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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Dec. 10, 2015 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Dec. 10, 2015

Walmart Tops Retail Supply Chain List Yet Again; What Company is Testing Air Cargo Flights out of Old DHL Hub? Shoe-Making Robots Coming to Adidas; Is New US Highway Bill the Right Plan?



That was the percentage of consumer packaged goods manufacturers that selected Walmart as having one of the top three retail supply chains, in the annual PoweRanking report from Kantar Retail. That was more than double the score of number 2 Kroger, at 41.1%. Compare that though to the top score for the best CPG manufacturer supply chains, where this year's number 1 General Mills managed to be selected as a top three supply chain by just 23.3% of retailers. While Walmart, as it has for many years, dominated the retail rankings, its score is actually down 2-3 percentage points from a few years in the past, when Walmart often scored in the low 90 percentage range. It also means 11% of manufacturers did not place Walmart in the top three retail supply chains - we would like to learn why, actually.




Roughly the annual increase in spending on US highways in the new Surface Transportation bill freshly passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. The new bill commits some $300 billion over five years, but in reality is little above the rate of inflation versus current annual spend, if that. Nevertheless, there was lots of glad handing all around on both sides of the aisle in Washington DC, though many think the bill is significantly underfunded. At least we should be done with the on-going drama of never-ending temporary funding resolutions that have been the norm for several years. But there were numerous lumps of coal for shippers and carriers in the final bill, including no language authorizing heavier or longer trucks, surprisingly also no changes allowing tests of under age 21 drivers on federal highways, and no increase in gas or diesel fuel taxes, a move actually sought by many in the transport sector to fund logistics infrastructure improvements.

1 Million+

Astoundingly, that is the number of workers employed in contract manufacturing facilities that are making athletic shoes and apparel items for sports apparel giant Adidas, most of them in China and Vietnam. But that could soon change – perhaps dramatically – as Adidas plans to begin testing of new athletic shoe-making robots at a factory in its home country of Germany in early 2016. The goal of the project: reduce labor costs and speed up delivery to fashion-conscious consumers to get the right product in the right place at the right time. Like a growing number of manufacturers, Adidas plans to pursue a regional manufacturing strategy that brings production closer to consumer demand – or what competitor Under Armour calls "local for local." Said Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer this week: "An automated, decentralized and flexible manufacturing process opens doors for us to be much closer to the market and to where our consumer is."



That is the number of air cargo flights per day currently operating out of Wilmington Air Park in Southwest, OH - the former parcel hub of DHL and prior to that Airborne Express, before it was acquired by DHL - flights being operated by a small private air carrier. But for what company is that carrier moving the freight? Suspicion naturally falls on, which some observers think may be testing air cargo services in a strategy to reduce its dependence on UPS and FedEX, perhaps linked to its own parcel delivery trucks. There is no confirmation Amazon is behind the flights, but it is hard to think of who else it could be. The Wilmington Air Park is an outstanding facility, once surrounded by distribution centers taking advantage of the late cutoffs for air shipments by being located nearby, but which has largely sat empty since DHL shut down its US parcel business in 2008 after its disastrous acquisition of Airborne.

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