Smarter supply chain management

Smarter supply chain management

Traditionally, supply chain management is about efficiently making goods and services available to customers. After years of supply disruption, climate change and social and geopolitical conflict, this task demands more of organizations if they are to be responsible, resilient and prosperous.  

For example, the Centre for Sustainable Supply Chains is a recognized Centre of Excellence at the Schulich School of Business and was launched in 2021 with Professor David Johnston as the inaugural director. It is made possible by a gift from George Weston Ltd. The Centre supports innovation in both management education, academic and industry research.   

In education, the Centre has focused on creating experiential learning for graduate students that gives them hands-on experience working with organizations grappling with the costs, opportunities and trade-offs involved in making supply chains part of a lean and circular economy. For example, students in the Master of Supply Chain Management (MSCM) program work with organizations to solve real-world business problems related to supply chain management in a four-month capstone course.  

An increasing number of the projects directly address sustainability issues, such as carbon reduction, waste reduction, resilience to supply disruption and better public sector supply chain management. Past projects have looked at implementing lifecycle costing in sourcing products, single use plastic reduction, reducing carbon emissions in global logistics decisions, eliminating waste in distribution networks being dumped in landfill and better managing a diverse workforce in operating facilities.   

The George Weston Ltd. Centre for Sustainable Supply Chains is advancing a portfolio of research programs in leading edge, non-competitive areas of priority to responsible supply chain management. For example, the centre has launched the Sustainable Public Procurement Accelerator Lab to develop better ways to assure sourcing processes in organizations incorporate sustainability goals.  

Recent work on resiliency emphasizes a proactive and data-enabled approach to managing the risks of supply disruption, resulting from the pandemic or climate change. They confront emerging issues such as the need for supply chains to be secured against criminal threats that can interrupt or cripple the flow of critical supply leading to waste and inefficiencies that ripple through an economy.   

Research output is expressed in peer-reviewed publications, white papers, media, and outreach through both academic and practitioner forums. The Centre curates a community of  Faculty Associates to the Centre who play an integral role in contributing to the Centre’s research, education, and outreach initiatives, while pursuing their own unique approaches to topics at the intersection of sustainability and supply chain management. The Centre also provides a bridge between academic research and industry practitioners to explore emerging issues at events such as the annual Supply Chain Research Forum.