Making a Bid for Real Estate Auctions

Over the past several years, millions of square feet of manufacturing and distribution space have been rendered obsolete as technology advances create the need for new production facilities, and the economy continues consolidation and repositioning of corporate-owned real estate. Consequently, the need to accelerate the sale of large surplus assets has created a surge in […]

IT Doesn’t Matter? Better Run That By Wal-Mart

In his May 2003 Harvard Business Review article, “IT Doesn’t Matter,” Nicholas Carr famously claims that information technology, much like the railroad and the electricity grid before it, has become an infrastructure tool that doesn’t confer any strategic benefit. Carr’s main point is that because IT is ubiquitous and increasingly less costly than in previous […]

Easing Your LTL Carrier’s Burden

Managing transportation costs is more important today than ever before. With the new Hours-of-Service rules, shippers will likely look to LTL carriers to play an increasing role in their supply chains, particularly handling a portion of their previously truckload multi-stop shipments. These volume shifts will likely lead to LTL capacity issues, and shippers may find […]

Traveling the 3PL Continuum

Grab your Star Trek mug and take another look at this magazine’s cover. Then come back because I want to talk to you about parallel 3PL continuums. Yikes! Back? What did you see? Don’t worry, the cover is not a Rorschachian intrusion into your childhood. Rather it is meant to represent the continuing evolution—from infancy […]

From Tactical to Strategic: The 3PL Continuum

Outsourcing operational functions is often the first step for companies testing the 3PL waters. As they gain more confidence, however, these outsourcers move further along the 3PL continuum, shifting from tactical to strategic relationships. Here’s a look at how companies travel the 3PL continuum, and optimize their outsourcing relationships.

Mega DCs: How Big is Big Enough?

Establishing a network of centrally located, mega DCs has its advantages—proximity to the customer, lower inventory, less building overhead, and cost savings driven by economies of scale. But setting up a big-box warehouse network can also bring big challenges. Here’s some advice on siting and sizing your distribution center network.

U.S. and Canada: Partners in Trade

Canada’s world-class infrastructure and easy access to North American markets offer U.S. companies strategic logistics opportunities for goods distribution. Beauty, eh?

Putting 3PLs in Perspective

Here are the results of Inbound Logistics’ latest survey of the 3PL market. The information 3PLs provided will help interpret market trends, and assess the current state of the market as you attempt to match your specific logistics challenges with a 3PL’s expertise.

Intermodal Shows its Mettle

Congestion in the intermodal network puts unprecedented stress on shippers and receivers. Intermodal operators are responding with innovative solutions that keep freight moving.

John Gilmour: Going With the Flow

Change is inevitable; flow with it,” says John Gilmour, citing one of the mottos that guide his career. Named vice president of distribution and logistics at Musicland Group in January, Gilmour has been managing the flow for the national retailer during a particularly intense period of change. A former unit of Best Buy Co., Musicland […]

Achieving Success with AS/RS

Storage is one area of the supply chain that can provide increased efficiency, cost savings, and other benefits. In fact, automated storage/retrieval systems (AS/RS) can eliminate the need for physical inventory, according to Jurgen Conrad, CEO and president of Viastore Systems Inc., which develops and implements AS/RS and other automated material handling systems. “Correlating equipment […]

The Logistics of Doing Business in China

Earlier this year, one of the United States’ most famous apparel manufacturers closed its last U.S. manufacturing facility. Like many companies, it now relies on plants in countries across the world for manufacturing. At least one is likely to be in China. China already accounts for a vast amount of the world’s production, including 75 […]

Successful RFID Implementation

The good news is that Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) will be one of the best things to happen to the supply chain. The bad news is that the road to implementation is sure to be bumpy. Jon Chorley, senior director, Oracle Inventory and Warehouse Management, offers 10 tips for successful RFID implementation. 1. Get educated. […]

Rethinking the Role of Public Incentives

When you consider changing a logistics center location, or expanding an existing logistics network, a myriad of crucial factors influence and shape the decisions your logistics team makes. Traditionally, the availability and applicability of local and state incentives is not a make-or-break factor in logistics placement decisions, but perhaps the time has come to elevate […]

Nurture, Don’t Neglect, Our Waterways Infrastructure

For logistics professionals who already see the rising costs of the nation’s traffic congestion reflected in their bottom line, it is troubling to know that the Federal Highway Administration estimates use of the nation’s highways for freight transportation will increase by 40 percent over the next 10 years. It is clear that the saturation point […]

Not Your Father’s Airfreight Forwarder

“We’ve been using airfreight forwarders since the beginning of time,” says Andy Bordash, head of the logistics and operations team at Bayer Health Care. Many IL readers can say the same thing, but times have changed. As we report in The Plane Truth About Airfreight Forwarding, written by Leslie Hansen Harps, smart forwarders, both large […]

The Plane Truth About Airfreight Forwarding

Once it was enough for airfreight forwarders to move cargo on time from A to B. But with new security regulations, technology tools, and capacity reductions, forwarders today have to meet a full range of logistics needs.

Who’s Who in Airfreight Forwarding:

Large forwarders handle the bulk of airfreight volume but a small, niche player might be just what you need. Here’s a list of some leading forwarders—both large and small—to help launch your search.

Florida: Gateway to the Americas

Florida boasts easy access to every business center in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, rich cultural ties to those regions, and experienced service providers to smooth your transactions with Latin American partners. Add a strong transportation infrastructure, with intermodal connections that are growing even better as we speak, and for companies that thrive on Pan-American trade, Florida is clearly the place to be.

Forklift Facelift: Making Over DCs from the Inside Out

As important as lift trucks are to tactical activities in today’s high-tech warehouses, their strategic value is becoming equally apparent. Businesses are looking at the long-term advantages of investing in lift trucks to revamp and streamline their warehouses and DC facilities to better utilize storage space and increase throughput.

Get a Lift

Looking to streamline your material handling operations? Consider beginning with your lift trucks. Here’s a snapshot of the industry’s leading manufacturers and some of their newest solutions.

Daniel Pigott: A Chemical Equation That Produces Profits

With the new Hours of Service rules in effect, truck capacity is at the top of everyone’s mind, says Daniel Pigott, director of NAFTA distribution for BASF Corp., BASF Canada, and BASF Mexicana in Orange, Conn. One of Pigott’s major accomplishments during his years in logistics has been developing a command center to help the […]

Making Sense Out of Transportation Insurance Policies

Q: I am a freight forwarder, providing freight transportation services to my customers. I use all modes of transport to all parts of the world. I operate a small warehouse, own two trucks, and when necessary, partner with other operators to give my customers a complete intermodal service. Can you help guide me through the […]

Throw Off Your Chains, Take Up Nets

Driving business these days is the production of increased profit to the enterprise. Other drivers—globalization, outsourcing, customer satisfaction, RFID—pale in comparison to a positive profit picture. So, how can we look at the supply chain from a profit perspective? First, we must ask ourselves, where is the profit in the supply chain? This sounds like […]

How to Source Transportation

Identify and prioritize sourcing of your carriers and you will contain transportation costs as well as meet customer service levels. Pete Stiles, vice president of LeanLogistics, a provider of web-native transportation management systems, offers these tips on how to design and execute a market-specific bid process to foster better relations with carriers, ensure an optimized […]

Streamlining Truck Visits at the DC

While the full impact of the Hours of Service (HOS) ruling is yet to be determined, it is obvious that truck drivers need to manage their time more carefully to minimize any loss to productivity. Under the new regulations, a driver’s idle time counts toward the maximum allowed 14 hours on duty. Shippers can mitigate […]

Does Your 3PL Have an Effective Hazmat Program? Here’s Why it Should

Safe handling and management of hazardous materials has come a long way since logistics providers crossed their fingers and hoped that an incident involving hazmat wouldn’t happen. And if it did, they hoped that the carrier would do a good job of handling it. Gone are the days when simply complying with a dizzying array […]

Someone is After Your Job…

And they want it to relocate it—no, not to Mumbai or China, but right here in the United States. Cities, states, and regions are increasingly competing to attract logistics and transportation jobs. Why? Because U.S. manufacturing jobs, and more recently, service sector jobs, continue to migrate to lower wage, lower tax, lower liability, lower regulation […]

Bruce Cutler: Selling Style, Price and Global Expertise

In the mid 1990s at Compaq Computer, Bruce Cutler crossed the gap between international marketing and international logistics. “I didn’t have logistics experience, but I knew the people in the subsidiaries, and I knew how to run a project in multiple countries,” he says. His first logistics assignment sent Cutler and a small team to […]

Prospective RFID Users Face Supply Chain Challenges

Although radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is not new to logistics or the supply chain, interest—and the need for interest in it—has skyrocketed. Alarms set off by the Department of Defense and Wal-Mart, among others, has many a supply chain manager in a tizzy. The DoD and Wal-Mart now mandate that all cases and pallets […]

Knowing What and When to Outsource

Anyone who has visited Kansas City to savor down-home cooking and fried chicken will recognize the tag line, “We Choke Our Own Chickens” as belonging to Stroud’s restaurant. Marketers say that you have to be on the edge to cut through all the clutter, and I think you will agree that Stroud’s slogan has done […]

Selecting a Load and Route Optimization System

It doesn’t matter if you utilize local route and delivery carriers or nationwide truckers to move your goods. Load and route optimization software systems offer an efficient way to find the best delivery routes and schedules. The key is knowing how to get to the right vendor and picking the best system for your business. […]

Creating Competitive Advantage With Service Parts Logistics

After-sale customer service operations are a strategic part of every business. Not only is service a key differentiator, the difference between revenue contribution of service operations and total revenue can be as large as 40 to 60 percent. Many companies today are even willing to pay more for high levels of service. While most companies […]

Why Motor Carriers are Turning To Pallet Position Pricing

Here are two scenarios that involve the same freight market. In the first instance, a truckload carrier looks for freight to fill out a three-quarter load from Los Angeles to Atlanta. If the carrier can add a quarter load, the revenue on the load suddenly jumps to a highly profitable level. But there may not […]

IT Does Matter

Arguably the most important development impacting transportation, except for the invention of the wheel, has been the application of information technology. Yes, I know, the nationwide rail network, the excellent interstate highway system, the containerization concept, the Panama Canal … But the reason I think logistics IT is preeminently important is because it impacts everyone […]

Net Gains

Here’s a look at how several companies have successfully tapped the Internet and the web to improve their logistics and supply chain operations.

Wireless Security: Is Your Data at Risk?

Many companies use wireless devices to manage transportation and logistics, and many more are considering doing so. Now that all this important information is being sent through the air, the question arises: Can anyone tap into your wireless information stream? Short answer: Yes! Your sensitive SCM information is out there for all to see. Here are some steps you can take to secure your wireless networks.

Robert Swanson: Developing Colleagues with Passion

Robert Swanson’s first employer helped put him through college while he worked. Today, at Pfizer Global Research and Development Michigan Labs, Swanson is paying that favor forward, not with tuition assistance, but with extensive on-the-job training. A major part of Swanson’s mission is to help the people in his organization live out “the passion to […]

8 Steps to Lower Insurance Premiums

Q: I have experienced big increases in my insurance premiums. Why has this happened and what can I do about it? A: Like all commodities, insurance is subject to the laws of supply and demand. Its cost is determined by the amount of capacity available in the world’s markets. In the 1990s the world experienced […]

Integrating SCM with Product Lifecycles

All manufactured products move through a cycle of creation to maturity to decline. There are exceptions—a dairy product such as milk, for example—but the general rule is that product evolution is a stark reality within the manufacturing enterprise. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software recognizes this. Let us look at the process of product lifecycle management […]

Tank Goodness

A materials management system gives Army depot and its partners a better view of parts used to rebuild M1A1 Abrams tanks.

Penetrating the U.S. Market With No Warehousing Investment

Warehousing just got a major facelift in the global supply chain world. Companies are starting to globally expand their product markets without the added weight of materials management, warehousing and distribution costs—and without adding staff in new markets. An excellent example of this new logistics trend is a Middle East manufacturer of ready-to-assemble consumer PVC […]

Selecting a Bar-Code System

If you are looking to purchase a bar-code system, do your homework first. Many suppliers offer all types of systems that can provide you with more than you need, or less than you need. John Caltagirone, vice president, supply chain strategy for Illinois-based Revere Group, offers these 10 tips to make selecting a new bar-code […]

Breaking the Size Barrier in Global Logistics

The last three years have brought a whirlwind of activity to global sourcing, which eliminated many traditional manufacturing jobs in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the manufacturing workforce in the United States shrank by two million production jobs between 2000 and 2003. Headlines appear weekly with news of more outsourcing […]

Inventory Optimization: The Last Frontier

Two opposing forces are at work in business today: the need to reduce costs and the need to improve service levels. Bolstering one almost certainly causes the other to suffer. For example, lower your inventory to reduce costs and it becomes difficult to meet varying customer demand. Increase safety stock to meet peak demands and […]

C-TPAT: Staying Ahead of the Curve

John, the newly appointed Ohio Valley plant manager, arrived at his desk 6:30 a.m. Monday with a plan to organize the week. He was surprised when almost immediately the phone rang. It was a freight forwarder in Hong Kong wanting to speak with the plant’s logistics manager, Barbara. The forwarder told John that some electronics […]

The Politics of Fear

Media-amplified hysteria and politicization of homeland security in certain circles may be driving security policies toward unreality. Some believe that the only way to protect good people from bad people is to lock down the good people instead of aggressively sanctioning the bad. Are we over-emphasizing security at the expense of interdiction in the war […]

The New Frontier of Border Security

Are you committed to protecting the safety and security of goods in transit? Pretty soon, you’ll have to be. Here’s a look at the latest security initiatives affecting transportation and logistics, and what you need to know to comply.

A Walk on the Wireless Side

Are you ready to join the wireless revolution, but just not sure where to begin? With wireless technology rapidly making its way into the supply chain, the challenge for many companies is keeping up to speed on the latest offerings and solutions. Here’s a crash course on some of the many wireless applications gaining market share and a look at how some companies are applying what’s available to their own pain points.

Who’s Who in Wireless Technology

To help you get started in wireless technology, Inbound Logistics has compiled a list of some wireless providers in the segment. While this is by no means an all-inclusive listing of vendors, we hope it will help guide you in your preliminary search.

Kim Brown: Keeping the Home Fires Burning

When work goes well for Kim Brown, people stay warm. Brown’s company, Hearth and Home Technologies, manufactures stoves, fireplaces and related products for home heating. As materials manager at the Lake City, Minn., plant, she’s responsible for getting materials to the production line and transporting finished goods to distributors and direct customers. Like many supply […]

Inner City Direct-to-Store Delivery: Complex but Improving

Last month’s column dealt with the problems associated with transportation and logistics in an inner city environment. The staff and manager of a New York City supermarket, in their attempt to receive a shipment, were faced with numerous challenges such as parking restrictions and limited access to delivery doors. The problem of receiving, however, is […]

Please Don’t Squeeze the 3PL

When is it practical to develop a cost-plus relationship? Many companies that outsource spend up to 60 percent of their logistics management time defining, selecting and negotiating the 3PL agreement yet do not fully realize the total benefits available from the outsourced relationship. The cost-plus agreement must allow the outsourcer to maximize the ROI from […]

Successful Global Data Synchronization

Data synchronization is a crucial component of e-commerce. As companies increasingly communicate via computer, organizing and synchronizing data with all trading partners poses a greater challenge. Here are 10 tips to undertaking a successful data synchronization initiative, from Craig Bednarovsky, global retail marketing manager, Global Exchange Services. 1. Get educated. Understand the standard bodies relevant […]

The What, Not the Where, of Site Selection

While much has been written about site selection from the real estate and cost reduction perspective, little has focused on the supply chain management perspective. What’s the difference? To start with, true SCM focuses on adding value to the customer and sharing that gain with all the component links in the supply chain. Rather than […]

Easing the Impact of HOS Regulations

With the new Hours of Service (HOS) regulations now in effect for transportation providers, transportation management systems (TMS) are coming to the aid of shippers. The systems help shippers assess the impact of the new guidelines, incorporate the regulations into automated processes, and identify areas of improvement to minimize the financial impact of the regulations […]

Forging Industry-Academia Partnerships

Economic pressure derived from reduced state and federal funding has fueled escalating tuition costs. As a result, government, taxpayers, parents, and business practitioners are paying closer attention to the activities of business faculty. Critics contend that higher business education is breaking down, that the system is churning out irrelevant academic research and training students to […]

Who is the Typical IL Reader?

Who are the typical Inbound Logistics readers? They are the unusual mixture of the practical and theoretical. Straining their brains to solve the seemingly unsolvable, yet not afraid to get dirt under their fingernails to get the job done. They understand the complex algorithm that helps rationalize the unpredictability of future demand, yet they are […]

The Soft Side of Career Development

The path up the ladder of success is not as easy as it used to be. It takes a good logistics plan to coordinate all the elements of your training and experience. Yes, logistical planning is not only the definition of what you do, it is critical in shaping your career as well. After all, […]

Rob James: The Pepsi Challenge–Taking Charge of Inbound

Promoted to logistics manager at PepsiAmericas’ St. Louis plant, Rob James had a revelation. The operation was giving money away. Instead of managing its inbound freight, the plant relied on vendors to book loads and pass on the charges—whatever they happened to be. Research showed there was plenty of room for improvement. “I quickly found […]

Complying with the Bioterrorism Act: What If Something Goes Wrong?

Q: The Food and Drug Administration issued new regulations requiring the receipt of prior notice when perishable goods are imported to the United States. What specific obligations are imposed on importers and logistics providers and what are the potential consequences? Will my insurance policy cover me if something goes wrong? A: On June 12, 2002, […]

Direct-to-Store Deliveries: Not Always Easy

Some software providers see their goal as offering a fully automated supply chain. It is a great goal and one that can have significant bottom-line results. Between the striving for that goal and the reality of achieving it, however, some setbacks can occur. These problems are the consequence of the reality within which we live. […]

Pulling the Profit Lever of Spare Parts Logistics

Like many supply chain professionals, you probably rarely, if ever, consider the world of spare parts logistics. After all, why should you? How could you know that strategic logistics planning of your spare parts inventories will increase revenues, reduce costs, improve profitability, and have a direct impact on both the top and bottom line, while […]

Choosing A Warehouse Racking System

A racking system can make or break your warehouse or distribution center. Even if you plan to make some changes and reclaim space in an existing facility, you must consider physical constraints and unique operating requirements before selecting a rack system. Here, Bill Hillebrenner, director of consulting services, CEI Logistics, demystifies the rack selection process. […]

Rail Intermodal: One Arrow in Your Quiver

At a time when demanding investors are closely scrutinizing your company’s bottom line, finding solutions to reduce distribution and other operating costs seems a natural place for executive focus. Companies are also feeling an even greater sense of urgency to manage expenses due to the new Hours of Service changes. In addition, some retail companies […]

Seven Deadly Supply Chain Sins

If there is one IT system that provides the greatest immediate benefits to a company, yet also poses the greatest challenges to implement, it has to be supply chain management. It is also the most risky to work with because failure and success are so visible to your trading partners. Supply chain management (SCM) has […]

The Full Cost of Cargo Losses

All too often, supply chain managers do not properly calculate all the elements of cargo loss. As a result, they minimize the full impact on their bottom line. Most look only at cargo theft or damage to determine the financial impact on their company. Many other factors, however, need to be considered when calculating the […]


Can being proficient in supply chain practices position you to benefit when the economy picks up and your sales take off? Matching demand signals to your supply line will help you save money, but it’s only half the story. It is a very big half, considering our never-ending quest to be cost effective or to […]

International Truck Integrates Inbound

An integrated inbound logistics program helps International Truck streamline its supply base by bringing many supply chains into one. Result? World-class trucks and engines produced at competitive prices.

The Evolution of the Paperless Railroad

The same goals that railroads hoped to achieve in 1883 by transitioning to Standard Time—accountability, reliability, better customer service—are now coming full circle as today’s smaller railroads are integrating with Class I’s and shippers to provide time-definite services and seamless supply chain visibility. “Real time” rather than “Railroad Time” is driving freight railroads into the new century.