Snap Shot: Furniture Logistics

Will the shift to global sourcing – combined with an economic downturn, housing slump, high fuel costs, and lack of visibility – unseat the furniture industry?

Michael Strauss: Putting Military Training On the Line

In the early 1990s, artillery officer Mike Strauss was leading an Army convoy down a German country road in the middle of the night when he got word of a breakdown three-quarters of the way back in line. The stopped vehicle blocked the road so completely that nothing behind it could squeeze past. One of […]

Hamilton on Wry

One misty day, I wandered about the graveyard at Trinity Church in lower Manhattan. I spotted a figure sitting on the steps of a square granite box with four urns at its corners and a truncated pyramid in its center. It was the tomb of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), who for many Americans is merely the […]

Trends—March 2008

10+2: Anything But Elementary The Importer Security Filing mandate proposed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been a hot topic of late – as much for speculation about its loose provisions as for its underlying purpose of tightening offshore supply chain links. When CBP announced its Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in early […]

Global Logistics-March 2008

China’s rapid economic growth and recurring spikes in consumer prices could give U.S. manufacturers and retailers more reason to consider alternate sourcing locations. Inflation rose to its highest level in more than 11 years in January after devastating snowstorms exacerbated food shortages throughout the country. Consumer prices climbed 7.1 percent from the same month last […]

Clearing Customs Quickly and Efficiently

Efficient customs clearance requires technical knowledge and respect for procedure, as well as an ability to understand the game, speak the language, and build good relationships throughout the supply chain. Mike McCarron, managing partner, MSM Transportation, offers 10 tips for fast, reliable customs clearance. 1. Focus on what you can control. When you ship globally, […]

Community Developers: Take the Intermodal Initiative

My Sears vacuum cleaner, made by Panasonic in Japan a decade ago, quit working recently. Replacing the original relay with a part now made in Indonesia fixed the problem. Clearly, it’s not just America that is outsourcing. Manufacturing worldwide has morphed into production sharing, where companies assemble and sell products made from subassemblies sourced around […]

With SaaS, You Make the Rules

Most companies spend 40 to 80 percent of their annual transportation budget on moving inbound shipments from suppliers. Despite these whopping costs, businesses boast relatively little control over their selection of inbound carriers or their service levels. Instead, most depend on suppliers to correctly assign carriers, then provide tracking information to the buying organization. This […]

Reverse Logistics: It Pays to Do It Right

Returns management and reverse logistics represent a significant source of untapped profitability for many organizations. Specifically, reverse logistics is rapidly emerging as a core driver of competitive advantage and financial performance among leading manufacturers, according to a recent Aberdeen Group report, Revisiting Reverse Logistics in the Customer-Centric Service Chain. Optimizing reverse logistics operations also can […]

Training Daze

The importance of logistics education is often overlooked and underrated, not only here in the United States, but abroad as well. A reader alerted me to a Financial Times article skewering the state of logistics training in the United Kingdom: “Poor productivity and high staff turnover in the UK’s logistics industry are undermining the competitiveness […]

Most Likely to Succeed

From an undergrad learning the fundamentals to a Ph.D candidate conducting groundbreaking research, meet the students pursuing supply chain education at all levels.

Industry Snapshot: Electronics

Is the latest gadget a hit or just hype? Will that newfangled gizmo be cutting- edge for a year or obsolete in a month? Fickle buyers and unpredictable lifecycles can short-circuit the consumer electronics supply chain.

Kathy McCurry: A Wild New Ride

More people would swap their cars for motorcycles if only they knew what to wear. That’s the premise behind Classy Rider Apparel, a business that makes motorcycle jackets with mainstream appeal. In the five years she has been running Classy Rider as a one-woman operation, Kathy McCurry has learned to manage suppliers in China, coordinate […]

The Perils of Trucking: It Takes a Thief

Q: I am expanding into Central and South America and need trucking insurance to cover my cargo. Can you help me? A: This is a common question from shippers who cannot obtain cargo insurance, from forwarders who are unable to get liability insurance, and even from truckers who are required to secure cover before any […]

Logistics Managers Earn Job Security

As recently as a decade ago, most U.S.-based companies’ supply chains were predominantly domestic, and providing manufacturing support to U.S. factories was a booming business. Today, however, global supply chains dominate and the number of U.S. plants to support is dwindling. As a result, many North American supply chain professionals are concerned about how their […]

Trends-February 2008

The push for green compliance is slowly permeating the logistics sector as businesses find greater incentives for designing and constructing distribution and retail facilities with sustainability guidelines in mind. As an example of this emerging trend, ProLogis, the world’s largest owner and developer of distribution facilities, recently introduced a directive mandating that all new developments […]

Global Logistics-February 2008

While many eyes remain fixed on Far East sourcing and offshoring activities, Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries are stealing glances as steady growth in logistics investment and development continues. The logistics industry in CEE and Russia is expected to grow rapidly over the next five years, according to recent Datamonitor research, with nominal logistics […]

Shipping Hazardous Materials Safely

Shipping hazardous materials requires more attention to detail than transporting regular goods. The changes in paperwork and procedures since Sept. 11 have further complicated an already convoluted process. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Association govern hazmat shipping at the federal and global levels, but transport buyers may encounter additional […]

Combating Congestion: Consider Moving Out

Americans have seen tremendous technological advancement in the past 50 years. We operate and communicate at a faster pace, with one glaring exception: the physical movement of people and products. We still move goods on the same transportation infrastructure that President Eisenhower created in the 1950s. Back then, infrastructure was created to accommodate the growth […]

Shipping Perishables Without Going Bananas

Perishables. It’s a word that can make any shipping manager or logistics provider cringe. The loss of perishable goods in transit means lost revenue. But a host of technologies and new solutions take the fear out of shipping perishable goods such as pharmaceuticals, food, and plants. Choosing the right type of packaging and testing it […]

Tracing the Genealogy of a Food Recall

Anyone who has ever tried to trace their roots back more than a few generations knows how challenging that task can be. Unless you’re of royal lineage, the path back through history tends to be lined with false leads and dead ends. If you do find any information, it’s often on handwritten notes that you […]

Who Ruined the Inventory?

If you got a call from a customer complaining that the temperature-sensitive goods you shipped were ruined, would you be able to track down where and how it happened? If the problem was on their end, could you prove it? What if a supplier sent your company decayed goods? Nobody needs disputes like this wreaking […]

Message On a Bottle

Thanks to new pedigree technology, pharmaceutical manufacturers and sellers no longer find establishing chain of custody a bitter pill to swallow.

The Evolution of Inbound Logistics–Inbound’s Early Adopters: Survival of the Fittest

For a few practitioners, the flow of transportation changed direction, going exactly the opposite way. Push mutated into pull. Soon after, Inbound Traffic Guide magazine materialized, recognizing the paradigm shift from traditional push-oriented ideas. Following demand signals, controlling inbound transportation, and targeting the needs of the stateside consignee were heretical concepts that defied prevailing business […]

Dirty Jobs

It’s a job and somebody has to do it. Meet the guys who have stepped up to the task.

Ask the Experts

Leading C-level execs* with 260 years of combined logistics and transportation experience address tough industry questions. Their advice, words of caution, and strategic vision can help you face the challenges of 2008 and beyond.

Sustainability: Green is the New Black

It’s not easy being green. But, driven by impending regulations, consumer pressure, and mandates from corporations such as Wal-Mart, more and more companies are forging ahead with supply chain sustainability efforts.

West Meets East

Make a good impression on potential business partners in China by orienting yourself to some key cultural differences.

Space Exploration: New Frontiers in Site Selection

They might not yet have the clout of their long-in-the- tooth but short-on-space peers, but that’s exactly why shippers are gravitating toward their pull. These new logistics hotspots are committed to going to the ends of the earth—and then some—to meet shipper and consignee needs..

Technology + Execution = World Class Global Transportation Management

Several years ago Active On-Demand’s parent company, Active Aero Group (AAG) made the commitment to become the preeminent on-demand global transportation manager and backed it up with a multi-million dollar investment to expand our already industry-leading technology systems. We knew then that our technology had to be linked with exceptional personnel execution and expertise as […]

Waco. We Do.

Greater Waco is a growing dynamic market in Central Texas with a diversified economy. In Waco, we do a lot of different work, make a variety of products and can get them easily to markets throughout North America and around the globe. We also do the things necessary to help businesses compete. Hence, Waco We […]

Logistics Partnerships: Are You Ready to Be a Partner?

According to the most recent GMA Study, manufacturers will expend nearly 7% of their sales on logistics costs. Many of those companies will look to the experts in the logistics marketplace to assist them in controlling and reducing said costs. Many of these manufacturers and others will potentially compile comprehensive RFP’s in the coming year […]

Jamie Meadows: He’s Got Your Back

Jamie Meadows was still completing his college degree when he reported for a summer job at ConAgra Foods in Newport, Tenn. The plant was adding a new ketchup production line and needed some reorganization. “The plant engineer called me into his office, threw a blueprint on the table, and said, ‘Design our warehouse,’” Meadows says. […]

Proper Hazmat Training Needs to Catch Fire

Hazmat shipments are a common feature of U.S. supply chains. Yet for many businesses, training does not match the frequency with which these products are moving. In 1996, 800,000 movements of hazardous material were made daily in the United States, according to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates. Conservative estimates today put that number closer […]


From tracking global containers to maintaining rail tracks, Inbound Logistics takes a closer look at recent legislative rumblings on Capitol Hill, industry causes and concerns, and what they portend for U.S. trade in 2008 and beyond

Trends-Jan 2008

Trucking will increase its share of the nation’s freight pool and continue to dominate domestic freight movement into the next decade, according to the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2018. Despite recent bumps in the road, the forecast, which reports on the present and future of the entire U.S. freight transportation […]

Global Logistics-January 2008

On the strength of surging Asia-Europe container trade and the strong valuation of the euro, leading North European ports are reporting strong throughput growth for 2007, with annual double-digit percentage increases very much the norm. Even the region’s largest gateway—the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, where box terminal and overall capacity is under considerable […]

Selecting a Global Trade Management Provider

Language barriers, distance and time differences, security issues, and customs rules make global sourcing difficult to manage. Selecting the right global trade management (GTM) solution can help. Here’s some advice from Graham Napier, CEO of TradeBeam Technologies. 1. Look for immediate value. Identify a GTM provider with solutions that deliver immediate impact in core areas. […]

The Case for a Global Trading Partner Network

America’s appetite for imports continues to grow—in 2006, the United States imported a record $1.6 trillion of goods, according to U.S. Customs. But today’s global trade practices are highly fragmented. A typical overseas purchase, for example, requires the various parties in the logistics process to trade more than 60 different documents across partners, countries, languages, […]

The Best Companies Hire the Best People

In today’s complex business environment, nothing is more important than justifying dollar impact. In sports, when a team wants to win a championship, the least expensive option is never considered. Managers want to ensure a win, regardless of cost. They are looking at Return on Investment (ROI). Likewise, all business functions ranging from sales and […]

One Small Victory

What were the legislators in Michigan thinking? What started out three years ago as a grass roots voter initiative to simplify tax procedures ended up as a six-percent state tax on warehousing and logistics activities. Clearly an anti-labor, anti-business, and anti-economic development move by Michigan lawmakers who forgot they preside over the state with the […]

Gauging Change

A soft economy, increasing global competition, the Mississippi River bridge collapse, and an influx of product recalls give global shippers plenty of reasons to slow down and check the rear-view mirror before accelerating into 2008.

Thinking TMS

As the transportation management systems market broadens, and as software delivery options expand, businesses increasingly have TMS on the brain.

Bethany Adamonis: Ready for the Real World

When Bethany Adamonis headed for her co-op job last January, she didn’t know a great deal about supply chain management, her college major. Up to that point, she’d taken only one course on the subject, an introductory class that was so theoretical she couldn’t see how the principles she learned would play out in the […]

2008: Applying What We Learned

In this last column of 2007, I thought I’d look back at some practical issues addressed last year, and speculate on future trends in supply chain risk and liability. Insurers will broaden their scope. In October, we heard from a logistics operator whose business grew, through an acquisition, from handling and transporting air cargo to […]

Managing the Mess on the High Seas

Logistics managers have given much thought to streamlining land and air transportation. But water transport still lags behind – and the fallout can have significant impact on even the best laid logistics plans. This is especially critical in a world where overseas sourcing has become the norm rather than the exception for North American companies. […]

Global Logistics-December 2007

The friendly skies are taking a stand against countries that fail to clean up their act—and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is flying cover. Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of the international trade body, recently challenged governments attending the World Air Transport Forum in Cannes, France, to put aside politics and join industry […]

Trends-December 2007

Greening the supply chain isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also good for business. Efforts to create a more sustainable and efficient footprint for freight transportation in the United States and around the world are becoming more transparent thanks to the stewardship of supply chain visionaries. In recent news: FedEx will introduce 10 hybrid-electric/diesel vehicles […]

Managing Warehouse Labor Costs

Ask any warehouse manager, “what is the most difficult cost to control?” and the answer will invariably be labor. Labor costs comprise the largest part of a warehouse’s operating expenses. The ongoing challenge is managing those costs without jeopardizing customer service and reducing productivity. Tim Wills, vice president of PEAK Technologies, Columbia, Md., offers these […]

Technology Collaboration Enables Visibility and Security

Complete Document and Shipment Visibility (CDSV) is a concept that enables trading partners to have 100-percent visibility to the condition, status, and location of international shipments in a paperless environment. The concept allows shipment stakeholders to know the exact status of inventory and finished goods in the pipeline. CDSV also contributes to eliminating supply chain […]

Converting Performance to Profitability

A workplace culture can be productive or disruptive, profitable or unprofitable. It is up to management to decide—or allow someone else to define a company’s culture. The United Nations defines culture as a “set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional features of society or a social group. It encompasses ways of living together, value […]

Changing Directions Involves Tough Choices

Imagine walking into a board meeting in one of the largest companies in the world and telling your management peers you can streamline the company’s global operations from 87 vertical-silo supply chains into a horizontally integrated network of five—then doing it. That’s the story Carly Fiorina shared with Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) […]

NASCO: NorthAmerica’s SuperCorridor Coalition

The multimodal transportation network known as NASCO runs through the heart of trade in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Find out what makes this corridor unique and why companies are banding together to support it.

Melanie Foster: Raisin to Believe

Although Melanie Foster has lived in California’s Sacramento Valley all her life, her influence reaches around the globe. As distribution and transportation manager for Sunsweet Growers Inc., she is one of the people responsible for making sure that much of the world’s supply of prunes and other dried tree fruits reaches customers. “I handle all […]

Co-Sourcing: Two Companies Acting As One

You might worry about outsourcing your company’s entire supply chain—not enough control, too many unknowns, not worth the risk. But you can focus 100 percent of your attention on your core business functions and still keep a close connection with your supply chain through co-sourcing, a custom-tailored system designed to provide the logistics and supply […]

How to Tackle Mission-Critical Logistics in an Emerging Market

MORE TO THE STORY: FOUR STEPS TO FOLLOW Mission-critical logistics in the United States is manageable; acceptable in Western Europe; and nearing acceptability in maturing Asian markets, yet still manageable. In emerging markets such as Latin America, service parts logistics is incredibly immature. Businesses looking to grow in these areas must balance the risk/reward of […]

How to Locate a Contingency Port

MORE TO THE STORY: 4 STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION Shippers and consignees on the u.s. west coast are well aware of the challenges they face when capacity is squeezed and time parameters are tight. As a result, many have begun managing their supply lines from point of origin, controlling the inbound shipment process to […]

How to Find The Right Outsourcing Solution

MORE TO THE STORY: PICKING YOUR PARTNER As the rules of engagement for operating in a global world continue to shift and expand, businesses increasingly find that the myriad pressures of running a core business do not lend themselves to doing all things well. In the interest of doing what they do best and providing […]

How to Select an Ocean Carrier

MORE TO THE STORY: BEFORE YOU CHANGE COURSE Ocean freight buyers are often limited by the geography of their offshore suppliers/manufacturers and stateside customers and the urgency of the shipping season when they consider making changes to their carrier networks. But there is always room for optimization. Shrewd logistics professionals periodically research and take advantage […]

How to Streamline Import Documentation

MORE TO THE STORY: THE 411 ON AMS AND 10+2 Businesses continue to turn to offshore manufacturing locations and strategic global outsourcing partnerships to exploit cheaper production and labor costs. Often lost in the process, however, is the value global businesses can extract by capturing data deeper in the supply chain to scale inventory demands […]

How to Use Transportation Metrics to Drive Profit and Service

MORE TO THE STORY: WHAT TO DO IF YOUR COMPANY IS… How do you measure efficiency when you are already doing the best job possible? Talk to any over-the-road shipper that finds itself increasingly handcuffed by institutionalized transportation and fuel-related costs and it would likely tell you the "best job possible" doesn’t cut it anymore. […]

How to Outsource Retail Logistics

MORE TO THE STORY: SHOPPING FOR SOLUTIONS Retailers are well attuned to the changing dynamics of consumer buying habits and the strategies necessary to ensure their supply chain can match inventory to demand. But ensuring product is staged in the right places at the right times is only part of the challenge; engaging the eye […]

Trends-November 2007

Traffic at the nation’s major retail container ports dropped below last year’s levels late this summer, and the peak monthly volume for 2007 is now expected to fall slightly below last year’s peak, according to the National Retail Federation and Global Insight’s recent Port Tracker report. “These figures reflect the weakened U.S. economy and retailers’ cautious outlook […]

Global Logistics-November 2007

European contract logistics providers are signing more contracts. The market in western Europe grew by 6.7 percent in 2006 to reach EUR 49 billion, according to Transport Intelligence’s most recent report, European Transport and Logistics Markets 2007. Some of the highest growth rates were in the Nordic region, where Finland in particular has benefited from increasing […]

Managing Expedited Freight Costs

Too much expedited freight can turn profitable sales into losses. While most shippers expect to use some expedited service to meet customer requirements, the ultimate goal is to reduce that need. Thomas Phelps, president, Alloquor Consulting, Los Angeles, Calif., offers these tips for managing expedited freight costs. 1. Determine why you need to expedite. Take […]

Know Your Freight Costs

Warehousing and distribution continue to be the hottest sectors in site selection. In fact, when researching a five-state region for a client to determine the most active industry sectors, warehousing and distribution topped the list. This location pattern is taking place nationwide. It is a trend that will continue as retail expansion drives more and […]

Web Services Add Sizzle to Shipper-LSP Integration

Emerging Web services promise to revolutionize the way companies and logistics service providers (LSPs) integrate. I am not talking about accessing a Web site using a browser, but secure system-to-system service requests sent over the Internet that can link enterprises, allowing a company to utilize third-party Web services as a seamless part of its own […]

The Shipper Empire Strikes Back

Sitting in the cab of a Class-8 truck provides a great real-time view of the country’s landscape, as we saw in the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) recent ad campaign. Sitting across the table from a present or prospective shipper, however, may present the best view of the future for both carriers and shippers. Today, transportation […]

Railroad RXR?

The nation is at a crossroads on how to handle the rail industry in the coming decades. While much attention has been paid to the state of the nation’s highways in light of the I-35 bridge collapse, a new Association of American Railroads study indicates that U.S. railroads need an overhaul, too. The National Rail […]

E-Commerce Network Posts Profit, Holds First Conferences

Elemica, the virtual supply chain management network for chemicals, has reported $50 billion worth of transactions for the fiscal year just ended—its second profitable year. Elemica also will hold its first Supply Chain Collaboration Conference at the Ashland Inc. facilities in Dublin, Ohio, on Oct. 9. Next month, the partnership holds its first roadshow in […]

Univar Acquires Dow Canada Inorganics Distribution

Univar Canada, based in Vancouver, has signed an agreement to purchase Dow Canada’s western Canada caustic soda distribution assets. Those include all related supply and sales contracts, as well as storage and transportation assets—primarily a tank terminal leasehold at North Vancouver, BC—and a proprietary fleet of 374 railcars. This acquisition will increase Univar Canada’s annual […]

Logistics at Sea Level

Ocean, rail, and intermodal leaders discuss why capacity concerns, infrastructure inadequacies, and a paucity of policy keep them up at night.

Rockin’ Rail

For years the rails sang the blues. Now they rock around the clock. Could rail transport soon be the leader of the pack?

Drum Beaters

Bulk containers and 55-gallon drums continue to duke it out. Bulk containers are the heavyweight favorite, but the venerable drum has not yet gone down for the count.

Setting Sites On Tomorrow

Third-parties and economic development interests can help businesses look beyond the basics to find sites fit for today and tomorrow.

A New and Different Kind Of International Air Cargo Facility

At MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, we are attuned to your international air cargo needs. We’re different; we know what you want. Efficient Air Cargo Transfer. You want an efficient air cargo transfer system to get your goods from the aircraft to ground transportation as quickly as possible. We provide you with a one-stop shop for […]

Greg Schwartz: Smooth Operator

In the smoothie business, hot weather is a blessing; as temperatures rise, so does demand. But when the sun blazes too long over peach orchards or berry fields, it may ruin the crops. Then, bringing in the fruit needed to whip up a perfect healthy drink becomes a complicated puzzle. That’s why Greg Schwartz, vice […]

Your Services Are Expanding…Are You Covered?

Q: I am the risk manager for a global logistics company that provides complete door-to-door service. A large part of our operation involves shipping goods by air. While we do have partners, our own employees perform most of our services, including airport consolidation and warehousing. We are insured through a global program that covers most […]

Creating Calm from Chaos

By automating and reorganizing its warehouse, Red-L Distributors cuts costs and creates a cleaner, safer, less frantic work environment.