The Magic Conveyor Belt – Supply Chain Management Explained

The Magic Conveyor Belt

A book titled “The Magic Conveyor Belt” does an exceptionally good job of explaining the supply chain. Until a few years ago, explaining your role as a supply chain management professional was probably not a great conversation starter at parties. But when the pandemic began in 2020, suddenly the entire world at least had a cursory understanding of what the industry was about. Now that supply chain management is on the map, MIT’s Yossi Sheffi, director of The Center for Transportation and Logistics launched his newest book on the topic, “The Magic Conveyor Belt.” Serving as a primer on what the supply chain is and how it works, Sheffi is hoping to share his decades-long research findings and know-how with both the profession and the public.

“The Magic Conveyor Belt” serves as one of several Sheffi has penned over the years that covers supply chain management topics. He divided up his book into four main sections. The first focuses on the complexities of a global marketplace, while the second delves into further complexity and challenges. Chapters here focus on sustainability, regulations, and volatility, among others. Part three brings readers into the modern-day supply chain, having a look at robots not as competitors to workers, but as co-workers. Finally, Sheffi wraps up the book with a forward-looking section. Here he digs into future trends, technology that will serve the supply chain, and how to build a robust team of skilled workers.

Looking a bit deeper at part three, Sheffi addresses the proliferation of technology in supply chain management. In particular, he looks at the fear surrounding automation—robotics and AI especially—as a threat to human jobs. Sheffi argues that this is an area of nuance, one that may ultimately work in the favor of skilled human labor. He envisions a world of collaboration between people and machines, leading to both business success and labor force success.

In his final section “Looking Forward,” Sheffi outlines where he envisions the industry going forward. Sheffi addresses the complexity and volatility of supply chain management and describes the need for skilled labor in this environment. He argues that new digital tools will make people more productive and bring more value to their jobs and the economy in general. He adds, however, that this will be an ever-changing, dynamic scenario, and successful companies will need to be flexible and adaptable. Employees—both blue and white collar—will need to adopt and learn new skills in order to stay in the game. He argues that low-cost education should be readily available to provide these skills to the workforce.

The Magic Conveyor Belt” provides a comprehensive look at the intricacies of supply chain management and provides hope for those who have made a career in it. While it may not make for a great summer beach read in the general public, “The Magic Conveyor Belt” serves to explain the foundations of supply chain management, along with a look forward. It’s a book any supply chain management professional will appreciate.