Articles

Supply Chain Perspectives

Automation Grows, But We Still Need People

One endless debate in space exploration is whether, and to what degree, humans can contribute. Do we send more robots to Mars or should we concentrate on a manned mission? While the cost of human space exploration is mind-boggling, it is hard to believe that human perception and inquisitiveness is of no use. It is […]

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Making Supply Chain Data Dynamic

Today’s supply chain managers are hot for more data and greater integration. Their motive is simple. They recognize that they can wring profit by reducing complexity or isolating actions. It is hard to argue against this point of view, especially when companies integrate data with the goals of cutting costs, reducing working capital by holding […]

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Buy American, Transport American?

For the past decade or more, conducting business globally—outsourcing manufacturing abroad, shipping through foreign flags, and sourcing parts worldwide—has been the rule, and for many practical reasons may stay the rule. While national borders stay in place for politicians, they have essentially disappeared for the business community. But the cry to keep business in America […]

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Who Will Strike the New Golden Spike?

When U.S. railroads first managed to connect from East to West, crews drove a golden spike to commemorate the completion of our first transcontinental railway. It happened at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869, soon after the Civil War ended. The iconic photograph of Union Pacific’s No. 119 and Central Pacific’s Jupiter No. 60 meeting face […]

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Managing Data One Byte at a Time

Increasing connectivity, largely a result of the Internet and the facility with which we collect data, has changed the pace and relationships of business. To a great extent, local business no longer exists, as all commerce and trade is tied together by information. This is evident as the world’s economy stumbles. Business is, quite simply, […]

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Diagnosing Complexity

Complexity can be a concern wherever it arises. More often than not, it is perceived as a burden rather than a virtue. Simplicity, on the other hand, has shown great value in science and engineering. Yet even in these areas, complexity still persists. When complexity runs wild it becomes chaos. Some gurus tell us to […]

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Keeping Our Heads Above Water

Water is one of the world’s biggest challenges. There is plenty of it, but it is often in the wrong place (favored industrialized nations), at the wrong time (a hurricane or flood), and in the wrong form (polluted or invaded by salt). Poor logistics, supply chain, and financial management, with some political issues thrown in, […]

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Inventions Light the Way

The public knows Thomas Edison as the man who invented the light bulb. But what Edison really invented was a system for generating and distributing electricity into cities, and eventually into rural communities. This was a gigantic and, at the time, novel undertaking. In our industry, Malcom McLean is recognized for inventing the shipping container. […]

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Fuel for Thought

The current fuel-cost crisis has U.S. truckers caught between a rock and a hard place. Any solution comes with a complex price tag, and has to reflect the common good. But who knows what the solution is? In March 2008, Americans drove 11 billion miles fewer than they did in March 2007, the largest drop […]

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