Direct From Source – The Future Of Drop Shipping

We have been following DROP SHIPPING right from the first time we heard the term. We have heard many definitions and at first it sounded great. Then we realized that we still had an expensive distribution center between the factory and the customer. “Drop shipping” seemed like a synonym  for “middle man”. Let’s review where we are at, then propose a bold new strategy.

First of all, lets break “home delivery” out from “drop ship”. Today, retailers fulfill these orders from their current distribution network, built for replenishing stores with pallets and truckloads of product. But this VENDOR-to-RETAILER-to-CONSUMER supply chain is inefficient, with extra everything, higher inventory, and slower cash cycle times. How about fulfilling your retail customers’ eCommerce orders directly from your distribution centers?  Better yet, ship from the factory. In the days when CPG manufacturers were doing long manufacturing runs of a few SKUs per day, there was no room at the plant to store product awaiting shipment. Today, manufacturers are doing shorter runs of varied SKUs, so quantities are small enough to ship direct.

Factories need to have the space and physical characteristics to stage large volumes of product. On the systems side, transportation management systems and the carriers themselves need to be flexible. For retail orders, you may not know until a day or two before whether product will be fulfilled from the factory or the warehouse. Systems need to be smart enough to match demand with available supply at the factory, and carriers need to have equipment available on shorter notice.

3PLs are uniquely positioned to help retailers bridge the gap to an omni-channel shopping environment with their expertise in these key capabilities: inventory visibility, optimized fulfillment, perfect packaging. But 3PLs are all hungry. They all want to be all things to the customer. Some are good at small packages and want to add LCL. All have less than perfect coverage of the World.


2015 US Golf Open and Three New Courses Selected For Future Opens

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – In the realm of golf accomplishments, winning the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year is almost as rare as winning all four professional major championships in a career. That reflects both the feat itself and the players who have accomplished it.

With his dramatic victory at Chambers Bay, Jordan Spieth became only the sixth player to accomplish the former. Four of the others are icons, and all of them are Hall of Famers. To achieve what Craig Wood (1941), Ben Hogan (1951 and 1953), Arnold Palmer (1960), Jack Nicklaus (1972) and Tiger Woods (2002) did puts Spieth in select company. Only a slightly smaller club has accomplished the career Grand Slam: Gene Sarazen, Hogan, Gary Player, Nicklaus and Woods.

“Those names are the greatest that have ever played the game, and I don’t consider myself there,” Spieth said. “But certainly I’m off to the right start in order to make an impact on the history of the game.”

That is an understatement. Spieth, 21, of Dallas, is the youngest winner of the U.S. Open since Bob Jones in 1923. He is the first since Sarazen in 1922 to win two majors before turning 22.

To give credit to another golf legend, one other player since the Masters began in 1934 won the first two majors of the year. In 1949, Sam Snead won at Augusta National and then triumphed at the PGA Championship, which was held that season in late May, prior to the U.S. Open. Snead nearly made it three in a row in the U.S. Open at Medinah, losing to Cary Middlecoff by one.

Hogan is the only player to win the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in the same year, pulling off the “Triple Crown” in 1953 in his only appearance in the British Open. He was not able to play in that year’s PGA Championship due to a scheduling conflict.

The British Open was not contested in 1941 due to World War II, denying Wood an opportunity had he chosen to play. However, Palmer and Nicklaus came tantalizingly close to winning a third major in succession.

In 1960, with the possibility of a modern Grand Slam being talked about widely for the first time, Palmer lost by a stroke to Kel Nagle in the British Open at St. Andrews. A dozen years later, it was Nicklaus’ turn at Muirfield. The Golden Bear, playing conservatively, trailed Lee Trevino by six strokes after 54 holes before an aggressive 66 in the final round. Nicklaus missed four putts of 15 feet or less on the final nine but still would have earned a spot in a playoff if not for Trevino’s chip-in for par on the 71st hole.

Woods didn’t come nearly as close at Muirfield when he had a chance after Masters and U.S. Open victories in 2002. He trailed by only two through 36 holes, but playing in some of the worst weather the Open has ever seen – a cold, windy, heavy rain – Woods shot an 81 in the third round to fall out of contention.  A closing 65 was too little, too late to resurrect Woods’ Grand Slam hopes.

Spieth will attempt to do what those greats couldn’t do at St. Andrews. He has played the Old Course once, with the USA Walker Cup Team in 2011 prior to the matches at Royal Aberdeen.

“I remember walking around the clubhouse. It’s one of my favorite places in the world,” Spieth said. “I [saw] paintings of royalty playing golf, and it was dated 1460-something. I’m thinking, ‘Our country was discovered in 1492, and they were playing golf here before anyone even knew that the Americas existed.’ And that really amazed me and helped me realize exactly how special that place is.”

Fifty-five years after Palmer crossed the Atlantic looking to go 3-for-3 in majors, Spieth will look to make history at a place that boasts so much of it.

“There are certainly things that I can improve on from this week,” Spieth said. “I can strike the ball better than I did this week. I can get more positive. I can improve in all aspects of my game, I believe that. It’s just about now looking to St. Andrews and everything prior. How are we going to best prepare for it and how are we going to fine-tune. It’s just fine-tuning, it’s nothing major.”



USGA announces three future sites for U.S. Open


The Country Club is getting its first U.S. Open in three decades, and Los Angeles Country Club is set to host its first major championship.

The USGA announced three sites for the U.S. Open on Wednesday, including a return to Pinehurst No. 2. It effectively alternates the U.S. Open between the East Coast and prime-time TV of California for at least a seven-year stretch.

The U.S. Open will go to The Country Club in 2022, the course outside Boston that was the scene of perhaps the most important golf championship in American history. It’s where Francis Ouimet won a playoff over British titans Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. The upset put golf on the front pages of newspapers.

Curtis Strange won the last U.S. Open in Brookline in 1988. The last big event there was the Ryder Cup in 1999 that featured the great American comeback under captain Ben Crenshaw.

The newcomer is an old classic — the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club, which gets the U.S. Open in 2023. It will be the first time the U.S. Open is held in Los Angeles since Ben Hogan won at Riviera in 1948.

L.A. North is on the other side of the 405 freeway near Beverly Hills. George C. Thomas redesigned the course in 1927, and Gil Hanse restored it five years ago.

“We’re in for a real treat,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “It will be a wide U.S. Open. The course will have generous fairways, and it will be firm and fast. And it will be great to take the U.S. Open to the second-largest city in the country.”

Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina gets its fourth U.S. Open in 2024 as it becomes a regular part of the U.S. Open rotation. Martin Kaymer won in 2014, and Michelle Wie won a week later when the USGA played the men’s and women’s Opens in back-to-back week. The USGA did not mention whether it will try another doubleheader.

The U.S. Open starts its East Coast-West Coast rotation in 2018 at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island. From there it goes to Pebble Beach in 2019, Winged Foot in New York in 2020, Torrey Pines in San Diego in 2021, The Country Club in 2022, Los Angeles in 2023 and Pinehurst in 2024.

That’s as far out as the U.S. Open is planned, and even nine years out is a long time for typical USGA planning.

Ahead of the U.S. Opens, Pinehurst No. 2 will host the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2017 and the U.S. Amateur in 2019. LA North will have the Walker Cup in 2017.

See more about other U.S. Golf Opens

Maloney identifies challenges to Second Avenue subway project

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) and other elected officials have identified what they termed the five most serious challenges to the ontime completion of the Second Avenue subway and warned delays could bring ruinous money problems to the enormous project.

Maloney presided at a news conference at 72nd Street and Second Ave. amid the noise of construction July 1 and enumerated what she said were the top five challenges – in reverse order of concern.

5. 69th Street entrance to the subway.

4. Installation of tracks.

3,. Electrical work.

2. Keeping the project on budget

1. 86th Street entrance.

When the first phase is done, the new subway line from 96th Street will link up with the Q train tracks at 63 rd Street and then on through Times Square, Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Second Avenue subway is expected to carry 200,000 riders a day, siphoning off straphangers from the crowded Lexington Avenue line to Grand Central, where Long Island Rail Road trains will deliver passengers from Queens and Long Island to the East Side as an alternative to Penn Station. The East Side Access project cannot happen until the Second Avenue subway begins to draw riders from the 4, 5 and 6, which carry 40 percent of the city’s subway commuters every day.

“While the construction is still on schedule, I am concerned that these challenges could pose serious challenges for completing the Second Avenue subway as scheduled in December 2016,” Maloney said. “The completion of Phase One is of the utmost importance for my constituents and I was proud to help provide $1.3 billion in federal funding for the project, but we need to continue to monitor construction to help keep the momentum going.”

City Councilman Daniel Garodnick (D-Manhattan) agreed.

“The Second Avenue subway is almost here – but not quite,” Garodnick said.

“We need to remain vigilant to ensure it stays on schedule with no detours. Congresswoman Maloney has identified several areas of concern and we are counting on the MTA to address them.”

Maloney’s information came from a report by the MTA, which said June 22 that the 59th Street entrance to the 72nd Street entrance was moved from a storefront at 301 East 69th Street to the sidewalk because technical issues could not be resolved. The result was a delay in entrance project.

The MTA reported that the installation of tracks seemed to be on schedule.

As for electrical work, the MTA said it must be installed by December 2016.

The 86th Street entrance is badly behind, however, “and could affect revenue service,” the agency warned.

The MTA said delays could boost construction costs from $35 million per month to $45 million per month, “seriously eating into planned budget contingenc­ies.”

The agency has asked the contractor to increase manpower, work extended hours, double shifts and work weekends in order to get back on schedule.”

A Great Weekend For Rail Fans in Southern France

On the weekend of July 18/July 19 there was a fantastic agenda for railfans. It was held in St André les Alpes, France.

A steam train (Train des Pignes à Vapeur) ran several trips to Thorame Gare.

annot st André les Alpes 2015 Steam Train 03

There was a great model railroad show in the village of St André les Alpes. There was something for everyone. We bought several postcard-sized paintings from artist Geneviève Aujoulat.

In “real life, Ms. Aujoulat is a “chef de train” for the Chemin de Fer de Provence railroad. This narrow-gauge railroad runs from Nice to Digne.

Finally there was a model railroad exhibit run by the IETB.

This fantastic exhibit included a G-Scale garden railroad and an inside HO-Scale layout.

G Scale Railroad
G Scale Railroad
HO Scale Railroad
HO Scale Railroad

Does The View You Are Seeing Tell The Whole Story?

Hmmm! We have a Supply Chain Control Tower, we see EVERYTHING. Yes, we made a list of every element in our supply chain. Now we find that not all the data feeds are  Integrated!!!
It is not a monumental task to roam around a company and fill out a list of files available from existing systems to add to what is available in your Control Tower. The magic is to try and coordinate/integrate them! The technologies that create these files never seem to be the same and prove difficult to integrate. There might only be a similarity at a higher level. Sometimes many files are created and will require a lot of effort sorting through redundant data. These are sometimes termed “assemblies”.

Then you will find other data feeds that are created by related systems. Some of these systems are purchased and others have been created in-house. And yes, they depend on a higher-level integration effort of one kind or another. So why are they still not right and don’t fit into the perfect scheme of things?

  • Different technologies
  • Lots of redundant data
  • Not cross-functional (obviously not because they were created in a “silo”)

The conclusion we are working towards is that every data element that we will be displaying in our control tower MUST be based on common definitions.

  • Every component (business unit, warehouse, etc) in the supply chain has a unique identifier.
  • Every data element (purchase order, invoice and on and on) has a unique definition all the way across the supply chain.

Subway riders rip Andrew Cuomo for MTA funding by griping at cardboard replica of governor

The real Gov. Cuomo was nowhere to be found, so subway riders fumed at a cardboard replica instead.


The Cuomo cardboard cutout stopped at the Times Square subway station on Thursday to get a taste of the rush-hour traffic.
The Cuomo cardboard cutout stopped at the Times Square subway station on Thursday to get a taste of the rush-hour traffic.

Cuomo and state lawmakers left Albany this year without figuring out a way to plug the $14 billion hole in the MTA’s five-year plan to fix and replace aging equipment, boost the number of trains at rush hour and continue building the Second Avenue subway and other megaprojects.

Massive El Niño growing, say models

A massive El Niño that can be seen on Japan’s Himawari-8 Weather Satellite could mean the beginning of the end to California’s historic drought.

There is growing evidence California could see an even stronger El Niño event this winter than the 1997 one that caused massive flooding across Northern California.

Stunning images from Japan’s Himawari 8 Weather Satellite, just activated Tuesday, show what could become a historic El Niño in full bloom.

In recent days, cyclones and typhoons, including one mammoth storm heading toward China with cloud cover the size of Texas, have helped shift the trade winds from west to east, pushing warm sub-surface water toward the coast of South America and making it all but certain an El Niño event will last at least through the fall.

“What we want is just enough water to come in slowly enough for the watersheds to hold that,” “The nice thing is that so many of them are dry that they have the capacity, but the flip side of that is, as anybody knows in a desert climate, is that terrain is just parched and so a lot of that can be runoff if those storms are too warm.”

In this El Niño year, if the models hold up — and climatologists said they seem almost certain it will — it could soon be the beginning of the end of California’s historic drought, even if it may come at a price.

“Yes, El Niño’s great, and it could provide us with relief and replenish some of these reservoirs,”  “The flip side of that is it could mean catastrophic flooding, too.”




Connecticut In Search For Contractor To Run Trains From New Haven To Springfield

Even if the state can get construction of the troubled New Haven to Springfield commuter rail project back on course, there will still be a critical question lingering: Who is going to run the trains?

The answer is virtually certain to affect fares, service quality and possibly timetables on a project that several Connecticut communities are counting on to spur residential and business development near their rail stations.

The state transportation department in April began seeking proposals from prospective contractors, but it’s not clear that anyone is stepping forward to bid. The DOT on Thursday declined to say whether it has received any formal proposals.

The most likely candidate would be Amtrak, which already holds the contract to operate Shore Line East for Connecticut. More important, Amtrak owns the entire 62-mile rail line between New Haven and Springfield, and currently runs a limited schedule of intercity trains.


But last month it was revealed that Amtrak is locked in an acrimonious dispute with Connecticut over who will pay to upgrade the line to accommodate high-frequency commuter service.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wrote to top federal transportation officials that Amtrak has mismanaged construction and impeded efforts to control costs, concluding: “The result is that the project is grossly over budget and significantly behind schedule.”

Trains? How quaint. Why don’t we build a dedicated busway between Hartford and Springfield? Or even better a monorail! These are needed because it is almost impossible to get to and from those two cities now….(sarcasm off).
at 7:36 AM July 06, 2015

Add a comment See all comments

The other seemingly obvious contender is Metro-North, which runs trains from New Haven to New York City under contract with Connecticut. But the railroad’s president, Joseph Giulietti, said that Metro-North hasn’t submitted a proposal and isn’t working on one.

“What Connecticut has put out is that they’d like to have a bid operation,” said Giulietti, whose railroad is operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a New York-based quasi-public corporation that operates mass transit in New York City and surrounding areas.


Unlike private contractors, Metro-North doesn’t typically bid on service contracts. Its arrangement to run trains on the New Haven line is based on a cost-sharing agreement between New York and Connecticut, not on a fixed-rate system.

“I’m not saying that we’d never bid on anything. … It would require a lot more examination,” Giulietti said.

Connecticut officials say they wouldn’t be surprised if Metro-North doesn’t get into the competition, particularly since it already oversees a large network of operations and is in a rebuilding campaign.

Over the winter, Transportation Commissioner James Redeker told state legislators that the New Haven to Springfield contract might be an opportunity for Connecticut to explore working with private rail contractors. Many states, counties and cities in the country hire private companies to operate their trains, light rail lines and bus fleets, with varying degrees of success

Anticipating a big cost increase from Amtrak, Texas and Oklahoma last summer explored bringing in a new operator to run daily service between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City. But that apparently went nowhere, and the states are now running on a month-to-month contract with Amtrak while trying to reduce operational costs.

The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority hired Keolis, a private company with contractors across the nation, to run its commuter rail lines last year. The operation was dogged by late trains and cancellations all winter. The MBTA fined Keolis $900,000, the governor pressed an oversight board to resign and one rider this spring attempted to launch a class action lawsuit against Keolis on behalf of all passengers who bought monthly rail passes during the winter.

Creating high-frequency commuter service along the Springfield to New Haven corridor has been planned for more than a decade, and Malloy has made the project, called The Hartford Line, a cornerstone of his statewide transportation revitalization.

Communities such as Enfield and Meriden have been lobbying hard to get the project going, with hopes that convenient rail service will create demand for new housing and businesses around stations.

“Like the I-95 corridor across southern Connecticut, the I-91 corridor through the center of Connecticut is a vital artery for economic development and jobs growth,” Malloy said when the state began seeking service proposals in April. “Enhancing commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield will benefit commuters and their employers, and will reduce traffic congestion by taking cars off the road, with the added bonus of reduced pollution.”

The plan is to operate trains every half-hour between Hartford and New Haven during weekday rush hours and every hour during the rest of the day. Less-frequent service would be available on the northern end of the line from Hartford to Springfield.

Stations already exist at New Haven, Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Springfield, and more are planned, for North Haven, Newington, West Hartford and Enfield. Malloy has said he wants trains to start running at the end of 2016, but acknowledged in his complaint about Amtrak that the schedule is in jeopardy because of cost overruns and delays.

Scorecards vs; Continuous Compliance Monitoring

Monitoring vendors for compliance is, obviously, a key to both good business and good business relationships. Relationships between retailers and vendors are, at best, complicated and difficult; at worst, as many buyers have painfully learned, the partnership can become chaotic and nearly impossible.
Most fall somewhere in the middle, and a key to success requires cultivating the best vendors while culling out those who fall below par. Keeping the best suppliers can be, at first, a simple matter: pay the right price, and be a good partner yourself. But making sure the top performers remain the top performers over time requires a time investment. Companies with smaller supply chains can accomplish this on their own by simply monitoring and assessing each supplier periodically.

Many retailers have traditionally used vendor scorecards to evaluate performance. For small and medium-size supply chains, these can work fairly well. Typically, the scorecards measure, in a shorthand fashion, how well the supplier has met the processes and procedures agreed upon at the outset of the partnership.

This approach is limited, however, in many ways. The benefits of a single, formal, standardized report belie some glaring shortcomings: scorecards are almost always too generalized, and too late, to be useful in resolving issues between retailers and suppliers.

Fortunately, other processes have been developed that enable buyers to indentify and fix problems before they show up in the vendor scorecard. Not surprisingly – because continuous monitoring is an enormous, complex task for most retailers – outsourced systems have developed to provide an efficient method of compliance monitoring.