Inbound Logistics | January 2022

upply chains historically have been “starved of investment in technology, with many companies still using spreadsheets and email,” says Sumit Vakil, chief product ofcer with Resilinc, a provider of supply chain risk management tools. “It’s 20th century technology applied to today’s problems.” Not only are manual operations time-consuming and prone to error, but they also keep supply chain leaders from leveraging solutions, such as articial intelligence, that can provide the exibility, visibility, and insight needed to improve operations and decision-making.

Among the tactics that proved effective were asking trainees to start each day with a takeaway from the previous lessons, as well as a “getting to know you” icebreaker. She also appealed to the lived experience of the trainees, asking them to offer their own knowledge when applicable.

Fortunately, this is changing. Many companies are rebooting themselves, often through digital transformations that boost transparency and visibility. Organizations that hesitate risk getting left behind. “This is going to be foundational and the cost to play the game,” says Jason Alexander, national manufacturing sector leader with consulting rm RSMUS. Also fortunately, technology solutions costs are dropping. Businesses of almost any size can afford many of the cloud- based or software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Prices for sensors are also dropping. As supply chain professionals evaluate, invest in, and implement technology solutions, they’re gaining new insight. Here are some of the lessons learned from the past year or two:

of San Diego. Their analysis may lead them to prioritize, say, auto over white- goods manufacturers.

Leverage technology to gain visibility. The recent delays in ocean transport have highlighted the lack of visibility to many ocean shipments, says Jake Flory, solutions architect with Pegasus Logistics Group. To remedy this, Pegasus invested in a technology solution that provides visibility. “Although it doesn’t solve all the supply chain headaches, it denitely arms our clients with more information so they can better prepare,” says Hiram Hartnett, executive vice president, sales for Pegasus. That’s key, as disruptions across all transportation modes are expected to continue for some time. When companies understand which orders are impacted, they can intelligently respond by, for instance, adjusting manufacturing scheduling.

Make remote work work. Like many companies, ReedTMSLogistics shifted to remote work early in the pandemic. For Eileen Dabrowski, director of learning, development, and marketing, that meant guring out how to help new employees both gain a sense of the company’s culture and learn complicated technology solutions from their homes, rather than while on-site. “It was a challenge to create a similar experience,” she says.

Recognize that supply chains increasingly compete with each other for technology. One example: Auto manufacturers, electronics rms, and appliance companies all need to obtain microchips for their products. “Suppliers may have to dene which end-product market segment is likely to be the best strategic target for them,” says Simon Croom, Ph.D., professor of supply chain management at the University

Parcel shipping company AirTerra specializes in serving mid-sized retailers and brands who need to maintain a focus on customer-facing operations, and then partner with other businesses to jointly leverage technology.

January 2022 • Inbound Logistics 115

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