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December 7, 2018 - Supply Chain Flagship Newsletter

This Week in SCDigest

bullet What Countries are Tops in Logistics 2018? bullet SC Digest On-Target e-Magazine
bullet Supply Chain Graphic & by the Numbers for the Week bullet Distribution Digest/Green Supply Chain
bullet Cartoon Caption Contest Continues bullet Trivia      bullet Feedback
bullet New Expert Column bullet On Demand Videocasts



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October 31, 2018 Contest

See The Full Cartoon and Send in Your Entry Today!



Feature Story: Treatment of Pregnant Workers in the DC a Growing Legal Issue


Weekly On-Target Newsletter:
December 5, 2018 Edition

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My Video Call with Santa Claus

by Henry Canitz
Product Marketing & Business Development Director

Information Has a Shelf Life, Too

by Richard Wilhjelm
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The FedEx bar code tracking system was first launched in what year?

Answer Found at the
Bottom of the Page

What Countries are Tops in Logistics 2018?

Every couple of years, the folks at the World Bank (which is headquartered in Washington DC, if you didn't know) publish a report analyzing the logistics competencies of most nation's across the globe - 160 of them this year, the same as in the last report issued in 2016.

The 2018 report was released in late June. For whatever reason, the excellent report does not receive much press coverage in the US - try Googling it to see - so at this late date I am going to summarize it here anyways, since I suspect few readers have seen anything much about it.


European countries as usual dominated the rankings, holding the top four spots, 8 of the top 10, and 13 of the top 20.


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This is the sixth such effort. And let's just agree that it is good the big thinkers and high rollers at the World Bank recognize logistics is a critical element of a country's competitiveness.

The report notes, for example, that "For individual countries, logistics performance is key to economic growth and competitiveness. Inefficient logistics raises the cost of doing business and reduces the potential for both international and domestic integration."

Later, it notes that "the logistics sector is now recognized almost everywhere as one of the core enablers of development."

We all know that, but it's good to see the World Bank say it too.

The core of the report is a ranking of those 160 nations from top to bottom based on what is called the Logistics Performance Index (LPI), based on a combination of six different attributes.

There is a bit of a change here, with this year's report emphasizing a normalized score based on yearly results from 2012, 2014, 2016 and this year, albeit in a weighted fashion, so 2018 counts more than 2016, etc.

The World Bank gives a good rationale as to why this makes sense, related primarily to vagaries in scoring from year to year, as clearly occurs. However, that approach also doesn't per se fully recognize country improvements in recent years.

Fortunately, the ratings for just 2018 are included in an appendix, and that is what I am going to concentrate on here.

Before explaining how the scores are determined, let's get right to the results.

This year, Germany remains the top spot for the third report in a row, while Sweden moves from 3 to 2. The US fell from the 10 spot in 2016 to a rank of 14 in 2018, continuing a downward trend that is worrisome.

Afghanistan, Angola, and Burundi took the bottom three spots, only because North Korea was not included in the rankings. Syria was a bottom three finisher in 2016, was also not evaluated this year.

The six attributes that go into the LPI are as follows:

The efficiency of customs and border clearance ("Customs").
The quality of trade and transport infrastructure ("Infrastructure").
The ease of arranging competitively priced shipments ("Ease of arranging shipments").
The competence and quality of logistics services - trucking, forwarding, and customs brokerage ("Quality of logistics services").
The ability to track and trace consignments ("Tracking and tracing") .
The frequency with which shipments reach consignees within scheduled or expected delivery times ("Timeliness").

 In the end, using some standard statistical methods, every country included in the Index is given a score between 1 and 160 for each attribute, with that score ultimately translated to a number between 0 and 5 (to two decimal places), which are then averaged to produce a final score.

How does the World Bank acquire such data? The results are obtained from an elaborate survey of freight forwarders and 3PLs worldwide, which seems like a reasonable approach to me. The surveying is quite sophisticated, with respondents rating logistics competence in their own countries and then also a limited number of other countries they know best.

The survey is also conducted in two phases, with results from the first phase used to target respondents for the second phase to get enough data for the results to be significant for each country.

So, below you will find a chart of the top 40 nations in the 2018 report, showing not only the ranking from 1 to 40 but also the component scores for each of the six attributes. 

Top 40 Countries for 2018 LPI with individual Attribute Scores


Source: World Bank

See Full Image


European countries as usual dominated the rankings, holding the top four spots, 8 of the top 10, and 13 of the top 20. China came in at number 26, up one spot from 27 in 2016. Mexico was number 51.

Interestingly, for all the handwringing relative to US logistics infrastructure challenges, the US actually ranked number 7 in the world on that attribute, up from the 8th spot in 2018. But also as in the last report, the US would have been near the top ranking overall except for a relatively poor rating of number 23 on ease of international shipments.

Top ranked Germany also rated as having the best logistics infrastructure, I'll note.

Five countries have been in the top 10 overall for the last four reports, dating back to 2012: Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, and Singapore. Sweden would be on that list too except for oddly falling to 15 in 2012, almost certainly a statistical aberration.

There has been some change but not a lot in the rankings over time. Below is a table SCDigest created to show how this year's top 10 ranked in previous reports dating back to 2012. Obviously there is some "noise" in the data - we doubt Finland's logistics performance really fell from a 3 ranking to 24 between 2012 and 2014, so we also average out the scores of this year's top 10 over the past four reports in the last column for some additional perspective. Clearly Germany, Sweden, Singapore and the Netherlands have been dominant over time.

Changing LPI Scores Over Time

See Full Image

The WTO continues to hinting that it may start rating the logistics capabilities of major cities around the globe before too long, the report says "The World Bank is thus increasingly involved in urban logistics projects in Brazil, China, Kenya, Morocco, and other countries."

If you want to wade through the full report, the link is here (2018 World Bank LPI) but saving you time by summarizing the key data is what we do here at SCDigest.

Any reaction to the 2018 World Bank LPI ratings? What's seems right and not right, if anything, to you? Is the US place appropriately? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


On Demand Videocast:

Digital Transformation's Value to the Supply Chain

The Future of Order Management

This videocast breaks down what digital transformation is and how automated order management solutions equate to supply chain benefits.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Esker's Dan Reeve.

Now Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

Digitizing the Order Management Process

Orders Still come in Many Different Forms and Systems - Here's How to Get them Under Digital Control

This videocast discusses breaks down all the ways in which orders can arrive, the downstream challenges associated with each, and the benefits of digitization.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Esker's Sarah Joiner.

Now Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

Reducing Costs through Automated Inventory Replenishment & Analytics

How Motor City Industrial Taps into Data Visualization to Help Customers Identify Waste, Reduce Inventory

This videocast discusses how to connect people, processes and technology across commerce and supply chain operations to achieve unified commerce.

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor along with Joseph Stephens, CEO, Motor City Industrial, Jay Fielder, Supply Chain Technology Manager, Motor City Industrial and Mike Wills, Chief Revenue Officer, Apex Supply Chain Technologies.

Now Available On Demand


We received a number of emails on our various coverage of the CSCMP Edge conference. A selection is below. More next week.

Feedback on CSCMP Edge 2018:


Since the company upgraded its security, SC Digest was getting trapped in "junk" mail folder.

I recently released them from the folder. SC Digest, and your columns, are anything but junk. Indeed, SC Digest is one of the few bulk emails that I enjoy reading.

Though not able to attend the CSCMP conference, your column, as always, was informative and refreshing. You deserve much credit and courage for suggesting realistic and practical ways the conference can be improved. I have been to other conferences where it seems the vendors have hijacked the format either through monopolizing the agendas, duration of sessions or spouting product attributes as 'thought leadership.'

I understand there needs to be balance in these conferences and recognizing the companies willing to share their stories is the a good message to the conference organizers.

Thank you.

Jerry Saltzman
Director, Global Supply Chain Processes




On Monday's Panel with Amazon, IBM, and Nike, I had a few more observations to add to yours.

First, in your video you pointed out that Amazon (Bozeman) had a great saying that you should "strive for a boring factory." And, at the end of session, his first take-away for the audience was to study "lean manufacturing" techniques. Even with advances in technology, the "lean" movement teaches us a lot of about operations. It is interesting that GE announced its first outside CEO and he comes with a very strong lean manufacturing background.

Second, Nike (Brewer) had a quote that supply chain and operations folks should treasure: "It is just an art project until you get it onto someone's feet." Just a great quote to stress the importance of the supply chain. But, I think the quote is deeper. It reminds us that the whole business is connected. The "art project" has to be good for the operations to even exist.

Third, both Nike (Brewer) and IBM (Wright) pointed out that with the pace of change, if you aren't leading it is easier to fall further behind.

Michael Watson
Opex Analytics






First, thank you for you coverage of CSCMP. It was outstanding as usual.


I was unable to make this years' event. Your videos and trip reports made me almost feel like I was there.


I completely agree with you that the conference format is stale and needs a refresh. Your suggestions are good ones. Maybe there are other suggestions out there.


But events like species must evolve and react to the environment, and that is not happening.


Still a good conference, but needs "new blood," for lack of a better word.


Name withheld by request

Consumer package goods industry



Q: The FedEx bar code tracking system was first launched in what year?

A: 1981.

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