Coming Soon 2005

We’re less than halfway through 2004, but it’s never too soon to think about operational must-haves for next year. Released just in time to help you allocate your 2005 resources are a slew of research reports on warehousing trends, what’s au courant in distribution center equipment, and new technology that you should be planning to install.

From the Warehousing Education and Research Council comes “Warehousing: The Evolution Continues,” a study of how warehouses have changed between 1997 and 2003 and what those changes portend for the future. The bottom line is that you must be prepared to do it all: “Modern warehouses are expected to handle over 99% of all transactions perfectly and react immediately to special requests,” according to the report. Expanded duties that warehouses are taking on include import/export processing, cross-docking and delivery, and industry-specific functions, especially in the high-tech, electronics, and aerospace sectors.

If you haven’t looked at a world map lately, check one out now! The commotion over offshore outsourcing (see “Letters to the Editor,” p. 8) masks the steady — and profitable — globalization of American business that has been going on for years, particularly among third-party logistics companies. In a new report, “3PLs Seek Growth in Global Supply Chains,” Forrester Research Inc. makes a persuasive case for 3PLs building a fulfillment infrastructure (think supply chain visibility software) that can manage the exploding growth in India, China, and Eastern Europe — all of which are attractive emerging markets for U.S. companies.

As for implementing radio frequency identification, it’s no longer a question of if but when, where, and how much. Forrester offers a comprehensive overview of the technology in its report “What You Need to Know About RFID in 2004,” as well as a take on consumer privacy concerns in “Retailers Need an RFID Code of Conduct.” Aberdeen Group’s new report on the topic goes a step beyond compliance issues, focusing on RFID’s long-term benefits and providing a framework to help you decide which areas of your facility would benefit most from the technology (see “Short Takes,” p. 10).

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