When starting a blog, it is important to decide first what category or field you want your blog site to be about. Let us say for example, you want your site to be all about the latest gadgets and technologies. Actually, that will not be a bad idea since the technology is what everyone waits for. Since everyone wants to be updated in every new gadget that becomes trending in the public, writing blogs about technology will not be a bad idea after all. A good idea would be writing about the latest innovations, possible things that can be invented, and innovations that inventors are currently working on.
Starting a blog is not as easy as it looks like. Before you can actually go to the site where you want to start writing, you have to make a thorough planning. Some plans may include designing your preferred layout from a scratch and figuring out how you will make your design possible in terms of HTML codes or mixing colors. Although you can actually pay people to create designs for you, it is still better if you do it yourself so you can attain what you really want your blog site to look like.
Inspiration Will Keep You Motivated To Endlessly Create A Blog!
There are many things around us that can serve as your inspiration. Researching can be one hard task but at the same time, it is fun for a passionate person – a person that has passion for writing articles and exposing them to the public as a blog. In order for you to create a blog, you will need to possess skills and passion. How important are these two?
Why do you need to have passion in writing? Why is passion so important in order for you to create a blog? Well, it is simply because if you have passion in writing, your mind is set that you are born to write. If so, this kind of mentality will keep you interested and motivated in everything you do or write. Including research, you will never feel tired when researching about things that you are not even interested in.
Talent or skills are required as well. Why? How can you be passionate about something you are not good at? It is very simple to write but it takes talent or skills to write about something really good and to talk to people in an engaging way or in a way that people will be invited and convinced. Some great ideas for beginning bloggers can be found here.
There is no known evidence that snoring is hereditary; a number of people start snoring as they get older. Gaining extra weight could also cause snoring; regular exercises are important to keep neck muscles toned to prevent snoring. Colds, flu and other allergies could create temporal snoring. Most people who snore may wake up frequently in the night due to thirst caused by a dry mouth as the airways get obstructed forcing them to breathe through the mouth. Nose strips used could fall out resulting to snoring; a number of snoring mouthpiece reviews given recommended this piece because it is comfortable to use and it remains in position all night long.
A family member who smokes and abuses alcohol could keep home residents awake due to their loud snoring. A snoring mouthpiece will eradicate this problem immediately; you need to talk to this person gently so that they can use this piece. Snoring can occur to everyone due to several factors; it is important to obtain professional help if you wake up frequently in the night with a racing heartbeat. Using a snoring mouthpiece will ensure a good night rest as recommended by those who have written mouthpiece reviews.
A Study On The Best Snoring Pillow
Snoring is the worst nightmare that happens to some people. This could cause problems in families where one person is giving another a hell of time while they are asleep. This matter is far detrimental to even marriages where some could even separate because one spouse snores all night and the other is irritated not to sleep. A snoring pillow would be helpful in such situations as it not only reduces this disorder but could eventually eliminate it. It supports the head and neck in a good position to keep the nasal passages open because its obstruction by either relaxing of jaws or tongue would make one to snore.
Which is the best snoring pillow? The best choice of this item should be based on its efficiency and effectiveness. A good one should be augmented to fit the head and neck and hold them in an elevating manner to keep nasal passages open to allow free flow of air in and out of the body. Foam material should be the most effective as it gives extra comfort to the user. Above all, the right item of this kind should be able to give other advantages like reducing back pains and also headaches as one relaxes comfortably on them.
Warehouse-management systems make cross docking possible. But in most cases, these packages require customization to do the job.
Cross-docking has become the rage in retailing and other industries as companies seek to convert their warehouses from storage facilities to flow-through distribution centers. What’s the attraction of cross-docking – the practice of breaking out individual lots from an inbound shipment and reassigning them to another shipment for outbound delivery? The technique saves both time and money. Businesses find that cross-docking allows them to reduce inventory and get product into the hands of customers and consumers quickly.
Successful cross-docking, however, requires sophisticated information technology. It’s important to manage the flow of information as adeptly as the flow of cartons. Each carton or pallet from an incoming truck must be accurately identified at receipt, allocated instantaneously to a purchase order, and then routed to an outbound door for delivery.
If done properly, units are never placed in storage or left waiting in a staging area. “Cross-docking sounds fundamentally simple,” says Ken Walker, a consultant with Kurt Salmon Associates in Atlanta. “But it’s more information-intensive than facility-intensive if executed well.”
What does a company interested in cross-docking need in the way of information technology? Most warehouse-management systems (WMS) packages on the market claim to offer a module to facilitate the practice. But many WMS packages fail to make the grade. As Moe Trebuchon in the Systecon division of the Atlanta-based consulting firm Coopers and Lybrand notes: “Not all packages have what it takes for cross-docking.”
Smart software buyers, therefore, will investigate the features of any WMS package under consideration. They should keep in mind that off-the-shelf packages do not yet exist to enable high-volume cross-docking. True flow-through receiving and shipping requires software customization, especially if the warehouse uses automated materials-handling equipment. “Each package has its own pros and cons, and will require some kind of retrofitting or customization,” warns Jim Seber of Seber Logistics Consulting Inc. in North Brunswick, N.J.
Getting a Custom Fit
When it comes to purchasing software for cross-docking, a manager first must give some thought to the degree of flow-through replenishment required for the facility. Cross-docking, after all, can assume many forms. In its simplest form, a worker operating a pallet jack removes a load from an inbound trailer and then hauls it across the warehouse floor to the out-bound trailer on the shipping dock.
More complex versions of cross-docking use automated materials-handling equipment to mix and match hundreds of boxes at a time. “The way Wal-Mart cross-docks is different from the way a specialty store does it,” notes Michael Wagner, a manager with Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group.
As a fundamental requirement for cross-docking, any WMS package has to have some type of inbound-scheduling capability that can note the arrival of inbound goods and then assign those goods to meet outbound orders. “You need the ability to pre-allocate incoming receipts to outbound demand,” explains Trebuchon. If it has that ability, a WMS package can facilitate what’s known as “opportunistic cross-docking.” This means the software can separate the load into lots and designate those lots for an order. “Material that’s received will be directed to the staging area [for consolidation into outbound trailer loads] instead of storage,” explains Ron Reimink, manager of marketing and sales for Ann Arbor Computer, a WMS software maker.
But cross-docking in its most complex form eliminates the need for a staging area, where some product waits a short period for remaining product required to fill an order. Flow-through receiving and shipping, as it’s known, requires automated materials-handling equipment such as sortation conveyors. “In the mechanized environment, you can be almost certain that any WMS package would have to be tweaked to handle communications with the sortation controller,” says John M. Hill, a consultant with Cypress Associates in Watsonville, Calif.
Unlike, say, word-processing software, whose packages now come standard with a module for printer configuration, WMS packages cannot be “flag-driven” to suit the individual designs for automated cross-docking. “Few packages interface with the automation,” says Wagner, “so companies must buy the WMS package and then modify it to work with the materials-handling equipment.”
That equipment usually is controlled by special software called Warehouse Control Systems (WCS). In particular, this software governs the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that direct carton flows along conveyor paths to specific shipping docks. “What the WMS typically does is the planning,” says Wagner, “while the WCS executes the plan.”
Because up-to-the-minute records on inventory are required, the communication between WMS and WCS must be instantaneous or in real time. Wagner notes that the typical integration with materials-handling systems has been batch-oriented, processing information in lots at specific intervals. The higher-end packages tend to be real time, he explains. As the materials-handling system makes a change to the inventory, the WCS tells the WMS that a change has been made.
Costly Code Changes
Because each WMS product must be tailored to a specific materials-handling operation, automation of cross-docking operations requires extensive modification of the underlying software code. As a result, the software vendor, a systems integrator, or consultant must be retained to make code changes in the program. “This is complex software,” explains Thomas Ryan, research director in the integrated logistics strategies services at Gartner Group, “WMS programs have 100,000 to 200,000 lines of ‘C’ code.”
Wagner reports that customization can be handled in one of three ways. If it’s simple, the vendor may be paid extra to do the modifications. But because the software business is booming, vendors often lack the resources to handle the job. In this case, the vendor hires a consulting firm for the software deployment and oversees the project installation or outsources the entire project to a consulting firm.
Not surprisingly, this customization jacks up project costs. If a company is willing to change its warehousing practices to accommodate the operational restraints imposed by a software package, Wagner says, it might only have to pay between $100,000 and $1 million for a cross-dock solution. But companies seeking real-time inventory control and operating complex materials-handling systems should be prepared to spend anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million for the software package and the concomitant integration with existing computer systems. “You pay more for customization,” says Wagner. “But you get it the way you want it.”
Wagner adds that companies also should be aware that the amount and type of materials-handling equipment can complicate the task of installing software for cross-docking. The more materials-handling equipment you have, he notes, the tougher it will be to implement a WMS system.
In part because of the cost and extra work required for implementation, cross-dock functionality has not been a standard feature in WMS packages. But that’s changing fast, say those in the software business. “Rarely in the past did [cross-dock functionality] show up on a [request for a proposal],” says Jim Coker, a vice president at WMS software maker Acacia Technologies. “But I’m starting to see more of it as a requirement. In the near future, it will become a minimal business requirement.”
After evaluating a host of documents and interviews, I believe there are two important lessons that shippers of dangerous goods should learn from this unfortunate incident. Although in that case the shipper was an aircraft-repair facility, the lessons can apply to everyone.
First, all companies should pay much greater attention to the OSHA provisions on hazard communication and to the more recent obligation under 29 CFR 1910.1201 to maintain Department of Transportation-mandated labeling on packages that come into the workplace bearing DOT warnings. Several years ago, after a disastrous explosion in a truck trailer parked at a construction site, investigators found that DOT “Explosives” placards had been on the trailer when it was delivered but had been removed because the trailer no longer was used in transportation.
That led to a congressionally mandated change at OSHA, compelling anyone receiving packages with DOT warning labels or placards on them to maintain the warnings that were affixed to those packages when they were delivered. Even if the incoming materials no longer are in transportation, the receiving employer is obligated to maintain the DOT warnings or replace them with equivalent OSHA hazard-communication warnings.
At too many distribution, maintenance, service, and similar facilities that receive DOT-labeled cartons of hazardous materials, employees immediately discard the outer packaging and place the hazardous parts on a shelf, from which they are consumed or reshipped one at a time. If the DOT warnings or OSHA hazard-communication warnings are not maintained on individual units while they are in storage, the employee who later reships one of those units cannot tell by looking at it that it is DOT-regulated. As a result, the units may end up being shipped without a hazard declaration. Meeting OSHA’s mandate to keep hazard warnings on packages after receipt will minimize the probability of incurring such a serious DOT violation.
The second major lesson is that many individuals who have not previously been identified within their organizations as “hazmat employees” – and therefore have not been certified as having been trained and tested under the DOT hazmat rules – are in fact offering DOT-regulated hazardous materials for transportation. This problem is more common than you may think: The majority of the cases now being pursued by the Federal Aviation Administration against shippers of undeclared hazardous materials involve violations by non-transportation types, including mechanics; service representatives; and sales, R&D, and secretarial staff.
In my view, any employee authorized to use a company account to ship products by FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, or other express carriers must be considered a hazmat employee and therefore must receive appropriate training, unless the company has put a mechanism in place to limit his or her actions. A brief hazmat-awareness session for all employees, while not guaranteeing compliance, at least can reduce the potential for a non-transportation person to ship hazardous materials in
ignorance. I usually recommend that a short awareness session be included in general orientation training for all new hires and that it be associated with OSHA hazard-communication training concerning employees’ awareness of the OSHA provisions in 29 CFR 1910.1200 and .1201. Limiting employees’ access to express carriers and the Postal Service also helps.
If preventive measures like these result in the avoidance of even one FAA penalty or – worse yet – a hazmat incident, your company will be far ahead of the game.
Contrary to what some bargainers think, private talks are a necessary part of negotiation. Off-the-record talks often are the rule, not the exception. They bridge the gap between what is wanted and what is possible. Not everything that must be said can be said at the table. A good negotiator knows that.
The North Vietnamese and American peace-talk delegations met but once a week in Paris. The sessions were vitriolic. Yet, not far away, our top negotiator attended tea after tea with their top negotiator. The teas were cordial, even while the delegations were shouting at one another at the table. Formal discussion often serves a public or propaganda role. Off-the record talks permit things to be said that give both sides a glimpse of the real issues and problems. Such discussions best set the stage for later compromises.
In her 10-year labor-relations study, Ann Douglas discovered that formal meetings in the last phase of labor bargaining were shorter, caucuses longer, and private talks frequent. Business negotiations are no different. It’s good to have a drinking buddy throughout negotiations. At the last stage, it’s almost essential.
Social or off-the-record discussions are a form of legitimate communication between buyer and seller. In an informal setting, they can let their hair down and discuss problems person to person. They can gripe about constraints imposed by unreasonable people back home. They can share those things that unite humans no matter what their cause – children, spouses, and high taxes. These discussions act as a safety valve. They permit problems to be solved, assumptions to be tested, and assessments of integrity to be made under non-structured conditions.
Off-the-record discussions serve another function not always recognized. They permit the informal and unofficial leaders of a negotiation to express themselves on a sub-rosa basis. For example, it is common procedure to designate the buyer as official leader of the purchasing team, but often it is the engineer who really leads the team because he or she has superior product knowledge and may, in some cases, know more about negotiating as well. Off-the record discussions on a person-to-person
basis permit these realities to surface without disturbing formal status relationships.
Informal talks are mandatory when official positions have hardened and deadlock is imminent. Though it may be difficult to say anything conciliatory at the table, a few well-chosen words after dinner can indicate unofficial willingness to compromise. A series of social meetings may be necessary to elaborate on details so that public and private positions on both sides can be coordinated without loss of face.
The effective negotiator knows how important off-the-record negotiations are. However, like almost everything, there are two sides to these sessions. The dangers should be understood and precautions taken as follows:
* Be wary of confessional sessions. They may be one-sided. You can easily give away more than you get back.
* Drinking-buddy setups are common, especially if one party can control his liquor better than most.
* Informal discussions may be used to present false pictures. It is easier to plant phony information in an informal setting because people lower their guard.
* Some negotiators have an intense need to be loved. They become generous in a “loving” social climate.
* People with “little-shot” complexes exhibit greater deference in a social setting than under formal conditions.
A study of how businesses are using third-party logistics services and whether they are satisfied with them indicates that outsourcing continues to gain ground, albeit slowly, and that most users are satisfied with the service they are receiving.
The study, conducted by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Logistics Research through a grant from Exel Logistics, is the second in what is expected to become an annual series of surveys. The author of the study, UT Professor of Logistics and Transportation C. John Langley, presented the results at the Council of Logistics Management’s annual conference in Chicago earlier this month.
The results of the study show that 73 percent of respondents in the five industries examined (automotive, chemicals, computers and peripherals, consumer products, and medical supplies and devices) are using third-party logistics services or considering using them for at least some functions [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]. That’s up only one percentage point from the 1996 study. In certain industries, however, the gains are more dramatic. For instance, 87.5 percent of the respondents from consumer-products firms said they were using or were considering using third-party services. That’s up from 74.6 percent a year earlier. On the other hand, respondents from medical-supplies firms showed a drop in third-party use, to 56.8 percent from 63.6 percent in 1996.
What bodes well for the third-party industry is that 89 percent of third-party users said they expected to maintain or increase the use of those services. That’s up from 81 percent in 1996. And those that do use third parties spread the wealth: Respondents said that on average they used 14 providers of third-party services.
The functions they outsource will be familiar to most logistics managers. Freight-bill auditing and payment was the most frequently outsourced activity, used by 63.8 percent of the respondents that already use third parties. That’s followed by outbound transportation (58.8 percent), warehousing (58.1 percent), inbound transportation (43.8 percent), and freight consolidation and distribution (42.5 percent).
Most buyers of third-party services choose their providers through a formal bid process. Seventy-five percent said they used the bid process to develop a short list and then negotiated with a limited number of providers. Another 15 percent chose a provider through the bid process, while the balance of those using third parties negotiated with a single supplier on a sole-source basis.
As for compensation, transaction-based fees are most common, used by 64.4 percent of third-party users. Slightly more than half also said they used flat-rate pricing. Only 21.9 percent cited cost-plus payments, and just 16.8 percent said they based compensation on a percentage of savings.
Overall, users of third-party services were satisfied with their providers’ performance, with 83.3 percent indicating that their outsourcing efforts were either extremely or somewhat successful [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2 OMITTED]. Only a single respondent replied that efforts had been extremely unsuccessful.
That’s not to say that third-party relationships are without problems. More than one-third (36.9 percent) of respondents said that service-level commitments had not been realized. In addition, 31.8 percent reported that the quality of third-party employees did not live up to expectations.
Respondents who do not use third parties most frequently cited loss of control as their reason for not using them. The second-most common factor cited was the concern that using third parties would lead to increased costs.
Yet shippers that actually use third-party services apparently do not share those fears. Although more than half of the users said they regarded logistics as a core competency of their firms and 80 percent said they believed logistics provided a key competitive advantage, they still were willing to outsource some of those activities. Langley concludes, “While this issue also may have much to do with how one defines core competency, the study results document the fact that many firms [that] use third-party logistics services also view logistics as an area of strategic and competitive advantage.
Bud Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has talked for years about taking the Highway Trust Fund off-budget and increasing spending on the nation’s highways by billions of dollars. Late last month, though, the Republican from Pennsylvania found his way barred by an agreement between Congress and the White House to balance the federal budget.
In September, the House Subcommittee on Surface Transportation had unanimously approved Shuster’s plan for a three-year spending bill, which would have authorized $102 billion for highway and transit programs. But when Shuster scheduled a “markup” – a vote by a full committee approving the bill for the entire House’s consideration – the House Republican leadership pressed committee members to back off. Bowing to that pressure, the full committee instead proposed a six-month extension of the current highway bill, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). The full House adopted that proposal on Oct. 1.
At the center of the disagreement between Shuster and Republican House leaders is how to handle income in the Highway Trust Fund. Although on paper, the trust fund annually accumulates large surpluses, those funds in fact have been used to reduce the federal deficit. That makes the Highway Trust Fund and similar programs an essential part of the balanced-budget deal that Congress and the Clinton administration hammered out earlier this year.
Shuster’s bill would have taken the funds off-budget and used them to increase spending on infrastructure projects. The House leadership feared that if Shuster were allowed to present his committee’s costly three-year plan to the full House, other committee chairmen would follow his lead and introduce expensive spending projects. That could very well cause the entire budget agreement to collapse.
The six-month extension approved by the House buys Shuster some time. He apparently hopes that by delaying action now, he can wait until a strong economy boosts highway receipts beyond the estimates used in forging the balanced-budget agreement. That would give his committee room to push for greater spending on highway projects.
And push it will: After abandoning its original three-year bill, the committee now has endorsed a six-year bill called the Building Efficient Surface Transportation and Equity Act, or BESTEA, which would authorize $218 billion in spending. To prevent the full House from taking control of it, the committee has not yet formally adopted the six-year plan. The committee plans to introduce BESTEA in the spring, when the six-month ISTEA extension expires.
Senate Bill Advanced
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, meanwhile, has forwarded its own bill to the full chamber. That proposal would authorize $145 billion in highway and transit spending over six years – $73 billion less than BESTEA. The Senate was expected to act on that bill early this month, after ISTEA expired on Sept. 30.
Passage of the Senate bill is far from certain, though. One key issue is the proposal’s formula for allocating funding to individual states. Legislators from so-called donor states – those whose drivers pay more in fuel taxes than the state receives back from the government in highway funds – have pushed hard for a formula that assures their states would get most of that money back. But opponents scoff at the donor-state argument, saying that it ignores total federal taxation and spending, which often makes net donors of the states that appear to benefit most from highway spending.
Under the current Senate committee proposal, a number of states would lose funding they enjoyed under ISTEA. Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, called it “an outrageous and unfair proposal that would devastate Massachusetts and the important ongoing transportation projects in our state. … This is a raid on Massachusetts by other states, and I am determined that it will not succeed.” Other senators whose states would lose funds under the proposal are likely to join forces with Kennedy.
If the Senate manages to approve its bill rather than agreeing to the extension, the next step would be to reconcile the two versions in a conference committee. At press time, it appeared unlikely that the House and Senate would reach agreement before Congress adjourns, probably in early November.
In fact, House transportation committee members are not expected to meet with their Senate counterparts, even if the Senate should pass the six-year bill. Not only is the committee chairman opposed to the Senate’s lower spending proposal, but he also wants to control the process and protect his committee’s own six-year plan. A Shuster spokesman was blunt. “It’s our turn to call a conference,” he said. “If the Senate passes a six-year bill, there will be no conference.”
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is betting that BESTEA will have better prospects of passage in the spring than its previous proposal. The committee insists that the six-year spending plan is consistent with the budget agreement because it would increase funding for transportation only if there are offsetting revenue increases and budget targets are being met.
But Shuster’s chances of winning approval for the level of spending his committee seeks and for taking the highway funds off-budget appear slim. Says Kathy Luhn, director of government affairs for the National Industrial Transportation League, “We agree that the highway funds should be off-budget, but it’s not going to happen.” Still, she commended Shuster for his efforts. “He stuck to his guns,” she says, “but political reality is against him.”