Okay, class. Those of you expecting another logistics lecture from me — and maybe hoping for a chance to take a little nap — are going to be disappointed this time. Sharpen up your pencils — and your minds — and see how well you do on the following questions.
1. Last month’s terrorist attacks in Spain demonstrated that the world is still a very dangerous place for travelers. How would you characterize your own company’s responsiveness to and participation in initiatives like the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)?
2. OSHA has allied itself with the IWLA, a trade group representing third-party warehouses, with the intent of educating warehouse staff on how to operate safer facilities. Based on your own experiences, what would you need to do to prepare for an OSHA visit to your own warehouse?
3. The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association is advocating that Americans “pressure their elected officials” to build more toll roads to alleviate congestion. How willing are you to pay for these toll roads?
4. Major retailers (including Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot) and government agencies (Department of Defense, Food and Drug Administration) are actively promoting the adoption of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on pallets and cases. Do you believe RFID technology is mature enough to warrant full-scale deployments of this scale? How far along is your company in its RFID efforts, and will you meet the deadlines for implementation?
5. RFID is only one of several technology initiatives with rapidly approaching deadlines. What are you doing to be ready for Sunrise 2005 and the new bar code data structures? What about similar deadlines for data synchronization?
6. Do you benchmark your company’s logistics and supply chain processes against other companies? In what areas does your company rate best-in-class? In what areas are you falling behind your competitors?
7. Are you involved in any supply chain programs, such as vendor-managed inventory (VMI) or collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CPFR)? How have you measured the effectiveness of these programs?
8. Several prominent suppliers of warehouse management systems — EXE, HighJump, OMI International, V3 Systems, LIS — have been acquired recently, and Oracle’s continued play for PeopleSoft indicates that every software company could be a takeover target. If you are a customer of any logistics software provider, how confident are you that your system will continue to be supported? What do you plan to do when it’s time to upgrade?
9. Have you calculated the costs of the new hours of service regulations? Are those costs balanced out by safer conditions for your drivers?
10. What are your company’s core competencies? Are you outsourcing any tasks to a third-party logistics provider, and if so, how are you managing your 3PL? Are you performing any tasks right now that you should be outsourcing?
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SCORING: How’d you do? Let’s find out...
If you were able to answer 8-10 questions (“I don’t know” does not count as an answer), congratulations. You have a well-rounded education in logistics.
If you answered 6-7 questions, you’re on the right track, but I suspect you may be one of those who cut class on Opening Day. There’s still time to get caught up, but you need to worry less about box scores and more about your own logistics score.
If you could only answer 5 or less, don’t panic — I didn’t mention it earlier, but you’re allowed to use all of the resources at your disposal to answer these questions. If you don’t even understand the questions, then your assignment is to read this issue of Logistics Today from cover to cover, seek out additional information on our website (www.logisticstoday.com), talk to your key supply chain partners and do whatever else is necessary to earn a passing grade.