Thursday, March 19, 2015

World Water Day

Since its shipped around the world in bottles every day, lets take a look at some water facts.

View Interactive Version (via Able Skills ).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

arviem's CEO Talks About Becoming the "Google of Trade"

I first met Stefan Reidy, CEO and founder, of arviem several years ago when he was in NY City to speak with Forbes magazine for an article on his ideas for tracking freight containers using a variety of wireless technologies.

During the interview Reidy was incredibly enthusiastic about what this could mean for the future of supply chains. In fact, he liked the idea so much that he started up his own company less than two years later in 2008.

After recently reading about arviem's new collaboration with H.B. Fuller I decided to catch up and see how things are going.

1. First, the name, arviem, where does it come from?

Stefan Reidy (SR): When we founded the company, we were looking for a compelling name. We thought about hawk eye, cargo monitoring, etc. But if you Google these buzz words, you get thousands of hits and we probably would have problems in differentiating ourselves. In addition, most of the companies using such names are engineering companies or hardware companies - but certainly not service-companies as we are.

Brainstorming about the potential name with friends, someone came up with the idea of using the first letters of the last names of the original founders: R for Reidy and vM for van de Mheen. This resulted in RvM and spelled out ar - vi - em.

2. We've been hearing about the Internet of Things and its role in the supply chain for quite some time. Why do you think it has taken so long to catch on?

SR: The challenge is the business model. You have to be aware, that the supply chain or logistics market is a very fragmented market. In average 40 different parties are involved - and therefore the most important question is: To WHOM are you selling WHAT? The WHO hast to spend money, has to pay your product, your software, your service. But the WHO is only doing so, if there is a business case to justify the WHAT. It sounds very simple, like a business lesson for dummies. But I think it is the main reason for many failures in this topic.

4. Can you talk about your new partnership with HB Fuller?

SR: H.B. Fuller has products, which are temperature sensitive and products, which should reach the final destination on time in order not to slow down the clients production process. With real-time data we help H.B. Fuller to better manage these KPIs among others.

5. What are you using for sensors on the containers and how do they connect to the network?

SR: All our devices have the same sensor suite and same functionality. Only then we can also optimize the utilization of the devices. Without releasing any confidential details about the devices, we monitor temperature, humidity, shock and door security in combination with time and position. The data from the devices is sent via cellular or satellite to our back-end, where the data is combined with other data from other sources in order to make the most actionable information for our clients. 

6. Where do you see arviem in 5 years?

SR: We would like to become the "Google of Trade". We will be monitoring not only containers but all modes of transport -- down to the specific item. In combination with other data sources, we will be able to make use of “big data” and consult our clients in order to bring their supply chains to perfection.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Which Warehouse Locations Are Lean and Lucrative?

Of all the fearful factors that business owners and logistics managers have to deal with, one of the things they dread the most is idle inventory. As if supply chains aren’t boring enough as it is (or so people think!), the term idle inventory just exudes negativity. No company, whether mom and pop sized or international corporation sized, is ever content with anything business-related being idle or stagnant.
Movement is a universal mission for businesses of all shapes and sizes because it encompasses so many variations of change. Obviously, expansion and upward financial growth are the most well-received forms of movement within a business model, but lateral moves and tactical turns can also be highly regarded.
Achieving desired directional shifts starts with the implementation of effective strategies and changes. Improving the movement of goods and inventory, for example, means the current storage strategy needs to be assessed. Often times, after a thorough review, businesses realize that commercial warehouses are basically the secret to storage success. In the long run, leasing or owning a storage facility of this magnitude equates to asset acquisition.
Commercial warehouses have gained an increasing amount of attention over the years, and for good reason. These specialized storage structures are beneficial to companies across all niches and industries, they can be used for a variety of purposes and functions, and they can store virtually any type of inventory.
In order to effectively incorporate commercial warehouses into your business operations, a number of factors must be considered. One of the first, and most important questions that needs to be answered before anything is signed or spent is –  
How do you choose a warehouse location?
Picking the Place for Productivity
The reason why location plays such a significant role in warehouse management is because the storage facility will serve as a central hub, or at least that should be a primary goal. Deciding which warehouse location will be best for your business depends on the answers to these questions:
·   Will goods be delivered to the warehouse facility, picked up, or both?
·  Will boats be used to receive and export goods?
·   How far will drivers typically be traveling in order to distribute your inventory?
·   What kinds of trucks will be accessing the building?
·   How congested is the city where the warehouse buildings are?
·   What does the economy look like in the designated city?
·   What is the tax in the potential region?
·   How many, if any, major interstates are easily accessed from the location?
·   Where is the rental or leasing company located in relation to where the storage buildings are?
·   If additional square footage or more warehouses are needed in the future, will the particular location be able to accommodate those expansion needs?
Acquiring warehouse space is not a quick-fix business solution. It requires a significant amount of time, research, and patience. In addition to the geographical location, you must also consider factors such as short and long term costs, customization options, lease terms, and the reputation of the warehousing company. 

Remember – Slow and steady wins the race, especially when picking warehouse space!

This guest post was written by previous Supply Chains Rock contributor Kaitlyn Nakagoshi - Web Content Manager for The Ruthvens, a family-owned commercial warehouse company in Lakeland, Florida. Kaitlyn is a native Floridian who graduated from the University of South Florida with degrees in Business Management and Political Science. When she's not writing copy pages or blog posts, Kaitlyn enjoys hot yoga, online shopping, golf, college football Saturdays, and brunching on Sundays. She lives in Tampa, but hopes to soon trade in her east coast roots for a San Francisco zip code. Follow her on Twitter @TampaKaity.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to Ship a 10 Meter High Sunflower

Yesterday, Airlight Energy, a Swiss-based supplier of solar power technology announced a collaboration with IBM Research to bring affordable solar technology to the market by 2017. The system can concentrate the sun’s radiation 2,000 times and convert 80 percent of it into useful energy to generate 12 kilowatts of electrical power and 20 kilowatts of heat on a sunny day—enough to power several average homes.

The High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system, which resembles a 10-meter-high sunflower, uses a 40-square-meter parabolic dish made of patented fiber-based concrete, which can be molded into nearly any shape in less than four hours and has mechanical characteristics similar to those of aluminum at one-fifth the cost.

I know about the project because I was involved and of course, with my SCM hat on, I asked about how the system will be shipped. While Airlight Energy hopes to partner with local firms to construct the systems they will initially build the sunflowers in Biasca, Switzerland and ship them in 40’ (12m x 2.5m x 2.5m) containers to the construction site. Below is a CAD model.



More details on the system can viewed in the video.

And if you are interested in testing one of the systems in your home town IBM and Airlight Energy are hosting a competition. For details visit

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Underwriters Laboratories Offers Preventative Intelligence for Supply Chain Sustainability

Sara Greenstein is the president of supply chain and sustainability at Underwriters Laboratories - yes, the same company responsible for the UL logo on millions of goods.

To my surprise UL offer a number of informative supply chain intelligence products which give every player in the supply chain the tools to be compliant and sustainable. Who knew.

I asked Sara a few questions to get a better grip on what UL is up to:

Q: There are a lot of opinions about end-to-end supply chains.  How does UL see it? Specifically, an end-to-end supply chain is from raw material until the product is disposed/recycled. So I am interested in how UL can help.

SG: Managing global supply chains from end-to-end has become exceedingly complex. With increased product complexity, mounting competitive pressures, the need for more suppliers to complete product requirements and shorter product lifecycles, supply chains have become a confusing informational labyrinth the byproduct of which is creation of more non-sustainably made products that are unsafe for human use, toxic for the environment or made through socially unacceptable labor practices. 

In short, the issues found within the modern end-to-end supply chain have greater impact to the world around us then we ever anticipated. And this has to change. Given the major human, environmental and societal impact that supply chains are having, we must now move our attention to transforming our global supply chains from end-to-end in order to remove harmful product attributes. And this is where UL’s Information & Insight (I&I) division comes into play. 

As you know, UL the global independent safety science leader, recently announced the expansion of its new I&I division.  For background, I&I was purposely created to provide all supply chain stakeholders - from material suppliers, formulators, manufacturers, distributors to retailers - with access to the most comprehensive end-to-end supply chain intelligence needed to make better informed decisions related to sustainable product creation.  

By providing  “preventative intelligence” with a state-of-the-art SaaS platform, I&I customers receive real-time product attribute intelligence and have the ability to research, vet and then remove non-sustainable product attributes, thereby mitigating significant inventory risk, before products land on shelves or lead to expensive, reputation-damaging recalls.  

UL’s recent acquisitions of The Wercs, GoodGuide, PurView and Prospector (formally IDES and Innovadex) form the basis of the I&I division which provides end-to-end supply chain insight from materials and chemicals search, to granular product attribute data to materials safety data sheets (MSDS) related to on-premise product regulatory compliance and more.

Q: How will consumers know if a supply chain has passed? Is there a label or Good Housekeeping seal?

SG: While parent company UL is known for providing seals related to product safety and sustainability which consumers have become familiar with, I&I is not a inherently a focused brand. Instead, I&I provides connected data and information across that supply chain that related businesses including suppliers, formulators, manufacturers and retailers use to inform their product development decision making processes. This said, I&I does have a consumer facing solution with GoodGuide.   

GoodGuide provides consumers with access to expert-based information about the health, environmental and social performance of products and companies. The GoodGuide service (platform and app) helps consumers make purchasing decisions that reflect their sustainability preferences and values. 

As more consumers buy better products, retailers and manufacturers face compelling incentives to make products that are safe, environmentally sustainable and produced using ethical sourcing of raw materials and labor.

Thanks Sara, but you should reconsider a UL stamp for supply chains for consumer products. It would be helpful to know that I am buying from a sustainable supply chain.