Oct. 14, 2010

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The case for supply chain risk management
With the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, risk management has become a hot topic at both conference tables and water coolers. Aside from this stark reminder, effective risk management strategies are increasingly important in today's marketplace. As supply chains have become leaner and more efficient at reducing waste, the result has been greater risk for supply chain disruption. Offshore manufacturing, global outsourcing and procurement, variable supply and demand, and multinational regulations are pushing companies to develop risk management strategies that go beyond company doors to include suppliers, customers and the civil public.More

Parcel wars: Carriers, consultants headed for a showdown
DC Velocity
For the past year, a quiet war has been waged between the two giant parcel carriers, FedEx Corp. and UPS Inc., and a cluster of self-styled parcel consultants whose mission for nearly a quarter of a century has been to help their clients save money when shipping with one or both of the behemoths. The stakes are high, but they are completely lopsided. It is no secret that FedEx and UPS would rather work directly with shippers than through third-party specialists who have a deep knowledge of how the carriers price their services, and who use that know-how to help their customers save money.More

Conveyor orders up almost 20 percent
Material Handling & Logistics
The Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association reports that overall industry orders (bookings) for the first six months of 2010 increased 19.6 percent compared to the same period in 2009, with total orders of $3.46 billion. CEMA estimates industry billed sales (shipments) of $3.09 billion in the same period. In the Bulk Conveying area, orders were up 15.6 percent and shipments were up 0.6 percent. Unit Handling orders were up 23.1 percent and shipments were down 5.9 percent.More

Cass shipment index rises in September
DC Velocity
A key monthly index of U.S. shipping activity rose in September, with one sub-component reaching a level not seen since May 2008, according to the firm publishing the index. The index, published by freight audit and payment firm Cass Information Systems, is based on the expenditures and shipments of Cass's clients. In September, the freight expenditure index came in at 2.031, up from 1.97 in August and the first time the expenditures index has surpassed the 2.00 mark since the spring of 2008, before the financial crisis hit with full force. The shipment index reached 1.116, up from 1.097 in August, Cass said.More

Recognition: Why metrics matter
Inside Supply Management
As supply management professionals, we attend conferences on gaining a seat at the executive table. We read articles about how the procurement team can become a trusted business partner within the company. As supply management leaders, we train our teams on strategic thinking, emotional intelligence and cross-cultural management. Yet, often the recognition we seek still seems to elude us — even though many of our teams influence more than 50 percent of our organizations' expenses and have significant bottom-line impact, all while contributing to innovation and top-line growth. The question is, are we partly to blame?More

10 steps to optimizing your supply chain for a greener planet
Sustainability initiatives are gaining traction with manufacturers. Driven by anticipated regulations, consumer demand and brand image pressures, companies of all sizes are extolling their environmental and corporate social responsibility programs. On the flip side, the consequences of not being socially responsible or not environmentally friendly can be harsh. Tony Hayward, BP's recently expelled CEO, can attest to that. Most sustainability efforts today are focused on environmental and social initiatives, such as recycling, reducing resource usage, controlling emissions and contributing to the community — with limited emphasis on the economic aspects of these initiatives.More

Industry just beginning to tap its mobile potential
Field operators at Huntsman Chemical have traded clipboards for handhelds — and have eliminated safety incidents at a rewarding rate. Instead of using pens and paper to record critical field data, Huntsman's operators at its facility at Port Neches, Texas, are using wireless mobility technology to complete operating condition procedures, identify defects on equipment and oversee inspections. Huntsman Chemical is one of a wave of companies that are adopting industrial wireless applications, using the technology to tie together mobility and real-time data. Although wireless has been available for years, only now is it beginning to see widespread adoption.More

Automotive groups agree on RFID guidelines for RTIs
RFID Journal
After five years spent discussing, writing and editing, research members of the global Joint Automotive Industry Forum soon will release RFID guidelines for returnable transport items, such as containers, pallets and other reusable assets, used to transport parts and assemblies through the automotive supply chain. This is being done in an effort to address the lack of an international standard to ensure container visibility between supply chain members, which often leads to lost containers and delayed production.More

As short-term cash and stability concerns fade, supply chain operations can fuel growth and act as competitive advantage
Kennedy Consulting via SupplyChainBrain
The downturn paused most efforts businesses were making to deal with fundamental, long-term challenges and issues facing their supply chain. Now that many feel the most critical short-term challenges posed by the recession are fading, attention is returning to topics that were top of mind pre-downturn. Analysts consider the global financial crisis more of a distraction from — rather than a destruction of — critical initiatives such as sustainability and top-line growth, according to "Supply Chain Management Consulting Marketplace" from Kennedy Consulting Research & Advisory.More

Rampant fraud threat to China's brisk ascent
The New York Times
No one disputes Zhang Wuben's talents as a salesman. Through television shows, DVDs and a best-selling book, he convinced millions of people that raw eggplant and immense quantities of mung beans could cure lupus, diabetes, depression and cancer. For $450, seriously ill patients could buy a 10-minute consultation and a prescription — except Zhang, one of the most popular practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, was booked through 2012. But when the price of mung beans skyrocketed this spring, Chinese journalists began digging deeper.More

Packaging critical for in vitro diagnostics
Healthcare Packaging
Moisture, oxygen and hydrocarbons can threaten the accuracy and consistency of in vitro diagnostic devices. Analyzing urine, saliva and blood samples are critical in determining patient care. That makes it critical for packaging to do its part to maintain the reliability of the in vitro diagnostics used for such samples. In an October 2010 article for IVD Technology, Adrian T. Possumato writes, "IVDs are highly sensitive to changes in their packaging environment. Moisture is typically the biggest degradation threat to IVDs. The largest single contributor to moisture ingress is via imperfections in the seal of the packaging that is supposed to protect the IVD device."More

Logistics news: Review of the 2010 3PL study
Supply Chain Digest
For the 15th year, Dr. John Langley of Georgia Tech, the consultants at Capgemini and participants from other sponsors released the annual 2010 Third-party Logistics report, commonly called the "3PL study" by many in the supply chain and logistics industry. Based on survey data from more than 1,100 shippers and 3PLs, the report covers a wide variety of data and insight on the use of outsourced logistics providers and the relationships between the shippers and 3PLs on a global basis. This year, the report also had focused sections on the use of total landed cost calculation and outsourced logistics practices in the life sciences and "fast moving consumer goods" sectors.More

Little reported amid still wobbly economy, commodity price shocks and supply concerns surging again
Supply Chain Digest
Before the great recession of 2008-09, commodity pricing and availability were among the top supply chain and corporate concerns, pressuring bottom lines and causing companies to make changes in supply chain strategies, from hedging commodity prices to extremely long-term contracts with commodity suppliers to even a return to verticalization. Those concerns were largely eliminated as the recession began, with commodity prices across the board getting hammered to multi-year lows. But commodity prices in most categories are on the march again, along with concerns about future availability, even as most Western economies are struggling with weak recovery and some concerns about deflation.More

High-bay AS/RS solves storage problem for cookware supplier
DC Velocity
A few years back, cookware distributor Meyer Corp. found itself facing the classic growth challenge — at least where its distribution operations were concerned. Although it has been doing business in the United States only since the early '80s, the company, a subsidiary of global cookware giant Meyer Manufacturing, has enjoyed tremendous success in that time. Today, it has grown into one of the largest cookware distributors in the country, marketing such well-known brands as Circulon, Anolon, Farberware, KitchenAid, SilverStone, Rachael Ray and Paula Deen.More

RedPrairie enhances transportation, warehouse management software
RedPrairie Corp. via SupplyChainBrain
RedPrairie Corp. has added features to its transportation management software. As part of the 2010.2 release, the application now includes functionality for optimizing the use of multiple containers on the same move, automating shipment routing to preferred hubs based on required service conditions and matching specific freight dimensions with appropriate equipment. In addition, the vendor has made several usability enhancements to its warehouse management software, in the 2010.2 release of that application. It now includes support for user-defined inventory attributes, allowing for a variety of data formats used to track item characteristics, such as style and luminosity, from point of receipt to point of shipment.More

RFID system targets drug fakes in Nigeria
FiercePharma Manufacturing
An anti-counterfeiting system that lets users verify drugs through RFID technology is the objective of a collaboration among the drug-making technology venture GlobalPCCA, RFID chip maker Verayo and scanner maker SkyeTek. Drugmakers would affix RFID tags to drug packaging and users would scan the tags via pen reader, which provides red-light/green-light verification. The battery-powered system targets counterfeit-swamped Nigeria, according to SecuringPharma.More

Reusable electronic baggage tag powered by RFID
RFID Journal
After several years of meeting with airlines, airports and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, Vanguard ID Systems, a manufacturer of custom-printed bar-coded, magnetic-stripe and RFID cards and key tags, labels and bands, has developed a reusable RFID-enabled luggage tag that includes a battery-free, changeable electronic paper display that shows flight data. The reusable tag, known as a View Tag, employs RFID to transmit an ID number that could be linked to a bag's flight information, as well as display passenger and flight data on the tag itself, using only the energizing power of an RFID reader.More