Supply Chain by the Numbers

-April 8 , 2010


This Week’s Supply Chain by the Numbers for April 8, 2010


Diesel Drives Upward; Inventory Levels Break Four-Year Losing Streak; Commodity Prices Squeeze Profits; Wearables in Distribution are Hands-Free Alternative to Voice



Level of on-the-road diesel fuel prices seen last week in some areas of the US – the first time that prices have topped $3.00 since November, 2008. Crude oil prices are up 70% since last April, so in some ways the steep rise in diesel prices is actually not reacting  as fast as the underlying commodity trend. (See Here We Go – Oil Reaches $87, amidst Predictions for another Race to $150.00.)





The number for the ISM Inventory Index in March, indicating that inventory levels in businesses are growing, after an amazing 46-month trend of lower inventory build. The 55.3 score was up a strong 8 points over February's 47.3 level. As with all ISM indices, a score above 50 indicates expansion, under 50 contraction, meaning in March companies were strongly adding inventories.


The increase in picking productivity logistics service provider OHL saw as a result of moving to wearable RF devices over voice terminals, according to a SCDigest videocast this week. The productivity increase was 25% over traditional handheld RF guns. (See Wearable RF Devices Gaining interest as Hands-Free Option; OHL Finds 10% Gain even over Voice.)


The amount of materials-driven cost increases that B Murthuraman, vice chairman of Tata Steel Ltd., said his company would likely be able to pass on to customers, as rising commodity costs in some areas, especially metals and oil, squeeze profit margins in a still soft economy with limited pricing power for manufacturers.