Friday, September 30, 2005

Bonner Retires and Wrap-up Report from MIT Supply Chain Event

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the MIT Resilient and Secure Supply Chain conference in Cambridge, MA. Despite a five hour flight delay on the way home it was well worth the trip. MIT professor Yossi Sheffi kicked off the conference with some highlights from his new book The Resilient Enterprise. Yossi made some excellent points about the value of a resilient supply chain supported by several analogies that I was not aware of, such as the fact that Ericcson no longer makes cellphones mainly due to a supplier fire in Mexico that basically took so long to fix that they missed the window of opportunity of camera phones to Nokia and closed up shop (which is also why they partnered with Sony). Or Toyota who lost a supplier that made small tubes due to an earthquake in 1997. Within 24hrs Toyota's other suppliers, including Brother, know for its fax machines, started producing the tubes for them during the crisis without even asking for payment or a PO number. After Toyota was back into production and selling the cars they not only repaid the suppliers, but they gave them 1% of the total car sales as a bonus. A great example of partners helping to achieve resiliency.

Yossi was followed by IBM's Theo Fletcher who discussed IBM's supply chain and how he is making sure that the $68 million dollars in IBM's goods that are shipped globally each day make it to their destination securely and on-time. Theo couldn't emphasize enough that industry needs to lead security efforts, while working closely with governments and industry organizations

After lunch Commissioner Robert Bonner, US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection took the mic. Using no slides, he spent the next 45 minutes discussing what it's going to take to make a globally secure supply chain. He commented on the success of C-TPAT, which in less than a few years went from 7 members to more than 3000 (9000 applications are pending). He also applauded the efforts of the World Customs Organization (WCO), which has 89 countries of 168 that have already declared their intent to begin implementing the WCO Framework. The Commissioner also stated some interesting statistics including, the top 1000 importers account for 62% of all goods imported in the USA, C-TPAT covers 40% of all containerized goods and 80% of imports come through CSI ports in the US. All very strong statements that lead up to his announcement that he is going back to the private sector beginning in December. That's right, America's first Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is retiring after 4 years. Incredibly, his first unofficial day in office was September 10, 2001.
Photo credit: Justin Knight Photography

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