Supply Chain by the Numbers

- April 16, 2015 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of April 16, 2015

China Production Volumes Continue to Soar; UPS is Putting on the Alternative Fuel Miles; Retail Chains being Investigated for Schedule Practices; Beneath the Headine Industrial Production News



That's the rate by which China increased its annual manufacturing "units" produced from 2003 to 2013, according to new data from the United Nations. This of course is astounding growth, and means China is doubling its units produced every seven years. The uses average unit growth over the same period: just 1.3%, which means the US will double its production only every…oh, you probably don't want to know. Other big gainers include South Korea, with 6% annual gain from 2003-13m and India with average unit production growth of 7.3%. Germany was at 1.9%.




The number of large retail chains being investigated by the state of New York relative to in-store worker scheduling processes. The issue is the use of workforce management systems that decide what floor workers are needed when, in near real-time, based on sales and shopper levels at a given store right now. Add to that instant communications via cell phones and texting, and workers may be told they are needed on very short notice, or have tentatively scheduled shifts cancelled at the last minute, after a worker may say have made arrangements for child care. Some states, including New York, have laws offering workers some protections here, such as some minimum amount of pay if a shift is cancelled at the last minute, but those rules are rarely enforced. We expect the industry will be forced to make some changes here in the end.


It might not be much, but that's the amount by which US manufacturing production rose in March, according to fresh estimates from the Federal Reserve this week. We note it here because the headline news from the new data was around full industrial production falling 0.6% percentage points for the month, the steepest drop since August 2012. But the full industrial production number includes output from mines and utilities in addition to manufacturing, both of which are highly volatile. Analysts note a big hit on the overall number was falling US oil and gas production, which is being impacted by sharply declining global prices. So while the core manufacturing number wasn't great, it was positive, and up 2.4% over March 2015.


350 Million

That's how many road miles UPS has driven using alternative fuels so far across the globe - and the company plans to get that number to a staggering 1 billion miles by the end of 2017. That according to VP of engineering Bruce Margopoulas, during a presentation at the NASSTRAC conference this week in Orlando. That includes all types of trucks, including LNG, CNG, electric, hybrids and more - right now UPS has a fleet of nearly 6000 alternative fuel vehicles of all types. Margopoulas said the key to getting a return on the investment is that each type of truck needs to be really operated daily at sort of its maximum range. Still, it’s all "still a science experiment," he noted, with still lots to learn. UPS and others are really spending to educate the rest of the industry.