Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of June 9, 2011
Truckload Capacity Getting Real Tight; China's Shrinking Labor Cost Advantage; Railcar Idling Turns Other Direction; Nestle Sees Unprecedented Commodity Price Volatility
Percentage of respondents to the quarterly State of the Freight report released this week from the transportation analysts at Wolfe Trahan who sees tight capacity in the US truckload freight market. That is the highest level of perceived tight capacity in the 10+ year history of the report, dating back to Ed Wolfe's work at Bear Sterns before he started his own firm. That means higher rates are coming.
Number of additional idled rail cars in May, bringing the total for all types of cars in storage for at least 60 days to 279,083 units as of June 1, up from 276,228 one month earlier, according to the Association of American Railroads this week. That was after a 7000+ decrease in parked cars in April had moved the total to the lowest level since the start of the recession. The new data leaves 18.4% of the North American railcar fleet stored instead of in active freight service.
Rate of monthly prices swings in key agricultural commodities during the 2006-2010 period, up from 12.4% in 2000-2005, according to Kevin Petrie, Nestlé's head of procurement, in comments this week. "We have a few years of being in this [commodity] boom cycle," Petrie added. Nestlé has set up commodity research teams to identify trends, while the company uses futures contracts and hedging to lessen its exposure to price swings.
The percent of effective US manufacturing costs in the most labor competitive regions of the America (considering productivity differences) that Chinese labor costs will rise to by 2015, according to new research from Boston Consulting Group (before other supply chain costs). Those costs will also arise to 44% (in the Yangtze River Valley region of China) against average US labor costs across the entire US market, versus just 31% in 2010. In both cases this wuld dramatically shrink China's manufacturing cost advantage over the next four years.