This Week in Logistics News (April 28 – May 2, 2014)

“This is the end of I love you,” my six year old daughter yelled from the bathroom, where she locked herself after being reprimanded for crumbling her chocolate cupcake all over the dining room table and (the bigger offense) rolling her eyes at her mother when told to stop. She yelled, and stomped, and cried in the bathroom for twenty minutes or so, and we just let her get all the fury out as we cleaned up after dinner.

Then there was silence, followed by the click of the door unlocking, and my daughter came out sobbing, red-faced and exhausted, and gave me a long, tight hug…

… and that was the beginning of I love you again.

In this week’s news…

JDA held its annual user conference this week, where it announced its Distribution-Centric Supply Chain Suite, “an integrated set of cloud-based best-of-breed supply chain planning and execution solutions that holistically and iteratively solve inventory planning, replenishment and order fulfillment challenges.” According to the press release, the new suite provides the following key capabilities and benefits:

A single, holistic view of demand built from point-of-sale (POS) data and shaped by factors such as price, promotion and other events, that automatically drives optimal inventory distribution decisions along with warehouse planning of labor and slotting.


Execution-aware planning that eliminates silos to proactively understand and plan against downstream constraints such as carrier capacity and warehouse throughput to eliminate bottlenecks and excess labor costs.


Enterprise-wide inventory visibility to inventory and orders, coupled with profitable order promising logic to help achieve customer satisfaction without sacrificing margin.


Iterative planning and execution detects changes and disruptions as they occur across the supply chain, enabling efficient re-planning on a new set of execution constraints; eliminating latency, manual rework, and inadequate on-the-fly decision making.

I haven’t been briefed on this new solution yet, but based on the information above, it certainly addresses some very important customer requirements — especially the point about iterative planning and execution, which Andrew Roszko from Descartes also discussed earlier this week in our episode about Cracking the Code on Home Delivery.

JDA certainly has a strong portfolio of supply chain planning and execution software, but the missing piece, in my opinion, is going beyond software and also providing customers with a connected network of trading partners, what I call Supply Chain Operating Networks. As I wrote about earlier this month, I believe many companies will ultimately find opportunities for supply chain innovation at the intersection of Software, B2B Connectivity, and Social Networking.

On the supply chain risk management front, Resilinc announced this week SupplyIntel™ CSR Module™ “to help companies interested in taking a proactive stand to protect against threats to their brand arising from inadequate management systems, controls and governance processes involving labor, ethics, and environmental compliance and sustainability.” Here are some details from the press release:

The Resilinc CSR Module™ is based on the EICC (Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition) standard and covers the management systems and business practices and controls instituted by the suppliers that govern labor practices, employee health and safety, and environmental compliance and sustainability. It is offered in combination with the unique supply chain mapping capabilities of the Resilinc platform. Resilinc SupplyIntel™ enables companies to identify factories worldwide that are used in manufacturing their parts and raw materials as well as the ownership of the factories, whether owned or sub-contracted.

Simply put, this solution further enhances the business case for why supply chain mapping matters.

In 3PL news, Con-way reported Q1 2014 results this week. Operating income was $33.1 million compared to $31.6 million earned in Q1 2013. First quarter results were “adversely affected by severe winter weather, which reduced 2014 first-quarter operating income by an estimated $20 million,” most of it related to its less-than-truckload (LTL) segment. Menlo Worldwide Logistics, the company’s global logistics and supply chain management operation, reported revenue of $406.4 million, up 3.6 percent from Q1 2013. Here are some quotes from Douglas W. Stotlar, Con-way’s president and CEO, related to Menlo’s performance, as well as the company’s truckload segment:

“Menlo is winning new business and expanding with current customers. Our logistics company continues to implement actions to increase efficiencies using its lean processes. We expect Menlo to show incremental profit improvement as the year progresses.”


“The difficult operating environment impacted efficiency, maintenance, fuel cost and asset utilization at Con-way Truckload. However, as the quarter concluded, operations began to normalize, demand improved and the pricing environment strengthened. At the same time, driver retention and recruiting continues to be challenging.”

At the risk of oversimplifying things, I believe Con-way’s performance is a snapshot of the transportation and logistics market in general today: relatively strong demand for outsourced logistics services, like managed transportation and distribution, while truckload operations are experiencing a “difficult operating environment” due to the usual culprits: hours of service and driver recruiting and retention.

Meanwhile, C.H. Robinson announced the launch of a new global tagline, Accelerate Your Advantage®, “that allows shippers to advance their goals, outpace competitors, and achieve a faster, more efficient supply chain.” I like this tagline because it raises two important questions: Why is acceleration important? and What defines supply chain advantage? I will explore those two questions in a future post.

Finally, United States Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx submitted The GROW AMERICA Act to Congress, which aims to (among other things), “address the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund and provide $87 billion to address the nation’s backlog of deficient bridges and aging transit systems.”

As I wrote about earlier this year, the ongoing debate is focused on how to pay for surface transportation projects. Simply put, our current system of funding transportation infrastructure projects is broken and nobody can agree on a solution. ATA President and CEO Bill Graves doesn’t believe the GROW AMERICA Act offers the right solution, as he stated in a press release issued this week:

“While the President’s plan supports a growing program, we cannot help but be very disappointed in much of the plan his administration has put forward. Any proposal that moves away from a user fee funded transportation system is not going to be acceptable to the American trucking industry, period. Furthermore, we have real questions about the viability of the administration’s plan to use one-time proceeds from an unspecified and unlikely to pass corporate tax reform idea, along with inefficient highway tolling or private capital financing. The focus must be on real, long-term funding answers rather than repeatedly looking for the proverbial ‘nickels in the couch cushions.”

For my thoughts on this topic, see my LinkedIn Influencer post from February — Enough Talk: Time to Fix Transportation Infrastructure Funding.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend

Note: C.H. Robinson and Descartes are Talking Logistics sponsors.