Supply Chain by the Numbers

- May 30 , 2012


Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of May 30, 2012


3M Fights Supply Chain Hairballs; CEOs say Green Equals Growth; Cat in Major Labor Battle; Diesel Prices Headed South



Number of global CEOs who said that the most important driver of sustainability strategies in their companies was either consumer demand or the opportunity for growth, in a report issued this week by Accenture. That is a noticeable change from just a couple of years ago, when executives were more likely to cite either cost savings or image/PR advantages as being the driving factors in their green initiatives. Just 7% cited cost reduction as the top reason for going green, ranking 7th on the list, also behind factors such as regulatory requirements and genuine environmental concern.




Number of consecutive weeks the retail price of diesel fuel in the US will likely have dropped by the end of this week, as oil and gas/diesel prices continued to fall again this week after seven straight weekly declines. At the end of last week, average diesel prices were about $3.87 a gallon, though that is really not much of a drop versus the $4.14 per gallon peak price for 2012 thus far, reached in late March. But many market analysts expect the trend to continue, as a rising dollar and a general commodity price slump driven by a perceived slowdown in demand from China, whose own economy is wobbling, are pushing oil prices lower.


Number of workers on strike at a Caterpillar plant in Joliet, IL in what has become an increasingly strident labor dispute at a plant that makes hydraulic pumps for Cat equipment. Union leadership is urging workers to reject the latest Caterpillar proposal, which is largely unchanged from earlier offers. The strike is now one month long, and is being seen as a key test case for whether labor can stand its ground in these economic times. The six year contract would freeze wages for workers hired before 2005, who enjoy a hire wage scale than those hired more recently, and allow Caterpillar to adjust wages for the latter group based on its assessment of labor market conditions. Wages range from $13-$25 for newer hires.


Number of miles involved until recently in making a simple line of picture hanging hooks produced by industrial giant 3M. As described in an article in the Wall Street Journal last week, the journey started in an 3M adhesive plant in Missouri, from which the sticky stuff was shipped 550 miles to another 3M plant in Indiana, where the adhesive was applied to polyethylene foam. From that factory, the work-in-process was shipped 600 more miles to Minneapolis, where the 3M logo was applied and the WIP slices into the right sizes. From there, another 200 mile trip to a contractor that added the hooks and did the final packaging. These supply chain “hairballs” are being eliminated, 3M says. .