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Transportation News Bulletins - Logistics

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OOIDA calls for suspension of CARB regs
Sunday, 13 December 2009 00:20

OOIDA President Jim Johnston has called on the California Air Resources Board to suspend upcoming enforcement dates for two major emissions rules, which are about to be enforced.

In a letter sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and CARB Chairman Mary Nichols, Johnston said enforcement of the state’s drayage rule and Transport Refrigerated Unit rules should be delayed because of the ongoing economic recession combined with the air quality agency’s emerging scandal, which “calls into question the legitimacy of the regulatory process used.”

“Considering our nation’s deep economic recession and the havoc it is wreaking on owner-operators and small-business motor carriers both in California and outside the state, I respectfully request that you grant an extension of the enforcement dates. This would allow more time for owner-operators and smallbusiness motor carriers to access federal funding opportunities that have yet to be disbursed,” Johnston wrote.

The CARB port drayage rule is scheduled to prohibit pre-1994 model year truck engines from being used on trucks at the port beginning on Jan. 1, 2010. The reefer, or TRU rule, requires trucks that haul reefers in California to meet the equipment portion of the state’s “In-Use Performance Standards” for 2001 and older reefers beginning on Dec. 31, 2009.

OOIDA’s request comes on the heels of a major scandal breaking this week in which it was shown that CARB’s project team leader for developing its most expensive rule to date—the truck and bus retrofit rule— falsely claimed his education credentials.

While Johnston referenced the scandal in his letter, the nation’s economic crisis and particularly California’s down economy make a delay in the rules’ enforcement necessary, he said.

CARB recently announced that many truck owners who obtained government grants to pay for emissions upgrades have been given a four-month extension to meet the port drayage rule. OOIDA believes that extension provides a particularly unfair advantage to some motor carriers.

“The deepest economic recession since the 1970s has placed the economic viability of many owneroperators and small-business truckers at significant risk,” Johnston wrote.

“The high failure rate of trucking companies in this economy is well documented, and those not fortunate enough to secure public grants to aid in the high cost of compliance are placed in an unfair disadvantage versus their competitors (many who are larger motor carriers) that have received various forms of government aid.”

Johnston pointed out that CARB granted an extension on the TRU rule in July out of concern for many truckers not being able to meet the original compliance date, and noted “that fact is still true.”

In addition, two CARB board members have publicly called for the suspension of the truck and bus rule to “re-establish the public trust,” Johnston wrote. “An extension would be viewed by many as a goodwill effort by the State of California while the Board sorts through the implications of the fraud.”

OOIDA has more than 157,000 members nationally and more than 5,500 members in California.

In e-mails sent between CARB board members, Nichols and a head of the California EPA, CARB researcher Hien Tran was revealed to not have a degree, though the agency and state officials defended him publicly.

CARB’s truck and bus retrofit rule was approved partly because of Tran’s research in the report, “Methodology for Estimating Premature Death Associated with Long-Term Exposure to Find Airborne Particulate matter in California.” In the report, Tran falsely claimed that he had a Ph.D. in statistics from The University of California at Davis.

Tran purportedly confessed on Dec. 10, one day before CARB’s December 2008 board meeting began, and two days before the board approved its most expensive rule yet—the truck and bus retrofit rule.

“I believe the legitimacy of the (truck and bus rule) vote to be in question,” wrote CARB Board member John Telles, a cardiologist, in a letter to CARB’s chief counsel.

Later, he said a “fundamental violation of procedure,” combined with the agency’s failure to reveal that information to the board before it voted to approve the truck and bus measure “not only casts doubt upon the legitimacy of the truck rule, but also upon the legitimacy of CARB itself.”

CARB’s Nichols apparently knew that the researcher lied but withheld that information from most of the board for nearly a year.

Two CARB board members have criticized the agency as a whole for the research scandal and apparent cover-up.

CARB is scheduled to hold its December meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Land Line Magazine, 12/4/2009

 
Is RFID a flash in the pan?
Friday, 11 December 2009 00:00
Want to know where RFID stands in today's supply chains? Industry veteran John Hill looks at this year in RFID.

Nothing in the past 30 years—not even bar code—had such a dramatic impact on the supply chain as the November 4, 2003 announcement by the 800-pound gorilla from northwest Arkansas (Wal-Mart). Business journals and the national media treated the topic as if it were the "second coming." And, those of us who had labored in the supply chain vineyard for years were excited as well.

Why? Because in spite of the anticipated challenges that were to confront RFID deployment, the announcements focused or refocused corporate America's attention on the critical role played by supply chain technology and systems in the nation's economy.

The excitement was electric and, not unlike the enthusiasm that attended bar code standards announced in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it seemed that everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, non-technical advocates and some segments of the media blatantly oversimplified the challenges, while understating the costs associated with Wal-Mart's initial focus on item level tagging and point of sale deployment.

It's been five and a half years since the announcement. What's happened? While waiting for technologists to resolve cost and performance issues—and national and international organizations to promulgate the necessary standards—a number of companies have moved forward with measured assessment of RFID, finding a host of supply chain and logistics applications where the value of the items identified and the data captured more than offset initial technology investment and the recurring costs of tags that work. Here we're talking about asset identification and management, everything from railcars, tractors, trailers and lift trucks to pallets, cages, tubs and reusable containers.

Overall, market revenue exceeded $5 billion last year and is expected to grow annually at a rate of 10% to15% through 2013, current economic conditions notwithstanding, according to market watchers ABI Research and ID TechEx.

Even companies that decided to defer RFID investment, found "low hanging fruit" during their assessment of the technology in the form of opportunities to streamline throughput and reduce costs through enhanced material flows, processes and systems.

Further, the RFID phenomenon triggered a number of innovations in bar coding, voice data entry and other identification technology that have broadened the number of options available to current and prospective users. Further, if the enthusiasm shown by 175 exhibitors and 2,400 attendees at this year's RFID Journal Live event in Orlando can be used as a bellwether, it appears that the industry is maturing and making a determined effort to better align current technology performance capabilities with applications that can deliver respectable returns. Some highlights include:

  • a number of real-time locating system (RTLS) hardware and software products for warehouse, truck and container yard, logistics depot, open-pit mining and corporate asset identification and tracking;
  • RFID-enabled lift trucks with optical positioning to provide load identification and location data to a WMS or ERP, with accuracy to within one foot; • a specialized shipping container that uses passive UHF technology to inventory its contents, transmitting data via WiFi, cellular and satellite links;
  • "Smart" pallets and totes with embedded RFID tags;
  • at least two asset visibility solutions for RFID/GPS tracking of trailers, trucks, rail cars and fleet vehicles including temperature, humidity, shock and vibration sensing for reefers;
  • an active RFID system integrated with GPRS, GSM and satellite communications to monitor shipping containers and other high-value assets in Afghanistan;
  • software product that handles input from multiple automatic identification and sensor technologies including GPS, bar code, infrared and active and passive RFID;
  • an RFID-based waste management system that identifies vehicles and tracks materials at environmental clean-up sites;
  • an RFID-based system that tracks perishables with semi-passive, temperature-sensing tags for monitoring produce and pharmaceuticals in transit;

  • active and passive RFID tags for IT asset tracking;
  • a system for tracking pigs and other animals, using RFID tags to uniquely identify each pig and software that records breeding history, vaccinations, medical treatment and other events;
  • a new RFID tag inlay from China advertised at $.058 per inlay in quantities of 5 million, not the price point that is likely to trigger a significant upsurge in demand, but a good bit lower than that anticipated even a year ago; and
  • exciting new developments in thin-film, battery assisted passive tags as well as conductive and organic inks for printing RFID tags that bodes well for the lower costs essential for downstream itemlevel consumer goods identification.

The bottom line? RFID was and is not a flash in the pan. You'd better keep an eye on it. Wal-Mart certainly is!

Logistics Management, 12/11/2009

 
Forecast 2010: Supply Chains Must Prepare for Upward
Thursday, 10 December 2009 00:00

Kelly Thomas, senior VP of product strategy and planning with supply chain software vendor i2 Technologies Inc. believes that “business as usual” is a thing of the past, thanks to the economic meltdown of the past two years. Going forward, he says, companies must actively refine their supply chains to be prepared for upward demand trends in 2010. At the same time, companies must minimize their exposure to financial risks in a market that will still be characterized by uncertainty. To achieve that, supply chains must stay closely tuned to their customers’ needs, and learn to react faster to changes on a global landscape.

Following are some supply chain-focused predictions from i2’s supply chain experts on what companies can expect to see in 2010:

* Manufacturers will make rapid incremental planning and inventory optimization the “new normal.”

As demand became increasingly uncertain during the downturn, businesses resorted to more frequent operational planning with multiple scenarios and focused on optimization of inventory deployment across their supply chains to free up cash. This allowed manufacturers to keep operational efficiency improvements ahead of declining demand. As demand recovers, companies will seek to gain margin leverage on the efficiencies and productivity improvements gained in the downturn. Processes and systems for rapid incremental planning will become the “the new normal.”

Smart managers will demand real-time insight into operations as well as advanced visibility with scenarios that allow them to “see around corners.” Leading companies will implement closed-loop solutions for sales and operations planning to standardize these new rapid-response capabilities. Multi-echelon inventory optimization with frequent review of deployment policies will become part of normal operations at leading companies. In addition, new delivery models that grew in importance during the downturn will increasingly become part of the mainstream, such as cloud computing, managed services and softwareas- a-service (SaaS).

* Brand owners and retailers will synchronize operations through shelf-centered collaboration.

Consumers in mature markets have dramatically cut back on spending. The household savings rate in the U.S. has increased to as high as 6% from negative numbers only two years ago. While this may have positive long-term effects, it will likely create multi-year pressures on brand manufacturers and retailers. This means brand manufacturers will be fighting for a bigger slice of consumers’ constrained budgets. While price compression may have become part of most business models, those who can break through the clutter and re-emerge with brand strength will flourish in the future.

One logical strategy for building brand strength is to extend the power and efficiency of supply chain collaboration to the retail shelf. Today, delivering superior customer satisfaction through shelf awareness is crucial to retaining customers, and it’s the new wave in retail optimization. Retailers and brand owners will increasingly deploy shelf-centered collaboration tools to improve supply chain performance, thereby responding swiftly to consumer trends, knowing customers’ buying preferences and opening new revenue opportunities.

* Shippers will adopt new partnership models to support the “green” movement.

Driven by economic, social and regulatory pressures, global shippers are seeking more cost-effective and sustainable ways to move product from source to shelves. They have worked to streamline and strengthen their own transportation networks, but in recent years, the more eco-friendly companies have expanded those efforts to include suppliers, partners and customers. To further reduce their costs and carbon footprints, many large shippers will begin to take steps toward forming collaborative partnerships in a consortium-based business model.

The multi-shipper collaboration will leverage cross-shipper visibility, powerful analytics and a transactionbased exchange that encourages shippers to share and optimize excess and available trucking capacity. Meanwhile, small- to medium-sized shippers will look to deploy transportation optimization solutions through SaaS delivery models to stay efficient, responsive and earth-conscious.

* Automakers will restructure the supply chain amid power shift and globalization.

The global economic downturn has led to a complete restructuring of the automotive supply chain in mature markets and an acceleration of power shift to emerging players in Korea and China. At current unit sales levels, China has already surpassed the U.S., whereas demand in the U.S. has fallen by more than 42% from the peak year of the business cycle, which is the largest such decline since the Great Depression. Even previously immune Japanese manufacturers have been negatively impacted by the downturn.

Amidst this backdrop, global business processes for supply chain management will become increasingly important. Japanese manufacturers may re-evaluate their build-where-you-sell philosophy, as their U.S. and European counterparts will run at much lower volume-breakeven points and use the restructuring of their dealer networks to run far leaner channel inventory profiles. Korean automakers will leverage their global processes and integrated supply chain management technology infrastructures to continue to gain global share. All of this will lead to a renewed interest in global order-to-delivery and lease-landed-cost sourcing processes.

Logistics Today, 12/10/2009

 
The Shifting Priorities of Green Transportation
Thursday, 10 December 2009 00:00

The travel, transportation and logistics industries are undergoing a global transformation in an effort to maximize revenues, increase profitability and improve operational efficiencies. At the same time, they are facing pressures from the regulatory bodies to contribute positively towards environment and comply with global “green” initiatives. Apart from stringent environmental regulations, the other motivating factor to work towards green initiative is the scope to earn carbon credits for monetary benefits.

From hybrid to electric, innovations shaping the “green transportation” sector abound. However, there are certain ways in which logistics management, and not just vehicle construction, should be contributing to the environmental movement in ways that increase productivity, facilitate better management visibility, optimize operational costs and contribute toward environment substantially.

With nearly 75% of a company's carbon footprint stemming from transportation and logistics, it is an obvious starting point from which to reduce emissions and energy-waste. In fact, in a recent survey by AMR Research, 94% logistics companies surveyed said that they already have a green initiative underway.

Such reports summarize the way forward for the logistics industry if it wants to thrive in this era of new regulations and thinning operational margins. According to eyefortransport, nearly 85% of companies surveyed said that over the next three years green issues will become more important to their transport and logistics processes. What’s more, approximately 13% identified green issues as their number-one priority over the next three years, signaling a paramount shift in corporate priorities.

One example of the industry’s shifting green priorities can be seen through the International Air Transport Association (IATA). IATA has embarked upon an ambitious project of e-freight enablement, setting its sights to electronically process 67% of all documents required in e-freight transactions. By IATA’s estimates, this will result in saving $4.9 billion annually and would also result in better traceability, improved process efficiency, faster transactions and increased accuracy.

Based on IATA data, e-freight is helping improve the environment:

  • e-freight enablement will eliminate more than 7,800 tons of paper documents, the equivalent of 80 Boeing 747 freighters.
  • Paperless cargo processing could save the industry $1.2 billion each year and reduce shipping time by at least 25%.

Across the logistics industry, improved equipment servicing and active speed monitoring are contributing the most to green transportation management practices. NIIT developed iFUEL, which is a mobile asset management system targeted at the logistics industry. It will increase productivity, facilitate better visibility to the management, optimize operational cost and contribute to environmental sustainability.

iFUEL is one company’s response not only to the pressing industry need to cut-costs, reduce wasteful spending and improve efficiency but also to the global need for climate change. As ardent believers in the importance of a cleaner, better world, we believe solutions like iFUEL represent the next wave of logistics technology innovation.

Events such as the United Nations’ Copenhagen Climate Change Conference scheduled for December, the economic recession and the ensuing supply chain cost reduction it has forced as well as the increased importance of public relations to customers choosing strategic logistics partners, all lend weight to the importance of sustainable technology initiatives in the modern era. The logistics industry must continue to respond to these events while proactively taking the lead on research, development and implementation of green technologies’ for the better of our industry, the economy and the environment.

For additional background and resources on “green initiatives” in logistics, visit Logistics Today’s Greensourcing page.

Debashish Debsikdar is with NIIT, an IT solutions organization providing services in application development, maintenance, enterprise solutions and managed services.

Logistics Today, 12/10/2009

 
High-Tech Scanners, Software Speed Sorting Times
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 00:00

Moving goods from warehouse shelves to trucks for delivery is a labor-intensive process. As a result, warehouse operators are using more high-tech scanners, robotic devices and new software to make the most of workers’ time.

Picking orders can be one of the most time consuming tasks within the warehouse. Kenco Logistics Services, which picks 20,000 orders a day, relies on 42 full-time engineers to develop the most efficient warehouse layout.

The company said it is saving time and effort with Motorola’s wearable scanners. The units strap to users’ arms, and scanners attach to their index fingers.

“It speeds up efficiency and because you’re scanning it, it increases your pick accuracy,” said Kenco President Andy Smith.

Kiva Systems, Woburn, Mass., helps reduce picking time with mobile robotic drive units that bring inventory directly to workers.

“Order pickers normally have to walk from spot to spot, which is time consuming. With these, they can keep picking instead of walking,” said Mike Ogle, vice president of educational and technical services for the Material Handling Industry of America.

Automated palletizing also can increase capacity and decrease labor costs.

“Anytime you are using people to palletize product, you have issues with the cost of that labor,” said Pat O’Connor, palletizing manager for Intelligrated, Mason, Ohio. People also tend to cause a certain amount of product damage that the palletizers, which can pack 100 cases per minute, don’t.

Warehouses strive to make the most out of the labor that is needed. Manhattan Associates’ labor schedule optimization software analyzes and calculates different factors, including the number of workers, performance levels and hourly rates, to pair specific workers with tasks. One client, regional grocer Giant Eagle, saw a 6% to 9% savings in labor costs after using the software, the company said.

Peter Schnorbach, senior director of product management for Manhattan Associates, said, “If we put the highest-performing workers on the work, presumably they can process it faster and more efficiently.”

Changing materials used within the warehouse can save time, as well.

Distributor U.S. Foodservice Inc., Fort Mill, S.C., found its workers saved time by using large, reusable rubber bands manufactured by Dykema Rubber Band Co. instead of shrink wrap to secure some food products for delivery on its standard 4-foot-by-4-foot pallets.

Dan Harris, president of U.S. Foodservice-Fort Mill, expects to save $8,000 per quarter and more than 100,000 pounds of wrap per year.

Transport Topics, 12/9/2009

 
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