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Using technology to tame the ‘supply chain beast’

Using technology to tame the ‘supply chain beast’
Using technology to tame the ‘supply chain beast’

The right technology can tame your supply chain beast and save your company from sinking. 

Kendra Phillips from Ryder Systems recently spoke with The Logistics of Logistics Podcast about how supply chain problems can be dissolved when technology analyzes the correct data. 

Philips is the vice president of global transportation management at the Miami, Florida-based company. Ryder (NYSE: R), a leading logistics company, manages nearly 260,000 commercial vehicles and operates approximately 300 warehouses. It provides, among other things, supply chain management, e-commerce fulfillment, last-mile delivery, freight brokerage, and commercial truck rental. 

“We all know that in supply chains and transportation, things don’t always go according to plan,” says Phillips. She explains that stopping short of understanding how to respond is a real problem. “Understanding how to properly react and what information you need to handle that exception or handle that disruption.”

What’s the problem? “A lot of small trucking companies can’t afford or didn’t use to have all the technology needed to really be a competitor today,” says Phillips. 

What’s the solution? “[Ryder] have lots of different ways to technologically integrate with carriers. [This helps] to get all their latest data, their tracking information, their check-in, check-out, their documents,” explains Phillips. 

Correlating the data

Artificial intelligence (AI) is often cited as a solution to problems across the scope. Says Phillips, “Everyone’s ready to tackle the latest challenge with AI.”

However, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, to get all the supply chain and logistics players to have a “consistent set of data” is easier said than done. 

Normalizing your data across warehouses, transportation, different service providers, and industries is “near impossible.” However, Phillips believes this “sets the stage for success with AI.”

Without the right technology to analyze the data correctly, it will be “garbage in, garbage out.”

‘Cautiously optimistic’ about AI

Many corporates are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about AI’s place in business, while others fully embrace it. Phillips believes it has its place.  

When leveraging AI and trying to get more “sophisticated” data, you’ll have to make sure you have “all your ducks in a row.” She warns that it’s easy to make “poor decisions through AI.”

“It’s up to us as leaders in the industry to differentiate what we are ready for and what we’re not yet.” 

Tech: Opportunity and challenge

Technology is flooding the logistics and supply chain sectors, which is good and bad. It attracts investment but makes choosing the right technology for your company’s needs difficult. 

Phillips says having a normalized data set across the company is paramount. Especially for companies that have undergone acquisitions to standardize data. This is the only way to leverage new technologies effectively. 

It is vital to pick technology that is easy to understand and can be used without extensive training. 

Philips says that previously, user-friendly interfaces were seen as a bonus, but now they are a basic. 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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