Union Station gets an architect to lead its rebuild

Amtrak, Metra and City Hall have settled on an architect to plan the redesign of Union Station, the latest sign of real momentum in ongoing efforts to restore the historic, Daniel Burnham-designed structure and put it on firm financial footing.

Spotlight

Associated Terminals

Associated Terminals is the largest and most diverse cargo handling and logistical solutions company operating terminal facilities on the Lower Mississippi River. We offer dry bulk, break bulk and project cargo shippers an extensive range of services that is unparalleled in our market, including the total coordination of movements to provide customers with a comprehensive transportation and stevedoring package.

OTHER ARTICLES
Supply Chain

Schneider Electric for suppliers

Article | May 26, 2023

At Schneider Electric, meeting our customers’ expectations is a key priority. As concern over COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) grows, we are monitoring developments to this situation globally, as well as following local health and government regulations, continually assessing and responding to changes. Our Business Continuity Plan (BCP) has been tested and implemented in geographies impacted. This plan includes health and safety, supply chain, lifecycle management services, and IT infrastructure. Schneider Electric operations meet the criteria of an essential critical infrastructure as defined by most governments. While we do not anticipate interruptions to our operations, local governments may require temporary containment measures. In these cases, we comply with local laws, and in most cases seek support from local authorities to maintain critical business operations as an essential business for our communities.

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Warehousing and Distribution

Inventory Management Best Practices for Supply Chain Distribution

Article | July 17, 2023

Improve supply chain operations with innovative inventory management best practices. Uncover the techniques for achieving exceptional supply chain performance in the B2B competitive marketplace. Effective inventory management is critical for businesses seeking to optimize their supply chain operations and improve their warehousing & supply chain distribution efficiency. By employing demand optimization techniques, inventory management aims to strike the right balance between meeting current and anticipated future demand while minimizing unnecessary inventory costs. Organizations that maintain optimal inventory levels can mitigate challenges associated with inventory, such as overstocking and stockouts. In supply chain management, inventory optimization is vital, as it directly impacts organization’s ability to thrive. For any enterprise selling products, the effective management of goods is essential. Without adequate stock levels for sales or fulfilling customer orders, revenue generation and overall income can be severely hindered. Inefficient inventory management, leading to stock shortages, can create stumbling blocks for businesses. Conversely, improper stock tracking resulting in excess inventory can strain financial resources. As these issues compound, it further contributes to inventory imbalances, eventually leading to bottom-line losses from expired or redundant stock. According to a recent Statista survey, 40% of the supply chain industry has already adopted advanced technologies to optimize its inventory and using networking tools. The above data signifies the importance of optimizing and managing inventory for improved supply chain performance. Inventory analytics, typically overseen by an inventory manager, offer valuable insights that aid in understanding and enhancing inventory performance. Inventory management best practices help achieve effective inventory optimization, crucial data points encompassing products, suppliers, procurement, purchases, and sales that are meticulously tracked within the inventory management system. These data, in turn, serve as the foundation for formulating inventory metrics aimed at demand optimization. This article explains the techniques to optimize and manage inventory with the inventory management best practices that helps overcoming challenges, addressing procedural considerations, and highlighting the significance of implementing these methods. Additionally, it explores the benefits of adopting solution for improved supply chain distribution network. 1. Implementing Standard Inventory Review Systems To enhance supply chain operations, adopting standard inventory review system is essential, which can significantly contribute to inventory optimization efforts. Two effective methods to review systems include the continuous review system and periodic review system. In the continuous review system, fixed quantities of items are ordered in each cycle, providing a steady and consistent approach to inventory management. On the other hand, the periodic review system involves collecting products at predetermined intervals, considering the inventory levels at that specific moment. Embracing these standardized review systems empowers businesses to streamline inventory processes, maintain optimal stock levels, and improve overall supply chain efficiency. 2. Streamline Stocktake Supply chain operations can be improved by streamlining the stocktaking process, which involves meticulously counting and managing inventory. A well-structured stocktake procedure ensures accuracy and prevents losses by keeping staff engaged and focused. To achieve accuracy and earn profits, businesses must: Schedule stocktakes strategically to minimize disruption in regular business operations. Prioritize cleaning and organizing the stockroom before the stocktake to facilitate efficient counting. Clearly define the item count and the counting methods to eliminate guesswork. Conduct comprehensive stock counts, leaving no room for assumptions. By implementing these measures, businesses can optimize inventory management, identify discrepancies promptly, and maintain precise stock records. The streamlined stocktake process contributes to smoother supply chain operations, reduces inventory-related errors, and enhances overall productivity and profitability. 3. Utilize Cloud-Based Inventory Management System Transitioning from Excel inventory management to a cloud-based inventory management system is critical to enhancing supply chain operations. It is considered one of the most used inventory control best practices. Unlike locally-installed applications, cloud-based software offers numerous advantages, enabling businesses to pay for essential features and effortlessly upgrade as needs evolve. Companies can efficiently manage costs with a predictable subscription fee tailored to feature requirements and team size. Seamless upgrades become hassle-free as business growth justifies a move to a more robust platform, ensuring scalability. Additionally, cloud technology provides continuous support, ensuring smooth operations and quick issue resolution. With a dedicated support team on standby, businesses can focus on optimizing inventory management, managing warehouse automation, and driving overall productivity. Embracing cloud-based inventory management is a business-changing decision that unlocks increased agility, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness for long-term success. 4. Implement Adequate Quality Control Practices Enhancing supply chain operations requires the implementation of robust quality control practices. Accurate quality control processes play a pivotal role in maintaining inventory quality, directly impacting customer satisfaction and business growth. Effective steps include developing comprehensive checklists, outlining stock-taking procedures, followed by standard operating procedures to qualify or disqualify products with effective warehouse management systems. By adhering to these protocols, businesses can prevent issues of overstocking or understocking, ensuring customers receive only appropriate merchandise. Companies can strengthen their reputation, increase operational efficiency, and cultivate lasting customer loyalty through this inventory optimization best practice. The seamless integration of quality control practices into the supply chain fosters a thriving business environment built on excellence and customer-centricity. 5. Preparing Well Planned Inventory Budget A well-structured inventory budget is one of the industry-used inventory management best practices to enhance logistics distribution and supply chain processes. Managers commonly utilize an annual inventory budget, meticulously prepared before procuring inventory. The budget is designed to encompass the total cost of ownership for the upcoming accounting period, encompassing materials cost, fixed operational expenses, transportation and logistics charges, redistribution costs, and other miscellaneous expenses impacting the inventory's total cost of ownership. By crafting a comprehensive inventory budget, businesses gain financial clarity, optimize resource allocation, and ensure efficient inventory management throughout the year. A well-planned budget empowers informed decision-making, minimizing financial risks and driving overall supply chain success. 6. Carrying Safety Stock Inventory Operations in the supply chain require safety stock inventory – a strategically maintained surplus of inventory to protect against market demand and lead time fluctuations. By implementing safety stock, businesses can avoid revenue loss, customer attrition, and declining market share that may arise in its absence. Safety stock is vital with the advantages it offers: Protection against sudden surges in demand. Prevention of stockouts, ensuring uninterrupted customer service. Compensation for inaccuracies in market forecasts. A buffer for longer-than-expected lead times, averting production delays. Incorporating safety stock as a fundamental inventory management best practice empowers companies to achieve operational supply chain resilience, optimize customer satisfaction, and maintain a competitive edge in the dynamic market landscape. 7. Optimize Inventory Turnover Rates Optimizing inventory turnover rates is a critical metric that frequently measures inventory sold or used within a specific timeframe, typically a year. Calculating turnover rates provides valuable insights into market demand, identifies obsolete stock, and guides inventory management decisions. Inventory turnover can be improved through various strategies, such as experimenting with pricing to attract more customers and boost sales, liquidating obsolete stock to free up capital and storage space, forecasting customer demand accurately to maintain optimal inventory levels, and redistributing inventory among warehouses for better stock availability. By optimizing inventory turnover rates, businesses can reduce carrying costs, minimize stock obsolescence, and enhance overall supply chain efficiency, as well as gaining competitive advantage in the market. “It’s been my observation that the business world has a weak understanding of inventory management and control. They are trained shallowly, and sometimes they apply only shallow experience to their practices. Sometimes, that works out great. In my 30 years of experience, however, I have seen that a lot of money can be saved by training and managing inventory control in-depth.” -Inventory Control Expert Dr. Pyke Final Thoughts Adopting advanced inventory management best practices is crucial for supply chain optimization in the competitive B2B environment. Standardized inventory review systems and streamlined stocktakes optimize control and accuracy, minimizing disruptions. Cloud-based inventory management offers scalability and continuous support, facilitating data-driven decisions. Adequate quality control ensures inventory quality, driving customer loyalty. Well-planned budgets lead to financial clarity and precise resource allocation. Safety stock inventory and optimized turnover rates fortify businesses against uncertainties, boosting efficiency and profitability. By embracing these practices, logistics professionals can enhance supply chain potential, achieve lasting success, and gain a competitive advantage in the market. With a data-focused approach, these strategies pave the way for streamlined operations, stronger customer relationships, and sustained growth.

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Supply Chain

Put Strategy First When Pondering Automation for Your DC

Article | August 17, 2023

The unsurprising investment eagerness of venture capital funds is manifesting in an automation tech glut in the distribution center space. Motivated by enabling trends like labor and land shortages, DCs are amid an automation transformation. Never has defining an automation strategy been more important. There’s no shortage of VC cash available to logistics tech startups With a brightly shining spotlight centered on supply chains for the past two years, it’s no surprise that total funding in logistics startups has seen a dramatic increase – growing at over 70% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate). Logistics technology startups raked in over $25 billion in the first three quarters of 2021. That’s more than half of the total amount raised in the whole of 2020, and the incentives for continuing investment persist. The rise of the of the “micro” DC “Micro” is a relative term. The size of a micro fulfillment center (MFC) can range from 5,000 to 50,000 square feet. Those reduced square footages allow location in dense urban areas, typically within 40 miles of most of their intended customers. In addition, smaller footprints lead to reduced rents compared to a standard customer fulfillment center (CFC), and the proximity to consumers makes for lower final mile delivery costs. It’s no wonder that MFCs accounted for more than half of the logistics real estate leasing activity in the third quarter of 2021. The “urban logistics” trend is fueling demand for these highly automated, smaller locations. Vertical logistics integration grows ever more fashionable among retailers It’s a very “in” thing right now, these acquisitions and partnerships, and they won’t be going out of fashion soon. For example, American Eagle took in Airterra and its parcel optimization tech and third-party logistics (3PL) provider Quiet Logistics. Target started early. They bought Grand Junction, a software platform that helps retailers determine the best delivery method and track carrier performance, in 2017. Their 2020 acquisition of Deliv brought with it same-day delivery routing technology that they’re now applying to their 2021 purchase, on-demand delivery service Shipt. Target uses Delivs’ tech to generate more efficient routes for Shipt. Kroger has partnered with UK’s e-grocery specialist Ocado to build automated CFCs across the US and expand their retail footprint. The first CFC opened last spring in Ohio and their second in Florida later that year. They plan to open 20 CFCs over the next three years. “The proliferation of DC automation solutions and modalities, the rise of MFCs in high-density urban areas, the increasingly automated vertical integration of logistics, and the need to rapidly expand order fulfillment capacity have all, in combination, advanced the need for and application of clearly defined strategies concerning the implementation of automation technology. Do not operate without one.” Vikas Argod, Principal, Supply Chains Operations practice at Chainalytics Coping with shortages in warehouse space and labor availability Third quarter, 2021 US demand for industrial real estate exceeded supply by 41 million square feet. This pushed the national vacancy rate in the fourth quarter down to a record 3.7% in the Cushman & Wakefield US National Industrial MarketBeat report for Q4 2021. Who knows what the record might be when the Q1 2022 report breaks in a few weeks? On the labor side, the December 2021 US unemployment rate was 3.9%, lower than in December 2019 (3.6%) yet reflecting a tighter labor market. Labor force participation rates are at 61.9%, nearly 2% below February 2020 levels, because of lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rising wages and signing bonuses of the past year offer silent testimony to the ongoing constraints in today’s labor market. Both trends will remain with us for the near- and mid-term, making an automation strategy a necessary part of your DC operations as you attempt to mitigate the effects of both. In addition, warehouse labor shortages are most pronounced in markets with high distribution center densities – Greater Memphis, In-land Empire, Allentown, PA, et al.) Building the capability to rapidly open DCs at scale No other factor drives home the need for a coherent DC automation strategy like this one. Let’s explore it with an example. We’ll call this “A Tale of Two Companies.” One jumped on the automation bandwagon without hesitation – not a bad thing – but applied no strategic groundwork. The other is, well, Amazon. Company one responded to increasing demand by creating DCs in their usual, strategically located fashion. However, with automation, the lack of a logical strategy led to adopting “the best that money could buy.” So, while these DCs work fine on their own (most of the time), each employs unique implementations from a variety of vendors, with little to no overlap of methods, capabilities, and management procedures between DCs. It’s functional, but a needlessly complicated hodgepodge. On the other hand, it definitely looks like Amazon has a standardized automation strategy. One that can easily adapt to exploit the individual physical specifications of any space. This makes it simple to arrive and equip it with a standard package of automation solutions. That’s probably how Amazon blanketed the US with over 400 new DCs in just the last two years. They waste no time or money on repeating unnecessary decisions along the way. Now, we all can’t have the resources of an Amazon. However, the rise of on-demand warehousing companies like Stord and Flexe allow organizations to dramatically decrease the cycle time of standing up additional fulfillment capability. Developing an automation strategy will feel familiar. It begins with benchmarking, order profiling, current performance drivers, EBIT targets, and theoretical evaluations of newer technology options. All this leads to the creation of a decision framework for DC automation. The goal here is achieving alignment among the leadership on critical capabilities to focus on. These include rapid fulfillment, labor shortage, capacity constraints, safety challenges, or sustainability. Those that commit to this process will start slowly but finish with a strategy that will underpin thousands of decisions and enable sustained rapid growth. If, in the end, you decide that automation is not right for your operation, that’s a perfectly valid strategy as well. So long as you have a method to evaluate all of your options, and you base your decision on cost-service-sustainability trade-offs, the right strategy for your organization may be no automation at all. There’s no point in chasing shiny robotic objects if automation makes little sense‌. The rise of automation and the multitude of technologies to choose from require the development of a strategic decision framework. Contact us and see how Chainalytics – an NTT DATA company – can be your guide in developing this critical part of your foundation for growth. Our top supply chain talent, enabled by proven, leading-edge digital assets – tools, methods, and content – deliver actionable insights and measurable outcomes to some of today’s largest and most complex supply chains.

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Supply Chain

4 Ways of Using Advanced Analytics in Supply Chain Management

Article | November 11, 2022

The complexity of today’s supply chain has resulted in a highly fragmented supply chain ecosystem. Whether it is a global pandemic or an ongoing war, streamlining the moving parts in the supply chain management system is an immense feat in the current climate. The resulting shortage of materials, disruption of transportation, and delays have complicated the supply chain even further. Add to it the expectation to minimize expenses, optimize inventory, and enable quality and customer expectations, and stakeholders at every level of the supply chain are inundated with challenges. This is where using advanced analytics in supply chain can be a game changer for many manufacturers. It can help them gain a deeper insight into their operations and how the supply chain is moving. How Supply Chain Analytics Enriches Supply Chain Management A 360-degree view of the supply chain is crucial for supply chain leaders. A lack of insight can cause costly delays and avoidable disruptions. Obtaining complete visibility in supply chain management, on the other hand, can be difficult. The immense volume of data that many organizations have to deal with makes it difficult to gain proper insight. Supply chain analytics tools help in gaining a better sense of the aggregated data from different parts of the supply chain, such as procurement, ERP in supply chain management, warehousing management, shipping and logistics management, and many more. The more accurate the data is, the simpler it is to use advanced supply chain management analytics to forecast, predict, and plan better in order to maximize the supply chain’s capabilities. Optimizing the Supply Chain: 3 Ways to Do so with Analytics With the range of analytics applications in supply chain in use today, manufacturers have the opportunity to completely transform how to view, manage and strategize. Here are five data analytics supply chain tools to consider in the pursuit of optimization. Demand Forecasting Inventory management is at the heart of supply chain optimization. Not calibrating the inventory stock based on demand and supply for bestselling products and those that don’t move fast can cause either an overstocking or understocking problem. Either way, forecasting the right balance is difficult to achieve, but data analytics can make it simpler. The lack of the right products in stock can heavily impact the bottom line. According to a survey by Logility, 36% of supply chain experts consider inventory optimization the primary reason for adopting analytics. An integrated mapping of retail sales, inventory levels, and the flow of goods will lead to accurate demand forecasting. This data can empower organizations to: Strategize sales promotions Define product pricing Maximize budgets Predict accurate inventory levels Inventory management has a cascading effect on the supply chain, and advanced demand forecasting has helped many organizations achieve an optimum level of inventory for the right products. Predictive Warehousing Maintenance Machine Learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) have been emerging technologies on the supply chain management landscape. By using a mix of these technologies, it is possible for manufacturers to deploy predictive maintenance in warehousing. Predictive maintenance is the process of assessing data generated from the past and in real-time to determine patterns and identify equipment failure and maintenance schedule before a breakdown occurs. This helps manufacturers to: Avoid heavy repair costs Plan spare part supply Slash downtime from equipment failure Eliminate production delays In addition to reducing production bottlenecks, predictive maintenance gives businesses the ability to manage their equipment and optimize their shelf-life. Warehousing Efficiency At the warehouse phase of the supply chain, analytics can help manage the supply chain in more than just one way. The warehouse workflow is just as crucial, as it facilitates a clear view of the condition of goods as well as the optimization of the warehouse space. In addition to warehouse space maximization, quality control is another challenge that warehousing management addresses. Supply chain analytics can enhance warehousing efficiency by: Ensuring the correct storage of goods based on their weight, fragility, and perishability Aligning with resource management like equipment, vehicles Identifying disruptions to storage before they occur One of the advantages of supply chain analytics is getting a deep insight into the warehouse’s operation so manufacturers can identify gaps and take steps to make it more efficient. Transportation Tracking Real-time analytics of transportation and logistics is a crucial piece in the puzzle of supply chain management. For example, the data generated in relation to fuel consumption, weather conditions, and even traffic patterns can help organizations boost their logistics and carrier management. It can help them to: Schedule deliveries Determine better routes Evaluate current routes Strategize their shipping schedule To Wrap it Up To put it simply, a deep insight into the supply chain, inventory management, and warehouse operations is a great way to ensure the supply chain is on track. Effective supply chain management software is an asset for an organization when it is able to leverage the insights and make well-informed strategies to further optimize the supply chain.

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Spotlight

Associated Terminals

Associated Terminals is the largest and most diverse cargo handling and logistical solutions company operating terminal facilities on the Lower Mississippi River. We offer dry bulk, break bulk and project cargo shippers an extensive range of services that is unparalleled in our market, including the total coordination of movements to provide customers with a comprehensive transportation and stevedoring package.

Related News

Why Search And Logistics Will Shape The Future Of Retail Payments

PYMNTS | June 03, 2019

ronically, they are also the two things that shaped the modern payments landscape as we know it today, as it grew up and got wired over the last 60 years – and why that playbook is being disrupted by players decades their junior with market caps that rival or even dwarf their own.It’s why we’re witness to unprecedented waves of consolidation in the merchant acquiring and payments processing space – and why there will be even more to come in the short and longer term. The most powerful force in payments right now is what’s happening at the intersection of payments, search and logistics – particularly as digital is disrupting how consumers find, order, pay and receive the things they want to buy.The low bar now for payments in a digital-driven retail world isn’t whether it enables a transaction on a website or in an app, but whether it can eliminate friction for consumers who want an efficient way to find, buy and take delivery of what they purchase.

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TransDigm’s excess profits show weakness in supply chain management, not pricing practices

Defense News | June 03, 2019

The recent high-profile case of yet another federal contractor accused of “price gouging” the U.S. Department of Defense has led to renewed condemnation of unacceptable “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the management of taxpayer dollars. In February, the DoD Inspector General reported that TransDigm Group earned excess profits on 46 of 47 spare parts and overcharged the DoD by $16.1 million on contracts worth $29.7 million.The response from Congress and others has been rightly outraged, but criticism has focused too narrowly on price, profit and the tools available to government contracting officers for determining price reasonableness. These are just symptoms of a larger, underlying problem with the DoD’s supply chain management. As happened with TransDigm, the DoD often finds itself in “vendor lock” with only one source for critical spare parts for a number of reasons.

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Astonishing Growth: Supply Chain Management Market Is Expected To Boom Worldwide By 2025

PR News | June 03, 2019

The report provides insightful details – how clients enhance their basic leadership capacity within the worldwide Supply Chain Management Marketbusiness. Utilizing figures and flowcharts are brief in this report, the specialists represented to the analyzed information in a superior acceptable manner. This report identifies that rapidly changing market trends and competitive landscape with growth significant CAGR during Forecast. Along, with latest marketing factors those are essential to monitor market performance and crucial decisions for progress and profitability.’”

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Why Search And Logistics Will Shape The Future Of Retail Payments

PYMNTS | June 03, 2019

ronically, they are also the two things that shaped the modern payments landscape as we know it today, as it grew up and got wired over the last 60 years – and why that playbook is being disrupted by players decades their junior with market caps that rival or even dwarf their own.It’s why we’re witness to unprecedented waves of consolidation in the merchant acquiring and payments processing space – and why there will be even more to come in the short and longer term. The most powerful force in payments right now is what’s happening at the intersection of payments, search and logistics – particularly as digital is disrupting how consumers find, order, pay and receive the things they want to buy.The low bar now for payments in a digital-driven retail world isn’t whether it enables a transaction on a website or in an app, but whether it can eliminate friction for consumers who want an efficient way to find, buy and take delivery of what they purchase.

Read More

TransDigm’s excess profits show weakness in supply chain management, not pricing practices

Defense News | June 03, 2019

The recent high-profile case of yet another federal contractor accused of “price gouging” the U.S. Department of Defense has led to renewed condemnation of unacceptable “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the management of taxpayer dollars. In February, the DoD Inspector General reported that TransDigm Group earned excess profits on 46 of 47 spare parts and overcharged the DoD by $16.1 million on contracts worth $29.7 million.The response from Congress and others has been rightly outraged, but criticism has focused too narrowly on price, profit and the tools available to government contracting officers for determining price reasonableness. These are just symptoms of a larger, underlying problem with the DoD’s supply chain management. As happened with TransDigm, the DoD often finds itself in “vendor lock” with only one source for critical spare parts for a number of reasons.

Read More

Astonishing Growth: Supply Chain Management Market Is Expected To Boom Worldwide By 2025

PR News | June 03, 2019

The report provides insightful details – how clients enhance their basic leadership capacity within the worldwide Supply Chain Management Marketbusiness. Utilizing figures and flowcharts are brief in this report, the specialists represented to the analyzed information in a superior acceptable manner. This report identifies that rapidly changing market trends and competitive landscape with growth significant CAGR during Forecast. Along, with latest marketing factors those are essential to monitor market performance and crucial decisions for progress and profitability.’”

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