Insider Blog

The SMC³Jump Start 2023 Conference Day Two Sessions Serve Up More Supply Chain Intelligence and Networking Opportunities

Sessions focused on supply chain technology, digital transformation, sustainability, and more.

Jump Start 2023 continued to inspire and educate on day two of the industry’s premier three-day supply chain event. With record-setting attendance and a line-up of prominent transportation speakers, the day’s conference delivered powerful insights on the current state of the industry and what’s on the horizon.

The Next Frontier for Technology

Mike Neill, Chief Technology Officer at C.H. Robinson, kicked things off with a Jump Start “Leadership Series: In the Fast Lane” session on technology that is moving the supply chain industry forward. As a leading 3PL and global 4PL provider, C.H. Robinson leverages technology  to run a more effective supply chain for its 100,000 customers and 85,000 contract carriers in 150 countries, across 6 continents.

“We’ve architected our whole company around the API concept and now people are able to tap into our systems and get rates really fast,” said Neill. “We’re able to integrate with some of the technology providers in this room, 3PLs, customers or carriers—and trade information very quickly and efficiently.”

Calling API a “game changer” for C.H. Robinson, Neill also forecast what technology is on the verge of further transforming the transportation industry. He noted artificial intelligence (AI) holds promise as an exciting technology. “Whether it’s autonomous everything or drones, an AI engine and brains are required to make them work. I think we’re there, we’re on the verge,” Neill said.

Driving Digital Transformation

One session included a four-panel discussion on how to accelerate digital transformation given the enormous amount of data accumulated every day in the industry. The panelists were David Brajkovich, Chief Technology Officer, Polaris Transportation; Zach Jecklin, Chief Information Officer, Echo Global Logistics; Richard Greening, Chief Information Officer, DDC FPO; and Jay Tomasello, Chief Information Officer, Forward.

“You might get 20 to 50 times as much data on one transaction at Echo compared to a decade ago,” said Jecklin, who oversees technology for the provider of transportation management and brokerage services. “We’re lucky that capturing data is getting easier, not harder—and getting cheaper, not more expensive.”

At Polaris Transportation, Brajkovich says the company archives and catalogs its data to ensure the noisy data is not interfering with its true value data. He said the company is focused on moving beyond being data rich, but information poor. “We want to make data informative, push it into a bi-intelligent process where you’re using it on a daily basis. It is your dashboard,” Brajkovich said.  

Forward’s Tomasello noted that the tools for dealing with unstructured data have evolved exponentially in recent years, but the lagging piece is how to get businesses to act on the data. “It’s about culture change and change management. It’s about the tentacles of how the data impacts the business and building the right processes around those processes” said Tomasello.

DDC FPO’s Greening said everyone is focused on the operational flow of data and the paperwork that’s moving. “They don’t necessarily think about the back office. There’s still a lot of companies, especially the smaller businesses, that aren’t even categorizing their Word and PowerPoint docs,” Greening said.

The Path to Net Zero

Another panel focused on all things sustainability. The panelists were Mike Kelly, Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President, External Affairs, Yellow Corp., and Denise Kearns, Environmental Professional, EPA SmartWay Program.

Yellow Corp.’s Kelly pointed out one of the key challenges for the trucking industry is the magnitude of transitioning to new power and new trucks while hauling 70% of the nation’s freight. “The trucking industry annually travels 175 billion miles while consuming 35 billion gallons of diesel while operating 3 million trucks. So, when we talk about this transition to new power and new fuel, we have to get it right,” said Kelly.

He noted that EV day cabs are twice as expensive as diesel and converting all commercial trucks to electric would increase the power demand on the electrical grid by 40%. “Finding the energy equivalency of 35 billion gallons of diesel is a herculean task for the nation,” Kelly said.

The EPA’s SmartWay program has been around for about 20 years with the goal to improve efficiency and reduce emissions in the trucking sector. Kearns said the program provides tools and metrics that enable trucking companies to measure their emissions and fuel use. She noted the program has many industry partners—about 3,500 carriers, 4,500 shippers, and several hundred VPLs.

“There are options available to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of a diesel truck, but the industry nonetheless continues to rely almost exclusively on petroleum,” said Kearns. “In fact, nearly 70% of all US petroleum use is consumed by transportation—making transportation, including freight, the largest petroleum user in the US.”

The three-day SMC3 Jump Start 2023 supply chain conference facilitates meaningful knowledge transfer and collaboration between logistics and transportation professionals from carriers, shippers, logistics service providers and technology verticals.

To learn more about SMC³ supply chain conferences, visit

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Categories: Education, Supply Chain