INTOUCH : Collaboration Key for Success

Supply chain collaboration is one of the secrets to success for New Zealand companies involved in manufacturing, distribution and logistics, according the Alan Stenger, who has just completed his term as the Ports of Auckland visiting professor and chair in logistics and supply chain management at The University of Auckland Business School.
“Internally, companies need to take holistic view of the supply chain and collaborate across all relevant functions on building and managing relationships. Involving key people across business functions helps to maximise organisational performance by avoiding potential conflicts in objectives, or domination by any one internal department,” Stenger said.
He added that New Zealand companies have an advantage as many are relatively small which makes it easier to achieve cross-functional cooperation.
“They can put the framework in place early and it’s there as the company grows,” he said, adding that collaboration can help avoid duplicated processes and redundant activities or inventories, and efficiencies can be achieved by working with others to avoid half-full vehicles and empty containers on back runs.
“However, the small number of players in the New Zealand market can create commercial sensitivities. In addition, New Zealand conditions are challenging – obviously the topography severely constrains the transportation and ports network, particularly with regard to highway and railway infrastructure,” Stenger said.
The chair in logistics and supply chain management is funded by Ports of Auckland with $1 million grant over five years. Ports of Auckland funded the chair to combine academic knowledge and insight with commercial knowledge, practice and experience. Stenger was in New Zealand on leave as professor of supply chain management and associate director of the Center for Supply Chain Research at The Pennsylvania State University, USA, and was instrumental in establishing the School’s Centre for Supply Chain Management. He will retain part-time affiliation with the Business School for the next two years, spending some months of each year in New Zealand. His successor is expected to be appointed in the near future.

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