Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Sept. 7, 2012
Now Samsung Under Gun for Labor Practices; On-Line Pricing Madness; Proposal for Dramatically Increasing Carbon Taxes; "Old Man River" Mighty Low
Number of Samsung factories in China (six company owned, two contract manufacturers) that have recently been secretly "audited" by workers' rights group China Labor Watch over the past few months, leading to charges of poor treatment of workers there, similar to complaints lodged in recent years about Apple’s supply chain. A report based on the audits of course found a number of issues, saying some employees were working more than 100 hours per month of overtime and that children were knowingly employed. The South Korean electronics giant responded swiftly to the allegations, acknowledging that poor working conditions may have arisen due to production demands and that a review was to immediately take place.
The amazing number of times the price of one GE microwave oven offered by e-merchants on Amazon.com changed recently on a single day. Why? Because those on-line sellers are using tools that continuously search the web for how competitors are pricing products, and then make automatic adjustments. On that day, prices fluctuated across a very wide range, from $744.46 to $871.49, according to research firm Decide Inc. Some e-merchants, for example, always want to have the lowest price, if even by just one cent. Mercent, a software company that provides this kind of dynamic web price management, says it is changing pricing for an astounding two million products per hour for its clients.
Level of carbon tax per metric ton of emissions that may be needed to quickly stop the rise in global warming, according to a column in the New York Times last week by Cornell economics professor Dr. Robert Franks. That is up substantially from earlier estimates of a $80 per ton that many climate change groups had suggested might be enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create "climate stability." A $300 per ton carbon tax would increase the price of gas by about $3.00 per gallon, according to Franks, though he suggests the tax would be phased in. Right or wrong, the chances of this happening any time soon in the US are slim to none, in our view.
Approximate number of truckloads of goods typically carried by one barge travelling US inland waterways , as that freight movement is now seriously degraded by the Midwest drought and the extremely low water levels on the Mississippi River. The river carries 60% of the country's grain and nearly half the $200 billion of freight that moves on the US inland waterways. The low water levels preclude many barges from using the Mississippi right now, as barge traffic is reduced to a comparative trickle and soybeans, corn and other freight sit in storage with new crops ready for harvest and no place to put them.