RFID Mandates: Gorillas in the Mist

Embracing a new technology can sometimes feel about as good as a hug from an angry gorilla. Implementing RFID within a customer-mandated time frame is a good case in point. Rushing to implement is less wise than doing finely tuned planning, regardless of the scale of the demand. RFID is not just about tags, readers, […]

Selecting a 3PL Without an RFP

Eleven years ago, Chuck Franzetta, president of logistics consulting group Franzetta Associates, was asked to consult for a major transportation entity trying to to jump-start its struggling third-party logistics division. He discovered that the 3PL was primarily focused on preparing detailed responses to a slew of RFPs (Request for Proposal), which cost the company a […]

Choosing a Warehouse Location: Look for More than Just Price

The pressure on corporate supply chains has never been greater. Major supply chain glitches can impact a company’s shareholder value by as much as 20 percent or more within six months—regardless of who is at fault—according to industry estimates. Companies feel increasing pressure to reduce inventories and increase inventory turns. And, in a post-Sept. 11 […]

Short Sea Shipping: Long On Benefits

To help meet the current congestion crisis on U.S. highway systems and rail networks, the Department of Transportation and the U.S. Maritime Administration are promoting short sea shipping as an environmentally friendly, timely, and cost-effective way to expand freight capacity. The practice uses existing vessels and infrastructure to move freight between coastal ports, and between […]

Multi-Enterprise Computing: Competitive Advantage for Those Who Do it Well

Logistics managers know how vital it is to keep things moving. Failure to deliver products on time, in the proper quantities, and to the right place carries very real consequences: assembly lines halt, shelves lie empty, perishable goods grow stale, and the window of business opportunity slams shut. Tangible, bottom-line metrics back up these anecdotal […]

Distribution Takes Center Stage

A paradigm shift has occurred within the supply chain, and distribution is taking center stage. In the midst of a total revival from its undistinguished past, distribution is now more instrumental than ever to an organization’s success. Traditionally, distribution took a back seat to manufacturing and other supply chain activities—not surprising given its historical perception […]

Building a Better Mousetrap (Felecia Stratton)

Striving to build a better logistics mousetrap—changing and tuning your process to balance competing demands within your supply chain system—is a tough game. It requires skill and split-second timing to orchestrate ever-morphing variables to exceed your logistics goals. And it is growing increasingly difficult. But stasis is not an option. Not with growing and changing […]

Tipping Point, Again? (Keith Biondo)

We are at a tipping point in terms of America’s ability to compete globally. Go one way and we can expand our economic growth and leverage the trend toward globalization. Go the other and we may reach a point where others drive the well-being of our economy and workers. And if it is now true […]

Optimization: Game On

Like the Mousetrap game, optimizing logistics requires precision timing, nerves of steel, and a little bit of luck to reach your goal. While you may not care about catching mice, you certainly care about speeding shipments, reducing inventory, delighting customers or just plain cutting costs. Here are the strategies of several logistics leaders who put their optimizing game face on and play to win.

Flexibility: AM General

Cutting-edge technology helps AM General optimize supply chain operations, enhance manufacturing flexibility, and add horsepower to marketing efforts.

Supply Chain Strategies: On-Demand is In Demand

“We’ve always had a supply chain. But until fairly recently, it was an adjunct to the ‘real’ business. Something to be managed rather than used as a strategic weapon. “The supply chain was plumbing. It was back office—the unglamorous work of negotiating contracts, procuring parts, getting them to the people making the products, then loading […]

Business Continuity: Ready, Set, Prepare

From labor slowdowns, port congestion, and power out­ages to wildfires, hurricanes, and terrorist attacks, we’ve seen no dearth of disasters that can shatter a company’s supply chain and transportation networks. Here’s how to plan for supply chain continuity—no matter what the obstacle.

Panama Gold

Increasing congestion at West Coast ports, greater demand for predictability in the supply chain, and growing capacity constraints magnify the importance of the Panama Canal as a viable alternate route. Are global shippers and supply chain partners ready to take the all-water plunge?

Build to Scale: Bringing PLM to the Masses

As globalization continues to level the playing field, smaller enterprises embrace PLM solutions as a go-to-market strategy for managing and scaling growth, and enhancing visibility and communication within the supply chain.

Environmental Compliance: Seeing Green

The EPA’s 2007 low-emission diesel engine specifications loom large in the minds of shippers and carriers. Will the industry take the high road and embrace the eco-friendly policies?

Supply Chain Security: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility

Issues surrounding supply chain security top the corporate priority list these days. Do governments bear the burden of keeping the global supply chain safe, or, by working together more effectively, can the private sector get the job done? Which is steeper—the cost to implement security procedures, or the price we pay for being unprepared? Differing opinions, strategies, and outlooks abound. Two industry experts share their thoughts on mitigating the risks of today’s threats to supply chain security.

Cheri McCaslin: She’s Got Game

Cheri McCaslin first gained a taste for logistics when she taught herself to run a transportation brokerage. A few months into her job at a local delivery service in St. Louis, the company earned its brokerage authority. “The company decided it needed someone to start the brokerage,” McCaslin says, “and they handed the job to […]

Talking Tactics with IBM

The global outsourcing trend has generated enough excitement in the media and the business community to heat a small Midwest city for a year. At issue is the concern that outsourcing strips away many U.S. jobs, and does detriment to America’s general long-term economic well being. The fact that outsourcing is by no means new […]

Choosing an SCM Graduate Program

An increasing number of companies now expect their top executives to understand supply chain management. To feed this need, many universities have added supply chain education programs to their curriculums. For some executives, a professional certification program is all they need, but for many, a full-fledged graduate degree program is appropriate. And executives now have […]

Freight Forwarding Goes Native

The future of international freight forwarding technology lies in the adoption of Internet-based solutions. To date, however, most freight forwarders have lagged behind when it comes to embracing this technology and making it part of their work processes. An Internet-native international freight forwarding system offers the ability to utilize electronic data exchanges, and is easily […]

Turning Returns Into a Competitive Advantage

Growth of direct-to-consumer sales through catalogs, television, and the Internet continues to explode. Business-to-consumer retail e-commerce sales in the third quarter of 2003 totaled $13.3 billion, a 27-percent increase over 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While direct shopping makes it easy and convenient for customers to buy merchandise, it does not allow them […]

Outer Limits

“We’ve reached the limit of what our grandfathers invested in infrastructure.” So says one top rail executive. If you manage supply lines originating overseas, you already know that port and intermodal capacity are sorely strained. An unexpected uptick in imports caused many to come up holding the short end of the intermodal capacity stick. Worse, […]

Materials Handling Strategies: A Fork-Free Future?

While forklift trucks may be the tried and true solution for many materials handling operations, forklift-free applications are attempting to shake up manufacturing with the emergence of carts and dollies. Thinking of going forklift-free? Make sure you have all the facts before jumping in.

Career Solutions: Hiring a Logistics Problem Solver

Executives and recruiters in the supply chain industry spend a lot of time interviewing prospective employees. And while many logistics candidates look good on paper, their resumes don’t always reveal the level of problem-solving skills they possess. Companies need to hire logistics problem-solvers—people who can walk into an operation and help make its problems disappear. […]

Supply Chain Careers: An Inside Look

Whether you are a supply chain newbie—fresh out of school perhaps—or an industry veteran, chances are you give great thought to the future of your logistics career. Every industry—pharmaceutical, services, automotive, even the military—needs purchasing, operations, and logistics managers. The demand for supply chain managers is rising, and will continue to increase due to the […]

Dave Moynihan: A Toast to Streamlined Sourcing

To achieve a successful supply chain career, Dave Moynihan believes it’s important not to get comfortable too soon. Young people entering the field, he says, should “jump around to different industries, gain experiences, and work in different departments” to acquire the deep and broad understanding they’ll need for leadership. Moynihan gained this insight first-hand. Starting […]

Compliance the Top Concern of 2004

Q: Looking back at 2004, regulatory compliance issues posed a big concern for my business. Am I facing this challenge alone? What were the biggest issues logistics professionals faced this year, from a liability standpoint? A: Security issues dominated the news in the supply chain industry throughout 2004, as various government agencies took steps to […]

Sensing the Future

If you think that RFID and its tempestuous application is the only game in town, think again. It isn’t. Bar codes are still everywhere, and in most cases are doing a fine job. Remember, bar codes and RFID can, and will, work in tandem, with each serving the application it fits best. Nevertheless we may […]

It’s Capacity Crunch Time. Can Multi-Shipper Collaboration Help?

Everyone knows a hot commodity when they see it—demand is high, supply is low, and price is no longer an object. So what is currently the hottest commodity in the motor freight industry? Capacity. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but capacity is tight. Trailer and driver shortages, the uncertainty surrounding the new Hours of […]

Managing a Transportation Bid Event

MORE TO THE STORY: Create a Bid List It’s that time again. The market has shifted and your current transportation solution is not meeting one or more of your key goals—service, capacity, and/or cost. Or, perhaps your company’s strategy has changed and so have your transportation requirements. Either way, you need a better transportation solution. […]

Protecting Your Assets While Maximizing Efficiencies

Think about this scenario: Your leased distribution center is part of an industrial park consisting of millions of square feet of warehouse space, thousands of trailers and containers, and hundreds of millions of dollars of entrusted products. On weekends, the operation often goes unmanned for periods, but much of the perimeter is protected by natural […]

Attracting Hi-Tech DCs to Your Community

As consumers continue to drive the supply chain, the role of technology in providing better collaboration between the manufacturer and the retail outlet has increased. To stay competitive, public entities—cities, counties, economic development districts—must be able to accommodate the needs of high-tech distribution centers. Economic development commissions and other public entities seeking to attract new, […]

Streamlining Communication Creates Change and Opportunities

From walking factory floors for more than two decades, I know it doesn’t take long to build a car. Fender to tail lights, it takes about 72 hours. But it takes another six weeks for the car to reach the consumer. Why? Demand data takes about one week to travel from one tier to the […]

Uncle Sam to Food Importers: Register

This past August, Friday the 13th meant more than just bad luck for food importers. Those companies not registered under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new Bioterrorism Act faced a slew of problems—including delayed deliveries, fines, and heavy scrutiny of all cargo—by failing to meet the Aug. 13 registration deadline. Set forth in February […]

Felecia Stratton

SCM Stew

This issue features a diverse collection of articles that spotlight best practices and logistics challenges readers face—globalization, the importance of supply chain and inbound logistics practices, and a growing strategic, high-level executive management involvement in logistics. The editorial lineup kicks off with Lisa Harrington’s inside look at what’s behind the drive for velocity as global […]

Speeding Global Shipments

The increasingly complex nature of supply chains makes velocity imperative in the global air/expedited freight sector. From port congestion to increased security measures to demand for visibility, here’s an inside look at what’s driving the need for speed.

CLM 2004: Following The Leaders

What are the hot logistics topics for 2005? IL sat down with a number of different logistics solutions providers and practitioners at this year’s Council of Logistics Management conference to track the latest buzz in global supply chain trends.

Drew Alexander: Building Logic and Discipline Into the Supply Chain

You could say Drew Alexander grew up with Wal-Mart. As a boy in Bentonville, Ark., he worked at a local pancake house where Sam Walton sometimes ate. “I never got a tip from Sam,” he says. Throughout his teens, he loaded trucks at a Wal-Mart distribution center. And he later took a job in the […]

RedPrairie Sees RFID Forest for the Trees

As the RFID implementation pace quickens, the race will be won by the fast and the nimble. One fast and nimble player is RedPrairie, Waukesha, Wis., a founder of the RFID Center of Excellence. In the last few months, the company has developed four RFID initiatives: “Bolt-on” RFID EPC compliance An RFID laboratory RFID-enabled supply […]

Mission Possible: Expand Business Without Adding DCs

Suppose you are in charge of supply chain management for a retailer with 1,150 store outlets, eight distribution centers, and a network of 600 vendors. You are tasked with building the optimal supply chain to support three times the current business volume seven years from today. The DCs are already jammed with inbound shipments and […]

Selecting an International Freight Forwarder

Price, security, and compliance rank high on the list of criteria for selecting an international freight forwarder. Auctions have gained popularity, with freight contracts going to the lowest bidder. But choosing on price alone can leave a company shortchanged. In the decision-making process, factors such as value, IT support, and service capability should be considered […]

Warehouse Networks Keep You Close to Customers

Both new trends and familiar old factors are driving the development of American supply chains and warehouse networks. These trends and factors include: Time sensitivity. Our comprehensive, pervasive sensitivity to time stands as the single most important trend driving supply chain development today. We are a connected society. Wireless connections, e-mail, voice mail, pagers, PDAs, […]

Software by Subscription: Pay for What You Need When You Need it

Companies can achieve great efficiency gains by getting real-time visibility into their transportation activities, such as last-mile deliveries. Peering real time into the delivery process to track delays, report exceptions, and measure performance can have a major impact on overall operations, and the bottom line. The challenge, however, lies with gathering data cost effectively and […]

The Question? Globalization. The Answer? SCM

Mention globalization to a group of Inbound Logisticsreaders and be prepared to get an earful, as we did at a recent logistics conference. Globalization challenges vary based on company, trading partners, and markets, but many readers share key areas of convergent concern. Their top three globalization issues are: China. Capacity and infrastructure issues top the […]

Going Global: 3PL or Solo?

As companies expand their global reach, they are increasingly leveraging the infrastructure, resources, networks and expertise of third-party logistics providers to enhance capacity while minimizing risk.

Maritime Security: Open to Risk?

The U.S. maritime sector offers an attractive target to terrorists. But the ocean community is taking steps to help protect maritime trade from catastrophic events.

Smooth Sailing: Managing Ocean Transport by Lane

Are your ocean shipments moving via the most efficient and cost-effective method? The type of goods, time of year, and ultimate destination of your cargo are just some factors to consider when contracting with ocean carriers. Here, a best-practices guide for managing ocean shipments and ensuring cargo arrives on time, intact, and under budget.

China: The Dragon Awakens

Chinese cities are teeming with manufacturing initiatives, prompting numerous expansions of the country’s transportation and logistics infrastructure.

Peter Kelly: Engineering A Nimble Response

Imagine each of your customers requires an entirely customized product. It take eight weeks to make, but when buyers need to replenish their supplies, they want to place orders today and take delivery tomorrow. Keep too little on hand and you’ll upset your market. But “if I have the wrong ones in stock, I run […]

Steering Clear of Roadside Risk

Q: I recently made arrangements with a trucker to transport a co-loaded trailer from the Midwest to the East Coast. The trailer jackknifed on the highway and overturned, causing an accident with another car. I’m worried because I received a letter holding me responsible for any injury and property claims that may result from this […]

Oracle Divines the Future of SCM

Supply chain management continues to post good growth numbers. AMR Research predicts SCM will grow by five percent in 2004, and to a total business of approximately $5.5 billion. Those supply chain management service providers who are secure in the business will make aggressive moves to stay ahead. Oracle is surely one of these key […]

Service Parts & Logistics: Should You In-source or Outsource?

When the silicon wafer fabrication machine breaks down and computer chip manufacturers face costly losses, how long will it take until those machines are running again? In today’s lean business environment it may seem that only those companies with boundless resources can maximize the up-time of their critical business equipment. Thanks to innovations in the […]

Choosing Your Next Forklift Truck or Fleet

If buying forklift trucks were as simple as comparing truck features, performance statistics, and prices, then you might be able to buy them over the Internet. But it’s not that simple. Lift trucks are complex, application-specific products and you need to choose carefully to meet your business and warehouse needs. The right lift truck can […]

Scarcity as a Strategic Imperative

Jeff Immelt succeeded Jack Welch as CEO of General Electric on Sept. 7, 2001. His world, and ours, changed dramatically four days later. With a new CEO and a post-Sept.11 world, it was a given that GE’s corporate strategy would change. The only question was, how? Immelt recently laid out his strategy: GE will invest […]

Help Your Carrier; Be a Better Shipper

When employing a carrier to move loads, shippers often do not realize how big a part they actually play in the delivery of the shipment. When shipping loads, it is incumbent on all involved parties to provide accurate, complete, and detailed information to ensure the end customer receives the shipment in a timely manner. If […]

Reducing the Risks of Global Trade: Software is Not Enough

In recent years, a growing number of American companies have expanded business operations to a global scale. This increased interest in global trade has created a huge demand for products and services aimed at assisting companies with their import/export operations. Not surprisingly, many companies have turned to technology as a fast solution for gaining global […]

Maintaining Profit Margins in Food Service Distribution

Inbound freight programs, onboard computers, computerized routing systems, warehousing management systems, real-time radio frequency, incentive pay programs, global positioning systems, activity-based costing. What do these have to do with food service distribution? The answer is everything. Food service distribution is a highly competitive industry with relatively low margins. Many refer to it as “a penny […]

Carriers, Customers Confront Costs, Capacity

Motor carriers are struggling with several issues as they strive to keep customer service levels high and costs low. But two main concerns rise to the top, according to carriers and their customers: escalating costs and the current capacity crunch. Escalating costs. There’s no uncertainty about which way fuel and insurance costs are headed. Prices […]

Marilyn Necak: Making Freight Pay

For Marilyn Necak, success lies in the details. In her job as disbursement manager for General Electric’s Client Business Services Inc. (CBSI), she monitors the service providers that handle freight payments and accounts payable to make sure they process each invoice correctly and hold vendors to the terms of their contracts. More and more, she […]

An Undertaking of EPC Proportions

It is great to have identification tags on everything. But unless those tags communicate to workers, supervisors, or managers, they are purely decorative and costly. This is the rationale behind the emergence of the Electronic Product Code (EPC) Network and both its industry support and its network and code standardization. First, let’s be clear as […]

Optimize Your Transportation Program for Greater Efficiency

Transportation is usually the largest cost in a company’s logistics budget. In fact, two-thirds of the spend is often for the movement of raw materials and finished products. Managing these costs has become increasingly complex because of radical changes within the transportation industry. Some variables that have a major impact on the cost of transportation […]

Avoiding Transportation Chargebacks

Chargebacks are a fact of life that manufacturers have to deal with. For many of these shippers, how they get the product to their customers’ door is no longer under their control. Consignees and their routing guides are king. If shippers don’t comply with routing guide instructions, they pay, and pay big. Between five and […]

Truckers Get Aggressive with Cargo Security

The transportation industry has never been without challenges. It is an industry that is extraordinarily complex and vital to the economy. For the last three years, warnings of terrorist attacks via biological, chemical, and strategic weapons have been a fact of life, with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a frightening reminder that no industry […]

Achieving Optimization with Closed-Loop Transportation Management

Today’s transportation managers face conflicting challenges and pressures. Regulatory mandates and security compliance create productivity and capacity issues. Companies are moving toward smaller and more frequent orders. Globalization continues to expand. While all these factors drive up logistics costs, a competitive economic climate puts downward pressure on pricing, even as shareholders seek improved profit margins. […]

Reducing the Cost of Cross-Border Compliance

In a global economy, the cost, speed, and certainty of crossing borders are all vital to maintaining competitiveness. Falling tariff rates and vanishing trade barriers create the illusion that customs compliance is now simpler. In reality, complex procedures, innumerable conditions set by free trade agreements, stringent security regulations and stricter enforcement, among other issues, result […]

Flynn’s Folly

I am on my supply chain security rant again, but it’s not my fault. Someone recommended I read a new book that is touted as “riveting, chilling and gripping” by a segment of the media. America the Vulnerable: How Our Government is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism was written by Stephen Flynn, a retired […]

Consumer Products Logistics: Driving Shoppers to the Mall

Today’s consumers are demanding. They want lower prices, higher product availability and easier returns. Meanwhile, retailers continue to push inventory and costs back to the manufacturers. Consumer products logistics professionals meet these tough consumer and retailer requirements by developing supply chain innovations and breakthroughs that keep store shelves stocked and customers coming back for more.

Apple of Your IT: Technology at the Core of Food Logistics

Food retailers and manufacturers are struggling to cut costs as they battle various channel service requirements, customer demands, and excess inventory. Here’s how a steady diet of electronic commerce, data synchronization, electronic product codes and RFID is serving up savings.

Cargo Crossroads of the World: Alaska

Throughout history, Alaska has been the crossroads of human migration and exploration. When coastal tribes first ventured over from Siberia into present-day Alaska more than 10,000 years ago, they marked the first evidence of human habitation in North America. Since the discovery of petroleum reserves in Prudhoe Bay in 1968, and the completion of the […]

Curtis Brewer: Master of the Schedule

As he works toward his MBA, it’s no wonder Curtis Brewer focuses on international logistics. Since his days as a college intern, Brewer has kept his eye on the supply chain challenges inherent in global trade. In fact, his biggest career challenge so far came during that internship, when a customer’s needs collided with a […]

Bracing for an End to Terrorism Insurance

Q: What’s the latest word on terrorism insurance? I keep hearing that this insurance might not be available soon. What does this mean to the transportation industry? A: The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, dealt a serious financial blow to the insurance industry. In the aftermath of the attacks, the industry retrenched itself by […]

Reconsidering the Role of RFID

Is RFID the best thing since sliced bread, another Y2K, or something in between? Is it yet another technology fix on top of all the others or is it a new and essential tool for doing business? Is it a go or a no go? Regardless of your attitude toward RFID, the talk surrounding it […]

Outsourced Manufacturing Changes the Face of 3PLs

The debate over outsourcing American manufacturing jobs to overseas workers continues to stir controversy in politics and business. Economists argue that offshoring is the only way to save American industry; the money saved frees capital for research and development and creates top paying jobs. The political entities, in the interest of both the already and […]

Running an Effective VMI Program

One way to reduce capital outlay within the supply chain is through deferred ownership of inventory—letting vendors manage the inventory of their products in your distribution center. With a Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) program, vendors receive stock information from their customers, then calculate what product they should ship to maintain adequate inventory levels at the […]