Manufacturers Get Ready (Amazon wants to move in with you!)

By Tom French

TomFrench2Massive companies like have the capability to change the traditional ways in which supply chain operations trend.  In an [article posted by Supplychain247],  they discuss= a bold and possibly brilliant move the e-commerce giant made by securing space within manufacturer Procter & Gamble’s warehouse.  Now when P&G has their popular everyday household goods like diapers, toilet paper & shampoo ready to send to Amazon, they simply move it over to a fenced off area within their own warehouse for Amazon employees to package and ship directly to consumers.   By cutting additional transportation and warehousing expenses, this allows them to compete with Walmart and large discount warehouse retailers like Costco.  According to the Wall Street Journal article “Soap Opera: Amazon Move In With P&G” an Internet stock analyst, Mark Mahaney projects that if consumer packaged goods could rise to the 6% share the Internet claims of retail overall, it could generate up to $10 billion in revenue for Amazon.

Partnerships like this between Amazon and P&G is something to watch closely.  As businesses continue to attempt to figure out how to trim costs they are going to be more drawn to working with manufacturers who are not pushing their products out to distribution centers.  Because technology has vastly improved and the cost to manage small orders is easier, the manufacturers cannot afford to have two to three profits on their products and remain competitive before the product is consumed.   This is going to require the manufacturer to examine how to warehouse and process all orders, whether small and large.   And the warehouse operations will have to drastically change in order to efficiently and cost-effectively handle all products.

Not all manufacturers will have enough volume to accomplish what is doing with P&G.  However, with the right technology and proper operations within the staff, they could effectively manage all sizes of products from item to pallet pick.  There will be a lot of opportunities for technology and material processing companies to step up and help these manufacturers.  This will require different pick system that can easily be changed as the demand changes.  Will your companies be one that steps up to this challenge?


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Key Benefits of Automating your Transportation Management


Successful Logistic and Supply Chain professionals are using the latest Cloud technology to plan, execute, optimize, improve, and reduce costs in their Transportation Management.

If you are a Transportation, Logistics or Supply Chain professional, transportation automation can help you:

  • Rate, Optimize, Execute, Track and Settle Shipments and Loads
  • Utilize any Mode (Parcel, Air Freight, LTL, TL, Intermodal, Rail, Ocean)
  • Engage Advanced Optimization & Decision Support
  • Improve Settlement, Visibility, Reporting and Advanced Analytics
  • Integrate Easily with Existing Enterprise Applications
  • Provide instant Global Access By Web Portals & Smart Phones (iPhone, iPad and Android)

View the webinar recording here

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Supply Chain Glass™ Delivers Your Data Warehouse in 1 Day


Introduction to Supply Chain Glass™ – the Essential Analytics and Data Warehouse for MercuryGate Users

You have years of valuable MercuryGate Data, but are you using that historical data to cut costs and improve your operation?

We built Supply Chain Glass™ as a Data Warehouse utility to give you the tools and visibility you need to make better decisions. Supply Chain Glass™ provides you easy, fast and affordable analytics that can be configured in a matter of days, not months.

We’ve made it simple, skipping the bells & whistles that you don’t need. We take care of the hosting, extracts, server setup, and data management: setup is quick and no assembly required.

You can view the recorded webinar here.

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3 Keys to Maximizing Your Savings from Transportation Management Software



1. Using Mojo/Edge for tactical modelling

Run historical data through “what-if” scenarios to find the biggest savings. Set the parameters and let the algorithm do the work. Unless you’re optimizing on a per-load basis, you’re not reaping the full value of a TMS.

2. Using Mojo/Edge for strategic modelling

Compare different applications of pool points, and different configurations of warehouses and distribution centers. TMS can’t do this for you. It requires an approach that starts with your data and processes and incorporates an understanding of how your business is evolving.

3. Get SKU-level analytics with a data warehouse.

Cloud-based TMS has many benefits, but sometimes you want to get granular with analytics. We’ll show you how.


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Our Distinctive Approach

Understand what we do, in just 100 seconds.

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The 3 Biggest Supply Chain Mistakes Companies Are Making Today


Even with a TMS, companies aren’t finding the waste in their transportation networks.

If you’re trying to run an operation that minimizes inventory and turns, there’s little margin for error. Logistics team resources are stretched thin. Facing this challenge, many companies are increasingly turning to TMS and WMS to provide efficiency and cost savings. But even with the latest & greatest technology, much of the savings is left undiscovered.

Here’s what we’ve seen companies doing:

Companies not adopting a robust TMS

To maximize the effectiveness of technology to fit your companies, needs you must make the software conform to the process, not fit their process to the software.

Making changes without first modeling the impact

Use TMS to implement your redesigned network, not your “as-is” process, or an unproven concept.

Incomplete implementations

Inadequately trained teams who cannot use the full functionality of the new system can be costly.  So can overspending on consultants who take their expertise with them when they leave.

Supply Chain Coach will coach your team to maximize the utilization of the technology and will impart a lasting knowledge that will stay with your team long after we leave.

Mike O’Hare
Director of Logistics & Warehousing at Cytosport, Inc.
Tom French
CEO at Supply Chain Coach
cytosport logo1



You can view the recorded webinar here.

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Spotlight on Distribution Centers

By Tom French

DCmapIf you’re looking to improve your supply chain, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dig into the details of your current distribution network. It probably evolved at a different stage in your company’s growth and is not optimized for your company’s present needs. With so many interlocking components, it may seem overwhelming to contemplate untangling or changing anything about your supply chain.  The place to start is always with the data: properly identifying and understanding the cost and value of each component.

In this report, we take a closer look at one of the components that we here at Supply Chain Coach have often found to be out of sync with current company needs: Location of Distribution Centers (DC).

Download Free Report

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Modeling your Supply Chain Network

By Jennifer Liccardi

0608493Modeling a Company’s Supply Chain Network is extremely important to understand what is going on within the transportation portion of the business.  The business of today may be completely different than the business of 5 years ago.  Buying patterns, vendor/customer mix or freight volumes can change drastically over the years.

The initial step in modeling is to understand the current business.  The analysis will include monthly, weight break and Top 80% statistics.  Also, an important part of the initial analysis is a map of the origins/destinations as well as densities.    Densities help to determine the areas where a consolidation or deconsolidation is needed or if a sailing schedule can be put together.  The initial analysis gives a big insight into the supply chain and what areas need adjustments.

The next step in the supply chain process is to start modeling based on the findings above.  It is always important to start modeling the current scenario so it completely understood before adjustments are made.  There may be minor tweaks to the supply chain that won’t cause a big shock to the network.  Some of these changes may be making sure some LTL consolidation is happening, introducing multi stop consolidated truckloads or a mode change.

These solutions can be found using the optimization tool Mercury Edge in the TMS System MercuryGate.  The Mercury Edge tool also allows us to model different scenarios such as closing a facility, determining how many pool locations are optimal as well as where they should be located.

Modeling transportation should be on the top of every company’s list of To Dos.  Modeling gives a company a better understanding of their network and how potential changes will affect the transportation spend.

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Transportation Trends to Watch

By Tom French

TomFrench2It’s worth a CEO’s time to read “Transportation: The Road Ahead” in CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly.  Chris Chaplice, Director of MIT’s FreightLab, highlights the accelerating shift to cheap and abundant natural gas as a fleet fuel, noting that:

“Waste hauler Waste Management reported that 80 percent of its new truck purchases would run on natural gas”.

The author makes note of the rapid pace of software improvements in the transportation space, but there are a few disconnects between what he describes (from his vantage point at MIT) and what I hear day to day, when talking with manufacturers and 3PLs. First of all, I’m surprised at how many Enterprise and near-Enterprise scale companies are still managing transportation and inventory without the latest generation of software (or even with no software at all), though everything else has been transformed by software, from resource planning to human resources to sales.  But left unexamined in the article was how this new data-driven visibility into transportation data provides the missing leverage to reduce transportation and inventory costs, the two biggest cost centers in a company’s supply chain.

Finally, Chris writes that:

“Optimization models tend to treat the world as static, with no assumptions of variance or randomness of the input variables or conditions. This led to very rigid and fragile plans that fell apart when any disruption occurs.”

He suggests that the new generation of software can dynamically replan, but he leaves out the one element- the need for skilled logistics professionals who understand both the software and their transportation network.


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MercuryGate Tip: Customize Your Bill of Lading

By Jeff Williams

The bill of lading (BOL) is a document that’s barely big enough to pack in all of the data and legalese needed to make it work.  It’s a pain to get it right, and once we have it we don’t want to give it much thought.  The problem is that these documents usually look generic because there’s no room for extras like trade dress – those expensive logos and slogan marks that set your company apart. Because the BOL passes through so many supply chain points it’s seen by a lot of people, and it’s an opportunity to show that trade dress to buyers, traders, haulers, accountants, etc.  That little attention to detail reminds them all that you care about those fine details that escape your competitors.  And it consistently reiterates your brand, a subtle yet effective marketing opportunity.

But there’s just no way to squeeze in that trade dress… or is there?

If you use MercuryGate then you know that it provides a powerful document customization based on iReports/JasperReports.  If your BOL is already an iReport then there is a clever and simple way to include your trade dress on your existing BOL: a background half-tone logo or image.

Trade Dress on BOL

If you know iReports it’s a simple process to add this.

  1. Start with a large, high-resolution copy of your company logo and import it into a pixel graphics program like Photoshop.
  2. Select the half-tone tool and experiment with settings until you get something that looks good in black and white, but is light enough to read any text over it.
  3. Once you have an image you like then save it as a PNG.
  4. Now that you have the half-tone image you can open your BOL in iReports and import the PNG file in the attached resources.
  5. Drag the image onto the document and adjust its size and position until it looks good.
  6. Push it all the way to the bottom layer.  This will place it under all other document elements.
  7. There is a chance that some upper elements will have a white background that blocks the logo.  Use element properties to change those elements’ background color to transparent.
  8. Once you have the document the way you like, save the contents all together as a zip file and replace your existing document set in MercuryGate through the admin->documents option.
  9. If your document set is not already a zip file you will need to contact your MercuryGate rep to have them change that for you.  It is good practice to always make your MercurcyGate iReports a zip because you can add/remove images and subreports at any time.

It’s a simple process, but iReports can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know it. If you want this kind of treatment for your BOL, but aren’t quite ready to do it yourself, we have several staff members who can do it for you.  It may even be that you have a collection of BOL changes that have built over the years, and we can also make those changes during the facelift.  Now your BOL stands out from the crowd just as your company does.

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