Our second annual survey of material handling practices, conducted after the Sept. 11 tragedy, shows mixed results. The bad news is that for the most part, operations execs continue to stick to the tried and true. They rarely experiment with innovative technology or equipment, ascribe only moderate importance to measuring customer satisfaction, and frequently fall short of meeting order shipment targets. But the good news is that so many companies are forging ahead with business as usual in the face of a daunting economic climate. Response to the study was unexpectedly vigorous, and many firms in the sample have begun to pay attention to indicators that they may have ignored in happier times. For example, measuring internal performance, third on the list of most important issues last year, is now number one — a sign that self-assessment may well be the trick to waiting out the current fiscal doldrums.
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