Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Aug. 16, 2013

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Aug. 16, 2013

US Factories Just Can't Get as Busy as they Used to Be; Consumers are Buying - but In Different Ways; A Lot of Stuff Is Made in Indiana; Coles Australia Gets Right After DIFOT Metric



The 40-year average (1972-2012) of US manufacturing capacity utilization - a level the country just cannot seem to get back to five years after the start of the recession. Manufacturing capacity utilization was 75.8 in July, almost three percentage points behind that long-run average. Utilization was over the 78% level for much of the 2005-2007 period, but seemed to hit a ceiling right around that long-run average. Utilization then plunged to a record low of about 63% in June 2009, before a slow but steady climbed to current levels. For much of the 1990s, utilization was in the low 80s percent range, peaking in January, 1995 at 84.6%.




Drop in Walmart’s same store sales in its second fiscal quarter, the retail giant announced last week, as it joined Macy's, Kohl's and other retailers in also lowering expectations for the rest of this year and even into 2014. For example, Walmart dropped previous estimates of 5-6% revenue gains next year to just 2-3%. But what is interesting, many observers are noting, is that consumer spending overall is still strong - consumers are just not buying goods that many mass merchants, department stores and specialty retailers are offering - they are buying cars, goods to improve their homes, and some luxury goods. Some of the troubles at Walmart and other retailers is reflected in continued stagnation in US hourly wages, which Bureau of Labor Statistics last week said dropped 0.2 percent while the average work week shrank by 0.3 percent last month.


Amazing percent of Indiana's state economy coming directly from the manufacturing sector. That versus the 12% of total US GDP that comes from manufacturing, though we should note that number understates the true impact, as the indirect economic output from manufacturing is even larger. What other states have a high share of manufacturing as a percent of their total GDPs? After Indiana in the top 10 comes Oregon - 27.8%; Louisiana - 22.6%; North Carolina - 19.4%; Wisconsin - 19.1%; Kentucky - 17.1%; Ohio - 17.1%; Iowa - 16.7%; Michigan - 16.5%; Alabama - 16.3%.



The level that supplier deliveries that were DIFOT (Delivered In Full, On Time) fell to a few years ago to Cole’s, Australia’s second largest retail chain, well below the company’s targets, and leading to a sharp rise in out-of-stock levels at the store. Coles’ reacted with a multi-pronged attack, which included new supply chain technology, increased collaboration with suppliers, and training for buyers and merchandisers. The result: inventory reduction of some AU$300 million, a DIFOT number heading towards 99%, and a sharp reduction in stock-outs, according to Grant Enders, general manager replenishment at Coles, during a presentation at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in Melbourne.