Archive for March 2012

Guest Commentary: Topco Associates: Executing Transportation Management with Sophistication

Many industries have complex supply chains, but the food and beverage industry has some of the most unique issues. A great example of sophisticated transportation execution is Topco Associates, one of the largest retail grocery cooperatives in the United States. Topco provides sourcing, innovation, packaging, label management, quality assurance and nutritional assistance through store brand and private label services. The true competitive advantage Topco provides to members is based on the sourcing and aggregation of […]

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Future Electronics Implements TMS and GTM to Drive Customer Service Excellence

Future Electronics is a world leader and innovator in distributing and marketing semiconductors and passive, interconnect and electro-mechanical components. Future is a private company, headquartered in Montreal, Canada. The company differentiates itself by providing an exemplary standard of customer service through product marketing, technical solution support, in-depth inventory, professional selling procedures, and highly-reliable distribution systems. For the company’s supply chain group, this means it must hold a relatively large available-to-sell inventory. Future supports this with […]

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Guest Commentary: Retailers and Manufacturers Must Rethink their Planning and Fulfillment Strategies

This is an interesting time to be a supply chain professional. We are seeing a convergence of revolutionary trends that are causing retailers and their manufacturing suppliers to truly re-think how they approach their planning and fulfillment strategies. Here are some examples: Multi-Channel Retailing. Not long ago, a retailer’s transportation focus was on loading trucks and shipping into distribution centers and stores. The recent increase in parcel activity due to direct consumer fulfillment is changing […]

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An “Undercover Boss” Works in a Warehouse

I had never watched an episode of the popular television show “Undercover Boss,” but when I saw in a commercial that they were taking their cameras inside a warehouse, I decided to tune in. Sam Taylor, the CEO of Oriental Trading Company (OTC), posed as a new warehouse employee. OTC is the nation’s largest direct-to-consumer retailer of party supplies. Direct-to-consumer distribution centers (DCs) require a high volume of unit picks, unlike most other DCs that […]

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Guest Commentary: How to Compete in the Logistics Big Leagues

The weather is warming and trees are blooming. It must be time for baseball! Every year at this time I look over the rosters of my favorite Major League Baseball (MLB) teams and compare how they spend their money to compete and win. The season-long game played in the front offices of major league franchises can be almost as much fun to follow as the game on the field. Which team will find a way […]

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Ocean Contract Management is Complex

One choice international shippers face is whether to sign long-term contracts with ocean carriers or use freight forwarders and pay spot market rates. In the current environment, spot market rates are often lower, but shippers may face a service penalty when capacity tightens. Just as airlines overbook, so do ocean carriers. However, while airlines reward those who give up their spot, ocean carriers don’t. In an overbooking situation, ocean carriers are likely to reward shippers […]

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Guest Commentary: Four Ways 3PLs Can Leverage Supply Chain Technology to Attract Clients and Drive Profitability

Turning a profit in a cost-conscious industry like third-party logistics (3PL) is a challenging feat. Businesses are increasingly turning to logistics services providers to run their manufacturing, warehousing and transportation operations more efficiently and cheaply than they can run it themselves. So 3PLs need to run as lean an operation as possible, while at the same time making sure they’re getting paid for each and every service they provide. Tall order! When talking to 3PL […]

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Competing on Supply Chain Analytics

In 2007, the book “Competing on Analytics” by Tom Davnport and Jeanne Harris became a business bestseller. The premise of the book was that companies could create a competitive advantage by using Business Intelligence (BI) tools in smart ways. One advanced use of BI involves running a supply chain related experiment and then using a BI tool to measure the results. Supply Chain Management Review published an excellent article titled “The Case for Infrastructure Investment: […]

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Guest Commentary: Transportation Compliance Doesn’t Cost, It Pays

Traditional thinking is that government transportation compliance programs, such as hours of service (HOS) regulations, cost companies money. If the focus of your compliance efforts is solely to meet the regulation, then I concur. But, that approach is a lost opportunity to reduce operational costs through better driver and vehicle performance. Instead of just meeting the regulations, fleet operators need to look beyond to the benefits of telematics and advanced tracking systems to change driver […]

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