Executive Briefings

100 Great Supply Chain Partners Secrets to Success 2006

Whether your company is a supplier, manufacturer or retailer, the supply chains you participate in are increasingly interdependent. No single company can succeed unless all supply chain participants operate as one seamless entity.

In fact, the key to global business success today is all about strengthening the supply chain by working with the best "linking" partners. These vital players include technology companies that create and share real-time data, third-party logistics providers and carriers that physically move product from supplier to customer, consultants that constantly improve business processes and communication, and countless other vendors that can make or break a successful supply chain.

This fourth annual Global Logistics & Supply Chain Strategies 100 Great Supply Chain Partners report is devoted to these important linking partners. On the pages that follow, logistics and supply chain professionals share their success stories and explain the contribution that these vendors have made in building their companies' success. These manufacturers and retailers know that they are competing in a demanding global marketplace. They can only succeed with the help of partners that possess the skills and services they need to connect and empower every participant in the supply chain wherever they may be.

The testimonials that our participating readers provided not only praise their favorite linking partners, but these comments provide useful information on how all companies can benefit by working closely with reliable vendors.

This 100 Great Supply Chain Partners report covers the globe. We have received nearly 2,000 nominations from small and large companies covering scores of different industries on five continents. More than 400 vendors of every conceivable type of supply chain activity-from software, to specialized technologies, to global 3PLs, to highly specialized transportation services. Vendors being nominated include many of the most-widely known logistics providers and technology vendors, of course. This year, we also received a huge number of nominations for regional service providers, emerging tech companies and niche consulting firms. The breadth of these nominations shows that our readers are looking for results and not for size and geographic scope.

The GL&SCS 100 Great Supply Chain Partners program is the result of a six-month poll of readers in which we asked logistics and supply chain professionals to nominate vendors and service providers whose technology, logistics, transportation or consulting solutions have made a significant impact on their company's efficiency, customer service and overall supply chain performance. The purpose of the list in this report is to recognize those vendors that have so impressed our readers that they deserve to be singled out and to be held up as examples for others in the industry. In one sense, it is an opportunity to thank those providers who have helped our readers achieve better results, and to let the industry know who is making a genuine effort to be a supply chain partner-not just another vendor. On a higher plane, the commentary in this report is intended to emphasize which services, technology, expertise and support our entire industry needs for all of us to be more successful.

We received nominations for carriers in every mode of transportation. Most are represented on our final list, as are various outsourced logistics services and a wide range of supply chain technologies. Regardless of what type of vendor a reader nominated, there are clear themes within the commentaries that accompanied most of the ballots. As with our first report last year-and probably forever- the most common 10 qualities that users looked for in their vendors were as follows:

1. Reliability-Without doubt, the single-most important element that our readers value is reliability. These readers' customers will not accept excuses for service failures. And when a vendor has proved itself to be rock-solid reliable, an enduring partnership is assured.

2. Repeatable excellence-While good performance is expected, the vendors receiving accolades for service always went over and above what was required. At least one quarter of our nominations provided an example of how a vendor exceeded expectations on many occasions.

3. Value and cost savings-As many readers commented, their key motivation for purchasing any new technology or outsourced service was cost savings, but the most important financial measure was value in terms of increasing sales, production or some other revenue-related metric.

4. Expertise and knowledge base-Manufacturers and retailers increasingly look to their technology and logistics providers for best practices specific to their industry, market or product. Vendors that have this expertise quickly become trusted advisers. Vendors that claim to be masters of all trades have no credibility.

5. Problem-solving ability-Many of our nominations were based on companies that had experienced emergencies. Partners that were able to deal effectively with these unexpected events without missing a step earned the eternal gratitude of their customers.

6. Continuous improvement-Especially for technology vendors, companies want to see a plan for product development, so they know their needs will be met in the years ahead.

7. Support-The downsizing of most companies means that they have greater dependence on their vendors to implement, train, maintain and support the technologies and service provided. The support component is almost as important as the technology or service itself.

8. Positive culture-The phrase most often mentioned in all of our nominations was "can-do." Companies want to do business with vendors that are positive about what they can accomplish. The greatest accolades were bestowed on those vendors that took on any challenge and found a way to accomplish a goal without complaints or excuses.

9. Global capabilities-As supply chains become more global, companies of all sizes are looking for technologies and services that allow them to operate with trading partners all over the world

10. Strong management-Most businesses today experience frequent personnel turnover, even at the highest ranks. Nothing can damage the relationship between a company and its partners faster than an erosion of commitment from the partner's management. Leadership is monitored very carefully by companies that depend on their supply chain partners.

Five additional themes were prominent among the justifications that users provided in their nominations, no doubt indicating new priorities within today's supply chains:

1. Process focus-Business process management is the new mantra for many companies, and they expect their service and technology providers to help them implement best practices and efficient processes. Essentially, consulting is becoming a required element of any offering.

2. Visibility-Status of shipments, inventory and orders is no longer enough. Companies are constantly looking farther back into the supply chain for information from suppliers and farther forward into customer demand. Technologies need to meet this need, and 3PLs need to implement it.

3. Regulatory compliance-Regulatory compliance has always been important, especially for such industries as chemicals, food and pharmaceuticals. Risk management and global security have raised compliance to a new level. Mistakes can result more than fines and legal complications. Compliance failures can stop a supply chain in its tracks. Users want services and technologies that can deal with the growing body of regulations for security, trade, hazmat, labor, etc.

4. Integration capabilities-For supply chain technologies, the need for fast and easy integration of solutions with other systems has never been greater. Even with 3PLs, there is a growing demand for integrating the provider's services with company operations and those of other partners.

5. Growth mandate-Companies that have aggressive growth plans of their own are looking for vendors that are eager to grow with them. This requirement applies to all partners. In the case of technology, they want to know the functionality will be there when they need it. For service providers, they want to work with companies that are adding capabilities and coverage, either through organic growth or acquisition.

Finally, before presenting the reader nominations and their comments, please consider the following housekeeping points:

• The methodology for exactly how the Supply Chain Partners program was conducted is presented below. Very simply, the companies listed here are totally based on voluntary responses from readers. No one at GL&SCS had anything to do with which companies were nominated.

• We have included 100 vendors just because it is a manageable number. We actually received nominations for more than 400. The companies not included just had more, and more in-depth nominations than the others. The comments offered for these unmentioned companies clearly reflect their customers' appreciation, but we had to draw the line somewhere. For better or for worse, the number 100 has become the standard for any list of this type.

• We think the supporting comments are at least as important as the fact that a partner has been nominated, so we have included as many quotes from nominations and follow-up interviews. Space does not allow us to reproduce anywhere near the total number of responses we received.

3PLs Rule
Nearly half of the nominations we received in this year's 100 Great Supply Chain Partners program were for logistics service providers, including carriers, forwarders, 3PLs and a variety of specialized vendors. The largest service providers were prominent among these entries because of their broad capabilities and scope of the services and geography.

For example, Hewlett-Packard Services nominated its top two 3PLs, DHL and UPS Supply Chain Solutions. According to Mark Colaluca, director of global distribution management for Hewlett-Packard Services in Dallas, these two companies provide 85 percent of HP Services' worldwide logistics needs, including transportation, warehousing, IT and logistics call center activity.

For Fabio Cury, regional manager for Mobis Parts America in Miami, FedEx is a great partner that has been very quick in solving his logistics issues.

"FedEx is constantly adding value to our business," he says. "At the moment, we are finishing a project integrating their system and ours that will reduce our work load and margin for errors. This value-added work will speed up our internal process to ship our goods to our customers."

Bryan Tremblay, director of logistics for Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Company says that TNT Logistics North America has not only provided Hudson's Bay Company with a national-wide presence in the home delivery market in most major cities, the 3PL has also integrated and helped Hudson's Bay to develop a warehouse management and delivery system that interacts in real time with the retailer's front-end retail application.

"TNT has provided high levels of service and is always there during a crisis," says Tremblay.

Stephen Miller, corporate logistics manager for The Manitowoc Company, a heavy equipment manufacturer in Wisconsin, says that UTi Worldwide provides an end-to-end supply chain solution regardless of your needs. They represent everything that a company should be in today's tough logistics market.

"Their can-do attitude and relentless pursuit of a solution, as well as committing time to a project without commitment from the customer is impossible to find in today's logistics marketplace," he says. "Hats off to doing things old school."

Dollar General speaks highly of Expeditors International, which is a business partner for the retailer that has shown it can resolve day-to-day operational problems, whatever emergencies arise.

"They also are proactively improving the tools and processes required to improve visibility and operations of the global supply chain," says Melody Alford, senior manager of global sourcing for Dollar General.

North American Corporation has become an integral arm of Socrates Media LLC. According to Meg Blevins, director of operations, NAC is a full service 3PL providing Socrates Media with traditional distribution and logistics support, but also forecasting and sourcing support.

"Their assistance and support was instrumental in enabling Socrates to achieve 99.5 percent in stock status for 2005-2006," says Blevins.

Charles H. Cook, Director of Regional Transportation for Mohawk Industries, a floor covering company in Glen Burnie, Md., praises Ryder System for its adaptability and quality of course correction.

"Ryder meets our every requirement for proactive communication to be one of most responsible partners," says Cook.

He also nominates U.S. Xpress Dedicated Logistics for its adaptability and synergy of solutions to provide the flexibility of service that his company needs.

But we also received an enormous number of nominations for relatively small 3PLs that offer highly specialized services.

For example, David Norton, lead packaging engineer for Vought Aircraft in Dallas, says that Amtrex Global Logistics has negotiated attractive transportation rates with Vought's preferred carrier base. More importantly, Amtrex has provided state-of-the-art technology solutions known as HALO and Intelliship. "These powerful technologies provide Vought with visibility and tactical execution tools that allow us to easily manage our transportation activities from origin all the way through to proof of delivery and beyond with electronic carrier billing and auditing," says Norton.
He also likes that Amtrex's robust reporting and management decision metrics are available to help Vought drive costs out of the logistics process.

"HALO serves as the information hub regarding the transportation segments throughout the entirety of a supply chain. Intelliship is a multi-carrier, dock-level manifesting system," he says. "Intelliship offers Vought the ability to most economically route shipments, generate bills of lading and carrier labels, reports, manifest, and ship to any point in the world."

The consolidation-oriented 3PL Case-Stack received rave reviews from Matt Luther, international sourcing and distribution manager for Perfetti Van Melle USA in Erlanger, Ky., for its dedicated customer service and flexible schedules.

Steven Fisher, global logistics manager for Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates in Santa Rosa, Calif., is clearly a strong believer in outsourcing logistics to 3PLs. He nominated two for their excellent service.

Fisher explains that Unyson Logistics flawlessly coordinates boxcar shipments for the beverage company.

"They might as well be in the next office, not three time zones away," he says. "They are flexible, communicate well, and have suggested alternative routings for our products that eliminated carrier service problem bottlenecks. They are customer-oriented, friendly and make working together a pleasure."

Fisher also nominates Pacific-American Services (PACAM). Though regional in scope, he says that the 3PL has proved to be a very professional organization that understands Kendall-Jackson's extensive warehousing and transportation needs.

"They have put into action the concept of collaboration," he says. "They adapted their facilities specifically for our needs, and put processes in place to help our operation. Again, working with them is simple--salespeople show they care, operations people have a can-do attitude, and invoices arrive correctly."

Ralph Embree, vice president for Town Car International in Washington, D.C., says that last-mile 3PL NonstopDelivery personalizes and customizes the distribution process to the point that he feels Town Car is their only customer.

"They customize their service around our distribution needs," he says. "Nonstop is strong, knowledgeable and enthusiastic."

For Originals Inc., Deerfield, Ill., a young entrepreneurial company on a rapid growth track, Fidelitone has been a critical component in developing its business. According to Mark Blevins, vice president of operations, Originals is in the business of helping consumer products companies create successful brands and products, and bring them to market with innovative sales techniques. Its business is all about flexibility and quick response to market opportunities.

"Processes, products and customers in our business change rapidly-some times overnight," he says. "In fact we are planning a major system implementation over the next few months. Fidelitone's flexibility, support and can-do attitude has enabled Originals' growth."

Perhaps the most interesting entries we received-and the ones that may gain the most attention from other readers-are testimonials explaining how a partner saved the day when an emergency arose. The majority of these expressions of appreciation were for 3PLs that enjoyed a close relationship with their customers. For example, Carl Stapp, director of contract manufacturing and distribution for CHF Industries, says that Weber Distribution earned his respect when his company had a major disconnect with one of its key customers. "Containers were arriving from our suppliers by the hundreds and nothing was shipping out," he says. "Weber managed this huge unexpected influx of inventory while we worked out the problems with our customer. "Weber then worked closely with us and FedEx. Orders that were supposed to be shipped through distribution warehouses were turned into direct-to-store orders and shipped on time. Weber's size, dedicated team, warehouse management system, and transportation system all came together to help us solve a major logistics problem."

Trucking is the most ubiquitous transportation service for any manufacturer or retailer, so that industry's contributions are often taken for granted. However, we received many nominations for large and small motor carriers from customers that understand the important role they play. For example, Joe McAmis, shipping manager for Tennessee-based Rockford Manufacturing, says that Old Dominion Freight Lines' national LTL service has been exceptional and has been instrumental in helping his company secure long-term relationships with specific customers that have become foundational to his company's success.

For start-up companies that rarely have an internal logistics infrastructure, 3PLs play an especially important role in getting the business off to a good beginning. For example, Jack Weimer, director of systems operations for TranSend International, a start-up company in Mesa, Ariz., says that GlobalWare Solutions has shown that it knows how to get products to customers in the most efficient and cost effective way while handling every detail from packaging requirements, design, and graphics to software version control and delivery.

"Their staff is always easy to contact and eager to assist," says Weimer. "Although our product is still not ready to deliver, I have compete confidence that when TranSend is ready, GlobalWare will get our product to market faster than we could ever imagine."

Among the ranks of 3PLs, we received more nominations from freight forwarders than ever before, perhaps indicating a greater appreciation of the hands-on services that these partners provide.

For example, Mark Cress, shipping supervisor for Misys Healthcare Systems in Raleigh, N.C., says that Airways Freight is the best forwarding, transportation and delivery service he has ever worked with.

"Our system installations are very time sensitive and we need a partner that will take the extra steps to do the job right," says Cress. "Whether it is bringing in a delicate instrument from overseas or delivering a 2,000-pound piece of equipment to a client in a rural location, Airways gets the job done right."

Tim Hulse, parts and customer service manager for Diamond Z Manufacturing, a forestry and construction company in Caldwell, Idaho, explains that he ships freight by air and also by sea.

"We have several customers who really appreciate the service from Transgroup Worldwide Logistics and have requested that they would like all of their shipments to be delivered by them," he says. "We ship replacement parts to several foreign countries, including Japan, Holland and Australia. Our replacement parts are very heavy, but Transgroup is able to make these shipments when no one else can."

A.N. Deringer partners with ZF Boge Elastmetall, an automotive supply company based in Hebron, Ky., to help it achieve its own goals.

"When we need things expedited to keep our lines running, Deringer is only a phone call away," says Charlotte Chambers, materials planner for ZF Boge Elastmetall.

Knowledge Workers
The outsourcing trend extends beyond hands-on logistics activities to providing management insights and knowledge work provided by engineers, auditing companies and a broad range of supply chain consultants.

For example, Craig Tobin, executive vice president for NewRoads, Inc. in Huntersville, N.C., says that Peach State is "an amazing engineering company" that can help from design, implementation and optimization for companies that have B2B or B2C business.

"They have a great management team that is extremely responsive," he says.

We received a number of nominations for freight auditing and transportation consultants that handle bills, tariffs and other administrative aspects of working with carriers.

"Seldom does one have a sincere opportunity to give good reviews for a supplier who truly is a partner," says Al Mazany, corporate traffic and logistics manager for FMC Technologies in Houston. "TransportGistics is such a partner."

He says that this freight auditing company continues to maintain and expand its auditing program efficiency, and has developed additional modules that enabled FMC to stay within the system of TransportGistics (TGI), so his staff does not have to exit to another carrier program to find information on tracing, payment disposition, shipment characteristics and even carrier compliances.

"The need to have multiple carriers' software for information has been reduced significantly with TGI," says Mazany. "TGI just continues on forward by adding newer and more useful tools. They are excellent in the IT department. It is really good working with them."

Even service providers themselves are eager users of knowledge-based consulting services. Frank Sokol, transportation systems implementation manager for Caterpillar Logistics, says that Nulogx provides timely consulting to support the 3PLs evolving transportation and logistics business requirements.

"This support has helped us to transition from reactive administered transportation to an optimized transportation network that provides superior service and reduced costs to our internal and external customers," says Sokol.

And who would know better about a consulting firm's quality better than another consultant that partners with that company-and at one time was a client?

Richard H. Thompson, a partner with Chicago-based Charter Consulting says that he has worked in conjunction with Chainalytics for many years and believes that the firm attracts and retains the leading experts in the area of network optimization, inventory management and transportation management.

Perhaps more compelling, when Thompson was senior vice president of supply chain management for Schreiber Foods, he hired Chainalytics to develop a network strategy/optimization strategy for the $3bn food company and found their help invaluable.

"Chainalytics is a niche firm that is very deep in experience and supply chain expertise," he says.

Bigger Role for Technology
Not surprisingly, the vast number of technology related nominations were for well-known applications that deal with supply chain planning, execution and sourcing. But given the consolidation that has been taking place in this industry, we were pleasantly surprised to see that a significant number of independent, best-of-breed providers received nominations.

For example, Leona Eggleston, purchasing/IT support manager for Bedoukian Research, says that the Danbury, Conn.-based chemical company has been using Smart Software's SmartForecasts solution to forecast demand for finished goods for over 10 years.

"Each new version has upgrades that make the software more flexible while remaining simple to use, thus offering us new opportunities to fine-tune our forecasts," she says.

The solution helps Bedoukian keep its inventory under control while still satisfying customer demand. The SmartForecasts automated forecasting software selects the best forecast method and provides all the data the company needs for a variety of supply chain needs to quickly determine a stocking level without reviewing each product manually. The software also has an intermittent demand feature that specifically handles items that do not sell regularly.

Eggleston explains that the company revises forecasts monthly for over 500 products, but the company does not have a separate department for forecasting and planning.

"Ease of use is essential," she says. "While a forecast is never exact, the accuracy we have obtained with SmartForecasts had helped to reduce inventory and align production scheduling with the majority of customer needs."

Even for companies that depend on a technology infrastructure from one of the very large players, there is a role for specialized offerings.

SkinCeuticals, a Garland, Tex.-based provider of skincare solutions for the professional market in the U.S. and in over 35 countries, runs its business on the Oracle 11i enterprise resource planning system. But to harness the power of this ERP system for its supply chain needs, SkinCeuticals was able to leverage ClearOrbit software "accessories" to increase shipping efficiencies.

According to Timm Elrod, chief operating officer for SkinCeuticals, ClearOrbit provided the company with its Gemini simplified interface suite that enabled SkinCeuticals to double shipping efficiency and reduce warehouse space by fifty percent through application integration of such devices as Intermec handheld RF scanners, Zebra barcode printers, HP laser jet printers, UPS freight rating systems, and SkinCeuticals' fixed station POS scanners and weigh scales.

The ClearOrbit solution taps into SkinCeuticals' Oracle database, but the implementation did not rely on costly custom coding, nor did SkinCeuticals have to create new database structures to link Oracle to the devices its employees and suppliers use in SkinCeuticals' shipping facility.

ClearOrbit provides software extensions to Oracle that serve as a digital bridge between the wide variety of systems and devices SkinCeuticals employs in its worldwide shipping operations, says Elrod. The ClearOrbit Gemini system was implemented at SkinCeuticals ahead of schedule and on budget.

"In addition to tripling SkinCeuticals order processing capacity, the Gemini system has increased lines shipped per day by 35 percent, decreased labor hours by 13 percent, reduced space requirements by 50 percent and improved order accuracy to above 99.5 percent."

While supply chain related software is definitely the most widely appreciated technology, a number of companies aptly understood the importance of the technology that shares data among supply chain partners. For example, Kurt Zweig, senior project manager for JCPenney in Plano, Tex., says that ClearTrack is providing event management capabilities to the retailer that is vital to its success. He explains that ClearTrack is taking in files from JCPenney "that represent our international and domestic moves from suppliers to JCPenney." With this information the ClearTrack Information Network works with each of Penney's 3rd-party affiliates that actually handle the transportation moves to provide alerts to all parties if any shipment is delayed.

"When challenges have arisen because of changes in JCPenney's original plan, ClearTrack has done an outstanding job in helping JCPenney overcome these issues after the initial implementation," says Zweig. "ClearTrack has been very responsive to meeting our needs and have provided excellent support capabilities."

This year, we received more nominations for software and technology services that are specifically directed at global business. For example, Kelly O'Rourke, IT section manager global manufacturing and R&D for National Instruments in Austin, Tex., says that Kewill Solutions has been an excellent supply chain partner to his company. Kewill supplies it with the means to fully automate its export compliance, including export documentation for distribution and the ability to report shipping information by commodity line item.

"Kewill removed an enormous manual burden of referencing government databases as it automates the process of staying current on complex and continually changing compliance rules," he says.

Every NI employee involved in the management of taking and fulfilling customer orders is now compliant with export rules without any effort. An employee enters customer data into the company's Oracle interface. Kewill checks for denied-party lists and embargoed countries and performs export license determination. If the customer data falls in either category, the system flags and prohibits completion of shipments returning that information to the NI employee within the same Oracle interface. Employees empowered by the Kewill software include all departments from sales, order management, warehouse management, and logistics.

"Kewill integrates with our Oracle ERP system to eliminate duplicate efforts for data entry, storage and reporting," says O'Rourke. "Our ability to quickly integrate Kewill's software with Oracle 11i has resulted in significant efficiency and quality gains which directly benefit our customers, our business users of the system and ultimately the bottom line for National Instruments. Kewill has been a great integration partner, and we look forward to continued innovation and success."

This appreciation for technology directed at international business was not limited to software solutions, but also extended to the growing trend for managed services. For example, International Truck and Engine Corporation, a leading producer of mid-range diesel engines, medium trucks, school buses, heavy trucks and severe service vehicles, has outsourced the majority of its U.S. trade operations, including the ongoing management of its NAFTA duty minimization and harmonized tariff schedule (HTS) classification programs for North American operations. Ben Bauman, manager, global logistics and trade compliance for ITEC in Warrenville, Ill., says that the company had managed over 300,000 components and had to classify as many as 5,000 products per month. The task overwhelmed its limited internal resources.

ITEC turned to JPMorgan Chase Vastera, and alleviated the daunting task of having to hire and train 12 new internal global trade employees. By outsourcing, ITEC met and surpassed its trade goals quickly by taking advantage of Vastera's global trade management team that already had experts on site and the systems already in place for use. In addition, ITEC sees a savings of tens of millions of dollars annually as a result of efficient NAFTA qualification.

"ITEC's NAFTA first-time yield numbers have increased from 55 to 95 percent, demonstrating that an outsourcing arrangement can result in great financial benefits," says Bauman.

The role of technology is quickly expanding beyond software to the devices that enable radio frequency identification, optical character recognition and other data collection and management solutions. For example, Alex Kumfert, launch material flow leader for Ford Motor Company's Oakville assembly complex in Ontario, Canada, says that WhereNet provides an outstanding service and support for Ford's design and implementation of a wireless real-time conveyance tracking system critical to the launch of the new Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX this fall.

Given the vast amount of global inventory that moves in containers around the world, technology that speeds the flow of these containers is becoming an integral part of every company's supply chain. Kwang Chen, West Coast IT Manager, APM Terminals, in Los Angeles says APS Technology Group provides unique solutions in a tough marine terminal environment that helps the container industry improve business processes.

We received a surprising number of nominations for specialized software solutions that reflect the ever-increasing trend of doing business over the internet. For example, Greg Tennyson, vice president of global procurement and travel for Oracle Corporation, nominates Aravo Solutions because the company provides an excellent tool to empower suppliers to manage their online catalog content. Aravo allows suppliers to create content, control quality and test file within the buyer's mirrored production environment, and to identify errors and resolve same before the buyer receives the file for hosting.

According to Tennyson, buyers are able to save substantial time. Suppliers are accountable for the quality of their catalog content.

"The ROI just increases with the number of suppliers, amount of transactions and number of catalogs, but from a conservative viewpoint the Aravo tool should return 10 times the investment," says Tennyson.

Conclusion
We thank all of the readers of Global Logistics & Supply Chain Strategies who participated in the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners program for 2006. By voicing your appreciation for the vendors of technology and services that help you achieve your supply chain goals, you not only give them the recognition that they deserve, but you point out to all vendors the qualities that you admire-and expect. That effort helps the entire industry. Thank you again, and we look forward to your participation in next year's 100 Great Supply Chain Partners program.

Click here to view the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners list!

Case Studies:

Agistix's On-demand Solution Gives Maxim Centralized Logistics Control
Baxter Planning Systems Help SGI Profit from Aftermarket Parts
D.W. Morgan Fits Well with Redback Network's Outsourcing Strategies
FORTE Solves Short-Term and Long-Term DC Challenges for Vera Bradley
Kenco Logistics Helps Parksite Build Its Business
Kinaxis Helps Varian Semiconductor Respond Rapidly to Customer Needs
Management Dynamics Wins a Big One for Levi Strauss
MCA Solutions Puts KLA-Tencor Service Supply Chain in the Chips
Servigistics Delivers Next-Generation Service Parts Performance to Sun Microsystems
SmartOps Creates a Model Inventory Plan for Caterpillar
Supply Chain Consultants Grows Process Improvement for Sunsweet Growers
Terra Technology Provides Campbell Soup with a Recipe for Supply Chain Success
TradeBeam Hits a Home Run for Stryker Instruments' Supply Chain
Transplace Constructs an Online Truckload System for USG

Varsity Logistics' Transportation Solution Gives Roland U.S. a Competitive Edge

Methodology for the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners
The list accompanying this report is based entirely on the entries voluntarily submitted by readers of Global Logistics & Supply Chain Strategies and users of its sister web site, SupplyChainBrain.com, where the official nomination form has been posted since the early spring. Over the last few months, many GL&SCS readers received e-mails asking them to participate and directing them to the form. Other readers and users of the web site independently found a link to the official nomination form on the home page of SupplyChainBrain.com.

Nominations could only be made using the official web-enabled form that required nominators to identify themselves, their position, their company, their e-mail address and a phone number where they could be reached to verify their responses. For their nomination to be counted, the participants had to provide adequate identifying information to verify their identify and their legitimate role in the industry. Nominations from participants selecting their own companies or closely allied entities were disqualified, as were multiple nominations from the same customer company.

Participants could nominate up to three companies and could support their nomination with as much or as little commentary as they wished. To provide more in-depth information for this report, some nominators were interviewed after they submitted their completed forms. We received over 2,000 qualified responses nominating over 450 different companies. The final list presented here includes the 100 companies that received the most nominations. In the case of ties, the nominations with the most detailed justification were selected.

In fact, the key to global business success today is all about strengthening the supply chain by working with the best "linking" partners. These vital players include technology companies that create and share real-time data, third-party logistics providers and carriers that physically move product from supplier to customer, consultants that constantly improve business processes and communication, and countless other vendors that can make or break a successful supply chain.

This fourth annual Global Logistics & Supply Chain Strategies 100 Great Supply Chain Partners report is devoted to these important linking partners. On the pages that follow, logistics and supply chain professionals share their success stories and explain the contribution that these vendors have made in building their companies' success. These manufacturers and retailers know that they are competing in a demanding global marketplace. They can only succeed with the help of partners that possess the skills and services they need to connect and empower every participant in the supply chain wherever they may be.

The testimonials that our participating readers provided not only praise their favorite linking partners, but these comments provide useful information on how all companies can benefit by working closely with reliable vendors.

This 100 Great Supply Chain Partners report covers the globe. We have received nearly 2,000 nominations from small and large companies covering scores of different industries on five continents. More than 400 vendors of every conceivable type of supply chain activity-from software, to specialized technologies, to global 3PLs, to highly specialized transportation services. Vendors being nominated include many of the most-widely known logistics providers and technology vendors, of course. This year, we also received a huge number of nominations for regional service providers, emerging tech companies and niche consulting firms. The breadth of these nominations shows that our readers are looking for results and not for size and geographic scope.

The GL&SCS 100 Great Supply Chain Partners program is the result of a six-month poll of readers in which we asked logistics and supply chain professionals to nominate vendors and service providers whose technology, logistics, transportation or consulting solutions have made a significant impact on their company's efficiency, customer service and overall supply chain performance. The purpose of the list in this report is to recognize those vendors that have so impressed our readers that they deserve to be singled out and to be held up as examples for others in the industry. In one sense, it is an opportunity to thank those providers who have helped our readers achieve better results, and to let the industry know who is making a genuine effort to be a supply chain partner-not just another vendor. On a higher plane, the commentary in this report is intended to emphasize which services, technology, expertise and support our entire industry needs for all of us to be more successful.

We received nominations for carriers in every mode of transportation. Most are represented on our final list, as are various outsourced logistics services and a wide range of supply chain technologies. Regardless of what type of vendor a reader nominated, there are clear themes within the commentaries that accompanied most of the ballots. As with our first report last year-and probably forever- the most common 10 qualities that users looked for in their vendors were as follows:

1. Reliability-Without doubt, the single-most important element that our readers value is reliability. These readers' customers will not accept excuses for service failures. And when a vendor has proved itself to be rock-solid reliable, an enduring partnership is assured.

2. Repeatable excellence-While good performance is expected, the vendors receiving accolades for service always went over and above what was required. At least one quarter of our nominations provided an example of how a vendor exceeded expectations on many occasions.

3. Value and cost savings-As many readers commented, their key motivation for purchasing any new technology or outsourced service was cost savings, but the most important financial measure was value in terms of increasing sales, production or some other revenue-related metric.

4. Expertise and knowledge base-Manufacturers and retailers increasingly look to their technology and logistics providers for best practices specific to their industry, market or product. Vendors that have this expertise quickly become trusted advisers. Vendors that claim to be masters of all trades have no credibility.

5. Problem-solving ability-Many of our nominations were based on companies that had experienced emergencies. Partners that were able to deal effectively with these unexpected events without missing a step earned the eternal gratitude of their customers.

6. Continuous improvement-Especially for technology vendors, companies want to see a plan for product development, so they know their needs will be met in the years ahead.

7. Support-The downsizing of most companies means that they have greater dependence on their vendors to implement, train, maintain and support the technologies and service provided. The support component is almost as important as the technology or service itself.

8. Positive culture-The phrase most often mentioned in all of our nominations was "can-do." Companies want to do business with vendors that are positive about what they can accomplish. The greatest accolades were bestowed on those vendors that took on any challenge and found a way to accomplish a goal without complaints or excuses.

9. Global capabilities-As supply chains become more global, companies of all sizes are looking for technologies and services that allow them to operate with trading partners all over the world

10. Strong management-Most businesses today experience frequent personnel turnover, even at the highest ranks. Nothing can damage the relationship between a company and its partners faster than an erosion of commitment from the partner's management. Leadership is monitored very carefully by companies that depend on their supply chain partners.

Five additional themes were prominent among the justifications that users provided in their nominations, no doubt indicating new priorities within today's supply chains:

1. Process focus-Business process management is the new mantra for many companies, and they expect their service and technology providers to help them implement best practices and efficient processes. Essentially, consulting is becoming a required element of any offering.

2. Visibility-Status of shipments, inventory and orders is no longer enough. Companies are constantly looking farther back into the supply chain for information from suppliers and farther forward into customer demand. Technologies need to meet this need, and 3PLs need to implement it.

3. Regulatory compliance-Regulatory compliance has always been important, especially for such industries as chemicals, food and pharmaceuticals. Risk management and global security have raised compliance to a new level. Mistakes can result more than fines and legal complications. Compliance failures can stop a supply chain in its tracks. Users want services and technologies that can deal with the growing body of regulations for security, trade, hazmat, labor, etc.

4. Integration capabilities-For supply chain technologies, the need for fast and easy integration of solutions with other systems has never been greater. Even with 3PLs, there is a growing demand for integrating the provider's services with company operations and those of other partners.

5. Growth mandate-Companies that have aggressive growth plans of their own are looking for vendors that are eager to grow with them. This requirement applies to all partners. In the case of technology, they want to know the functionality will be there when they need it. For service providers, they want to work with companies that are adding capabilities and coverage, either through organic growth or acquisition.

Finally, before presenting the reader nominations and their comments, please consider the following housekeeping points:

• The methodology for exactly how the Supply Chain Partners program was conducted is presented below. Very simply, the companies listed here are totally based on voluntary responses from readers. No one at GL&SCS had anything to do with which companies were nominated.

• We have included 100 vendors just because it is a manageable number. We actually received nominations for more than 400. The companies not included just had more, and more in-depth nominations than the others. The comments offered for these unmentioned companies clearly reflect their customers' appreciation, but we had to draw the line somewhere. For better or for worse, the number 100 has become the standard for any list of this type.

• We think the supporting comments are at least as important as the fact that a partner has been nominated, so we have included as many quotes from nominations and follow-up interviews. Space does not allow us to reproduce anywhere near the total number of responses we received.

3PLs Rule
Nearly half of the nominations we received in this year's 100 Great Supply Chain Partners program were for logistics service providers, including carriers, forwarders, 3PLs and a variety of specialized vendors. The largest service providers were prominent among these entries because of their broad capabilities and scope of the services and geography.

For example, Hewlett-Packard Services nominated its top two 3PLs, DHL and UPS Supply Chain Solutions. According to Mark Colaluca, director of global distribution management for Hewlett-Packard Services in Dallas, these two companies provide 85 percent of HP Services' worldwide logistics needs, including transportation, warehousing, IT and logistics call center activity.

For Fabio Cury, regional manager for Mobis Parts America in Miami, FedEx is a great partner that has been very quick in solving his logistics issues.

"FedEx is constantly adding value to our business," he says. "At the moment, we are finishing a project integrating their system and ours that will reduce our work load and margin for errors. This value-added work will speed up our internal process to ship our goods to our customers."

Bryan Tremblay, director of logistics for Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Company says that TNT Logistics North America has not only provided Hudson's Bay Company with a national-wide presence in the home delivery market in most major cities, the 3PL has also integrated and helped Hudson's Bay to develop a warehouse management and delivery system that interacts in real time with the retailer's front-end retail application.

"TNT has provided high levels of service and is always there during a crisis," says Tremblay.

Stephen Miller, corporate logistics manager for The Manitowoc Company, a heavy equipment manufacturer in Wisconsin, says that UTi Worldwide provides an end-to-end supply chain solution regardless of your needs. They represent everything that a company should be in today's tough logistics market.

"Their can-do attitude and relentless pursuit of a solution, as well as committing time to a project without commitment from the customer is impossible to find in today's logistics marketplace," he says. "Hats off to doing things old school."

Dollar General speaks highly of Expeditors International, which is a business partner for the retailer that has shown it can resolve day-to-day operational problems, whatever emergencies arise.

"They also are proactively improving the tools and processes required to improve visibility and operations of the global supply chain," says Melody Alford, senior manager of global sourcing for Dollar General.

North American Corporation has become an integral arm of Socrates Media LLC. According to Meg Blevins, director of operations, NAC is a full service 3PL providing Socrates Media with traditional distribution and logistics support, but also forecasting and sourcing support.

"Their assistance and support was instrumental in enabling Socrates to achieve 99.5 percent in stock status for 2005-2006," says Blevins.

Charles H. Cook, Director of Regional Transportation for Mohawk Industries, a floor covering company in Glen Burnie, Md., praises Ryder System for its adaptability and quality of course correction.

"Ryder meets our every requirement for proactive communication to be one of most responsible partners," says Cook.

He also nominates U.S. Xpress Dedicated Logistics for its adaptability and synergy of solutions to provide the flexibility of service that his company needs.

But we also received an enormous number of nominations for relatively small 3PLs that offer highly specialized services.

For example, David Norton, lead packaging engineer for Vought Aircraft in Dallas, says that Amtrex Global Logistics has negotiated attractive transportation rates with Vought's preferred carrier base. More importantly, Amtrex has provided state-of-the-art technology solutions known as HALO and Intelliship. "These powerful technologies provide Vought with visibility and tactical execution tools that allow us to easily manage our transportation activities from origin all the way through to proof of delivery and beyond with electronic carrier billing and auditing," says Norton.
He also likes that Amtrex's robust reporting and management decision metrics are available to help Vought drive costs out of the logistics process.

"HALO serves as the information hub regarding the transportation segments throughout the entirety of a supply chain. Intelliship is a multi-carrier, dock-level manifesting system," he says. "Intelliship offers Vought the ability to most economically route shipments, generate bills of lading and carrier labels, reports, manifest, and ship to any point in the world."

The consolidation-oriented 3PL Case-Stack received rave reviews from Matt Luther, international sourcing and distribution manager for Perfetti Van Melle USA in Erlanger, Ky., for its dedicated customer service and flexible schedules.

Steven Fisher, global logistics manager for Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates in Santa Rosa, Calif., is clearly a strong believer in outsourcing logistics to 3PLs. He nominated two for their excellent service.

Fisher explains that Unyson Logistics flawlessly coordinates boxcar shipments for the beverage company.

"They might as well be in the next office, not three time zones away," he says. "They are flexible, communicate well, and have suggested alternative routings for our products that eliminated carrier service problem bottlenecks. They are customer-oriented, friendly and make working together a pleasure."

Fisher also nominates Pacific-American Services (PACAM). Though regional in scope, he says that the 3PL has proved to be a very professional organization that understands Kendall-Jackson's extensive warehousing and transportation needs.

"They have put into action the concept of collaboration," he says. "They adapted their facilities specifically for our needs, and put processes in place to help our operation. Again, working with them is simple--salespeople show they care, operations people have a can-do attitude, and invoices arrive correctly."

Ralph Embree, vice president for Town Car International in Washington, D.C., says that last-mile 3PL NonstopDelivery personalizes and customizes the distribution process to the point that he feels Town Car is their only customer.

"They customize their service around our distribution needs," he says. "Nonstop is strong, knowledgeable and enthusiastic."

For Originals Inc., Deerfield, Ill., a young entrepreneurial company on a rapid growth track, Fidelitone has been a critical component in developing its business. According to Mark Blevins, vice president of operations, Originals is in the business of helping consumer products companies create successful brands and products, and bring them to market with innovative sales techniques. Its business is all about flexibility and quick response to market opportunities.

"Processes, products and customers in our business change rapidly-some times overnight," he says. "In fact we are planning a major system implementation over the next few months. Fidelitone's flexibility, support and can-do attitude has enabled Originals' growth."

Perhaps the most interesting entries we received-and the ones that may gain the most attention from other readers-are testimonials explaining how a partner saved the day when an emergency arose. The majority of these expressions of appreciation were for 3PLs that enjoyed a close relationship with their customers. For example, Carl Stapp, director of contract manufacturing and distribution for CHF Industries, says that Weber Distribution earned his respect when his company had a major disconnect with one of its key customers. "Containers were arriving from our suppliers by the hundreds and nothing was shipping out," he says. "Weber managed this huge unexpected influx of inventory while we worked out the problems with our customer. "Weber then worked closely with us and FedEx. Orders that were supposed to be shipped through distribution warehouses were turned into direct-to-store orders and shipped on time. Weber's size, dedicated team, warehouse management system, and transportation system all came together to help us solve a major logistics problem."

Trucking is the most ubiquitous transportation service for any manufacturer or retailer, so that industry's contributions are often taken for granted. However, we received many nominations for large and small motor carriers from customers that understand the important role they play. For example, Joe McAmis, shipping manager for Tennessee-based Rockford Manufacturing, says that Old Dominion Freight Lines' national LTL service has been exceptional and has been instrumental in helping his company secure long-term relationships with specific customers that have become foundational to his company's success.

For start-up companies that rarely have an internal logistics infrastructure, 3PLs play an especially important role in getting the business off to a good beginning. For example, Jack Weimer, director of systems operations for TranSend International, a start-up company in Mesa, Ariz., says that GlobalWare Solutions has shown that it knows how to get products to customers in the most efficient and cost effective way while handling every detail from packaging requirements, design, and graphics to software version control and delivery.

"Their staff is always easy to contact and eager to assist," says Weimer. "Although our product is still not ready to deliver, I have compete confidence that when TranSend is ready, GlobalWare will get our product to market faster than we could ever imagine."

Among the ranks of 3PLs, we received more nominations from freight forwarders than ever before, perhaps indicating a greater appreciation of the hands-on services that these partners provide.

For example, Mark Cress, shipping supervisor for Misys Healthcare Systems in Raleigh, N.C., says that Airways Freight is the best forwarding, transportation and delivery service he has ever worked with.

"Our system installations are very time sensitive and we need a partner that will take the extra steps to do the job right," says Cress. "Whether it is bringing in a delicate instrument from overseas or delivering a 2,000-pound piece of equipment to a client in a rural location, Airways gets the job done right."

Tim Hulse, parts and customer service manager for Diamond Z Manufacturing, a forestry and construction company in Caldwell, Idaho, explains that he ships freight by air and also by sea.

"We have several customers who really appreciate the service from Transgroup Worldwide Logistics and have requested that they would like all of their shipments to be delivered by them," he says. "We ship replacement parts to several foreign countries, including Japan, Holland and Australia. Our replacement parts are very heavy, but Transgroup is able to make these shipments when no one else can."

A.N. Deringer partners with ZF Boge Elastmetall, an automotive supply company based in Hebron, Ky., to help it achieve its own goals.

"When we need things expedited to keep our lines running, Deringer is only a phone call away," says Charlotte Chambers, materials planner for ZF Boge Elastmetall.

Knowledge Workers
The outsourcing trend extends beyond hands-on logistics activities to providing management insights and knowledge work provided by engineers, auditing companies and a broad range of supply chain consultants.

For example, Craig Tobin, executive vice president for NewRoads, Inc. in Huntersville, N.C., says that Peach State is "an amazing engineering company" that can help from design, implementation and optimization for companies that have B2B or B2C business.

"They have a great management team that is extremely responsive," he says.

We received a number of nominations for freight auditing and transportation consultants that handle bills, tariffs and other administrative aspects of working with carriers.

"Seldom does one have a sincere opportunity to give good reviews for a supplier who truly is a partner," says Al Mazany, corporate traffic and logistics manager for FMC Technologies in Houston. "TransportGistics is such a partner."

He says that this freight auditing company continues to maintain and expand its auditing program efficiency, and has developed additional modules that enabled FMC to stay within the system of TransportGistics (TGI), so his staff does not have to exit to another carrier program to find information on tracing, payment disposition, shipment characteristics and even carrier compliances.

"The need to have multiple carriers' software for information has been reduced significantly with TGI," says Mazany. "TGI just continues on forward by adding newer and more useful tools. They are excellent in the IT department. It is really good working with them."

Even service providers themselves are eager users of knowledge-based consulting services. Frank Sokol, transportation systems implementation manager for Caterpillar Logistics, says that Nulogx provides timely consulting to support the 3PLs evolving transportation and logistics business requirements.

"This support has helped us to transition from reactive administered transportation to an optimized transportation network that provides superior service and reduced costs to our internal and external customers," says Sokol.

And who would know better about a consulting firm's quality better than another consultant that partners with that company-and at one time was a client?

Richard H. Thompson, a partner with Chicago-based Charter Consulting says that he has worked in conjunction with Chainalytics for many years and believes that the firm attracts and retains the leading experts in the area of network optimization, inventory management and transportation management.

Perhaps more compelling, when Thompson was senior vice president of supply chain management for Schreiber Foods, he hired Chainalytics to develop a network strategy/optimization strategy for the $3bn food company and found their help invaluable.

"Chainalytics is a niche firm that is very deep in experience and supply chain expertise," he says.

Bigger Role for Technology
Not surprisingly, the vast number of technology related nominations were for well-known applications that deal with supply chain planning, execution and sourcing. But given the consolidation that has been taking place in this industry, we were pleasantly surprised to see that a significant number of independent, best-of-breed providers received nominations.

For example, Leona Eggleston, purchasing/IT support manager for Bedoukian Research, says that the Danbury, Conn.-based chemical company has been using Smart Software's SmartForecasts solution to forecast demand for finished goods for over 10 years.

"Each new version has upgrades that make the software more flexible while remaining simple to use, thus offering us new opportunities to fine-tune our forecasts," she says.

The solution helps Bedoukian keep its inventory under control while still satisfying customer demand. The SmartForecasts automated forecasting software selects the best forecast method and provides all the data the company needs for a variety of supply chain needs to quickly determine a stocking level without reviewing each product manually. The software also has an intermittent demand feature that specifically handles items that do not sell regularly.

Eggleston explains that the company revises forecasts monthly for over 500 products, but the company does not have a separate department for forecasting and planning.

"Ease of use is essential," she says. "While a forecast is never exact, the accuracy we have obtained with SmartForecasts had helped to reduce inventory and align production scheduling with the majority of customer needs."

Even for companies that depend on a technology infrastructure from one of the very large players, there is a role for specialized offerings.

SkinCeuticals, a Garland, Tex.-based provider of skincare solutions for the professional market in the U.S. and in over 35 countries, runs its business on the Oracle 11i enterprise resource planning system. But to harness the power of this ERP system for its supply chain needs, SkinCeuticals was able to leverage ClearOrbit software "accessories" to increase shipping efficiencies.

According to Timm Elrod, chief operating officer for SkinCeuticals, ClearOrbit provided the company with its Gemini simplified interface suite that enabled SkinCeuticals to double shipping efficiency and reduce warehouse space by fifty percent through application integration of such devices as Intermec handheld RF scanners, Zebra barcode printers, HP laser jet printers, UPS freight rating systems, and SkinCeuticals' fixed station POS scanners and weigh scales.

The ClearOrbit solution taps into SkinCeuticals' Oracle database, but the implementation did not rely on costly custom coding, nor did SkinCeuticals have to create new database structures to link Oracle to the devices its employees and suppliers use in SkinCeuticals' shipping facility.

ClearOrbit provides software extensions to Oracle that serve as a digital bridge between the wide variety of systems and devices SkinCeuticals employs in its worldwide shipping operations, says Elrod. The ClearOrbit Gemini system was implemented at SkinCeuticals ahead of schedule and on budget.

"In addition to tripling SkinCeuticals order processing capacity, the Gemini system has increased lines shipped per day by 35 percent, decreased labor hours by 13 percent, reduced space requirements by 50 percent and improved order accuracy to above 99.5 percent."

While supply chain related software is definitely the most widely appreciated technology, a number of companies aptly understood the importance of the technology that shares data among supply chain partners. For example, Kurt Zweig, senior project manager for JCPenney in Plano, Tex., says that ClearTrack is providing event management capabilities to the retailer that is vital to its success. He explains that ClearTrack is taking in files from JCPenney "that represent our international and domestic moves from suppliers to JCPenney." With this information the ClearTrack Information Network works with each of Penney's 3rd-party affiliates that actually handle the transportation moves to provide alerts to all parties if any shipment is delayed.

"When challenges have arisen because of changes in JCPenney's original plan, ClearTrack has done an outstanding job in helping JCPenney overcome these issues after the initial implementation," says Zweig. "ClearTrack has been very responsive to meeting our needs and have provided excellent support capabilities."

This year, we received more nominations for software and technology services that are specifically directed at global business. For example, Kelly O'Rourke, IT section manager global manufacturing and R&D for National Instruments in Austin, Tex., says that Kewill Solutions has been an excellent supply chain partner to his company. Kewill supplies it with the means to fully automate its export compliance, including export documentation for distribution and the ability to report shipping information by commodity line item.

"Kewill removed an enormous manual burden of referencing government databases as it automates the process of staying current on complex and continually changing compliance rules," he says.

Every NI employee involved in the management of taking and fulfilling customer orders is now compliant with export rules without any effort. An employee enters customer data into the company's Oracle interface. Kewill checks for denied-party lists and embargoed countries and performs export license determination. If the customer data falls in either category, the system flags and prohibits completion of shipments returning that information to the NI employee within the same Oracle interface. Employees empowered by the Kewill software include all departments from sales, order management, warehouse management, and logistics.

"Kewill integrates with our Oracle ERP system to eliminate duplicate efforts for data entry, storage and reporting," says O'Rourke. "Our ability to quickly integrate Kewill's software with Oracle 11i has resulted in significant efficiency and quality gains which directly benefit our customers, our business users of the system and ultimately the bottom line for National Instruments. Kewill has been a great integration partner, and we look forward to continued innovation and success."

This appreciation for technology directed at international business was not limited to software solutions, but also extended to the growing trend for managed services. For example, International Truck and Engine Corporation, a leading producer of mid-range diesel engines, medium trucks, school buses, heavy trucks and severe service vehicles, has outsourced the majority of its U.S. trade operations, including the ongoing management of its NAFTA duty minimization and harmonized tariff schedule (HTS) classification programs for North American operations. Ben Bauman, manager, global logistics and trade compliance for ITEC in Warrenville, Ill., says that the company had managed over 300,000 components and had to classify as many as 5,000 products per month. The task overwhelmed its limited internal resources.

ITEC turned to JPMorgan Chase Vastera, and alleviated the daunting task of having to hire and train 12 new internal global trade employees. By outsourcing, ITEC met and surpassed its trade goals quickly by taking advantage of Vastera's global trade management team that already had experts on site and the systems already in place for use. In addition, ITEC sees a savings of tens of millions of dollars annually as a result of efficient NAFTA qualification.

"ITEC's NAFTA first-time yield numbers have increased from 55 to 95 percent, demonstrating that an outsourcing arrangement can result in great financial benefits," says Bauman.

The role of technology is quickly expanding beyond software to the devices that enable radio frequency identification, optical character recognition and other data collection and management solutions. For example, Alex Kumfert, launch material flow leader for Ford Motor Company's Oakville assembly complex in Ontario, Canada, says that WhereNet provides an outstanding service and support for Ford's design and implementation of a wireless real-time conveyance tracking system critical to the launch of the new Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX this fall.

Given the vast amount of global inventory that moves in containers around the world, technology that speeds the flow of these containers is becoming an integral part of every company's supply chain. Kwang Chen, West Coast IT Manager, APM Terminals, in Los Angeles says APS Technology Group provides unique solutions in a tough marine terminal environment that helps the container industry improve business processes.

We received a surprising number of nominations for specialized software solutions that reflect the ever-increasing trend of doing business over the internet. For example, Greg Tennyson, vice president of global procurement and travel for Oracle Corporation, nominates Aravo Solutions because the company provides an excellent tool to empower suppliers to manage their online catalog content. Aravo allows suppliers to create content, control quality and test file within the buyer's mirrored production environment, and to identify errors and resolve same before the buyer receives the file for hosting.

According to Tennyson, buyers are able to save substantial time. Suppliers are accountable for the quality of their catalog content.

"The ROI just increases with the number of suppliers, amount of transactions and number of catalogs, but from a conservative viewpoint the Aravo tool should return 10 times the investment," says Tennyson.

Conclusion
We thank all of the readers of Global Logistics & Supply Chain Strategies who participated in the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners program for 2006. By voicing your appreciation for the vendors of technology and services that help you achieve your supply chain goals, you not only give them the recognition that they deserve, but you point out to all vendors the qualities that you admire-and expect. That effort helps the entire industry. Thank you again, and we look forward to your participation in next year's 100 Great Supply Chain Partners program.

Click here to view the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners list!

Case Studies:

Agistix's On-demand Solution Gives Maxim Centralized Logistics Control
Baxter Planning Systems Help SGI Profit from Aftermarket Parts
D.W. Morgan Fits Well with Redback Network's Outsourcing Strategies
FORTE Solves Short-Term and Long-Term DC Challenges for Vera Bradley
Kenco Logistics Helps Parksite Build Its Business
Kinaxis Helps Varian Semiconductor Respond Rapidly to Customer Needs
Management Dynamics Wins a Big One for Levi Strauss
MCA Solutions Puts KLA-Tencor Service Supply Chain in the Chips
Servigistics Delivers Next-Generation Service Parts Performance to Sun Microsystems
SmartOps Creates a Model Inventory Plan for Caterpillar
Supply Chain Consultants Grows Process Improvement for Sunsweet Growers
Terra Technology Provides Campbell Soup with a Recipe for Supply Chain Success
TradeBeam Hits a Home Run for Stryker Instruments' Supply Chain
Transplace Constructs an Online Truckload System for USG

Varsity Logistics' Transportation Solution Gives Roland U.S. a Competitive Edge

Methodology for the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners
The list accompanying this report is based entirely on the entries voluntarily submitted by readers of Global Logistics & Supply Chain Strategies and users of its sister web site, SupplyChainBrain.com, where the official nomination form has been posted since the early spring. Over the last few months, many GL&SCS readers received e-mails asking them to participate and directing them to the form. Other readers and users of the web site independently found a link to the official nomination form on the home page of SupplyChainBrain.com.

Nominations could only be made using the official web-enabled form that required nominators to identify themselves, their position, their company, their e-mail address and a phone number where they could be reached to verify their responses. For their nomination to be counted, the participants had to provide adequate identifying information to verify their identify and their legitimate role in the industry. Nominations from participants selecting their own companies or closely allied entities were disqualified, as were multiple nominations from the same customer company.

Participants could nominate up to three companies and could support their nomination with as much or as little commentary as they wished. To provide more in-depth information for this report, some nominators were interviewed after they submitted their completed forms. We received over 2,000 qualified responses nominating over 450 different companies. The final list presented here includes the 100 companies that received the most nominations. In the case of ties, the nominations with the most detailed justification were selected.