Supply Chain Challenge winners announced

Vanderbilt students to receive $1,000 scholarships for demand planning and logistics strategy
By Modern Materials Handling Staff
March 09, 2011 - MMH Editorial

RedPrairie Corporation, a productivity solutions provider, congratulated Vanderbilt University graduate students Derek Sparks, Francisco Pazos, Elisa Graban and Bryan Loughridge today as winners of the Avnet Tech Games RedPrairie Supply Chain Challenge. Conducted as an online virtual competition, student teams from colleges around the world managed a virtual supply chain involving manufacturing, distribution and forecasting from start to finish. The RedPrairie Supply Chain Challenge is one of several competitions held as part of the Avnet Tech Games, which is sponsored annually by global technology distributor Avnet, Inc.

When asked to discuss the team’s strategy for winning the contest, the four students - who all attend Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management - explained that effective inventory management was key in responding rapidly to an environment of constant and intense demand.

“When we had our first look at the environment in which we’d be operating, it was obvious that cash would be the biggest constraint,” Graban commented. “We realized that we needed to get inventory levels up as quickly as possible to make sure our manufacturing facility would never be idle. It was very similar to the kind of environment we see today as the world comes out of a recessionary climate.”

“Data analysis played the biggest part in reaching those levels,” added Sparks. “We needed to make a number of complex decisions immediately in order to identify the bottlenecks present in the scenario, and focus our efforts accordingly.”

“In the real world, we understand that making those kinds of decisions becomes a lot more efficient with the kind of technology RedPrairie offers,” Pazos concluded.

“RedPrairie sincerely congratulates all of the participants in this year’s RedPrairie Supply Chain Challenge,” said RedPrairie CEO Mike Mayoras. “We feel very strongly that the future of effective business is in the hands of students like them.”

The Avnet Tech Games, hosted by Avnet, is an annual collegiate technology competition that provides students with an opportunity to apply what they learn in school to real-world scenarios and compete for scholarships. Incorporating both an annual on-site competition for Arizona college students, and virtual competitions - which extend to college students nationally, and in some cases globally - the Avnet Tech Games provide scholarship opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. The Onsite Competition is a one-day event open to Arizona college students and will be held on April 9, 2011, at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Ariz. The RedPrairie Supply Challenge is in its second year of competition. This year, 351 college students participated from colleges around the world.

The RedPrairie Supply Chain Challenge was a virtual competition using a customized web-based version of the Littlefield Technologies game from Responsive Learning Technologies. Students had the opportunity to manage a make-to-order factory and make forecasting, capacity, and inventory and pricing decisions. Teams of 1-4 students competed, and the winning team was the one that maximized profits by managing the assets (inventory, equipment and cash) within this factory.

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