Supply Chain

Manufacturers have learned to work closely with their suppliers to decrease costs and reduce time to market, but focusing on buyer-supplier relationships may no longer be enough to achieve competitive advantage. Thomas Choi, a W. P. Carey professor of supply chain management, is spearheading new research that examines the relationships between a firm's suppliers. He and his co-authors have discovered that sometimes a company's procurement and manufacturing success — and ultimately, its bottom line — is affected by the ability of its suppliers to work together effectively.

How do you know which hospitals are doing the best job? Patients, insurers and employers all have a stake in the answer to this question, but up until now factual information on hospital and nursing home performance has been scanty, and what is out there is based on differing criteria. A new program designed by the Ambulatory Care Quality Alliance called "Quality Health Improvement" (QHI) is a strong first step in bringing transparency to healthcare. Arizona and five other states have been chosen to pilot the project, which will rate hospitals on 26 "quality measures." Arizona HealthQuery, a database of health information on more than seven million people, will be the foundation of the state's project. Arizona HealthQuery was created at ASU's Center for Health Information and Research.

American consumers pay top dollar for medications they assume are pure and unadulturated. But we don't always get what we pay for, according to researchers who are sounding the alarm about the growing presence of counterfeit drugs in the marketplace. A spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration recently reported that the global pharmaceutical market is "under unprecedented attack from a variety of sophisticated threats." Experts at the W. P. Carey School of Business concur, and they say intensive R&D efforts are under way to develop new methods of improving the security of the global pharmaceutical supply chain.

The CANAMEX Corridor of Innovation initiative has been working in recent years to plan improvements to public and private shipping, rail, highway and inspection facilities through a multistate cooperative of Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Idaho. Now, most truck and freight train traffic in Arizona goes east and west. CANAMEX (aka "Smart Corridor") has the potential to free up north-south trade in North America and more efficiently reach out to the Far East. CANAMEX can expand trade to more markets by easing bottlenecks, according to experts at Arizona State University and the W. P. Carey School of Business. Stepped-up trade with China, Japan and other Asian nations has made Los Angeles-area ports so busy that CANAMEX planners are looking south for easier access to the Pacific trade routes.

U.S. sales of notebook PCs outpaced desktop computers for the first time in 2005, garnering 53.3 percent of the total PC retail market, according to research firm Current Analysis. Behind the notebook industry's success lies a flexible, time-sensitive supply chain that straddles the globe in the design, manufacturing, configuring, and delivery of merchandise to customers. Top-selling brands such as Dell, HP, Apple, and Compaq are all based in the United States, but the computers themselves (like most consumer electronics these days) are manufactured half a world away in China. What's interesting about the notebook supply chain is the fact that many of the players for these high-tech products rely not on technology at all, but rather on personal relationships, to get the job done.