Category Archives: Logistics

REA Express

In 1966 REA Express was operating a system primarily engaged in the expeditious transportation of express packages, less-than-carlot, and carlot shipments requiring special handling. REA Express also provided a world-wide shipping service through contracts with air carriers, acted as an ocean freight forwarder to many countries of the world, and provided local truck express service in some large cities of the United States. A subsidiary company of REA Express leased truck trailers to railroads, forwarders, and shippers for the use in trailer-on-flat car service. Such miscellaneous services as pick-up-and-delivery services for railroads, custom brokerage on import traffic, sale of traveler’s checks and money orders, and collection of C. O. D. charges were also performed. REA Express conducted its business through 8,200 offices and used in its operations 137,000 miles of railroad, 132,000 miles of air lines, 79,000 miles of motor carrier lines, and 6,600 of water lines. The company employed 30,000 persons and operated a fleet of 12,000 trucks. The company handled some 66,000,000 shipment annually. (Association of American Railroads)

-with all those assets and experience, even though rail shipping was in decline, REA dominated the private package business. It was already into trucks, had name recognition, a customer base etc. -why did it finally fail? Why didn’t it follow the trends and morph into something successful like UPS and FED EX?

We have a lot of information on the Railway Express Agency, later known as REA Express and also have significant background information available that will help you understand why REA Express failed.

Find more great short stories
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/chicago-rail-capital/

Looking Forward To 2017?

This time of year, you might be of two minds. You’re excited about the upcoming year and the possibilities of new projects, job opportunities, and maybe an upcoming vacation to someplace warm. But you’ve also read articles aplenty about automation affecting supply chain jobs, some segments of the economy are still struggling, we’re always a black swan event away from disaster and, oh yeah, there’s a new president on the way with some very different ideas. Welcome to the new normal!

Don’t despair, for there are many positives ahead. The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, cloud technology, and robotics have all made their way along Gartner’s Hype Cycle curve and are now in operation. 3D printing is growing and machine learning/AI is picking up steam, as are driverless vehicles, drones, and VR. Even the political front has bright possibilities, with Trump’s infrastructure plan, tax reductions, and possible repatriation of foreign profits having the potential to light a fire under the economy. Things are looking up, right? Well, yes and no.

Read More

The Network of Networks: You Mean THE CLOUD

Today I spent on a project from 2013: Supply Chain Control Towers

Far greater minds than mine have defined Supply Chain Control Towers? There are many definitions but Capgemini offers a good, broad definition that many would agree with: “A supply chain control tower is a central hub with the required technology, organization, and processes to capture and use supply chain data to provide enhanced visibility for short and long term decision making that is aligned with strategic objectives.”

Yes, I wrote about Supply Chain Control Towers and Transportation Control Towers

First thing today I get a message from India. Company wants to know more about Supply Chain Control Towers. Then I read mail (uuuggghhh). Get a blog from Lora Cecere, The Supply Chain Shaman.. She knows more about Supply Chains than I ever will. But she is allied with ALL the vendors in the industry. I trust them as far as I can throw them.

scmcontroltower2

But she has a great idea: A Netword of Networks

I simplify that to “THE CLOUD”

Back the Control Towers. She and I agree on a lot. Difference simply is I want EDI to be the main communications tool (other than voice-to-voice). She wants to also introduce many existing communications tools from her great vendor community. I feel EDI is proven and can communicate ANYTHING. She wants to introduce things like HADOOP, SPARK, BLOCK CHAIN to the process. ADOBE may be her great friend. All I know about them is their opening remark if I contact them. “What is your credit card number?” Still confident in the international banking system to think BLOCKCHAIN is a lot of B..S We use BNP Paribas and know it’s capabilities.

scmcontroltower3

I am sure Lora and I will work out our differences. So confident that I have signed up for her Webinar in January.

This is a guest blog from my boss, Ken Kinlock. He is “The Man” about Control Towers

The Cloud Supply Chain Data Network

Quality data is the fuel for any business software. In international trade and logistics, where critical data comes from partners scattered across the globe, the challenge of obtaining quality data is even greater.

The traditional approach for connecting to a myriad of partners to receive and send data is costly, time consuming and error-prone. It is the primary reason companies don’t have global view, or a control tower for managing the full end-to-end global supply chain.

Fortunately, there is a new model for delivering data to your solutions that makes what used to be impossible possible, while decreasing costs at the same time.

Modern cloud-based information platforms designed specifically for global supply chains take advantage of powerful network effects that lower costs by spreading them across a large community of users.

Read More

Have You Connected The Dots Yet?

Let’s have some fun with math. What EDI translator does your company use? For that matter, what ERP, 3PL, or other service is on your short list? Next, how many trading partners do you have? And finally, what EDI, ERP, and other electronic systems do they use? It doesn’t really matter whether you have the answers to these questions. What you would get even if you use the smallest estimates available is a very large number of permutations. How is it possible then to maintain compatibility and also keep up with the accelerated pace of today’s supply chain?

Fortunately translating one trading partner’s EDI transactions into the formats your company uses is controllable. That’s not to say it’s simple and doesn’t require constant attention, but the tools have been honed to the point that daily operations move ahead without too much problem. But the processes still need handholding and manual intervention to assure every document processes correctly.

Get the “5 Best Practices for Integration Planning” Whitepaper for free

Read more: http://ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/editors-blog/11799-have-you-connected-the-dots-yet#ixzz4QKzGlGoh

Supply Chain Mayhem – Avoid It

It’s hard to believe that the Holiday season is near – or that for those participating in retail, the season is already well underway. Is it too late to think about making this season better? If you haven’t already made the infrastructure and system changes you’ve been contemplating this year then the answer is likely to be Yes! But there may still be a few things you can do at this late date.

Be Mobile Ready

Get Your Visibility Nailed

Get Ready To Be The Best

Read more: http://ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/editors-blog/11789-supply-chain-mayhem-avoid-it#ixzz4PnQvO3X2

It’s Integration Time!

The benefits of automating orders, invoices, and ASNs between your company and its customers are well known. Integrated documents are faster, less prone to error, and improve workflow among your people and systems. At this point, it would be rare to find a major retailer or manufacturer who isn’t using electronic documents to run their businesses. Not so rare, though, are small and medium sized businesses (SMB) still pushing paper. It’s about time for SMBs to make their move, isn’t it?

A few years back, automating electronic documents for a ‘newbie’ was a long and expensive proposition. You needed to buy equipment and software, plus you had to train an employee (or hire one) to establish and maintain connections. That was just to get up and running. Integrating documents into and out of your existing systems, ERP, WMS, CRM, and so on, was something with which the IT staff had to be involved. Then, once up and running, somebody had to monitor the operation and handle exceptions. You know what? Those days are over. Options abound, mostly due to the growth and proven effectiveness of cloud-based technology.

When you look at it, the return on investment in the ‘old days’ maybe wasn’t there. You may have had a major partner, a hub, try to force the issue, but you’d been successful in leveraging your relationship to postpone your deadlines time after time. However, the clock was ticking and eventually your time will expire.

Read more: http://ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/industry-updates/11772-it-s-integration-time#ixzz4OvDcojYX

Star Wars: Galactic Constraints Of The Empire: Sounds Like Supply Chain Management

Using some ideas from stories on “business constraints” we find some areas of intersection between Star Wars and Supply Change Management:
(1) Business Model deficiencies
(2) Processes/Organisational structures
(3) Leadership
(4) Culture

BUSINESS MODEL DEFICIENCIES

If you have a wrong business model, you will fail. If you have a wrong strategy in place, you will ultimately be doomed. Look at Apple and Samsung versus Nokia. Look at what happened to Eastman Kodak’s “FILM” Business Model.

In Star Wars, the Galactic Empire and the Emperor had a strategy to wipe out the rebellion and establish themselves as the ultimate Lord. Their business model was a simple one – build the Death Star and use it to wipe out rebel planets. The Empire spent countless resources, including crazy amounts of manpower, money and effort to build the Death Star. After successfully destroying only one planet, the Rebels destroyed the Death Star. After the destruction of the first Death Star, neither the Emperor nor Darth Vader decides to relook at their “failed” business strategy. Instead, they decided to rebuild a bigger, newer Death Star. Again, the Rebels managed to destroy it.


PROCESS/ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES

One of the biggest mistakes organisations make is to focus on people.
The key to successfully getting your employees to high performance is to focus on “process”. You can still care and love them, but your emphasis must be on building institutional processes. One of the biggest mistake the Empire and its leadership made was to rely on their “top talent”. This was also the same issue that Enron had. They hired really smart people and focused entirely on these “special” people making the organisation great. Initially, Enron had stellar performance. But like the Empire, it ultimately blew up. In Episode IV: A New Hope, the Emperor disbands the Galactic Senate and handpicks a few regional governors. By Episode VI, even those are gone and only Darth Vader remains as his bastion of leadership. Mentoring was a key part of the process. Yoda explains the mentoring process of the Alliance as “always two there are, no more, no less; a master and an apprentice.” Everything has to be a process. Processes and structures are key to ensuring a high performance organisation. Just ask Darth Vader and he will share the perils of focusing solely on people.


LEADERSHIP

When I talk about leadership being a constraint, it not only means the quality of leadership at the top of the organisation but also the quality of leaders all across the different layers. If you glance at the Empire’s leadership, there were very little processes involved in building the leadership DNA. It was pretty much Darth Vader and the Emperor who ruled (after they wiped out all other leaders along the way). The Jedi Rebels, on the other hand, not only had a leadership development process, but their leadership continuality was being built at all levels. When there was a gap, as we saw in Episode IV, Master Yoda steps in to train young Luke Skywalker. The Jedi Council itself spent an enormous amount of time on leadership development issues. Even at the stage of young Padawans (akin to management trainees at organisations), the Council reviewed each applicant and measured progress. And there is a clear mentor-mentee system to ensure all young Jedi are given leadership exposure and coaching. In Episode I: Phantom Menace, young Obi-Wan is sent by the Council on a diplomatic mission to Naboo accompanied by his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. If you look at all the top organisations in the world, a key part of their success is leadership. Great leaders and managers are needed at every organisational level. It is very hard work to develop and grow leaders at each level.

CULTURE

The hardest part of any change initiative is to ensure it becomes part of the organisational DNA. It requires cultural alignment. People and organisations are creatures of habit, and changing habits is harder than changing structures or systems. Cultural impediments:
(a) Lack of trust or accountability between groups, including turf issues or internal competitiveness.
(b) An “observer-critic” culture that kills new ideas or a culture reluctant to accept new ideas.
(c) Groups formed under the protection of a politically connected individual which distances themselves from your initiative.
Your organisational culture is constantly evolving. If you are not intentionally designing it, someone else will.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Read More

 

 

 

 

 

 

Custom Delivery At Scale

When is a commodity not a commodity? When each individual item is made to order. Not just made for the P.O. but to the specifics of the customer’s requests. With traditional supply chain practices it’s easy enough to get the order right for the specified number of items in the package. But when that package count is 1, there is literally no margin for error.

And when the delivery is made through any of a variety of channels the process of making custom products can explode into seemingly unmanageable permutations. This isn’t conjecture. The custom-made model is fast approaching as technology accelerates and provides more options and more automation.

We’re already seeing customization of household items like rugs made to match colors and patterns supplied by the customer. These can be purchased at physical stores that manufacture in the back room, or ordered online and produced either at the store or some remote facility. In some cases orders can be shipped the next day.

http://ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/editors-blog/11771-custom-delivery-at-scale

IoT and 3D Printers are Invading The Supply Chain!

It wasn’t long ago that Apple was lauded for it’s finesse in managing its supply chain. Getting its bazillions of iPhones from China to the US and everywhere else required some groundbreaking advances and a lot of tight controls. Those lessons have gone mainstream as the world took notice and of the company’s strategies and success. And partly because of that expansion, the supply chain now extends to areas as unexpected as social media.

Some of these areas make perfect sense in light of new technologies. An article in Forbes Business lists several areas. Here are the ones that I think are already making a difference.