Have you ever wondered what other company’s fleets look like? How other companies source their fleet units, parts, and services? What information is needed to begin? The first thing to know, is that no two fleet profiles are the same. The second thing to understand, is that there is no right place to start; it all depends on your corporate procurement goals. Are you trying to maximize upfront funds? Is your goal to streamline services and optimize vehicle performance? Are you attempting to marry two fleets after a merger or acquisition? There are endless scenarios that will benefit from strategic procurement thinking.
Fleet operations can absolutely be an overwhelming category to manage. Between deciding on the right vehicle manufacturer, understanding the ever-changing vehicle features, selecting the appropriate maintenance plans, managing fluctuating fuel costs, and more – the active time required is substantial. However, rather than looking at this category as a mountainous challenge, Fleet should be seen as a major cost saving opportunity.
There are multiple triggers for evaluating the fleet category from the top down beyond just due diligence:
- Evaluating internal versus external management of the fleet.
- Mergers and acquisitions will prompt the evaluation and consolidation of fleet operations.
- A new company strategy may mandate the need for a new fleet policy.
- Maybe the organization lacks a concrete fleet policy or management structure and has outgrown a passive management phase.
In all of these hypothetical situations, a few best practices can be used for an effective category evaluation that enables both cost savings and process optimization.
For any of the reasons listed above, the fleet evaluation/optimization process benefits from taking a two-pronged approach that includes both a comprehensive OEM evaluation and a Fleet Management Services (FMS) provider evaluation. If the fleet administration and management function is housed internally, this two-pronged approach still applies in terms of analyzing the internally managed program (reactive and preventative maintenance programs, acquisition and resale processes, etc.).
The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit by Gwynne Richards and Susan Grinsted is an instructional book based in reality, free from assumptions and pretense but full of real world applications. The toolkit concept, one that is continued throughout the book, spotlights process and analytical assets that are described by the authors as including “guides, frameworks, models, quick calculations, and practical ideas.” The topics covered in the book range from an essential review of Incoterms to a more advanced discussion of Decision Matrix Analysis.
Leadership is a rare and valuable attribute that will separate a good professional from a great one. A leader will possess a unique vision and the ability to transform this into a tangible reality. Most importantly, a leader should inspire others to do the same.
A united, forward-looking outlook is the best way to continue to propel the logistics industry forward. As a fast-growing sector affected by globalisation and advancements in technology, innovators must be a driving force. Having access to new ideas will play a fundamental role in building each leader’s influence and unique impact on the organization.
Check out these five key signs of a logistics leaders to enhance your own professional standing.
“In other words, an effective management of a firm’s digital supply chain will have a positive impact on productivity and growth; ignorance will very likely result in the loss of competitive advantage and have a detrimental effect on performance.” (e-Logistics, p. 4)
“The benefits of the global connectivity achieved by both ocean and air transport reach practically every type of modern industry and business and are an essential ingredient of the global supply chain.” (Aviation Logistics, p. 1)
I went into my review of Fashion Logistics: Insights into the Fashion Retail Supply Chain by John Fernie and David Grant (Kogan Page, November 2015) with pragmatic acceptance of the fact that it would contain more logistics than fashion. I could not have been more wrong. Far from being a dry, flat examination of the global garment industry, this book is a well rounded representation of an industry that is facing not only challenges but an increasing pace of change. The case studies and historical context are as indulgent as many of the brands the authors cover.
Done well, the use of supply chain companies brings technical superiority and innovation to the project, and their specialist knowledge and experience brings enhanced efficiency, quality and consistency of delivery. However, there can also be increased risk if the strengths and weaknesses of the third party companies are not fully understood and managed.” (p. 78)
Supply Chain Management & Logistics in Construction: Delivering Tomorrow’s Built Environment (Kogan Page 2015) contains the collective knowledge of seventeen highly qualified contributors representing a number of roles within the industry – including its suppliers. Greger Lungesjö, listed as the book’s author, serves a double role as contributor and editor.
It is important to clarify that logistics has a different meaning in the construction industry than it does in others. Logistics is the term used to describe the movement of materials, people, and supporting services around a project site – not getting the materials, equipment, and people to the building site. You might even think of logistics as the ‘indirect spend’ of a construction site/project. It is absolutely critical, but it does not become part of the final structure. Fear not however, supply chain is still supply chain – an area of investment from which the industry is just starting to realize the potential for benefit.
Logistics and Supply Chain in Emerging Markets (Kogan Page, 2014) by John Manners-Bell, Thomas Cullen, and Cathy Roberson adeptly captures the interconnectedness of global economies and commercial activity while also studying a number of countries and industries independently.
Humanitarian Logistics: Meeting the Challenges of Preparing for and Responding to Disasters (Kogan Page, 2014), by Peter Tatham and Martin Christopher, provides a look inside the challenges faced by the people and organizations providing relief after disaster strikes.
Over 900 years ago, Marco Polo, his father and uncle began their 24 year journey from Europe to Asia and back. It was very much an unknown and they were often learning as they went. Communicating back home was impossible. The languages are all different along the way as well.
Trucks use a lot of fuel and leave a large carbon footprint. Over the years, trucks have been designed to be lighter and more efficient to reduce their fuel usage and be less expensive to operate.
This week’s featured webinar was hosted by Supply & Demand Chain Executive and sponsored by C.H. Robinson, a global leader in third party logistics. The speakers were from Nature’s Path Foods and the Sustainable Food Trade Organization. Twitter #ShipGreen for more information or to join the conversation.
The Sustainable Food Trade Organization shared the structure that Nature’s Path was able to leverage for their sustainable logistics program. Most members of the SFTO see both consumer demand and regulatory pressure as drivers for their sustainability programs. As with other change management efforts, companies find it difficult to get started on being more resource efficient and strategic about their sustainability.
The SFTO also recognizes the common wisdom that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. They had identified the need for appropriate metrics to help guide businesses through the implementation of sustainability programs. It took years to collect the member feedback and research required to put together a list of eleven metrics specific to the organic food industry: organic, energy, climate change, distribution, water use, packaging, waste, animal care, labor, education, governance. These metrics are used for reporting, accountability and continuous improvement, and are available on their website.
Nature’s Path is a member of the SFTO, and they used the sustainability metrics to drive cost reductions and environmental impact reductions through their third party logistics program. Key among the measurable goals of their program was to reduce waste, defined as contributions to landfills and their CO2 footprint including supplies coming into their facilities as well as consumer-ready product going out. 78% of their ingredients are sourced in North America, production takes place in Canada, Washington and Wisconsin, and their product is shipped to 42 countries. They share their annual sustainability report on their website.
Nature’s Path Sustainable Logistics Case Study
With the support of the SFTO measurement framework, Nature’s Path began working with C.H. Robinson on improving the sustainability of their logistics needs. From the beginning this was a collaborative effort between the organizations, and they co-created the program based on shared goals. Nature’s Path wanted to be involved with the direction of the process but not the details of how to make it happen because the logistics piece is not their focus.
They were able to take advantage of a number of opportunities to improve both environmental impact and also cost effectiveness by strategically locating distribution facilities as they expanded and taking advantage of intermodal optimization: blending the use of rail, ship and truck to manage both costs and emissions.
They minimized border crossings between Canada and the US to reduce miles as well as customs fees, and looked to find new eastern ingredient sources so they were sourcing where they sold – both supporting local communities and minimizing transportation costs. Another example of benefitting financially while staying true to their core values was in the handling of damaged packages. Nature’s Path and C.H. Robinson would find a way to donate them to local food banks or shelters: saving the cost of return shipping while also supporting local communities.
With the structure of metrics in place from an early point in the process, data management and therefore reporting were a high value outcome. Reporting was key to helping Nature’s Path understand their progress and successes and also to continue to grow the benefits through their customers and stakeholders. The facts allowed Nature’s Path to demonstrate to their customers how they could further reduce costs and environmental impact with their ordering procedures.
- CO2 footprint reduced by 20%
- Customs charges reduced by 60% (less finished goods moved across borders)
- On time delivery over 90%
- Reductions in transport costs through modal conversions, consolidation, fewer miles traveled
- Shortages, damages, returns almost eliminated
- No increase in size of the Nature’s Path internal logistics department