It may be mid-summer, but the fall shipping season begins in earnest any time now. In fact, for many businesses, it is already under way. Some reports suggest it could be a sluggish autumn, but it's hard to tell where we're headed when political noise seems to drown out just about any real news and the spin-doctors demonstrate uncanny ability to twist facts into unrecognizable shapes and make opaque even what should be simple and clear.
Speaking of politics, Congress finally got around to adopting a highway bill that has much that is good in it, much that is missing—such as how to pay for it all—and much that is disappointing. Senior Editor Mark Solomon looks at how the bill unfolded in his news story on the subject, and columnist Cliff Lynch gives his initial reaction to the law in his latest FastLane column. You have to admire Cliff's tenacity: He read through the bill to see what was really there. I suspect that's more than most members of Congress have done.
And speaking of rough roads, our Thought Leader this month, Brig. Gen. Kristin K. French, has possibly one of the most daunting jobs in logistics imaginable. She is the commanding general of the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), which provides "theater logistics command and control for the theater commander" in Afghanistan. What that means, in short, is that she and her organization must ensure any goods for U.S. and allied forces moving through that troubled country get to where they're needed on time and intact. Not a job to envy. Her interview with Editor at Large Steve Geary is well worth a read.
We've got plenty of more utilitarian stuff for readers as well. Senior Editor Toby Gooley does her usual extraordinary job of making interesting what in a lesser writer's hands would seem mundane and provides useful tips for DC managers in her piece on battery recycling. I talked to some experts on DC retrofits to gather tips on how to prepare for and execute what can be a very disruptive exercise and also took a look at how home furnishings giant Ikea planned ahead for the expansion of two of its DCs.
Senior Editor Dave Maloney looks at the deployment of voice technology to oversee picking in The Container Store's DC. Dave also gives us a look at some of the attributes that make Ohio one of the centers of gravity for logistics operations in the United States. This is the first of what will be an occasional series on regional logistics hubs.
Our technology savant James Cooke gathers a few tips that might make your next systems integration project a bit simpler.
I think we're offering readers a pretty good package both in print and online. As always, let us know what you think and share your ideas on how we can do a better job.