Padraig Coffey, CEO at Zartis and podcast host, is joined by Tyler Patterson, Managing Director at C.H. Robinson, as they discuss the challenges and opportunities of logistics and supply chain technology.
On logistics and supply chain technology
Tyler has spent the last decade in the logistics and supply chain space at C.H. Robinson, where he is currently Managing Director. Coming from an engineering background, he has deep expertise in the sector and the technology enabling it.
Here are some of the topics covered:
- The challenges and opportunities of the sector.
- The major changes in logistics and supply chain technology over the past years.
- The impact of 2020 on demand in the sector.
- The complexity of Covid-19 vaccine distribution.
- What is next for the sector and where is technology evolving towards.
Tyler, maybe you can tell us a little bit about what are the main challenges when it comes to logistics technology?
When I think about the challenges in this space, there are two big things that come to mind. One is scaling. And the other one is the complexity.
So on the scaling side – the rise of e-commerce – we’ve heard about this for some time, it’s been a popular topic for the last five years or so. Every time you and I placed an order for something to be delivered – that’s an individual order to be shipped to somebody. In the past logistics would have been probably more focused on pallet shipments, full truck shipments going business to business, warehouse to warehouse, and so you’re moving more physical goods. And with e-commerce the amount of goods per order is drastically reduced, so the volume of transactions at your databases really scale. So I think there’s a massive scale challenge in there.
On the complexity side, I think the reality of supply chains is not always hitting home for people. So if you think about it, someone shows up at your door and hands you a package today, that is not the person who picked up that package to bring it to you. It’s not the same person who was there at the beginning of the supply chain when we are manufacturing that product. So the reality is to go from the very beginning of a supply chain to the delivery at your door at whatever the final destination is, there are a lot of handoffs, and it could be a lot of time, it could be that it shipped, it went on an ocean liner, it landed in our warehouse, it sat for a few weeks, then you placed your order, then it shipped. So that complexity and giving the true end to end connection of all that data is I think, a really big challenge in the space for sure.
And Tyler, if we were to flip that and look at what are the opportunities for various actors in this space, how would you conceive of that?
For sure, the number one opportunity in this space to me is leveraging data to make decisions. In the past, logistics was pretty paper driven. The technology advancement of customers and carriers – so not the logistics supply chain companies like CH Robinson – but the customers and carriers wasn’t very high. And so when you’re managing paper, it’s difficult to pull out data trends. But now that there’s so much adoption of technology across the industry carriers, customers included, leveraging that data to make better decisions and supply chains is I think the biggest place for opportunities – be that a customer making good decisions for their own supply chain, or companies doing the shipping and making the right decisions for a massive pool of transactions across different customers, you know being shipped globally.
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