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Behind the Scenes: Logistics

Want to learn more about how our team thinks and operates? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the first edition of our “Behind the Scenes” blog post series. Today, we’ll be talking to Adam Lewak, Operations Manager at JetCo Federal, and will be diving into the details of how our logistics team operates.

Adam Lewak, Operations Manager at JetCo Federal

Vanessa: Can you tell me a little bit about what you do in your role at JetCo Federal?

  • Adam: As the Operations Manager, I monitor all orders in production and consolidate the shipments that go to the same area. Once I have a shipment consolidated and built, I generate government-specific labels, provide the required paperwork, and source a carrier to haul the shipment. Sourcing a carrier requires daily spot negotiations. Once a carrier is secured, I schedule and monitor the shipment, making sure it is picked up and delivered on time.

Vanessa: We often talk about our team tackling complex projects daily and how we don’t shy away from a challenge. Can you talk a little bit more about the approach the logistics team takes to their work?

  • Adam: Our team keeps a daily watch on production and due dates. If there are multiple orders to one area, we typically wait to ship and consolidate those to ride together on the same truck. We utilize as much trailer space as possible, thus lowering freight costs. If due dates do not allow us to wait on production, we make sure to ship via the most effective cost option available. Our team performs in-transit check calls to verify that everything is going smoothly, and our team is always ready to jump into problem-solving mode as soon as we know of any issue.

Vanessa: There is a lot of planning, coordination, and attention to detail to make logistics run smoothly. Part of our logistics team’s role is to ensure our shipments won’t be rejected. Can you talk a little bit about why shipments are rejected, and about what happens when an order is rejected?

  • Adam: Shipments are typically rejected when the primary carrier does not have capacity. This means that the primary carrier does not have any drivers available at that specific date and time, or that there has been a change in national rates and the carrier can get a better pay moving different freight out of the same area. When an order is rejected by the primary first, then it is tendered to the secondary. If the secondary rejects the order, it is offered to the backup carriers on the lane. If it is still rejected, then it will typically end up on a spot market board where approved carriers and brokers can then bid on the shipment. The spot market’s lowest bid wins the shipment.

Vanessa: Another integral part of ensuring our products are delivered on time, every time is the carriers we use. Can you go in-depth on the strict requirements we have for our carriers?

  • Adam: Most of the freight JetCo Federal moves is delivered to U.S. military bases.  For a driver to get onto a base to deliver, he must be a U.S. Citizen carrying a Real ID – a driver’s license with a star in the top right corner, signifying it is accepted as a federal form of identification. The driver must also have a clean background with no criminal history or warrants, a clean driving record, and must have strong attention to detail as delivering to U.S. military bases can have complicated paperwork. Most military bases perform a background check upon arrival, and all of these requirements are in place due to national security.

Since our inception, government agencies have relied on JetCo Federal for the distribution of critically timed, urgent product.  To learn more about JetCo Federal’s logistics services, please visit our logistics and warehousing page.

Ben Hawksford

JetCo Federal Adds Account Coordinator to Team

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH (July 10, 2020) — JetCo Federal, a Grand Rapids-based supply chain management and warehouse supply company, added a full-time employee to their team this month.

Ben Hawksford

Ben Hawksford joins JetCo Federal as an Account Coordinator. In this role, he manages JetCo Federal’s current contracts, order fulfillment, compliance, and customer relations. Hawksford is a graduate of the University of Michigan – Dearborn and has extensive experience in the packaging industry.

Prior to joining the JetCo Federal team, Hawksford worked as an Inside Sales Account Manager at a West Michigan corrugated packaging company. Hawksford stated that he looks forward to, “learning how to successfully manage current and future supply chain business, and to playing a role in JetCo Federal’s growth.”

To learn more about the JetCo Federal team, visit our leadership page.

 

The Computers Can’t Save Us: To Solve Process Problems, Think Like a Baker

Business processes are a lot like cakes: good ones come from quality ingredients and are made by planning and proven recipes. If you have the wrong ingredients and little understanding of how to achieve the right result, it produces a bad cake. This analogy can be extended: If you’re working with poor ingredients and recipes, an industrial kitchen stocked with the latest tools won’t improve the result. You end up with more bad cakes, but faster.

Enter process automation.

We have asked computers to automate nearly every task-based element of our workday. Email is automated letter delivery. Cloud storage is automated file cabinets. Excel is an automated calculator. We’ve become so much faster and more efficient at low-level tasks that organizations are now handing more complex processes over. Relationship management, order fulfillment, and even human resources are increasingly mediated through software, but many organizations are finding that the investment in these systems hasn’t had a corresponding return.

Business process development has an analogy in computer science: GIGO, or Garbage In, Garbage Out. Many organizations are finding that weaknesses in their processes, the ‘Garbage In’, aren’t being solved by implementing new tools. Instead, they’re still getting ‘Garbage Out’. Worse, many problems are amplified by technology. While automation doesn’t necessarily help you do things better, it can almost always help you do them faster. More bad cakes.

“I’m living this right now. People are frustrated. What do I do?’

1. Recognize that CRM, ERP, or other tools won’t magically solve process issues.

This can be a hard conclusion to reach, especially where there has been (sometimes large) investment in systems on the implicit promise of solving the very thing they can’t fix. Process is just another way of saying ‘how people do things’. Even assisted by technology, people are the key factor in every process equation, which brings us to the next point.

2. Solve the root cause.

Teams that work together may have metrics that don’t align or lack shared buy-in on goals for the organization. Often, the causes are simple – communication, information sharing, measurement – but the solutions are complex. Each company will have unique challenges, but it’s critical that they’re addressed before operationalizing them into an automation tool.

3. Build feedback loops to identify and address new issues in your process.

This will help combat efficiency drift. As external variables change, the process and systems must change with them to stay relevant. Regular check-ins with each stakeholder group, external audits, and intentionally designed benchmarks or metrics, used together, are a powerful combination to measure performance and guide changes to prepare for the future.

System problems are hard to overcome if you don’t know where to start. By following the steps above and recognizing the weakness in your processes, you’ll be on-track to helping your organization maximize the benefits of automation.