Supply Chains are omnipresent.  They spill over into virtually every facet of modern life.  From the food on your table, to the computer you’re accessing this blog from, you best believe supply chains assisted in the planning, production, and distribution of those products.  Look around, everything you see involved a supply chain in some fashion.

As the years fly by, supply chains evolve into more and more complex networks.  Globalization, coupled with a fixation for fat-trimming in the late 20th century, increased the number of “nodes” in the supply chain, fragmented by core competencies.  [Azadegan, SCM Risk & Disruption]

To further illustrate what your laptop went through before it found its way into your life, view Andrea’s diagram below:


By Andreas Wieland, CC BY-SA 3.0

If you notice, there are numerous suppliers for numerous parts that make up the final product.  The items are considered work-in-progress (WIP) until the laptops are assembled and packaged for sale.  On the flip side, there are many avenues by which the end consumer can purchase the laptop from.  We can buy it from the retailer itself (Best Buy), or buy directly from the manufacturer (Dell).  Once approached esoterically, the internet now has penetrated into the mainstream, which makes buying products easier than ever.

It doesn’t stop there though!  Supply chains also involve the flow of information.  Embedded in and between every single node in the system, logistics helps organize and optimize the flow of material and information. [MIT CTL.SC0x]

Another supply chain example below shows the nodes in more friendly manner.


Megha Thakkar PMP – SCM Risk Management Essentials

Keep in mind that the arrows point both ways!  What about the backend of the chain; what happens if our laptop is defective; what is the laptop’s warranty policy?

Supply Chains permeate our lives in ways we cannot even comprehend.  They envelope us and allow us to enjoy the comforts of modern life as we know it.



Dr. Arash Azadegan, Rutgers Business School, Risk & Disruption Management

MITx CTL.SC0x – Supply Chain Analytics, Week 1, Lesson 1

Andreas Wieland –