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  First Thoughts

    Dan Gilmore

    Editor

    Supply Chain Digest



 
June 23, 2016

State of the Logistics Union 2016


Logistics Costs as Percent of GDP Down Slightly in 2015, as Metric Taken Lower for Past 10 Years Under New Methodology from New Lead Author AT Kearney

 

The annual State of Logistics report is just out again with much fanfare from a new lead author and CSCMP, with the headline news that overall relative US logistics costs were modestly down in again in 2015, to 7.85% of GDP, roughly on par with 7.91% in 2014.

Perhaps more importantly, a revision to the data has in fact taken that metric down noticeably from the numbers in previous years. In last year's report, for example, logistics costs were said to be 8.4% of GDP, versus the 7.91% estimated in this year's version.

Gilmore Says....

Trucking, for example, is still gaining in share of spend versus rail, while truckload and parcel are gaining share versus LTL.

What do you say?

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I can't find the details as to how and why the data was revised, but the good news is that the report went back and redid the numbers for the last 10 years. While the numbers are now lower by roughly half a percentage point each year than they had been calculated previously - meaning logistics costs are a lower burden on the US economy than previously thought, all told a good thing - the changes in percentage terms year-over-year seem about the same even at the new lower absolute levels, so the big picture of the trends seems mostly unaffected.

The peak year in the past decade - as it was under the previous calculation - was 2007, when logistics costs hit 8.59% of GDP.

I will note in passing that in many years some media commentators have opined that dropping logistics costs as a share of GDP is a bad thing, which of course is nonsense unless you are a carrier or perhaps a 3PL. Countries with immature logistics systems have a much higher share of GDP devoted to logistics than does the US.

All this as consulting firm AT Kearney took over authorship of the report after a competitive bidding process by CSCMP earlier this year.



This represents the 27th edition of the report, which was launched in 1988 by the late Bob Delaney and sponsored by his company, Cass Information Systems. Somewhere along the way, CSCMP took over the sponsorship, and in the late 1990s Rosalyn Wilson, who has a long career in the logistics industry, began to support Delaney in his efforts. Upon Delaney's passing a few years later, Wilson took on the challenge alone, largely keeping the existing methodology, heading the report until Kearney took on the job for 2016.

Again this year, Penske Logistics funded the report development, and the results were as usual released at a major media event at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Tuesday.

I have not had time to study the report deeply. My reaction after a full read through one time is that (a) this is a much more modern looking and better formatted document; (b) in the end it largely plows the same ground as previous reports, with more polish; and (c) there are a few new wrinkles (e.g., more general commentary beyond the numbers) that I would like to see more of in future years.

In the executive summary, the report notes that US business logistics costs (for which we now get the new acronym USBLC), grew by an average of 4.6% annually between 2010 and 2014, fueled mainly by 5.5% annual growth in transportation costs. Keep in mind the report deals exclusively with nominal costs, not so called "real" changes that are adjusted for inflation.

So, simple to say, harder to calculate, you take the number for US logistics costs and divide it by annual nominal GDP numbers and voila, logistics costs as a percent of GDP emerges. The methodology must use nominal GDP as the denominator because the costs for the year are compiled in nominal terms.

The growth in USBLC, however, slowed to just 2.6% in 2015, with transportation costs - the largest single component of USBLC - up by only 1.4% in 2015.That transport cost decline was caused by a combination of lower oil prices (down some 30% over the year), which decreased fuel surcharge expenses sharply across all modes, and softness in freight volumes across all modes except parcel.

The total cost of US logistics was estimated at $1.408 trillion for 2015, up $30 billion or so in 2014 under the new calculation. A lot of elements go into that number, from warehouses to trucking to pipelines, but the three main categories are inventory carrying costs, including the costs of warehousing (30.3% of the total logistics spend in 2015), transportation costs (63.2%), and administrative costs, mostly related to spend on freight forwarders and logistics IT spend not otherwise captured in the other two categories (just 6.4% of the total).

Within transportation, trucking-related spend (including private fleets but excluding parcel) comprise 65.4% of total transport costs and 41.3% of total logistics spend. Parcel was broken out for the first time this year as a separate cost category, estimated at $82.2 billion in total, or 9.2% of transport costs and 5.8% of total logistics.

At $80.7 billion in 2015, rail comprises 9% of transportation spend and 5.7% of the total logistics costs.

One thing I cannot find in this year's report that I liked in the past was a breakdown between “local” versus “intercity” transport costs - not sure if it is just gone or buried somewhere I haven't found yet.

In terms of growth in spending by these various categories, the 5-year average annual growth rate in costs by mode or cost category is as follows, according to the report:

Truckload: 7.1%
LTL: 3.8%
Private/dedicated fleet: 5.8%
Trucking combined: 5.9%
Parcel: 6.7%
Intermodal: 2.1%
Rail total: 3.8%
Air freight: 4.6%
Inventory carrying/warehouse costs: 2.6%

I cannot find the specific number in the report, but because logistics costs as a percent of GDP over the past five years has basically been flat, and five-year growth of USBLC has averaged 4.6%, nominal GDP must have been rising at right around that same level. So, you can compare the growth in each cost type versus 4.6% GDP growth to see what modes/categories are gaining share and which are not.

Trucking, for example, is still gaining in share of spend versus rail, while truckload and parcel are gaining share versus LTL. I am very surprised intermodal costs have been averaging less than GDP or overall logistics spend growth. Inventory carrying costs are falling, primarily as the result of lower interest rates (though those rates were up a bit in 2015) even as total inventory levels have been rising until flatlining in 2015, and warehousing costs are about flat with GDP growth at 4.7% over the last five years.

The report has a lot more detail on each mode and cost bucket, as well as the overall economic and logistics environment, which I don't have room for here.

The 2016 report did add a new commentary type section at the end, which discussed the looming impact of new generation technologies such as robotics, drones, Uber-like services, autonomous vehicles and more, and noted that the adoption of these technologies - and therefore logistics progress - will be tremendously impacted by the larger governmental and regulatory environment.

It lays out four scenarios, from one it calls "Cruisin' Down the Highway," in which the market rules and regulations are light, to "Dead End Street" at the other end of the spectrum, in which regulators strongly impede progress, with two other more moderate scenarios in-between.

What will it be? I am guessing one of the two middle versions, honestly, based on what we are seeing already (e.g., this week's new and very limited rules on air drones for deliveries from the FAA). The wild card would be if some other nations (e.g., India) take a more open approach and make great progress, perhaps forcing the hands of more heavy-handed countries.

So, some different, some much the same in the new State of Logistics Report, though I would say a change for the better for sure. I would like to see a bit more commentary on what the data as a whole is telling us, beyond all the detail for individual cost buckets, as just one comment, but I am sure we will see improvements over time after this solid inaugural edition under AT Kearney's stewardship.

CSCMP members can already download a copy for no charge.

Any reaction to our summary of this year's State of Logistics Report? Do you like the new style?  How could it be improved? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


Your Comments/Feedback

Srihari

Senior Consultant, Infosys
Posted on: May, 22 2016
Great article. I am a little suprised not to see BNSF in the mix while I understand their financial mode/operation is a little different. 

That would only give a complete perspective with all the players in the pool.

Mike O'Brien

Senior editor, Access Intelligence
Posted on: May, 26 2016
Surprised to see Home Depot fall off the list; thought they were winning with Sync?

Julie Leonard

Marketing Director, Inovity
Posted on: Jun, 27 2016
Using the right tool for the right job has always been a best practice and one of the reasons, we feel, that RFID has never taken off in the DC as exponentially as pundits have been forecasting since 2006. While these results may seem surprising to those solely focused on barcode scanning, the adoption of multi-modal technologies in the DC makes perfect sense for greater worker efficiency and productivity.

Carsten Baumann

Strategic Alliance Manager, Schneider Electric
Posted on: Aug, 19 2016

The IoT Platform in this year's (2016) Hype Cycle is on the ascending side, entering the "Peak of Inflated Expectation" area. How does this compare to the IoT positions of the previous years, which have already peaked in 2015? Isn't this contradicting in itself?

Editor's Note: 

You are right, Internet of Things (IoT) was at the top of the Garter new technology hype curve not long ago. As you noted, however, this time the placement was for “IoT Platforms,” a category of software tools from a good number of vendors to manage connectivity, data communications and more with IoT-enabled devices in the field.

So, this is different fro IoT generally, though a company deploying connected things obviously needs some kind of platform – hoe grown or acquired – to manage those functions.

Why IoT generically is not on the curve this year I wondered myself.

 

 

Jo Ann Tudtud-Navalta

Materials Management Manager, Chong Hua Hospital, Cebu City, Philippines
Posted on: Aug, 21 2016

I agree totally with Mr. Schneider.

I have always lived by "put it in writing" all my work life.  I am a firm believer of the many benefits of putting everything in writing and I try to teach it to as many people as I can.

This "putting in writing" can also be used for almost anything else.  Here are some general benefits (only some) of "putting in writing":

1. Everything is better understood between parties involved.  There are lots of people types who need something visual to improve their understanding.
2. Everyone can read to review and correct anything misunderstood.  This will ensure that all parties concerned confirm the details of the agreements as correct.  This is further enhanced by having all parties involved sign off on a hard copy or confirm via reply email.
3. Everything has a proof.  Not to belittle the element of trust among parties involved, it is always safest to have tangible proof of what was agreed on.
4. There will be a document to refer to at any time by any one who needs clarification.
5. The documentation can be useful historical data for any future endeavor.  It provides inputs for better decisions on related situations in the future.
6. This can also be compiled and used to teach future new team members.  "Learn from the past" it is said.

There are many more benefits.  Mr. Schneider is very correct about his call to "put it in writing".





Sandy Montalbano

Consultant, Reshoring Initiative
Posted on: Aug, 24 2016
U.S. companies are reshoring and foreign companies are investing in U.S. locations to be in close proximity to the U.S. market for customer responsiveness, flexibility, quality control, and for the positive branding of "Made in USA".

Reshoring including FDI balanced offshoring in 2015 as it did in 2014. In comparison, in 2000-2007 the U.S. lost net about 200,000 manufacturing jobs per year to offshoring. That is huge progress to celebrate!

The Reshoring Initiative Can Help. In order to help companies decide objectively to reshore manufacturing back to the U.S. or offshore, the nonprofit Reshoring Initiative's free Total Cost of Ownership Estimator can help corporations calculate the real P&L impact of reshoring or offshoring. http://www.reshorenow.org/TCO_Estimator.cfm

Robert

Transportation Manager, N/A
Posted on: Aug, 30 2016
 Good article!  I am sending this to my colleagues who work with me.  We have to keep this in mind.  Thanks!

Ian Jansen

Mr, NHLS
Posted on: Sep, 14 2016
SCM is all about getting the order delivered to the Customer on date/ time requested because happy Customers = Revenue. Using the right tools to do the right job is important and SCM is heavily dependent on sophisticated ERP systems to get right real data info ASP.

I've worked in a DC with more than 400,000 line items and measured the Productivity of Pickers by how many "picks" per day.

I've learned that one doesn't have to remind Germany about your EDI orders.

Don Benson

Partner, Warehouse Coach
Posted on: Sep, 15 2016
Challenge - to build and sustain effective relationships at the level of the organizations that are responsible for effectively coordinating and colaborating in an otherwise highly competitive environment 

Jade

Admin, Fulfillment Logistics UK Ltd
Posted on: Oct, 02 2016
Of course we all need to up our game. We need to move with the times, and always be one step ahead of what the future will bring.

Mike Dargis

President of asset-based carrier based in the Midwest, Zip Xpress Inc. (at ZipXpress.net)
Posted on: Oct, 03 2016
Thanks for the article, but I know there's a lot more to this issue than just the pay rates. Please check out my blogs on the subject at www.zipxpress.net.

Blaine

Inventory Specialist, Syncron
Posted on: Nov, 16 2016
Lora, great article! I agree that companies choose the 'safe' solution more often than not. My solution is a bolt-on for legacy ERP's and we even face challeneges of customer adoption. Most like to play it safe and choose an ERP upgrade, which is more costly, time consuming, and has lower ROI across the board. Would love to learn more about your company, we are always looking for partnerships.

Blaine
blaine.schultz@syncron.com

Bob McIntyre

National Account Executive, DBK Concepts LLC
Posted on: Nov, 21 2016
This is a game changer in GE's production and prototyping.  It also has huge implications across the GE global supply chain with regard to the management of their support and spare parts network. 

Kai Furmans

Professor, KIT
Posted on: May, 22 2017
I am referencing to the comment that leasing of warehousing equipment (beyond forklift trucks) is a vision for 2030.
Just recently in Europe, such a business model has started, see here: https://next-intralogistics.de/

I am following with a lot of interest, how the business develops.

Stuart Rosenberg

Supply Chain Consultant, First Choice Supply Chain
Posted on: Jun, 05 2017
If we limit the standard on judging or determining the best supply chain to just three calculations it does not tell the entire picture.  Financial performance metrics are valuable as they capture the economic consequences of business decisions.  But supply chain managers make decsions and use organizational resources that impact a company's financial well being.  Where is a firm's earnings over a period of time determined by sales less product costs and general/adminsitrative costs?  Where is the metric for determining the sources and uses of cash from three perspectives - operational, investment and financial?  Where are these supply chain metrics: on-time delivery, lead time, response time to customers, product returns, procurement costs, network distance, inventory carrying costs, forecasting accuracy, sourcing time, etc,.  Without knowing the results of all these supply chain calculations the there must be a question as to the accuracy of the 25 top supply chains.

Dustin Calitz

Project Commercialization Manager, Mondelez
Posted on: Jun, 06 2017
I feel this ranking misses the mark in SC. It does not seem to consider a key indicator in days inventory on hand, which is key to determining a SC company's ability to forecast, manage inventory costs and reduce aged stock. In additiion I realize it's difficult to understand what goes into the customer survey, but would I assume specific metrics are being asked. For examples customer's opinion on service level differentiation and the ability to deliver the right product on time, which should then be allocated a bigger weighting than 10%. It would also be interesting to take a view of the above list's SKU portfolio complexity, seasonality and launches/promotions. I would again assume some companies on the list above have a far more complex SC to manage and lead, ultimately requiring a lot more innovation within a SC to stay ahead of competitors, and ultimately satisfy their customers demands.  I understand above metrics are difficult to measure, as mentioned in the article, but they somehow need to be considered to give a true reflection. 

Michael Hurd

Lean Consultant, Unemployed
Posted on: Jun, 10 2017

A Very Good Article...

While some feel that lean is a scam that pushes for more out of the personnel and out of the companies through reduction of waste and adding value for the customer, there are several things to remember:

1) Lean methodologies are designed and implemented to reduce time wasting, so this may seem that you are working harder as an employee.

2) Lean methdoligies only work when everyone from the janitor to the owner of the company get involved and back the program.

3) Lean methods are there to make you work smarter not harder, although it may feel you are working harder.

4) YES... Sometimes lean methodologies fail! This is due to project overun or taking on too large a problem and trying to fix it all in one go and not taking the smaller problems that are associated with the large problem and fixing them first. Sometimes fixing the small problems leads to resolution of the larger problem.

Akhil

Director Supply Chain , skuchain
Posted on: Jul, 31 2017
The Supply Chain technology is not considered a problem because traditionally supply chains are thought to be cost centres unlike sales functions. The tendency, in general, to limit expenses and cost cutting on upgrades for technology and for talent have been hindering progress for the businesses. Supply chains lack real time visbility and above all trust across the value chain (not that the participants are dishonest) rather it's about the cascading effects referred to as the bull-whip effect which causes higher magnitudes of disruptions. 

Supply chain real time information should top the list .

Another problem is that of multi homing as so much data is available across several feeds of IOT/Email/Internet /Mobility/ERP that organisations tend to have issues around finding a single platform to collate them for meaning analysis. 

Blockchain (if deployed appropriately) can be a great solution for solving the issues around the supply chain.

Mike Ledyard

Vested Program Faculty, Vested Way / University ofTennessee
Posted on: Aug, 04 2017
Excellent article.  It very much points to the need for Shared Risk / Shared Reward as we teach at Vested.  Suppliers will respond when they are made part of the team, and they have a lot to bring to the game.  The service provider is the subject matter expert in the services provided, and in an excellent position to enhance the capabilities and services offered by the shipper.

Andrew Downard

Managing Director, AD Supply Chain Group Pty Ltd
Posted on: Aug, 05 2017
As the article points out it is not a lack of technology that is holding back performance but rather a failure to form the right sort of relationships.  As well as the length of such relatiohships, practitioners should consider employing arrangements that incentivise both parties to innovate and deliver levels of performance and profit that neither thought possible.  By far the best model I have come across to achieve this is the Vested Outsourcing model developed by researchers from the University of Tennessee.  See www.vestedway.com for information on the model and case studies that show how others have benefited from creating a Vested deal.

Najma

logistics, threelineshipping
Posted on: Aug, 23 2017
Very informational article. The major focus of logistics is on e-commerce. There is a need to optimize every component of logistics by following the latest trends and technologies. Thanks for uploading this article.

Sameer Shukkla

Consulting Partner, Wipro Inc.
Posted on: Sep, 17 2017
I have recently co-authored a white paper with my colleague wherein we have looked at 2 fundamental guiding principles  -

1. Always have enough to Sell / Produce
2. Do not have excess to Sell / Produce

These 2 Golden Rules can be the foundation of keeping optimal inventory levels and for organizations to achieve the same. We have looked at a framework which tries to reduce the phase mismatch between Demand & Supply, and tries to bring the shape of the supply curve closer to shape of the demand curve.

We have classified symptoms and underlying root causes for the above "Phase mismatch" and "Curve Mismatch" between Demand and Supply, and then talked about addresssing those individual root causes to strive towards Leaner Inventory levels while maintaining or improving service levels.

So to answer your question, we feel the Companies which have addresed these causes have been able to keep DIO horizontal or even going down, while others have not been able to control rising DIO because of not addressing the root causes.

Simon Eagle

SCM Consultant, Camelot MC
Posted on: Sep, 17 2017
You ask why turns are flat or declining despite lots of attention and technology. The answer is, I think, 2 fold: the supply chain environments VUCA (Volatliity, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) is on a continuous upward curve and this means that forecast accuracy inevitably declines in parallel - and much of that inaccuracy is hidden by the statistics. For instance a company with, seemingy good, 80% mix accuracy will find that figure is skewed so high by the few high volume / low variability items. 80% of the items will be achieving considerably less than 60% error.

So most item level forecasts used for driving replenishment through an MPS (be it ERP or APS) are simply leading to unbalanced stocks, service threats and continuous expediting / fire-fighting. These schedule interrutions are "variability" that is disrupting flow and, thereby, increasing lead-times, using unplanned capacity and generating excessive (and still unbalanced) inventories.

The replacement in ex-stock supply chains is "enterprise(s)-wide" pull which also uses "push" for extreme/exceptional events. Its other key characteristics are that the supply chain is decoupled and is demand-driven. And now it can be implemented using SAP since they announced they they have co-developed an enhancement for IBP that supports this transformational way of working - up to 50% inventory reduction, requiring less capacity and shorter lead-times all while achieving planned service levels. See https://www.camelot-itlab.com/en/camelot-demand-driven-lean-planning-suite-for-sap/ and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/supply-chain-flow-what-why-how-simon-eagle/


John Smith

Research & Development, Octopus Tech Solutions
Posted on: Sep, 18 2017
IoT is without a doubt starting to become a major factor in the profitability of various companies. In the manufacturing sector, we will see it come into the front by the end of 2020 completely. Various sectors have already adapted IoT solutions like the security industry or companies offering BPO Services India. Contact centers not just in India and China but across the world have adapted technology following the principles of IoT. The manufacturing sector is soon going to follow.

Girish Maniyar

Chief Manager Development Initiatives, Asian Paints
Posted on: Sep, 28 2017
I  can speak with some context. While efficiency and tools can reduce inventory, we also see the number of SKUs and new products increasing, and also the number of sales/depot points. This means the inventory in such cases, can start with very high number and with more customization and choices available to the consumer, so there is no end to the long tail of products available within a category. It is unlikely that the slow/dead goods are written off so easily to be not included here.

A larger question, would it be purely an IO problem or also a Demand Planning (Forecast Error) problem? A higher cycle time of service but a better fill rate can improve inventory performance, by aggregation. But a bad forecast can do away all the good work you do in inventory planning.

Do you have numbers for decorative coatings in the list? I did not see something there only for decorative coatings.



Reo B Hatfield

Chief Operating Executive , BestTransport
Posted on: Oct, 20 2017
My opinion is that peaks and valley are just nice graphics to explain.  Smooth responses save the day.   3PLs  just adjust to the climate and the areas of movement of Logistics.    One purpose of the 3PL movement was to adjust to an always changing market.   They will never be fixed and will flex as the logistics changes.   3PL companies have vast knowledge of their business.  Their success is their ability to move up and down as the market flows.  They bring a level playing field to the transportation world that in the past was rigid but looked good on spreadsheets.  Industry graphic personnel like to be able to answer all the changes because they can only see documents.  3PLs see the needs, the issues, the positive changes and the knowledge to know why and when to adjust.   They (3PLs) have smoothed the waves of the past and everybody likes to see the spikes so they know something is there to clearly report on. Smooth sailing is boring but sure gets you where you want to go. 

Catherine Dennis

Supply Chain Manager, Indak Mfg Corp
Posted on: Oct, 26 2017
So the horrific and severe worldwide allocation of electronic components is not an issue?  Don't tell that to the automotive buyers.  It's HORRIBLE.  Lead times out to up to 76 weeks.  Why not write about that?  It's killing us, our customers and the big automakers.   

Huub

Logistics Manager, Shell
Posted on: Nov, 11 2017
I suggest McKinsey to do a bit more research in Prof Gattorna’s dynamic alignment. This article only scratches the surface a tiny bit. Much more to be found reading about the alignment concept.
 
 
 
 

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