Paying the Bills: Choosing The Right Freight Bill Payment Provider

Any firm that ships anything is familiar with freight bills and the process for paying them. Less understood is the industry that has been built around outsourcing these payment activities. Why outsource freight bill payment services? There are several good reasons; the most popular is the possibility of reduced costs. It costs a large company […]

Global Logistics—October 2006

Global Transportation Providers is Bigger Better Despite the billions of dollars spent on supply chain mergers recently, shippers don’t necessarily think bigger is better when it comes to global transportation, finds a new survey of logistics executives from 52 global firms such as Bayer, Honda, and Pfizer. Many shippers feel one provider—regardless of size—cannot offer […]

Milton Young: A Tree Grows in Houston

Milton Young is in the Christmas tree business, but not the kind you decorate with tinsel and twinkling lights. His employer, Houston-based FMC Technologies, manufactures valve assemblies that control the flow of product pumped from undersea petroleum fields. Called “subsea Christmas trees” for their branching shape, these systems are engineered to withstand rough usage one […]

Cargo Security: Collaborate, Prevent, React

Q: With all the cargo security initiatives that have been implemented recently, what can transportation companies expect for the future? A: After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, both government and industry launched unprecedented efforts to ensure cargo safety throughout the transportation chain. Despite these collaborative efforts, maintaining a safe and secure transportation system remains a […]

Voice Technology Hitting a High Note?

When a new whitepaper written by Pittsburgh, Pa.-based voice technology provider Vocollect landed in my e-mail inbox, I was not surprised to find it full of positive information about the wonders of voice-directed picking. After all, companies don’t prosper by releasing negative whitepapers. The paper, Using Voice-Directed Work in the Supply Chain, showcases the ability […]

Trends-October 2006

To scan 100 percent of containers entering or leaving the United States or not to scan 100 percent? That was the question facing the Senate last month. After much debate and several amendments attempting to require 100-percent container scanning, the Senate in September approved final passage of the Port Security Improvement Act of 2006. It […]

Improving Picking Practices

Companies often think their picking operation is efficient as long as products roll out on time and customers are happy. But most picking operations in warehouses across America could use a re-organization, says John Giangrande, senior account executive with distribution software provider Fortna Inc. He offers these 10 tips to improve picking practices. 1. Profile […]

Fashion Thinks Global: The ‘Pat Riley’ Effect

While in Bangkok recently, I visited an Indian tailor to have some shirts made. As I was describing the type of collar I wanted, the tailor interjected, “Oh, the Pat Riley!” Pat Riley is, of course, the successful NBA basketball coach. Perhaps a household name in America, but among traditionally dressed turbaned Indian tailors in […]

William J. Augello, Esq.

Negligent Hiring: Not Just a Broker/3PL Problem

It may come as a great surprise to shippers that, according to a recent ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court, they may be held liable for "negligent hiring" of truckers. Since the Schramm v. Foster case—a Maryland court ruling that found a 3PL guilty for hiring a carrier that caused an accident injuring two […]

Winning the War Against Inventory Fluff

Nothing is more frustrating for DC managers than seeing unused, dust-covered pallets wasting away in a prime picking zone. Those 10,000 talking Pee Wee Herman dolls your buying department purchased a decade ago, for example, take up valuable space. Being greeted by Pee Wee every morning for the past 10 years is a reminder that […]

Rising Costs? Lateral Thinking May Help

There are two sides to the rising trucking costs issue—the carriers’ and the shippers’. Carriers say the confluence of rising diesel prices; the driver shortage; government mandates reducing gas mileage on new equipment and driver productivity; higher taxes, insurance, and compliance costs; and increased security costs for better background checks creates a “perfect storm” for […]

Trucking Perspectives 2006: IL’s Motor Freight Market Insight Survey

Anyone who has spent time traversing U.S. highways and byways recently has likely witnessed firsthand some of the challenges facing domestic shippers and carriers: security delays at border crossings, infrastructure improvement projects that bottleneck traffic, and gas stations spinning prices like rental car odometers. Capacity and cost constraints as a result of high fuel prices, […]

Buying Trucking Services: Managing the New “Normal”

While guaranteed capacity to haul freight was once a sure thing, times have changed. How are shippers and carriers dealing with today’s tight transportation environment? It’s all about collaboration—to mitigate capacity constraints, the driver shortage, and tough new federal regulations.

Global Logistics—September 2006

Ocean Shippers Get Global Guarantee Companies that source products from China—and who’s not on that list these days?—have to balance shipment time with cost when selecting an import transportation mode. Traditionally, the choices were either to use air freight for speed but spend more, or cut costs by using ocean shipping and deal with slow […]

Melissa Grant: She’s in Hot Water

“Most people don’t think about their water heater until they don’t have hot water,” says Melissa Grant. As demand planning manager at Rheem Water Heating, Montgomery, Ala., Grant spends her days figuring out how many people will turn their thoughts in that direction, and how their visions of soothing baths and spotless dishes will translate […]

Say Goodbye to ‘Dumb’ Devices

Of all the recent supply chain process evolutions – from push to pull, fat to lean, and manual to automated everything – one of the most compelling transformations is currently unfolding in an unexpected place: supply chain data capture devices. Forklifts, truck trailers, shipping containers, and other everyday logistics items look at first glance to […]

The Seven Abilities of Highly Effective 3PLs

The right logistics provider can bring you convenience, cost savings, and competitive advantage as you work to deliver the right product to the right place at the right time at the right price. Execution is the key, central to responding to fluctuating pressures of production schedules, capacity, weather, or other influences on your strategic supply […]

Trends-September 2006

Shippers today face a variety of concerns: high transportation costs; port, rail, and highway congestion; labor shortages; and complex security issues. Despite these challenges, they are finding ways to develop strategies and tactics that improve supply chain efficiency, finds a new report by University of Denver logistics expert Paul Nuzum. Forward-thinking companies are overcoming transportation […]

Finding Capacity When None Exists

Shippers everywhere are having trouble finding capacity, thanks to the driver shortage, fewer trucks, and rising fuel and insurance costs. These challenges are likely here to stay for awhile, so shippers need to plan ahead. Here are 10 tips on finding capacity, from John N. Roberts III, executive vice president, enterprise solutions, and Gary L. […]

Technology Smooths Transportation’s Bumpy Ride

We’ve come a long way from the horse-and-buggy era when a transportation company’s biggest expense was feeding horses. Today, fuel costs nibble away at profits, and the transportation industry’s operational base is severely threatened. Fleet owners, as well as less-than-truckload (LTL) and delivery companies, face increased manpower and fuel expenses. Currently, the U.S. national average […]

Taking the Bite Out of Crunch-Time Staffing

Seasonal hiring is one of the biggest challenges an operational manager is likely to face. Finding enough workers with the right skills to get the job done when projects are due, orders are set, and deadlines are looming can be daunting. How did seasonal hiring become such a challenge? Chances are, “human resources expert” was […]

Inbound We Trust

If I had a dollar for every time a reader asked me, “Why inbound? Why demand-driven?” I’d be living in a nice little house by the beach. And considering the number of new readers asking that question, it soon might be a nicer little house by the beach. Who are these new readers? Last year, […]

The Consumer Products Supply Chain: Shopping for Solutions

“2005 was a remarkable year for the consumer products (CP) industry. A devastating hurricane season displaced consumers, closed retailers’ doors, drove huge demand swings across categories and caused sizable price increases for many products. The hurricanes further increased high fuel costs, which strained budgets among low-income consumers and pushed packaging and distribution costs sky high. […]

Temperature-Controlled Logistics: Cold Comfort

Perishable-food shippers are warming up to the idea that public refrigerated warehouses and 3PLs are well equipped to handle their diverse temperature-controlled storage and transportation needs. Outsourcing refrigerated logistics lets food companies chill a little—and focus on core competencies to better serve consumers.

Logistics by the Book

Lying on the beach, you can get away with reading pretty much any book. But as the hot summer sun starts to fade and fall kicks in, it’s time to toss something a bit more serious into your laptop bag. Put down the John Grisham and pick up one of these books to kickstart a new season of logistics learning.

Global Logistics—August 2006

U.S. Businesses Sing Singapores Praises Though Singapore is a small country, it is starting to carry a great deal of clout among global businesses. U.S. enterprises are just beginning to recognize the city-state’s emerging potential as a strategic logistics location. Motorola recently announced it would invest $60 million over the next two years to make […]

Keith Anderkin: Keeping Fast Food Fast

When you see an ad for a limited-time offer on a special sandwich at Arby’s, it means Keith Anderkin and his team have been busy. Anderkin is vice president of procurement for ARCOP, the Atlanta-based nonprofit purchasing and distribution co-op that serves Arby’s franchisees, and he oversees procurement of nearly all the food and packaging […]

Build Your Case With Bills of Lading

Q: I work for a company that imports and exports cargo from countries all over the world. One of our import containers was recently stolen from a delivering carrier’s lot in Jacksonville, Fla., and was never recovered. Who is responsible for the loss—the Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) that arranged the shipment, the ocean carrier, or […]

We’ve Got a Long Way to Go, Baby

The globalization of commerce has made sophisticated logistics technology not just a luxurious expense for the Fortune 50, but a necessity for companies of all sizes and in all industries. A typical apparel company, for example, might source fabric from China, manufacture garments in Malaysia, send them to Italy for custom design work, then ship […]

Trends-August 2006

The Supply Chain Planning (SCP) market has stabilized and is poised for compounded annual growth of 2.4 percent over the next five years, according to ARC Advisory Group. The market will grow from $1.05 billion in 2005 to more than $1.18 billion by 2010 (see chart), predicts the Dedham, Mass.-based think tank in its report, Supply […]

Selecting a Regional LTL Carrier

Partnering with the right regional less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier can be challenging, especially for companies that utilize just-in-time delivery. LTL carriers that provide expert technology capabilities and service flexibility make ideal partners, according to Richard Low, president of Cle Elum, Wash.-based Shoemaker Manufacturing. Shoemaker provides residential and commercial heating grills, registers, and diffusers for just-in-time delivery […]

William J. Augello, Esq.

Proving Material Deviation

One question shippers frequently ask is, "How do we avoid carriers’ liability limits when they are negligent?" Generally speaking, carriers’ limitations apply if they are lawfully incorporated into a contract of carriage. If a shipper agrees to contract a low liability limit to obtain a lower rate, carrier negligence does not overcome that limit. In […]

Choosing a WMS That Won’t Get You Fired

Many companies—Nike, Hewlett-Packard, Sainsbury’s, MFI Furniture Group, Molnlycke Health Care, and Heinz’s Portion Pac division, among others—have suffered well-publicized Warehouse Management System (WMS) failures in recent years. When Nike’s $400-million WMS project went awry, the company lost $100 million in one quarter and its stock plunged 20 percent. MFI Furniture’s WMS bugs forced it to […]

Carriers Face Challenges, Shippers Pay the Price

Unless shippers have just returned from Mars, they are aware that motor carriers have been hit with severe cost and capacity issues during the past three years. At the same time, however, if they haven’t been visiting other planets, they also know shippers are paying a heavy price. Shippers first became aware of serious industry-wide […]

Going Above & Beyond: The Norm for Top 3PLs

Whether a third-party logistics provider receives enough reader votes to win an Inbound Logistics Top 10 Excellence Award (page 100), or is chosen by the editors for the Top 100 3PL list (page 128), they share one common attribute—they go above and beyond the norm to meet, exceed, and in some cases anticipate their customers’ […]

3PLs: Business Unusual

Wonders abound in Canyonlands National Park, Utah—from its native Pueblo wall paintings and famed arches, to an infinite maze of red rock canyons and rare flora and fauna. Yet, it is the sight of a lone brown truck barreling down a remote two-lane road that truly stands out. What can Brown do for the National […]

3PL Hybrids: Becoming a 3PL for Fun and Profit

While the third-party logistics market has grown at a compound annual rate of 14.2 percent since 1996, 3PLs have only penetrated 12 percent of the market potential in the United States. The market is still fragmented, with plenty of room for growth. Such attributes make the sector attractive to companies looking for business opportunities. If […]

IL Exclusive Research: 3PL Perspectives

The Inbound Logistics 3PL Market Insight Survey provides a new perspective on the 3PL market, as seen through the eyes of leading 3PL executives. Where and how is the 3PL market going and growing? What challenges do 3PLs face and how will they face them? What do 3PLs think you want and how will they […]

Supply Chain Data: Keeping It Clean

The call came on Dec. 27, 2002. The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort would deploy to Southwest Asia within one week to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. The medical directorate, Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), faced the daunting task of outfitting the vessel with all pharmaceutical, medical/surgical, and capital equipment items required for […]

Green Thumbs Up

Want to grow profits? Plant the seeds of environmental concerns, rake in supply chain best practices, and watch what sprouts.

Launching an RFID Pilot that Flies

The best way to separate the hype from the reality surrounding RFID technology is to set up and execute a controlled pilot to determine what benefits RFID can bring to your organization. Here are three practical pilots to get you off the ground.

Global Logistics—July 2006

Logistics and Technology On the Rise in Latin America As an emerging logistics market, Latin America has a lot going for it: low-cost labor, proximity to the United States, and abundant natural resources, among other attributes. Soon, it will add access to sophisticated logistics technology to the list, thanks in part to a new agreement […]

Inventory Reduction: Supply Chain’s Holy Grail

In the United States, businesses invested some $1.63 trillion in inventories during 2004, a new record high according to the 16th Annual State of Logistics Report sponsored by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. Companies constantly search for ways to reduce their inventory exposure. We see this every day with our clients who all […]

Amilia Pickerill: Go With the Flow

Swagelok Company’s fluid system components keep liquids and gases flowing, and Amilia Pickerill keeps those components streaming to customers around the world. Pickerill is logistics program manager for Swagelok, a Cleveland-area firm whose fittings, valves, filters, hoses, and other products play important roles in research and in the pharmaceutical, oil and gas, power, petrochemical, alternative […]

Metals and Liquids: RFID Kryptonite?

A recent conversation with my seven-year-old nephew turned to the new Superman movie. “Superman is cool because he can bend steel with his bare hands,” he told me. Ironically, his statement made me think of an e-mail from a reader who was searching not for someone to bend steel, but for an RFID product that […]

First-Time Outsourcers Can Keep Customers Happy

Companies that are considering outsourcing warehouse operations for the first time should keep several issues in mind. Most important is ensuring that customer service is enhanced, rather than diminished, in the process. Another important consideration is what logisticians call Optimized Network Design—or, more simply, “Where should I locate my outsourced warehouse, and how many should […]

Trends-July

Put more than 700 supply chain executives in one room for an executive conference, and you’d expect the dialogue to center on such topics as reducing inventory, increasing visibility, speeding global distribution, and other standard best-practices fare. You’d also expect the keynote speaker to be a supply chain luminary or respected old-guard business leader. But […]

Trends-July 2006

Global supply chains are becoming longer, deeper, and more connected, but as the past five years have proven, they are also more vulnerable to disruptions that threaten the fluidity of foreign trade. The challenge for global shippers is to create a cross-enterprise blueprint that incorporates security and contingency planning as core business practices, said economist […]

Selecting RFID Middleware

Middleware for RFID applications sits between the RFID reader and conventional middleware, facilitating communication between enterprise systems and automatic identification devices. Some RFID middleware includes full track-and-trace reporting, device and network diagnostics utilities, and an open development platform, while other solutions focus solely on data consolidation and translation. How do you choose the RFID middleware […]

Securing Truckload Capacity While Reducing Overall Costs

The motor freight industry continues to be plagued by cost pressures that keep truckload capacity tight and drive shipping costs to record-high levels. Currently, motor freight carriers are struggling with: The growing driver shortage. The lack of long-haul drivers is the fifth-largest position shortage in America—195,000 drivers less than the existing need. Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules. […]

Self-Criticism and Shared Pain

Jeff Shane shares our pain. Who is he and what is the cause of our shared transportation weltschmertz? Shane is the Undersecretary for Policy at the Department of Transportation and appeared to be thinking out loud at a recent speech to National Industrial Transportation League members. Shane was right there with us when we spent […]

Home is Where the Heart (of Economic Development) Is

As state and local authorities survey investments in transportation and distribution infrastructure, one glaring omission interrupts their planning—a lack of oversight and assistance from the federal government. What are they doing about it?

Global Logistics—June 2006

Global Air Cargo Flying Steady Manufacturers, retailers, and distributors shipping goods around the world have kept air cargo carriers busy lately—and the effort is showing up on carrier balance sheets. This increase in global trade, coupled with the airlines’ successful efforts to reign in costs, is starting to pay off. "Recent air cargo data from […]

Don Dickey: Living the Wi-Life

Don Dickey keeps an eye on his product, and his product keeps an eye out for you. Dickey is vice president of logistics and customer support for WiLife, maker of the LukWerks Digital Video Surveillance System. The Draper, Utah, startup markets LukWerks to consumers and small business owners, who use the package of video cameras, […]

Choosing an Intermediary? Buyer Beware

Q: Can importers be held responsible for unauthorized fraudulent acts committed by a customs broker working on their behalf? A: The U.S. Court of International Trade faced this question during a recent case where a textiles manufacturer hired a freight forwarder to act as its importer of record and to file entries on its behalf. […]

Paying by the Drink at D/C Expo

If you missed this year’s Distribution/ Computer Expo, May 23-25 in Chicago—and judging from the poor attendance level, it’s likely you did—you missed seeing the supply chain technology industry line up to pay by the drink. No, I’m not talking about vendors’ after-show bar habits, but rather the industry’s embrace of pay-by-the-drink software solutions. More […]

Last Mile Logistics: Key to Competing in the Retail Race

For U.S. retailers with broad global supply chain operations, “last mile”—the portion of transit from the final delivery center to the customer’s door—is really the last hundreds of miles from the destination port to the store. This crucial part of logistics, which accounts for the majority of a shipment’s cost and complexity, is becoming increasingly […]

Trends-June 2006

Collaboration isn’t just a supply chain buzzword, it’s fast becoming an essential tool for logistics success, according to new research from Boston-based Aberdeen Group. With ever-increasing logistics complexity and global supply chains becoming the norm, it’s more important than ever for supply chain professionals to share information and best practices across their networks, finds the […]

Selecting the Right Cargo Security Seals

Between terrorist threats and criminals looking to swindle goods, cargo security seals have grown increasingly more important—and more sophisticated. Companies can now choose from a variety of mechanical and electronic seal options to protect their freight. To help narrow the choices, Erik Hoffer of CGM Applied Security Technologies Inc., a unit of New Jersey-based Digital […]

How To Be A Better Shipper

Shippers utilizing the services of cross-border carriers, third-party logistics providers, or other intermediaries to transport freight across international borders should always demand a high level of service. But service is a two-way street. Here are some ways you can help your carriers provide timely pickup and delivery, while ensuring a seamless flow of goods up […]

William J. Augello, Esq.

Freight Transport Free-for-all

How can shippers tell whether they are contracting with a legitimate carrier when carriers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) offer so many different deals? What exactly constitutes a 3PL? And who monitors transportation entities today? These questions, and others, plague shippers in today’s deregulated transportation environment. It is not always easy to tell whether a […]

Transportation Operations Planning: How Do You Rate?

Many companies are quickly falling behind their competition as they continue to run transportation operations without the process and technology sophistication required to manage the volume and velocity of today’s transaction levels. With increasing customer demands for service, speed, and price, and escalating levels of aggressive competition, there is no better time to evaluate your […]

Warehousing Bounces Back, Shows New Vitality

More than 100 years ago, Mark Twain said rumors of his death had been greatly exaggerated. As a veteran supply chain management professional, I see a parallel between Twain’s quote and erroneous reports about warehousing’s decline. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, as information systems grew more advanced, pressure to eliminate or minimize the […]

Less is Less and Less is More

Two important trends will impact your warehouse operations in the near term. First, retailers will seek to trim inventory even further to increase profits without reducing customer service standards. Wal-Mart, for example, recently announced its intention to cut $6.5 billion in inventory off an already lean 2:1 inventory-to-sales ratio. The goal? “Theoretical Zero Inventory.” The […]

Warehousing: The Safety Zone

Increased warehouse worker productivity. Fewer safety claims. Lower workers’ comp costs. Soaring employee morale. You have just entered … The Safety Zone.

Global Logistics—May 2006

Technology Key to Global Supply Chain Success With the continued growth of global trade and the increased risk and complexity associated with global supply chains, technology solutions are more important than ever for enterprises operating worldwide. In particular, Global Trade Management (GTM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions will be at the forefront of successful […]

Harry Miranda: The Paper Chase

Every time you pick up a copy of Inbound Logistics you’re touching the work of Harry Miranda. As director of logistics for St. Ives, South Florida, he is in charge of moving paper and ink into the plant where this magazine is printed, then for getting finished copies into subscribers’ hands. Since August of last […]

Microsoft’s New SCM Dynamic

While many already use Microsoft software to manage transportation and logistics, the company is now making a splash with specialized supply chain solutions. Microsoft is beefing up its business application offerings for small- to mid-size businesses (SMBs) with the release of several enhanced products, including the Microsoft Dynamics suite, designed to empower customer relationship management […]

Trends-May 2006

While the avian flu virus is clearly wreaking havoc with the world’s bird population, and is being hyped as a potential deadly threat to human health and safety, it could also do a real number on the global supply chain, as a recent simulation by MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics illustrated. In an “experimental […]

Evaluating Inland Ports

Are you considering using an inland port instead of the usual coastal port? That’s a decision many companies are analyzing as they face high fuel and transportation costs, as well as congestion at larger ports. Choosing an inland port may not work for every company, but it can help achieve greater supply chain management success […]

Printing on the Go Can Help Profits Flow

Companies are investing in mobile computing systems at record levels to cut costs and improve efficiency in distribution, direct-to-store deliveries, and route accounting operations. Getting the most bang from these investment bucks does not necessarily depend on implementing the hottest new smart phones, software applications, or 3G wireless network services. Often, a small incremental investment […]

Stakeholders Share New Value

The CEO of Procter & Gamble, A.G. Lafley, does not talk much about shareholders; instead he talks about “stakeholders.” I wondered precisely what he meant, so I did a little online research. The original meaning of the word stakeholder was a person who holds money while its owner is being determined—a trustee for a minor, […]

A Smart-Money Move

Technology retailer CDW hit the jackpot with its new Las Vegas distribution center. The facility’s automated technology and room for expansion are a winning combination.

M2M 101

Haven’t heard of machine-to-machine technology yet? You will soon enough. Here’s a quick primer.