Warehouse or store? Picking the wrong place to unpack can cost you

warehouse or store

Retailers can see "considerable savings" if they unpack case packs (packages shipped by the supplier) into the individual consumer units at a distribution center before shipping the product to the final store, according to a 2017 paper published in the European Journal of Operations Research that focused on grocery retailers in the Netherlands and Germany. The amount of savings will vary depending on the SKU, and they are even greater if a model is used to determine the "optimal solution" for a given retailer.

The paper examined two different scenarios for a given SKU:

  1. Stores are sent case packs of the SKU and unload them onsite.
  2. Store are sent a custom number of consumer-level packaging units based on their inventory needs.

The researchers developed a model to determine the best unpacking location for a given SKU. This was then tested in a "hypothetical environment" that used data from a European retailer (referred to as Delta in the study), information on its current operations practice and cost data from a second retailer. When the researchers tested their model in the hypothetical environment, they found a 5.3% drop in the overall cost when the retailer moved from its current operating model to what the paper referred to as the "optimal solution."

The optimal solution in this paper was a model in which all stores follow the same unpacking method for a given product (either delivering case packs to the store or unpacking it into consumer units at the distribution center) depending on what is the lowest cost for all stores. Retailers must determine the lowest cost option for each product.

Marginally more cost savings were seen if each store used the unpacking method that reduced its individual cost (as opposed to the cost to the entire retailer) but this can be especially hard to put in place at the distribution center level, Rob Broekmeulen, the paper's author and assistant professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology, told Supply Chain Dive in an interview.

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As fleets adopt technology, the public remains skeptical of safety focus

freight technology

Commercial drivers are among the safest drivers on the roadways, but based on general public perception, and anti-trucking safety groups that highlight the number of yearly incidents involving big rigs, it would be difficult to tell that.

According to data within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), there were 164,529 large trucks involved in crashes in 2018, with 79,879 injuries and 4,708 deaths reported. Those numbers were comparable to 2017's figures, with 154,634 crashes, 75,985 injuries and 4,858 deaths.

In 2013, the American Trucking Associations released results of a research project conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. That study looked at 8,309 fatal car-truck crashes and found that in 81% of the incidents, the car driver was assigned fault, versus just 27% of truck drivers to which fault was assigned. Similarly, a 2003 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identified 10,092 fatal car-truck accidents and assigned blame to the car driver 91% of the time in head-on crashes. It also found that 71% of the time the car driver was responsible for rear-end crashes.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) said that commercial trucks traveled over 9.4 billion miles in 2017. While the numbers can be significant, when putting them in context based on the number of miles traveled and compared to automotive-only numbers, a different story emerges.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 0.94 passenger car occupants were killed in 2017 per 100 million truck miles traveled. Conversely, 1.16 people were killed per 100 million miles traveled overall in 2017. Statistically speaking, fewer people die in truck-car crashes than in car crashes alone.

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Experts say Nuevo Laredo should focus on becoming a logistics and foreign trade hub

Laredo Texas

The Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo should "bet more on logistics and foreign trade" than on attracting more maquiladoras, according to trade experts.

"Nuevo Laredo no longer needs to invest in maquiladoras, because it is a city more oriented towards customs and services," said Cirila Quintero, a professor at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (College of the Northern Border) in Tijuana, Mexico.

The college is a prestigious Mexican institute specializing in teaching and research on border issues. Quintero specializes in the research of Mexico's maquiladora industry.

Quintero was part of a recent study conducted by the Mexico City-based Economic Information Bank (BIE), which indicated in recent years the number of export maquiladoras in Nuevo Laredo has decreased.

Quintero said one reason not to rely too heavily on maquiladoras for economic growth in the future is changing technology.

"I think that if local governments want to bet on the maquiladoras, they should understand that the maquiladoras have already changed and are something else," Quintero said in an interview with Primerahora.com.

Quintero added, "the only ones [maquiladoras] that are going to exist are the ones that are going to export, and many of those are going to be robotized, and the point is that if you want to invest in maquiladoras, you should no longer see them at the local level, but in the case of Nuevo Laredo you have to see Laredo, Texas, and see which sectors in Laredo are developing the most."

Nuevo Laredo – located directly across the U.S.-Mexico border from Laredo, Texas – has 35 maquiladoras that employed 29,878 workers, according to the BIE study. In contrast, in the Mexican cities of Reynosa and Matamoros, maquiladoras are still trending upward.

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Ventus Global Logistics is strategically located in Laredo, Texas and specializes in land, air, and ocean freight. Ventus Global Logistics maintains a brokerage presence in all of Mexico's main customs offices. Get comprehensive data on your material inventory whenever you need it thanks to our web portal. Contact us today for a free consultation.