The Monthly Load-Down Oct 2012
Industry Booming with Growth and Innovation
Technological innovation strengthens every link of the supply chain
Advanced technologies are creating exciting new efficiencies in corporate supply chains. Technological developments are leading to a greater degree of automation from manufacturing and distribution to planning, logistics and transportation. Along the way, these advances are improving productivity for shippers, receivers and 3PLs everywhere.
The use of robots has become a familiar scene in manufacturing plants worldwide. Maufacturing powerhouses like China are seeing robotic automation, with Apple iPhone manufacturer Foxconn planning to add more than a million robots in the next few years. As robotic technology becomes more sophisticated, it is becoming relevant to a growing number of industries from green energy to agriculture. In California, robotic automation allows the Flextronics solar panel plant to run 24/7, while at Earthbound Farms, robotic arms efficiently box organic lettuce for shipping.
Robotics is also becoming increasingly important to distribution operations. In an effort to create more flexible fulfillment services, online retailer Amazon recently purchased robotic solutions provider Kiva Systems. Kiva uses a goods-to-man system to make building mixed-SKU pallets simpler; robots deliver both pallets and goods to stationary workers, creating greater efficiency while reducing the risk of injury. AutoStore, a similar robotic system, stores goods in mixed-SKU ‘totes’ and delivers them to pack-and-ship stations within the warehouse.
While robots provide flexible solutions in the distribution arena, it’s real-time data streams and automated software technologies that provide planning and forecasting flexibility. The use of mobile applications, predictive analytics and cloud computing is helping to create more adaptable supply chains. By implementing these technologies, companies can better respond to situations like new product launches, getting a better sense of customer demand and reducing forecasting error.
Similarly, automated technologies give 3PLs like Load Delivered a significant edge. In a recent interview, Load Delivered CEO Robert Nathan described how automation is vital to our business. Notification systems and customized web portals offer our customers greater transparency, providing instant access to their data, invoices and shipping information. With automatic data feeds from Carrier 411, we can immediately note when a carrier’s insurance is out of date and contact them to restore compliance. Our automated pricing engine accounts for variables like capacity and seasonality, allowing us to base our pricing on current industry factors.
For transportation providers, the future is also looking more efficient thanks to an array of mobile technologies. Mobile applications allow truckers to plan faster routes and find cheaper fuel, not to mention helping them locate their next load while still en route. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported here, 3PLs like Load Delivered are pushing efficiency even further.
Not every new transportation technology is solely software-based, as manufacturers like Aeplog Inc. and TomTom are creating innovative new equipment. Aeplog’s offering, commonly known as Sea Truck, turns cargo containers into self-propelled seagoing vessels by attaching a propulsion module and bow module to each container. TomTom’s product, the ecoPlus, attaches to OTR equipment to track driving activity in relation to fuel consumption. Drivers can modify their behavior for increased fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. The company claims that by coaching drivers based on the device’s data, fleet managers can save up to 20% in fuel and maintenance costs.
These industry-wide technological advances are improving productivity throughout the supply chain, allowing goods to be manufactured and transported more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Improvements like these are what allow our operations to run seamlessly, and we are committed to not only keeping up with the technology trend, but staying at the forefront by creating our own technologies.
Industry growth creates opportunities
As the economic recovery continues around the country, the logistics and transportation field is growing rapidly and far outpacing other sectors. According to one advocacy group study, the industry is expected to have around 1.1 million job openings between 2013 and 2016. However, a report from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics states that although there will be around 270,000 job openings per year, only 75,000 workers are completing degree and training programs for these jobs. This high demand and low supply of qualified new employees makes the field ideal for those continuing their education, and it will mean many new opportunities for college and training program graduates.
Some of the most sought-after logistics positions include 3PL account manager, demand planner, distribution center supervisor, procurement manager, and supply chain consultant. Applicable backgrounds for these positions vary from engineering and finance to accounting and customer service; a complete list of requirements for each position can be viewed here.
Other parts of the transportation field are also booming, with rising numbers of open positions in truck and rail transit. Norfolk Southern is making numerous improvements to its Crescent Corridor rail network, and these improvements are expected to create 47,000 new job openings over the next 8 years. And thanks to a retiring baby boomer work force, the OTR trucking industry has as many as 200,000 open positions for long haul truckers.
This is an exciting time in our industry, and we look forward to hiring more team members of our own in 2013.
Load Delivered in the news
This month, two large publications took notice of the growth and innovation at Load Delivered. We were pleased to be featured in both the Chicago Sun-Times and DC Velocity!
We were featured in an article discussing
mobile apps for truckers and the Gen Y team
members who create them.
We were recognized for our rapid,
550% revenue growth since 2008.