With all of the changes that Osram Sylvania Products Inc. has undergone in the last 40 years, it's no surprise that the company would have built up a veritable army of logistics providers around the world.
The well-known maker of lighting products has had several ownership changes over the years. GTE bought Sylvania, originally established nearly 100 years ago to serve the market for replacement fluorescent tubes, in 1958. Germany's Osram, a subsidiary of Siemens, took Sylvania off GTE's hands in 1993, getting a company with a greatly expanded product line from its distant origins.
In the process, Osram Sylvania had acquired a roster of more than 125 freight forwarders and customs brokers in the United States alone, according to Bill Rooney, international traffic manager at the glass division in Exeter, N.H. Toward the last half of the 1990s, the company began to view that setup as inconsistent with the goal of establishing an efficient global supply chain. Many of its service providers were small mom-and-pop shops, Rooney said, better suited for niche markets located close to manufacturing points.
In 1996, Osram Sylvania launched an intensive search for a single provider to handle as much of its business as possible. But it was pulled up short by many of the larger forwarding and brokerage houses, who were eliminated from contention one by one because they lacked the ability to function in multiple markets. Said Rooney: "There was a lot of fluff, and no stuff."
Making the search even more difficult was the still-undefined nature of Osram Sylvania's needs. To a large extent, they would end up being shaped by the abilities of the chosen provider. Rooney said the company wasn't even sure it would find a truly global partner, and that its original ambitions didn't necessarily lie in that direction anyway. "Initially we were doing it to improve what we had in the states," he said.
|BDP sent its own personnel to the Osram Sylvania factory in China to set up
standard operating procedures for shipment processing.
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