This week in SCDigest:
Readers Respond: What to Tell Students and Bureaucrats about Logistics
New Automated Case Picking 2011 Survey Available Now!
Supply Chain Graphic of the Week and Supply Chain by the Numbers
New Cartoon Caption Contest Begins This Week!
SC Digest On-Target e-Magazine
New Expert Contributor: Voice Picking: The Smart Person's WMS Upgrade
This Week In "Distribution Digest"
  Trivia Feedback
Become a Sponsor
SCDigest Home Page
  Newsletter Archives                  Can't View In E-mail? February 24, 2011 - Supply Chain Newsletter

Featured Sponsor: Softeon


Videocast: Lean & Warehouse Automation Can Go Together

Game Changing Technology Delivers

Lean Without Tradeoffs

Featuring Peter Blair, Director of Marketing Communications, Kiva Systems

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Videocast: Benchmarking As A Catalyst For Supply Chain Improvement

Most Supply Chain Managers Understand That Benchmarking Can Play A Vital Role In Improving Operational Performance

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Special Videocast:
The Dell Supply Chain Transformation

How Dell Has Re-Optimized Its Supply Chain To Address Market Challenges And Drive Success

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Please Help SCDigest!

Participate In This Ground-Breaking Report

By Taking The 2011 Automated Case Picking Survey!

This Week's Supply Chain News Bites
- Only from SCDigest

Supply Chain Graphic of the Week: Segmenting the Supply Chain

This Week's Supply Chain by the Numbers for February 25, 2011:

  • Maersk Really Bulks Up
  • Robots in the DC
  • Nike Builds out China Distribution
  • Oil Prices and GDP Growth

Provider of the Industry's
Most Functionally Rich
Warehouse Management System



February 21 , 2011 Contest

See The Full-Sized Cartoon and

Send In Your Entry Today !



Weekly On-Target Newsletter
February 24, 2010 Edition

New Cartoon, Literally Printing Products,
Maersk Mega-Mega Ships and more


By Scott J. Yetter

Voxware, Inc.

Voice Picking: The Smart Person's WMS Upgrade

Q: What does the manufacturing-related word "swarf" refer to?
A: Answer (Also Found at the Bottom of the Page)

Readers Respond: What to Tell Students and Bureaucrats about Logistics

Well, it's my favorite sort of column this week, where I let the readers take over.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column on "What to Tell Students and Bureaucrats about Logistics," relative to an upcoming presentation I had in Columbus to a group of educators, students, policy makers and others about the role of logistics in company and country competitiveness, logistics and supply chain careers, and more.

I offered a perspective in that column that became the basis for my presentation earlier this week, which all told went very well.


"Rightly or wrongly – the term “logistics” seems to today connote more of a technical/engineering expertise, whereas "supply chain" is more managerial."


Send us your
feedback here

A number of readers sent in their own reactions and thoughts to my ideas, which I believe are worth sharing in the space today.

Marc Wulfraat, president of MWPVL International, brought up a point I wish I would have thought of.

"If I was addressing a general audience of students and bureaucrats, I would make mention that we need more women in the logistics industry, particularly in logistics management positions," Wulfraat said. "If I had to venture a guess, I would say that women constitute less than 5-10% of logistics and supply chain management positions in the North American context. This is unfortunate because for the most part, the women that have made it to the top in our industry are darn good at what they do."

He added that "The onus is on the leaders and ambassadors in our industry, and I include you in that population, to go out there and promote a logistics/supply chain career path as being enriching and rewarding for both men and women. Our industry is tough because it has the most moving parts that can break, where no standard rule book exists on how to do it right, and where good solid creative thinking and ingenuity can enable game changing competitive advantage for companies. We all could certainly benefit from an expanded talent pool."

That's a perspective we need to consider much more often, and will note that our upcoming videocast on Dell's Supply Chain Transportation features Annette Clayton, VP of Global Operations and Supply Chain there.

I had a great exchange of emails with the always insightful David Armstrong of Inventory Curve, who made this interesting observation: "One of the biggest challenges in getting people to understand logistics and the supply chain is that to an extent, it is invisible. It is so extensive and pervades and touches on most area of organizations that it is "just there". Many times when people are discussing the meaning of supply chain and logistics, I'm reminded of the poem, "The Blind Men and the Elephant", where six blind men touch various parts of an elephant and describe what they feel: it's like a wall, a spear, a snake, a tree, a fan, a rope. Each was partially right, but no where do the complete picture emerge."

I think that is a good analogy, and would add that sometimes the extended supply chain team itself falls victim to that less than holistic perspective.

Armstrong added that "Too often, I think organizations look at the functional areas of their organizations (like the blind men and the elephant) and apply the current terms being used to a functional activity or area. For example in one firm, the term, Supply Chain management, is applied to a group that basically does customer account management. One of their primary activities is expediting. In another firm, the major organization unit is materials. Logistics in responsible for day to day warehouse operations and shipping. Buyers have the title, Supply Chain Specialist, with major functional activities are sourcing, replenishment ordering and expediting. Key supply chain and/or logistics process activities such as process development, channel analysis and differentiation, and integration of activities across the full supply chain are missing."

Armstrong says he uses the terms "logistics" and "supply chain management" almost interchangeably, to which I responded that "Rightly or wrongly – the term “logistics” seems to today connote more of a technical/engineering expertise, whereas "supply chain" is more managerial."

I would be interested in your take on this.

Relative to this, Harry B. Fanning II of Boeing sees Logistics as being the superior term.

"I believe that your overall message is very much on point. However, you have mis-used the term Logistics," Fanning wrote. "Throughout the article the term Logistics could easily be replaced with Transportation. Transportation and SCM are sub-sets of Logistics. Logistics consists of 10 integrated disciplines that span the entire product life cycle. These disciplines combine to develop and execute plans necessary to sustain a product throughout its life cycle, including disposal of that product at the end of its life."

Well, I was embarrassed to say that I was unaware of the 10 integrated Logistics disciplines, and upon inquiry Fanning sent the list: Sustaining Engineering, Supply Support, Maintenance Planning & Management, Packaging, Handling, Transportation & Storage (PHS&T), Technical Data, Support Equipment, Training & Training Support, Manpower & Personnel, Facilities & Infrastructure, and Computer Resources.

This may have a aerospace/defense orientation, but I will look into this approach at some future point here at SCDigest.

Dr. Brian Gibson of Auburn University offered these thoughts: "To reach students, it helps to put it in a context that they understand and care about. Talk about a specific product like an iPhone or their Starbucks coffee and how logistics/SCM makes it possible for them to enjoy reasonably priced products from around the world without too much effort on the student's part."

He suggested I reference and "a definition that will make sense to students: Supply chain management (SCM) is all the activities that take place to get a product in your hands, from the time of raw materials extraction to the minute you pull out your credit card and take the final product home. SCM focuses on planning and forecasting, purchasing, product assembly, moving, storing, and keeping track of a product as it flows toward you and other consumers."

Anthony Burgher works in the Defense Logistics Agency, and says he is a potential candidate for the DoD's SCM management science program. He wrote that "I am pleased to know that SCM is discipline that holds promise. I like the [supply chain] definition given by Dr. John Gattorna, because I tend to be a "detail” type of person."

Jan Tukker, who works in Logistics at a prominent apparel retailer in South Africa, said that "The supply chain environment is changing here at a rapid rate. Stock turns and stock efficiency are now commonly talked about alongside sales. Logistics is now considered during procurement decisions. There is a strong belief that good logistics and supply chain management will provide stronger financial results - there has been a paradigm shift in our company's thinking!"

He added that "One of the main contributors to our success (that is, the Supply Chain and Logistics departments within our company) is the continuous internal marketing of the benefits of good practice in this area. This can only be achieved through employing Logistics Professionals that can communicate at all levels. This has to be done together with strong operations excellence to avoid having to be sent into the detail to fix short term issues within the Logistics area. Once there is trust that the operation runs well, there is almost an "invitation" to participate in the company wide decisions and a will to listen to the Logistics person."

Anindya (didn't get a last name, but he works for an SCM technology provider) says that here at SCDigest we have a "knack of picking both challenging and brilliant topics" to write about on these pages (thank you), and then adds some thoughts for students.

"The students should be a little clever in making them marketable too. So, my advice to them is that network/contact a practitioner of the subject and learn the basic functionalities of a traditional manufacturing company, such as demand management, supply management, production planning, detailed scheduling, warehouse management, etc., at a very high level."

Get that knowledge and then "compile a list of the top 5 companies that provide solutions in these respective areas of supply chain management. Pick one area and one vendor and spend another $1000 to take a certification course to learn that application," he adds. If a student does that, he or she "will automatically become highly desirable by an employer."

There were several more, but I am out of space. Would love your further comments on these topics.


Dan Gilmore


Send an Email


View Web/Printable Version of this Page


HolsteHolste's Blog: Can a Company’s Product Mix Stymie Adoption of Automation?

Top Story: The Overlooked Keys to Warehouse Management System Success
Top Story: New Products from Crown Equipment Offer Potential Path to Higher Distribution Center Productivity


Catching up as usual on Feedback this week.

Our Feedback of the Week comes from Brittain Ladd of Capgemini, who agrees with Dr. David Simchi-Levi that the supply chain can truly be engineered. Dr. Andre Martin, the inventor of distribution requirements planning, agrees with that too, but lays out the challenges.

We also have a letter on the need for shippers and ocean carriers to better share information.

We also received a provocative letter on our guest column on logistics and US border security who says we don't know the half of it.


Feedback of the Week - on Engineering the Supply Chain

Absolutely the supply chain can be engineered. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is that the art of supply chain management must be balanced by the science of supply chain optimization. Supply chain modeling tools from i2, LLamasoft, and ILOG to name a few all provide companies with the ability to model their supply chains to create a baseline model and then run optimization and simulation to identify the optimal engineered supply chain. I have built such models and can attest to their ability to provide eye opening “aha” moments that would otherwise be left undiscovered.

The challenge that most companies face is not having people on staff who feel comfortable using supply chain modeling software as well as lacking proper change agents who can implement recommendations from the models. Reengineering a supply chain cuts across people, process, and technology requiring corporations to achieve transformational change; something that is not easy to do. However, in my opinion, the value of engineering the supply chain through modeling, Business Process Reengineering, and Lean Six Sigma is well worth the effort. Running supply chain models on a quarterly basis and utilizing Lean Six Sigma is a best practice that will help companies align their supply chain and inventory needs with the Voice of the Customer and the needs of the business.

Brittain Ladd

Managing Consultant



More on Engineering the Supply Chain:


The professor is theoretically correct. This being said, you need a capability to model the complete supply chain, test for various scenarios, dollarize the results then pick the scenario that has the best tradeoff.

We are currently doing this with a client. The client wanted to know, for example, what the inventory investment would be if a 93% service level versus 98% were achieved during the coming holiday season. This can be done.

Andre Martin

RedPrairie Flowcasting Group

Feedback on Ocean Shipping:

I think this article is spot on. Giving a carrier (any carrier) a forecast is a smart move as it is a win/win. For the carrier he gets to plan his manpower and equipment, for the shipper, he not only builds relationships with his carrier by collaborating he also has better assurance of equipment availability. What has plagued the ocean market is the adversarial approach BY BOTH  the shipper and carriers.  

The ebb and flow of capacity, of volumes, of bunker, of trade lanes, all conspire to create an atmosphere that drives “it’s now my turn”. This is stainable, it both carrier and shipper like uncertainty. What is the fix? I would say that a good first step is to have a meeting of the minds with your ocean carriers, let them make a profit and let shippers receive consistent service. Lock in your service and costs with your carrier by building TRUST and go for the long term – not the annual RFP.


John Mariano,CSCP

ITT Program Best

Global Process Expert - WMS & Logistics

Feedback on Border Security Risk:

If you only new the developments down here. Since Mexican Customs Brokers associations have deep pockets they "persuaded" government officials to find a loophole to the Trade Notice issued by local CBP that bonded cargo only goes to the bonded carriers facility. Now Mexican Customs Brokers or as you call them Forwarding Agents can "lease" a space out to a bonded carrier and appoint a person (on the Mexican Brokers Payroll) as an Agent of the bonded carrier so that the Mexican Broker can receive in-bond freight. This is the same thing they were doing before. CBP regulations clearly state who can receive bonded freight. I guess that is why we have issues.

This leaves people like me ( I am a bonded warehouse proprietor, FTZ operator, Bonded Carrier and a US Customs Broker) at a huge disadvantage. Try adding that to your next article.

Alejandro R. Zamudio CHB

Q: What does the manufacturing-related word "swarf" refer to?
A: Swarf is shavings and chippings of metal — the debris or waste resulting from metalworking operations including milling and grinding. As such, it is a form of waste, and often very expensive to companies using those machining operations. The term has gained recent currency with the growth of "3D digital printing," which is an "additive" process that builds a part up from nothing, versus the substractive process that produces swarf.
Copyrights © SupplyChainDigestTM 2003-2010. All Rights Reserved.
PO Box 714
Springboro, Ohio 45066