Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (June 5, 2020)

Many years from now, when we look back on 2020, what will we say about it?

As we begin the sixth month of this year, may the days and weeks ahead, through hard work and the courage to change and innovate, lead us to a better future.


In this week’s supply chain and logistics news…

The Slow Restart

In general, shutting things downs is quicker and easier than restarting them again. This is proving to be true when it comes to restarting manufacturing operations and supply chains after being shut down due to COVID-19. “Manufacturers emerging from weeks in hibernation during the coronavirus pandemic are accelerating production with jumbled supply chains and less efficient plants, making it harder to rebuild the weakened U.S. industrial sector,” write Bob Tita and Austen Hufford in the Wall Street Journal. Here’s more from the article:

Some U.S. factories are looking for alternative suppliers to compensate for plants that remain closed or are overwhelmed by orders for items in high demand. Other companies say new protective equipment and procedures to add space between workers will weigh on their profits and productivity.

Steve Greenspon [Chief Executive of housewares company Honey Can-Do International Inc.] said the company’s Illinois distribution center is less efficient now because operations have been reconfigured to separate employees. For instance, the company is only allowing one worker at a time to unload shipping containers, rather than the two people that usually work together inside the cramped metal boxes. “The container takes twice as long to unload,” he said.

Then again, the sooner we restart, the sooner we can begin working through these new constraints and challenges. The surprising employment news this morning — employment increased by 2.5 million in May and the jobless rate declined to 13.3% — is hopefully the beginning of a positive trend.

TMS in the News: BluJay Solutions and Transplace

When it comes to transportation management systems (TMS), there’s always something new to talk about. The latest developments come from BluJay Solutions and Transplace (both Talking Logistics sponsors).

BluJay Solutions announced the launch of its Transportation Modeling application, built in collaboration with LLamasoft, that “equips shippers with analytics to evaluate multiple scenarios and tradeoffs of making changes to operational policy and their potential to improve service and reduce costs.” Here are some additional details from the press release:

BluJay’s Transportation Modeling application leverages LLamasoft’s llama.ai platform. The platform utilizes data gathered from multiple sources to create an authentic digital twin of a supply chain to analyze current operations and uncover new operational options or areas of inefficiency or risk. BluJay’s Transportation Modeling solution uses historical shipper data to model various scenarios to determine the best policies, and the Transportation Management application is then configured to execute these policies.

The new application features five pre-configured scenarios, providing users the ability to immediately begin leveraging cost, weight, stop, utilization, and distance metrics. Additionally, users have the ability to customize and create additional transportation modeling scenarios. BluJay’s Transportation Modeling application also includes the capability to conduct what-if scenarios to predict the potential impact of changes in procedures.

Research we conducted with our Indago community suggests we are still in the early adopter stage when it comes to companies creating and using digital twins of their supply chains. But as one of our members commented, “As company operations become more complex, digital twins become a ‘must have.’ Companies with simpler operating environments could delay [implementing] digital twins, but they will likely adopt them [in the future] due to increasing competition and operating standards.” Not surprising, modelling transportation is the starting point for many companies due to the dynamic nature of the market and the critical role transportation plays from a cost management and customer experience perspective. 

Moving on to Transplace, the company announced the strategic acquisition of ScanData Systems, Inc. (ScanData), a provider of parcel transportation management solutions (PTMS).  According to the press release:

ScanData’s enterprise-class, multi-carrier, parcel shipping solution streamlines and optimizes carrier selection, booking, label printing, tracking, invoice reconciliation and Business Intelligence reporting at scale. The solution covers shipping and logistics needs across the entire parcel life cycle. Specializing in supporting parcel shippers with extremely high volumes and complex shipping rules, shippers will immediately benefit from the current integration of ScanData’s PTMS capabilities into Transplace’s industry-leading Transportation Management System (TMS) and broader logistics platform.

ScanData powers parcel, package, and packet shipping logistics for some of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the world with globally recognized brands in the retail and eCommerce industries including many of the highest volume shippers in the U.S. With an average customer tenure of 14 years, ScanData optimizes more than 400 million parcels valued at over $2 billion annually.

Having strong parcel capabilities in a transportation management system is becoming increasingly important. With the rapid growth of e-commerce and the related explosion in package delivery, parcel now plays a much bigger role in distribution operations for retailers, manufacturers and logistics service providers.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “We Close Our Eyes” by Oingo Boingo