Demonstration of Global Supply Chains With Intermodal Transportation and Decision Support for Small and Medium Business
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Demonstration of Global Supply Chains With Intermodal Transportation and Decision Support for Small and Medium Business

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    • Alternative Title:
      Demonstration of Global Supply Chains With Intermodal Transportation Decision Support for Small and Medium Businesses
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      Globalization has exposed all companies, large or small, to global competition and cooperation. The US furniture industry is not an exception in this process. In the US, upholstered furniture imported from China has grown annually rate over the last decade. Before 2005, more than 80% of imported upholstery was leather. In 2006, only just over 60% of upholstery imports from China were leather. Fabric upholstery imports nearly tripled from 2005 to about $625 million. Fully assembled upholstered furniture from China grew 37.9% in 2006 (Epperson 2007). It is expected that the growth of upholstery imports from China will continue, especially for fabric upholstered furniture. Imports have a large share in the furniture market in the US and this share is growing. An efficient supply chain is the key for furniture companies to survive and prosper in the global competition faced by the furniture industry (Bryson et al. 2003). However, the global supply chain process is so complicated and involves multiple logistics/transportation companies, different insurance companies, various policies and laws over countries, and typical complex information systems. The authors' survey on Mississippi furniture companies, including Airline Manufacturing, Lane Furniture, Flexsteel, Tupelo Manufacturing, and United Furniture Industries, shows that most of them do not understand and do not know how to operate their supply chain. They usually order the materials from a third logistic party and focus the negotiation on prices. The finding is different from big companies such as Ashley, which is operating a very efficient global supply chain (Gilmore, 2006). In this research, the authors can demonstrate that better management of their own supply chain will enhance their competitiveness by better controlling their inventory, reducing the intermodal transportation via working together with a third-party logistics company, and minimizing lead time and avoiding risk by tracing the log of orders. All those benefits require a close relationship and alliance with partners along the industry value chain, from upstream suppliers to freight carriers to retailers (Holweg and Bicheno, 2002). Small business owners can also adjust their market strategies based on their supply chain operations. To survive and grow in this dynamic environment, all players in the industry need to understand, define, develop, and maintain their competitiveness via tuning their supply chains. The authors believe that a better understanding of their supply chains will help Mississippi furniture companies work together with logistics companies to improve the efficiency, specifically the cost and lead time of their products.
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