Happy July 4th! Don’t forget your supply chain…

Okay I realize that I am a tad strange to associate the United States biggest day with supply chains but a conversation today sparked some thoughts….

The premise: I was chatting with friend today about the logistics that go around the July 4th barbeques – how much food is needed, what is the perfect mix of food and what about the beverage selection???? All this made me think about…you got it….supply chains. The barbeque dilemma is a microcosm of our supply chains.

  • Demand sensing – this hinges upon who we invite, their ages and their preferences…or our belief in what they “want” to eat. Do we have a large carnivorous group? Do they prefer hamburgers or hot dogs…what about chicken and ribs…..what about fish? Ar they vegetarian? What about kids? What kinds of cheese do they want on their burgers? Do they prefer mustard or…gag…ketchup on their hot dogs? We naturally calculate and try to determine what demand we might get from our customers…aka guests. Add to the equation potential desire for organic, low nitrate or hormone free options. When we go to the super market, we are doing some forecasting based on what demand we believe, our customers want.
  • Inventory Optimization – When all the food and goodies have been purchased, we also begin with inventory strategies…how much do we leave in the refrigerator/freezer (aka raw materials), how much do we throw on the grill (aka WIP) and how much is sitting on the tables ready for consumption (aka finished goods). Some of this inventory has a shelf life – try not to leave out potato salad in the blazing sun for 2 hours….As we work the grill we try to constantly gauge the demand, the pull if  you will of what we are manufacturing. Should the grill be going at full capacity? How many finished goods do we really want to let sit on the table?
  • Demand Shaping – As the grill is working…and no one is eating the chicken…do we start “promoting” how great a grill master you are, especially with chicken. Grilled just right without over drying the chicken. Oh and I just picked up the greatest barbeque sauce from South Carolina that I let this chicken marinate in for 48 hours….
  • Reverse logistics – well I will not get into this…but think about the accessibility of facilities….

I realize that most people tomorrow will not think about supply chain and the barbeque, but maybe for a split second tomorrow think about supply chain best practices and how they apply to your barbeque.

Just think, if you could get historic eating habits of all your invitees, coupled with some analytics of trends and consumption habits and you could purchase the right amount of food and the right mix. Having some manufacturing processes in mind you could ensure that once the burgers, hot dogs, chicken, etc that come off the grill end up right on someone’s plate for perfect fresh consumption. You would then ensure a fantastic experience with no left overs…oh wait maybe the leftovers are what make the barbeque fun for the hosts!

Happy  4th of July to all!

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