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Researchers expand logistics-distribution index to help guide businesses nationally

by Judy Hughes, communications and marketing last modified Mar 04, 2013 02:16 PM

University of Louisville researchers have launched a national economic indicator called the Logistics and Distribution Index to help businesses monitor their market’s health and guide them in investment decisions.

The LoDI Index, named after the UofL-based Logistics and Distribution Institute, expands the reach of a local monthly index it has offered for a year. The first national LoDI index number, issued today for March 2013, is 50.

The index uses a number between 1 and 100, with lower values representing a decline and higher values an increase in regional logistics and distribution activity; an index higher than 50 indicates healthy activity. As a gauge of potential risk and reward, the LoDI Index is intended to be a tool similar to the Consumer Confidence Index used in the marketplace.

Primary users are expected to be logistics-related businesses and warehouses. Other potential users could be retail companies, manufacturers, investment companies, government offices, real estate developers, chambers of commerce and individuals, said Sunderesh Heragu, the institute’s director.

Heragu, who also is the Mary Lee and George F. Duthie endowed chair in engineering logistics at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, worked with fellow industrial engineering professor Gail DePuy and engineering doctoral student Erin Gerber of Louisville on the index.

Like the local index issued monthly since March 2012, the index relies on what Heragu called the four Rs — road, runway, rail and river — that are important to the logistics and distribution economy.

Economic factors figuring into the index include cargo tonnage shipped by air, railroad, boat and vehicles, as well as other information such as unemployment and gross domestic product.

The local LoDI index for March 2013 is 68, up from 62 last month.

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