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The basics of managing a collaborative supply chain (Part 2 of 5)

This is the second post in series on collaborative supply management.  The posts are based on a case study of the pig industry which I’ve rewritten to bring out how we manage collaborative supply chains.

The Scottish pig industry has set up a sophisticated feedback loop to listen more closely to consumers

The Scottish pig industry has set out to create a feedback loop between you and I, who buy bacon, ham and pork in small quantities once a week, or maybe even less often, and everyone in the supply chain from our favourite shop working back through the abattoir and factories (that we some of us don’t even like to think about) to the pig snuffling in its pen at the farm.

Their focus has shifted from competing to collaboration

Scottish farmers have good commercial reasons for setting up this feedback loop.

We all know that much of the food arriving in our supermarkets is cheap and well, nasty. But that does not have to be so.  In the past, business schools taught that a business must choose between cheap and horrible, on the one hand, or expensive and good, on the other hand.  One of the benefits of collaborative supply chains is that we may not have to make that choice.  We may not have to choose between working in industries driven only by cost and industries that are quality but niche.  For that matter, pigs may not to be condemned to cheap and nasty living conditions either.

The key to collaboration is sharing information on the bigger picture so we can each be more nimble

Industry began to move away from the idea of cheap or luxurious when Toyota figured out how to work with its suppliers and deliver good products ‘just-in-time’.  The internet is making it even easier to produce good things at reasonable prices.  High speed computers mean we can collect information, share information and analyse information and get enormously better at what we do.  We all benefit – producer, shopkeeper, consumer and animals.

So what is the information we need to collaborate and become more nimble?

In the next post, I’ll tell you more about what the Scottish pig industry did to use information to improve their entire supply chain.

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