March 3, 2011

Join WERC at ProMat

Join us for Lunch & Learn from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 21 in McCormick Place Room S401A (South Building, Level 4). The topic will be "An Ounce of Prevention...," a case study detailing how CDW's injury rates decreased substantially while production and employee morale improved after implementation of an innovative work-safe program with a focus on education, stress-reducing stretches and hands-on training.

Have you registered for the WERC Conference yet?
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Time for some shelf examination?
DC Velocity
It used to be that a distribution center's main concern was getting orders out the door as quickly and efficiently as possible. What happened after the truck left the dock was not its problem. Not so anymore. In many retail companies today, the focus has shifted to improving efficiencies at the other end of the supply chain — that is, in activities like unloading and putaway that take place after the truck reaches the store. As a result, DCs increasingly are being asked to provide "store ready" shipments, with merchandise packed and loaded with an eye toward streamlining the receiving and putaway processes.More

US exports rise 16.6 percent in 2010, on track to double by 2015
Export-Import Bank via SupplyChainBrain
Exports of U.S. goods and services grew 16.6 percent in calendar year 2010, according to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Commerce Department. BEA reported that U.S. exports totaled about $1.8 trillion for calendar year 2010 versus a total of about $1.57 trillion the year before. Exports for December totaled $163 billion, the highest monthly figure since July 2008. In another report of growing U.S. exports, the Export-Import Bank of the United States posted strong first-quarter results for Fiscal Year 2011, with small business authorization volume in dollars jumping 22.46 percent over the same quarter of 2010.More

EU Parliament approves law to protect drug supply chain
The European Parliament has approved a new law to help prevent fake drugs from entering the supply chain. The legislation introduces new safety regulations, traceability measures and sanctions against counterfeiters. The problem of counterfeit drugs is a growing concern throughout the world. Researchers estimate that 1 percent of medicinal products sold to the European public through the legal supply chain are now fake. In other parts of the world, more than 30 percent of the medicines on sale can be fake, and counterfeiters appear to be increasingly targeting innovative and life-saving drugs.More

ISM reports sustained manufacturing growth in February
Modern Materials Handling
Momentum in the manufacturing sector is continuing at a strong pace, based on the most recent results of the Institute for Supply Management's February Manufacturing Report on Business. The index used by ISM to measure the manufacturing sector — known as the PMI — was 61.4 percent in February, which was up from January's 60.8. This matches the highest PMI level since May 2004. Any reading 50 or higher represents economic growth, and January is the 21th consecutive month economic growth has occurred, according to the report. February represents the seventh straight month of month-over-month growth in the manufacturing sector, according to the ISM.More

7 steps to effectively mediate employee squabbles
American Express OPEN Forum
Let's say you walk into work on Monday morning and two of your top employees are sniping at each other. You aren't sure what the disagreement is about, but you assume that the subject matter is petty so you turn on your computer, roll your eyes, and get started with your day. Pretty soon, verbal fireworks start exploding in the office. Uh-oh. "Employees often don't resolve disagreements themselves; they usually will just fester and the situation will get worse," says Robin Throckmorton, MA, SPHR, president of Strategic Human Resources Inc., an HR consultancy based in Cincinnati.More

Global packaging-machinery demand to near $36 billion 2014
Converting Quarterly
Global demand for packaging machinery is projected to rise 4.7 percent annually through 2014 to $35.9 billion, an improvement over market growth during the recession-affected 2004-2009 period. Sales growth will be driven by an acceleration in manufacturing output, as well as by a favorable fixed investment environment worldwide. These and other trends are presented in World Packaging Machinery, a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm. Gains in developing nations will be the driving force behind advances in the global market for packaging equipment. China, for example, will alone account for 41 percent of all additional demand through 2014, with growth stimulated by increases in manufacturing production and the use of packaging as industrialization efforts continue and income levels rise.More

Trevor Miles: Inventory management — What are the best practices?
The 21st Century Supply Chain
My colleague Max Jeffrey recently posted a blog titled "Should Safety Stock be added to forecasted FG demand?" which he also published in our Supply Chain Expert Community, both of which generated quite a lot of discussion in which Max suggests that a "safety forecast" makes more sense than a "safety stock." In other words, isn't it better to add a quantity to the forecast that represents an upside against which to hedge your bets, especially for finished goods? The premise behind Max's question is that in most systems safety stock there is a quantity, and it's updated only occasionally, which means that in many situations too much safety stock is being kept. This is especially true in multi-tier distribution systems when the SS is set at each node rather than being considered across all tiers of distribution.More

Supply chain carbon management enters the mainstream
Cost and risk factors may be making the management of carbon dioxide emissions a strategic imperative for many companies, yet they are not the lone critical drivers pushing greenhouse gas emissions reduction up the boardroom agenda. As carbon management and climate change increasingly are seen as a business opportunity to drive top line growth, other factors are emerging beyond risk management to bring about change and embed the issue across the business and into the supply chain. One such factor is the changing expectation of employers as a result of generational and social change.More

M&A deals grow in packaging world
Material Handling & Logistics
Merger and acquisition activity in the North American and global packaging industry continues to show signs of growth, according to a new BMO Capital Markets study, Mergers and Acquisitions in the Packaging Industry: 2010 Annual Deal Review. A key finding was that global deal volume increased 35 percent from 2009 levels to 227 packaging transactions. "The challenging conditions that plagued the M&A market in 2008 and 2009 began to improve in 2010," said Doug Lawson, managing director and head of the BMO Capital Markets Packaging Group.More

Finding talent isn't enough
Material Flows
President Barack Obama was in Cleveland recently for a small business summit. With all the reports in the national news about labor unrest and the debate over collective bargaining, it was interesting to hear that many of the employers participating in the summit were more worried about just finding good workers, let alone what they were going to pay them. Several attendees complained that they needed a better pool of talent from which to hire. But Obama noted that some regions of the country are benefiting from business/education partnerships that match skills to the opportunities in their region.More

You can expect to see many more RFID innovations in 2011
The huge surge of item-level tagging in 2010 has produced an intense renewed interest in EPC/UHF RFID. This is resulting in an increase in R&D investment by many firms, which will bear fruit in 2011. Expect to see significant new innovations and cost reductions in the RFID world this year.More

Mobile shrink-wrap service comes to you
DC Velocity
Have an oversized shipment that needs protection from the elements while in transit or in outdoor storage? Industrial-grade shrink wrap may be the answer. But that raises another question: How do you wrap, say, a large load of machinery or construction materials that are too big for the wrapping equipment typically used in warehouses? Let the shrink wrap come to you, say executives at Fast Wrap, an unusual service that performs on-site wrapping of almost anything.More

Top 5 challenges to cross-border trade with Mexico
Material Handling & Logistics
Companies within the United States long have looked to Mexico to expand manufacturing operations, whether by directly owning and controlling operations in Mexico, or working with outsourced and contract manufacturers. Mexico's proximity to the U.S. and its long track record of providing high-quality inexpensive labor and resources make it an attractive location. Mexican manufacturing is an integral part of the value chain for many commodities from agriculture to high-tech. The end-to-end assembly sometimes is completed within Mexico, but more commonly the process spans multiple countries.More

Oregon bans DecaBDE in pallets
Do the plastic pallets you use contain decabrominated diphenyl ether? Decabrominated diphenyl ether (often referred to as DecaBDE or deca) is one of a group of commonly used "brominated flame retardants." These polybrominated diphenyl ethers have raised concerns for public health experts because animal studies have shown that PBDEs can affect brain development and function, disrupt endocrine, reproductive and immune systems and possibly cause cancer. Now, Oregon has joined other states (Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Illinois, Washington and Massachusetts) in banning some or all PBDEs.More

John Westerveld: A great school assignment due in October but submitted in December fails! It's the same in supply chain
The 21st Century Supply Chain
We all need to get results in our day-to-day activities. But if you think about it, getting results almost always has a time component to it. Think back to your school days. Finishing an assignment was a result. But if the assignment was due Oct. 10 and you handed it in at the end of December, it didn't matter how good the work was, you failed. Supply chain is like that, only more so. Your customers want their orders confirmed and their goods delivered on-time — or you fail. I think we all can agree that the time frame in which customers expect their answers is shrinking, too. They expect to know within the day, sometimes within the hour if you can accept the order. To succeed you need to get results fast — you need to get rapid results!More