doesn’t this just sound so familiar? What a fine article by Chris Kane, Chief Strategy Officer of a family owned third-party logistics provider (3PL).
As the U.S. economy continues to struggle and unemployment remains high, our industry has focused on cost cutting through automation. Technology has undoubtedly helped us move more products more quickly and less expensively than ever before, but have we focused so much on automation and technology that we’ve neglected to identify how they affect the people in our supply chain?
I’m a distribution guy, so I’m the first to admit that technology provides visibility into our operations that makes my life much easier. A single report can tell me exactly where a specific load for any one of our customers is located in real-time. What it doesn’t tell me is how our people in the distribution center hustled to get the trailer loaded, even after a forklift problem, so that the driver didn’t miss his delivery window. Or how the driver’s skills helped her avoid an accident that would have destroyed the customer’s product. If I just look at that report, I miss the most important aspect of our business: the dedication of our people. When things go wrong (as they inevitably do), technology will only get us so far.
Is our industry fast paced? Absolutely. Do we need to utilize the technology available to be more efficient, more cost-effective and more competitive? Of course. But if we pursue those options exclusively, with little regard for the people running our operations, we’ve failed. Because at the end of the day, it’s the efforts of the people in the supply chain that get the product to its destination.