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‘Supply Chain at Warp Speed’ [a review]

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Mario López de Ávila Muñoz

Emprendedor e inversor, mentor, advisor. Profesor asociado del área de Operations and Quantitative Methods de la IE Business School, imparte clases en la escuela desde el año 1996. Fundador de la Agile Entrepreneurship Spain, la comunidad hispano hablante de interesados en las metodologías Lean Startup en Meetup decana en España y una de las más grandes del mundo. Startup NEXT Madrid Lead Facilitator. Lean Startup Machine Madrid Co-founder. Co-director del proyecto España Lean Startup. Co-fundador de UEIA, primera aceleradora de empresas sociales de base tecnológica en el mundo.


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Theory of Constraints

‘Supply Chain at Warp Speed’ [a review]

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Esta tarde he entregado a Bill Dettmer una 'review' que he preparado a petición suya sobre su último libro, escrito al alimón con ese gigante intelectual que es Eli Schrangeheim.  En realidad, lo que he escrito, más que una revisión crítica del texto, es lo que los anglos denominan un 'endorsement', o, por decirlo de otro modo, algo hecho con mucho cariño.  Me ayudaron con el inglés María [gracias otra vez!] y Nicola [que no lee este blog].  Pedro, como siempre, aportó su grano de arena […en definitiva, que hasta para una chorrada como ésta han hecho falta cuatro personas].

He pensado en publicar el texto aquí [dónde si no], para compartirlo con vosotros e ir despertando el gusanillo.  Para los que andan con prisa, Supply Chain at Warp Speed es el más completo tratado escrito hasta la fecha sobre las soluciones TOC aplicadas a la gestión de la cadena de suministro.  Si todo va bien, estará a la venta en un par de meses, pero ya podéis encargarlo en Amazon.com.

In Manufacturing at Warp Speed (MWS) Eli Schrangeheim and Bill Dettmer introduced the Simplified Drum-Buffer-Rope (S-DBR) approach and proposed the idea that the market is always the major constraint – an idea that many of us have adopted ever since.  That book became the main reference about the application of Theory of Constraints (TOC) tools to manufacturing environments for TOC practitioners around the world.  Eight years later, this time in collaboration with J. Patterson, both authors share with us new insights and perspectives on the topic in their new book, Supply Chain at Warp Speed (SCWS).

SCWS updates and elaborates on the former approach to production management, to truly extend it for the first time to the entire supply chain, encompassing every step of activity from the provision of raw materials to the end user.  Without doubt, SCWS is the ultimate resource for any serious student of TOC solutions in Supply Chain Management.  That is why I plan to recommend it to my postgraduate alumni of advanced Operations Management courses at the Instituto de Empresa, the first Spanish business school.  In addition, this book is not an academic book, but a very practical one.  It is primarily about how to produce and distribute goods more quickly, satisfying your customers and earning more money in the process – now and in the future.  It is full of recipes for shortening your cash-to-cash cycle, which, properly implemented, can give results in weeks.  Thus, it is required reading for any professional interested in solving real world problems affecting anything, anywhere, in the supply chain.  

SCWS is written in an easily understandable style and is divided into four main parts.

In Part 1, TOC beginners will benefit from the clear, up-to-date explanation of the traditional DBR and the S-DBR solution. In this part, advanced readers should pay attention to new concepts, such as ‘safe dates’,as well as to the recommendations for successful S-DBR implementation in non-typical situations included in chapter 5… but the real treat for the experienced TOC Practitioner can be found in the following sections of the book.

In Part 2, chapter 6 introduces a ‘heretical’ and exciting idea: the use of S-DBR for Make to Stock (MTS) and, more precisely, for Make to Availability (MTA), a new concept that authors define as ‘a manufacturer's general declaration to provide immediate supply whenever needed’.  MTA is a justifiable reason for making to stock.  Moreover, the authors challenge the idea that the term buffer always refers to time.   According to these authors, when it comes to MTS, we need to reconsider our traditional concept of buffers.

In Part 3, chapters 8 and 9 describe the TOC approach to managing distribution networks. The authors satisfy in 50 pages the need for a comprehensive and state-of-the-art reference for the management of post-production distribution and the upstream portion of supply chain – the raw materials.  Many of us have been waiting for such a description for years!

Finally, in Part 4, the authors of SCWS conclude that “in a supply chain, companies ‘sink or swim’ together”.  Here, they carry out an exhaustive review of conflicts of interest among supply chain members and offer a few Evaporation Clouds and Negative Branches that are truly enlightening.  This is one of my favorite chapters.

I have long been an admirer of Dettmer and Schragenheim's work and I must say that this book is probably their best on the subject.  In short, for anyone seeking a clear, well-written explanation of TOC approaches to managing supply chain by some of the foremost TOC practitioners working on the subject, Supply Chain at Warp Speed should be ‘The Choice’.

Mario López de Ávila Muñoz
Principal and Founder, NODOS ctc
Associate Professor in Operations and Technology Management, Instituto de Empresa Business School

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Mario López de Ávila Muñoz

Emprendedor e inversor, mentor, advisor. Profesor asociado del área de Operations and Quantitative Methods de la IE Business School, imparte clases en la escuela desde el año 1996. Fundador de la Agile Entrepreneurship Spain, la comunidad hispano hablante de interesados en las metodologías Lean Startup en Meetup decana en España y una de las más grandes del mundo. Startup NEXT Madrid Lead Facilitator. Lean Startup Machine Madrid Co-founder. Co-director del proyecto España Lean Startup. Co-fundador de UEIA, primera aceleradora de empresas sociales de base tecnológica en el mundo.