Gridlocked up

If you're located in Los Angeles, chances are you're reading these words while stuck in traffic. LA has long had a reputation for gridlock, but a new study shows just how bad it is — the average traveler in Southern California spends 93 hours per year going nowhere thanks to traffic delays.

The 2004 Urban Mobility Report, developed by the Texas Transportation Institute (www.tti.tamu.edu), ranks areas according to several measurements, including:

  • Annual delay per peak period (rush hour) traveler, which has grown from 16 hours to 46 hours since 1982.
  • Annual financial cost of traffic congestion, which has increased from $14 billion to more than $63 billion since 1982.
  • Wasted fuel, totaling 5.6 billion gallons lost to engines idling in traffic jams.

Commenting on the study, Pete Ruan, president and CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), suggests a number of solutions, including: improved handling of traffic incidents to clear roadways quickly, increased use of synchronized traffic signalization and 'smart road' technologies to increase traffic flow, and completely closing roads that need repair to traffic (when possible) so that contractors can complete work quickly.

7 keys to improving distribution productivity

Proven principles can help shippers improve warehouse productivity and throughput 10%-30%, claims consulting firm Tom Zosel Associates (TZA) (www.tzaconsulting.com). To that end, TZA has identified seven key principles it believes shippers should seek to improve their distribution productivity. These results can be realized through the intelligent application of engineering, labor reporting software and execution management.

"While many companies have significantly reduced operating costs and increased performance through productivity improvement programs, the majority of the market is still unaware of the potential that exists in their companies to realize substantial performance gains through productivity initiatives," says Evan Danner, president of TZA. Companies can achieve double-digit productivity gains, at low risk, by applying the following techniques, Danner asserts:

  1. Start withindividual accountability.
  2. Buildstandards based on the right methods and procedures.
  3. Productivity can be improved through software or engineering, but results are maximized when both are used in combination
  4. Focus management's attention on the details.
  5. Train operators and supervisors for success.
  6. Incentives can work, but only if done well.
  7. Utilize formal change management teams and techniques.
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