WERCWatch
June. 23, 2011

WERC members exclusive

View the DC Measures 2011 report presentation held at this year's conference. (Must be logged in to access the video.)

WERCouncil events
June 29: Chicagoland WERCouncil encore presentation of 3rd Party Costs and Charges
June 30: Indianapolis WERCouncil-Strategic Selection & Implementation of a Warehouse Management SystemMore

Safety: Why the lean and neat are survivors
Material Flows
Every species of animal has a natural instinct for self preservation. Ironically, we humans, being above the animals, tend to lose that feeling of vulnerability at certain points in our development. It starts when we're toddlers, as the drive to discover new things develops before our fear of consequences. If we survive into the teen years, the consequences get more dicey as our drive to discover turns into a drive to drive. I'm thinking this way because I just learned that June is National Safety Month — and it's already more than half over. The National Safety Council issued a bunch of educational materials well before June to get people hip to the dangers of summertime (June 1-4), preventing overexertion (June 5-11), teen driving safety (June 12-18), preventing slips, trips and falls (June 19-25) and "on the road, off the phone" (motor vehicle safety, June 26-30). I'm surprised any of us reach the age of senility.More

Logistics numbers show signs of economic strength
Material Handling & Logistics
The latest logistics numbers show some promising economic signs, according to a summary courtesy of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics. On the downside, over-the-road trucked shipments fell 0.9 percent in May, and overall trucked shipments were flat on a year-over-year basis, according to the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index. The American Trucking Association's seasonally adjusted cargo index fell 0.7 percent in April after increasing 1.9 percent in March. And according to the TransCore Freight Index, the spot market for truckload freight in May fell 10 percent from the previous month, but was 10 percent higher year over year. The freight rate index cost per mile decreased to $2.48 in June, down from $2.50 in May.More

An ounce of prevention: There's no fail-safe method for protecting DCs against theft, but these precautions can minimize the risk
DC Velocity
Conventional wisdom holds that cargo is most vulnerable to theft when it's on the road, which is why so many security protocols focus on trucks and other vehicles. But lately we've seen an uptick in cargo thefts — including the disappearance of entire trailer loads — on distribution center property. In some instances, the thefts have occurred at what were thought to be secure facilities. In others, however, they took place at warehouses that hadn't even taken basic security precautions. Securing a distribution center can be both difficult and expensive. But failure to take precautions is nothing short of reckless, particularly if the company is a logistics service provider and is responsible for the property of others. While no manager can totally eliminate the risks to a facility, its contents and its employees, there are steps he or she can take to minimize risk.More

Avoid the domino effect when making changes to DC operations
Distribution Digest
Based on surveys and interviews, many distributors are under pressure to find low cost alternative methods to improve throughput and productivity within their order processing operations. But, an unfortunate reality is that an inefficient, well-established (ingrained) process can be very difficult to change. It appears that a major deterrent is the feared "domino effect" — changes to one process will necessitate unplanned changes to associated processes setting off a chain reaction creating additional complications. The following list shows four often overlooked, standalone, alternative order-picking processes that can increase throughput and productivity while not affecting other operations.More

Making your strategy more relevant
Harvard Business Review
Since the idea of a "business strategy" — a long-term plan for growth and profitability — was first developed in the early 1960s, companies around the world have used this tool to pick a competitive position and make their way closer to it. But many business leaders seem to be losing their confidence in strategy, or at least in their own company's approach to it. This is evident in our ongoing Booz & Company survey, which asks executives from around the world to comment on the results of their strategic initiatives. With more than 2,350 responses so far, the findings suggest a high degree of disillusionment.More

Maximizing LTL freight discounts with a 3PL
Modern Materials Handling
For companies looking for relief from high shipping costs and market volatility, a professional, third-party logistics provider can save an extra 18 to 25 percent off already heavily discounted LTL freight costs if they routinely make multiple shipments to multiple locations and work with numerous freight carriers. For every $100,000 in freight costs, that's an extra $18,000 to $25,000 in savings. How can a 3PL lower freight costs beyond a company's existing discounts? By negotiating additional discounts based on the 3PL's relationship, reputation and volume business with established carriers.More

In sustainability, perception isn't always equal to reality
SmartPlanet
There are certain companies that you just KNOW have better corporate sustainability strategies than others, right? Well, not exactly. Two big examples, according to a new study from consulting firm Brandlogic and analytics firm CRD Analytics: Apple and Google. Both of these companies have a higher reputation for sustainability measures than actually is deserved, according to the study. Brandlogic and CRD Analytics joined forces to figure out whether public perceptions of 100 leading companies really are indicative of those same companies' actual performance when it comes to environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility.More

Lift trucks: Simplifying maintenance
Modern Materials Handling
Eight years ago, managers realized they had a problem at the central distribution facility for Rawlings, where they managed 40,000 inventory lines of sporting equipment and apparel. As the company had grown, its fleet had been expanded piecemeal, resulting in a hodgepodge of equipment providers and a maintenance department scrambling to keep up. Mike Campbell, senior director of distribution at the 480,000-square-foot Rawlings distribution center in Washington, Mo., said the decision was made to contract for outsourced maintenance services. Rawlings partnered with Heubel Material Handling, a member of the Raymond Corporation's dealer network, to implement Raymond's consultative approach for providing support.More

How to handle a raise request
Harvard Business Review
"Can I have a raise?" Five little words cause a lot of stress and frustration. In many smaller organizations — and even some larger ones — there's no formal compensation policy. There may not even be an HR professional available to consult on merit increases and other pay issues. In these companies, you are likely to encounter direct requests from your staff members for a raise. Absent a policy, people assume that if they want a raise the only way they can get one is to ask for it.More

Dan Gilmore: State of the Logistics Union 2011
Supply Chain Digest
The annual state of logistics report is just out with much fanfare from Rosalyn Wilson and CSCMP, with the headline news that overall U.S. logistics costs rose 10.4 percent in 2010 to 8.3 percent of GDP. That is after two years of logistics cost decline, especially the dramatic, recession-induced slide in 2009 to just 7.9 percent of GDP. In 2007, logistics costs were calculated at 9.9 percent of GDP, so we are still well below that recent peak. This represents the 22nd edition of the report, which was launched in the late 1980s by the late Bob Delaney and sponsored by his company, Cass Information Systems.More

Fitting packaging into the future of health care reform
Healthcare Packaging
Even as health care reform continues to take shape, pharmaceutical manufacturers can see a trend in which patient outcomes will be a primary factor in reimbursement. More than ever, packaging will be called upon to help patients adhere to medication regimens, particularly in treatment areas such as hypertension and diabetes where non-adherence poses considerable clinical and financial costs. That was a key takeaway from the presentation, "Surviving and Thriving in a Volatile Marketplace: Strategies for Drug Companies," given by Michael Wokasch, author and pharmaceutical industry veteran at the May 26 Healthcare Packaging Conference & Workshop in Princeton, N.J.More

How do you handle the multiple dimensions of transportation management?
The 21st Century Supply Chain
A common supply chain model with North American-based brands will include the outsourced manufacturing of components or even finished goods to Asia. This outsourcing to Asia can obviously result in significantly reduced costs of manufacturing, but also presents some significant challenges with shipping or transportation — both in cost and also the transit time. The trade-off is cost versus speed as to how to get the goods from Asia to North America: via air or sea. In an ideal world, and especially for bulky items, freight by sea is the most cost-effective option and is used as the default shipment option.More

A peaceful coexistence? Relations between trucking, rail interests have hit a 20-year low — That's bad news for all of us
DC Velocity
Mitch Mac Donald writes, "As much of the nation sweltered through the first major heat wave of 2011, the war of words in Washington was heating up as well. But while the temperatures will eventually subside, the tensions between rail and trucking interests seem unlikely to ease anytime soon. What makes the latest flareup noteworthy isn't so much the source of the controversy — recent proposals to raise truck weight limits — but the level of hostility generated. Not since former Roadway Express president Joe Clapp hit the speakers' circuit in the early 1990s has the rhetoric reached the pitch it did in May."More

Albis Technologies' RFID tags help protect European art
RFID Journal
Protecting art and artifacts at museums can be a complex task that requires security guards, as well as technology, to watch over valuable items in public places. Usually, the technology consists of permanent wired motion detectors around the building's exhibits. Some museums in Europe, however, are employing a solution featuring active RFID tags coupled with sensors from Swiss telecommunications products firm Albis Technologies that enables them to wirelessly protect their high-value exhibits from damage or theft. Albis' ZOMOFI (Zone Monitoring & Find) system detects motion, triggers an audible alarm if a work of art or other valuable item is moved, and alerts staff members electronically so that they can respond.More

Buckhorn donates containers, pallets in wake of tornadoes
Material Handling & Logistics
Buckhorn Inc. recently donated more than 1,800 plastic totes and pallets to community outreach programs in Northwest Alabama and Joplin, Mo., in the wake of the tornadoes that devastated those regions. First, Buckhorn joined forces with TNT Fireworks, based in Florence, Ala., to donate more than 500 attached lid totes to the local Salvation Army. The totes primarily are being used to help sort goods like nonperishable food items or household products. Eventually, the containers will make kits filled with food and hygiene supplies, which then will be distributed to families in Phil Campbell and Hackleburg afflicted by an EF5 tornado.More