Supply Scan

News and Trends from Across the Food Supply Chain.

McLane Co., CSX Reach Shipment Data Agreement

McLane Co. Inc., the nation's leading wholesaler to the convenience, mass and drug channels, has announced an agreement to provide shipment data to CStoreXchange (CSX LLC), operator of the largest database of financial and operating data for the convenience store and petroleum marketing industries.

Under the agreement, McLane will provide CSX with national convenience stores' shipment data by category and CSX subscribers will be able to view these trends on CSX's 24/7 online database.

Providing retailers the combination of McLane's by-category shipments data on the same venue with CSX's sales and operating trends provides CSX subscribers with significant analytical capabilities.

"The scope and timeliness of the McLane data resident on the CSX database, combined with the CSX users ability to 'mine' this data to meet their needs, will increase the productivity of business analytics on product related decisions, while enhancing our industry's positioning in the marketplace overall," says Roger Grogman, vice president of marketing for McLane Grocery, Temple, TX.

"We are thrilled that McLane selected the CSX platform to publish its rich data," says Dick Meyer, co-founder and a partner in Minneapolis-based CSX. "McLane has a long history of supporting the industry's thirst for important category management education. And we obviously cherish the fact that its research concluded that CSX is the right conduit for our mutual objectives.

"In our opinion, this is another strategic step that will allow c-store operators to attain more of a level playing field, data intelligence wise, versus competitive retail channels."

CSX expects to provide subscribers with McLane shipment trends as early as February 2007.

The companies will provide initial previews of these enhanced business intelligence tools at the Convenience Retailing Conference in Phoenix in February.

Higher Transportation Costs Impact Shippers, Carriers

Shippers and carriers continue to experience the effects of rising transportation costs and constrained capacity that include changes in rates, service levels and, in some cases, how they do business together, according to "Transportation Capacity Issues 2006," a study released by the Warehousing Education and Research Council, Oakbrook, IL.

Eighty-three percent of transportation users said they experienced carrier rate hikes in the past year and most expected additional increases during 2006. Nearly 53 percent reported they had more service failures.

Almost 74 percent of shippers had modified warehouse operating procedures because of service issues, most changing or adding carriers and/or modes. Some companies used brokers to expand their pool of available carriers and others (43 percent) added to their lists of approved carriers.

"The study indicates that many companies are paying more for less service and they are making adjustments in other areas to compensate," says Robert L. Shaunnessey, WERC's executive director. "There is an interesting but not surprising trend toward greater collaboration between shippers and carriers in an effort to achieve greater efficiency and productivity throughout an increasingly complex supply chain."

Many firms have changed modes to combat capacity and service issues, the most significant shift being from motor carrier to intermodal. Companies have also extended their operating schedules, expanded use of drop and hook operations, added personnel, adopted transportation management systems and increased inventories, among other operational changes. At least one firm has shipped LTL quantities as a full truckload—boosting cost along with reliability.

The second annual study was compiled by C.F. Lynch & Associates. Small, mid-sized and large firms represented a cross-section of North American industries and business types. The full report, priced at $60 for WERC non-members, is available

Matori Farms Selects iGPS To Supply Plastic Pallets

Martori Farms, one of the nation's largest growers and shippers of melons and broccoli, and supplier to major supermarket chains nationwide, is currently testing plastic pallets that are tracked with RFID technology.

Matori is working with Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS Co. LLC), Orlando, FL, a large-scale pallet supply service that provides RFID in every pallet to track shipments in real-time, reducing the logistical cost of shipping and allows companies to verify food and drug safety, as well as to address security issues.

"There are a number of elements that made the iGPS product appropriate for a test program," says Paul Fleming, vice president of marketing and business development of Scottsdale, AZ-based Martori Farms.

"iGPS's pallets offer many advantages over traditional wood pallets, including light weight at 47 pounds, greater durability and a consistent 48" by 40" top deck, all of which could lead to significant shipping efficiencies. At a time when the produce industry is adopting greater automation and information technology across its supply chain, the RFID capability of the pallets was also a draw," Fleming adds.

"We are looking at ways to integrate the RFID tag in the iGPS pallets into our own warehouse management and product tracking systems," he says. "We currently use a bar code pallet tag, but if we are able to integrate with the iGPS RFID tag, we could capture all of that information at each logistical point throughout distribution."

iGPS says it offers the ability to rent plastic pallets at comparable rates and avoid the ongoing expense of owning and maintaining traditional wood pallets.

"It is significant that our first announced client supplies fresh produce," says iGPS CEO Bob Moore.

"The logistics and supply chain infrastructure we have built with our partners since launching iGPS in March is already capable of handling delivery of perishable items which are extremely time-sensitive."

Additionally, the shift from wood to plastic pallets is environmentally responsible, which is important to companies like Martori Farms that incorporate a commitment to Environmental Sustainability into their business operations.

iGPS plastic pallets are 100 percent recy-clable and, because they are 30 percent lighter than pallets made of wood, could remove several billion pounds of non-value freight from the shipping and supply-chain infrastructure, resulting in huge potential fuel savings.



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