REALITY CHECK: US WAREHOUSE EXECS REPORT SCANT Y2K BUILDUPSgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
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By Gary Rosenberger
NEW YORK (MktNews) - U.S. warehousers say they continue to see scant, if any, signs of an inventory buildup associated with the Y2K computer bug.
Inventories at warehouses are within a normal range for this time of the year, with Y2K stockpiling expected to be no worse than for "a weekend storm," as one official said.
The only evidence of stockpiling at this juncture is for essential supplies such as bottled water and baby-care items, they add.
A major retailer says there are no plans afoot to increase inventories or to push possible Y2K merchandise.
Nevertheless, some warehousers are bracing themselves for minor transportation bottlenecks that are expected from general labor shortages.
One regional warehouser described only a minimum amount of inventory building because of Y2K.
"I did some checking around and only one customer said he would add some inventory because of Y2K," said Herbert Harriss, chairman of Baxter-Harriss Co. with warehouses in Charlotte, North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina.
"Other than that I've seen zero-effect," he said.
A Virginia-based warehouser observed that his inventories remain well within normal ranges -- with no evidence of ongoing Y2K stockpiling.
"None, not at all," said Richard Lawson, Jr., general manager of H.L. Lawson & Son, Inc., a 600.000 square foot warehouse in Roanoke.
Lawson -- whose warehouse specializes in dry goods, including grocery products, tobacco and raw materials -- said if there were any ongoing Y2K-inventory building "it would have been easy to see."
"I would say that we have been busy, but we've been busier," he added.
Thus far, Lawson has gotten no requests from his customers for extra space at year's end-- "although you would think that in the grocery industry, there would have been some build up," he said.
A warehouse manager for a major international food distribution company in Florida said he has seen no buildups in advance of Y2K.
"We're holding average inventories year-to-year, there's been no increase," said the manager, who asked not to be named.
Another major food distributor also reports only a minor uptick in inventories, and then only for some essential items.
"Nothing much is happening -- the buildups are modest to less-than-modest," said Rick Blasgen, vice president of supply chain with Nabisco in Parsippany, New Jersey.
"Stores are planning as they would for a storm over a weekend," he said. "We're not planning any major inventory build."
However, he did note some demand for items that people feel they can't do without in an emergency -- such as baby supplies, bottled water and powdered milk.
Blasgen also noted that some transportation companies have requested that their customers turn in orders early to minimize any possible transportation bottlenecks.
"There are transportation capacity constraints related primarily to a shortage of truck drivers -- driver retention has been a big problem this year," he said.
Blasgen added that there are minor worries about railcar shortages as well.
Ben Stephens, a spokesman for the International Warehouse Logistics Association, said there has been "no change" in the association's previous statements suggesting no significant Y2K buildups.
Sears spokeswoman Jan Drummond said her company will not emphasize Y2K as a selling point for generators and other emergency merchandise.
"We decided it was our responsibility as a company not to contribute to the anxiety and hysteria that's already out there," Drummond said.
Nor is Sears stock piling extra merchandise, she said.
"First of all where would we put it?" she said, noting that increasingly sophisticated just-in-time inventory planning has placed "serious constraints" on available warehouse space.
"Also, how do we know in advance where the Y2K failures are going to occur? At least with a snowstorm, you know where to move snow blowers and shovels to their needed destinations. But how do you predict where a blackout will occur?" she added.
However, there is a vocal minority who insist there is Y2K stockpiling going on at the retail level that goes well beyond normal holiday inventory-building.
Guy Fox, chairman of the board of Global Transportation Services, a freight forwarder and warehouser based in Seattle and Seattle, noted that his usual holiday warehousing business has been extended by Y2K inventory building.
The majority of those goods are imports from Asia headed for retail shelves, he said.
Fox noted that his warehouse is fuller than usual and is scheduled to stay full for a longer period of time as retailers stockpile what he termed "just-in-case" inventories.
"Because of Y2K, just-in-time has turned into just-in-case," Fox quipped, although he added that he himself sees Y2K as posing no threats to the economy.
Editor's Note: Reality Check stories survey sentiment among business people and their trade associations. They are intended to complement and anticipate economic data and to provide a sounding into specific sectors of the U.S. economy.
-- Sysman (email@example.com), November 24, 1999
""We decided it was our responsibility as a company not to contribute to the anxiety and hysteria that's already out there," Drummond said."
Boy, am I sick of reading such crap.
There is NO hysteria and NO anxiety "out there."
Just ignorance, complacency, apathy, & the sheer idiocy evidenced in quotes like the one above.
-- everyone (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 24, 1999.
It's apparent that most people do not understand the interroperability between systems. Try not to let it upset you. We do not know what the outcome will be, many thought fiscal calender dates, buffer problems and a few other dates throughout 1999 would be much worse than they were.
That's one thing that has me leaning toward a 5-7 range verses 8-9 range on the y2k scale. Prepare as you would for a 3-4 week camping trip. Good luck
-- Rich (Rluck@aol.com), November 24, 1999.
Kind of puts the air out of Pres declaration that there is 30 to 60 days worth of supplies just sitting there, eh???
-- ..- (email@example.com), November 24, 1999.
I am convinced this one line is 100% truth.
"A warehouse manager for a major international food distribution company in Florida said he has seen no buildups in advance of Y2K. "
We do know from people involved with emergencies in Florida an increasing number of its constituents are dependent minded.
-- Paula (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 24, 1999.