At Connections 2021 – a virtual event scheduled for June 28-30 – logistics and supply chain leaders will gather to discuss everything from the transformed supply chain to next-generation leadership and how to capitalize on the final mile. Coming off a historically disruptive year, one of those topics is how to remain nimble, agile, and prepared through new technologies. Modern transportation is currently undergoing large-scale transformation due to recent technology development trends.
During this year’s virtual event, Chad Crotty, Vice President of Sales with DDC FPO, will provide critical insight into “Overcoming Obstacles through New Technologies,” where he will delve into new technology and provide insight into overcoming obstacles while simultaneously working towards milestones. Crotty recently took some time to discuss with SMC³ some of the ways his company adapted to such a disruptive year and how companies can plan for similar events.
More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, how has DDC FPO adapted to all the rapid changes we’ve seen in the industry over the past eighteen months?
In 30+ years as a business process outsourcing (BPO) provider, we have seen some of our biggest challenges and successes over the last 18 months. As a trusted partner to nearly half of the top carriers in North America, failure was not an option.
Two of the biggest challenges we faced while staying fully operational involved keeping our employees safe and supporting sustained growth due to a spike in e-commerce. In collaboration with one of our customers who purchased government-approved test kits for our teams, we quickly set up our own medical facilities to provide COVID-19 testing for our employees. In addition, we provided food, lodging, transportation, and medical assistance for our staff. We also built out a work-from-home program on two separate continents for those who were able to work remotely.
Additionally, we experienced approximately a 25 percent increase in freight volume and quickly staffed up to support our carrier partners. And finally, we launched our IT Outsourcing suite of services amid all this change to provide additional support to the industry. The fact that we pulled it all off successfully is incredibly remarkable.
How has the insight we’ve gained over the course of the pandemic highlighted the need for transportation technology development?
I think, above anything else, it has highlighted the need to leverage technology to help build out a more robust contingency plan for business continuity and disaster recovery planning. Whether you need to set up remote access for your work-from-home staff – factoring in data security, system access protocols, and training – or you need real-time shipment visibility throughout the supply chain, these things all require dependable IT solutions. Some of these solutions require upfront Capex investments in technology or partnering with providers who can supply capable solutions. Regardless of which route you take, it’s critical to ensure that your result ties back to making your business run more efficiently, more effectively, and more securely.
What unique challenges, if any, do you think carriers and 3PLs face as they adjust to the “new normal”? How can they solve these challenges?
The transportation industry is incredibly resilient and adaptable. That said, a combination of factors relating to a demand for more visibility in the shipment process – sustained spikes in e-commerce, a potential labor shortage, and expanding driver shortage – we will be faced with calls for more automation in operations to support growing demand. Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and autonomous trucks are all quickly becoming common topics of discussion as the technology evolves. I would encourage carriers and 3PLs to keep a close eye on these items as the technology will inevitably improve in the years to come and engage with partners who understand your business and how these solutions can create value for you.
What advice can you give to supply chain stakeholders on how to maintain a nimble, agile supply chain over the long-term?
If we have learned anything in the last 18 months, expect the unexpected and plan accordingly. Take a deep dive into your current processes and look for weak spots. Those are the areas that need attention. Those are the areas where you are most likely to fail. Looking at things like business continuity and disaster recovery planning, setting up redundant processes like backups, or leveraging the expertise of a BPO provider, like DDC, creates flexibility and scalability within your organization are all intelligent ways to plan for long-term success.
To hear more from Chad Crotty and other supply chain and logistics experts, register today for the Connections 2021 virtual supply chain conference.