Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (March 11, 2022)

This week marks the 3-year anniversary since we launched Indago, our supply chain research community. 

I had been on a journey to find a better way to conduct supply chain market research for several years. Simply put, the traditional research approach has many shortcomings: too many unsolicited emails to unverified recipients; surveys that are too long and take too much time to complete; concerns about confidentiality or solicitation; limited value or incentives to participate, and so on. 

There’s a better way to do it, and that way is Indago’s “uncommon approach” to supply chain market research.

Over the past 3 years, we have conducted 104 surveys on a wide variety of supply chain and logistics topics, and in keeping with our “Research with Purpose” motto, we have donated over $13,000 to a variety of charities, including JDRF, American Logistics Aid Network, American Cancer Society, Feeding America, and Make-A-Wish.

“I decided to join Indago for two reasons,” said the Director of Freight & Warehousing at a $1B+ Food & Beverage company. “One is to be part of a group that provides real time feedback from companies on topics in the supply chain world. The second reason is that Indago supports charities that make the world a better place. It’s a great one – two combination!”

If you’re a supply chain or logistics professional from a manufacturing, retail, or distribution company, I encourage you to learn more about Indago and join our research community. It is confidential, there is no cost to join and the time commitment is minimal (2-4 minutes per week) — plus your participation will help make a difference in people’s lives via the charities we support.

So, go ahead, be uncommon, and research with purpose today!

Moving on to this week’s supply chain and logistics news…

XPO Logistics Takes Logistics Puzzle Apart

What is more fun: putting a puzzle together or taking the pieces apart again?

I’m curious how Brad Jacobs, the CEO of XPO Logistics, would answer that question. After a decade of putting together logistics and transportation companies via several acquisitions, XPO now is now taking the pieces apart again. According to the company’s press release this week:

XPO intends to separate its tech-enabled brokered transportation services from its less-than-truckload (LTL) business in North America; and intends to divest its European business and North American intermodal operation. The planned spin-off transaction is intended to be tax-free to XPO shareholders and would create two focused, publicly traded companies at the top of their industries

Brad Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of XPO Logistics, said, “Our two core businesses of North American less-than-truckload and tech-enabled truck brokerage are industry-leading platforms in their own right, each with a distinct operating model and a high return on invested capital. We believe that by separating these businesses through a spin-off, we can significantly enhance value creation for our customers, employees and shareholders, as we did with our successful spin-off of GXO last year.”

“Our experience is that customers want high levels of service and they want pure-plays, just as shareholders want pure-plays,” Mr. Jacobs said, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal. Here’s more from the article:

[XPO] learned from the GXO spinoff “that when you have a management team doing one thing and being an inch wide and a mile deep in one line of business, that they’re more focused and fit for purpose to drive growth,” Mr. Jacobs said. “We also learned that by creating a pure-play industry leader, you become easier to understand for investors, and you eliminate the conglomerate discount.”

So, best-of-breeds are the way to go again, at least in the transportation and 3PL industry? Does this mean that Maersk, for example, is making a big mistake with all its recent acquisitions? Should it continue to just do “one thing” and stay “an inch wide and mile deep in one line of business” (ocean shipping)?

I don’t get it, but I’m also not that smart (and I suck at puzzles).

Let’s Be Transportation Visibility Partners

When it comes to transportation visibility, there is still so much left to see.

And so many more partnerships to create and grow. 

The latest two were announced this week. Transporeon (a Talking Logistics sponsor) announced a partnership with Blue Yonder to offer real-time visibility to their joint customers. Here are some excerpts from the press release:

Through the partnership, Transporeon’s real-time visibility solution – Sixfold by Transporeon – will provide much-needed access to real-time data for Blue Yonder’s Transportation Management Solution (TMS) customers, delivering precise shipment ETAs to shippers, carriers, and end customers.

Sixfold by Transporeon offers Blue Yonder’s TMS customers the following advantages:

— Holistic end-to-end supply chain planning, execution, and visibility overview
— Access to the largest global carrier network of more than 130.000 carriers
— Increased collaboration through extended logistics service provider offerings
— Increase in clients’ NPS score, and improved carrier collaboration
— Fewer disputes and penalties with insights into real OTIF performance

Also this week, Manhattan Associates (a Talking Logistics sponsor) announced that it has extended its partnership with FourKites to add location tracking for ocean and rail shipments to Manhattan Active® Transportation Management. Here’s more from the press release:

FourKites’ AI-powered Dynamic ETA® capabilities will further strengthen Manhattan’s solution with the most accurate predictive estimated times of arrival in the market, empowering supply chain partners to optimize downstream planning, reduce the time and expense of manual track-and-trace efforts, and increase customer satisfaction. Moreover, because Manhattan Active TM combines seamlessly with Manhattan Active Warehouse Management to form Manhattan Active Supply Chain, this enhanced shipment tracking information with projected receipt dates can also be leveraged by distribution centers for better space and labor planning.

More visibility is good, but as I highlighted last April in “What We Need (More Of) Now In Logistics,” no amount of technology can solve the physical constraints that exist in supply chains today. We also need to improve the poor state of our transportation infrastructure.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “My Love” by Florence + The Machine