June. 16, 2011

Getting ready for 2012...

Do you have an idea for the 2012 conference? What topic do you want to see presented in 2012? Do you know of a facility that would make a great tour for conference attendees? Please let us hear from you. Send your suggestions to conference@werc.org. Interested in presenting? Send your presentation proposals using the Call for Presentations form.More

Make safety training magnetic — and stick to it
Material Flows
Material handlers see their fair share of carnage on the job. Injuries from improper operation of lift trucks are among the most common safety issues. Go to OSHA's website and you'll find hundreds of press releases detailing the consequences of employers and employees failing to take powered industrial truck safety seriously. You'll also find some interesting stats. According to OSHA, more than 145,000 people work in about 7,000 warehouses. Talk about carnage, the fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average for all industries. In addition to the unsafe use of lift trucks, OSHA identifies the following as the most common warehousing hazards.More

Does your conveyor need a tune-up?
DC Velocity
Maybe output has slipped a bit. Or the conveyor system has started to jam once in awhile. Or productivity isn't quite what you believe it could be. Count those among the signs that it's time to conduct a professional audit of your conveyor system. A conveyor audit is not an especially intimidating task. It just means taking a careful look at all the pieces — mechanical, electrical, software, etc. — and making sure they're running the way they should both as components and as parts of a system.More

Inventory restocking arrives earlier, lasts longer
The Journal of Commerce
U.S. shippers moved more freight than normal in the first quarter, as a wave of inventory restocking hit earlier than in 2010, according to a shipper survey.More

Lift trucks — for real
Material Handling & Logistics
Today's lift truck advances are driven by practical realities gleaned by OEMs and distributors anxious to provide the answers to their customers’ business needs. The biggest things happening in the lift truck world these days are happening on the customer side, not at the OEM. Sure, there's plenty of new product being pumped out by the lift truck vendors, but that pump is primed more these days by changes in the customers' business than by what marketers think they can sell. Take it from a marketer.More

Do you know your total cost?
Industrial Distribution
As companies look for alternative solutions to supply chain assets around the globe, two issues have emerged as the primary reagents for these changes: the desire to be closer to the customer, and the need for more complex analyses of the total cost of production. More

What it takes to be a leader
DC Velocity
Art van Bodegraven and Kenneth B. Ackerman write, "So much really good and insightful material has been published about the essence of genuine leadership that we're left shaking our heads whenever we encounter leaders who obviously just chewed the books' covers when they should have been reading and taking notes. People generally think about the subject of leadership as a corporate-level concern — and it is. But it's also highly relevant to how we do our jobs in the world of supply chain management. The basics are the basics, whether applied to the entire organization or to an important component part.More

New Jersey company seeks to market passive sensor RFID tags
RFID Journal
New Jersey wireless systems company RFID Sensor Systems has begun meeting with potential partners to market its new passive ultrahigh-frequency EPC Gen 2 RFID tags that include various sensors and can transmit sensor data without the use of a battery. The firm developed the technology to provide end users with small, inexpensive RFID sensor tags that do not require battery replacement. One of the two tags is designed for cardiopulmonary monitoring by health care organizations, while the other is a temperature-monitoring tag that can be used to track temperatures in real time, as well as maintain a temperature history for logistics and other industries, when transporting such temperature-sensitive products as fresh produce.More

OSHA can now subpoena safety audits
Material Handling & Logistics
Last month, a federal district court ruled that OSHA has the right to subpoena safety audits and other records prepared by an employer's insurance carrier. The court also ordered the carrier to testify about the records. The court's decision serves as a reminder that OSHA continues to aggressively wield its enforcement authority, and that safety audits, internal safety reports, and related documents — even when prepared by an insurance company or an outside consultant — eventually may end up in OSHA's hands.More

Report: Sustainability surveys eating up company time
Environmental Leader
Requests for company sustainability data are often redundant and take up considerable time, up to the equivalent of two full-time staff members, according to a report by the National Association for Environmental Management. In "Driving ESG Reporting Progress through Dialogue," NAEM says that as the type and number of sustainability surveys continues to increase, the task of responding is consuming significant resources without a clear value proposition for the participating companies. The number of environmental, social and governance ratings has risen from about 20 in the year 2000 to more than 100 in 2010.More

UPS service aims for more efficient 'reverse logistics'
UPS has unveiled a reverse logistics service that aims to allow retailers and other business better track high-value product returns. The service, dubbed Returns Exchange, is an example of a supply chain aid that can cut down on CO2 emissions. It's the first service of its kind in North America. Something as simple as on pickup for deliveries and returns can save on fuel and boost efficiencies. According to UPS, the Returns Exchange is focused on the high-tech, health care and retail verticals — specifically high-value goods worth more than $250. In a nutshell, a UPS driver delivers a replacement item while picking up a return, say a replacement smartphone or laptop.More

Social responsibility in the supply chain
Material Flows
If you have the most popular brand name on the planet, if your products consistently rank at the very top of the "most desirable" list of tech gadgets, and if a much-publicized analyst ranking says you're the top supply chain in the world, then what do you do for an encore? If you're Apple, the first thing you should do is thank your lucky stars that people have short attention spans. For the third year in a row, Apple ended up No. 1 in a list of the top 25 supply chains, an annual ranking that analyst firm Gartner inherited a year ago when it acquired AMR Research.More

'Hoppy hour' a hit at WERC conference
DC Velocity
Educational conferences generally are serious business — sometimes so serious they can get a little, well, boring. The Warehousing Education and Research Council's recent annual conference proved an exception. At last month's event in Orlando, Fla., more than 60 attendees purchased tickets — and risked having their expense reports denied — to attend WERC's first-ever "Beer 'n Bull" session. This unusual event took a lighthearted look at the "contributions" hops and barley have made to warehousing and vice versa. While sampling locally brewed beverages, attendees contemplated the fact that the first commercial refrigeration unit was commissioned by the brewing industry — and therefore, refrigerated logistics might not exist today if not for beer.More

Strategy for improving supply chain, logistics precision
Offshore service companies traditionally have faced formidable supply chain, inventory and logistics challenges as their work takes them to some of the world's most remote locations. Recent price pressures have added new complexity to the equation. Oracle's Charles Karren looks at how one company is leveraging expanded business intelligence to surmount these challenges and improve supplier performance as well as inventory and logistics management.More

What makes a strategic relationship versus a tactical relationship?
The 21st Century Supply Chain
Monique Rupert writes, "I have opined on this topic before, but I frequently come back to it in my current role as vice president of professional services and that is what constitutes a strategic vendor/customer relationship. This topic is on my mind today based on feedback from one of my customers whom we asked how they defined a strategic relationship. They stated that a strategic relationship is one where the vendor understands all of the customer's business issues and proactively develops action plans around those issues either using the vendor product or not. To do this requires a deeply skilled resource who understands the customer's industry and supply chain as well as someone well versed in our product and best practices."More