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  • LeanATL 10:35 pm on February 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right, But Three Rights Make a Left: Containers, Interstates and a Few Book Reviews 

    Two Wrongs Dont Make a Right

    Over the years I have espoused one of the things making the USA economically successful was the ease of transportation of goods. Driving around Atlanta I frequently see containers on trucks being shuttled either from a train yard or from the Port of Savannah to a near-by distribution center. Any student pursuing APICS CLTD certification will appreciate the need to understand transportation concepts and some finer details around container shipping. For example,

    Land Bridges:

    ‘An intermodal strategy ‘optimizes sea, road, and rail transport modes to provide alternatives for long distance shippers. Land bridges also minimize issues of immense ships too large for canals or straits. A mini land bridge combines ocean and rail carriers for reaching destinations across a country. A micro land bridge involves a combination of ocean and rail carriers for reaching an inland destination’

    [CLTD Version 1.0, 2017 Edition, Pg5-140]

    Panamax / Suezmax

    ‘Ocean ships are measured by their ability to move through the locks of Panama and Suez canals. Ships that can move through the Panama Canal (Panamax ships) must have a deadweight of 75,000 long tons; those that can move through the Suez Canal (Suezmax ships) must have a maximum deadweight of 200,000 metric tons.’ Ships larger are too long to too wide to move through these canals (Post-Panamax/Post-Suezmax)

    [CLTD Version 1.0, 2017 Edition, Pg5-106]


    Roll On, Roll Off (RORO)

    ‘Basically large ferries. The carrier drives automobiles and other motor vehicles directly onto the ship using built-in ramps and then drives or tows the vehicles off the ship at the cargo’s destination’

    [CLTD Version 1.0, 2017 Edition, Pg5-106]

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines the following key terms

    Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU)

    ‘a measurement used to describe the carrying capacity of a cargo ship or terminal’s handling capacity. One TEU equals a standard 20 foot x 8 foot x 8 foot (length x width x height) shipping container’

    Intermodal Transport

    ‘1) Shipments moved by different types of equipment combining the best features of each mode. 2) The use of two or more different carrier modes in the through movement of a shipment’

    As I reviewed these and other APICS CLTD content I became more curious on the history of containerization, the US interstate system and the evolution of our e-commerce society. Following is insight into what I uncovered and a couple short book reviews.

    On April 26, 1956 the first converted ship tanker set sail from Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, New Jersey headed from the Port of Houston, Texas with fifty-eight 35-foot Trailer Vans. This was the first commercial use of using containers to mass ship break-bulk product overseas. Already a successful transportation business magnet, Malcolm McLean went on to change the face of global trade.

    On June 29, 1956 the (US) Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower paving the way (pun intended) for what is now officially known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. While many groups and municipalities across the country were working locally to improve road conditions, with the signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act, a strategy and funds were in place to drive a coordinated effort of standardization across the states.

    While it took decades for containerization and interstates to evolve to mass success (the first standard TEU container ship started sailing in 1968; officially 1992 is the completion of the original Interstate plan) my thesis is both events formally occurring around the same time is a key factor in the integral success of both systems. As an example, container ships were in more demand as trucks could more easily get to and access ports, and more trucks and associated highways grew in demand to get containers from ports to inland distribution points.

    Following is a brief summary of a few books you can reference for additional context:

    The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways. Earl Swift

    Big Roads starts in the late 1800’s with Carl Fisher and his role in driving change by going from selling bicycles to starting and building the Indianapolis 500. Along the way the author discusses the history of major roadway projects such as the Lincoln Highway and the Dixie Highway, the many inputs into the inter-connected roads concepts leading up to the 1956 signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act, and the consistency of Thomas Macdonald leading the design and implementation of the interstate plan for 34 years under 7 different US Presidents.

    Biggest lesson learned, while the name is officially ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways’ as with most things political, Dwight Eisenhower was in the right place at the right time and was responsible for formally signing the 1956 Act kicking off formal federal leadership of the project. There were several other visionaries and leaders more responsible for the interstate system than President Eisenhower.

    The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger. Marc Levinson

    My key take away from reading The Box was the significant disruption the introduction of container shipping had on the entire shipping industry. Today we frequently talk about technology disruption, for example the taxi industry (Uber/Lyft) or smart phones disrupting multiple industries (music, photography, land phone lines).

    “In 1963-64, Manhattan (NY) employers used 1.4 million days of longshore labor. [as container shipping grew] Hirings slid below a million in 1967-68, breached 350,000 in 1970-71, and dropped to 127,041 in 1975-76 – a 91 percent decline in longshore employment in twelve years. Brooklyn’s (NY) followed, dropping from 2.3 million hirings in 1965-66 to 1.6 million in 1970-71 and to just 930,000 in 1975-76. Employment had fallen 78 percent in a decade. Brooklyn’s once mighty cargo-handling industry was just a shadow of its former self.”

    In 1957 it was estimated container shipping cost 39-74 percent less per ton than conventional shipping.  Additionally, loading standard containers significantly increased ship turn-around from weeks to days, typically single digit days. Both of these factored into making long distance out-sourcing of production economically viable.

    Overall this is a good quick read with a detailed history or Malcolm McLean, the evolution of container standards and a brief look into the current state of container ports around the world.

    Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation. Edward Humes

    Door to Door briefly discussed both the container and interstate evolution, but put more emphasis on the impact of containerization on domestic companies unable (or unwilling) to adapt to an off-shoring model and the future states of transportation in global trade with a strong hint toward the ageing (and in some places failing) US transportation infrastructure. For my interest, the book started and ended strong allowing me to quickly skim the middle information. Key points I picked up:

    • “’Your kids will never go hungry if they have degrees in global,’ says he head of UPS for the American West. ‘But we have to leave them a transportation system that works.’” [pg16] As an employee in the supply chain technology space, and the father of a near term college student, I found this point exceptionally interesting.
    • “But then came the big breakthrough, a world-changing invention that would be both boom and disaster, making most of our modern and common products, not the least smartphone, possible. It was not some new ship design or propulsion system that launched the revolution, nor the advent of some new exciting high technology or manufacturing process. The breakthrough was a low-tech as could be: a steel box or, as American longshoreman call it ‘the can.’ It’s best known away from the docks as the shipping container.” [pg29]
    • “Manufacturing jobs come and go, but the logistics field just keeps growing – 32 percent growth even during the Great Recession, while all other fields grew by a collective average of 1 percent. Some say logistics is the new manufacturing.” [pg39]
    • Aluminum (or more specifically bauxite) is an awesome reusable material and something we should all be recycling. For example, an aluminum beverage can has become the global poster child for recycling, the one “single-use” product that gets recycled more than it gets landfilled. Much of the aluminum extracted from the earth since the 1880’s is still in play, some of it recycled dozens or even hundreds of times. Aluminum is a shining example in the “cradle-to-cradle” reuse economy. American beverage cans on average are 70 percent recycled metal, 30 percent primary aluminum.
    • One of my life philosophies “two wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights make a left” has been validated by UPS. UPS implemented a no-left-turn policy in 2004 driven by their new route optimization tool, ORION. Through detailed analysis, engineers realized turning against traffic resulted in long waits in left-hand turn lanes wasting both time and fuel, and left turns also lead to a disproportionate number of accidents. Since implementing the tool UPS estimates the following benefits:
      • Reduce 100 million miles driven annually
      • Save $300-400 million annually
      • Cut greenhouse emissions by 100,000 metric tons annually. The equivalent of removing 21,000 cars from the road

    Click here to learn more about UPS ORION.

    • “The single most common product type shipped by UPS is – perhaps unsurprisingly in this age of e-commerce – the consumer retail product category. The next most common in order are car parts, medical supplies and drugs, professional services (mostly legal and real estate documents) and industrial supplies and products.” [pg247]
    • The US transportation infrastructure is showing its age and in many ways has outgrown its use. However, there are five important trends that may bring change and relief to our crumbling roads and bridges.
    1. China is transforming from a low-wage factory sweatshop economy into a true economic powerhouse where workers are getting better wages, benefits and work conditions.
    2. Higher wages in China make off-shoring of jobs and manufacturing less attractive to companies. Re-shoring – a resurgence of manufacturing jobs back to the US is happening.
    3. The emergence of 3-D printing as a viable solution is one of the major disruptive technologies on the horizon. The “factory-in-a-box” technology provides the ability to manufacturer products locally at a competitive cost, and in small quantities.
    4. The ridesharing world of traffic apps are driving cultural changes in car ownership
    5. The driverless car will disrupt transportation as much if not more than the invention of the car.

    Which brings me to the end of the book where I found a compelling view into the future of car ownership:

    “Open an app on your smartphone and summon a driverless car to your house. The app consults the latest crowdsourced traffic data and informs you the car will pick you up forty-five minutes before your meeting starts to ensure you arrive on time. At the appointed time, your phone buzzes: the car is outside your house. It takes you to your meeting, its route selected based on current traffic data; it drops you off at the curb and then takes off to pick up another passenger. During the ride you were free to do other work. Drive time has become productive time. Neither you nor the autonomous car has to worry about parking at the end of the trip – a process that, in once congested metro areas, used to be both time-consuming and expensive. Space once set aside for parking cars is now used more productively, in the forms of protected bike lanes, outdoor cafes, open space and mini-parks. At the end of your meeting you use your app to schedule a pick up to return you for the day.”

    While the above scenario is in practice today, the next evolution is removing the human driver from the equation. Driverless cars are projected to not only be more efficient but much safer by removing human error and human ego. This will significantly reduce and possibly eliminate the 35,000 deaths, and 2.5 million trips to the Emergency Room associated to the 5 million auto collisions a year.

  • LeanATL 9:35 pm on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Perfect Order Fulfillment (seven R’s, 7 Rights of Fulfillment) 

    As outlined in a prior post, Perfect Order Fulfillment is a SCOR® measure of how reliably a company can fulfill a perfect order.

    APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines Perfect Order Fulfillment as:

    ‘a measure of an organization’s ability to deliver a perfect order’

    Perfect Order is defined as:

    ‘An order which the “seven R’s” are satisfied: the right product, the eight quantity, the right condition, the right place, the right time, the right customer, the right cost.’

    In short, Perfect Order Fulfillment is the percentage of orders meeting delivery performance with complete and accurate documentation and no delivery damage or defects.

    Warehousing Education and Research Council (WRC) narrowed down the Perfect Order Fulfillment metric to four components.

    • Complete;
    • On time;
    • Damage free;
    • With the correct documentation and invoicing.

    Click here to read how WERC calculates Perfect Order Fulfillment.

    Through 2015 WERC reported the following for Perfect Order achievement:

    • Best in Class: >=99.13%
    • Bottom Performers: <85.7%
    • Median: 97.2%

    Tillman, J. M., K. Manrodt, and D. Williams. (2016). DC Measures Study. WERCWatch. Oak Brook, IL. Warehousing Education and Research Council. 

    Once you know your current state Perfect Order metric you can begin to make continuous improvement changes to improve your performance and supply chain reliability. Click here to learn about steps you can take to improve your Perfect Order metric.

     For the CLTD and/or CSCP student it is important to understand Perfect Order Fulfillment, the Perfect Order and specifically the 7 rights of fulfillment.

    To help remember the 7 rights of fulfillment you may consider this memory jogger:


    1. Think about the 4 P’s of marketing:
      1. Remember SCOR® is not concerned with Sales and Marketing (Promotion).
      2. Cost can be synonymous with Price
    2. 2 C’s,
      1. Everything revolves around the Customer
      2. The order needs to Arrive in the right Condition
    3. As an APICS friend, you are familiar with Total Quality (TQ). For the Perfect Order:
      1. Time
      2. Quantity
    • Product
    • Price (Cost)
    • Place
    • Customer
    • Condition
    • Time
    • Quantity
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  • LeanATL 1:13 am on December 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR®) model 

    A growing supply chain wide measurement and improvement tool is the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR®) model designed to measure cross-functional, cross-company supply chain processes at various levels.

    APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines SCOR® model as:

    ‘…a cross-industry, standard diagnostic tool for supply chain management. The SCOR model describes the business activities associated with satisfying a customer’s demand, which include plan, source, make, deliver, and return…’

    Unique to SCOR® is the focus on integrated processes (plan, source, make, deliver, return and enable) rather than individual (siloed) functions. Specifically SCOR® includes:

    • All customer interactions (order-to-cash cycle)
    • All product transactions (logistics)
    • All market interactions (forecasting thru order fulfillment)

    and SCOR® excludes:

    • Sales and Marketing
    • Research and Development
    • Product Development
    • Customer Support (some elements)
    • Training
    • Quality
    • Information Technology
    • Administration

    SCOR® is typically a strategic initiative lead by management to enhance their understanding of their supply chains and associated processes with the goal of improving systems and practices related to internal operations and links to suppliers and customers. SCOR starts with 3 standard Levels with a fourth defined on a company by company basis.

    Level 1 metrics are grouped by five supply chain performance attributes, Reliability, Responsiveness, Agility, Costs, and Asset Management. Each Level 1 process is supported by two more levels, Level 2 are operational metrics and Level 3 are individual processes used as change levelers to impact Level 1 improvements.

    Of specific interest to the CLTD and CSCP student is a measure of Reliability, Perfect Order Fulfillment; how reliably can the company’s supply chain fulfill a Perfect Order. Perfect Order Fulfillment and Perfect Order are covered in another blog post on APICS CLTD Coach.

    In summary SCOR®:

    1. Is A strategic initiative
    2. Considers integrated processes both internal and external to the company
    3. Is designed to help measure and improve supply chains

    Stay tuned to for upcoming workshops on SCOR® in the Atlanta area where you can learn more about using the SCOR® model and setting up continuous improvement initiatives for your organization. Click here for a video introduction to SCOR.



  • LeanATL 11:48 pm on November 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Mind Maps for Visual Learning 

    APICS_CLTD2017_v1_0We kicked off another CLTD workshop in Atlanta recently. In the workshops we offer tools, tips and strategies for successfully studying for and passing the APICS CLTD exam. One strategy we recommend to all students is creating a mind map of the CLTD learning system.

    A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. A mind map is hierarchical and shows relationships among pieces of the whole. It is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

    When I studied for the CLTD exam, I used Coggle, a free online mind mapping tool.

    First, I summarized the learning system by module and section, and highlighted the total number of pages within each section. I then created a separate mind map for each section and listed terms and/or concepts associated to the section, along with a page reference in the learning system. This allowed me to easily summarize key terms and concepts and link them to a topic.

    The end result was multiple pages of mind maps I was able to quickly reference. More importantly, the process of developing the mind maps helped engrain the core learning concepts I felt relevant to better understanding CLTD.

    You can send us a note and we will gladly send you the mind maps we have, but the real learning occurs when you create your own mind map and being to identify terms and concepts and associate them to sections and topics in the learning system. After all, while there are short cuts to learning, the best path to understanding is doing.



    • Khalid 4:30 pm on November 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I’d be glad to receive those mind maps.
      Thanks in advance!


    • Rafiq Khan 11:49 am on December 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I am preparing for the CLTD examinations. It’d be great if you can share the mind-maps you’ve created for CLTD. Please mail those to me at


    • Blair Williams 3:53 pm on February 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Looks very interesting. Pl send mind maps you have. Do you cover CSCP too?


      Blair Williams CFPIM, CSCP, CLTD, Jonah


    • Laila 2:40 pm on February 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for sharing. This is very useful not only for organizing our own ideas as we learn new concepts, but also for sharing these ideas with others and support group thinking.


    • Alan Milliken 1:07 pm on February 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Please forward me the CLTD Mind Maps. Thanks


  • LeanATL 2:30 am on November 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Break Bulk Warehouse 

    Break Bulk Warehouse 2


    Last post, we discussed a tool for distribution facility network design. Another factor potentially influencing network design is the role of the warehouse. For example, will all facilities be pure distribution centers, storing inventory and distributing to customers? Or will facilities be specialized, serving different purposes.

    Within a supply chain, it is common to have multiple warehouses serving specific roles to improve customer service levels, reduce transportation costs, or both. For example, a break bulk warehouse will allow a company to leverage inbound transportation truck loads which are typically better rates than smaller less than truck load rates. The warehouse in this case serves the purpose of receiving bulk shipments through economical long distance transportation from plant and breaking of these into small shipments for local delivery to various customers. This enables small shipments in place of long distance small shipments.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines break bulk (warehouse) as:

    ‘dividing truckloads, railcars or containers of homogeneous items into smaller, more appropriate quantities for use…’

    Another source, presents economic benefits of various warehouse roles and defines the benefits of break bulk a receiving bulk shipments through economical long distance transportation from plant and breaking of these into small shipments for local delivery to various customers. This enables small shipments in place of long distance small shipments.


  • LeanATL 12:35 pm on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Center-of-Gravity (modeling) Approach 

    Michael Jackson Lean 3

    Effective facilities planning and network design can result in both a strategic competitive advantage (serving customers quicker) and low cost differentiation. A good project will look at the location of facilities relative to customers and suppliers, and the types of facilities to help improve customer service while lowering costs.

    Click here to read an example, with results, of a network design project.

    Facility location decisions involve many logistics variables. Your job as a supply chain professional is to balance and compare these variables to optimize service levels, costs and flexibility. You have many modeling tools available ranging from simple to complex.

    One approach of interest to an APICS CLTD candidate is the Center-of-Gravity Approach.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines a center-of-gravity approach as:

    ‘a methodology for locating distribution centers at approximately the location representing the minimum transportation costs between the plants, the distribution centers, and the markets, in order to maximize revenue …’

    The Center of Gravity Approach seeks to compute geographic coordinates for a potential single new facility to minimize costs. The main inputs considered are:

    • Markets
    • Volume of goods shipped
    • Shipping costs

    This method is beneficial because it’s (1) Simple to compute, (2) Considers existing facilities, (3) and Minimizes costs.

    Click here to read more about using the center-of-gravity approach.


    You may think the National Archives is an unlikely place to learn about center of gravity and the secrets of Michael Jackson’s dance moves — but you’re wrong!

    • Shaida Allen Wilson 1:05 pm on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Great information! Thanks


  • LeanATL 3:44 pm on September 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Why CLTD? ‘Those who know how will always work for those who know why’ 

    In 2016 APICS introduced the new Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) certification. The CLTD certification is earned by passing one comprehensive exam, focusing on eight modules covering critical areas in logistics, transportation, and distribution:

    • Logistics and Supply Chain Overview
    • Capacity Planning and Demand Management
    • Order Management
    • Inventory and Warehouse Management
    • Transportation Management
    • Global Logistics Considerations
    • Logistics Network Design
    • Reverse Logistics and Sustainability

    Achieving CLTD certification will help you:

    • Master the essential knowledge needed for the logistics, transportation and distribution industry
    • Expand your outlook on the logistics field and enable you to bring new ideas to your organization
    • Remain current with global logistics trends and developments
    • Boost your confidence with recognition as a logistics expert
    • Provide you with the tools you need to help reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction

    Chris Barnes, a supply chain professional and long-time friend of APICS achieved the CLTD certification late 2016. He recently sat down with Amanda Luton, owner of The Magnolia Marketing Group and social media marketing manager for APICS Atlanta, to discuss the CLTD certification and provide readers with tips on how to successfully study and pass.

    Amanda: You achieved CLTD. What other certifications do you have?

    Chris:  Yes, I achieved CLTD in December 2016. I also hold the original CPIM designation at the fellow level and added CSCP a few years ago.

    Amanda: What are the other certifications and how do they work together?

    Chris: CPIM or Certified in Production & Inventory Management has been around for over 60 years and is the industry standard for inventory management and sales and operations planning professionals. CSCP or Certified Supply Chain Professional is the middle child and has been around for several years. I was glad to see the new CLTD certification come along as a complement to the other two. CPIM focuses on the Plan, Source, Make processes of the supply chain with emphasis on materials planning, materials management, purchasing and forecasting. CSCP took a more holistic view of the supply chain with emphasis on all SCOR processes. CPIM was at the ground level view while CSCP was at the 10,000 feet view. CLTD is similar to CPIM being at a ground level view but is focused on the outbound side of the supply chain (Deliver and Return).

    Amanda: How have these certifications helped you?

    Chris: I will give you my personal examples but I encourage readers to understand each person and career is different. I am unique to APICS in my career. As a sales professional with classical training roots in industrial engineering my use of the APICS credentials is what I say, less than applicable. For example, I am not buying, planning, producing or moving things through the supply chain as a practitioner. However, the CPIM certification has helped establish me as a trusted advisor with prospects and customers, making my job easier. On many occasions, I’ve noticed something APICS related in a person’s office I was interviewing, and inserted my APICS involvement into the discussion. It was an instant credibility builder.

    In recent years, my focus has been on helping companies improve their warehouse operations. As a result I was suspect getting the CLTD certification would benefit me much. But, I quickly learned there is more to outbound logistics than an efficient warehouse. CLTD opened my eyes to the complexities of a global supply chain and best practices around managing transportation and reverse logistics. It added to my arsenal as a trusted advisor. I am now better able to discuss transportation issues with my prospects and customers. Issues like understanding the impact of the Chinese New Year on supply lead times, what harmonized tariff codes are and why they matter and the perfect order is not perfect until the customer has it.

    The CSCP certification helped me in a surprising way and opened my eyes to another passion I now have, training and coaching. When I achieved CSCP I was with a global ERP publisher (don’t know what ERP is? Get certified and find out). With the new certification in hand, management approached me and asked if I would put together a CSCP review series for employees and partners around the world. I accepted and helped many people with their career development by coaching them on CSCP certification. As a result of this experience I now coach individuals during their certification processes and advise another company, Talent Stream Leadership Academy, to help companies develop internal workshops and certification review sessions.

    Amanda: As one of the first CLTD certificants, what advice do you have for anyone pursuing CLTD certification?

    Chris: At a high level, I have three suggestions. One, set aside the time to study and make it a priority. This is especially true if you opt for self-study. The exam schedules are flexible and you sign up for an exam slot that fits your personal schedule, for example 3 or 6 months out. You then have a pace to maintain leading up to your exam date. As with any other learning exercise, cramming creates stress and tends to focus on the result (passing) over the means (learning).

    Forget what you already know. I expect this sounds odd but I am a living example of why I bring this up. As mentioned, I have been a warehouse professional for several years and think I have a good grasp on warehouse concepts and practices. As I studied CLTD and completed the practice exams I saw my scores were lower in the warehousing section. This was the result of me skimming the warehousing sections, rather than reading, and missing subtle concepts discussed in the participant guide. I was guessing on answers, many of which were guessed wrong. Key take away’s; 1) understand the examples discussed in the participant guide and 2) know the APICS terms and definitions. There is a long-standing adage with APICS, ‘the correct answer is not always the right answer, it’s what APICS says is correct that is the right answer.’ Reminds me of the golden rule ‘whomever owns the gold, makes the rules.’

    Know your learning style and study to that style. For example, APICS offers class-room sessions for people to take or you can pursue self-study. I did a combination class room/self-study driven by the amount of time I had and the experience I had with the subject. Early in my career, I worked in a manufacturing plant and could reasonably know I would be available every Wednesday evening. I also needed an active class discussion with other students to allow me to learn from their experiences and put more examples around the concepts. As my career evolved, and I gained more hands on experience I did not have the luxury of knowing I would be available to attend a class on any given day and my travel schedule was more conducive to self-study.

    I’ve talked to many students who need the discipline and structure of attending a class-room session. It helps them with accountability. But, in recent years I’ve seen a trend toward self-study, especially for CSCP and CLTD. It’s why I started APICS CLTD Coach. We ‘tutor’ students going through self-study. We provide different levels of support based on individual needs. Ranging from pointing people in the right direction and pulling the string, to regular sessions reviewing key concepts and providing the real life experience perspective. I encourage you to connect with your local APICS chapter to leverage them as a resource and get involved with a class. For example, APICS Atlanta is working on a 5 Saturday review of CLTD in the coming months. And check out to get a glimpse into what myself and others think is relevant to better understanding CLTD. Not to be left out, CPIM students should check out

    Amanda: Professional Development and continuous learning is obviously a big part of your career plan. Why do you think it is important?

    Chris: Early in my career, I found the APICS certifications helped me with career advancement. Over time, my interest has evolved into learning for the sake of better understanding. I like to understand topics that will potentially help my customers and I enjoy sharing my passion and experience with others who might be trying to improve themselves professionally, or with companies who see APICS certified employees as a foundation for continuous improvement of their supply chains. I heard a CEO once theorize there are three phases to a career, Learn, Earn and Return. For me, I am bridging the transition between Earn and Return.

    Continuous learning supports something a mentor once told me, ‘Those who know how will always work for those who know why’.

  • LeanATL 2:48 pm on July 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply  




    Question: Incoterms® is/are:

    1. Short for International Commercial Terms
    2. Voluntary
    3. Eleven (11) established rules commonly used in foreign trade
    4. Developed by the International Chamber of Commerce
    5. Trade terms indicating which tasks will be performed by exporter/importer
    6. Trade terms indicating which activities will be paid by exporter/importer
    7. All the above

    Understanding Incoterms® is important given the growth of international trade and globalization. When doing business abroad, the more specific your contract terms, the less room for misinterpretation by the involved parties. Incoterms® trade terms indicate which tasks will be performed and which activities will be paid by the exporter, which tasks will be performed and which activities will be paid by the importer, and when product responsibility moves from one party to the other.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines a private carrier as:

    ‘a set of (voluntary) rules established by the International Chamber of Commerce providing internationally recognized rules for the interpretation of the most commonly used trade terms in foreign trade…’

    The 11 terms primarily define when risk for the cargo passes from seller to buyer and which party is responsible for freight and insurance costs. The first letter in the terms is significant:

    • C: Require the seller to pay for shipping.
    • D: The seller or shipper’s responsibility ceases at a specified point, and they deal with who will pay pier, docking, and clearance charges.
    • E: When the goods are ready to leave the seller’s premises, their responsibility ceases.
    • F: The primary cost of shipping is not met by the seller.

    From there the current Incoterms® are divided into two categories: one for any mode of transport, and the second for sales that solely involve non-containerized shipping by sea or inland waterways. Click here to read more from Inbound Logistics.

    If you have taken an accounting class in the USA you probably learned about FOB. The term FOB is also used in modern USA domestic shipping to describe the point at which a seller is no longer responsible for shipping cost, specifically ‘FOB origin’ and ‘FOB destination’.

    The two terms have a specific meaning in commercial law and cannot be altered. But the FOB terms do not need to be used, and often are not. In this case the specific terms of the agreement can vary widely, in particular which party, buyer or seller, pays for the loading costs and shipment costs, and/or where responsibility for the goods is transferred. The last distinction is important for determining liability or risk of loss for goods lost or damaged in transit from the seller to the buyer.

    For example, a person in Miami purchasing equipment from a manufacturer in Chicago could receive a price quote of “$5000 FOB Chicago”, which would indicate the buyer would be responsible for the shipping from Chicago to Miami. If the same seller issued a price quote of “$5000 FOB Miami”, then the seller would cover shipping to the buyer’s location.

    Following are additional resources to help you better understand Incoterms® in preparation for the CLTD Certification.

    Back to our question, Incoterms® is/are:…

    Answer: 7. All the above

  • LeanATL 11:12 pm on June 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    3PL, 4PL or LLP 

    In a recent post we discussed transportation carrier types and how they might fit into your supply chain strategy. Another strategic decision is how you manage warehouse/distribution operations. Is your organization competent enough to efficiently manage your own warehouse or should you outsource to another organization (3PL). If you do manage your own operations and become really, really good at it, should your company form another company/division to provide logistics services to others (LLP). Finally, if you do outsource to 3PLs and you have multiple 3PLs in your network, should you contract with another third party to manage your 3PLs (4PL)?

    3PL 4PL LLP

    Understanding these terms and concepts are extremely relevant to professionals in the era of the extended supply chain. A 2013 survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers, ‘Next-Generation Supply Chains: Efficient, fast and tailored’ found the highest percent of outsourced supply chain activities involve the Deliver process of the SCOR Framework, specifically inbound and outbound logistics.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines

    third-party logistics (3PL) as:

    ‘A buyer and supplier team with a third party that provides product delivery services.’

    fourth-party logistics (4PL) as:

     ‘4PL differs from 3PL by:

    1. 4PL is often a separate entity
    2. 4PL is a client interface
    3. 4PL provide management services
    4. 3PL can offer 4PL services.’

    Lead logistics provider (LLP) as:

     ‘Organizations that oversee the third-party logistics operations of their clients.’

    In my professional opinion, there is a very, very thin line (almost invisible) between and LLP and a 4PL. An LLP strategy is generally an evolution of a great collaborative relationship a company has with their 3PL, Penske Logistics Named as Lead Logistics Provider by Whirlpool. Depending on the marketing literature you read, 4PL and LLP are one in the same. Another tell of the blurring boundary between 4PL and LLP is the trademark of the term 4PL. In 1996, Accenture, a global consultancy (and my former employer) trade marked the term 4PL but has since let the trademark lapse.

    • Bob Erdman 1:36 pm on June 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Yes. My understanding about 4PLs is that they would take the role of strategic consultants and systems integrators – WMS and TMS systems, for example, would be placed under a 4PLs control for future integration and development. 3PLs would be more involved in day-to-day management of supply chain affairs.


  • LeanATL 7:39 pm on May 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Common vs Contract Carrier 

    Kroger TruckA recent query on APICS Supply Chain Channel asked…(what is the) Difference Between Common Carrier and Contract Carrier. I’ll answer at two levels. Level 1 will help you pass the CLTD exam. Level 2 provides a deeper understanding of the terms.

    Level 1:

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines a common carrier as:

    ‘…transportation available to the public that does not provide special treatment to any one party and is regulated as to the rates charge, the liability assumed, and the service provided.’

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines a contract carrier as:

    ‘…a carrier that does not serve the general public, but provides transportation for hire for one or a limited number of shippers under a specific contract.’

    Level 2

    While legally there are key differences from a government regulation perspective (i.e. UPS is not a common carrier – UPS reserves the right in its absolute discretion to refuse carriage to any shipment tendered to it for transportation), it is better to see the differences from a customer (shippers) perspective. Specifically what the carrier does and when they do it.

    A common carrier will work with multiple shippers from day to day. They are NOT dedicated to servicing a specific shipper and will frequently have multiple shipments for multiple companies on a load to help them optimize their costs. An example of a common carrier is Delta Airlines. You can call them today, rent a seat, and be on your way across the country with 150 other travelers. If you are a shipper, you will typically “rate shop” your loads with common carriers to determine the most efficient and economical carrier service. For example, if I want to fly from Atlanta to Chicago I would rate shop my trip on to check the common carriers for best service (delivery schedule) and cost. Kayak may even suggest I fly Delta to Chicago but use United for my return flight to Atlanta.

    Example truck common carriers in the States include:

    • Old Dominion
    • YRC Freight (formerly Yellow)
    • Southeastern Freight Lines
    • R+L Carriers
    • Central Transport
    • CH Robinson
    • B. Hunt
    • YRC Freight
    • FedEx (maybe)

    A contract carrier will work with the shipper on a longer-term contract. The carrier will reach an agreement (level of service and cost) and work with a specific shipper over the length of the contract. Specialty carriers, i.e. refrigerated, flat bed, etc. may be better off establishing longer-term contracts with shippers to help them spread their higher operating costs over more certain shipments. As a shipper, I’m assured of terms and conditions for my shipments over the length of the contract. While I may still work with common carriers for one-off shipments, I fully expect to use my contact carrier as much as possible.

    Back to my Chicago trip example, I may decide I take enough trips to Chicago to warrant a more dedicated air service and may opt to sign a contract with NetJets ( to serve my air travel needs.

    Contract carriers may also subcontract some of the shipments to independent carriers (i.e. owner operators or smaller companies who own tractors). This provides them more flexibility without higher overhead costs of owning assets.

    Example contract carriers in the States include:

    • Interstate Distributors
    • CH Robinson
    • B. Hunt
    • MCT Transportation
    • Total Transportation of Mississippi
    • Ryder
    • UPS
    • FedEx

    Some confusion might result given you still have a contract with a common carrier but it is a short term contract (Bill of Lading), for a specific shipment. The contract with a contract carrier is longer-term. When working with a contract carrier you might be in a collaborative, outsource agreement as a strategy to strengthen your competitive advantage.

    Frequently a carrier can be listed as both a common and contract carrier. This is typically done through different company divisions. The blurring line between common and contract carrier becomes even more fuzzy doing a Google search on “Is UPS (or FedEx) a common (or contract) carrier”. The results are surprising. The UPS Terms and Conditions of Carriage, states, “UPS is not a common carrier and reserves the right in its absolute discretion to refuse carriage to any shipment tendered to it for transportation”. The highlighted verbiage restricts UPS from being considered a common carrier (common carriers cannot generally refuse service to a shipper).

    Alternatively, the search on FedEx as a common carrier results in a criminal charge case where FedEx claimed “common carrier” exemption to certain possession laws. They used the “basic notion that if they are in the business of shipping pretty much everything for pretty much everyone, they can’t be expected to always know, or be liable for, certain illegal uses of their service”.

    Common and contract carriers are third party (for-hire) companies organizations. As an option, a company might opt to be a private carrier, to own and manage their own fleet internally.

    The APICS Dictionary, 15th edition, defines a private carrier as:

    ‘…a group that provides transportation exclusively within an organization.’

    There are many reasons companies would opt to in-source (private) vs out-source (common/contract) transportation. The primary being costs, management defined core competencies and marketing. Marketing may seem odd but think about a trailer as a mobile billboard traveling through populated cities capturing the attention of everyone passing by. In Atlanta we might see an Advance Auto, Dollar General, Little Debbie, Kroger or Publix truck traveling around Interstate 285. You would be safe to assume these are private carriers. However if you have gotten this far and are confident you understand the differences in carrier types, I propose, when you see that Kroger truck on the highway, chances are it is not a private carrier Kroger asset. I would bet it is owned and managed by Atlas Logistics a contract carrier, 3PL and possibly an LLP.

    We will cover 3PL and LLP in a future post.

    • Shaida Allen Wilson 8:01 pm on May 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you! Great information it definitely help me understand the difference between the two carriers especially for the CLTD.


    • Zain 11:43 pm on May 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Very nice Thank you very much for the detailed explanation.


    • Travia Childs 4:31 pm on May 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you!


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