For SAP, Size No Longer Matters

In this era of business change, even the biggest supply chain technology providers are reaching out to small- and mid-sized companies, creating new products, and making it easier for companies to respond to their offerings. Much of their focus is also targeted toward easier implementation. Industry stalwart SAP has responded to these changes in business […]

Using Brokers and Forwarders for Global Trade

Hiring a broker or forwarder to move international goods can help you manage complex documentation and processes. But it takes some know-how to select and work with these agents. California-based international trade logistics solutions company Open Harbor offers these 10 tips to streamline global trade through brokers and forwarders: 1. Know when to use a […]

Human Resources Vital in the Age of Technology

Technology makes the modern world go ’round, or at the very least makes modern business work. But to build a global freight forwarding network—and make it thrive—technology is not an answer in and of itself. It is a cultural and business evolution. Before implementing technology, freight forwarders must have the right professionals in the right […]

Transforming Companies and Services on the Web

Developments in information technology are transforming the logistics industry by expanding the capabilities of logistics providers and enabling them to automate services to enhance customer support. Using the web, a logistics company can offer a variety of services and information to you without requiring them to invest in special software programs. Logistics services providers are […]

Tapping Into SRM for Supply Strategy and Procurement Execution

Manufacturers today have an opportunity to leverage their supply base for competitive advantage. Unfortunately, most do not have the tools required to tap this value. For the last decade they have focused mainly on growth issues such as supply chain planning and customer relationship management. As the engine of growth has stalled, manufacturers are casting […]

3PL Growth: Strange But True

In any field, find the strangest thing and explore it,” said renowned physicist John Wheeler. “You can learn a lot about your world if you take that approach.” Well, perhaps the strangest thing in our world of transportation is the advent of the 3PL. Many say buying transportation is just about buying a commodity—”I don’t […]

3PL Roundup: Straight from the (Out)Source

Market pressure has driven more business to the third-party logistics sector, but as a result, businesses are expecting more from their 3PLs. Find out what customers are demanding and what potential customers should know before they decide to outsource.

The Name of the Game? Branding!

‘A new broom sweeps well,’ says an Italian proverb—and companies today are no strangers to cleaning house and reinventing themselves with modern, global names. Find out how three logistics companies rebranded their corporate assets and the challenges they faced finding the perfect name.


Transforming the supply chain requires vision, execution…and a strong constitution.

Stacy Eakes: A Seasoned Professional

Stacy Eakes took up rock climbing this year for fun, but she finds that the sport has a lot to teach a logistics professional. “It’s all about problem solving,” she explains. “You learn to shift your weight and look at things from a new perspective, opening new possibilities.” Back on the ground, that mix of […]

Clicking Toward Dynamic Carrier Selection

As supply chain technology evolves, service providers continually refine their offerings to deal with specific challenges. One difficulty many companies face is finding the optimal carrier for a shipment. To address this, Clicklogistics, currently being acquired by Yellow Corporation’s Meridian IQ division, recently launched version 3.0 of its web-native transportation management system (TMS) featuring a […]

The 4 T’s of SC Excellence: Timing, Trust, Transparency, Technology

Last month, 75 years after Charles Lindbergh’s landing in Paris, his grandson Erik recreated the historic trans-Atlantic run. Charles navigated by sight—flying low and sticking his head out the window. Erik flew with advanced avionics and a sealed, heated cabin. What else has—and hasn’t—changed since the original flight? Both flights were as much logistical as […]

Closing the 3PL Expectation Gap

If you don’t always get what you want when you hire a third-party logistics firm, don’t automatically blame the 3PL. It may be a matter of mixed signals or miscommunication. The key to a successful relationship starts with a clear RFP and excellent communications between the two firms. Michael J. Gardner, global chief operating officer […]

Whole Order Visibility Supports Front Lines of Customer Satisfaction

In the days of euphoria, an order was an order, plain and simple. Consumers went to to buy a book, then felt the excitement of clicking on “track your package” to follow each step of the delivery. But B2B order tracking is different. No company uses to place complex equipment orders or […]

Let’s Mobilize Our Disaster Management Expertise

It struck me a few years back. Earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan. Floods in Curacaos. Disaster upon disaster hit nations where Fritz Companies’ employees were based and we didn’t have a plan to help them and their families. In fact, when I called around to other companies at the time, I couldn’t find anyone that […]

Inbound Logistics: Playing the Name Game

“You are so much more than just inbound.” “Inbound Logistics…is this a magazine about importing?” “Why do you cover only inbound transportation?” So why do we call the magazine Inbound Logistics? Over the years, I have been asked this question, and at a logistics trade show in Chicago last month, I was asked it repeatedly. […]

Wayne Paul: Sticking to the Basics

Wayne Paul caught the logistics bug as a college student working in the receiving department at Sears. And much of what he knows about managing a demand chain he learned from his first post-college employer, Roadway Express. Paul joined the less-than-truckload carrier after earning his B.S. in Transportation from the University of Alabama in 1980. […]

Elite System Boosts Supply Chain Visibility

Web-based businesses continue to grow and become more sophisticated, especially when it comes to the supply chain. Technology that was once the exclusive provenance of CAD programs and complex industrial or financial GUIs now has a good chance of being used in applications that serve the supply chain. Clearly companies need greater visibility along as […]

Choosing the Right Public Warehouse

The strategic importance of choosing a public warehouse that best meets a company’s needs is often overlooked. Indeed, the difference between public and contract warehousing often comes down to strategy, says Rosario Rizzo, vice president of global warehousing and freight management services for APL Logistics, a global provider of supply chain management services. Though a […]

Selecting an ERP System

Companies often decide to implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions based on demand from customers rather than their own manufacturing departments. Sounds great. But sometimes, after implementation, the ERP solution doesn’t quite deliver what the end user wants. The challenge is selecting the right kind of solution. A small manufacturer with several warehouses will have […]

Raking in the Trash

“It’s only trash.” That’s how supply chain managers often refer to the mountains of packing material, broken pallets, paper, and other trash that clutters distribution facilities. For most companies, disposal is an expense item, with additional costs for compactors, waste bins, carting, landfill use, and myriad other variables. With a little of the same skill […]

Material Handling Automation: Money for Nothing, Clicks for Free

Necessity is the mother of invention but in a down economy it may be the mother of companies giving things away to make the sale. Sales of large-ticket capital expenditures are down, including warehouse automation and materials handling systems. At the NA2002 Material Handling Industry (MHI) conference, held in Detroit last month, exhibitor after exhibitor […]

General John M. McDuffie: Telling War Stories

When John M. “Mike” McDuffie talks about a crisis, he doesn’t mean a late shipment; he means catastrophes such as the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. As director of logistics for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lieutenant General McDuffie coordinated the race to move people, equipment, and supplies to […]

SupplyPro’s Point-of-Use Inventory Management

Not all supply chain solutions providers offer broad-based remote services. Some do a very good job on a more local level—though, often, their offerings can be hooked into a global web network. Some concentrate solely on the supply chain at point-of-use. One such solutions provider is SupplyPro, based in San Diego, Calif. It has developed […]

Measuring Carrier Performance

You have just selected a new carrier. How do you make sure you’re getting the service you require? Rick O’Dell, president and CEO of Saia, a regional motor carrier based in Duluth, Ga., offers these top 10 metrics for measuring carrier performance. 1. Pickup performance. How can your delivery be made on time if your […]

Real-Time Visibility Ensures Real Savings

Cost control is an increasingly critical factor as companies fight to remain competitive. Simply put, if you cannot grow revenues, you must cut costs. Supply chain integration across business units is a leading cost-cutting measure, according to corporate managers responding to a recent Gartner Dataquest survey. One problem with most installed procurement and logistics systems […]

How Retailers Become Promise Keepers

Retailers today increasingly leverage online channels to offer services from third parties, including product drop-shipped from other vendors, cross-branded product bundles, and special orders. Amazon essentially built its business on this model and traditional retailers have followed. These strategies present great opportunities for new revenues, efficiencies, and service levels. But serious pitfalls exist, too. When […]

Logistics IT: Opening the Flood Gates

Eight years ago, Barbara Barnhill, transportation supervisor for Elizabeth Arden, excitedly shared her story with Inbound Logistics. She had started a revolutionary program that was racking up annual million-dollar savings by taking control of her inbound transportation. She did it using the latest technology—a fax machine. Today, fax machines have given way to web and […]

Logistics IT: Turning Up the Heat

While the red-hot pace of the logistics/supply chain IT market may have cooled somewhat, there’s still plenty of spark. Check out the latest IT applications for purchasing, order and demand management, supply chain planning, transportation, and warehousing. After a year or two of cooling off, the logistics/supply chain information technology market may be heating up […]

Building the Perfect Load

Logistics IT providers are helping shippers, carriers, 3PLs and consignees create cost savings with little capital investment thanks to innovative load planning applications. From better asset utilization to increased compliance, load planning software creates efficiencies before shipments enter the transportation stream. Have you ever lugged groceries home from the store, struggling to get as many […]

Dennis Hilborn: Know Thyself

“Who are we?” is one of Dennis Hilborn’s favorite questions. In his two and a half years as director of distribution at sports apparel maker Cutter & Buck, asking employees over and over who they are has helped him transform the Seattle-based company’s distribution center (DC). When Hilborn arrived at Cutter & Buck, “distribution was […]

Supply Chain Planning in a Global Environment

Last month’s column examined LogicTools Inc.’s LogicChain and LogicNet supply chain applications. This month, we talk with the person behind those applications—David Simchi-Levi, LogicTools CEO and president. In addition to running LogicTools, Simchi-Levi is a professor of engineering systems at MIT and the author of two books, including the prize-winning Designing and Managing the Supply […]

Ensuring Cargo Security

Special containers, locks and alarms are well utilized by shippers to protect goods in transit. But in many cases the best insurance against cargo theft starts with the documentation process, says Lou Tyska, security consultant to Pinkerton Logistics Services, and chairman of the Transportation Security Council of the American Society for Industrial Security. Here are […]

VMI Heals Distributor/Manufacturer Mistrust

Imagine if your doctor had real-time information about your blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol level, blood sugar, and brain wave patterns and could intervene remotely at any time. Medical technology hasn’t developed quite to that point yet, but enterprise software has. It’s called vendor-managed inventory (VMI). A Healthy Dose of VMI VMI has a healthful […]

Economic Recovery: Grains of Sand

It is as if grains of sand had been sprinkled in the mechanism of the American economy in the aftermath of Sept. 11, a skilled writer in Business Week wrote recently. But sand eventually grinds machinery to a halt, so perhaps that was a little overstated. While the costs of 9/11 are great, there is […]

Phil Saracin: Whatever it Takes

Phil Saracin, global logistics manager at Kemet Corp., enjoys the challenges of finding new ways to reduce cost and cycle time, and developing new tools to improve information flow.

Logic Tools Addresses Network Design, Decision Support

The key to doing good business when providing supply chain solutions is to have a handle on network design and decision support. This means having support systems in place that have the functional clout and services required to sustain these applications. Network design and decision support are strategic components of any company’s long-term and tactical […]

Improving Employee Efficiency Through Education

Providing superior customer service is a fundamental goal of every successful business. The manner in which employees provide value-added service is key not only to maintain, but also to attract, additional business. To be successful service providers, companies need to focus on variables such as improving employee efficiency and productivity through focused training and education […]

Navigating the Virtual Marketplace

Within the logistics online marketplace operates an aggregation of companies acting on behalf of shippers that purchase transportation from a diverse group of logistics services providers. These providers include trading exchanges; logistics solutions providers; trucking, rail, ocean, and air carriers; and companies specializing in ancillary logistics services such as supply chain event management. Over the […]

Logistics Education: Homegrown Distance Learning

Today’s business logistics professionals need to continually upgrade and improve their supply chain skillsets. Besides the expected benefit of administering logistics responsibilities more effectively, the effect on your paycheck’s bottom line will be dramatic. Yet who among us has the luxury to stop work and take off for the nearest college campus, whatever the personal […]

Michael Beaver: Leave it to Beaver

Michael Beaver recently started learning Spanish, and he wishes he had mastered a few more languages earlier in his career. As a supply chain executive with a global corporation, Beaver knows communication is the key to forging profitable relationships. Speaking to colleagues and partners in their own languages helps to assure them that the company […]

The Search for e-Business Enlightenment

A zen approach to logistics? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. In an industry where the quest for perfection is persistent, if fleeting, an enlightened approach to e-business and supply chain management has some merit. In their book The Seven Steps to Nirvana (McGraw-Hill, 2001) Mohan Sawhney and Jeff Zabin draw on this […]

Maximizing LTL Efficiency

How efficient are you at less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping? The solution to reducing freight costs and lag times could lie right at your own docks. Here are 10 tips to maximize your LTL efficiency from Jon Winkler, vice president, operations at Chicago-based J&A Freight Systems, a logistics solutions provider. 1. Accurate information is key. When obtaining […]

Creating New Avenues for Cost Reductions

To significantly reduce logistics costs, look beyond network optimization and rate reductions from your carriers. Transportation providers have limited opportunity left to cut costs, yet significant savings opportunities—in managing inbound inventory, reducing static inventory, and increasing supply chain velocity—often go untapped. The challenge in achieving these benefits is to replace traditional thinking with a new […]

Reading the Logistics Radar Screen

Private network proliferation and the Internet’s global commercialization improve productivity in manufacturing and customer-facing business operations. But at the interface between information technology and the physical world of transportation and logistics, we still have a long way to go. The flip side of the IT revolution is that the quality of data fed into logistics […]

Producing the January Issue: Making Planners

While the publisher is thinking about making waves, I am busy editing and producing this Logistics Planner issue. It’s what I look forward to most each year. I guess I love pain, because I am writing this—the last page to go to the printer—in the office late Sunday afternoon. But it’s worth the effort. My […]

How Logistics Shaped Our Nation: Making Waves

New York, it turns out, achieved its “Empire State” status, at least in part, because of the canals that linked New York City to the Midwest and the west. That point was made in a recent PBS special on New York State and the integral role transportation played. Products, people and ambition flowed west. Raw […]

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Logistics innovations take courage, resources, and time—but the payback can be great. Here’s a look at key logistics developments over the years, what companies are doing today, and how to become a logistics innovator.

Crossborder Transport 2002: It’s a Whole New Ballgame

Moving the products that make up billions of dollars in NAFTA trade poses new transportation challenges for shippers and carriers alike. Security enforcement and delays in this time of uncertainty are raising the bar on many compliance issues. How best to deal with it? Here’s some advice. New Year’s Day marked the eighth anniversary of […]

Reader Profiles

This new column featuring logistics professionals who’ve been around the block a few times and have volunteered to share their experiences with readers. This debut installment features three profiles; future issues will carry one profile each.

Keeping Pace with Logistics IT

Supply chain management practices are tough to integrate with ERP. Executive Editor Robert Malone assembled a panel of four logistics IT experts to benchmark the state of the supply chain ERP integration challenge.

3PL Liabilities Exposed: Who Gets Stuck With the Bill?

3PL usage is increasing. Along with that are corollary increases in liability. Just what are the limits of liabilities for all partners—transport buyer, intermediary, carrier? Legally who is responsible for what? This feature explores 3PL liability limits as seen through the eyes of a top logistics legal expert. While the term 3PL may be relatively […]

8 Steps to Info Systems Happiness

Before you go looking for an ERP solution, you must define an information systems architecture for your company. Follow these eight steps and turn that IT frown upside down.

Mergers & Acquisitions: Disparate Measures

Integrating disparate supply chains demands a holistic approach, with careful detail to every core function. From IT compatibility to corporate culture clashes, this article sorts out complicated pieces of supply chain integration to find out where they fit in today’s M&A puzzle.

9-11: A Supply Chain Call to Action

Amid tighter security restrictions, businesses in all sectors are struggling to find the proper balance between speeding product flow and ensuring security compliance. Here’s how three industry sectors integrate safety and security concerns to ensure a smoother, safer supply chain.

Web Portal Delivers Ocean Freight Connectivity

Despite some wavering in the e-commerce industry, web portals are not only here to stay, they have great potential to be a B2B growth area, and for good reason. Portals allow companies to take advantage of immediate, online access to trading partners, suppliers, and service providers. This access can lead to greater levels of collaboration, […]

Outsourcing from the Buyer’s Side of the Table

Since as long as I have been in the business, experts have debated the pros and cons of outsourcing logistics services as well as strategies for successful outsourcing. With logistics service providers claiming they can cure everything but world hunger, it is important to remember these 10 fundamental rules when you are on the buying […]

Hiring the Perfect Logistics Manager

“You can have the best sales and marketing groups, the finest accounting department, the latest technology, and top-notch customer service, but if you have a weak logistics team and you can’t get your product out and delivered on time to the right destination, you are dead in the water,” says William Conroy, president of Tyler […]

Creating a High-Velocity Supply Chain

Performance improvement over the past 10 years has been largely based on internally focused enterprise systems that integrate functional processes and promote internal efficiencies. With ERP and various flavors of supply chain planning and transportation management tools, manufacturers and distributors have been successful at achieving a first level of benefit, but often at the expense […]

Drilling Down to Core Competencies

With increased competition in a sluggish economy, many companies are getting back to basics by re-focusing on critical operational elements and recommitting themselves to the principles on which their businesses were built. Have you taken a step back to examine your company and determine what truly makes it better than the competition? Not in terms […]

A 2001 Supply Chain Odyssey

Had science-fiction guru Stanley Kubrick been a logistician, even he would have been hard-pressed to envision or even script an odyssey as surreal and unimaginable as 2001. Californians spent the beginning of the year in the dark—literally—as gas and oil prices skyrocketed and fuel surcharges became an added burden. If ever there was a doubt […]

2001: Year-End Roundup

Terrorist attacks. War. An uncertain economy. Despite these challenges, 2001 also will be remembered for innovative logistics strategies, significant gains in logistics collaboration, and a new respect for the critical role supply chain management plays in U.S. competitiveness.

Ensuring Security Through Visibility

We have all become more security conscious in the last few months. Keeping tabs on processes has never been a bad idea, but under today’s circumstances better visibility, closer attention to procedures, and tight recordkeeping make the flow of information about personnel and goods all the more useful within the supply chain. Supply chain video […]

Making an Online Community Work

Online communities allow large groups to get together to solve problems and share information. Whether you are building a community, selecting technology, or simply a participant, these tips from Joseph Cothrell, vice president research,, Chicago, Ill., can help you make the most of your online connection. 1. Define a business purpose and let the […]

Paying Attention to the Whole Logistics Package

Lance Armstrong doesn’t know it, but when he won the Tour de France this year, he provided a powerful business parable for our times. His come-from-behind victory demonstrated an important, but often overlooked, competitive concept: No matter how impressive your start, you must have a strong finish to win the race. Nowhere is this more […]

Ports Play Role in Homeland Defense

Rizak Amid Farid was arrested in Italy on Oct. 18 after police found him hiding in a container bound for Canada. The container was equipped with a satellite phone, two cell phones, a laptop, a bed, a bathroom, and enough food for an extended trip. Farid carried falsified passports, and documents identifying him as an […]

Many Happy Returns

Recent events have compelled many businesses to narrow their focus on specific components within the supply chain. But in terms of product recalls, the potential impact a product defect might have on other manufacturing, distribution, and transportation processes demands that companies take a broader view of the supply chain. This past year, several widely publicized, […]

When Should You Outsource Transportation?

Outsourcing non-core competencies has now become a widely accepted practice across many industries. One company may outsource IT hosting capabilities while another outsources customer service and yet another fulfillment needs. Consider the many retailers who have outsourced their fulfillment to third-party logistics (3PL) providers the past few years. A retailer’s strength is in selling directly […]

Maximizing Intermodal Transportation

Intermodal transportation involves endless service options and possibilities. Navigating through this tangled web of choices can be mind-boggling, especially for newcomers. To simplify the process for new intermodal users and overwhelmed veterans, here are some suggestions from Paul Kromberg, principal of Rail and Intermodal Consulting Services, Springfield, Va. 1. Explore all supplier alternatives. Check out […]

Bringing Logistics Out of Medieval Mode

At the end of the quarter, as salespeople demand that items move off the dock and into revenue status, logistics specialists find their faxes humming, phones ringing, and desktops overflowing with paper. The struggle to meet the transportation needs of customers and move products across international borders would be easier were it not for the […]

CLM Shows Resolve

Shortly after the tragic events of Sept. 11, we received reports of several logistics industry events being cancelled. There was also some question as to whether one of the most important logistics meetings of the year would take place. The Council of Logistics Management made the right call deciding to proceed with its annual conference. […]

In A Down Economy, Can Consultants Help?

During a down economy, logistics execs often turn to consultants to help boost supply chain efficiency. If you’re thinking of tapping into professional help, read our advice on choosing the right consultant, avoiding pitfalls, and achieving off-the-chart results. MORE TO THE STORY: Are You Ready to Hire a Consultant? Choosing the Right Consulting Firm Setting […]

VMI: Managing Supply Based on Demand

Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) is not a new application, but its role in today’s supply chain is attracting more and more interest. Driven by a need for greater competence in supply chain processes, the roles some supply chain partners play are shifting away from traditional inventory management. Now, the vendor tracks the quantity of products […]

September 11, 2001

I don’t have the ability or, at this time, the inclination to craft the correct words that describe to you what happened on September 11, 2001 in New York City. Let me just relate what I saw, thought, and felt on that day. The morning was clear and bright, with perfect weather. My routine was […]

On the Economy: Good Thing Johnny Can’t Read

It’s back to school time, when some folks’ thoughts turn to the lack of educational excellence in America: “Why Johnny can’t read.” But there could be a side benefit: “Johnny” is not reading the bad press about the economy. He and Mrs. Johnny keep right on going to the mall. While it’s true certain segments […]

Inventory Trendspotting: Qualifying Suppliers Online

One common way to identify emerging technology trends is to follow the trails of strategic partnerships between companies. While these agreements often result in the implementation of a new technology, at the very least they can enhance a technology that in turn augments a service to some customer within the supply chain. One such partnership […]

Do-It-Yourselfers Need Help Too

I once worked with a fellow who cut his own hair. Every few days or so he gave himself a new hairstyle—he justified it by saying it was more economical. The only problem was his hair looked like he had cut it himself! It was difficult for anyone not to notice, what with the uneven […]