Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Dec. 2, 2011
US Manufacturing Up - but China is Really Slowing; Big Changes in Union Vote Rules; Seagate Says Flood Disruption to Continue On; Shippers Cheering Still Lower China to US Ocean Rates
The level of the ISM Purchasing Managers Index for November, up 1.9 percentage points over October, in a somewhat surprising show of economic strength, in numbers released this week. The new orders index was up even stronger, rising 4.3 points to 56.7. As always, any number over 50 represents expansion in a given measure. However, China's PMI shrunk in November for the first time in three years, falling just below 50, while the sub-index for export order fell sharply in China to 45.6 in November from October's 48.6.
Number of days in which a union election at a company could be held after the decision to have a vote is reached, down from 40 or so currently in practice, under new rules moving through the National Labor Relations Board, which passed the amendments to current rules this week. Most observers believe the longer period gives companies more time to lobby workers against unionization. The changes need to be voted on again, and may run into some procedural problems. Some of the original proposals, such as requiring companies to give organizers employee emails, were dropped from the changes
The spot rate last week to ship a 40-foot container from Hong Kong to Los Angeles - the lowest level in 23 months, according to the analysts at Drewry Shipping Consultants, highlighting the weakness of the current peak season and the continued glut of capacity in the industry. That spot rate is down about 22% from just this past August. The Trans-Pacific Stabilization Agreement, a group that includes about 15 carriers running Asia to North American routes, said it plans a rate increase of $400 per FEU on Jan. 1 - but whether that will hold is far from assured.
How long the effects of the flooding in Taiwan will continue to impact Seagate's ability to produce disk drives, according to the company this week, saying its production capabilities will be “significantly constrained” for the next two quarters at least. Seagate said none of its production facilities were directly affected, but that significant issues remain with its supply base, as the tech industry is forced again to rethink supply chain risk and sourcing decisions in wake of this severe disruption.