Apparel is as Perishable as Avocados

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on January 24, 2018

Who knew? Avocados are one of the most complex products to ship internationally. They do not ripen on the tree, but once harvested they need to be handled with great care. Handlers delay the softening process by pre-cooling the fruit immediately after picking. Then during transportation, they need to be stored at optimal temperatures and shipped expeditiously so the cargo is at the desired stage of ripeness upon reaching destination. Who cares, though? Last year, the industry was buzzing about the first practical application of blockchain technology and avocados were the test product. Maersk, the global shipping giant, is expected to announce it is using IBM’s version of the blockchain to track the avocados, flowers, and machine parts it carries on its enormous cargo ships. The highly-sensitive, speed-critical product —  the avocado — was at the center of the Maersk/IBM blockchain initiative, and an example of how this technology can be used to share traceability data to benefit global supply chains.

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Topics: Apparel, Production Management, Production Tracking, Material Order Visibility

Controlling Shipping Costs via Multi-Modal Freight Rate Visibility

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on January 15, 2018

Amber_Road_Multi_Modal_Transportation_Mangagement.pngThe Amazon disruptive effect has put an ever-growing strain on supply chain professionals to ensure inventory availability across a broader network of distribution points, along with the capabilities to get product to the consumer in days - if not less. This weight bears down on every step of the shipment process to ensure reliability and accuracy. Smart logisticians are properly orchestrating the fastest and cheapest means of moving goods from factory to consumer. But it isn’t simple....

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Topics: Invoice Management, Contract & Rate Management, Carrier Selection & Booking

Global Trade Recap: While You Were Away…

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on January 4, 2018


The elongated holiday break gave most people a chance to relax, but for most, that means you have some catching-up to do. Here is a quick recap of some top global trade news stories that emerged in the final weeks of 2017 while you were away from the small screen...



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Topics: Global Trade Content, Global Trade Management

Product Testing Keeps Santa from Going Up In Flames

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on December 18, 2017

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…

I have everything in place for a wonderful morning of holiday gift-giving and memories to be made.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

So I settle down with a mug of warm cocoa, light the log in the fireplace, and unwind from the hustle and bustle of the holiday.   

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Topics: Product Testing, Risk and Quality Management, Quality Control Inspection

Fast Isn’t the Only Factor in Product Lifecycle Management...

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on December 12, 2017

One of the biggest industry buzzwords over the past year has been “fast fashion,” as companies race each other to bring goods to market faster and faster. Originating in the fashion sphere, the concept has caught on like wildfire and spread to other industries. Companies are taking a closer look at their internal tools and procedures, seeking areas of the product lifecycle where time can be saved and speed-to-market accelerated.

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Topics: Apparel, Global Supply Chain, Production Management

And Then There Were 11: the TPP Moves on Without the US

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on November 17, 2017

It was a busy Saturday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit as trade ministers from 11 countries announced an agreement to push ahead with a trade deal whose destiny was uncertain after President Donald Trump dropped out a few months ago. Despite the US decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact to pursue an ‘America First’ protectionist trade agenda, the remaining 11 countries came away with a blueprint to start trading more freely between themselves in a resurrected form of the TPP deal. 

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Topics: Duty Management, Global Trade Management, Free Trade Agreements

A Step in the Right Direction: Tariff Reductions Ahead

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on November 8, 2017

Instead of a trick this Halloween, the footwear industry got a big treat as the US Congress put its best foot forward to provide duty-free access for some footwear products through the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. As part of the proposed GSP Footwear Act of 2017, outdoor footwear, low-cost rubber sole shoes with textile uppers, and slippers could be considered for duty-free savings. In particular, imports of protective active footwear, like certain hiking, trekking and running shoes could see the elimination of existing duties which are as high as 20%. If approved, the industry gains an estimated $57 million per year in duty savings. Certain footwear not produced domestically would be eligible to be added to GSP for the first time since the program was enacted over 40 years ago.

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Topics: Duty Management

Plastic Lions, Tigers, and Bears - OH MY!

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on November 6, 2017

There’s a slew of new regulatory requirements on the horizon that will keep production and supply chain managers up at night on how to effectively manage them.

It isn’t often that government agencies reduce the burden on manufacturers, but during an October 18th meeting the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) altered the current ruling requiring third-party testing of seven plastics sometimes found in children’s toys and child care products. 

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Topics: Product Testing, Risk and Quality Management

Voluntary vs. Mandatory Product Safety

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on November 1, 2017

A few weeks ago, I attended a meeting in the DC area conducted by various organizations focused on product safety testing as a critical function of product commercialization and sale. A primary topic centered around the development and implementation of voluntary product testing standards. Regulatory standards exist, like the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), California Prop 65, EU REACH and CE programs, China GB and others. However, companies and organizations are working to build standards before they become a law, as a means of self-policing. 

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Topics: Product Testing

Make No Mistake, Denied Party Screening & Sanctions Apply to Embassies Too

Posted by Gary M. Barraco on October 12, 2017

It’s always hot news when Amazon is referenced in a story, but this time the online retail marketplace giant is in hot water. In August 2017, the media reported that the US Securities and Exchange Commission filed an investigation into the company’s processing and delivery of thousands of dollars worth of orders of consumer products, (including jewelry, home and kitchen appliances and musical instruments), to individuals and entities connected with Iran. Amazon is being investigated for delivering orders to an Iranian embassy, as well as to an individual who may have committed, threatened to commit or supported terrorism.

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Topics: Export Compliance, Restricted Party Screening

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