Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Oct. 9, 2014 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Oct. 9, 2014

UPS Asks Retailers to Cut Back Delivery Christmas Commitments; How Should Made in USA be Defined? Delays at Ports of LA and Long Beach a Big Concern; Machines to Eliminate 33% of Jobs by 2025



Number of hours that retailer Nordstrom is cutting back its guarantee for delivery before Christmas for orders placed on Dec. 23rd - a modest concession made after UPS is pressuring Nordstrom and numerous other retailers to totally banish Dec. 23 guarantees. Nordstrom will shorten the guarantee window from 3 pm this year until noon. As opposed to last year, when UPS famously had a delivery meltdown right before Christmas when a surge of last minute on-line orders plus bad weather in Texas caused millions of shipments to miss the Christmas deadline that etailers had promised, UPS this year is telling retailers it can only guarantee deliveries up to the forecast for shipments those retailers have provided. Of course, if there is no penalty for over-forecasting, that will just encourage them to high-ball their predicted volumes, leaving UPS holding the capacity bag, if you will.




Number of rivets made in China that go into one basketball rim manufactured by Lifetime Products in Utah. Those eight rivets - not available from US manufacturers - plus the basketball net, are the only components of the rim and backboard not produced in the US, while the rim itself is totally made in the company's Utah factory. But those rivets have run afoul of California law on the topic, which says only products 100% made of US components can label itself "Made in the USA." Sued by two buyers who claimed they were duped by the false advertising – perhaps strongly encouraged by a law firm that specializes in these suits - Lifetime spent more the $1 million in settlements and its own legal fees on the suits. The US Federal Trade Commission needs to step in and clarify the definition for all 50 states.


Number of days it can take right now to get a container off a ship and onto a train headed to a Sears distribution center at the ports of LA and Long Beach. That according to Bob Wysocki, divisional vice president of international transportation and operations at Sears, at a recent conference on port "congestion" held by the Federal Maritime Commission. "We can't keep doing this," Wysocki said, noting the delays are especially acute for goods that are scheduled for promotional pricing campaigns and may not hit store shelves in time. The cause? Giant megaships that take much longer to unload, but maybe even more consequential the change in how the chasses used to move the containers at a terminal are managed, after the container lines exited the business and leasing companies took over.



Number of today's jobs for which humans will be replaced by robots, drones, super smart computers and other related technology by 2025, in a not exactly pleasant prediction from the analysts at Gartner this week. Take drones, for example. "In five years, drones will be a standard part of operations in many industries, used in agriculture, geographical surveys and oil and gas pipeline inspections," Gartner says, replacing jobs humans do currently. New cognitive capability in computer software will extend to even more areas than today, including financial analysis, medical diagnostics and data analytic jobs of all sorts, says Gartner, while robots will replace humans on the factory and warehouse floor. Gartner is probably right, but it is not exactly cheery news for the economy and the middle class.