Regulations that pertain to the trucking and shipping industries are viscerally connected to the smooth operation of the jan/san supply chain. Currently, stricter trucking regulations have created increases in shipping costs for manufacturers. When manufacturers are forced to pay more to ship their products, those costs eventually get passed on to their customers — namely, distributors.

On January 4, new hours-of-service (HOS) regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) went into effect that significantly diminish driver flexibility. The regulations were instituted to prevent driver fatigue — drivers can no longer be on the job for more than 14 hours within a 24-hour time period, for example — but combined with other factors in the shipping industry, such as the escalating price of gas, regulations have resulted in increased financial stress for trucking companies.

The strain of HOS limitations combined with high fuel costs and other industry trends has caused many trucking companies — especially smaller, privately owned trucking companies — to go out of business, leaving only the largest national trucking conglomerates with the power to raise prices and put fewer trucks on the roads.

For that reason, manufacturers are experiencing difficulty getting products to their distributors on time.

“One of our greatest challenges is the carriers’ chronic lack of capacity,” said Greg Jennings, vice president of sales and marketing for North American Salt Co., an Overland Park, Kan.-based manufacturer of ice melt. “The trucking industry has experienced an unprecedented reduction in the number of carriers with literally thousands of trucking companies going out of business.”

Hardest hit are those suppliers that ship low-margin, high-volume products. These product categories, such as ice melt, cleaning chemicals and paper, are affected by even small disturbances in shipping costs. Conversely, products that are low volume and ship at a high margin can more easily absorb increased shipping costs.

“The fact of the matter is there has been a paradigm shift in the logistics industry that has been far from gradual,” said Jennings. “As a manufacturer who relies heavily on outsourced carriers, we have two options: go with the flow or rise above this change.”

As manufacturers struggle to keep up with rising shipping costs, the distributors who receive those shipments are wary of how these rising costs might translate into price increases.

“While the International Sanitary Supply Association recognizes the importance of HOS regulations and increasing road safety, we believe the negative impact on our members — the ones who will foot the bill for increased shipper and motor carrier costs — begs the question of whether a better solution isn’t available,” said Dianna Bisswurm, ISSA’s director of industry outreach.




CDC Study Examines Floor Care Issues
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that examines the transmission of nosocomial infections in medical centers specifically looks at contamination via floor cleaning.

Nosocomial infections — infections that are transmitted within a hospital — occur in approximately 5 percent of all U.S. hospital patients, affecting an estimated 2 million people annually, according to the study. The study adds that the costs of these infections to the healthcare industry can be as high as $3.5 million. The CDC recommends that healthcare facilities review their floor care programs to help minimize contamination.

ISM Measures Manufacturing Activity
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) recently reported that manufacturing activity grew in April, the eleventh consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the thirtieth consecutive month. Backlog orders also increased for manufacturers in April, and the Employment Index grew for the sixth consecutive month, according to the report.

Michigan State Warns of Supply Chain Failures
A Michigan State University (MSU) study commissioned by AT&T recently revealed that companies are failing to institute plans that ensure supply chain continuity.

The study uses detailed case studies to identify four major tenets of a good supply chain continuity plan. The factors include: awareness of supply-chain disturbances; dealing with risks; recovery; and implementing a shareable, post-event audit of disruptions. The study was conducted by MSU’s Eli Broad Graduate School of Management.


OmniSource Inc., Seattle, a sanitary supply wholesaler, recently announced its expansion into the northern California market with the acquisition of American Brenner Wholesale, a 25-year-old wholesaler. OmniSource will operate American Brenner’s warehouse in San Francisco. OmniSource, a member of Advantage Marketing Associates, also recently built a 60,000-square-foot facility in Seattle.

Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Hollywood, Calif., recently announced the acquisition of the convenience and activity product lines of Koala Corp. Bobrick entered the agreement to assume the Koala Bear Kare baby changing station product line and trademarks. The transaction is valued at approximately $15.6 million. Koala is currently involved in corporate debt restructuring.

Dri-Eaz, Burlington, Wash., recently announced a strategic alliance with U.S. Products, Hayden, Idaho. The two manufacturers will retain their present ownership and identity, but will develop and market specific equipment in tandem. The new equipment includes janitorial, water-damage, carpet care, and restoration applications.




Samuel Curtis Johnson, the fourth-generation head of S.C. Johnson, a manufacturer of cleaning chemicals and a host of other products, died of cancer in late May. Johnson passed away at his home in Racine, Wis. The city is also the location of the company’s headquarters. He was 76.

S.C. Johnson was founded in 1886 by Johnson’s great-grandfather and namesake, Samuel Curtis Johnson. The younger Johnson joined the company in 1954, and soon developed a reputation as a risk-taking innovator when he introduced Raid House and Garden Bug Killer and OFF in the late 1950s.

Throughout the next four decades, Johnson helped transform the company into four independent businesses, all of which were successful. Today, the company employs 26,000 people in more than 70 countries. Its commercial branch is JohnsonDiversey.

Johnson was also a philanthropist and an environmentalist. He saw the negative effects of chlorofluorocarbons and ordered his company to stop using them three years before they were prohibited by the federal government.

Johnson officially retired from the company in 2000, and was recognized for his plan to seamlessly pass on leadership to three of his children. He is survived by his wife, Imogene, and four children.



Study: List of Health Concerns Attributable to Mold Shrinks

The Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, recently released a new study confirming the long-held belief that asthma and other respiratory problems can be caused by mold inside buildings. However, the study also stated that a host of other illnesses, which are often attributed to mold and mildew, are probably not caused by the problematic fungus.

“Even though the available evidence does not link mold or other factors associated with building moisture to all the serious health problems that some attribute to them, excessive indoor dampness is a widespread problem that warrants action in the local, state and national levels,” the Institute’s Noreen Clark told CNN.

“An exhaustive review of the scientific literature made it clear that it can be very hard to tease apart the health effects of exposure to mold from all the other factors that may be influencing health in the typical indoor environment,” said Clark, who is also dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

“That said, we were able to find sufficient evidence that certain respiratory problems, including symptoms in asthmatics who are sensitive to mold, are associated with exposure to mold and damp conditions,” she added.

The Institute also discovered that hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a rare respiratory illness, is also associated with mold exposure.

In terms of possible mold-fighting action, the Institute called for development of guidelines for preventing indoor dampness, adding that the guidelines must be adopted and promoted nationally. Building codes and regulations were also singled out as major mold-causing culprits. Members of the panel said that codes and regulations need to modified and updated to reflect current mold problems.

Mold, as it relates to indoor air quality (IAQ), can be prevented or removed by cleaners using correct remediation methods. In addition to cleaning operations, however, building design plays a significant role in mold prevention.

Many analysts in the sanitary supply industry have pointed to changes in building codes in the 1970s to explain the significant increase in mold problems. Buildings constructed during that time were designed to be energy efficient, but they also allowed for very little ventilation, compared with older buildings.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization that was created by the United States Congress to provide scientific analysis and instruction for the federal government.



New York Rest Stops Tackle High-Tech Restroom Maintenance

In an attempt to attract highway drivers to New York rest stops, state regulators have decided to use the most modern restroom technologies, according to an article in Albany, N.Y.’s Times Union newspaper.

“The restroom is where first impressions are made,” said one New York Department of Transportation spokesperson. “Customers who feel clean and comfortable after using the restroom are more likely to purchase food.”

Rest stop restaurant revenue can translate into $30 million annually for the state if all goes well, according to the article. One of the main features being used to attract travelers is touchless technology.

Touchless sinks, soap dispensers and paper dispensers are being installed in several New York rest stops, which is saving the state money in addition to attracting patrons, says Cathy Woodruff, who reviewed the rest stops for the Times Union: “Employing no-touch cleaning technology can make the work for cleaning professionals not only more efficient, but less distasteful.”



May Have Spread Through Toilet Flushing

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) recently conducted a study of a contaminated apartment complex in Hong Kong where 300 people were infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The study reveals that SARS may have been spread in the apartment through the improper flushing of toilets, instead of through person-to-person contact as once thought.

Two articles in the most recent issue of NEJM suggest that airborne transmissions of SARS — like those traveling freely around a restroom — could be possible causes of the widespread illness. According the study, the “index patient,” the person thought to have first brought SARS to the apartment, had high amounts of SARS in feces that ended up in a central drain.

“Airborne spread of a concentrated source of virus can infect many persons within a short period of time,” Dr. Tak-sun Ignatius Yu recently told Forbes magazine. “Future prevention and protection against SARS should take into consideration the possibility [that] airborne transmission avoidance of close contacts alone may not be adequate. The prevention of aerosolution of the virus should take priority.”

Yu, who co-authored the study, explained that the aerosolution of the virus probably came from a lack of restroom sanitation, as well as poor operational design with regard to overflowing toilets.

World Health Organization (WHO) investigators found that many bathroom floor drains in the Hong Kong apartment complex were dried out from an exhaust fan. The fan could have enabled contaminated air to travel to other rooms.
“If the toilet overflows, you want it to go somewhere, so it makes sense to put drains in apartment buildings, but in this case it was a vulnerability,” said Dr. Donald K. Milton, co-author of an article that is included with the NEJM study.