November 2019 LM Viewpoint: Transformation starts with the basics

By Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director

While we continue to use our pages to beat the drum that a digital approach offers the promise of a fully connected network with access to real-time visibility to capacity and warehouse space, this year’s findings suggest that there has been a slight shift to a more passive “wait-and-see” attitude.
It was those findings that inspired the staff at Logistics Management (LM) to do a couple of things. First, we decided to take a more fundamental approach to the sessions we programed for this year’s LM Virtual Summit, which goes live on Thurs. Dec. 12.
Through the voices of some of our top technology sources we’ve designed sessions that explore the baseline benefits that artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Cloud SCM, robotics, mobility and digital freight matching (DFM) can bring to your operations.
We’re aiming to offer logistics professionals practical tips for evaluating, implementing and leveraging today’s technology to help gain some traction and hopefully stop those wheels from spinning. Ideally, we hope to turn you, our readers, into catalysts for change inside your companies. Register today and let’s get started.
Second, the 2019 Masters findings sent us on a quest for examples of operations taking a more aggressive digital approach to meet today’s logistics challenges—and this month we offer you shipper cases studies that demonstrate exactly that. In this issue’s cover story, for example, we highlight how global chemical producer LANXESS shed its in-house logistics management efforts and offloaded it to a tech-forward 3PL focused specifically on chemical logistics.
“Think about the complexity,” says contributing editor Bridget McCrea. “They have 15,000 employees in 33 countries working in 60 production sites worldwide, and the team was procuring its own freight and managing its own transportation routing through its own TMS. This created major visibility gaps, not just in capacity and cost, but in terms of aligning freight audit and payment functions.”
As McCrea reports, LANXESS put together an implementation team and brought in a consultant that was familiar with SAP—their ERP—and their 3PL’s TMS platform.
Today, when the logistics team needs to find out freight costs for a customer, they can pull up that data and provide it within minutes—and with minimal effort. “Using filters for a certain time period, for instance, it can review all of a customer’s shipments during that time, and see all of the costs—from the line haul to the fuel charge to any accessorial charges,” says McCrea.
And starting on page 48, McCrea also tells how LS2, a motorcycle helmet manufacturer, put a scalable, on-demand warehousing and fulfillment platform to work to get product to dealers quickly and efficiently and gain a new level of inventory and order management data that helped to achieve triple-digit revenue growth.
“These case studies are terrific examples of logistics leaders who got fed up with being stuck in old systems,” adds McCrea. “Both companies got clarity on what they needed to do and then pushed through their digital transformation and saw outstanding benefit.”
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