Inbound Logistics | January 2024

“The company decided to rail inventory to ELM and allow their customers to pick up here instead of opening their own facilities on the East Coast,” Conboy says. “We manage the inventory, pick the orders, and load the trucks.” The manufacturer gains faster access to customers without having to invest in its own facilities or hire its own labor. While some 3PLs own warehouse space that they lease to customers, others specialize in helping companies decide where to place their products; then they help them nd appropriate facilities. The search isn’t easy. “Public warehouse space isn’t nearly as available as it used to be,” says Polakoff. To help its customers in the hunt, Nexterus recently formed a reselling partnership with Warehowz, an online warehousing marketplace that lists more than 2,500 properties. Warehowz’s service is as quick and easy to use as Airbnb, Polakoff says. STAYING LOW ON THE RISK LADDER Supply chain risk is a perpetual concern, but the pandemic shone an especially glaring light on the issue. As the virus shut factories in China and elsewhere, manufacturers learned for the rst time that their products were tied to vulnerable regions—perhaps because a supplier’s supplier sourced from one of those locations. “Now there’s an increased desire to try to map the supply chain to see where product is coming from, so they can better measure risk in their supply chain,” says Bullard. Pre-COVID, Penske already had a crisis management platform that it used to forecast how hurricanes and other hazards would impact customers’ logistics networks. During the pandemic, the company fed virus transmission data from Johns Hopkins University into that platform and built models to predict where factories might soon shut down, so companies could plan for that disruption. Penske is now enhancing its platform to account for more potential disruptions, such as port congestion, geopolitical conict, civil unrest, and problems at the U.S.-Mexico border. Based on those predictions, the 3PL will help customers determine how to mitigate their risk. Penske also helps customers gure out which products they should continue to procure from far-ung locations, which they should source closer to home, and whether it’s best to buy a particular product from one vendor or several. Using models that Penske has developed, its experts can help a customer redesign its network for the new sourcing strategy—deciding, for example, whether it needs a warehouse near its U.S. factory or a consolidation center in a country where it has multiple suppliers. “We can cost out the physical parts of the supply chain and then work with them on whether there are any other risks that this will expose them to that they are not considering,” Bullard says. In today’s business environment, it’s a rare company that can mitigate every risk and seize every growth opportunity solely on its own. That’s why so many companies, large and small, augment their resources by forming strong partnerships with 3PLs and priming their businesses for growth. n


Based in New Berlin, Wisconsin, IEWC distributes wire and cable products and manufactures custom fiber assemblies, serving customers around the world. Several years ago, company leaders decided they needed to improve their logistics processes and make better use of their data. “We weren’t satisfied with our data quality, reporting, and shipment level visibility, due to having separate processes for inbound and outbound freight,” says Gregg Mollen, senior global logistics manager at IEWC. To meet its goals, the company might have implemented a transportation management system (TMS) on its own. But

instead, it engaged with Chicago-based Redwood Logistics to implement the Oracle TMS. “By partnering with Redwood, we could quickly

utilize best practices designed specifically for the IEWC/Oracle TMS,” Mollen says. “And they would provide us with the ongoing technical resources to resolve any challenges or introduce continuous improvement opportunities.” Using its Redwood Connect platform to link the various processes and systems, Redwood integrated the TMS with IEWC’s SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. The resulting system lets IEWC manage contracting, rates, and execution for both inbound and outbound freight on a single platform. Since the system went live in February 2022, IEWC has gained better reporting and data, both overall and at the shipment level, Mollen says. The company employs the data to monitor shipments in transit and to manage and analyze shipment exceptions, among other uses. Thanks to the new system, IEWC now gives its customers better information—and faster. “In addition, we have been able to exceed the baseline ROI cost savings, and the TMS allows us to continue to optimize our freight and actively mitigate freight costing changes,” Mollen says. The company is also better equipped to inform customers about the status of shipments in transit, and to analyze delivery performance to make sure it’s meeting customers’ expectations.

88 Inbound Logistics • January 2024

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