5 questions with C.H. Robinson CEO Bob Biesterfeld

Bob Biesterfeld, CEO of C.H. Robinson, recently spoke with SMC³ about the state of the industry and how technology is helping logistics stakeholders achieve their business objectives. At the Connections 2019 supply chain conference, Biesterfeld will provide further insight into the challenges facing the modern supply chain during “Conversations with Leadership.”

What are some of the major trends you’re currently seeing in the LTL marketplace?

Shipping and logistics are undergoing unprecedented change brought on by e-commerce, digitalization, labor shortages, global trade agreements, acquisitions, new investments and technology innovation. As supply chain strategy moves front and center, real-time visibility, actionable insights and accelerated execution are providing new opportunities to build reliability throughout the supply chain ecosystem and deliver better outcomes.

What supply chain themes have defined the first half of the year?

Half-way through 2019, e-commerce and changing consumer demand continue to be strong drivers of growth. However, these opportunities present a double-edged sword in modern freight transportation, with shippers and carriers seeking to find available capacity while figuring out how to leverage new tools and data. Scale matters. More information that can bring real-time status updates – including delays, route changes, transfer points, arrival times and delivery times – will help prevent even minor slowdowns that can have a ripple effect on the entire supply chain. Leveraging this information will also help streamline planning for all parties and even help improve drivers’ quality of life.

How are retailers impacted by these logistics trends?

As retailers figure out how to meet shifting consumer demands and expectations of “two-day or sooner” delivery, they, in turn, are demanding more from their suppliers. More stringent on-time, in-full requirements mean suppliers must have enough inventory on hand to meet fluctuating demand and deliver the right quantity of correct products or face steep fines for non-compliance. Quality retail consolidation programs can help, but require clear alignment and collaboration across parties.

Retail consolidation experts know how to plan for the specific – often more stringent – requirements of delivering to retailers and have processes in place to reliably deliver on retail compliance programs. These solutions can provide higher compliance levels that promote customer relationships and reduce fines, as well as help reduce damaged items and inventory carrying costs.

How does C.H. Robinson use new technology to optimize its business?

Even in a market of parity, securing capacity and delivering favorable outcomes takes real-time visibility and smart solutions. Technology can help across many aspects of planning, but it is only as strong as the information it brings together and its ability to adapt to the complexities of everyday disruption and change.

We continue to innovate. As an example, we are beta testing a new tool that allows carriers to put together highly optimized routes that show users the chaining impact of loads they select. The technology uses forecasting and probabilities that were developed by our data science teams to predict the availability and pricing of loads in markets so that carriers can put together a “highly optimized route” several days in advance.

In the current supply chain arena, is it necessary for companies like C.H. Robinson to partner with technology providers in order to optimize their business?

As new technologies, such as digital freight matching, AI and robotics, enter the supply chain, it will take an informed infrastructure of people, technology and processes to make it all work together. These new technologies will continue to help accelerate commerce and better manage costs. We are continuously building new, innovative solutions – and evaluating partnerships – as we help our customers optimize their business strategies and outcomes.

To hear more from Bob Biesterfeld and other industry experts, sign up today for the three-day supply chain conference Connections 2019 to learn about emerging trends, current challenges and new innovations in the supply chain. 

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Categories: LTL, Supply Chain
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