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Supply Chain Insights from the North Pole

“There are three stages of a man’s life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus.” - Author Unknown


The holidays are approaching and there’s one supply chain organization that outshines the rest at this time of year.

While retailers struggle with the service/inventory balance to eke out a profit as the year comes to a close, Santa’s Workshop is the envy of the world when it comes to customer service and efficiency.

I scoured the internet in search of research articles about Santa’s North Pole operations. Perhaps there are some best practices that can be applied in your operation.

The North Pole’s Turbo Supply Chain

From a 2004 Supply Chain Digest article, we learn that Santa’s workshop has come a long way since the days of elves hand making wooden toys. Nowadays, Santa uses state of the art processes and systems to run his manufacturing and distribution operations:

“Santa’s main distribution center is a sight to behold. At 4 million square feet, it’s one of the world’s largest facilities. A real-time warehouse management system is of course required to run such a complex. The facility makes extensive use of task interleaving, literally combining dozens of DC activities (putaway, replenishing, order picking, sleigh loading, cycle counting) in a dynamic queue. The wave planning system enables managers to easily see the total impact on various order picking areas and balance the workload across those areas before work is released to the floor. The DC elves have been on engineered standards and incentives for three years, leading to a 12% gain in productivity.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Q&A with Santa’s CIO

In a rare interview with CIO magazine, Hermey Elfin (Santa’s Chief Information Officer) describes what it’s like to run the most time sensitive supply chain in the world. Check it out.

Santa Claus Unplugged on Supply Chain Challenges

Last year Dan Gilmore, Editor in Chief of Supply Chain Digest, interviewed Santa Claus himself on a variety of supply chain topics - from an aging workforce to outsourcing to inventory management in a highly seasonal business.

In a remarkably candid interview (perhaps the big man hit the egg nog before sitting down to talk), Santa reveals his challenges and strategies for success.

Santa’s Supply Chain Keeps Pace, Despite Changes

In this 2005 article from the Wall Street Jovial, Adam Fein chronicles the history of Kringle Corporation and its flamboyant CEO (Santa Claus) from its humble beginnings as a one-man operation through a painful growth period marked by stiff competition and leveraged buyouts, to the world renowned operation in place today - and a glimpse into its future. This one is in PDF format and it’s really a fun read

Download it here.

Santa’s Supply Chain

Last but not least, you can read our version of what makes Santa’s supply chain hum by reading my blog post from last year.

Don't forget to buy a copy of Flowcasting the Retail Supply Chain for the supply chain professional on your Christmas list!

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2009!


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 3, 2008 1:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Searching for Truth.

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