Supply chain visibility – is it really the answer?

24 05 2013

For some years now, ‘supply chain visibility’ has been held up as the solution to every problem a supply chain director faces. Constantly monitor where your goods are and you will minimize inventory, reduce time to market and – most importantly – cut costs, we are told.

“But does that really happen?” asks Anna Warren, Supply Chain Solutions Manager, Virtualized Logistics, a supply chain consultancy set up by logistics company SBS Worldwide

“Is all that data used to its maximum extent or does it just accumulate in an unused pile once a couple of bottlenecks have been identified and eliminated?”

Ms Warren says the danger is twofold. “Sometimes, different parts of the supply chain are so overwhelmed with data that it becomes unproductive for both transport suppliers and shippers to do anything more than a general analysis. 

“Or, conversely, the wrong type of data is collected, missing precisely the ‘right’ data, maybe further back up the supply chain that would be most useful for generating potential efficiencies.”

Another potential problem is the constantly changing nature of the market for exporters, importers and other shippers.

“Companies must recognize that identifying the relevant data and market intelligence is a never-ending process. With all elements and costs in the supply chain, both internal and external, subject to change, constant vigilance is needed.”

Fuel prices and freight lane capacity (and therefore logistics costs) fluctuate, the cost of labor and materials almost inevitably rise, competitors launch new products or identify new markets, and supply chain variables change.

Ms Warren stresses that the criteria and parameters that were agreed when the ‘visibility’ was set up may no longer produce the data which will actually help drive efficiencies through the supply chain.

To read more, access the white paper Supply Chain Visibility – the beginning rather than the end? at


SBS Worldwide continues to expand partner network

5 04 2013

SBS Worldwide has added the Dutch logistics company OTX Solutions to its worldwide network of partners.

 Both independently-owned companies have ambitious plans for growth, focussing on supply chain management and building close relationships with global customers.

 SBS recently launched fixed day airfreight consolidation services between New York’s JFKAirport and SchipholAirport in Amsterdam partly as a result of the new partnership agreement.

 “The Benelux region is one of the major centres for European distribution for many U.S. companies so strengthening our presence there is vital for business,” says Lars Kloch, CEO Freight Division, SBS Worldwide.

OTX Solutions is headquartered at SchipholAirport, with an office in Rotterdam, Europe’s busiest container port. It offers the full range of services including supply chain solutions, air and sea freight shipments and warehousing and inland distribution. It has a particular expertise in designing end-to-end supply chains for the high-tech and electronic markets as well as managing the distribution of fashion and promotional products.

SBS Worldwide has offices throughout the US, the UK and China and has already formed partnerships with logistics companies in Scandinavia, Switzerland, India and Italy.

“We are an independent and innovative company and make sure that we work with like-minded partners worldwide to ensure the highest quality standards are maintained throughout the supply chain process,” explains Mr Kloch.

“The Netherlands is a tier one transport gateway to the heart of Europe and it is therefore extremely important for us to have a strong local partner there. OTX is ambitious company just like SBS and I am sure our customers will benefit greatly from the partnership.”





SBS Worldwide Announce Lars Kloch as CEO – Freight Division

5 04 2013

As part of its global growth strategy SBS Worldwide has promoted their USA CEO Lars Kloch to CEO – Freight Division, expanding his existing US role to take responsibility of their global freight operations.

Kloch takes up the role with immediate effect and will become responsible for developing SBS Worldwide’s global freight product offering, both nationally and internationally.

SBS Worldwide Group Chairman, Steve Walker, said; “We are delighted to announce Lars as CEO – Freight Division. His experience on a global level places him perfectly to further grow SBS Worldwide in an ever competitive market place.”

Lars Kloch added: “This is a wonderful opportunity to further grow SBS Worldwide across its businesses operations. I know we have great teams working for us globally and I’m looking forward to meeting everybody and excited at the prospects of what we can achieve together.”

Lars started his career at Dan Transport in Denmark (now DSV) and went on to work at Exel Global Logistics before  moving to the US in 2004 where he held various senior sales, operations and supply chain solutions positions, including managing the global account manager team at Geodis Wilson.

From there Lars joined SBS Worldwide in January 2010 as Managing Director and in October 2012 became US CEO.

Picture of Lars Kloch CEO Freight Division

Lars Kloch CEO Freight Division

Infographic: The Logistics of Valentine’s Day

14 02 2013

Logistics may not strike you as particularly romantic – and it’s fair to say that it’ll likely be the absolute last thing on your mind today. However, Valentine’s Day is a major source of commerce for companies in many industries, so it’s perhaps only natural that logistics has a big part to play in the weeks leading up to the 14th of February.

Below is an infographic which, if you have room after eating all the candy you’ll inevitably get today (being a reader of my blog and thus irresistible to the opposite sex), offers some interesting food for thought. Tuck in!

Lipton introduce Slipsheets in ‘Eco-friendly’ initiative

22 01 2013

Lipton has introduced ‘slip-sheets’ to replace the wooden pallets that are traditionally used by Unilever’s Global Tea Supply Network to ship teas worldwide.

The initiative has been in practice for a full season in which tea raw materials have been received on the slip-sheets from Assam, India to Lipton Jebel Ali, Dubai.

Approximately 1000 TMUs ( 20 ft container equivalent) of tea have been received on ‘slip-sheets’ in Jebel Ali between the period of September 07 and May 2008.

The project has been initiated by the Lipton tea factory located in Jebel Ali, Unilever’s second largest tea factory worldwide.

This new eco-friendly initiative will enable Lipton to save wood while also minimize shipping costs by increasing loadability per container.

The ‘slip-sheets are much thinner than the traditional wooden pallets which will help cut down transportation and fuel costs while reducing the impact on the environment.

It is expected that this initiative will result in ocean freight savings of approximately 10 – 20%.

This move to slip-sheets will also eliminate any possible risks from wood-related infestation to the tea during the shipping process.

According to Tim Drury, VP Supply Chain, Unilever North Africa & Middle East, ‘After the recent success of this initiative between India and the UAE, we are now looking to extend this practice into other tea origin countries including Kenya, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.’

This innovative initiative will help Lipton transfer more tea through its supply chain network utilizing minimal resources.

This is part of a larger global commitment to sustainability that Unilever has undertaken of which Lipton has been a leading example over the years.

In 2007, Unilever committed itself to buying all its tea from sustainable, ethical sources – transforming the tea industry and improving the crops, income and livelihood of 2 million people across three continents.

As the biggest tea brand in the world, Lipton, believes it has a responsibility to the environment.

‘Having been in the business for over 100 years, we recognize the importance of environmental, social and financial sustainability’, added Drury.

Lipton is the first tea brand to work with the Rainforest Alliance and meet the independent organization’s strict sustainability criteria- covering areas such as wildlife protection, water conservation and fair treatment of workers.

Unilever’s Lipton ‘slip-sheets’ project is supported by Lipton’s supply chain network partners which include HUL Kolkata and McLeod Russell Limited.

This case study kindly provided by

SBS Worldwide feature on 21st Century Business programme on Bloomberg TV

4 01 2013

SBS Worldwide recently featured in the 21st Century Business programme on Bloomberg TV about supply chain efficiency. Have a watch and feel free to leave a comment. Its a really interesting video and well worth a few minutes of your time.



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Dell optimize packaging by introducing Slip sheets

15 12 2012

Welcome to the third and final instalment of case studies about the positive impact that using slip sheets instead of traditional wooden pallets has had for well know brands.

We take a look at the savings that computer manufacturer Dell managed to derive by using slip sheets.

This study centres on how more sensitive products can also be transported using the right kind of slip sheet. Dell made savings on overall tonnage transported (one plastic sheet weighs a lot less than a wooden pallet) and space (slip sheets are much thinner than wood). The weight savings delivered reduced fuel consumption, while the space savings meant more units could be shipped per container.


The Worldwide Packaging Engineering team is responsible for optimizing packaging materials throughout Dell’s supply chain and for finished product packaging. Packaging is necessary for product protection during shipping and handling. Worldwide Packaging Engineering conducts extensive tests and packaging development to optimize product protection and minimize the use of packaging material.

Packaging Optimisation

Packaging optimisation starts with a product. Dell’s Shock and Vibration Engineers perform extensive tests on the product, simulating worst-case shipping and handling environments. By working closely with the product design engineers, enhancements are made to a product and then tested until the robustness of the product is improved. This increased product robustness results in less packaging material required to protect the product, which results in the reduction of packaging material manufactured and disposed of into the waste stream.

After the robustness of a product has been established, the packaging engineers develop packaging. Using electronically monitored models and products, engineers measure the shock and vibration inputs that the packaging produces during testing. If levels to the product do not meet the specification, packaging is improved until requirements are met. However, if shock inputs are well below product fragility levels, packaging materials can be reduced. The goal for Dell is to use the right amount of protective packaging to deliver a quality product to the customer.

In 2005, Dell worked at reducing packaging and increasing the density of components in shipping containers throughout our supply chain. Our Worldwide Packaging Engineers worked with the supply chain to identify which component packaging could be minimized. Inbound packaging was redesigned to reduce packaging and increase product density, which leads to fewer truck shipments, less gasoline consumption and reduced emissions. Lastly, all packaging material coming into Dell’s manufacturing sites is sent to a recycler to be sorted and recycled.

Packaging Project: Slip Sheets

During fiscal year 2005, Dell implemented slip sheets (a three-pound, .03-inch thick plastic sheet) instead of wood pallets (which weighed 40 pounds and were 5 inches tall) for inbound chassis products, which resulted in more than 8,000 tons of wood reduction for inbound shipments. In fiscal year 2006, the programme was expanded to include monitors and flat panels, which resulted in over 17,000 tons of wood saved annually, a greater than 50 percent increase in savings from the previous year. The freight density is also increased, which results in less truck shipments, less fuel used, and therefore, less emissions to the environment.

Fiscal Year 2006 Packaging Results and Fiscal Year 2007 Goals

In fiscal year 2006, Dell saved over 24,000 tons of packaging material by annual reduction and elimination of corrugated, plastic foam, and wood materials. The slip sheet project accounted for over 17,000 tons of the total tonnage reduction.

For all other packaging materials used for inbound and outbound shipments, the fiscal year 2006 goal of reducing packaging used by 5,000 tons was exceeded by more than 2,000 tons, for a total of more than 7,000 tons of packaging material avoided. The Worldwide Packaging Engineering team has set a dematerialisation goal of 5,000 tons annually for fiscal year 2007. The team will no longer track slip sheet-wood reduction because the project is fully implemented and is standard procedure at Dell. Our efforts will continue to save at least 17,000 tons of wood annually.

The case study has been kindly provided by