Product Safety In Your Supply Chain

Your supply chain is in great shape. You have visibility with your suppliers and with your customers, and understand where orders are, and when issues arise you can spot the source and track it down. But when your products arrive, are you certain they meet all the safety and regulatory constraints that make them safe to sell? In 2013 alone there were 28 million product recalls. If you were involved with any of them you have a good idea what information you didn’t have at your fingertips. Is there a better way to track and manage this sensitive information?

The reality is that there are virtually no standards to unite the various product safety tracking systems. Plenty of information is in spreadsheets, retained by the manufacturer, and in siloed REP and PLM systems. And much of the time testing results are included as paper documents inside the product packages. Even when the proper information is available, it may have  been provided by only one of the manufacturers along the product chain. This lack of complete information about who manufactured what part of the product from what source, and the results of testing can cause significant disruption when verification of the product’s test results are needed.


Schneider to expand bulk intermodal trailer service in North America

Schneider  announced plans to expand its bulk intermodal trailer service for chemical shippers throughout all of North America, including new reaches into Canada and Mexico.The truckload, intermodal and logistics service provider expects to double the number of bulk intermodal trailers it manages in the next year to meet growing demand. The service enables shippers to transport liquid bulk chemicals using a 40-foot tank trailer that can be used via rail and over the road, Schneider officials said in a press release.

Schneider Bulk Intermodal
Schneider Bulk Intermodal

The trailers stand 11 feet, 5 inches high and can haul up to about 48,000 pounds, enabling customers to load 5 percent to 6 percent more product compared with a traditional over-the-road truckload move, they said.

Schneider has alliances with five major North American railroads, including hazardous materials certification with four primary railroads. The company manages 14 intermodal ramps in North America and plans to add more ramps over the next year.

My favorite Schneider Truck
My favorite Schneider Truck
“As the driver market continues to tighten, chemical companies of all sizes are struggling to get long-haul bulk capacity. When customers move loads on the rail with Schneider Bulk, it frees up drivers for their other over-the-road loads,” said George Grossardt, senior vice president and general manager of Schneider’s Bulk division.

Funding to Fix Walk Bridge on Metro-North

The notorious Walk Bridge over the Norwalk River, which snarled Metro-North Railroad traffic twice earlier this year after it got stuck in the open position, is set for a $3 million repair job.

The State Bond Commission on Friday approved the funding, ensuring the bridge will be returned to operational status before $360 million in federal money can be secured for a replacement.

The  Connecticut Post elaborated more on the story

“One malfunctioning bridge can disrupt the whole Northeast Corridor,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who chairs the bond commission.

“We approved $3 million to repair the bridge and restore automation, and we are implementing these repairs until full replacement of the Walk Bridge can occur,” Malloy said. “We are waiting to hear from our request for federal funding.”

The state money will pay for work on devices that lift the rails and reseat them and other improvements to restore automated operation of the bridge. The bridge swings open over the Norwalk River to allow boats to pass under and pedestrians to cross the waterway.

The bridge caused huge delays and headaches for Metro-North riders after it twice got stuck in the open position in May and again in June. Trains could not pass, backing up rail traffic across Connecticut and beyond. The bridge has since been opened manually only when necessary.

After the latest malfunction, Malloy put together a team of engineers to figure out a solution. The team this week released a report outlining a series of modifications over the next nine months to improve operating systems and reliability of the bridge.

“The New Haven Line is the busiest commuter rail line in America,” Malloy said. “Because our customers — and our economy — rely on this system every day, we are implementing these fixes to increase reliability in the near term until the full replacement of the Walk Bridge can begin.”

When the bridge malfunctions: Routes on either side of South Norwalk are closed as repair crews worked to fix the problem, but Metro-North expect that the repairs might take several hours. MTA officials and police also responded to assist with the crowds, police said. Twenty-four buses were sent from the Bronx to transport passengers between South Norwalk and East Norwalk, according to Metro-North. Trains are scheduled to run between Grand Central and South Norwalk and between East Norwalk and New Haven. Amtrak service on both the Northeast regional and Acela lines are also affected, holding trains at Penn Station for several hours.


The Utica Aud Has More Improvements On The Way

Wow! Facade, club boxes, new inner  concourse planned for Aud before hockey starts!

Last year, several renovations were planned to entice a hockey team to the Aud. Now the team is real and additional renovations will make the building appear lots less that it’s 55 years age.

Upper Mohawk Valley Memorial Auditorium Authority has a lot on its plate:

A newly revamped inner concourse, where the concession stands are located, will be ready

A contract to add a new façade is set to be awarded later this month

A request for proposals to construct club boxes will go out next.

Also, a new parking lot that will nearly triple the number of spaces is already under construction, with the help of $500,000 from Oneida County.

All told, the renovations, which have been ongoing since 2011, will cost more than $6 million. Of that, $5 million comes from a pair of 2013 state grants obtained with the help of Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, and state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome.

The auditorium is a landmark in our community and was in need of repairs,” Brindisi said. “(The repairs) also helped bring in the Utica Comets hockey team.”

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said the resurgence of hockey – the presence of Utica College hockey as well as the Comets – at the Aud has been a major catalyst for the institution’s turnaround, and he’s glad to help foster it.

We had been struggling with the Aud, in terms of its viability and its continuance,” Picente said, referring to past financial troubles at the Aud. “It has become easy to invest in again. That’s what we are doing, and it’s paying off.”

He said he and others who grew up in the area are seeing the Aud become a vital part of downtown life again, just as it was years ago.

Read more about the Aud and Utica hockey.

Moving To The Digital World-Still/Yet

It seems odd to talk about companies moving toward the digital world. It isn’t that this is a strange topic, but isn’t everyone already there? In fact the answer is a resounding ‘no’ – or at least ‘not yet’ as reported in Altimeter Group’s report “The 2014 State of Digital Transformation.” While much of the underpinning work required to make processes and systems digitally functional, most companies are still missing the boat.

Four all-time-best financial marks highlight UP’s strong second quarter.

The diversity of its commodity groups and a big post-winter business boost helped Union Pacific Corp. set four all-time quarterly financial records in the second quarter.The new high-water marks include operating revenue, which climbed 10 percent to $6 billion; operating income, which jumped 17 percent to $2.2 billion; diluted earnings, which ballooned 21 percent to $1.43 per share; and the operating ratio (OR), which improved 2.2 points to 63.5 compared with second-quarter 2013 results. The OR bested the previous quarterly record set in third-quarter 2013 by 1.3 points.

In addition, carloads increased 8 percent to 2.4 million units and freight revenue climbed 10 percent to $5.7 billion, driven by volume growth and core pricing gains.

“Union Pacific achieved record quarterly financial results, leveraging the strengths of our diverse franchise to handle strong demand in the face of challenging operating conditions,” said UP Chief Executive Officer Jack Koraleski in a press release.

By commodity group, agricultural products revenue shot up 19 percent to $934 million and volume soared 16 percent to 243,000 units; intermodal revenue jumped 16 percent to $1.1 billion and volume ballooned 12 percent to 924,000 units; industrial products revenue climbed 16 percent to $1.1 billion and volume jumped 12 percent to 356,000 units; chemicals revenue rose 3 percent to $913 million but volume declined 1 percent to 283,000 units; automotive revenue increased 2 percent to $545 million and volume rose 6 percent to 208,000 units; and coal revenue ratcheted up 1 percent to $989 million and volume inched up 1 percent to 417,000 units.

Operating expenses rose 6 percent to $3.8 billion primarily because purchased services and material costs climbed 9 percent to $636 million, fuel costs increased 7 percent to $923 million, and compensation and benefits costs rose 5 percent to $1.2 billion. Headcount in the quarter increased 1 percent year over year to 47,052.

Looking ahead, Union Pacific leaders are optimistic about business prospects in the second half.

“As always, we are closely monitoring the economic landscape, along with the major drivers across all of our business segments, including the potential impact of weather on grain and coal,” said Koraleski. “As the economy gradually continues to improve, the power of our diverse franchise provides business growth opportunities in all of our commodity groups.”

Adopting E-Invoicing Can Bring Huge Cost Savings To European Businesses

According to a recently released report published by Billentis and sponsored by Ricoh Europe, European companies can enjoy a cost savings of between 60 to 80 percent by adopting e-invoicing. In addition, the report estimated a business will recover its initial investment for implementing electronic invoicing within six to 18 months.

The report concluded that nearly one-quarter (24%) of the approximately six billion invoices and bills transmitted annually in Europe will be sent electronically. Moreover, the report anticipates a 22 percent annual increase in e-invoicing and electronic billing across that continent, both in the private and government sectors.

The impetus for this startling uptick in electronic invoicing? Across the board, the most common response is the cost savings afforded by e-invoicing.