Sep 01, 2006 9:30 PM  By

The DCs of Madison County

The novel The Bridges of Madison County may have put Madison County, IA, on the map, but Madison County, IL, is gaining attention for being a hotbed for distribution centers. Just east of St. Louis, the county is home to the Gateway Commerce Center, a $250 million, 7.5 million-sq.-ft DC. Another facility, owned by Panattoni Development Co., is under development on a 600-acre site a few miles away near Edwardsville, IL. Clayco, which has built facilities for Coldwater Creek and Touch of Class, has a DC in the works in nearby Dupo, IL. What’s the draw? Illinois has relatively inexpensive land and affordable real estate taxes. Madison County, with access to four major Interstates and three major rivers, is within a day’s drive of 60% of the U.S. population. Just don’t look for the covered bridges.

Survey unveils facility standards

A survey of 100 retail and related companies by Raleigh, NC-based supply chain consultancy Tompkins Associates reveals some interesting facts about distribution center operations and configuration, as well as best practices.

For instance, 63% of all products are still stored by way of floor bulk and single-deep pallet racks; 43% of the businesses have moved to highly automated operations, while only 14% remain highly manual; 46% of cross-dock labeling is done by suppliers; 55% of inbound orders are planned against advanced shipping notices; and 60% of operations have a sorter to support either picking or shipping.

Overall, the survey found that customer demand, technology leaps, product mix, transportation costs, and even management styles drive changes in distribution centers.

New LCL service from China

APL Logistics and Conway Freight have launched OceanGuaranteedSM, a service providing less-than-container-load (LCL) shipments from China to the U.S. The program will provide “port to door” guaranteed service from Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Shenzhen to all continental U.S. destinations served by Con-way. Pricing will be calculated on a per-kilo rate, based on delivery from the Chinese ports to 11 delivery zones in the U.S.