Meister: The tools included in the LeanLogistics system have improved our visibility to the key milestones in the life of a shipment, resulting in better communication with our carriers and customers. Automated event notifications ensure that all interested parties are informed quickly if key milestones are not met. Centralized visibility to all shipments ensures that we make the optimal transportation decision. We have integrated our freight payment process with the traffic planning process, ensuring that our costs are more accurate and transparent.
Foster: We are probably less enamored than most with what is commonly accepted as visibility, or track and trace. This method fundamentally tells you where everything is or was, or measures what happened. Frankly, we believe this approach is outdated. We aren’t so much interested in viewing or having access to the norm. We are very much interested in non-conforming events, particularly with a forward-looking perspective.
We are seeking solutions that provide intelligent alerting and decision support. The ideal system recognizes trends or events, forecasts a possible failure in elements of the supply chain and then furnishes a set of corrective options based on the characteristics of the supply chain and the attributes of available resources. There are pieces of this in today’s technology, but there is much more that needs to be developed to realize the potential of this powerful concept.
How is your company using new technology and/or procedures to improve the management of inbound transportation activities? What benefits have you achieved?
Johnson: We have visibility to inbound loads and are aware of the benefit from a cost and capacity standpoint of being able to reload an inbound carrier. We are starting to measure our effectiveness so we can evaluate how successful we are in this area.
Parry: To help manage our inbound activities, we are using a Web-based system called GC3 from G-Log. We now have visibility of all product orders from the time they are generated to the time they are received into our distribution facilities. We have been able to proactively share the information all along the supply chain with partners both internal and external to Giant Eagle. We have the process and tools in place to help our vendors become more efficient by having a single reference point for delivery information regardless of who is controlling the transportation.
Foster: We view inbound more from a "continuous move" or network perspective as opposed to single event. From that perspective, we envision significant improvement of our network and our partners’ networks as we propagate the new technology. Immediate results, although not as significant as the network optimization, include enhanced reporting, visibility/alerting and a significantly more flexible architecture supporting future growth and currently unanticipated needs.
Meister: We use the same traffic planning tools for a significant portion of our inbound and outbound freight. This ensures that we are taking advantage of all backhaul and continuous move opportunities that exist. Extending the planning window to view all possible shipments also helps keep freight continuously moving through our network.
Are you integrating inbound and outbound together to leverage rates continually across the entire move?
Johnson: We are beginning to do this at our DCs. We are also looking at integrating raw material trucks inbound to our plants into our DC loads.
Parry: Yes, on a limited basis. Because we are able to do business and share information across the Web, it opens up some opportunities to leverage the outbound and inbound moves. We are excited about expanding this new program. However, we have not been leveraging these activities on a large scale or engaging in this activity for a substantial amount of time.
Foster: First, our view is that integration of movement goes much beyond integrating just inbound and outbound. That is too limiting a concept. Also, as we seek to leverage the network, we don’t look at the end-game as leveraging rates, although the end result may appear to be just that. If our networks, and the networks across enterprises with our partners, are synchronized, then all partners should see efficiency improvements and shared benefits. Those benefits may be minimal for one partner on one particular segment, but overall the advantages should re-balance among partners as the entire network is optimized and the plan is executed.