Delivering Innovation with DHL’s Jennifer Miller
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In this episode of Everything is Logistics, Blythe speaks with Jennifer Miller, Vice President Integrated Transportation at DHL Supply Chain. They discuss DHL’s history as a parcel delivery pioneer, its evolution into a global logistics powerhouse, and its early adoption of digital technologies. Jennifer shares insights into DHL’s use of robotics, AI, and sustainable vehicles to drive innovation and meet evolving customer needs.


  • “When you have men and women in an organization, you will inherently be better. If you only have women, or if you only have men, that can be effective, but I generally find if you have different perspectives, different walks of life, and you can all come together and approach these problems and innovations differently, you’re going to get to a better place.” – Jennifer Miller
  • “Visibility, I would say visibility of what is happening in their supply chain. And the ability to look at exception management through that visibility. So you know, I don’t necessarily your customers don’t necessarily want to go out and look at everything, but I want to see, tell me what I need to know and tell me in a really efficient digital way.” – Jennifer Miller
  • “We have very large operations in both Latin America, both in Mexico and South America, as well as Central America. Mexico has a very large operational footprint for us. as well as cross border services, you know, either starting in Mexico or starting in the US. So that’s something that we’re very comfortable with and something we do, you know, extensively today.” – Jennifer Miller
  • “When I started in supply chain, there weren’t very many of us, I’ll be honest, and certainly almost none in leadership. DHL has made a huge commitment to women in leadership. I would just tell [others] to be fearless. Just don’t hold yourself back. This is a great industry.” – Jennifer Miller


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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Jennifer Miller: 0:05

You know I talked about artificial intelligence in our trucks. So I don't think you know, I just touched on it briefly. But we're able to identify, you know, driving behaviors that are unsafe ahead of an incident happening, right? So did the driver pick up his or her cell phone? Well, maybe nothing happened. We know that that can be an issue. We know that that increases your probability of having an incident. Are they wearing your seatbelt? Are they distracted? Are they speeding? All of this artificial intelligence that comes into us allows us a view into behaviors and performance that we couldn't see before. They came home safe and the truck was in one piece. And they were in one piece and everything looked good. You assume they had a safe day. That's not necessarily true.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:04

Welcome into another episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI Logistics and I am your host, Blythe Brumleve. We've got another great show for you today. We've got Jennifer Miller. She is the VP of Integrated Transportation over at DHL. We're going to be talking about how parcel delivery has evolved over the last couple of decades. This was a really great time for me to personally dive into some of the historical side of DHL and get that backstory. So I'm looking forward to this conversation, especially with you, Jennifer, because you have been at DHL for 23 years. Is that accurate? 23?

Jennifer Miller: 1:42

years. Yes, I've been here a minute, yeah, but it's a great company and we've seen a lot of change and a lot of exciting things going on in our industry, for sure.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:54

Now take me back to before you joined DHL. What was the catalyst that made you want to work for them?

Jennifer Miller: 2:02

Yeah, I actually joined in 2001. And I joined a company called Excel Logistics, Exel and you know I worked for a manufacturer. I worked for Kellogg's, actually, and you know, when I saw our culture, our people, I knew someone who worked here, our culture, our people, I knew someone who worked here. It was just a great place to work, exciting things going on. DHL acquired us Excel, so I've been part of DHL, I think, since 2005. And really it's just a place where you know we support each other, we put our safety and our people first, our customers second, and really we're about problem solving and always stepping forward, always finding that next level for our customers and how can we push for the solutions that we have. So it's real innovative thinking. I believe we have great leadership and that's why I've been here for 23 years.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:04

And so what does it now? I imagine your role has evolved a lot over the years. Give us a glimpse of how your role, because you're currently your VP of integrated transportation. So what does I guess, what does that role entail and how did you get there?

Jennifer Miller: 3:21

Yeah. So my role, I think, is a little unique. I have responsibility today for several pillars of our transportation arm. I'm responsible for all the programs that support our dedicated fleets, our class eight tractor trailers that are out on the road doing specialized deliveries. I also have responsibility for our freight brokerage division specialized deliveries. I also have responsibility for our freight brokerage division, dtb or DHL transport brokerage. And then I have a responsibility for our support teams that really back up both of those services, whether it's claims, track and trace, integration, so on and so forth.

Jennifer Miller: 3:59

So took a while to get here. You know it's a journey and really our goal is to integrate our transportation services, give our customers that key. You know seamless experience. You know I really started more, I would say, on the system side when I joined DHL XL back in 2001. I had a lot of experience with ERP systems and how to deploy and how to integrate that with warehouse and transportation. I started there and then I really moved for a time onto the sales side, so selling supply chain solutions and what we do. And then I moved back into operations, really having responsibility for our transportation sites and daily operations. You know getting the calls at 3 am of what's happening on the road.

Jennifer Miller: 5:07

With my systems background, understood that supply chain was changing and no longer was it. Hey, you dispatch the truck and let's hope they get to where they're going. We had to evolve to a digital supply chain and that really started to say what's our system strategy? How are we going to do this? How are we going to give a digital footprint to our customer? And that's where my role started to evolve.

Jennifer Miller: 5:22

How are we going to put these programs forward for our operators? How are we going to give a digital footprint to our customer? And that's where my role started to evolve. How are we going to put these programs forward for our operators? How are we going to have one way to look at it and really integrate that with how we present it to our customers? So, as you can imagine, that's a lot of what I do today. How do we support our fleets and how they're on the road and how they're efficient and safe? How do we support our fleets and how they're on the road and how they're efficient and safe? How do we support our freight brokerage and the strategy that we have there in the marketplace, and how are we making a digital supply chain that's fully integrated for our customers?

Blythe Brumleve: 5:59

So with DHL, I believe that the corporation as it exists today got started around the mid-60s, I believe, to solve a document delivery issue. You couldn't get documents, I believe, from shipping from the West Coast over to Hawaii. There was a delay there with getting those documents. So that's essentially how DHL was created and now it's evolved into a freight brokerage business. I heard you talk about warehousing. Is there any aspect of transportation that DHL doesn't touch? I imagine you touch every aspect of it, we do.

Jennifer Miller: 6:33

You know we are global. We are pretty much on every continent. Maybe not Antarctica, but we're pretty much on every continent Not yet Tremendous amount of countries. You know, and we do all services. We have an extremely large warehousing footprint for what we do and in North America, you know, we are one of the leading warehouse providers, period, when it comes to supply chain. When it comes to supply chain, our transportation, however, is also very large. When you look at global transportation DGF or DHL Global Forwarding, you know, handles ocean and air and customs clearance and all the things that are required with international shipping. We have lead logistics provider services where we manage whole entire networks for customers. You know I have dedicated fleets and brokerage. There's pretty much no part of the supply chain that we don't do.

Jennifer Miller: 7:33

We also have another division, dhl Express, that does just-in-time deliveries. You know, if you see the little yellow and red vans driving around on the street, that's DHL Express. Mine are the big tractor trailers. So you know, we really pretty much do everything. I would say the one thing that people think we do, that we, you know, don't do so much as we used to do straight parcel, just like UPS and FedEx perform. We are really not in that type of business, but we do have kind of complementary services that do similar. But we're no longer a player in the US parcel market. Globally we are a huge parcel provider.

Blythe Brumleve: 8:21

Yeah, because I believe a lot of the shipments coming in, especially from East Asia, are all, or most of them are from DHL, which I thought was super interesting Because I guess, go back to history and how DHL got started they actually had to fight USPS in order to break up that monopoly in order to have their services here, and then you know, so you have that global footprint now of those parcel deliveries.

Blythe Brumleve: 8:50

I'm curious. This may be you know outside of your I'm sure you would probably know, though too is within like European and parcel delivery in Asian countries and European countries. Why do you think that DHL has such a strong foothold there?

Jennifer Miller: 9:08

Yeah, I think we've got a very long history. I think there weren't as many players in strong players in the industry and we took the foothold early and well, very well. So I think we just entered the market in a different place and we've been able to thrive and build our network and be very successful. And then when you pair that with our international capabilities of what we can do because if you think about Europe, you're crossing a border all the time, Right here, domestically, you're not really crossing a border unless you go, start to go to Canada and Mexico or overseas. So I think we just developed that international capability across the pond and the different continents and we were able to expand that pretty quickly. So that that is a key piece for us. I tell people all the time you know, if you go outside of North America, we are the parcel provider for the world. Last time I went to Australia I went to Bondi Beach and there was the DHL flag on Bondi Beach. You know it's something we're very proud of.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:22

I wonder how that's shifting now with a lot of the volume that's coming into the United States. A lot of that volume is shifting from West Coast ports to Mexico and then being trucked in. I imagine that DHL has a footprint somewhere along those lines as well, with the near shoring that's going on.

Jennifer Miller: 10:43

Oh, absolutely, we have yeah, very large operations in both Latin America, both in Mexico and South America, as well as Central America. Mexico is a very large operational footprint for us, as well as cross-border services, you know, either starting in Mexico or starting in the US. So that's something that we're very comfortable with and something we do, you know, extensively today.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:11

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Jennifer Miller: 12:09

Yeah, you know I have an interesting role. It's a mix of. I have some teams who are operational. My brokerage is very operational.

Jennifer Miller: 12:21

So, week-to-week, day-to-day, how are we operating? Are we doing right by our customers? Are we delivering our freight? What do our metrics look like? Our profitability, fleets it is a lot of strategies about where do we need to be moving next, what should we be doing next?

Jennifer Miller: 12:48

How do we improve our safety? How do we communicate with our drivers, with our customers, with our carriers, really about what's our next step? And making sure we are always thinking three to five steps ahead of where we are today, because we don't ever want to be caught behind and things are changing so quickly now. Customers' expectations are changing so quickly. Now we really have to make sure that we are the thought leaders on what we should be delivering to our customers. I don't ever want a customer coming to me and I'm like, oh, that's a great idea, I should have already thought about that. I should be bringing those thoughts to our customer.

Jennifer Miller: 13:30

So a large part of what I do is really that strategy and pushing the teams to think differently, pushing us to evolve and innovate and continue on our digital journey. Everybody has a smartphone, but that doesn't mean everybody wants to be digital. It doesn't mean everybody wants you to track all their data and their information, but that's the expectation. Now. That's what we need to do and that's going to make us more effective. It allows us to make decisions in real time and it allows our customers to see what's happening in their network and make decisions in real time. And it allows our customers to see what's happening in their network and make decisions around their manufacturing or their supply chain or their ordering in real time, and we've got to provide that to them.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:14

Now to speak to sort of the adoption of technology early DHL you know from. I'm going to keep going back to that historical video that I watched, but they had mentioned that I believe in 1995 that DHL first launched a website, which is, I mean, in the 90s. If you had a website, you were tech-focused, you were tech-forward, but I think it had a result of a 23% increase in sales immediately as soon as DHL went online, which is obviously good news. And I'm sure whoever was sort of powering through that initiative there were some people that were like, is this a good investment for us? But the person who was spearheading it very quickly learned how right they were in that decision. Very quickly learned how right they were in that decision. I'm curious as to as you you have led teams to adopt technology throughout the years.

Jennifer Miller: 15:17

Do you think it's easier or harder today to adopt more technology in logistics? I, I do think it's easier. I know 20 years ago it was not common. You know, you had some very, I would say old school operators who said, no, I'm fine, just the way things are, and there was really no pressure from your customer or the industry or anybody to say you have to be digital. So there was no overarching pressure to say you know, you have to go on this journey.

Blythe Brumleve: 15:47

We were going on that journey.

Jennifer Miller: 15:50

So I think if you had the vision and you know you were comfortable with technology, you could adopt it. I think today everybody has a smartphone, even the most tech backward or even a flip phone I'd include flip phones in that. Everybody has some type of phone with them at all times, and so the you know their ability to get information quickly is now pretty standard. So when we push forward with adopting technology, it's a much easier path to say look at what you do every day, here's what we need you to do. And then, on top of that, our customers. The price of doing business is you have to be digital. They expect it.

Jennifer Miller: 16:37

You know, everyone expects the ability to see your information, get questions answered in real time. I'll get you that information tomorrow. I'll get you that in 20 minutes is kind of the outside of the answer or even oh, let me look it up, I can get it for you right now. That is the expectation and it's both through what is expected in business. But it's people's personal experiences with their own devices, their kids' devices, their grandkids' devices, that they realize they are being shaped by this technology personally. So they're much more open to adopting the technology. You can still you know, you can still have your holdouts. There are people who do things the way they like to do them, but we're really starting to see the adoption come much faster. And I think, as younger people enter the workforce who can't, quite frankly, have never known life without technology, they look and say you know, why wouldn't I do that? They can't even imagine a world where they weren't using technology. So that is helping, I think, tremendously.

Blythe Brumleve: 17:52

What kind of technology related to logistics is important to a lot of the DHL customers.

Jennifer Miller: 18:00

Yeah, visibility. I would say visibility of what is happening in their supply chain and the ability to look at exception management through that visibility. So you know, I don't necessarily our customers don't necessarily want to go out and look at everything, but I want to see. Tell me what I need to know and tell me in a really efficient digital way. A really efficient digital way. So, whether you're providing them with track and trace visibility or a Power BI dashboard or what have you, tell me quickly what I need to know, how you're actioning it and what we're doing about it.

Jennifer Miller: 18:34

Or I have a business question. We get this a lot. I have a business question, let's say, for my plant and I need to make a decision. I need to be able to go out quickly, see the data and now make a decision about how I'm going to staff my plant doc today. You know those are important pieces for our customer and you know that's how they want to use the data and that's what we have to deliver to them. And it's just it's changed a lot that you've got to meet the needs of those customers and how they're using it.

Blythe Brumleve: 19:05

What about internal at sort of DHL? You mentioned with you know a lot of the warehouse footprints across the United States. You know I've been doing a lot of interviews with robotics companies and hearing you know all of the different use cases for those different robotics companies. I'm curious as to how you know DHL is investing in robotics, cause there was another video I saw that there was a robot that was helping with advent calendars.

Jennifer Miller: 19:32

Oh my, gosh, now that I've not seen.

Blythe Brumleve: 19:36

But it was. They were, so they were explaining it as you know, a one-off robot, that it was just specifically created just to help with advent calendars and creating those different advent calendars, you know, and it's a seasonal item too, so it's only one that is going to be shipped out at a certain time of the year. So I'm curious as to what the I guess the robotics footprint looks like in dhl warehouses yeah, um, we are investing heavily in robotics partnerships.

Jennifer Miller: 20:09

I'm not the person to give you probably all the details, but what I can say is we have some very key partnerships solutions into our warehouses where, you know, instead of now our people going up and down the aisles and picking and all the travel time, they have a station and the robots are doing the travel time and all they are doing is picking and putting it in to the robot's container and making us way more efficient. It's also allowing us to scale up during peak times. We have some customers who go through incredible peak seasons during the holidays and these robots are really helping us be efficient and scale and be cost effective for our customers. So robotics is a key piece in our warehouse footprint of you know our strategy and we're investing in those partnerships as well. Um, I I do believe there are probably others who could get into way more detail than I can on that, but but I know that that on the warehouse side, um, that's a that's a big push for us.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:22

What about on the brokerage side of things, with, with, with the asset side of things? Is there any sort of technology that is really uh, you know, because DHL strikes me as a company that is always invested in what's coming next, what's coming down the pipeline. So are there any sort of investments? Or you know, recent product announcements or solutions that DHL has offered on sort of the asset and the brokerage side of things?

Jennifer Miller: 21:46

Yeah, you know I'll start with the fleet side. You know we really look to digitize what we do with our fleets and our drivers. We have deployed a partnership with Samsara for telematics in our trucks as well as the artificial intelligence in our trucks. That is helping us with our safety with great results there, and it's a great partnership because we are really expanding that about how we communicate different with our drivers, how we find the hazards and the near misses that we didn't know were there. How do we document those? You know, take things that may have been nebulous before and actually put them into data-driven blocks so that we can analyze them and learn from them, not just a driver coming back and saying, oh hey, man, you can't believe what just happened. No, let's, let's document that and learn from that and make sure that we are putting it forward for the rest of the organization and, as well, making sure all of this is integrated part of our strategy as well, as we have some very large sustainability targets large sustainability targets and vendors like Samsara have been great partners in our EV journey, in particular, providing an EV dashboard so that we can measure our EV trucks how they're performing. That is a journey, that is a learning.

Jennifer Miller: 23:21

We are on a very steep learning curve there, but it is proving invaluable for how we're stepping forward. And you know, having the technology against our trucks is absolutely critical because between whether it's EV or hydrogen or whatever, we have to be able to measure what we're doing. We have to be able to measure what we're doing. We have to be able to measure the efficacy of this new technology, particularly in the sustainability space. How's it working? How can we deploy it? What regions does it work well in? And without that technology paired with it, it would be very difficult to assess if something is going to be successful for us.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:06

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Blythe Brumleve: 24:53

Now we've also seen a lot of. I mean I don't have to tell you this, but we've seen a lot of changes over the last handful of years, especially related to e-commerce and also, from you know, just COVID related. You know bubble spending activities with a lot of the. You know some of the retail customers or the pharmaceutical customers that DHL has. Are those needs relatively the same over the last five years, or was there a bubble related to COVID that things are starting to sort of settle down now?

Jennifer Miller: 25:25

I think it depends on the industry that you are talking about.

Jennifer Miller: 25:31

I think on the retail side you know, I think we've seen some of that smoothing out on the consumer packaged goods side. You know there's no longer shortages of toilet paper at the grocery store. But I think some of our partners if you think about life sciences and health care, you know with the new innovations that they have in those spaces, you know I would say that volume is really about to increase and accelerate loss. Drug piece alone is really going to push those into the stratosphere. So I think there was the bubble. Certainly we've seen things leveling out, but certainly some of our partners and some of our industries are really starting to see some great opportunity and we're starting to see that volume already. So it really just depends on which industry you're in and where it's at. Um, I think it's a mixed bag a little bit.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:35

I'm curious about the from the pharmaceutical side of things that you know. I'm like our truckloads of Ozempic being, you know, shipped from warehouse to warehouse, or how does sort of that process work?

Jennifer Miller: 26:47

Yeah, I mean you know, shipped from warehouse to warehouse or how does sort of that process work? Yeah, I mean, you know, clearly the drugs have to get, they have to get manufactured and then they have to get to their end user. So, yeah, and I think certainly there are shortages right now. So you have, you know both how are we, how are they manufacturing, and then how are they deploying? All of them are looking to ramp up production very quickly and so I think that's where we're seeing that marketplace is really going to expand quickly, the amount of new drugs coming out in that space, the amount of production capacity that they're looking to put forward, and then ultimately, you know, the freight will be right behind that. It has to get out to the end consumer. So, yeah, that that's really ramping up.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:35

Is it mostly like air? You know, through the air or over the road?

Jennifer Miller: 27:40

I imagine probably both, both yeah it depends, but a lot of it is over the road and you know I try not to get into too much of it because you know those are pharmaceuticals. But yeah, we are seeing that and even just the support of the manufacturing of it is really ramping up because everything that has to go into producing those is part of that whole supply chain piece as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:05

Those is part of that whole supply chain piece as well. Now, if you follow the DHL Instagram, they have a bunch of really cool I think they call it extreme shipping stories that they share. One of them that I saw today was they shipped a couple lions that were into a new conservation to help them thrive back in the wild, which I thought was awesome. What other I guess sort of cool shipping stories can you share with us?

Jennifer Miller: 28:33

Yeah, you know we've done a couple of things. I think the one that I shook my head at that I think happened last year is we do ship product for SpaceX. We ship some of their Starlink units and we actually had to deliver some of them into Alaska. So we had to fly it up to Alaska, truck it to a barge, barge it up a river, then get someone in a pickup truck to pick it up off the barge and actually deliver it to the person who needed the Starlink unit. So you know, sometimes it's a real adventure about how we get something somewhere. And if you think about the purpose of Starlink, that's to provide connectivity for people who don't have access to the general internet and in the middle of nowhere, alaska, I think, qualifies generally as that. You know that's. Those are some of the things that we see occasionally where like oh yeah, okay, that that's really how we had to get it there, but okay.

Blythe Brumleve: 29:37

Got it. Yeah, that that's super cool. I love the, the stories where you have to, you know, sort of go into almost the, the I don't want to say like the wilderness, you know less places that have, don't have as much infrastructure and don't have, you know, paved roads. And you know, I'm sure parts of Alaska definitely have paved roads, but if you got to put it on a barge and then a pickup truck and we got it there, you got it.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:00

There is the important thing. Yes, we got it there. Now, with all the you know, we've talked a lot, or I've talked a lot about the historical aspect of DHL and how the company you know has evolved over the years. But I'm also curious as to what sort of the innovation, the research and development looks like. I imagine that there's entire teams dedicated just specifically to those tasks of trying to innovate on the logistic side of things. What does innovation, I guess, look like at DHL?

Jennifer Miller: 30:33

Yeah, innovation is a key piece. We do have an organization that this is what they do. We have an innovation funnel, what we call it, and we bring forward all these ideas, and it's not only our ideas, but it's also partners that we see in the industry, startups, people coming with an idea and we put it in the funnel and, given the breadth of our services, is there a fit? Is there a match? Can this provide value for a customer? I forget the number of pieces and ideas that we put through the funnel, but I think it's in the thousands. You know, let's talk about this, let's assess it so that we're not leaving anything behind, and a lot of times, honestly, some of the best innovation comes right from our on-the-floor operators. Why am I doing this? Can't we do it better? Someone who's just willing to think laterally instead of you know straightforward and there's got to be a better way. So, again, it's a very key piece for us. As you look at the labor market and you look at the speed of what needs to happen and cost pressures of our customers and the market in general. Innovating, finding efficiency, albeit all of it with safety as the focus, is absolutely critical to us, providing the value for our customers, because everything we do goes into the cost of what they do and ultimately ends up with the consumer. So we have to be a valuable resource for our customers.

Jennifer Miller: 32:14

Looking at innovation and that's where you know to your point the robots have come from and everything else that we do so that we can scale it's not really a thing anymore to just muscle through it. You know, back 20 years ago, if we had a peak season, you just go out there and you hire everybody you can possibly find to muscle through it. You don't have to look at it that way anymore. Again. You can think laterally about how you're going to do this. You may hire some people, you may do some things differently, you'll bring technology to pair with it and you may bring in robots. Right, how do you bring all of this together to step forward in a different way?

Blythe Brumleve: 32:54

Now, with all of the innovation and technology adoption that DHL has implemented, is there something specific that that has recently come into you know, sort of your day, your day-to-day work or your week-to-week work that has you really excited about that advancement?

Jennifer Miller: 33:12

Yeah, I think, um, what we're really excited about and we're really proud to be, I would say, an early adopter is sustainable vehicles. Um, on the DHL express side, I think at least two-thirds of their total vans are now electric. We have huge sustainability goals. Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint 30% by 2030 and completely by 2050. And when you think about how much transportation that we do and warehousing that we do, those are some big goals.

Jennifer Miller: 33:47

We also are deploying Class 8 EVs in the field. We're deploying them across multiple regions. That is a learning, that is an absolute learning process for us, but we're making the investment to do it, particularly with customers who have large sustainability goals as well. There's a lot to learn with EVs how they operate, you know how they perform. Do they perform well? You know in the cold, in the heat, in the terrain, how do you best manage an alternative fuel vehicle?

Jennifer Miller: 34:23

So we're looking at EVs. We're also looking at a partnership for a hydrogen truck pilot renewable diesel how can we innovate in that space? To say, we need to be a sustainable partner for our customers and and this technology is evolving very, very quickly OEMs are producing it some better than others. Right, typically, oems are producing it, some better than others, right, and you know, like I said, we're making the investment to get it out in our operations really somewhat ahead of need, so that we are not caught behind the eight ball when the time comes and everybody says, hey, we all have to be sustainable, so that's something that's really exciting for us.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:17

There's really not a path that someone else has blazed there. We're really blazing the trail when it comes to sustainable vehicles, and you know we've only briefly touched on it. But you know, with AI, machine learning, automation, things like that, I imagine, with all the tech adoption, that you're getting all of this data now. So how are you using AI and machine learning and those different newer technologies with your data set for your customers?

Jennifer Miller: 35:43

Yeah, those are really exciting. You know I talked about artificial intelligence in our trucks. Those are really exciting. I talked about artificial intelligence in our trucks, so I don't think I just touched on it briefly. But we're able to identify driving behaviors that are unsafe ahead of an incident happening, right? So did the driver pick up his or her cell phone? Well, maybe nothing happened. We know that that can be an issue. We know that that increases your probability of having an incident. Are they wearing their seatbelt? Are they distracted? Are they speeding?

Jennifer Miller: 36:18

All of this artificial intelligence that comes into us allows us a view into behaviors and performance that we couldn't see before. If they came home safe and the truck was in one piece and they were in one piece and everything looked good, you assume they had a safe day. That's not necessarily true. We really have a tagline here that says we want to change the behavior, not the driver. I really want to say how do I help you be safer in your truck? How do I help you get home safer? And you can. You can have the same result each day, but if I'm helping you be safer in your behaviors, in your cab, the chances of you getting home safe every day, increase, increase, increase.

Jennifer Miller: 37:02

So that's how we're using AI on our truck. We're also using machine learning and AI to help us in all sorts of places with how can we be more efficient, whether it's here, in what we do you know, something like invoicing or billing or even writing documentation. How do we use that? How do we identify exceptions and errors in our data processing with machine learning or AI to say tell me why that's a problem, I know it failed. Tell me why, instead of something having to dig in and spend two hours and figure out why it failed, you know, can we use AI to tell us that almost immediately? So there's a lot, from the very functional to the very operational and everything in between, that these technologies are pushing for and allowing us again to think a lot differently about how we can be efficient and safe.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:59

Now, you know, with the talk around, talk around robotics, ai, machine learning, there's also that fear from a lot of just the consumer base or even the workforce, that this thing is going to come in and it's going to take my job. There's a little bit of, or there's probably a lot of, education to the employees, to the staff, of looking at these tools as helpful. What kind of I guess sort of educational materials are you providing to the workforce to sort of help them through that new way of thinking, because we are in a new information era and it's challenging for some folks.

Jennifer Miller: 38:40

Yeah, and I think there's a lot of apprehension, whether it's the camera and the chuck or it's, you know, the robot who's coming down the aisle at me. We really try and approach it, that this is here to help you. This is, you know, there is a certain point of what automation can do, but this is to keep you safer. This is to keep you more productive. If you're not having to walk the aisles, you've got your space, your six feet. That's a lot safer for you, a lot more productive. You're doing things they can't do, and now I'm not bringing in, at peak season, 100 people who aren't trained, who aren't used to doing this, who inherently might be less safe than you are. This keeps you safer. This allows us to do the same in the truck.

Jennifer Miller: 39:27

Hey, and you know it's a conversation, it's a communication. You need to be open and honest about what it is. Well, we're here for this to make you safer and more productive. I want you to stay. I want you to be a part of DHL for the long term. This is going to help us do that. You can't use any of it as a heavy-handed stick. If you use any of it as a heavy-handed stick, you're not going to get rid of that. You have to bring them into the conversation and show them how it's going to help them, and particularly when you're using AI in the truck. This is for me, to help you be a better driver. That's why I'm doing this. I want you to get home to your family safe every single night. So you really got to communicate with your associates and your drivers and make sure they understand.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:17

Now we've talked a lot about, you know, sort of the evolution of the operations side of logistics, of technology. But I am curious, you know, as a woman in logistics, for you know a couple of decades now we've been thankful enough to see some of those numbers grow for women coming into the workforce. I am curious as to how you've sort of navigated the last couple of years. I imagine you know very well, but what advice would you maybe give to you know another woman that's thinking about joining the logistics industry and why maybe they should take that path?

Jennifer Miller: 40:53

Yeah, I think you know, when I started in supply chain there weren't very many of us, I'll be honest, and certainly almost none in leadership, and DHL has made a huge commitment to women in leadership and I think part of it's our culture, but part of it is like anything. You know, when you have men and women in an organization, you're inherently going to be better when they can part. If you only have women, you only have men, that can be effective. But I generally find if you have different perspectives, different walks of life and you can all come together and approach these problems and innovations differently, you're going to get to a better place. You know, 20 years ago it was pretty lonely, but I think we see a lot more young women coming in through our college recruiting program into supply chain. You know they're not constrained maybe by the old experiences that I had in supply chain, where I'd sit down in the conference room and I'm the only woman there. They come in and it's not odd to them to have, you know, half the people at the table be women. So it's really refreshing to see that fearlessness and you know I would just tell them be fearless, just don't hold yourself back. This is a great industry.

Jennifer Miller: 42:18

When I talk to people about supply chain I say you know, when you go buy that box of cereal or you go buy that bag of candy, it got there, we got it there right. There is always an opportunity, there's always a career in supply chain. There are so many things you can do in supply chain. It's never going away. You know people always need their products in their homes one way or another and we can help people. You can be in sales, you can be in operations, you can be in IT, you can be in engineering so many different places and you will always have a career and you will have a really great career.

Jennifer Miller: 42:55

And I think women have been underrepresented and they bring a lot of skills to this, a lot of problem solving skills and just different ways of you know putting forward solutions, and in the end we all do it together. It makes us better. But just women need to be fearless and they need to be open to what this can be. I think a lot of people look at supply chain and say, oh my gosh, I don't know what that is or why. That would be interesting. But if you like helping people, if you like solving problems, if you like, fast paced, something different every day. This is a great career for you.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:32

That's really well said. Last question for you, you know, is there anything that is that you feel is important to mention about DHL that we haven't already talked about?

Jennifer Miller: 43:44

I, you know I wouldn't have been here for 23 years if I didn't think we were a great company, outstanding leaders who set a culture here, set a direction, set a way of doing business that I think is second to none. Our leadership, you know. First and foremost you've probably heard me say safety 82 times. We care about our people. Our people always come first and we're really committed to technology and innovation. They promote women in the workplace and we really support programs getting out with the community and do they see our results? You know all our announcements. I don't think people understand what a special place this is to work and I really believe that.

Blythe Brumleve: 44:47

Well, it was super fun to have the. You know, I always knew of DHL, but I didn't actually dive into the history of it until this interview was scheduled. So this was really fun for me to go back and look through and then to have this conversation with you and hear how the company is evolving and making those investments into what they believe in and also what their customers need, so balancing and walking that fine line. So, jennifer, this was a great conversation. Thank you so much for joining us. Where can I send folks to check out DHL? Connect with you all that good stuff.

Jennifer Miller: 45:20

Yeah, dhlcom. It's pretty simple and I'm on LinkedIn. So you know Jennifer Miller at dhlcom and I'd be happy to talk to anybody, and you know I'm a huge proponent for our young workforce, so love to engage with anybody. And thank you for your time as well. I've really enjoyed our conversation Absolutely Likewise. Thank you so much.

Blythe Brumleve: 45:42

All right, thank you. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate, and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:29

Well, that doesn't happen at Digital Dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on digitaldispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.