Lots of news to cover from the last two weeks, so here goes…
- RedPrairie Acquires Leader in Mobile Workforce Management, Vortex Connect
- Transplace and LLamasoft Partner to Provide Enhanced Benchmarking Services and Supply Chain Optimization for Customers
- Accellos and Acumatica Partner Offer Integrated WMS and ERP in the Cloud
- SEC Adopts Rule for Disclosing Use of Conflict Minerals
- Retail Container Imports Expected To Increase 6.3 Percent In August
- Disagreements remain in ILA-USMX labor negotiations (Logistics Management)
- Diesel prices are up for seventh straight week, back over $4 per gallon (Logistics Management)
- Frito-Lay to add 45 electric delivery trucks to California fleet (Los Angeles Times)
- Apple, Foxconn improve China plants, but more to do: audit (Reuters)
- U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Creation of Freight Policy Council
- FMCSA Launches Facebook Page
Along with social media and analytics, mobility is one of the hot trends in supply chain technology these days, and RedPrairie enhanced its mobile capabilities last week by acquiring Toronto-based Vortex Connect, a provider of “best-of-breed mobile workforce management solutions that strengthen business-to-employee (B2E) communications and operations.” According to the press release, the acquisition will add new capabilities to RedPrairie’s Enterprise Workforce Management (EWFM) solution, such as mobile shift management and bidding, mobile communications and operations management, and employee self-service. RedPrairie will also leverage the Vortex acquisition to establish a Mobility Center of Excellence in Toronto that will focus on “utilizing mobility effectively throughout the extended supply chain as well as the application of mobility across RedPrairie’s entire solution footprint.”
And so continues the untethering of the workforce from desktops, laptops, and terminals.
We’ve written several times about the value of using benchmark data in analytics and optimization (see here, here, and here), and how technology and service providers are integrating those elements together, which ties into the partnership announced last week by Transplace and LLamasoft. As stated in the press release, “Transplace will provide LLamasoft with benchmarking data and services based on the company’s strong capabilities in that area and its broad access to inbound and outbound rates. LLamasoft will provide Transplace with access to its industry-leading network optimization software. Customers will benefit from this dynamic combination of data and technology by having access to greater visibility of current market rates and develop effective strategies for improving procurement activities.”
Software without the right data, in the right context, at the right time is just…code.
If you’re a publicly-traded company that manufactures or has “some actual influence over the manufacturing of a product” that contains conflict minerals such as tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten that originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or an adjoining country, then you’re likely affected by a new disclosure rule passed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As reported in a Wall Street Journal article, “the SEC…sharply raised its estimate of the rule’s financial impact, saying it would cost companies a total of $3 billion to $4 billion upfront, plus more than $200 million a year.” Changes were made to the final ruling that would limit the impact on retailers, but some questions remain. Here is a comment by Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy:
“These regulations limit the impact on retailers compared with what was originally proposed but there are some gray areas and we are still assessing what will actually be required. It’s very important that a distinction be made between a retailer who is acting as a manufacturer and has control over what is in a product and the vast majority who do not. While retailers abhor the violence in the Congo, compliance with these regulations could still be extremely difficult and there is considerable debate on whether filing reports with the SEC will make any difference.”
Yet another example of supply chain risk management and the importance of having a detailed understanding of your supply chain.
Speaking of risk management, it seems like negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) are heading in the wrong direction. Here is part of a statement issued by USMX Chairman and CEO James A. Capo:
“USMX and its member companies are disappointed with the uncompromising stand the ILA leadership is taking in the negotiations. The ILA’s posture is contrary to the history of cooperation that has characterized these negotiations in the past and, since 1977, has led to agreements without any disruption to the supply chain and port operations on the East and Gulf coasts.
“Management’s primary goal in these negotiations is to maintain the competitive position and market share of the ports by improving productivity and removing the inefficiencies that threaten the economic viability of the ports…Unfortunately, the ILA leadership has been unwilling to have a meaningful discussion about these archaic practices, among them “low-show” jobs that pay some ILA members for 24 hours of work even if they are only on the job for a few hours a day.”
We all know that “What goes up must come down” — except for oil and fuel prices, where “What comes down must go up” is the rule of thumb. Diesel prices had dropped for 12 consecutive weeks heading into July. Now prices have climbed for seven straight weeks to about $4.03 per gallon (up almost 32 cents from seven weeks ago).
This is a main reason why a growing number of companies are investing in alternative fuel trucks, especially for short-haul and local deliveries (see here and here for related commentary). As reported in the LA Times, Frito-Lay plans to add 45 electric delivery trucks to its fleet in California, bringing the total to 105 electric trucks in the state by the end of the year. Here are some more details from the article:
The trucks are made by Smith Electric Vehicles, a private manufacturer in Kansas City, Mo…The chip company uses the Newton [truck model], which employs Lithium-ion battery cell technology and is designed for urban settings with heavy “stop-and-go” driving.
Frito-Lay…said the electric trucks produce 75% less greenhouse gas than similar diesel-operated vehicles and can travel up to 80 miles on a single battery charge….Frito-Lay declined to say how much it is spending on the vehicles but noted that the investment is “a little higher” than traditional diesel trucks. The snack company [said] that the fuel and maintenance savings over diesel vehicles “make the electric trucks very competitive.” The electric vehicles will save Frito-Lay about 200,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually.
Is it me or are the days getting shorter? Time to enjoy the remaining days of summer. Have a great weekend!
Song of the Week: “The ‘59 Sound” by The Gaslight Anthem. “Did you hear the old gospel choir when they came to carry you over…”
(Note: RedPrarie and Transplace are ARC clients and/or Logistics Viewpoints sponsors).