Institute of Supply Management: Economic recovery fueled by manufacturing

on Monday, February 28, 2011

Institute of Supply Management: Economic recovery fueled by manufacturingAccording to the Institute for Supply Management, the rise in economic activity during February was boosted greatly by factory production. 

The Institute's Chicago Business Barometer climbed to 71.2, which marks the index's highest reading in over two decades. Nonetheless, the same indicator also showed that there was slower growth in the region's labor market and that inflationary pressures were starting to mount. In January, the index registered a 68.8; a survey of economists had predicted a median reading of 67.4.

The U.S. job market has been slow to recover from the recession, and some economists contend the Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy could put additional inflationary pressures on the nascent economic recovery in the U.S.

Moreover, ISM-Chicago's production index rose for the sixth consecutive month; for February, the reading hit 78.2, up from 73.7 in January. New orders also reached their highest levels since December 1983 at 75.9 in February, up from 75.7 the month prior. Order backlogs, which are a good indicator of pent-up industrial demand, jumped to their highest levels since July 1994 at 61.8. 
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Airfare Costs on the Rise - Again!

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If they haven’t already, many people are beginning to plan their vacation trips for 2011. A major concern for what destinations fall within your budget is often the airfare. Well people should be prepared for a shock this year and may want to re-consider the recently popular “stay-cation.”

Airlines are trying to keep up with the continuously rising oil prices and have already increased their prices four times since the start of 2011. This is very worrisome when you consider that in all of 2010 they increased their prices only three times.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, prices this year are getting close to their highest levels – which they reached in 2008. The price of jet fuel has increased 58% since last summer to $2.99 a gallon. Oil prices also increased more than $12 a barrel last week putting it over $98 a barrel. With these price increases, fuel now accounts for about 40% of airlines’ costs – which is up from about 30% last year. This is partly due to the violent conflicts occurring in Libya, which is a major oil producing country. If things continue to worsen there we may see continuous substantial increases.

The rise in fuel costs will have a direct effect on airlines’ profits – especially considering the top airlines posted a skimpy profit margin of just 3.3% in 2010. These increases could dramatically hurt the already ailing airline industry and could lead to further surcharges and fees.

These increases may change the way Americans view air travel overall and we will most likely see a greater push toward more easily accessible vacation destinations this summer. I shudder at the day when the Jersey shore becomes the biggest vacation bang for your buck. Yet another reason, among many, that I hope the conflict in Libya and the Middle East comes to a quick and peaceful resolution.
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Changes for the New Jersey Wine Industry

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NJ Wines have flourished in recent years with many new vintners entering the marketplace. Award winning wines are being developed by new and well established vineyards. But recently, federal courts could put a cork in NJ wine business. The court finds it unconstitutional to forbid out of state producers from opening their own retail operation and permitting only in state wineries to sell direct to consumers and retailers. The courts feel as though there are 2 options: give out of state wineries the same right to sell, or prohibit all wineries from selling direct to consumers. For the courts to choose the second option does not benefit anyone. A majority of sales from NJ wineries comes from their tasting room (in some cases 90% of their sales). Wineries are growing in NJ which brings growth to the agriculture community and promotes farming. It does not make sense for the courts to prohibit business and sales in NJ. Many smaller wineries would not be able to continue doing business because there would not be a way to distribute their wine. To add to the problem, there is also a ban on in-state and out of state wineries shipping direct to customers. There is nothing wrong with a little competition, and I think it makes sense to allow both in-state and out of state wine makers to sell their wine direct to consumers. In the next few months, the wine industry will change in NJ. Being a home wine maker and from a NJ town built by generations of farmers and winemakers, not allowing these wineries to continue would be detrimental to business and communities.
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Resume Faux Pas

on Friday, February 25, 2011

In this very downtrodden job market one of the most important job hunting aspects is your resume. It seems like so simple right? You just list your work experience, education and accomplishments. Well, yes and no. Your resume is your first impression with a potential employer so not only is it important what you put in the resume but how you put it in there. I just came upon an article that talks about how your resume can make you appear antiquated without even mentioning your age. The article listed the following tips:

1. Do not go crazy with the contacts portion, simply provide your email and cell phone number. By providing multiple phone numbers you are dating yourself as well as making it complicated to get in touch with you.

2. Be careful about using too much "resume" language. The article actually provides the following list of words that are most overused in resumes: "innovative, motivated, extensive experience, results-oriented, dynamic, proven track record, team player, fast-paced, problem solver, and entrepreneurial. Instead, use keywords from the job ad, which will help you get past the résumé-scanning programs many firms use nowadays". Most employers can read through this type of hollow language.

3. Avoid describing past employers. What does mean? Do not waste time explaining who the company and what they do.

4. Be sure to use relevant formatting. Examples for this include not including months of employment such as 3/2001 through 5/2009. Just state the years of service, months are only relevant to recent graduates.

5. Don't be afraid to elaborate on periods of self-employment. Employers will recognize this as initiative, also by minimalizing this it may appear as unemployment which would actually have a negative effect.

6. Restructuring the objective. Instead of stating what you are looking for from a company, detail more what you can offer the company. Detail your experience and highlight areas that you think might catch the hiring manager's attention for that position. Basically explaining why the position needs you not why you need the position. (But avoid being arrogant.)

7. You do not need to reveal when you received your degree. The degree and school are more important than when the education was acquired. To the point of the article, this may age you even more.

8. In that same light, you do not need to detail every job you have ever held. If your job experience dates back more than 15 years, only include up to then. Even if the experience beyond that may seem relevant to the position, with the way processes and technology advances, any past experience too dated will likely be irrelevant.

9. Do not showcase "run-of-the-mill skills". List specialized software programs such as QuickBooks or newer technologies.

10. Only list hobbies or activities that make you appear creative or energetic. The article states, "Athletic pursuits like cycling or running demonstrate vivacity, as do activities in which you're giving back -- organizing a fundraiser, for example. Experts once advised against noting religious activities, such as singing in a church choir, but that's changed; such activities telegraph integrity, a quality that's very important to hiring managers today."

11. Resume length should be aligned to how much time you have spent in the workforce. Resume rule makers often encourage a shorter resume, even one page if possible. While this is ideal for new entrants in the workforce, it is acceptable to have more than one page for those who have to detail more work experience. You do not want to cut out pertinent work experience for the sake of minimalization. In that same respect, try to keep the detail concise. Employers are looking for highlights not novels.

Hopefully this information is helpful to all you job seekers out there. Keep in mind that you are an asset, you just need to prove it.
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Let the Bans Begin

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The Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) was not only jail broken (hacked) by the Infamous iPhone hacker George Hotz (aka geohot) in December of 2010 but the root keys, which give programmers full access to the PS3 file system, have also been published. This has led to a wave of "homebrew" applications for the PS3 console. These applications range from adding HD media support (.mkv) to allowing pirated versions of games to be played off the internal and external USB hard drives.

Sony has responded with a digital iron fist - filing suit against George Hotz for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and requesting a cease and desist on distribution of the hack and its private keys. The only problem with this is the internet. There are multiple versions of custom firmware that give full access to the PS3 console to its owner all over the web on hundreds of different sites located all around the world.

The second counter attack in the war on PS3 piracy was a mandatory firmware update issued by Sony that is required in order to connect to the PlayStation Network, which is the online gamming community for the PS3. The hacking community responded with multiple work-arounds that trick the console into thinking that it has the most up to date version of the firmware and allowing users access to the PlayStation Network. Sony’s latest move is a warning that states "To avoid termination of your PlayStation Network access, you must ensure that you have moved from any Custom firmware to the current official firmware version, 3.56." Sony seeks to permanently ban all modified consoles from connecting to the PlayStation Network. This ban could potentially and irreversably disconnect millions of consoles globally, making it one of the largest bans in history.

Things to note:
George Hotz was also sued by Apple after he jail broke the iPhone; he won.
Companies have been banning hackers for years and the only way to get un-banned, is by buying another device.
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Toyota recalls of 2.17 million vehicles on urging of government

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Toyota recalls of 2.17 million vehicles on urging of governmentThe world's biggest automaker, Toyota Motor, suffered through a public relations nightmare last year, issuing recalls for its cars and incurring a hefty fine from the U.S. government for safety violations. The company is reeling as it announced Thursday it would recall an additional 2.17 million vehicles in the U.S.

Toyota will recall vehicles dating back to the model year 2003 to address concerns that floor mats could interfere with the accelerator pedal; in 2010, there were reports that some of Toyota's vehicles accelerated uncontrollably, though in its own investigation the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the reports unsubstantiated.

Nonetheless, analysts and safety advocates have lobbied Toyota to address the consumer safety concerns. Toyota has maintained there are no flaws in its electronic throttle-control system, but after the NHTSA combed through nearly 400,000 pages of documents to "determine whether the scope of its recalls for pedal entrapment was sufficient," the agency suggested Toyota recall these additional vehicles.

After Toyota announced its latest vehicle recall, the NHTSA announced its "investigation is closed" into the Japanese automaker's accelerator pedals.
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Orders for U.S. durable goods climbed in January

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Orders for U.S. durable goods climbed in JanuaryOrders for U.S. durable goods increased in the first month of this year as demand for aircraft, among other items, rallied after falling in December. 

The Commerce Department said Thursday that after a 0.4 percent fall in December, bookings for goods meant to last at least three years climbed 2.7 percent in January. However, orders excluding transportation equipment fell unexpectedly in the first month of the year, perplexing analysts.

Nonetheless, U.S. manufacturers like Intel and Navistar International are projecting an uptick in demand for their goods in 2011 as businesses in the U.S. and abroad ratchet up their investment. Though manufacturing has a been a bright spot in the nascent U.S. economic recovery, persistent joblessness and a battered housing market have led the U.S. Federal Reserve to forge on with its bond-buying program, dubbed QE2.

John Herrmann, a senior fixed-income strategist at State Street Global Markets, told Bloomberg that manufacturing growth could continue in the coming months, albeit at a less brisk pace. "The manufacturing sector continues to be a main driver of the economy," he affirmed. "We see a more moderate period of growth" for factories and manufacturers in the coming months.

The U.S. Labor Department announced this week that applications for jobless benefits in the week ended February 19 fell by 22,000 to 391,000. 
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Chinese firm to supply German solar company with solar panels

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Chinese firm to supply German solar company with solar panels  JinkoSolar, the Chinese-based solar manufacturer, announced this week it has entered into a supply chain agreement with Payom Solar, a German solar installer.

Per terms of the supplier deal, JinkoSolar will supply Payom with 35 megawatts of solar panels; according to executives from JinkoSolar, the company's solar modules will be installed in solar panel projects - both roof- and ground-mounted - in Europe, Southern California and some East Coast states, including New York and New Jersey.

Arturo Herrero, the chief strategic officer at JinkoSolar, affirmed the supply chain agreement would help reduce business costs and improve efficiency. "Our new supply agreement with Payom Solar reflects continued recognition and implementation of our high quality products and builds upon our established track record with leading solar companies around the world," he said in a statement.

JinkoSolar manufactures its solar modules in China and benefits from the lower costs of doing business there. Daniel Grosch, a member of Payom's management board, said the supplier agreement would help the company expand its operations around the globe. "We are pleased to be working with JinkoSolar as Payom expands its global solar development and services business," he asserted
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How To: Audit Telecommunications Spend

on Thursday, February 24, 2011

This two part series on auditing telecommunications will focus on two internal audits that may reveal savings off the invoice bottom line: contract compliance and inventory audit. Both require some collaboration between the invoice reviewers and the technical group who actually understand the application of the items on the invoice. Sometimes they are the same person or group of people but many organizations are not lucky enough for this to be the case.

Auditing invoices for compliance with the contract can sometimes be tricky, to say the least. It is helpful to first identify an inventory of lines, locate those items on the invoices, and then to attempt to reference them against their respective contracts. But identifying the inventory in its entirety can be difficult. Circuits and lines get added willy-nilly over the years, end up on disparate invoices and people forget what they are for or where they are located. So how can one ever be confident that they understand one hundred percent of their telecom spend?
The key to inventory identification is triangulation. Just like on your favorite crime show where the good guys find the bad guy by calculating the distance of his cell phone from three different towers to figure out his location, you can employ a similar strategy to understanding your telecommunications spend. Though it is a bit of a misnomer in this case, because we have more than three data sources to work with, the idea remains the same. To wrap up this part of the series, you should see what information you can pull together from a variety of resources and documents in order to identify a complete inventory.
  • Contracts
  • Invoices
  • Carrier Customer Service Records (CSRs)
  • Internal records of circuits, lines, trunks, etc.
  • Visual tour of telecom closet and the facility
  • Accounts payable records of telecommunications category (and related) spend as well as spend by vendor
  • Voice and data networks and diagrams
  • Interviews of Telecom and IT personnel, help desk employees, administrators and end users

In my next post, I'll expound on how to use this information to your advantage in order to identify opportunities and how to capitalize on them to achieve sustainable savings on telecommunications.
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Ford announces recall of F-150 trucks, cites assembly error

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Ford announces recall of F-150 trucks, cites assembly errorThe world's most profitable automaker, Ford Motor, has a supplier issue to contend with: The company announced it will recall about 144,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada from the 2005-2006 model years on fears that airbags could deploy without warning.

Ford said a mistake in its supply chain at a Norfolk, Virginia manufacturing facility could potentially lead to errors in the electrical systems of the recalled cars. According to the company, airbag wires in the steering wheels of its F-150 pickup trucks could short circuit and potentially deploy the safety devices.

A company spokesperson said Ford had received some complaints of faulty wiring causing airbags to deploy, but they were mostly limited to a few cases and occurred right after the car was turned on. "Ford is aware of one customer that jumped from the vehicle after a deployment that occurred in a driveway," the company said in a statement.

Ford's F-150 is the best-selling car in the U.S.; the automaker dominates the lucrative truck market and its most recent supply chain error could cost the carmaker market share. The company said affected vehicles were mostly constructed during the first working shift at its Norfolk plant from November 2004 to June 2006.
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Netflix gets classic CBS shows through newest deal

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Netflix gets classic CBS shows through newest dealNetflix has grown from a company that mails DVDs to its subscribers to a dominant force in online video streaming. The company announced this week it has struck a deal with CBS Corp to give its users access to classic television shows from the network's archives.

The deal between CBS - a division of Sumner Redstone's Viacom - and Netflix will soon benefit subscribers to Netflix who will be able to watch "Star Trek," "Cheers," "Twin Peaks" and "Family Ties" through its Watch Instantly service.

The agreement between the two companies will cover the next two years and is non-exclusive; Netflix charges $7.99 per month for its base service of unlimited streaming. Nonetheless, the deal does not include many shows currently airing on the network. According to analysts, CBS is worried streaming its hit shows like "Mike and Molly" would hurt their rerun value.

The value of the deal was not disclosed, but the Los Angeles Times Business Blog says it could be worth up to $200 million; CBS has the ability to extend the deal for an additional two years. Scott Koondel, the president for television distribution at CBS, said the "deal recognizes the increasing value of our content in today's marketplace." 
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Survey: 77% of manufacturers feel pressure to green supply chain

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Survey: 77% of manufacturers feel pressure to green supply chainThe movement to "green" industries and improve sources of renewable energy is driving many companies to reduce their environmental impact. A new report states that more than 75 percent of manufacturers feel they are being held accountable for their environmental toll, prompting them to green their supply chains to cut waste.

Consumers are increasingly demanding more information about a company's supply chain and the amount of waste produced through manufacturing and transportation of products, Business News Daily reports. Apple, for example, has come under fire recently for the manufacturing practices of its suppliers in Asia after factory workers assembling the company's iPhone were sickened by noxious fumes.

IFS conducted a survey and asked manufacturers whether they feel consumers are pressuring them to streamline their supply chains to eliminate carbon gas emissions and offset energy use. More than 80 percent of survey respondents affirmed that green supply chains will become more important over the next three years.

Nonetheless, many of the manufacturers surveyed - nearly 200 executives from manufacturing operations with revenue of $100 million or more - said IT infrastructure was failing to keep up with the changing needs of a green supply chain.  
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Parking Wars - Meter Piggy Banks versus Motorist's Pockets

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There has been a recent influx of increased parking rates across the country. Commissioners are approving increases and the additional revenue is expected to be used for development of new infrastructures and town renovations.

How is this going to impact motorists? Well, some believe increased rates will discourage people from coming out whereas new improvements will attract more people...but at what cost?

In downtown Indianapolis solar powered meters are being installed with various payment options including credit cards, debit cards, and 'old fashioned' coins. This will ease the transaction and your purse will not be weighed down with quarters, nickels, and dimes. You will be able to put your time in and swipe your card and make time adjustments. However, you will incur an increase in per hour rates from 75¢ to $1.00 and parking hours will be increased from M-F 7 a.m. to 6 p.m to M-Sat 7 a.m. through 9 p.m.

Local store owners are concerned that these changes will cause shoppers to drive past and go somewhere with cheaper parking terms, IndyChannelNews.com; "it is an obstacle to shopping," said Natalie Canull, who owns Mass Ave Toys. "We have huge weekends because there are no meter fees on the weekends. (It's) very frustrating."
Some drivers said they won't change their habits, but feel they're being nickeled and dimed.
"If it helps the city, I would do it, but it feels like more and more the little guy is getting hit from all angles," said Audrey Alexander.”

A local resident in Rehoboth Beach Delaware believes, “the higher parking fees will deter people from visiting downtown Rehoboth.”

Commissioners promote using the revenues to build up sidewalks and streets, add additional parking facilities and lots and make the towns a better, cleaner place to live.

Why should motorist pay increased costs when this change will streamline the parking payment process and decrease the collection time, especially with credit card payments? A perfect reference to this is the recent PA turnpike toll increase. Turnpike rates have gone up, but EZ Pass customers are now motivated to use this service as the toll rates are slightly lower than cash customers. The toll process is more efficient with the use of this system and less toll booth operators are required, therefore operating costs go down.

The more credit cards used for parking meters, the more time will be saved for collecting and calculating revenue. While we understand the township will improve our streets and infrastructure, we should be awarded for making their jobs easier and more efficient as well.
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Macy's profits jump on cut costs, improved efficiency

on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Macy's profits jump on cut costs, improved efficiencyMacy's net income jumped 50 percent to $667 million in the three months ended January 29, the Cincinnati-based company said in a statement Tuesday. Analysts had forecast a profit of $1.52 per share, but the company reported profits of $1.59 a share.

Macy's has successfully emerged from the lulls of the recessions and has ridden the recent wave in increased consumer spending to post quarterly profits ahead of expectations over the past year. Joel Levington, the managing director of corporate credit for Brookfield Investment Management, told Bloomberg Macy's has succeeded in slashing its expenses by closing underperforming stores and controlling personnel costs, among other moves.

Levington said "Macy's had a solid quarter on lower expenses than we had expected." The department store chain "benefited from year-ago store closings, tight controls in personnel, and growth in sales online, which incur smaller costs than store sales."

Macy's announced last year that it would open up additional manufacturing facilities in the Mid Atlantic to handle the uptick in demand from its online business. The company's online revenue climbed 29 percent in the quarter, while sales in every region - and including its upscale Bloomingdale's chain - exceeded expectations.  
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Report: Apple to unveil second-generation iPad March 2

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Report: Apple to unveil second-generation iPad March 2Apple will launch its next generation iPad on March 2 at a scheduled public conference; the news contradicts published reports that said the second-generation tablet would be delayed, Reuters reports.

A person "familiar with the matter" told the news agency that speculation surrounding a delay of the next generation iPad until June was "simply not true." The source said that Apple has planned to launch the newest iPad in April - a year after it first sold the iPad. The move would follow a trend Apple usually adheres to with its iPhone model, unveiling one of its products then releasing a newer version a year later.

During Apple's scheduled event on March 2, the company will unveil the newest specs on the gadget, along with the expected day it will go on sale, the source said. Apple's stock has fallen 3 percent since a report from a Taiwanese brokerage firm stated the next version of the iPad would be delayed following supply chain disruptions.

However, many analysts affirm Apple is nothing if consistent with its release schedule. "Apple has a very consistent track record," said Daniel Ernst, an analyst at Hudson Square Research. The future of Apple has played out in newspaper headlines since its chief executive, Steve Jobs, announced he would take a medical leave of absence last month. Jobs is often considered the main taste-maker and genius behind Apple's innovative produce lineup.

In 2010, Apple told 15 million iPads; analysts contend the company could double that figure in 2011 if the next-generation model is successful. Apple has not commented on the most recent iPad reports.  
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Supply shortages spurring record food prices around the globe

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Supply shortages spurring record food prices around the globe Farmers around the world are failing to keep up with burgeoning demand for their crops as the smallest corn inventories in nearly 37 years are driving prices to near record levels.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that growers from nations as varied as Canada and Russia have increased output of food staples like wheat, rice and grain by 16 percent since 2000 - that output still trails the 20 percent uptick in demand for food over the past decade. In the U.S., analysts have forecast a 3.5 percent growth in corn planting, but the government says world stockpiles will equal about 15 percent of use, marking the lowest ratio since 1974.

The USDA projects global inventories to decline 13 percent before the next harvest; if that occurs, it will be the first time since 2007 there has been a drop. The rising demand has been a boon for farmers in the U.S., but it has fueled rising consumer prices in other countries and spurred isolated food shortages in countries. In fact, rising food prices contributed to the recent overthrow of the government in Tunisia, analysts affirm.

Paul Jesche, a farmer in Illinois, said he plans to increase corn planting by 50 percent as it is nearly $200 more profitable per acre than soybeans at current prices. "We need to grow a huge crop this year to meet global food needs," he said. "The increased demand for meat and dairy is driving demand for corn and soybeans."

Corn prices have surged 95 percent over the past 12 months to $7.2025 per bushel.  
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U.P.S. to cut costs, introduce fleet of trucks that run on liquefied natural gas

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U.P.S. to cut costs, introduce fleet of trucks that run on liquefied natural gasU.P.S. is accustomed to dealing with shocks to oil prices. It operates a fleet of trucks and planes that consume massive amounts of energy. Nonetheless, in an effort to cut costs and improve efficiency the company is set to deploy trucks powered by liquefied natural gas.

Typically, large trucking units are powered by diesel, The New York Times reports. However, diesel prices have soared over the past few years - topping $5 per gallon in 2008.
Executives from U.P.S. affirm that their "thirstiest" trucks are the over-the-road 18-wheelers, and instead of powering them with diesel as it has in the past, the company will soon add 48 trucks to its fleet that are powered by liquefied natural gas.

Michael G. Britt Sr., the director of maintenance and engineering at U.P.S., affirms liquefied natural gas is "the only long term viable option to diesel." Britt asserts that U.P.S. is always looking to cut costs in its tractor trailing trucking unit because they use roughly 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of gasoline each year to run - at a huge cost to the company.

Natural gas prices per million B.T.U. currently run in the range of $4 to $4.50 and there is ample supply after the government upped its estimate on domestic reserves following the expansion of a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing. In the new fleet of liquefied natural gas trucks, U.P.S. expects its diesel use to fall about 95 percent.  
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Intel to invest $5 billion in cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Arizona

on Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Intel to invest $5 billion in cutting-edge manufacturing facility in Arizona The world's biggest maker of computer chips, Intel, announced that it will ratchet up its manufacturing capacity as it prepares for a major global expansion.

Intel, which was recently recognized as the greenest U.S. company for its renewable energy initiatives, plans to construct a $5 billion factory in Arizona; according to the company, the manufacturing center will use the latest technological breakthroughs to ensure the facility operates as efficiently as possible.

Intel's microchips power myriad models of computers from different brands and the company is looking to take advantage of the uptick in global demand for its products. The technology giant said in October it will spend between $6 billion to $8 billion over the next few years to develop new manufacturing centers in Arizona and Oregon. Moreover, Intel plans to hire an additional 8,000 construction workers to realize its goal.

Intel produces a majority of its chips domestically, with roughly 75 percent of its chips developed in the U.S., The New York Post reports. Intel hopes its increased manufacturing capacity will help it fight off rivals like Advanced Micro Devices and Globalfoundries, the latter of which just broke ground on a $7 billion chip-manufacturing facility in New York.  
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You Can’t Spell Texas without T-A-X

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Normally considered a conservative state on social and fiscal issues, Texas suddenly finds itself in dire straits on both accounts.

On the social side, the latest rankings show that Texas is one of the worst states in the nation for getting an education - they are ranked 47th in the country in literacy, with their math SAT score sitting at 49th (that’s out of 50, Governor Perry).

To counter this issue the state legislature is proposing to cut $4.8 billion in education funding over the next two years.…

Further, their reliance on abstinence only education has resulted in rankings of a different sort. Texas is ranked #3 in the country for teen pregnancy, and #1 for repeat teen pregnancy.

Meanwhile the state has decided that one way to increase revenue is to try to close the loophole that internet retailers, in this case Amazon, have when it comes to paying sales tax. Texas recently sent a $269 million bill for back taxes they say are owed by Amazon since Amazon does business in the state and has a distribution center in Texas (and was planning to build a second).

Amazon up and left the state, telling all their friends to believe what they hear - “do not to mess with Texas”. You might think free market anti-government politicians would think twice before trying to collect back taxes on a company that is providing good jobs in a bad economy, but based on state education scores, I guess it’s no surprise.

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Apple buys up touch screens, rivals have trouble procuring them

on Monday, February 21, 2011

Apple buys up touch screens, rivals have trouble procuring them  Apple was the first technology company to come out with a commercially successful tablet computer and even though its iPad lost market share to Android-based tablets in the fourth quarter of 2010, Apple has purchased a majority of the supply of touch screens this year. As a result, competitors are having trouble procuring tablet touch screens.

Analysts contend that iPad sales could have been more robust in 2010 if Apple had kept up with the torrid demand for the devices. However, Apple is a company that rarely makes a mistake more than once, and now Apple has reportedly purchased roughly 60 percent of this year's expected output of the touch screens used in the manufacturing of tablets.

DigiTimes reported that Apple has quietly stockpiled the touchscreens and a source told the paper that "touch panels are currently suffering the most serious shortage due to Apple holding control over the capacity of major touch-panel makers such as Wintek and TPK."

The first generation iPad was released last year and rumors have circulated that Apple has already begun to manufacture the second generation version of the tablet. In 2010, Apple sold 14 million iPads, but industry experts assert the company could sell as many as 45 million in 2011 - so long as it keeps up with burgeoning demand.
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Trendsetters: Source One is first U.S. company ever invited to make feature presentation at Mexico’s CONAMA international business conference

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Source One Management Services has become the first U.S. company ever invited to make a feature presentation at Mexico’s 2nd National Congress Manzanillo (CONAMA) 2011, a major international trade and tourism business symposium scheduled for March 10-12 , in Manzanillo, Mexico.

Steven M. Belli, Chief Executive Officer, and William R. Dorn, Director of Operations at Source One, will make a featured presentation on the topic of: “A U.S. Buyer’s Perspective on Sourcing in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities” to an expected audience of some 500 participants representing leaders from government, businesses and universities throughout Mexico and Latin America with interests in international commerce, outsourcing and procurement, logistics, transportation and tourism.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be the first and only U.S. firm ever invited to participate in this growing international business event,” said Mr. Belli. “This unique opportunity is a reflection of our leadership position in providing assistance to U.S. companies looking to near-source from Mexico and other areas closer to home.”

“As strategic sourcing specialists, we have a unique perspective on the developing ties between U.S. companies and their suppliers who can be located anywhere in the world – not only in traditional places like India, China, and Taiwan, but in increasingly competitive near-shore markets such as Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America,” he added.

The 2nd National Congress Manzanillo (CONAMA) 2011 is being co-sponsored by the Departments of Tourism, International Trade and Customs at Mexico’s Univer Colima and the University of Manzanillo. Its purpose is to provide a forum for increasing trade and tourism through discussion, feedback, fellowship and analysis of relevant topics and issues of interest related to participants’ respective national and global agendas.

Source One Management Services, LLC, based in Willow Grove, PA, is one of the leading strategic sourcing and procurement providers in the U.S. Its team of experienced sourcing professionals works closely with clients’ in-house staff to reduce spend, optimize existing budgets and increase the efficiency of operations by using proven sourcing and purchasing strategies, best practices, innovative technology, and an unsurpassed database of market intelligence dating back to 1992 to help clients achieve the maximum level of savings possible.
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Daimler's Bernhard works to boost manufacturing efficiency at Mercedes

on Friday, February 18, 2011

Daimler's Bernhard works to boost manufacturing efficiency at Mercedes Mercedes-Benz has faced increasing competition over the past few years from BMW, Audi and Lexus in the luxury automobile market. In a bid to increase sales and streamline manufacturing, the company is building a $1.1 billion plant in Hungary, Bloomberg reports.

Wolfgang Bernhard, the production chief at Mercedes, has made four trips to the facility in central Hungary since he rejoined the Daimler AG management board a year ago. Bernhard has been tasked by the company with improving the efficiency of its supply chain as it works to win back market share from its rivals.

His effectiveness at improving efficiency and manufacturing at Mercedes is of vital importance to Bernhard's career hopes, analysts affirm. "Bernhard is the central candidate for the top job" at Mercedes, said Stefan Bratzel, the head of the Center of Automotive Management in Germany. "But he's got a lot to do. Daimler's results in recent years have resembled a roller coaster ride. Continuity is a key challenge."

Bernhard has so far effectively improved the efficiency of workers in factories; for example, he changed the process for installing wire harnesses to make it easier for workers and reduce the time needed to complete the task by 20 percent. Nonetheless, there is pressure on Bernhard to grow profit margins if he hopes to take over as chief executive of the automaker.  
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Ford to work with Sollers to manufacture cars in Russia

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Ford to work with Sollers to manufacture cars in Russia The world's most profitable car company, Ford Motor, announced this week that it will team with a carmaker in Russia to produce and distribute cars in the Eastern European nation.

The move comes as Italian car maker Fiat and Russian automaker Sollers announced that they were ending a partnership they agreed upon last year through which they would produce up to 500,000 vehicles each year in Russia; the companies said in a joint statement Friday they intended to "pursue independent strategies" instead.

Ford and Sollers have signed a memorandum of understanding, giving both companies equal stakes in their joint Russian venture, Ford Sollers. Per terms of the deal, local factories in the St. Petersburg region and Tatarstan will make Ford passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and engines; moreover, the venture will also run a stamping facility that will be tasked with providing local parts for Ford vehicles made in the country.

The joint venture is expected to begin operations by the end of 2011 and will give a boost to Russia's auto industry and its supply chain, the chief executive of Ford of Europe, Stephen Odell, said in a statement.  
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Nordstrom to buy HauteLook to boost online sales

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Nordstrom to buy HauteLook to boost online salesUpscale department store chain Nordstrom said Thursday it would acquire HauteLook, an online retailer that offers flash sales on designer goods, the New York Times reports.

Flush with cash, Nordstrom navigated the recession better than almost all of its rivals on the strength of its innovative inventory monitoring system and highly efficient supply chain. The Seattle-based department store said it would pay $180 million for HauteLook, which it hopes will help boost online sales - which continue to grow as a percentage of revenue each year.

HauteLook is based in Los Angeles and will essentially continue to run as a separate company, a Nordstrom executive said. Like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La, HauteLook gives exclusive discounts to its followers on designer brands over short periods of time, usually 36 to 48 hours.

Jamie Nordstrom, the president of Nordstrom Direct, the company's online business, said in a statement that "customers are responding to this way of shopping, so we'd like to participate." Nordstrom has tweaked its sales model over the years as it adjusted to changes in consumer spending. Last year, it merged its store and online inventory, boosting sales and efficiency.

Nordstrom announced its 2010 earnings on Thursday: The company earned $232 million for the 2010 fiscal year - up 35 percent from the year prior. Sales also hit their highest level ever at $9.31 billion.  
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Wisconsin Showdown And Rising Employee Benefit Costs

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The budget crises of American states has Wisconsin governor Scott Walker putting his state workers' collective bargaining rights for pensions and health care on the chopping block.

The cost of entitlements for state and city workers has been an elephant in the room for years now and Republicans contend that it is a key to balancing budgets. Pro-union democrats contend that a cut in these entitlements is simply a convenient excuse to justify irresponsible spending in other areas of the budget. Employee benefit costs in the public sector have increased by over 60% since 2001, and the cost of benefits in the private sector are not far behind.

CFOs and finance executives across the American business landscape strive to apply strategic sourcing principles to their major direct spend because of the obvious massive cost and operational impact. However, they may not have the realtime market intelligence, expertise, experience, or just plain time to fully evaluate each nuanced indirect spend category such as employee benefits. A category this complex and sensitive requires special attention.

Businesses are increasingly turning to procurement service providers like Source One to source indirect spend categories such as employee benefits. Source One has the tools, market intelligence, and experience to produce significant cost reductions in employee benefits and find the most competitive service offering tailored to your company's specific needs.
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Source One unveils new website design

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Source One, one of the nation’s leading strategic sourcing and procurement outsourcing firms, has unveiled a total revamp of its corporate website.

The result, according to Source One’s Director of Operations William Dorn, who directly oversaw the renovation process, is a “much cleaner, better organized and easily navigable site” where users and prospective clients can access not only Source One corporate information and service offerings, but also a wealth of industry data, tools and solutions for use in the sourcing and procurement process, news items, research, white papers and also career opportunities at Source One.

Naturally, visitors will also find links to Source One’s frequently updated Strategic Sourceror blog concerning news and developments in procurement, supply chains and strategic sourcing, as well as the firm’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

The site also features easily navigable access to several popular and innovative Source One-branded applications, including:

WhyAbe.com, the world’s only completely free e-sourcing tool, which provides any organization with free capabilities for conducting reverse auctions, RFX events and simple contract management activities; and

MasterNegotiator.com, an application which provides smaller businesses and companies that self-supported their strategic sourcing requirements with pre-negotiated contracts, agreements and discounts on deals with leading national suppliers for many of the most common spend categories.

Since its establishment in 1992, Source One has been one of the leading innovators in the strategic sourcing and procurement industry, drawing on over $5 billion of domestic buying power and hundreds of U.S. based clients, ranging from mid-sized to Fortune 1000 companies. During that time, the firm has achieved more than $1 billion in combined savings for its clients.

The firm’s experienced professionals have negotiated with more than 10,000 suppliers and developed extensive subject matter expertise in well over 100 different spend categories. Over the course of its work the firm has further refined hat expertise into a comprehensive proprietary database of price points covering thousands of purchased products and services.

Check out the new Source One website here.
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Manufacturing in Philadelphia region surged in February to highest level in 7 years

on Thursday, February 17, 2011

Manufacturing in Philadelphia region surged in February to highest level in 7 years The Philadelphia region's manufacturing sector grew in February at its quickest pace in seven years, helping to fuel the nascent economic recovery and underscoring the contribution of factories to economic growth.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's general economic index climbed to 35.9, soaring past the median reading of 21 that a Bloomberg News survey of economists had predicted. The index hit its highest level since January 2004 on the strength of manufacturing in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

Davis Semmens, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank, told Bloomberg he expects manufacturing growth to remain strong and that jobs will come to the sector as it expands. "We're still looking for activity to be strong definitely throughout the first half of the year," he said. "There is an increase in demand for labor, both in the number of employees and the average working week, which means people are going to have more money in their pockets."

The Philadelphia Fed said its new orders measure rose to 23.7 from 23.6 in January; the index hasn't hit that level since September 2004.  
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Brent Crude trades at two-year highs on supply concerns

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Brent Crude trades at two-year highs on supply concerns Oil futures jumped to their highest levels in more than two years in London Thursday as civil unrest spread to Bahrain in the Middle East, fueling fears that supply chain disruptions could result in delayed shipments.

Brent futures rose Wednesday to their highest price since September 2008 as political unrest spread to Bahrain, and pro-democracy demonstrations were held in Yemen and Libya, the third-biggest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Prices in the U.S., meanwhile, fell after inventories increased in Chushing, Oklahoma, the country's storage hub.

Tobias Merath, the head of commodity research at Credit Suisse AG in Zurich, told Bloomberg supply concerns were driving Brent Crude, sourced mainly in the North Sea, higher. "The risk premium from the whole Middle East story is more reflected in Brent," he said. "The divergence between Brent and WTI is stunning, and explained by regional factors. Oversupply at Cushing is a topic again."

Brent Crude for April settlement traded at $103.67 per barrel on ICE Futures Europe in London Wednesday; on Tuesday, prices touched $103.78 - the highest close since September 2008.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a report Wednesday that political risks to oil supply are "high and rising" as unrest spreads throughout the Middle East.  
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New York manufacturing grows, but unease remains among factory executives

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New York manufacturing grows, but unease remains among factory executives The nascent economic recovery in the U.S. has been fueled largely by manufacturing, many analysts contend. The newest manufacturing reports out of the New York region corroborated those assertions as they show manufacturing grew in February.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's general economic index climbed from 11.9 in January to 15.4 this month - beating the median forecast of economists that called for a rise to 15. The index covers New York, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut, with a reading above zero indicating expansion.

Manufacturers stand to benefit from an uptick in investment from businesses and rising exports; the growth in consumer spending could also spur further activity in the sector, Bloomberg reports. Paul Ashworth, the chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said manufacturing continues to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy.

"Manufacturing has accelerated strongly out of the final months of last year and started 2011 with quite a bit of momentum behind it," he affirmed. "We've still got some strong growth globally that’s helping manufacturing exporters."

Nonetheless, factory executives in the New York Fed's district were decidedly less optimistic about the future: The survey found that their outlook on what condition the economy will be in six months from now fell to 49.4 from 59.  
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Factory production grows, but housing falls in newest economic reports

on Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Factory production grows, but housing falls in newest economic reports Production at U.S. factories climbed in January for the fifth straight month, but reports showed builders started work on fewer single-family homes, illustrating the economic expansion continues to be fueled by manufacturing.

Manufacturing output rose 0.3 percent in January, according to data released by the U.S. Federal Reserve. However, total production, which includes mining and utilities, fell unexpectedly. Single-family housing starts fell by 1 percent to an annualized pace of 413,000 - the lowest total since May 2009, the U.S. Commerce Department said.

Businesses are investing in new equipment, helping global manufacturing sales to remain robust. On the other hand, home builders are struggling to grow as the battered housing market shows no signs of improving.

Jim O'Sullivan, the global chief economist at MF Global, told Bloomberg the newest economic reports showed the growing dichotomy between the housing and manufacturing sectors. "Manufacturing has been an important contributor to growth and it’ll get stronger," he asserted. "Given the still-huge glut of housing inventories, new-home building is unlikely to contribute to the economy in any meaningful way this year."

Building permits, which serve as an indicator of future construction growth, declined by 10 percent to a 562,000 annual pace in January.  
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Energy efficiency can help cut business costs

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Energy efficiency can help cut business costs Companies looking to improve their efficiency and cut business costs should consider increasing energy efficiency as utility costs can account for 20 percent of the average business' expenditures.

The Guardian reports that swings in energy prices over the past few years have led many businesses to reassess their heating, cooling and electric systems as a means of cutting costs. For example, businesses that take simple steps to manage their energy more efficiently routinely report reductions in their utility bills of 10 percent or more, while companies that make energy efficiency a business priority can save between 20 percent and 30 percent.

Smart Meters monitor energy use and deliver real time assessments of energy use; many businesses that have implemented the devices affirm they have helped cut costs drastically. Moreover, many states and the federal government offer subsidies to businesses that install solar panel systems as a way to cut electricity usage.

Though some businesses are loath to invest the time and money it takes to make energy efficiency upgrades, the initial capital investment is often more than made up for in the medium- and long-term effects of streamlining energy operations, analysts assert.  
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How collective bargaining affects more than you think

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In procurement services we deal with leveraging high volumes for lower costs all the time. Of course this comes with service expectations and market expertise but I hadn’t realized how this type of collective bargaining has, or in the following case has not affected the income trend of the American worker.

If you were to compare what you are making today to what you were making say 50 or 60 years ago you would certainly be able to see the gap. But according to Annalyn Censky from cnnmoney.com, looking back in the last 15 to 20 years you would see a much smaller or non-existent gap. The article goes on to indicate that this has a lot to do with the diminishing presence of the union way of life. Unions fight for higher wages for their members and with an almost 8% drop in the union community since 1983 America’s low and middle income workers’ wages are remaining stagnant.

Another reason for the lack of movement in the lower income community and greater movement in the higher income bracket is the expansion of our reach into the global market. Lower wage workers are competing against manufacturers in places like China and frankly not boding well. So as it seems it always is and will continue to be, as the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. One of the our best hopes is education, in this respect educating ourselves on what the market has to offer and doing our best to seek those opportunities, no matter what class you consider yourself to be in.
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Australia blocked China rare earth deal on worries it would result in supply disruptions

on Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Australia blocked China rare earth deal on worries it would result in supply disruptions In 2009, Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board blocked China's offer to gain control of the globe's richest rare earth deposit on concerns it could potentially threaten supply to non-Chinese buyers, Bloomberg reports.

The state-owned China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining Group offered in May 2009 A$252 million for a majority stake in Lynas Corp, which was in need of cash as it looked to resume development of the Mount Weld rare earth mine in Western Australia; however, the request was denied after regulators determined it could potentially hurt Australia's reputation as a reliable trade partner.

Australian authorities determined supply chain disruptions could potentially arise from the deal and blocked the move. "We have concluded that they would not be able to exclude the possibility that Lynas' production could be controlled to the detriment of non-Chinese end users," they affirmed.

Among other goods, rare earth metals are instrumental in the construction of electronics equipment. China currently controls 95 percent of the world's supply and in recent months has cut its export quotas of the incredibly important metals. Last year, it blocked shipments to Japan after a maritime dispute erupted into a political dispute between the two countries.

Lynas later raised A$450 million to fund the Mount Weld mine - without the help of Chinese companies. The Mount Weld mine contains the richest grades of ore for rare earth metals in the world.  
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Starbucks inks supply chain deal, will provide coffee for Courtesy Products one-cup brewers

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Starbucks inks supply chain deal, will provide coffee for Courtesy Products one-cup brewers The world's biggest coffee chain, Starbucks, announced this week it will provide ground coffee for use with Courtesy Products' CV1 one-cup brewers in upscale hotel rooms in the U.S. starting this fall.

Starbucks has endeavored to break into the increasingly lucrative one-cup coffee market for the past few years, but it was stuck in an exclusive supplier deal with Kraft's Tassimo home brewer that effectively precluded it from selling its coffee offerings elsewhere in the market; that deal, however, will come to an end March 1 and Starbucks said in a statement its newest supply chain deal is the first of many it hopes to sign in the sector.

According to Reuters, Starbucks is also in negotiations with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to sell its coffee for the Keurig brewer, which commands more than 70 percent of the market. The single serve coffee sector has surged in recent years, Canaccord Genuity analyst Scott Van Winkle said. Van Winkle asserts U.S. sales in the single-serve coffee category will near $4 billion in 2011.

"The single-serve coffee category in the U.S., and much of the world for that matter, is in its beginning stages of development," said Jeff Hansberry, the president of Starbucks' consumer products group. "Look for further announcements from Starbucks as we continue to expand our presence in the premium single-serve category." 
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HyperSolar's ultra-efficient solar panels could halve cost of installations

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HyperSolar's ultra-efficient solar panels could halve cost of installationsThe solar industry has been helped by the government over the past few years, receiving generous subsidies that have offset the costs of solar installations. However, as those incentives expire, companies are working to improve business efficiency to ensure they succeed in the future.

HyperSolar is a solar company that specializes in improving the efficiency of solar panels as a way to reduce costs and spur home and business solar panel installations. The company recently succeeded in producing solar panels that are ultra-efficient and capable of increasing photovoltaic efficiency by up to 300 percent, Forbes reports.

The company specializes in a field of science called photonics; using a technique that is similar to how a microchip works, HyperSolar's thin magnifying film routes and separates specific light spectrums and delivers them exactly where they're needed to make an array of solar panel cells ultra-efficient. The technology could ultimately cut the costs of solar installations by over 50 percent as fewer solar modules are needed to produce the same amount of energy.

HyperSolar joins a growing number of companies researching ways to increase business efficiency; solar companies are looking to make solar power as inexpensive as traditional sources of energy like coal and oil and ultra-efficient solar panels can help lead the way, according to analysts.  
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Apple streamlines supply chain; Samsung to supply $7.8 billion in components

on Monday, February 14, 2011

Apple streamlines supply chain; Samsung to supply $7.8 billion in components Apple recently moved to shore up its supply chain to avoid any possible delays in the scheduled shipments of its upcoming product releases, placing a $7.8 billion order for key components with Samsung Electronics for this year.

Apple signed a supplier deal with Samsung for sourcing liquid crystal displays, processors, and NAND flash memory chips, making Samsung the technology's giant's largest customer. Apple hopes to avoid some of the supply chain disruptions that have plagued other electronics makers and forced them to delay product launches because of manufacturing delays, the International Business Times reports.

LG was once the sole provider of LCD displays for Apple, but it was unable to keep up with surging demand from Apple, LG chief executive Kwon Young-soo said. "Demand from Apple keeps growing and we can't meet it all. Apple may have to delay launches of the iPad for some countries due to tight component supplies and strong demand," he affirmed.

Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook, who is taking over for chief executive Steve Jobs during his medical leave, is often viewed as a supply chain guru by the business community. Reports in recent weeks indicate Cook is likely behind Apple's move to streamline its supply chain as it works to release its newest versions of the iPad, iPhone and laptops.  
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