Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Sept. 28, 2012

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Sept. 28, 2012

Foxconn Melee Raises More Questions; Campbell's Soup Cans Its Oldest Plant; Harley Davidson Rides Temp Labor; Maersk Says More Slow Steaming




Approximate number of workers at Foxconn facility in Taiyuan city that were involved in a riot, leaving forty hospitalized, dozens arrested and some physical damage. The factory is a supplier to Apple. Details are evolving, but the immediate catalyst seems to be security guards – who are detested by the workers - breaking up a fight in the workers' dorm and more workers joining the fray. Underlying that are issues with squalid, crowded conditions, abuse by security guards, incorrect overtime pay and more.




The year Campbell's Soup built its factory in Sacramento, CA, making it the oldest facility in the food giant's network. Sadly, Campbell's announced this week that the plant – which the company said had "the highest production costs on a per-case basis" - will be closed, with the work spread out among the company's three remaining "thermal" factories in in Maxton, N.C.; Napoleon, Ohio; and Paris, Texas. There are several factors in the move, including a drop in US soup sales and Campbell's increased use of "co-packers" for production.


Number of jobs classifications motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson now has at its York, PA plant, versus 62 under its previous contract with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. That allows it much more flexibility in moving workers around, according to a Wall Street Journal article last week on how HD, like many other manufacturers, continues to get more Lean with regard to labor. 16% of Harley's global workforce in its plants are now temporary employees, up from 11% at the end of 2009 and growing.


Approximate decrease in rates for ocean container shipping from Asia to Europe just since August, from already low levels, falling below variable costs for most of the carriers. In response, giant Maersk Lines this week announced plans to raise rates in these lanes 10-11% on Nov. 1, and to generally take out yet more capacity by greater use "slow steaming," in which ship sailing speeds are reduced. Will its competitors follow suit? That is always the question in this industry.