Amazon to build giant fulfillment center next to BNSF intermodal site

Amazon.com Inc. has plans to build a 800,000-square-foot fulfillment center adjacent to BNSF Railway Co.‘s Logistics Park Kansas City intermodal facility in Edgerton, Kan., the online retailer and state officials announced last week.

The fulfillment center, which is expected to employ 1,000 full-time workers, will pick, pack and ship large retail items to customers, according to a press release issued by Amazon.com.

The project is a joint effort of BNSF, the Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas Department of Transportation, NorthPoint Development, KCP&L, city of Edgerton and Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp.

“The quality of the Kansas workforce and our central location in the heart of the nation contributed to [Amazon’s] decision to locate in Logistics Park Kansas City,” said Gov. Sam Brownback.

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New Research Report from APICS: What’s Keeping Supply Chain Leaders up at Night

APICS and Michigan State University have recently partnered to research top concerns among leaders of supply chain management. This week, both organizations released their latest joint research report: Supply Chain Issues: What’s Keeping Supply Chain APICS- professional association for supply chain and operations managementManagers Awake at Night? (Report also available for complimentary downloading)

This research represents Michigan State’s research efforts profiling challenges among more than 50 supply chain organizations. Supply chain management executives were asked to assess the challenges their organizations are currently facing along with new opportunities. The research effort was led by David J. Closs, Department Chair and John H. McConnell Chair in Business Administration and Patricia J. Daugherty, Bowersox-Thull Chair in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at Michigan State University.

The six most common issues that were cited by executives were:

  1. Capacity /resource availability
  2. Talent
  3. Complexity
  4. Threats/challenges
  5. Compliance
  6. Cost/purchasing challenges

Upon reviewing the report, Supply Chain Matters noted lots of common theme similarities that have been identified by other multi-industry focused executive surveys. An important difference in this latest APICS-Michigan State report, however,  was how talent issues, namely  recruitment, retention, or skills development, permeates all of the other five areas of executive concern. Much of this was summarized in the citing of one executive’s statement:

It’s a different type of talent that we’re going to need if we’re going to keep up with the pace of change.”

A further common challenge identified by this Michigan State as well as other surveys, is the impact that B2C or B2B Omni-channel business is having on supply chain complexity, SKU proliferation, process and system complexity as well as costs. Similar themes were raised in the third annual PWC Viewpoint study involving 300 retail and consumer goods CEO’s that was administered in late 2015. That survey concluded that over 80 percent of executives were still attempting to breakdown the organizational silos that were hampering a singular Omni-channel customer fulfillment experience. That activity invariably impacts the supply chain in many different dimensions.

Our readers will likely find other common themes and concerns identified in each of the areas. In conjunction with its latest research series, APICS has announced a series of upcoming webinars addressing topics such as capabilities, costing, global talent development, purchasing, sustainability, Omni-channel and complexity.

Surge in Ridership Pushes New York Subway

Riders waiting for the L train on a packed subway platform at Union Square in Manhattan last month. Subway use, now at nearly 1.8 billion rides a year, has not been this high in New York City since 1948. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

For New Yorkers who rely on the 86th Street subway station on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the morning commute is a humbling experience. An endless stream of people funnel onto the platforms. Trains arrive with a wall of humanity already blocking the doorways.

As No. 6 trains pull into the upper level of the station, riders scan for an opening and, if they can, squeeze in for a suffocating ride downtown.

“You can wait four or five subways to get on, and you’re just smushed,” Cynthia Hallenbeck, the chief financial officer at a nonprofit, said before boarding a train on a recent morning.

The Lexington Avenue line is the most crowded in the system, but subway riders across New York City are finding themselves on platforms and trains that are beyond crowded. L train stations in Brooklyn are routinely overwhelmed. In Queens, No. 7 train riders regularly endure packed conditions.

Subway use, now at nearly 1.8 billion rides a year, has not been this high since 1948, when the fare was a nickel and the Dodgers were still almost a decade away from leaving Brooklyn. Today, train delays are rising, and even a hiccup like a sick passenger or a signal malfunction can inundate stations with passengers.

Delays caused by overcrowding have quadrupled since 2012 to more than 20,000 each month, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The crowded trains can make for tense commutes, contributing to an uptick in assaults among disgruntled passengers, the transit police say. With crowds lining the platform edge, some riders and train operators worry that someone could fall onto the tracks.

Video

The New York Commute in the 1930s

Archival footage from 1939 shows just how busy the commute was at the 34th Street station in New York as subway riders scrambled onto crowded trains.

By THE MARCH OF TIME, VIA GETTY IMAGES on Publish Date May 3, 2016. Photo by The March of Time, via Getty Images.

“In terms of physical discomfort and feeling that life stinks in the subway, this is the No. 1 culprit,” said Gene Russianoff, the longtime leader of the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group.

Subway ridership in New York is in the midst of a resurgence almost unimaginable in the 1970s and ’80s, when the system was defined by graffiti and crime. Ridership has steadily risen to nearly six million daily riders today from about four million in the 1990s.

But the subway infrastructure has not kept pace, and that has left the system with a litany of needs, many of them essential to maintaining current service or accommodating the increased ridership. The authority’s board recently approved $14.2 billion for the subway as part of a $29.5 billion, five-year capital spending plan.

On the busiest lines, like the 7, L and Q, officials say the agency is already running as many trains as it can during the morning rush. Crowds are appearing on nights and weekends, too, and the authority is adding more trains at those times.

The long-awaited opening of the Second Avenue subway on the Upper East Side this year will ease congestion on the Lexington Avenue line. Installing a modern signal system, which would allow more trains to run, is many years away for most lines.

In the meantime, the agency is doing its best to keep trains moving on the century-old system. Workers known as platform controllers have been deployed at busy stations like 86th Street to direct crowds so that trains can depart more quickly.

Subway guards, the early-20th-century forerunner of today’s platform controllers, were posted at busy stations the last time the system had this many riders, during the Great Depression and World War II era. That role, The New York Times noted in 1930, required the skills of “a football player, a head usher, a stage director, pugilist, circus barker and a sardine packer.”

That year, the city’s health commissioner criticized the “indecency of present overcrowding” and warned of protecting riders from contagious diseases. A video from the New York Transit Museum’s archive shows subway riders scrambling onto crowded trains in the 1940s.