Aug. 11, 2011

Getting ready for 2012...

Interested in sponsorship and exhibiting? Sales for 2012 are strong and you don't want to miss this opportunity! Contact Gary Master at gmaster@dcvelocity.com or Jim Indelicato at jindelicato@dcvelocity.com.

WERCouncil events

  • Sept. 8, S. Cal WERCouncil Hong Kong: Regional Logistics Hub – the Asian Link in your Global Supply Chain, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 9, N. Carolina WERCouncil Lenovo Facility Tour, 12:30 to 2:45 p.m.
  • Oct. 12, NorthTX WERCouncil 10th Annual Warehousing Resource Convention, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • More

    How to ensure productivity in the warehouse
    Warehouses are struggling to make optimal use of labor and space, while ensuring that efforts to control cost don't compromise their commitment to top-notch customer service. Bob Heaney, senior research analyst for supply chain management with Aberdeen Group, describes the challenges they face. With the economic downturn, companies engaged in heavy cost-cutting, which led to a severe contraction of the labor force. Warehouses were particularly affected. Now, as sales and shipment volumes begin to recover, manufacturers aren't necessarily keeping pace in their hiring. That shortfall "puts more pressure on managers to do more with less," Heaney says.More

    A new paradigm for supply chain management
    DC Velocity
    A new paradigm for supply chain management: To make day-to-day decisions based on the impact on operating profits and not the traditional theme of just reducing operating costs.More

    CEMA: Conveyor index down 5 percent in June, up 1 percent from last year
    Modern Materials Handling
    The Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association reported that its June 2011 Booked Orders Index was 167. Index in June is down 8 points or 5 percent from May 2011's Index of 175. The June 2011 Index represents an increase of 1 percent from the June 2010 Index of 166. June Booked Orders Indexes were 290 for Bulk Handling Equipment and 125 for Unit Handling Equipment. June Billed Sales Indexes were 306 for Bulk Handling Equipment and 166 for Unit Handling Equipment. Because Bulk Handling Systems booked and billed sales are reported quarterly and are averaged back to the two preceding months, the booked and billed indexes for non-quarter ending months for Bulk Handling Equipment and Category X, total of all categories, are adjusted quarterly.More

    Belgian drugmaker uses RFID to help it test its products' stability
    RFID Journal
    A global pharmaceutical firm based in Belgium, with help from systems integrator RFIDea, has created a solution that employs RFID and bar codes to track the movements of more than 70,000 bags of products annually as they undergo testing at the company, which has asked to remain unnamed. The system's development began in 2007, using bar codes and RFID tags, as well as RFIDea's stock inventory management system. Workers scanned a bar-coded label on each product as it arrived for research-and-development stability testing from all of the company's manufacturing sites throughout Europe, and also read an RFID label affixed to the plastic bag in which that product was stored, prior to testing.More

    Should an unsafe worker's job be in jeopardy, too?
    Material Flows
    In my last blog post I noted how hard it is to recruit workers of any kind — particularly young people — into warehousing. Those who do get hired often exhibit an attitude problem about using personal protective equipment like ear plugs or safety glasses. Al Will, who now trains young people in the ways of warehousing, and whom I quoted in that post, followed up with me afterward, adding: "It seems as though we're in a Catch-22. If a company fires workers for PPE noncompliance, they can't readily find replacements." That's why supervisors are sometimes lax in enforcing safety rules. Good material handlers are hard to find.More

    Factors to consider when choosing between manufacturers, systems integrators for conveyor system projects
    Supply Chain Digest
    Recently, Supply Chain Digest took a look at sales channels for conveyor and sortation systems in distribution applications, describing the breakdown of how products and systems get to market, and the dynamics between conveyor manufacturers/OEMS and their various channel partners. Those channels range from pure distributors through the relatively new model of consultant systems integrators, which in design-build approaches to automated systems will design and implement the system but bid out the hardware portions of the system to different manufacturers. Now it's going to explore in more detail the advantages and disadvantages of using a systems integrator versus going direct to a conveyor manufacturer to implement a system in the DC.More

    In today's tight driver market, recruiting drivers is less of an issue than simply holding onto them
    DC Velocity
    In late June, Con-way Truckload, the truckload unit of transport logistics giant Con-way Inc., launched a partnership with a driver training school in Detroit. Under the partnership, students would receive reduced tuition rates while in school and be eligible to have up to one-half of that tuition reimbursed by the company when they graduate. Con-way Truckload then extended an extraordinary carrot: It would waive the traditional "commitment" contract requiring a new driver to remain with the carrier for a specified period or else return the reimbursement. In other words, there was nothing to keep students from taking advantage of the subsidized training then moving on when they earned their commercial license.More

    Why you should think about sustainability like an engineer
    Scott Wicker writes, "If you know anything about engineers, you know we measure everything. Engineers are meticulous, calculated and apply logical thinking to most tasks. Most things we come in contact with and use each day had some kind of engineering behind it. That's the mentality I bring to my role as UPS's first chief sustainability officer and I believe an engineer's approach can be effective in creating a credible sustainability program. Building a strong sustainability program is akin to constructing a building — the same techniques apply."More

    At Surplus, inventory takes just a few minutes
    RFID Journal
    A Surplus clothing store in Montreal is using an RFID solution to reduce its inventory process for jeans, down from a full day's task to just five minutes, thereby allowing the store's management to gain daily inventory updates regarding the approximately 800 pairs of jeans on its shelves. The system, provided by RFID inventory-control company Overheer Systems, consists of an EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency RFID tag attached to each pair of men's jeans, as well as a hand-held RFID reader, with data from each tag read being stored in Overheer's Reflect software-as-a-service solution.More

    Benefits of optimizing the supply chain network and beyond
    The 21st Century Supply Chain
    Martin Buckley writes, "I came across the following article, '10 Guidelines for Supply Chain Network Infrastructure Planning,' in IndustryWeek, which discusses a methodology to reduce supply chain costs through the optimization of the network infrastructure. The authors discuss 10 things to keep in mind when tackling infrastructure optimization, which they say account for 75-80 percent of total supply chain costs. I would like to expand on a couple of these points, focusing on optimizing the supply chain through the use of collaboration, simulation, and scenario comparison utilizing modeling tools."More

    Certifying, rating your sustainability successes
    Environmental Leader
    You are aware of the business arguments for establishing a sustainability or "green" program and are seriously considering or have begun such a program. It is therefore important to plan the proper metrics of your program in order to demonstrate success so that all stakeholders understand the benefits and achievements of your program, be able to compare your program to others, and avoid any accusation of "greenwashing." You need to meet standards that certify your success. This article discusses the proper approach to successful metrics and several rating systems.More

    The first requirement for becoming a great boss
    Harvard Business Review
    Among the many requirements placed on those who take responsibility for the performance of others, there is one that is rarely mentioned. Yet, ironically, it may be the most important because so much else depends on it. That fundamental requirement is courage. We don't just mean the courage to make hard decisions or take tough actions, such as giving difficult feedback, denying a promotion to someone who's good but not good enough, cutting popular but unsuccessful programs, or even laying off people when the economy goes bad.More

    Supply chain lessons from Procter & Gamble
    Supply Chain Digest
    Dan Gilmore writes, "Can we still learn supply chain lessons today from the Efficient Consumer Response era of the early 1990s nearly 20 years later? The answer would be 'yes,' based on a fairly recent book 'The Real Wow Factor' by ex-Procter & Gamble executive Bill Peace, who was there for more than 30 years until his 2007 retirement. The book covers a lot more than just ECR, to be clear. The reality is I have had this book sitting around for a number of months now since Peace sent me a copy earlier this year, and I kept meaning to write a review, but never quite found the right week to do so. That week is now, and I found the book quite worth the fast read that it is, though I wished for a little more detail in one area."More

    Frank Devlin: Automation is on the rise
    Modern Materials Handling
    With the material handling industry's focus on increasing labor productivity, it is no surprise that using automation to accomplish material handling tasks in warehouses and distribution centers is a growing trend. With the help of automation — such as emerging technologies like automated lift trucks and robotics — facility managers are able to redeploy resources and multiply the impact of their existing labor force. Automated lift trucks, a vehicle we refer to as an ALT, are leading the way in automation technology, as they allow for simple, flexible automation solutions without system constraints. These trucks replace manned vehicles in warehouse, distribution, manufacturing and process industries by automating repetitive tasks. They also offer the advantage of being able to be used by an operator as a traditional lift truck.More

    Technology alliance forged to protect cold chain
    Material Handling & Logistics
    One-third of shipped produce is wasted each year, representing $35 billion in annual losses, according to the Intelleflex Corporation. That's why this provider of RFID-based visibility solutions for the food and grocery industry is entering a strategic alliance with The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. These companies have agreed to explore insurance-related opportunities to reduce the amount of produce lost and maintain its overall quality during the distribution process from the grower to the retailer.More

    Be a better global collaborator
    Harvard Business Review
    In today's globalized world, it is essential to know how to collaborate with people from different cultures. While this used to be the case primarily for country managers and those taking on overseas assignments, it now applies to all managers. But exactly how does one learn to become a better global collaborator?More

    Dow transport index plunges 7.3 percent in market sell-off
    DC Velocity
    What a difference a month makes. On July 7, the 20-stock Dow Jones Transport Index hit an all-time closing high of $5,618.25. Four of the 20 stocks in the index—FedEx Corp., Union Pacific Railroad Co., C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., and CSX Corp.—hit 52-week highs. That was then. On Aug. 8, the DJTI plummeted 7.3 percent, declining more than 330 points to $4,363.50, as part of a broad equity market sell-off triggered by concerns over economic weakness in the United States and Europe, and Standard & Poor's Aug. 5 decision to lower its rating on U.S. sovereign debt from AAA to AA+.More

    Transforming the supply chain at Electrocomponents
    Electrocomponents, a distributor of electronic parts and other products, is moving from a traditional, catalog-based, phone-order operation to one that largely depends on e-commerce, says Andrew Lewis, head of global supply chain planning. That has led to some exciting opportunities for demand shaping and demand sensing. For a company that moves 40,000 parcels a day worldwide from its portfolio of half a million products, it simply wouldn't do to continue to be a catalog-based concern. Yet, Electrocomponents, the holding company comprising Allied Electronics in the United States and RS in Europe and Asia Pacific, did just that until it realized that a complete transformation of its supply chain was necessary.More

    Why UPS takes its role as a green supply chain seriously
    Recently, United Parcel Service published its ninth annual sustainability report. As has been the case with UPS for some time, each successive report finds the company digging in deeper and broader in terms of measuring its impacts. This year is no different: In addition to continuing to report detailed data on its carbon footprint and energy use, UPS has stepped it up another level to report its water impacts for the first time, using the WBCSD's water footprinting tool to assess how much of its global operations are at risk from water scarcity.More