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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- June 14 , 2012


Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of June 14, 2012


German Manufacturers Bringing Apprentice Programs Here; Shell Jumps in Nat Gas Delivery Business; Zara's Supply Chain Model is Working; Shippers See Truckload Capacity Tightening



What German industrial giant Siemens spends per employee for a three-year training program for factory workers in Charlotte, NC, in which workers gain skills in “mechatronics” for available jobs in Siemens’ facilities. That number comes from a Wall Street Journal article this week that says a number of German companies are bringing apprenticeship programs to the US similar to those that exist in Germany to create skilled workers. There are some 600,000 open positions in the US for skilled manufacturing workers despite high levels of unemployment in the country.




Number of natural gas filling stations Shell is going to build at existing Travel Centers of America truck stop locations, according an announcement this week. That will take an investment of some $300 million to install 200 liquid natural gas pumps at the 100 outlets. That now gives some real competition to T. Boone Pickens’ Clean Energy Fuels company, which is already in progress to build a network of nat gas stations at Fly J truck stops. The moves can be seen as both a “land grab” by the companies, and also a strategy to ease truck carriers’ concerns about availability of filling stations before buying tractors that run on natural gas.


Number of deliveries that Inditex, Spanish parent company of apparel retail supply chain icon Zara as well as other nameplates, makes every week to each of its 5618 small format stores spread across 84 countries. Zara is famous for making more than 50% of its fashion items itself, and rapidly replenishing its stores by air or truck to keep in stock of hot selling items. Though that may result in higher supply chain costs, it boosts the top line and avoids the need for markdowns. It must be working – as profits were up 30% in the quarter and margins rose from 58.8% to 60.2%, the company announced this week.


Number of shippers who expect truckload capacity to tighten over the next year, according to the most recent “State of the Freight” report from the transportation industry analysts at Wolfe Trahan. Right now, just 37% see tight TL capacity, but many apparently expect that to change. In the beleaguered LTL sector, just 7% of shipper respondents see tight capacity. See Q2 State of the Freight Report Finds Modest Expectations for Rate Hikes, Predictions for Tighter TL Capacity.

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