Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Feb. 22, 2013

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Feb. 22, 2013

The Good Life for Workers at French Factories; Freight Volumes Reach Record Highs - or Did They? Ordering in August for Easter Goods in China; Impressive Battery Life for a New RF Terminal




Number of hours that French factory employees actually work in a day, according to Maurice Taylor, CEO of Illinois-based Titan International, a tire manufacturer. That comment in a letter Taylor sent to a French government minister to explain why he would not step in to save a Goodyear tire factory threatened with closure in northern France. "They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three, and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that's the French way!'" Taylor wrote. Sacre bleu!




Number of hours the battery in a new RF terminal from Psion (now part of Motorola) can last in a DC under normal working conditions before it needs a recharge, according to a presentation at the Motorola channel partner conference this week. That's pretty impressive, and we believe and industry best. That specification for the Omnii (two i's is right) XT15 terminal is based on using Wi-Fi communications inside a DC, and an average of 5 scans per minute, which seems like a very reasonable assumption to us. Advanced battery management software plays the key role in this improvement, the company said.


The level of the American Trucking Associations truck freight tonnage index for January - the highest level ever recorded. That means freight moved in January was 25% above the base index year of 2000. Freight volumes improved 2.9% in January, a revised 2.4% in December, and 9.1% since November. If accurate, it will put pressure on capacity and rates for shippers, as by and large carriers continue to exhibit asset discipline. However, the Cass Freight Index says volumes have been declining, not rising, over that same period, and most carriers reported a soft Q4. Take your pick.



Number of workers who do not show back up after the Chinese new year holiday at the primary factory in China used by The Bridge Direct, a US-base sourcing company that delivers products like Care Bears to retailers, according to its CEO in a Wall Street Journal article this week. Tens of millions of urban Chinese workers return home to rural areas during the holiday period, which just ended this week. Many of them simply never come back. That is causing many Western companies to place Easter-related orders from China in August rather than December or January, when demand is better understood and inventories can be held for a shorter period of time, simply to ensure delivery in the face of uncertain labor capacity.