All posts by Marion Donahue

About Marion Donahue

Biographical Info Here

Here’s Our Take on The Annual 3PL Study

Each year, Dr. C. John Langley looks forward to the final week of September and CSCMP Edge, the annual conference of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. This year, Dr. Langley, Clinical Professor of Supply Chain Management at Penn State University, and a group of consultants sat on a panel discussion as they normally do to discuss their findings in the 22nd Annual Third Party Logistics Study. The Study is a collaboration between Penn State, Infosys, Korn Ferry, and Penske and can be found and downloaded at www.3PLstudy.com.

This year’s study covered a number of topics, with many of the findings less than surprising for keen watchers of the Third Party Logistics (3PL) industry and marketplace. The report focused on several macro-trends in the world of 3PL/Shipper relationships, including:

  • The rise of blockchain technology and related increases in supply chain visibility
  • Automation/Digitization in the Supply Chain, especially with respect to autonomous vehicles
  • Risk/Resilience in Shipper-3PL relationships to guard against uncertainties and supply chain disruptions, and
  • Logistics talent – a subject so thoroughly studied that reports and responses specifically focused here are readily available

For us here at Columbian Logistics Network, the discussion of those trends ranges from informational – as with blockchain technology – to redundant – as with the rise of self-driving automobiles and the gap in logistics talent across the country. What’s more interesting, however, is what can be found when looking at the differences between the perceptions of 3PLs and those of their customers (shippers).

The IT Gap

Professor Langley identifies “The IT Gap” as the difference in the perceptions of shippers and 3PLs when it comes to IT capabilities. Specifically, in 2017, 91% of shippers responded that IT capabilities are a necessary element of 3PL expertise, but only 56% of shippers reported that they are satisfied with the IT capabilities of their 3PL provider. This difference of 45% is referred to as the IT Gap, and it widened this year for the second year in a row.

What does this really mean when the rubber meets the road?  If 45% of respondents are unsatisfied with their provider’s capabilities, why aren’t we seeing more turnover in the industry?  Why aren’t shippers insourcing to get rid of their providers and close the gap? Does anyone even care?

The answers to these questions are far more nuanced than the report’s citation of shippers looking to providers to make analytical decisions. At Columbian, we have a few thoughts on why this gap might exist, and what we can all do to close it:

Business Goals – At Columbian, we like to say that for every customer we have, we see a different reason to outsource. Inherent in our business model is that we assist customer organizations in achieving their business goals, regardless of what those goals are. Sometimes those include IT capabilities, sometimes not.

Expectations – “Technology capabilities” may be very important to most shippers, but when pressed, many shipper representatives would struggle to explain exactly why that’s the case, other than that’s what they hear, or that’s what they read in an industry publication. Technology comes at a price, so it’s not a stretch to think that while a shipper may want its provider to upgrade IT capabilities, s/he may not want see financial value in it.

Communication – It seems elementary, but far too often, gaps in knowledge or expectations can be closed with simple communication. A robust request for proposal (RFP) process when searching for the right provider can weed out 3PLs with cultural differences that don’t meet a shipper’s needs. Even after implementation, a regular, formal review process ensures that 3PL performance and shipper business goals don’t drift apart over the duration of a relationship.

So what of the IT Gap? Is it a fabrication of an academic mind, explained only in a series of charts and graphs? Is it a fundamental pillar of the shipper-3PL relationship that causes pain either explicitly or implicitly? At Columbian, we’d love to have a deeper conversation. We would love to hear what investments in the forefront of IT capabilities would do for a shipper’s confidence in its 3PL. We invite the chance to discuss how to accomplish business goals with multiple tools, including but not limited to IT capabilities. Call us. Tweet us. Contact UsContact us through www.columbianlogistics.com. Come chat with us at our next Pints with Peers series happy hour. Let’s see if we can close that IT Gap through collaboration, insight, and meaningful discourse.

Columbian Hosts Company Picnic

On Sunday, September 17th, Columbian hosted a picnic for their employees at Douglas Walker Park in Byron Center. Employees and their families enjoyed a day of games, BBQ food catered by Adeline Leigh, and some attendees even went home with prizes and cash!

From flinging around their new Columbian frisbees to tossing water balloons, picnic attendees had a blast.

Alan Haynes, continuous improvement manager, built custom Columbian boards for the picnic. The lucky winner of the cornhole toss was able to bring the set home! Congrats to Ashley Oosterink (Julie Oosterink’s Daughter // Payroll & Benefits Specialist) for scoring a whopping 18 points!

We even had a magician at the picnic for the children’s entertainment. Maciek the Magician performed a number of magic acts that blew their minds.

Toward the end of the picnic, raffle prize winners were announced. Winners had their choice from envelopes of mystery cash up to $500, a Husky tool bag, Columbian swag, and a die-cast forklift model. What would you have chosen?

Visit our Facebook page to view more photos from the event.

Columbian Donates Food to Children in Need

Have you heard of the organization Hand2Hand yet? This organization is doing amazing things for children in our community. Hand2Hand is a nonprofit founded in West Michigan that delivers hope to hungry children by mobilizing communities to provide nutritious food over the weekend to kids.

We have been looking for opportunities to give back to our community this quarter. So after being referred to this amazing organization, Columbian held a Hand2Hand food drive at our corporate location in Grandville, Michigan.

Other local companies participated in our food drive, such as Action Packaging, Bosch Killman VanderWal PC, and Williamson Employment Services. With the combined effort from Columbian and other local companies, Columbian was able to donate thousands of individual food items to the organization. The items collected will supplement food that goes home with children over the weekend provided by hand2hand partners.

“Being food logistics experts, this cause really stood out to us.” said Julie Oosterink, Payroll & Benefits Specialist / Coordinator of this community event, Columbian Logistics Network. “Columbian employees enjoy giving back, especially to the local community. It is important to employees that we are good members of the community and that we share our time and treasure with others.”

The food that we collected for Hand2Hand will be used at their H.O.P.E. Gathering Event in Caledonia. If you would like to attend this event, please RSVP here.

Who should we help next? Email Marketing Coordinator, Marion Donahue, with any recommendations: mdonahue@columbian.us

Click here to share our press release!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Forget to Thank a Truck Driver This Week

Every day, millions of Americans get behind the wheel and head out on the highways. Some of them are off to the store, some to school or work and some very special drivers are on the highway for work.

There are 3.5 million professional truck drivers in America. These hard-working professionals deliver America’s food, fuel, medicine, clothing – every item in your home or office – was delivered by a truck.

Next week – September 10-16 – is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. It is a time for us to honor the professionalism and sacrifice of the men and women on whom we depend for so much.

These drivers delivered nearly 10 billion tons of freight last year, that’s about 70% of all the freight moved in the U.S. Eighty percent of communities – cities and towns like Grand Rapids – receive all their goods via truck.

The trucking industry is the backbone of our economy, and our professional drivers are our industry’s heart. They are committed to safely delivering all the things that make our collective quality of life possible. Their commitment to safety is apparent in the consistent improvements in highway safety we have seen over the past decade.

Next week, when you head to the store and see the variety of products that are available on the shelves, think about the professional drivers that got them there. When you’re in your home or office, look around and realize all those items were at some point in the back of a truck before they got where they are.

When you’re out to dinner, think about the meal you’re about to eat and how the ingredients were very recently delivered by truck.

During this National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, take a moment to be thankful for the efforts of America’s truck drivers and recognize that without them, your table, your closet, and the store would all be empty.

Our trucks, and truck drivers, truly do move America forward.