in our everyday lives. If you really think about it, we as individuals can act as a self-sufficient supply a chain. For example, say that we are hungry and need food. In order to eat, we need to make money (or go kill your own food, but let’s keep it in the 21st century). In order to make money, we need a job. With this money we then need to drive ourselves to the grocery store and pick out the food that we need/want. We then purchase the food and take it back to our house. Once we are home, we transfer the food from the car to the kitchen. After this step, we then cook the food and place it on a plate. Ultimately, we eat the food, completing the last step in the supply chain. Sorry for the rant, but it’s weird to think that these in class concepts can almost be applied to our everyday lives.

    Now back to your main point, a construction company definitely needs a reliable supply chain because without their materials, they cannot finish their projects. Additionally, the necessary supplies can vary from project to project. Most of the time, construction companies are making a unique product every time. Therefore, an accurate supply chain is essential. It is also imperative that supply chain managers are very detailed in what they need and how much they need. At the bottom of this post is an interesting article that talks about how the supply chain in the construction industry can be improved.


  • April 11, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    Matt, you bring up a good point about different types of companies that use supply chain design in order to run most efficiently and at a low cost. It is interesting that you chose to discuss construction as it happens that some my family members work in contracting and construction. Before this class, I would have never attributed supply chain processes to a jobsite. However, in speaking with those who work in the trade about some of the on goings behind the scenes, the design of a supply chain is crucial to a construction site in order to finish the job and remain cost effective. Like we discussed earlier in the year, excess costs at the conclusion of a project due to deadlines not being met can be destructive to the overall efficacy of the job. So, successfully designing the supply chain for a construction job is essential. From listening to my family talk, it seems as if everything (flow of information, material, and workers) is planning prior to beginning the job. A just in time style of planning for material arrival is implemented to keep costs low while receiving needed goods as they are required. For example, when beginning to implement the water system inside of a multistory building, all of the material is not shipped at the project start date. Different systems are scheduled to arrive when certain project benchmarks are completed. This way the company is not worried about holding costs or excess material on site and is operating as efficiently as possible. Additionally, the workforce on the job know exactly what they are doing and what is coming from the supply chain. It is cool to see how things are related to what we have been learning in class. Thank you for your post, Matt.

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