Articles

Commentary

Is it Time to Return to the Rails?

Shipping by rail can be unsettling for those unfamiliar with the nuances of interacting with the railroads. In fact, some companies avoid even considering rail as a viable transportation option because of the fear of the unknown, or based on negative experiences with the railroads from years past. Railroads are commonly accused of being slow […]

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Evaluating the True Cost of Overseas Manufacturing

United States manufacturing continues to decline. Since 1970, manufacturing employment has dropped 22 percent—nearly nine percent of that drop in the last 10 years alone. Low-cost labor from Asia and Latin America has created extreme price pressure, and manufacturers are especially hard hit, experiencing brand erosion due to private label growth of major retailers. Many […]

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Passion Play

Most readers I meet are reserved, practical, low-key, disciplined, taking a considered approach to the task of managing many variables as they strive to match their supply stream to their demand. That’s why I was a little surprised to hear the following at this year’s CLM Conference in Chicago. “As logisticians, we’re steadfast in our […]

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Six Ways to Grow in a Down Economy

In the 1990s, it looked like we could do no wrong. The economy was growing. The stock market was rising. Venture capital was plentiful. Young people became instant millionaires in the dot.com world. Then came the new millennium and somehow that all changed. The economy started to shrink and layoffs became commonplace. The stock market […]

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Finding Efficiencies in the Yard Just Outside

Today’s dynamic business environment provides supply chain professionals with increasingly complex pressures from a variety of business fronts. Customers request reductions in cycle times, time-to-market, and operating costs in addition to increased order accuracy and service. Yet in the face of these challenges, many companies focus only on maximizing efficiency within the four walls of […]

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Getting a Grip on Service Parts Operations

Companies have been under tremendous price and volume pressure in the finished goods business for quite some time, but services and parts is the logical next opportunity to improve revenue, boost profits, and directly impact customer satisfaction. In fact, Piper Jaffrey U.S. Bancorp estimates that spare parts represent $700 billion in spending and eight percent […]

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Yellow/Roadway: Changing Directions

Every September, Inbound Logistics offers readers a review of the trucking segment. The big news this year is Yellow Freight buying its competitor, Roadway. This unexpected move was driven by economic, competitive, and strategic reasons. As we saw with Consolidated Freightways’ demise, size alone is not a reliable indicator of stability. Good management, aggressiveness, and […]

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SEKO Moves Forward into IT

The supply chain offers too much and delivers too little. This argument has been leveled for years against ERP software applications and the complexity of their implementation. The counter-argument is that companies who use supply chain management successfully—such as Wal-Mart and Dell—have made it an essential part of their business success. These companies don’t just […]

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What’s Next in Outsourcing’s Evolution?

Regardless of the complexities of Darwinian theory, it is easy to find similarities between the evolution of man and outsourcing supply chain functions. After all, there was a time in my career when “postponement strategies” seemed as foreign a phrase as “australopithecines” (an extinct humanlike primate). What was once fancy speak now seems no more […]

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Is It Time to Jettison JIT?

Manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers have come to rely on Just In Time inventory management, or JIT, as a way to reduce costs and improve efficiency. There is no doubt that JIT management has improved companies’ bottom lines and saved manufacturers billions of dollars. While JIT offers the potential to create significant savings for firms, it […]

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Jettison JIT?

Is it time to jettison JIT? It may be, according to industry observers Ike Brannon, senior economist on the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and Michael Gorman, assistant professor at the University of Dayton (see Viewpoint, August issue). Let’s think about that. Ike and Mike say that increased transport costs offset savings companies using just-in-time regimes […]

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Cogistics Part 2: Cutting Costs on Urgent Shipments

Last month I introduced you to Cogistics, a Lakeland, Fla.-based service provider that helps companies plan and execute their transportation and supply chain operations through collaboration and data management. This month, I follow up by concentrating on Cogistics’ Urgent-1 service and pre-audit/carrier payment process. “Cogistics’ critical shipment call center, Urgent-1, does not pertain exclusively to […]

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Orchestrating Successful Product Launches

Successful product launches are like a well-orchestrated symphony. Each instrument must work in harmony to produce the melody, and every musician plays a critical role. As the conductor of a product launch, you want flawless orchestration, but getting products to the retail market presents many challenges. In today’s economic environment, companies cannot afford any missteps, […]

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Technology Fights National Security Threat

The nature of national security threats against the United States has changed since Sept. 11, 2001. U.S. officials and citizens alike perceive the threat to be from terrorists who would attack with conventional explosives or weapons of mass destruction moving through the international supply chain. The United States Government (USG) has responded through three developments; […]

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Building Security Into the Supply Chain

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, the term “security” primarily addressed cargo theft. Now the term addresses the broader set of security requirements and challenges associated with the increasing terrorist threat. Historically, competition has heightened information-sharing tensions among regulatory agencies, manufacturers, freight forwarders, carriers, and retailers—they have “protected” their piece of the information technology system. The […]

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Navigating by Gyroscope

Sociologist David Reisman suggests that there are two types of political people: gyroscopic—those having internal guidance on issues, and radar—those bouncing off and navigating their issue positions by interacting with others. We find similar behavioral patterns in operation by those providing outsourced services in a stressed economy. Do they navigate their way to survivability and […]

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Cogistics: Harnessing the Power of Collaboration

Given the direction of today’s economy, most companies continue to focus on ways to reduce costs and increase their return on investment. There are many means to achieving these goals, but clearly better use of data—that is, transforming raw information into actionable knowledge—is a sound approach. In the supply chain, where all activities are interlinked […]

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Riding Outsourcing Waves: Hang Five to Thrive

Improving supply chain performance by outsourcing has been in vogue for decades. But has the outsourcing process kept pace with the emergence of the supply chain manager (SCM)—a single provider responsible for end-to-end performance? The first wave of outsourcing focused on exchanging fixed assets for leaner balance sheets and variable logistics costs in warehousing and […]

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