L.L. Bean Opens First Store in New York
Freeport, Maine, L.L. Bean will stay open 24 hours a day, throughout the weekend of its grand opening at Colonie Center in Albany, N.Y. on Sept. 14.
The 24-hour schedule, which ends after the opening weekend, is being done in the spirit of the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine, according to the company. It will offer in-store lessons on how to snowshoe, fly fish, kayak and do other sports.
L.L. Bean is one of a number of stores locating in the mall, which is in the midst of a $70 million renovation. A Cheesecake Factory restaurant opened last August, and PF Chang’s China Bistro is set to open on Oct. 8. Foot Locker is set to open in September, as is Lids, which sells hats.
The new 30,000-sq.-ft. store at Colonie Center was built to a national energy-efficiency standard set by the United States Green Building Council, according to L.L. Bean.
Increasing West Coast Container Capacity
For some Supply Chain Summit attendees, the highlight of the conference was the grand finale—a tour of the Port of Oakland including the American President Lines (APL) terminal and one of its container ships, the APL Thailand.
Despite the growing congestion at other ports along the West Coast, most notably the Los Angeles/Long Beach port, the Port of Oakland has been under-utilized, running at about 60% capacity. However, APL’s terminal has been slightly better, operating at approximately 75% capacity. Recognizing that the Port of Oakland provides a viable alternative to relieve container congestion on the West Coast, APL decided to increase capacity and operating efficiencies at its Oakland facility.
The APL terminal is undergoing a significant transformation that began in July 2006 and is scheduled for completion in June 2008. A $39.5 million upgrade of the terminal, including construction of a 5,000-sq.-ft. marine operations building and reconstruction of the container yard, was approved by the Oakland port commissioners.
Although the increase in acreage will be modest—the new terminal will comprise 80 acres compared to the old terminal’s 79.2 acres—the terminal’s capacity will soar. The new terminal will accommodate 13,800 TEU (20-ft. equivalent unit) containers, all decked, while the old terminal had capacity for 8,685 wheeled and decked TEUs. (Wheeled containers are stored on road chassis, but decked containers on the ground will provide better utilization of the real estate.)
In addition to the transition to all decked containers, the configuration of the yard’s container lanes will also change so that containers will run parallel to the water line, which is more efficient than the current perpendicular line up. The new terminal will be able to handle 9,000 vessel lifts per week and 460,000 lifts annually, compared to the current capacity of 3,000 weekly lifts and 124,000 annual lifts. (A vessel lift is the movement of a container on or off a ship.) The terminal’s goal is to turn a container eight times annually, each time loaded with revenue-paying cargo.
There will also be greater efficiencies with the management of refrigerated containers, a.k.a. “reefers.” The new terminal will utilize reefer racks, equipped with a fiber-optics system that allows remote temperature monitoring from the terminal’s office. Reefers account for slightly less than 10% of the APL volume in Oakland and, in addition to perishable food and frozen products, they typically transport fragile cargo such as orchids and bullfrogs.
The Oakland port maintains 24-hour security with one entrance in and one exit out. Trucks and containers are scanned for radioactive materials, using radiation portal monitors. Additional surveillance is provided by high-definition cameras attached to tall poles that can obtain a solid read of trucks’ license plates across the yard.
In the near future, the port will convert to a biometrics-based worker-identification program. Oakland will be the second port in the country to deploy the biometrics system, which is comparable to the one used at the U.S. Pentagon, and APL will be the first terminal at the Port of Oakland to implement this technology.
Touring the container ship, from the captain’s quarters to the engine room, was a huge treat for Supply Chain Summit attendees. The APL Thailand had docked the preceding day from its latest trip to Asia and was already loading containers and transitioning crew for its next journey. The ship operates a pendulum service between Asia and North America that typically requires 35 days, including the nine-and-a-half day trip to Asia and a 10-day return voyage. The route includes stops at ports in Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and generally the vessel remains in each port less than 24 hours. The 23-person crew of the APL Thailand included three women plus two cadets from the Merchant Marine Academy.
Improvements Under Way at the APL Terminal
|Old APL Terminal||New APL Terminal|
|Acreage||79.2 acres||80.0 acres|
|Capacity||8,685 TEU containers||13,800 TEU containers|
|Container Lifts||3,000 per week||9,000 per week|
|Container Lifts||124,000 annually||460,000 annually|
|Gate moves||5,000 per week||14,940 per week|
iRate Over iPhones
I admit it. I am totally enamored with the new iPhone, even though I have yet to purchase one. After hearing about the activation snags within the first 48 hours, however, I am content with waiting to make the investment.
Even before the television commercials saturated the airwaves, my iBook advertised the cool new gadget every time I logged onto Safari—and I was instantly hooked. iPhone, which hit the marketplace on June 29, combines all the goodies a gizmo-lover wants: It’s a mobile phone with wireless Internet access, and it also features Apple’s iPod music and video player. I mean, this is too good to be true! Of course, after some research, I realized I was right.
While it is a great personal device, it may take some time for iPhone to become a tried-and-true tool for reliable business communications. According to Ken Dulaney, VP of mobile computing at Gartner, this first generation has its share of hurdles, including a lack of support from major mobile-device management and security suites, and its construction leaves much to be desired. For example, some critics are complaining that the unit does not have a removable battery, making it a breeding ground for support issues.
I am more concerned by the fact that only one mobile-solution provider— AT&T—supports the gadget so far. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not turned off by the company per se. But I am turned off by how it handled the activation process.
Those lucky to get an iPhone were instructed to activate the gadget directly through the AT&T Web site. Doing as they were told, thousands of users flooded the Web to get their iPhone online. However, heavy traffic overwhelmed the telecommunications carrier and left approximately 2% of buyers out of touch for about 48 hours.
Asking buyers to activate iPhones from their own computers “is a brand new process in the industry,” according to Mark Siegel, AT&T spokesman. “No other carrier has had people activate their phones or accounts this way.”
Some analysts described the activation woes merely as a short-term “public-relations issue” for AT&T and Apple. Maybe those lucky souls got their phones to work.
In reality, I see a bigger problem: Apple and AT&T dropped the ball when integrating their activation services. The iPhone launch is described as an event that drove more traffic during its first weekend on the market than any other device’s first month in the marketplace. Related media blasts and promotions ensured this. That said, both companies should have taken a very serious look at whether they were prepared to handle the potential consumer volume and taken stronger steps to back up the operation.
Let’s face it. These days, if anyone is knocked off of a Web site or if screens freeze as a user tries to place an order online, that shopper will take her business elsewhere. While the iPhone is only available through one carrier today, the situation might make me rethink the experience if I were Apple.
The good news is that many of these activation troubles were fixed by Monday, July 3. But to me, that was two days too late. Will the glitch kill the hype of iPhone mania? Probably not. However, I patiently await the next generation of iPhone when the price comes down and third-party support goes up.