By Doug Bartholomew Nikon Inc. has outsourced its logistics to UPS Supply Chain Solutions, which will manage the camera manufacturer's products from the factory in the Far East to retail stores and distributors in the U.S. "Outsourcing a distribution system for an entire product line is certainly a rare and innovative step in the consumer electronics industry," says Arnold Kamen, vice president of operations and customer service at Nikon, Melville, N.Y. "We realized that by combining UPS services, we would have the ability to greatly shorten our supply chain." UPS Supply Chain Solutions will manage air and ocean freight and related customs brokerage while Atlanta-based UPS will handle subsequent small package delivery and logistics needs, including advance shipment notifications throughout the U.S., Caribbean and Latin American markets. Nikon's freight will be shipped to the UPS Supply Chain Solutions Logistics Center in Louisville, Ky. There, packages will be either "kitted" (adding batteries, chargers, etc. to the packaged camera) or "repackaged" (prepped for display specifications), then distributed across the country or prepared for and exported to retail outlets and distributors. Along the way, tracking of shipments' progress is key. "In our business, predictability of how much merchandise is available and when this merchandise will become available for distribution makes the difference in staying ahead of our customers' needs," Kamen adds. "The technology solution that UPS and Nikon Inc. implemented fits our needs exactly, allowing us to view down to the SKU and serial number within very complex distribution and information systems."