Like parts producers, logistics suppliers want to be called in earlier in the process by their customers.

“Logistics has made it to the C suite,” where corporate decisions are made, says Joe Carlier, senior vice president-sales at Penske Logistics. “It is not always about cost. It has become a more strategic conversation.”

When logistics of inbound and outbound flow in the supply chain is considered from the start, a good system can be designed to limit inefficiencies and provide value-added services to customers.

By looking at sourcing questions earlier in the process, Carlier says, packaging and travel time can be more efficient.

“We are seeing more and more of that; companies bringing in the 3PL (third-party logistics) providers earlier in the process. Traditionally we have been left with an end result.”

Visibility of parts movements is one value-added area.

“There can be 10, 15, 20 handoffs of a part before it reaches the manufacturer,” Carlier says. “Mobile technology and applications are everywhere. You have to have it in place. Your customers are looking for where your freight is in the overall supply chain.”
Penske leases trucks, builds warehouses and consults with customers as a 3PL provider, and about 30% of its business is with the automotive industry.

And as with manufacturing industries, Carlier says, recruitment of qualified people is a problem for both managers and drivers.

“There is a talent shortage,” he says. “How can I get college students interested in supply chain?”

The average age of truck drivers is 53 to 55 years old. Young people are not arriving in the industry as fast as older drivers are leaving, and the turnover rate at major companies is more than 90% as drivers can pick and choose where they work.

Part of the reason recruitment is difficult is that drivers must be 21 years old, and many trucking companies only seek drivers who have two years’ experience. An 18-year-old high school graduate already has done something else for five years by the time he is eligible, making for difficult recruiting.