Today’s Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ
United Technologies Corp. has spent billions to get back into the commercial jet engine market, but it can’t get the parts delivered on time. Executives at the Pratt & Whitney engine business are trying to repair supply chain problems that have delayed deliveries of new engines and undercut the company’s ability to scale up engine production, the WSJ’s Ted Mann reports. The supplier problems are a testament to the complexity of the aircraft engines themselves. United Technologies Chief Executive Gregory Hayes estimates roughly half of the suppliers for its new “geared turbofan” engines aren’t delivering parts and materials at expected levels. That’s a critical hit to a production strategy that calls for 80% of the parts to be produced by other entities and then shipped to Pratt for assembly. Pratt has enlisted duplicate makers for many of the parts to avoid interruptions, but for now the company is trying to fix a problem across its entire supply chain and do it on the fly.
Ralph Lauren Corp. wants to fashion an apparel supply chain that looks beyond the department store. Still the gold standard for the country-club set, the venerable brand is trying to adjust to the seismic shifts in retailing that have left sales stagnant and profits plummeting. And 41-year-old Chief Executive Stefan Larsson suggests the structure of the operations is just as important as the cut of the clothing. Mr. Larsson tells the WSJ’s Suzanne Kapner that the company is undertaking a kind of retailing version of a capacity reduction, cutting back its own store footprint by 10% and reducing shipments to department stores. That’s aimed at building some scarcity into its product lines so that more goods are sold at full price rather than through the discounts that guide sales at the big stores. At the same time, Mr. Larsson says he’ll trim the number of brands and tie faster, more nimble production to a more efficient inventory system.
The spot market is looming larger over the trucking industry. A new report from Cowen and Co. and Chainalytics says the gap between contract rates and shipping prices available on daily “load boards” is getting wider and having a deeper effect on the financial framework for trucking, WSJ Logistics Report’s Loretta Chao writes. The report underscores how plentiful truck capacity is driving down prices and squeezing companies that depend on contracted over-the-road business, and shippers may look to use that leverage in daily rates to build cheaper prices into longer-term deals. Swift Transportation Co., the country’s largest truckload operator, says its extending a capacity retrenchment that’s already parked 300 trucks this spring. The company is also responding in another way: Swift says it is increasing its own participation in the spot market.