In this case study you will apply structured problem-solving to address a common supply chain issue! What first appears as the issue may just be a symptom of a root cause. In this case study, you will be presented with a real-life problem that requires a structured approach to be solved effectively. This case is a collaboration between the Conestoga Centre for Supply Chain Innovation and ATS Automation and utilizes the ATS Business Model (ABM) approach to identifying and solving root causes.

Structured problem-solving is a process that enables individuals and teams to identify, analyze, and solve problems systematically. This approach involves breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts, and then using data and analytical tools to identify the root cause of the problem. Once the root cause has been identified, a range of possible solutions can be generated and evaluated before selecting the best one to implement.

The structured problem-solving approach has been widely used in various industries and fields, such as manufacturing, healthcare, finance, and education. It is a valuable tool for anyone who needs to solve problems efficiently and effectively, regardless of their level of expertise or experience.

In this case study, you will have the opportunity to practice your structured problem-solving skills by working through a real-life problem that requires a systematic approach to be solved. You will be presented with a detailed scenario, and you will need to apply the steps of structured problem-solving to analyze the situation, identify the root cause of the problem, and develop and evaluate potential solutions.

By the end of this case study, you will have gained a better understanding of how structured problem-solving can be applied to real-life situations, and you will have developed practical skills that you can apply to future problems you may encounter. Let’s get started!

Accessibility Statement

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Stephen Thomson

Stephen is the acting director of the Centre for Supply Chain Innovation (CSCI) (formerly known as the Magna Centre for Supply Chain Excellence) at Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Prior to becoming the director of CSCI, Stephen was a 15-year veteran of the supply chain cluster of programs. Stephen has designed and taught courses at the diploma, degree, and post-graduate level, specializing in data analytics, data visualization, and decision support modeling. Stephen is also the college’s SAP faculty lead assisting programs with integrating the topics of ERP systems, business processes, simulation games, and advanced analytics into curriculum.

Over the past three years, Stephen has been a primary investigator in applied research, participating in multi-disciplinary teams focusing on projects related to supply chain analytics and sustainability. Research topics have included logistics visualizations, predictive analytics, and the development of a sustainability scorecard framework.

Stephen can be reached at

Kevin Hollis

Kevin is a faculty member in the School of Business at Conestoga College ITAL. Kevin is a fulltime professor on the Supply Chain Management – Global program team, where he helps students develop skills and prepare to embark on their future work careers. Kevin is an MBA and qualified engineer with over 30 years manufacturing and supply chain management experience across multiple manufacturing sectors, warehousing & distribution, and 3PL services. Kevin also has an industrial engineering background which he has used to help organizations analyze and improve process performance.

Kevin can be reached at

Laurie Turnbull

Laurie Turnbull is a professor in the School of Business at Conestoga College ITAL with over twenty-five years of industry and academic experience in international business. He obtained his Masters of Science degree (MSc) in Operations and Supply Chain Management (2016) from the University of Liverpool. Specializing in procurement, logistics, and risk management, Laurie uses that experience to help his students develop the critical skills necessary to manage global supply chains contributing to an organization’s competitive advantage.

During his career in consumer goods manufacturing and the logistics service sector, Laurie frequently contributed to nationally recognized trade publications, including Canadian Transportation & Logistics and Canadian Shipper . He was awarded the CITT-Certified Logistics Professional (CCLP) designation by the Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation, recognizing expertise in Canadian supply chain logistics, and the Professional Materials Manager designation (P.M.M.) by the Materials Handling and Management Society. In 2014 he received the CITT Award of Excellence, given to an individual whose career has exemplified innovation in the field of supply chain logistics and who has accumulated many notable achievements.

Laurie’s research interests include supply chain planning and geopolitical disruptions. He is actively involved with two of Canada’s leading supply chain associations, Supply Chain Canada and CITT.

Teaching Resources

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Crawford Automation - A Guided Application of Structured Problem Solving Copyright © 2023 by Stephen Thomson; Kevin Hollis; and Laurie Turnbull is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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