January 2004 | Commentary | Checking In

Planner Blueprint

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Creating the 2004 Logistics Planner issue was as interesting, as challenging, and as much fun as publishing our first Planner nearly a decade ago. The sheer size of this issue gives me the ability to cover a wide variety of topics impacting your job. I hope this issue provides the information you'll need to help you tackle the hard supply chain challenges you'll face in 2004 and beyond.

Is this the year you'll completely reengineer your supply chain? Implement new technology? Revamp your distribution network? Managing complex logistics projects such as these is the centerpiece article of this issue.

Leslie Hansen Harps' opus, Blueprint for Excellence, depicts how seven leading companies in industries ranging from consumer goods to manufacturing to high-tech undertake complex logistics projects. In some cases, these projects alter the company's business model. Although different, these companies share a common approach: their business and logistics managers created a detailed blueprint for managing change. That blueprint allowed for greater agility, and minimized logistics failure when navigating economic speed bumps.

The automotive industry faces plenty of speed bumps, such as consumer demand for lower auto prices, rebates, and zero-percent financing. In Driving Efficiencies in Automotive Logistics, you'll see how the world-class supply chain teams at Saturn, Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota tune up their pipelines.

Another speed bump you'll face in coming years is complying with new cargo security regulations. Lisa Harrington's article, Enemies at the Gatewill keep you on the right path.

How easy is it to stray from the right path when you collaborate closely with suppliers, carriers, and customers? What are the ethics of sharing sensitive information? Merrill Douglas explores these issues in Trust Me: The Human Side of Collaboration.

With many carriers forming strategic alliances, collaboration is popular in the air segment as well. You'll find an update here: Competitor or Co-Pilot? Air Carriers Work Together to Fill Gaps.

If rail's your thing, check out the Evolution of the Paperless Railroad. And Executive Editor Robert Malone takes a look backward at reverse logistics trends: Closing the Supply Chain Loop.

Finally, turn to the Planner Profiles (www.inboundlogistics.com/planner), which provide practical information on market leaders who understand your mission and seek to tailor their solutions to your needs. This year, many new companies—both large and small, in all areas of logistics—are profiled.

Providing a mix of the practical and theoretical continues to be our mission. And it's a mission impossible without the dedicated IL team, particularly Michael Murphy, art director; Rachel Gecker, associate editor; and Sarah Xie, publication manager. They devoted many late nights and weekends to get this issue out and into your hands. We hope our efforts are useful.

What's your take on it? I'd like to know because I'm putting together a blueprint for the 2005 Logistics Planner now.

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