In the Media

Advance Your Career

April 20, 2018
By Bill Keough
Companies concerned with cost control, competitive differentiation, and innovation are more than ever seeking professionals who can drive substantive change.
 
The field of supply chain management and logistics offers some of the most exciting career opportunities in the marketplace today. Companies concerned with cost control, competitive differentiation, and innovation are more than ever seeking professionals who can drive substantive change to help them achieve these objectives.
 
However, many young and mid-career professionals, especially in large firms, have held roles only in very specific supply chain functions. Most of these individuals aspire to assume executive roles in supply chain and logistics, but many have spent much of their career in only one or two areas of the supply chain function. Perhaps you have spent the last 5 years of your career in procurement, or in the transportation group specifically focused on LTL. Executives who are responsible for overall supply chain performance invariably have a far broader skill set.
 
These executives must understand not just procurement, but the impact procurement has on inventory, transportation, production, and all the other facets of the corporate supply chain. They understand the financial implications and the risks of new supply chain initiatives. They understand best practices in developing a network of facilities, and the IT infrastructure required to support best-in-class supply chain and logistics practices. They understand supplier management, and how to build, measure and incentivize great teams. In short, successful executives understand the end-to-end supply chain, and how changes in one function may impact the others.
 
The Supply Chain Transportation Master's Program (SCTL) at the University of Washington is designed to give students the skills and experience required to realize their career ambitions. This online program was designed to be work-compatible; most of the students in the program are busy supply chain and logistics professionals with families, and many of them travel the globe for their jobs. But the program is different from other online programs. It features live online classes where you collaborate with your professors and other students in real-time over the Internet. The program also offers the opportunity to make real connections.
 
The SCTL Program begins with an in-person, week-long Residency at the University of Washington in Seattle, where students tour facilities like Amazon's fulfillment center just south of Seattle, take a boat tour of the Seattle port, and attend a cocktail reception with the program's board of advisors—VP-level executives at firms like Starbucks, Boeing, and Costco.
 
But the primary purpose of the Residency is to enable students to meet the other members of their cohort—the students they will be working with closely over the next two years of the program. Students also meet the SCTL faculty—experienced UW professors as well as supply chain and logistics practitioners with years of experience in consulting, information technology, mergers & acquisitions, and the design of complex transportation networks. The faculty brings a wealth of real-life experience to prepare students to address the complex supply chain challenges they will encounter as they advance in their careers. Program graduates have assumed leadership roles in firms like Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing and may others. Students leverage the advice and deep networks of senior professionals through a mentoring program and more informal collaboration with the program's advisory board and faculty, and program alumni.
 
Acquiring new skills and advancing your career in the rapidly-changing fields of supply chain, transportation, and logistics is both challenging and exciting. Perhaps an innovative online program is just the solution you're looking for.

The challenges of curbside pickup

Curbed
April 11, 2018

By Patrick Sisson

Cities are already redesigning their physical realms for the expanding ride-hailing industry, from designating pickup/dropoff zones to eliminating parking garages. As the Uber app update suggests, ride-hailing will become more and more embedded in everyday transit decisions.

But that’s not the only curbside challenge confronting tech firms. Even the growing ecommerce sector is placing congestion pressure on cities. As more and more deliveries pile up, and firms continue to test new methods of delivery and drop off, freight is still rarely factored into the transit planning conversation, according to Anne Goodchild, who runs the Urban Freight Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“It’s like a transit system where you didn’t plan for the bus stops,” she told Curbed. “We all know we’re bringing more and more goods into the city, but there’s no programmatic way to account for what they’re delivering and when. We need scientific, data-driven, systematic views of urban freight analysis and planning.”

Street management will only become more complicated as autonomous vehicles enter the picture, for both passengers and deliveries. The California Public Utilities Commission recently signaled that it’s considering proposed rule changes to allow companies to start curbside pickup of riders using autonomous vehicles. Waymo plans to start testing an autonomous rideshare service in Phoenix later this year.

“Curbside loading will become more and more critical,” Zabe Bent, a principal at transportation consulting firm Nelson\Nygaard, told Curbed. “We need to understand how to manage that curb, since it’ll be important for loading, unloading, cyclists, and transit. It’s an increasingly important place for cities, and we need to learn how to use it better.”

Advances in Last-Mile Delivery Take Shape

Logistics Management
March 15, 2018
By Gary Forger
If there ever was a scrum in the supply chain, it’s last-mile delivery. And it’s a worldwide scrum, no less.
 
From China to Europe to the U.S., companies as divergent as Amazon, SF Express, Shipt, Instacart and XPO Logistics are pushing and shoving their way through the last-mile delivery maze.
 
Dr. Benoit Montreuil of Georgia Tech puts it much more elegantly. “We are working very hard right now to define the next generation of city logistics service solutions.” Montreuil is the Coca-Cola Material Handling & Distribution Chair at Georgia Tech’s Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering as well as director of the Physical Internet Center.
 
Looking around the world, Montreuil sees a vast difference in last-mile capabilities by continent. He says Europe has been the leader until recently. Now, Asia, especially China, is in the lead due to fast growth, less legacy and brutal competition. The U.S. is in third place. Nevertheless, last-mile is catching on here.
 
On the surface, last-mile doesn’t look all that tough. Just deliver goods from a regional distribution center or retail store to the consumer. But looks can be deceiving. And expensive, too. Some say nearly 30% of the total cost of all goods delivery is in last-mile.
 
Last-mile delivery is much more than navigating city streets, avoiding traffic congestion and finding the right address. Last-mile is also a matter of actually being able to deliver the goods, especially when no one is home but needs to be. And that doesn’t even include the challenges of building security, the scale of high-rises and parking availability. Oh, don’t forget the weather.
 
There are also many different schemes. Montreuil says there are seven different scenarios for last-mile delivery. They range from pickup at the store to ship directly to home and pickup at a nearby locker. His moniker of hyperconnected transportation rings true when you factor in all the transportation scenarios from messengers on bikes, Uber and similar ground-delivery services to the range of pick-up points such as Amazon lockers at Whole Foods grocery stores.
 
Earlier this month, Montreuil made yet another trip to China where he is working with several logistics service providers, including SF Express, on last-mile delivery.
 
He says that UPS and Amazon are the leaders in the U.S. with a total of a few hundred last-mile lockers. In China, Montreuil says there are 60,000 lockers. But just as Amazon has its lockers and UPS its, locker banks in China are shared by competitors, says Montreuil. That’s a completely different approach.
 
But it’s also an approach that is getting a look in the U.S., says Barbara Ivanov, director of the Urban Freight Lab at the University of Washington. This month and next, she is focused on a test of smart lockers in a 62-story building in downtown Seattle.
 
“We’re trying to determine if smart lockers can reduce the time trucks spend at the building as well as total truck dwell time and undeliverable patterns.”
 
Collaboration is of major importance to solving the last-mile challenge, say both Ivanov and Montreuil. Key players are not just the shippers (retailers, distributors, manufacturers) and logistics service providers, (UPS, Shipt, XPO Logistics, Instacart). City and related government groups are essential too. See this issue’s NextGen Interview with Ivanov for more details on how her Urban Freight Lab is partnering with the City of Seattle.
 
Dr. Matthias Winkenbach of MIT echoes the others on the importance of cities in last-mile delivery. “No city is the same and within a city we don’t see two areas that are the same – you have to learn from previous delivery processes to become more efficient,” he says. He made the comment at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center late last year. Winkenbach is the director of MIT’s Megacity Logistics Lab and a research associate at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics.
 
That complexity is also where NextGen technologies enter the picture. They include sensors, big data, data analytics and the Internet of Things, just to start the list.
 
Wikenbach’s Lab makes strong use of data analytics to process delivery route data collected by GPS sensors and other telemetry devices. That is then connected to real-time traffic data and even weather conditions to optimize future last-mile deliveries.
 
Winkenbach, Ivanov and Montreuil are only at the front end of this process. But down the road, they will guide important efforts to use NextGen technologies to provide data that can translate into more efficient and timely last-mile deliveries in even the most densely populated cities.

NextGen Supply Chain Interview: Barbara Ivanov

Supply Chain Management Review
March 14, 2018

By Gary Forger, Special Projects Editor

This month we spoke with Barbara Ivanov, director of the Urban Freight Lab at the University of Washington. She is also chief operating officer of the school’s Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center. Previously, Ivanov worked on freight research projects with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Strategic Highway Research Program and the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board. Her focus included development of freight performance metrics, advanced freight data collection and analytic tools as well as freight-related economic impact analyses.

NextGen Supply Chain: The Urban Freight Lab’s primary focus is optimization of the final 50 feet of the urban goods delivery system. How are you doing that and who exactly is involved?

Ivanov: The Lab is a research partnership between its private sector members and the City of Seattle Department of Transportation. Urban Freight Lab members include retailers, urban freight carriers and tech companies in this space. Building developers and operators, managers and architects are also engaged in the Lab’s research.

We bring together both the public and private sector to solve problems in the final 50 feet of the goods delivery system that neither sector can solve alone. The members define the problems that the Lab works on.

NextGen Supply Chain: Plenty of people are focused these days on the final or last mile. But you’ve got it down to 50 feet. What’s your thinking here?

Ivanov: The final 50 feet is a concept that tracks the supply chain segment starting when delivery trucks stop at the curb, in an alley or in a loading bay underneath an urban tower. We’ve heard from our members that up to 60% of the time it takes to move goods from a distribution center to the final destination is spent in these final 50 feet.

Our approach is to analyze the process flow from the time the truck parks through loading of delivery carts, building entry going through security, to going door-to-door throughout the building to complete the delivery. What happens during this process has implications far beyond that single delivery.

Eliminating or decreasing failed first delivery attempts is the sweet spot for companies making deliveries. Our members say that 10 to 15% of all attempted deliveries to urban buildings are not completed. The right person may not be available to sign or the address is just wrong. That means the goods have to be returned to the distribution center and a second attempt made to complete the delivery. Those second attempts mean more trucks on the road, in the city and at the curb. The Lab can help change that.

NextGen Supply Chain: Tell us about the big picture here.

Ivanov: The City and Urban Freight Lab members also want to reduce truck dwell time in load/unload spaces. You can only do that by working with building managers and developers as their policies control how long it takes to complete deliveries in their building. Reducing dwell time makes each load/unload space more productive, you get more truck parking capacity without building more spaces. It can cut back the numbers of trucks circling the block looking for parking and so lower city traffic congestion.

Fortunately, there’s tremendous opportunity. We’re focused on a structured analysis of the final 50 feet in downtown Seattle by bringing together the City and supply chain companies. I’ll be talking about this at next month’s Modex show in Atlanta.

NextGen Supply Chain: What are you working on these days?

Ivanov: This month and next we’re pilot testing a common-carrier smart locker system located near loading bays under a 62-floor office tower. Now we already know that smart lockers work in general. We’re not pilot testing that. Instead, we’re trying to determine if smart lockers can reduce truck dwell time as well as reduce the level of failed first delivery attempts This is a test. But it’s a very focused test.

NextGen Supply Chain: On the surface, that sounds like it will change the final 50 feet in several ways.

Ivanov: If it works, it will.

Our data shows that nearly 80% of the time a delivery person is in this building is spent getting through security (12%) and riding elevators to different floors and going door-to-door to tenants (67%). The lockers, placed as close as possible to loading bays, could virtually eliminate that.

Deliveries would simply be put in lockers and recipients notified that their goods are waiting for them. They can then collect the goods when it is convenient for them.

We’re going to collect data for a couple of weeks and then analyze it. We will also have to make a judgment if smart lockers make business sense for the delivery companies. And just as important, will people in the tower adopt the use of common-carrier smart lockers.

NextGen Supply Chain: Once you come to your conclusions, what happens next?

Ivanov: We will then present our results to Seattle’s Department of Transportation. In fact, smart lockers are only a small part of the City’s effort to write a strategy for goods trip reduction.

The ultimate end game is public policy development that benefits all.

NextGen Supply Chain: That all sounds very exciting and forward looking. What’s next up for the Lab?

Ivanov: This year and next we’ll be doing pilot tests on the flexible use of curb space by delivery vehicles. That will be a big undertaking. And after that, we plan to take a look at smart lockers at commuter rail stations. We’ve got our work cut out for us for the foreseeable future.

How can Seattle make deliveries more efficient so drivers don’t have to park illegally?

Truck and van drivers, including a USPS driver, struggle to find parking in front of the Dexter Horton Building on Second Avenue in downtown Seattle. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)
Truck and van drivers, including a USPS driver, struggle to find parking in front of the Dexter Horton Building on Second Avenue in downtown Seattle. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)
The Seattle Times
February 22, 2018

By Michelle Baruchman, Seattle Times staff reporter

A University of Washington and Seattle Department of Transportation study found the explosion of e-commerce and urban growth has dramatically added to the number of vehicles circling the Center City.

Warm deli sandwiches and fresh salads moved from a prep kitchen to a truck to Millennium Tower, through building security and up to an office suite just in time for lunch on Tuesday.

The delivery was part of an ever-growing explosion of e-commerce that has dramatically added to the number of vehicles circling Seattle’s Center City each day.

That congestion is compounded by the fact that just 13 percent of buildings in downtown, uptown and South Lake Union have private loading bays or docks, forcing delivery trucks to use the city’s curb and alley spaces to make deliveries, according to a study released Thursday.

Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, CenturyLink, Kemper Development Co., PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company, Sabey Corp., Seattle Children’s hospital and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.

And it puts delivery companies in the position of choosing between their customers and following the law.

According to the joint study between the University of Washington’s Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center and the Seattle Department of Transportation, the number of truck trips in that urban core may double by 2023. That’s if no more residents move in and the mode of delivery stays consistent, said Barbara Ivanov, chief operating officer of the Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center who worked on the study.

In 2016, 8 percent of all U.S. retail sales took place online. Since 2010, growth in national online sales has increased by a 15 percent average annual rate.

“I don’t think the developers really thought about how fast Amazon was going to blow up when they built our tower,” said Jeff Maxwell, a concierge at Insignia Towers, a 1,500-person residential complex researchers examined.

The $205,000 study, part of a three-year contract between SDOT and UW’s Urban Freight Lab, analyzed the street network and the city’s vertical spaces, such as office, hotel, retail and residential towers, as one unified goods-delivery system.

Out of the data, researchers set two priorities: reduce the number of “failed first delivery attempts,” in which for a variety of reasons a package or parcel does not reach a consumer on the first try, and reduce the time trucks are parked in load spaces.

For many deliveries, the most difficult part is from the truck to the suite door inside the office building — which local researchers refer to as the final 50 feet.

Between finding curb space, clearing security, riding the freight elevator and locating a tenant door, deliverers hold packages and parcels for an increasingly extended period of time.

Tom O’Connor, owner of Market Fresh Fruit – Eat Healthy At Work, said he incurred $500 in tickets in the past year from illegal parking.

“With so many successful companies coming into Seattle and tenants filling buildings, a lot more businesses are going in,” he said. “I don’t think the city has adjusted, and I’m left to my own devices to get food to customers.”

Staysha Palm, a deliverer for FedEx, said she often competes for curb space with other deliverers as well as Uber and Lyft drivers.

“If the load zones are filled with parked cars or people waiting for riders, I have to circle around two or three times,” she said. “Within those two minutes that I circle the block, I could have had my cart set up and delivered a couple more packages.”

Her other main barrier to efficiency is security.

Researchers found clearing security accounted for 12 percent of total delivery time. Riding the freight elevator and looking for tenants’ locations took 61 percent of the total time.

“Sometimes things get lost because there’s a lot of steps and people involved,” said Evan Cole, assistant property manager at Dexter Horton.

As a potential solution, researchers proposed a smart-locker system.

“They pull in, they load the locker or hand everything to a concierge or mailroom, and it cuts all of that transaction time out,” Ivanov said.

They estimated that a secure structure placed in the loading-bay level of the Seattle Municipal Tower would reduce the time delivery people spend in the building by up to 73 percent and will be testing this theory in the next month.

In addition to the study, researchers will be building an online tool kit of practices for other cities to use and replicate.

“It’s not only important to Seattle but other cities struggling with the same problems,” she said.

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