Industry Joins Academia To Discuss New Realities Of Global Supply Chain Management In Hungary

  • 7 Mar 2013 8:00 AM
Industry Joins Academia To Discuss New Realities Of Global Supply Chain Management In Hungary
Forty-one percent of shipping containers delivering goods by sea from Asia to Western Europe return to Asia empty. One reason for this imbalance, of course, are major market differences between the regions. But another cause is that the length of the journey — five weeks — limits the types of goods that can be sent back to Asian companies and consumers. But China has an ambitious plan that may even out East-West trade.

At the day-long Global Supply Chain Forum at CEU Business School in Budapest on February 22, participants discussed how China’s aspirations for a new China-Europe railway network could have trains from Western China unloading laptops in Hungary and reloading with Hungarian fruits and vegetables. This would create new opportunities for the country’s rich agricultural resources, and is just one example of the boon speedier trains could have to European businesses. The project ultimately aims to shorten freight travel time from Germany to China to just 72 hours.

The event was part of an ongoing initiative between CEU Business School and the University of Tennessee College of Business Administration, one of America’s leaders in supply chain management research and education. The two institutions are also partners in a new Global Supply Chain Executive MBA program.

CEU Business School Associate Professor Paul Lacourbe said that a rail route completed in September 2011 has already cut transport times between China and Germany to two weeks. And while the cost of moving goods and materials by train is 20 percent higher than by sea, he’s confident that the project will succeed.

Matteo Fumagalli, an associate professor and head of CEU’s Department of International Relations and European Studies, presented a less optimistic picture of what’s being called the “New Silk Road.” Fumagalli described a scenario in which oil interests, outdated infrastructure and corruption in Central Asia could well dash the hopes of a robust Europe-China rail and road network.

The two outlooks are representative of the complexities supply chain professionals face in today’s global transportation of raw materials and manufactured goods.

“Supply chain management is very different now than it used to be,” said Shay Scott, managing director of the University of Tennessee’s Global Supply Chain Institute. “Cost management used to be the big focus of supply chain management,” now it’s “game changers” like an increased availability of data and new attitudes about partnerships between companies and with suppliers, topics covered throughout the day’s panels.

Game changers are also impacting companies’ supply chain management talent and innovation needs. This Supply Chain Forum session provided a venue for supply chain professionals and researchers to explore those needs and the best practices world-class companies like Walmart and Procter & Gamble are developing to meet them.

“The premise of the forum is to talk about supply chain issues in a somewhat informal way, and to create a dialogue between managers and faculty,” said Matt Myers, associate dean at the University of Tennessee College of Business Administration.

The Forum has expanded globally since it launched in 1997, with sessions taking place in Western Europe in 2011 and in Asia in 2012.

“What’s happening here in Central and Eastern Europe is very important for the supply chain research we do,” said Dean Myers of the benefit in hearing directly from the region’s practitioners who presented at and attended the forum. Managers from Hungarian-based operations of SIEMENS, China Mart, and GE Power & Water spoke at the event.

CEU Business School Dean Mel Horwitch also commented on the importance of the Business School and the University of Tenneessee’s partnership.

“Bringing best business practices to Central and Eastern Europe is a founding mission of CEU Business School, making this a natural collaboration,” said Dean Horwitch. “Further, global supply chains are a critical part of global entrepreneurship, a priority area for our faculty and in our degree programs.”

Source: CEU Business School

  • How does this content make you feel?