Parry: The inbound transportation management systems are a part of an overall supply chain visibility process. As I stated earlier, we are using Oracle as our TMS on the inbound side. The network is designed to provide visibility of events from the time that a purchase order is created until the goods are received into our distribution centers.
The TMS system not only has streamlined the inbound transportation work flows, but has enabled us to move forward with other supply chain initiatives. We are working with several vendors on a rapid replenishment initiative focusing on out of stock and inventory levels. This system plays an integral part in that initiative.
Are you integrating inbound and outbound together to leverage rates continually across the entire move?
Bostick: Yes, we have just begun and it's a huge initiative in the coming months. This is a real opportunity for not only rate savings, but also potential raw material savings, especially since we were recently acquired by the Blackstone Group.
Looking across their total portfolio, there could be a lot of synergies with our new sister companies.
Koerner: We are doing this whenever we can and have some success to claim, but the reality is this is great to talk about and model, and much harder to implement. I do expect these successes to increase as we use our route optimizer and visibility tools to do a much better job of taking advantage of these opportunities.
Parry: Yes. We feed our outbound system from the Oracle system. The outbound system manages and reports all of the activities with the deliveries and pick ups. We use TMW "Results Now" as a dashboard for the metrics and feed all of the relevant information on events back to the Oracle system for inbound tracking.
What changes have you made due to new governmental policies and directives especially relating to homeland security?
Parry: We are in pretty good shape in this area. Most if not all of the information that we are required to be able to provide as a result of the new governmental policy was already being used in one form or another in our systems. We were able to make a few minor adjustments on the timing and information flow to meet the new policy. We continue to try and leverage new technology to help with the homeland security policies. Our drivers are part of Highway Watch and we are experimenting with new technology such as electronic trailer locks to enhance our current security measures.
Reilly: We are working to be in compliance with government policies and directives. Part of this is to make sure our carriers are compliant and work with them to achieve this goal. We do that through qualification guidelines and ask for proof the carriers meet these guidelines. Our own drivers go through extensive highway-watch training programs as mandated by some state government agencies. We also work with customers to use proper seals and padlocks. On our high profile loads we conduct background checks and require ID badges to heighten security.
Bostock: Most of the changes are on the custody of the load. This includes seal and BOL integrity and in-route load breeches that include accidents and inspection. In the past it was acceptable to state on the BOL, but now it is a reportable and documented item. This however has been especially challenging on the Intermodal side due to the nature of transit times.
Koerner: The issue with the governmental policies that need to be made is that many of our customers view these requirements differently, so we end up trying to follow the direction of these customers, and in many cases they are conflicting. Good business practices tell us that security is a higher priority than we have made it before, and we need to both lead and follow in this area.