Southwest Airlines is all about connecting people to what’s important in their lives at the lowest cost possible, and that philosophy has served the company well for more than 40 years. It’s also a philosophy that the company is working hard to apply to its own internal processes, especially when it comes to its supply chain. Over the last few years, Southwest has been undergoing a substantial evolution within its supply chain operations. Director of Supply Chain Management Garry Cullinane says the airline’s leadership is focused on making the procurement as affordable and hassle-free as its fares are for its passengers. 

Seeing an opportunity to affect some positive changes throughout the company, Supply Chain leadership started looking introspectively to identify opportunities to leverage their sourcing expertise and talents more broadly across the organization. This led to some realigning of activities and teams across the Supply Chain Management department. The company has made some major changes, and even though there have been challenges along the way, Southwest is cultivating the benefits of its more streamlined Supply Chain, including better support for internal customer departments, better communication, and more structured and strategic management of spend.

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For frequent flyers and inexperienced travelers alike, the Airbus name is one of the most well-known brands in all of the aviation industry. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus designs, manufactures and supports some of the world’s top aircraft. The company has built its reputation on pioneering technological solutions and finding efficient sourcing and manufacturing methods while expanding on its European roots and creating fully owned subsidiaries around the world.

During the last three decades, Airbus has looked to expand its presence in the Americas. Airbus Americas is based out of Herndon, Va., and it has six (soon to be seven) locations in the United States and employs nearly 1,100 people here. The Airbus Americas footprint also includes on-site support and training centers throughout North and Latin America.

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When a disaster occurs, a company’s supply chain can be devastated and suffer from blind spots. But EMC Corp. has taken steps so that it knows exactly what is going on, Senior Program Manager of the Global Product Operations Sustainability Group Matthew Mills says. “We can very quickly identify what our impact is [after] a given event,” he says. “We monitor our supply chain 24/seven.”

Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC is an information technology company that helps businesses and service providers change their operations so they can deliver information technology as a service, it says. Today, 94 percent of the Fortune 50 companies and 90 percent of the world’s 20 largest banks use EMC’s products and services.

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Canon Solutions America Inc. follows a single philosophy, expressed in one Japanese word: “Kyosei.” The word, which means “living and working together for the common good,” expresses the operation’s mission and values, and encompasses the way it treats its employees and customers alike. A wholly owned subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc., Canon Solutions America completely exemplifies the Kyosei concept in every way it conducts its business. 

“We believe the world is a better place if you keep a balance between income, trade and the environment,” explains Valerie Belli, vice president of Canon Solutions America’s Business Service Division. 

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Barry-Wehmiller (BW) is in the business of supplying manufacturing technology and services, but it strongly focuses on people, Vice President of Global Supply Chain Mark A. Green says. “Our culture is a very unique and positive culture [that is] very people-centric,” he states.

The leadership of Chairman and CEO Bob Chapman has driven that philosophy, which enables BW’s success. “[We’ve earned] 15 percent compound growth in share value over 25 years and significant national attention for our Truly Human Leadership [THL] culture where everybody knows that who they are and what they do matters,” he says.

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Vanderlande Industries focuses on optimizing its clients’ business by delivering turnkey material-handling systems that actually work. “We are No. 1 in the world of baggage handling that is about 53 percent of our turnover, and the rest is evenly distributed between warehouse, parcel and postal automation, and customer service,” Manager of Continuous Improvement Matt Middlebrook says.

The Marietta, Ga.-based company is a $1 billion leading global supplier of turnkey material-handling systems for airport baggage and the distribution, parcel and postal markets. An OEM and system integrator of all its material-handling solutions, Vanderlande offers engineering, design, installation and operations, as well as maintenance services. 

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In 2005, FLS Transportation changed its main focus from cross-border shipping between Canada and the United States to primarily serving the U.S. domestic market. The decision, spurred by the increase in value of the Canadian dollar – which led to less cross-border business – proved to be a fateful one for the Montreal-based logistics provider.

“It was very tough for us initially,” Principal and President Michael Flinker says. “We went after many of the clients we already had to get their domestic business, but it was like going to the back of the line.”

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Gartner Inc. has released the findings from its 10th annual Supply Chain Top 25. A primary goal of the Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 research initiative is to raise awareness of the supply chain discipline and how it impacts the business.

Analysts announced the findings from this year’s research at Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2014 May 20–22 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Ariz., with more than 1,100 senior supply chain executives on-site. 

Read more: Gartner

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