2023 Value Chain Summit Recap

Value chain sustainability should be an intrinsic part of our entire business ecosystem, not just an isolated initiative. 

There are many lenses through which we can view sustainability, including environmental, economic, organizational and even social. Indeed, sustainability is complex. It requires looking at multiple perspectives and adapting to current circumstances. This year’s theme, “Sustaining Success — Building a Resilient Value Chain Ecosystem,” focuses on moving organizations to look at sustainability from an entire lifecycle perspective, from product conception to its eventual disposal or recycling. Sustainability can become a competitive advantage when an organization optimizes the value chain to minimize environmental impact, maximize social responsibility, and ensure economic viability. With this perspective, the Axia Institute held its 2023 Value Chain Summit on October 23-24 in Midland, Michigan.  

This event brought together supply chain professionals from our areas of focus in healthcare, food and agriculture, and advanced manufacturing to highlight how value chain sustainability can drive innovation, reduce costs, enhance brand reputation and ensure long-term success.  

Day 1 Overview

October 23, 2023

Risk and Resilience in the Supply Chain
Educational Session 

Dr. Stan Griffis, the Donald J. Bowersox and Robert W. Thull Professor in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain Management Department, Michigan State University, led summit participants in an overview of Risk and Resilience in the Supply Chain. He shared strategies businesses use to be resilient, that may actually be exposing their organization to unintended risks. He identified ways to protect operations and your brand against supply chain interruptions and minimize the risk of exposure to unpredictable events.    

Axia Lab Tour

Dr. Bahar Aliakbarian, Research Associate Professor, and Axia’s Sr. Director of Research & Development, and Ethan Claucherty, Lab Technologist Lead, showcased Axia Lab’s varying capabilities with a lab tour and demonstration of its pharmaceutical traceability work. The Axia Lab uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in different supply chain environments.  

Day 2 Overview

October 24, 2023

Welcome, Mike Witt, our keynote speaker

Day Two kicked off with John Hatfield, the Axia Institute’s Executive Director welcoming keynote speaker Mike Witt, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer for Northrop Grumman, back to Midland, his hometown. Witt also had a 24-year career with Dow, Inc. before joining Northrop Grumman.  

At Northrop Grumman, Mike is responsible for environmental and sustainability programs including carbon reduction, resource efficiency and materials management.  At Dow, Mike led the strategy for carbon reduction, climate change and materials sustainability.  

His impactful presentation defined the role of sustainability in the value chain, and gave us all a new word for our vocabulary: compete-mates. Competa-mates are our suppliers who also supply our competitors. Sustainability has moved from focusing on energy efficiency and material reduction to also looking for ways to adapt and meet climate change goals. 

Two Panels, Multiple Perspectives on Sustainability

Sustainability Across Industries 

The keynote session was followed by “Sustainability Across Industries” panel moderated by Dr. Bradley Marks, Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering; with panelists Annick Anctil, Assistant Director of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University; Brooke Beebe, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Engagement, Hemlock Semiconductor; and Erik Petrovskis, Director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability, Meijer Corporation.  

Standards-Based Sustainability

Following Dr. Rizzi’s presentation, John Hatfield, Executive Director of the Axia Institute, was the moderator of “Standards Based Sustainability” a panel presentation including Tracey Nasarenko, Senior Director of Community Engagement, GSI and John Wirthlin, owner of Tip of the Spear Consulting, LLC. The panelists gave real-world examples of how implementing sustainability initiatives with common goals (reducing emissions or waste) can lead to unexpected and positive outcomes, such as improved employee morale and fewer errors.

Day 2 Overview Continued

October 24, 2023

AIM Global Awards Presentation 

Axia Institute partner AIM Global is a leading industry association focused on connecting, standardizing and advancing automatic identification technologies. Annually, AIM recognizes individuals and organizations who promote the advancement of automatic identification and demonstrate significant contributions to enhanced and new technologies. Mary Lou Bosco, Association Director of AIM, surprised the Axia Institute’s Dr. Bahar Aliakbarian, Research Associate Professor, and Director of Research & Development at Axia Lab, as the 2023 recipient of the Ted Williams Award, an award that is presented annually to a professor in recognition of innovative and exceptional contributions to the development of automatic identification or mobility industry and can grow the industry through their work as a teacher, researcher or entrepreneur.  

Gregg Gorniak, Senior Director – Manufacturer Operations & Secure Supply Chain Lead at Cencoro (formerly Amerisource Bergen), received the Don Percival Award, an award recognizing outstanding contributions to the application of automatic identification and data capture technologies, and his award. Gregg’s award was accepted by his colleague, Sean Murphy.

Sean Murphy of Cencoro and Dr. Bahar Aliakbarian of Michigan State University hold awards

MSU Collaboration:
Training Supply Chain Personnel with Digital Decision Tools

Dave Closs of MSU at podium

E-ROI of RFID Implementation in the Pharma Supply Chain 

Antonio Rizzi with microphone presenting

Dow, a founding partner of Axia, identified a need to increase the capabilities of its Supply Chain Management organization with additional digital tools for its planners. Dr. David J. Closs, John H. McConnell Chair Emeritus, Michigan State University, identified the current gaps, developed training applications and scenarios for an educational framework to enhance the use of digital planning applications for supply chain management at Dow. 


Axia partners with researchers from across the globe. Dr. Antonio Rizzi, Professor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management and director of the RFID Lab at the University of Parma, Italy, and his research team partnered with Dr. Bahar Aliakbarian to research the Return on Environment (E-ROI) of RFID on the pharmaceuticals and the healthcare supply chain

Drug Security Supply Chain Act (DSCSA) and the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: A Pilot Study to Demonstrate the Feasibility of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

The last presentation by Bahar Aliakbarian, and Ethan Claucherty, was the first public release of the Axia Institute’s pilot study to demonstrate the feasibility of using RFID for end-to-end traceability of pharmaceutical products. 

> The complete “Drug Security Supply Chain Act (DSCSA) and the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: A Pilot Study to Demonstrate the Feasibility of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)” white-paper was made available for download Nov. 13 at Axia’s Whitepaper Library.

Bahar Aliakbarian, and Ethan Claucherty present  with a screen displaying a slide in background.