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2/8/2012 10:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Collaboration, Leaner Supply Chains, Data Visibility Among Logistics Trends

By Seth Clevenger, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Feb. 6 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

WASHINGTON — Leaner supply chains, more data visibility and collaborations between direct competitors are among the trends taking hold in the transportation industry, logistics executives and researchers said.

Companies have turned their focus toward identifying and eliminating waste, Carl Fowler, senior director of business development at Menlo Worldwide Logistics, said on Jan. 24 at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting.

Over the past 20 years, freight movers have been able to leverage changes in the industry and “move up the supply chain evolutionary scale” by working with external parties, he said.

Now, though, in the absence of “game-changing” advances in technology or infrastructure, companies have begun to look internally for ways to drive down supply chain costs, he said.

Menlo Worldwide Logistics, based in San Mateo, Calif., ranks No. 19 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies in the United States and Canada. The third-party logistics provider is a unit of Con-way Inc.

Mike Erlandson, vice president of government affairs at grocery retailer and wholesaler Supervalu Inc., said grocery stores aren’t stockpiling as much as they have in the past.

“The backrooms of grocery stores are very much gone today,” he said.

Supervalu, Eden Prairie, Minn., ranks No. 18 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in the United States and Canada.

Companies also want to gain better visibility of their inventories and turn it into “actionable intelligence,” Fowler said.

Third-party logistics providers control large swaths of companies’ data, “but that data is silent” unless they study the information to drive supply chain improvements, he said.

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