After the break, we heard from Ben Fuqua, vice president of the management and supply chain consulting team within TranSystems Corporation.
In his presentation, Ben discussed the impact of the dynamic transportation environment, with case studies reviewing impacts on infrastructure and shippers. One theme that echoed David Simchi-Levi's presentation: Green can be compatible with efficient distribution.
Ben noted that the transportation industry is in transition, and supply chains are having to deal with rising transportation/logistics costs. Costs are being driven by, among other things, higher fuel costs and new fees envisioned for containers coming through ports. Volume is shifting between ports (e.g., increased traffic through East Coast ports), trucking bankruptcies are increasing, rail companies are investing in capacity, use of intermodal is increasing.
Against this backdrop, what are companies changing in how they operate in this environment? How are they balancing supply chain costs with customer-service levels? Ben presented case studies of companies balancing these issues, including a toy manufacturer, a home furnishings wholesaler, a durable goods manufacturer and a beverage manufacturer (see Ben's slides from his presentation on the Symposium Web site – the slides are due to be posted by the end of the Symposium on Friday). Lessons learned: each company's optimal network is going to be different, depending on their business model, but you won't be able to understand whether you have the optimal solution without going through the modeling process. And modeling can help you come up with a flexible solution that is going to help your supply chain adapt to the coming changes as the transportation industry continues to be in transition.