With a U.S. economic slowdown emerging and regulatory burdens mounting, smart supply chain leaders will be concentrating upon collaboration and effective use of vast amounts of data in order to maximize productivity.
That was an overriding message of SMC3 Jump Start 2016, held Jan. 18-20 in Atlanta. Fittingly, the conference, now in its 61st year, for the first time featured a Logistics Technology Summit.
In welcoming participants, Michelle D. Livingstone, vice president for transportation at The Home Depot, said forging “shipper of choice” partnerships with carriers is increasingly a priority of the largest U.S. home improvement retailer.
“Another thing that’s very near and dear to the heart is port productivity,” Livingstone said, adding that The Home Depot, headquartered in Atlanta suburban Cobb County, looks to focus even more upon efficiencies in moving goods through marine terminals.
She noted that the company’s “four corners” approach for dividing import volumes between Seattle-Tacoma, Los Angeles-Long Beach, New York-New Jersey and Savannah helped as The Home Depot “fared better than most” among major retailers when labor issues last year seriously slowed operations at West Coast seaports.
Livingstone also put in a plug for needed progress in workplace diversity throughout the logistics industry, citing figures showing only about 13 percent of those employed in transportation are female.
In a separate presentation, Bradley S. Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO Logistics Inc., said solid partnerships with other providers of third-party logistics services are a priority for his burgeoning company.
“We absolutely want to do more business with 3PLs,” Jacobs said. “We want to work with competitors as long as there’s no BS in the relationship.”
Jacobs added that, after completing 16 acquisitions over the preceding 4 1/2 years, including October’s $3 billion purchase of less-than-truckload provider Con-way Inc., XPO is intent upon a one-year hiatus from buying up other logistics companies, commenting, “This year, it’s all about internally getting things well-honed.”
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