The MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation recently released a landmark research study in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) on Supply Chain and Risk Management and Making Right Decisions to Strengthen Operations Performance.

The Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation (CITT) says this study, which examined 209 manufacturers operating in a number of different sectors, adds pivotal evidence to support the argument that a company’s most important metrics actually hinge on the abilities and expertise of people who are able to run flexible, uninterrupted supply chain and logistics operations – and not the host of other, less controllable factors that often get the attention of management.

Previously, CITT has shared other research that studied hundreds of companies with global operations and linked corporate performance most closely to uninterrupted supply chain operations. CITT characterizes the new MIT research as the missing link industry needed to prove that profitability and uninterrupted supply chains are more sensitive to people’s professional abilities than anything else.

“Taken together, these studies send businesses a clear message – having the logistics expertise is the biggest factor in a resilient, uninterrupted supply chain, and a resilient supply chain is the biggest factor for profitability,” says Catherine Viglas, President of CITT.

Walk the halls of any business with significant supply chain operations and chances are you’ll hear familiar gripes about profitability. Commodity pricing is unpredictable. Currency rates are on a roller coaster ride. Fuel costs are soaring. Margins are razor thin and events of all kinds are causing disruptions.

Yet the MIT study shows that profitability hinges on people and what they know. The research concluded that supply chain operations were most sensitive to skill set and expertise, a factor well within the control of businesses, not fickle factors such as commodity pricing and fuel costs.1 Further, MIT and PwC found that the ‘companies with mature capabilities in supply chain and risk management do better along all survey dimensions of operational and financial performance than immature companies.

“The findings should come as great news to businesses who often feel vulnerable to uncontrollable factors,” says Viglas. “Supply chain and logistics is often an afterthought for top-level executives because it’s relatively invisible until something goes wrong.” Viglas added.

“If there’s ever been a wake-up call to invest in professional development and certification for your supply chain and logistics people, this study is it,” said CITT’s Viglas, citing the study’s findings that only 41 per cent of the companies in the study had the mature expertise needed to effectively address incidents and only 9 per cent were described as being fully prepared to manage the disruptions common in today’s increasingly complex global supply chain ecosystem.1

The MIT study illustrated that companies with mature supply chain logistics capabilities in place to avoid or manage supply chain interruptions had significant impact on key operating performance indicators, such as:

• Total supply chain lead-time variability

• Total cost

• Order fulfillment lead time

• Inventory turns

• Supply chain assets utilization

• Total supply chain lead-time

• Customer service level or fill-rate

• Sales revenue

• Market-share

• Market value

“CITT’s specialized logistics courses are a proven way of setting your logistics professionals, and your business, up for better performance. The skills and expertise developed through CITT courses lead to more sustainable, invulnerable supply chain and logistics operations,” Viglas said.

Halifax Port Authority and CN announce new representation in India

Halifax Port Authority (HPA) and CN Rail have hired Crest Container Lines to work in India to promote the port of Halifax and CN’s rail network as a gateway into North America. The agreement took effect March 1, 2014.

Crest Container Lines is based in Mumbai, with nine branch offices throughout India. Fouze Farrhan, its President and CEO, has over two decades of proven shipping and freight experience in the Indian Subcontinent and North American market. Crest Container Lines is a member of FFAI, FIATA and is NVOCC licenced by the Federal Maritime Commission.

“There are many opportunities in this fast growing marketplace, and we are fortunate to have two very strong partners in CN and Crest to help promote our business development efforts in India,” said George Malec, Vice-President of Business Development and Operations for HPA. “Fouze’s experience combined with the expanding Crest network will be an excellent partnership to grow the flow of cargo between the Indian Subcontinent and North America.

“CN is pleased to continue to work closely with Port of Halifax to pursue cargo growth opportunities in the Indian Subcontinent,” said Keith Reardon, CN Vice-President, Intermodal Services. “Through this partnership we hope to improve the effectiveness of our customers’ supply chains and in turn draw more business through the Port of Halifax and CN’s North American rail network.”