Cornerstone Edge principal, Brian Carlson, and JBF Consulting Principal, Dennis Heppner hosted a LinkedIn Live event for a quick chat about supply chain needs. Watch the recording, or read below for a transcript of their conversation.
Note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Hey, welcome to our first live chat. We’ve never done this before, so I’m thankful to be here today with my friend, Dennis Heppner, principal for JBF consulting, a company working with both large and small shippers and with a focus on transportation.
Thank you, Brian, happy to be with you today. That’s right, JBF is a bunch of logistics transportation nerds or geeks, we like to call ourselves geeks with personality. We focus on technology selection and implementation and operations improvement for all our clients. As you mentioned, large and small shippers across many different industry verticals. And Brian here is the principal at Cornerstone Edge. A consulting and supply chain partner of ours with whom we have certain synergies. They work with clients to improve their supply chain operations holistically.
It’s interesting, you mentioned being a transportation geek, and at Cornerstone Edge we’re warehousing operations geeks, that’s why we work well together. It’s great to talk to you again today, Dennis!
It’s always a pleasure. So, Brian, consulting and supply chain professionals like us, folks that are in the trenches, learned a lot this year. We’ve gained a lot of different insights, a lot of battle scars, scar tissue, if you will, in the last two years. And now we’re in peak season for a lot of shippers. I know, with the kind of clients you work with, this is a challenging time of the year or typically has been. But this is also a time when we can look back on the previous year and plan for the next year ahead, 2023.
The one thing that was going through my mind as we’re going into the holiday season, and maybe this is because I’m starting to look more like Santa Claus these days, but if I were Santa Claus, and had the opportunity to bring gifts to our shippers, clients, or partners like yourself, what do you think some of those things would be? What would I be leaving under the Christmas tree?
That’s a great question. When I look at a Christmas tree, I see lots of potential gifts, but there are really some big ones that jump out to me. Labor is huge right now. It’s very challenging to find good quality labor and warehouse operations. It’s complicated to get the right mix and the right price point. That’s why many people are looking at ways to improve. But it’s a real challenge to find the right resources at the right time.
Yeah, think labor is one of those issues that apply across a variety of supply chain functions. Certainly in transportation. Often, when we talk about labor, we think about drivers behind the wheel of the truck. But there are other labor components, the folks who are planning, dispatching, tracking and tracing every day, in addition to the drivers. I would like to see more advancement toward autonomous vehicles. I think there’s a huge opportunity there, in a lot of areas. I don’t think we’re looking at fully-fledged autonomous vehicles driving down the highway with nobody behind the wheel yet, I think most of the driving public will freak out, but there are a lot of advancements that have been made that help increase output, increase utilization, improves safety, all leading to the more efficient movement of goods. And I would think those are some of the things you’ve seen as well in your line of work.
Yes, that’s right, I’m always thinking about new technologies. You mentioned autonomous vehicles. I’ll touch on that for just a second. You know, I was recently at Epcot, and they have a new ride there that had an autonomous vehicle. It was pretty awesome to see different ways to utilize that kind of technology. And so while we have functionality in the distribution center, we can have fun at an amusement park, all using the same technology. When I look at the tech behind the warehouse control system, warehouse management systems, and the labor component of a system, using tech to tie all those things together can reduce our labor. Having some more advanced warehouse management and labor management solutions can really improve the efficiencies of each person, whether it’s in picking and packing, in the receiving process, or anything within the four walls of the warehouse. We can really make an impact with better technology or upgraded technology.
I think that would probably be a way that we’ll see adoption, things will happen in the public sector, and then there will be some adoption over time, not unlike the Amazon effect, right?
If we look across the supply chain of the functional areas, warehousing and distribution, transportation, planning, etc, I think another gift that I would love to see Santa bring to our friends and colleagues in the industry is a lot more breaking down of the walls between those functions. I see too many large organizations that still operate in silos. And there are a lot of reasons for that, which we won’t get into it right now. But I think there is still a tremendous opportunity to break those walls down to make us more efficient, and to provide visibility, not only within a functional area, or within our organization but with our suppliers, our customers, and ultimately our consumers.
Yeah, and as I look at that process, there’s one company we worked with more recently, a multi-billion dollar company, that was stuck in those silos. They have a good warehouse management system, and some transportation concepts and they have product coming in from overseas, but they’ve lost visibility of each data point. So one useful gift Santa could bring is a technology that enables visibility, so we can understand where the product is within the supply chain. That will go a long way because a lot of people get lost in that process.
I agree. One of the disheartening trends we saw this year was a lot of technology vendors being acquired by competitors. And as the shipper, oftentimes if the product that I had isn’t going to be supported going forward, what kind of difficulty does that put me in? I don’t know if there is a chance that I might get a big lump of coal on my stocking called reimplementation. How do I avoid that? Transparency would help. I’d like to see that become less of a concern for organizations, so they could focus more on value drivers.
That’s a great point. And as I look at those technology tools, it’s fun to see how the industry has changed, not just from a functionality standpoint, but from a complete technology stack. A lot of people may want to change their solutions, not just because of needed functionality, but to support the new technologies that are out there and to access the features and functions that you can add to that new existing technology.
We’ve bounced around a lot of ideas about Santa being generous this holiday season. One thing I don’t know if Santa Claus can solve or if it’s just a reality that’s going into 2023, is F.U.D. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt of what’s going to happen, especially from a macroeconomic perspective. Obviously, inflation, interest rates, and layoffs are all things that are on organizations’ minds and on individuals’ minds. What gives me comfort is people like you and me and our colleagues, clients, and partners; no one is better prepared to deal with FUD than supply chain professionals. I guess I would like to see supply chain professionals get a more prominent seat at the table. We’ve made great strides over the last 10-15 years, but they still need to be interacting with the business to help plan what we’re going to do. They need more ammunition other than a Red Ryder BB gun to deal with all the instability and uncertainty that we have in our business.
Now and that’s a great point! I would certainly rather have the Red Ryder BB gun than the pink pajamas!
That’s a great visual.
We appreciate everyone joining today. Thank you for your time, It’s been a pleasure talking with you, and Merry Christmas.
Yes, happy holidays! And Merry Christmas to everyone. We look forward to a great 2023 – ho ho thank you!
YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE. BOTH CORNERSTONE EDGE AND JBF CONSULTING HAVE THE EXPERTISE YOU NEED TO GET YOUR OPERATION RUNNING SMOOTHLY AND EFFECTIVELY.
About JBF Consulting
Since 2003, we’ve been helping shippers of all sizes and across many industries select, implement and squeeze as much value as possible out of their logistics systems. We speak your language — not consultant-speak – and we get to know you. Our leadership team has over 70 years of logistics and TMS implementation experience. Because we operate in a niche — we’re not all things to all people — our team members have a very specialized skill set: logistics operations experience + transportation technology + communication and problem-solving skills + a bunch of other cool stuff.
If you’re looking to transform transportation, increase visibility, and maximize ROI, JBF Consulting can help, reach out!
About Cornerstone Edge
Cornerstone Edge is an all-in-one supply chain services partner that works with businesses to use their supply chain as a differentiator. We empower some of today’s fastest-growing brands to take their supply chains to the next level by delivering strategy, enhancing productivity, and providing technical guidance. Founded in 2011, we’re a company that’s small enough to care, but strong enough to deliver. We’re all about partnership. We believe in leveraging the knowledge of your team and marrying that with the expertise of our people to create innovative solutions to the challenges slowing down your supply chain. Customer relationships come first – we’re vendor agnostic (we evaluated 80+ solutions over the past 10 years) and we get that repeat business is critical to our business and yours. Some say – commitment never looked so fierce.
If you’re looking for a supply chain partner who will stick with you through the growing pains and good times, Cornerstone Edge can help, reach out!
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