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A definition of terms.

A Definition of Terms Glossary of Supply Chain Terminology: For Logistics, Manufacturing, Warehousing, and Technology Philip Obal industrial Data & Information Inc., 2004 $49,95; 420 pages To purchase: visit

In the world of supply chain management an acronym is seemingly born every day and a new term or piece of jargon every hour.

Philip Obal of Industrial Data & Information is trying to help managers live with this verbal population boom. The second edition of his Glossary of Supply Chain Technology puts a wealth of definitions at the reader's fingertips. It binds together in one source the key words and acronyms used not only in warehousing, logistics, and purchasing but also in government, manufacturing, and computers.

The glossary first divides the terms into 12 sections, each of which focuses on specific subjects, such as standards, transportation, pallet, and material safety data sheets. It then consolidates all of the terms into one main glossary.

There are both benefits and drawbacks to this organizational choice. On the plus side, the novice who wants definitions for the most common keywords associated with, say, transportation might appreciate having them all grouped together. Yet, the book's design can make it difficult for the reader to look up a term quickly. If you open up the glossary to a random page, it's not obvious which section you are in. This means that each time you look up a word you have to refer to the table of contents. This problem could have been easily solved by using tabs to separate the sections or even simply by listing the section at the top of each page.

Perhaps this organization style would have worked better for a Web-based dictionary that allowed the user to search by word or subject area. This also would allow the glossary to be updated on a regular basis.

In fact, before purchasing Obal's glossary, potential buyers may want to first assess the reference resources already available for free over the Internet., for example, provides an extensive list of acronym definitions. But the user has to sift through those that are not applicable to the supply chain field. Depending on the acronym, that list may be lengthy.

For term definition, the search engine Google does a fairly good job. For example if you type in a term--such as "supply chain" or "public warehouse" of even "racked across stringers"--and the word "definition," the search engine instantly pulls a "Web definition" from a referenced Web site. Furthermore, the definitions produced are often comparable to the ones in Obal's glossary. Google, however, is not 100 percent effective. Certain phrases--for example, "accumulating conveyor," "zone pick," and surprisingly "logistics management"--did not produce any definitions--only the usual links to Web sites. Additionally, searches for words that have different definition in different fields--such as "payload"--will turn up multiple definitions. For these reasons, a supply chain specific glossary still has its use.

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Title Annotation:Publications, Web Site, & More
Publication:Supply Chain Management Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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