Manifest Panel: How Is True Visibility Achieved?
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This episode highlights a panel discussion moderated by Blythe, from Manifest: The Future of Supply Chain & Logistics, focusing on the topic of “Multimodal Shipping & International Growth: How is True Visibility Achieved?” Panelists included:

  • Charlie Cunnion, VP, Supply Chain & Customer Service, CMPC Forest Productions NA
  • Jim McCullen, CIO, Century Supply Chain Solutions
  • Andrew Petrisin, Supply Chain Advisor, U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Peter Weis, CIO, SVP Supply Chain, ITS Logistics

The discussion centered around challenges and solutions for attaining comprehensive multimodal visibility within the supply chain, addressing issues such as data quality, standards, and emerging technologies like APIs and AI, and emphasizing the importance of ecosystem collaboration to enhance transparency and coordination. Another focus was the necessity for collaborative efforts and an ecosystem approach to improve visibility and coordination across the supply chain.




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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

My name is Blythe Brumleve. I'm the host of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, and if you guys would like to go ahead and start introducing yourselves, Sure, Good afternoon.

Charlie Cunnion: 0:15

My name is Charlie Cunnion, VP of supply chain and customer service for CNPC Forest Products. We're a predominantly importer of forest product commodities logs, lumber, paper, pulp from our manufacturing facilities in South America, distributing and marketing them through North America.

Jim McCullen: 0:32

My name is Peter Weis and I'm CIO and Senior VP of supply chain for ITS Logistics, one of the best logistics companies you perhaps have never heard of, largely domestic truckload drainage distribution services. My background is all this stuff visibility going back to when Bill Clinton was president, so got some nice stories to share for you. I look forward to the session. Great to be here.

Andrew Petrisin: 0:57

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Andrew Petrisin. I work at the US Department of Transportation. I've been there about two years and I'm helping to stand up the department's new multimodal freight office, which will be the first time in history of the federal government there has actually been the multimodal freight office, so it's about time and run and lead the flow program, which I'll talk a little about as well.

Peter Weis: 1:19

Good afternoon. I'm Jim McCullen. I'm CIO at Century Supply Chain Solutions. Century is a global logistics provider focused on arch and cargo management and PO management, and we do a lot around shipment visibility. So I'm really excited to be here to talk to you all today.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:35

Now for the audience. Just a couple of housekeeping notes. We are accepting questions, so at any point during this conversation, if you have something to submit, I believe there's an option in the app for you to be able to submit those questions. We're going to get to those a little bit later on, but for the sake of this discussion. I was listening to a recent webinar and Robert Kirk from Dunn and Bradstreet. He recently said the world is busy and there's a lot of noise out there, and this has always been true of our industry. Gut instinct is no longer enough. So how do we find certainty in an uncertain world, which I'm sure is a question that a lot of us have in this room? So let's open up the discussion. Peter, I'll go to you first. What's the status quo of multimodal visibility?

Jim McCullen: 2:16

Yeah, I'm sure you guys have heard a lot of discussions on this topic. It's not a new topic. It's been around for 30 years or more. It's a chronic issue. Now some things have changed. The players have changed, some of the technologies have changed. Some of the old technologies are still around EDI is still around and Excel uploads and manual data entry and then there are some new solutions that are offering some hope for at least incremental improvements IoT and open APIs, which are not a savior, but they're going to, I think, be a nice jolt to the space. There's good old fashioned website scraping. Cloud TMS is that embed AI? So there are a lot of tools that are, I think, creating some incremental improvements in the space. But really, visibility is not a UI issue, it's not a user issue. We've all seen killer demos, haven't we? I bet we feel like we've given a fair number of killer demos ourselves.

Jim McCullen: 3:14

It's about the data and specifically about the movement of data Accurate, complete, timely data moving all around the world. Think about what happens from Shanghai to Chicago. How many events are there that you care about? How many parties are touching the data? How many different platforms are trying to make that data sing? That is really, I think, the overarching challenge and where we are today.

Jim McCullen: 3:39

I want to work backwards from my dreamy vision. You want to hear my dreamy vision Really a global ecosystem of data that collectively the whole world contrasts as products move around the world. Everyone would be better off Rising tide would lift all boats if we could do that. My model for this think about electricity. When you go home, you're not surprised when you flip the switch on, unless you're in California the last two days. You flip a switch 100%. Imagine that vision for supply chain data and work backwards from that Because there really is an actual, single version of the truth. There is a date and a time at which product leaves the factory, the ship sales that arrives, the goods and clerk customs that arrives at the DC. That data does exist. The problem is that version, that information supply chain today doesn't match, doesn't stay in sync with the physical supply chain. And until we get that right, this broader ecosystem, I'm anxious to hear the talk on flow in just a couple of minutes. Until we do that right With data, we've got this zero-sum world with winners and losers, where everyone is spending money on building integrations.

Jim McCullen: 4:52

It's expensive and it's slow and it's inefficient, but it's what we got. We got this win-lose situation where we try to make our companies look good at the expense of competitors. We win deals and we lose deals, and everyone pushes their version of the truth. And that happens because there really is no large economic incentive to create a lot of standards that would speed that up. There are some large shippers that are doing great work Walmart, home Depot. Others are forcing digital relationships, digital report cards, digital accuracy of information, I think, which is fantastic. But when you think about three dimensions of deciding on a provider, you've got price, you've got on-time delivery or transit time and you get quality of information. If you think about those three dimensions, we know which one falls off first. It's quality of information. Everybody wants it, but will we pay the price to be great at it? Let me just close by talking about the collision course. I think that's going on in the marketplace.

Jim McCullen: 5:57

There are really three different kinds of entrants trying to solve visibility today. One is the traditional, established 3PLs that have great customer bases, balance sheets, pretty good integration capabilities, profits, they're stable, but they have been viewed, rightly or wrongly, as maybe not nimble enough, maybe not innovative enough. So that's created openings for peer tech plays that have come in. You know who the peer tech players are. They've taken the business away from 3PLs, but they've also faced some skepticism, some backlash.

Jim McCullen: 6:34

Do they really know the data well enough, the business well enough, the operations well enough to give you data that you'll bet your career on? That's super important. And secondly, can they make money? Can they make money? Is their business model viable? And then there's the third players I'd call them the super tech forward that have probably spent 10x on tech that traditional 3PLs are spent and I think those results are coming in. There are some good ones. Very few of them, if any, make money and some of them have already gone out of business. So they've gotten out ahead of themselves, overspending, focusing only on tech and not on customer, not on operations. My view is, the sweet spot is the 3PLs that can both operate and innovate, so that you create innovation that customers can trust. That's where I think the path is leading and all that's playing out.

Blythe Brumleve: 7:27

Andrew, with a lot of the intricacies that Peter just mentioned. There was one key caveat that we were talking about ahead of time. Could you kind of dive into that key caveat of what's preventing true visibility?

Andrew Petrisin: 7:39

Yeah, I'd be happy to, Because I tend to see this problem and we talk a lot about the technology and for me technology is really the how. How am I sharing information with you? How are you sharing it with me? But, as kind of Peter alluded to, I actually think the core challenge is really around what is the incentive structure and is there trust between parties? That's the kind of dog and the technology and that's the why. And the technology, I think, to me tends to be the tail.

Andrew Petrisin: 8:08

As I think about visibility and you are all interested in when is my cargo going to get to the next location. There's really a function of where is it now and what is the kind of aggregate of what's happening around it. And I tend to think about that in two categories. I think about it as vertical visibility, so information between your trading partners, where's your cargo and horizontal visibility, so what are your competitors doing and how does that impact you. Why is horizontal visibility important?

Andrew Petrisin: 8:40

If all the US importers today started to say we're only shipping through the port of Oakland, that becomes a problem for everyone. That impacts you because so many of the effects on you are out of your control because of the interdependence of the system which, to me, really gets at this issue around trust and around incentive structure. So, if you want to know what your competitors are doing, if you're a shipper in this room, how many of you would write your purchase order information in the details about it on a piece of paper? Right now, set aside the technology and hand it to a competitor who's in this room?

Andrew Petrisin: 9:19

I imagine not a lot of you, if any. If you're a logistics service provider, your asset utilization, you know its performance. How many of you, similarly, would write that down on a piece of paper and give it to someone else in this room? I imagine that number is near zero and for me that speaks to that.

Andrew Petrisin: 9:38

This really isn't about you know, the technology piece is important, but the core piece is about why are we doing this, why are we sharing this information and are we bought into, as Peter mentioned, the collective benefit, the rising you know, the rising tide that lifts all boats. I was like I'll get this right and until we have that buy-in right, until we actually understand as an industry right, what is the proper incentive structure with some kind of trust, it's going to be really hard, I think, to develop the kind of underlying data that folks need to forecast through, but to have better forecasting generally right to make optimal routing decisions and asset allocation decisions. So that's how I tend to think about this, excited to share in a little bit what the department is doing in terms of you know, our role and how we can provide value to address this, and I'll close my comments there.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:32

We all know the golden rule of data, which is garbage in, garbage out. Gemma, I'll go to you how do you manage for that data and making sure that there's a single source of truth for that data?

Peter Weis: 10:46

Yeah, that's a good question. I think, first off, we have to define garbage. So in my mind, when it comes to visibility, I can think of three areas. One is incorrect data, the second is missing data and then the third I'm not going to call it predictive, but I'll say ETAs, and I think we all struggle with that every day. On the incorrect side, I've been doing this for 30 plus years.

Peter Weis: 11:07

It has definitely gotten much better that if you get an event, you can pretty much trust that event happened. Now, is it timely? That's dependent on the provider that's sharing it with you. I think the biggest pain point is around missing data. So when you think about a container at a load port that missed the vessel and no one is telling you about it, or going through a transship port misses the vessel and no one tells you about it, we're sitting at a discharge port for 15 days. So I think that missing data is the most important piece and unfortunately, we've come a long way in the industry with beginning to transfer from EDI to APIs.

Peter Weis: 11:47

The DCSA, the Digital Container Shipping Association, has done great work in getting the carriers to at least align on standard formats, which has been really helpful. But again, the carriers aren't going to tell you what's not happening, so you have to rely on other parties. So, like at Century, we go out and collect the data from myriad sources. So we get it from marine traffic, we get it from the carriers, we get it from companies like Vision and Gnosis and we bring all that data together, analyze it against the plan and then determine if something didn't happen. So that's something I challenge everyone with if you're an importer, with your three PLs, if you're a service provider, if you're a tech company, you really need to think about that side of it. What's? How am I going to communicate or learn that something didn't happen so that I can react to it?

Peter Weis: 12:37

And then the third piece is the ETAs. And it's still unbelievable that today you could go to three websites and get three different answers of when a vessel is going to arrive, and it could be two carriers on the same vessel telling you two different dates. So we collect data again from all those different sources and we actually score it 30 days back against the birth date of the vessel and then we use the best provider over the last 30 days To use their predictions into each individual port within each date range. So again, I just challenge if you're a tech company, you've really got to be looking at that. You've got to give the customer trusted data that they can look in one place.

Peter Weis: 13:17

For if you're an importer, you should be driving your 3PLs, your tech companies, to deliver that service. You shouldn't have to be going out there to try to figure out if it's right or not, because we're all in the supply chain, logistics side for the most part. But there's all these downstream pieces of buyers and sales people and everyone else that relies on that data Every day. And so if, if you, you on the supply chain side aren't providing it accurately, they're not going to trust you, they're going to go to other places.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:44

So, yeah, so well, speaking of all of the intricacies, and in the trust aspect, charlie, I'm going to bring you in from the shipper side of things. How are you solving for all of those different data points across multimodal?

Charlie Cunnion: 13:57

Well, to be quite honest, we're constantly Trying to fix that problem. The underlying data dominates our efforts. When it comes to visibility, there's a few things that we need to look at. You know, latency how fast are we getting it? And really, to us on the commodity side, tracking those milestones so simple, blocking and tackling of having, you know, a dozen different milestones that are going to touch every single one of my shipments, getting those on time and complete and in a frequency that we can build some trust in it. So much of them.

Charlie Cunnion: 14:28

What we stack on top of that is only good is that underlying data. And we're stacking a lot on top of that because we're we're still trying to find those solutions that that can set us apart and it's it's a trying, it's a trying process for us. It's hard not to be cynical. At the same time, there still is a lot of upside. I think you know initiatives that you've seen through the pandemic. You know it hasn't been a giant leap, but certainly we've seen and this the level of sophistication around Visibility, with mom and pops all the way up to the most sophisticated, largest 3PLs, continues to get to the to a higher level. So, again, it dominates what we're, what we're trying to solve when it comes in and eats up most of our resources and also the source of most of our frustration.

Peter Weis: 15:16

Sorry and Charlie. So definitely a competitive advantage for you to your customers if you have that data.

Charlie Cunnion: 15:22

No, 100% we're. You know it's two things. We're trying to solve for exceptions, then we're trying to seamlessly integrate into other manufacturers processes. So you know I talk about this. I've got a lot of miles out of this adage 90% of my time on 10% of my cargo. The faster I can get to that 10%, the more levers I have to pull in order to fix it. We do that enough times. Maybe I can shrink that to 9%. And then, the more customer service, the more visibility, the more trust I can gain from my customers, the better. I'm gonna be out there again, especially in the commodity world. I mean, there's still folks out there who approach us, you know, seeking 10,000 tons of pulp, and they want the Amazon experience. And we're, we're, we're ready to do that.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:03

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Blythe Brumleve: 17:34

I think the next logical question and, peter, I'll go to you for this is why can't we just solve all of this with API's?

Jim McCullen: 17:40

Wouldn't that be nice. I See a question up here about our API's and improvement over EDI. And do we consider EDI to be the data standard? We would always joke. I mean, edi goes back to the Ronald Reagan years, literally. And the joke was, yeah, we have EDI standards, lots of them, and so that's the situation.

Jim McCullen: 17:59

We're not just standards that vary by vertical, they by customer size, by geography, and the truth of the matter is, today there really is no one overarching Standard, whether it's a technical standard such as API, which we favor, which we're building out, which we'd invite any customers to use with us. But then there's that reality we want freight, we want to help companies, we have to meet customers where they're at, and so Customers that aren't API ready heck. We have customers that aren't fully EDI ready, although that is slowly going away. So API is a wonderful tool, I, but it's just not everything and you just have to. I like this discussion. You have to outwork your competitors if you want to win.

Jim McCullen: 18:46

Okay, I, you know, I did 23 to 14 this week, or 404s, or 315s, whatever you may have built out in terms of EDI transactions. The key is do you trust the data? Can you run your business on the data. Can your customers run their business on the data? That's where the work comes in. Nobody wants to do the hard work. Everybody wants great data and you know we run our company on the same data we exposed to customers. That's really the only long-term way to do it right to ensure that people can trust the data. I wish I had an easy answer.

Peter Weis: 19:16

I'd be so popular, charlie and nature of time and, charlie, you and I were talking earlier today what I'm starting to see some importers do is create a separate API layer to interact with their service providers. So in the past, if I'm integrating with a customer, I'm integrating with their ERP system, their TMS, their WMS, and then if they have to upgrade those systems, they have to engage their external partners to do that. So creating just a set of APIs to talk to your transportation logistics partners Makes more sense. It's more work in the beginning, but in the long run it's much easier because then if you want to change your ERP system, your TMS, your WMS or upgrade it, you don't have to impact the external side of that. And the same thing goes on the external side if we're updating things.

Peter Weis: 20:04

We don't. We just come through that one common channel. Instead of all these different systems and I think that's one of the challenges that we face today across the industry is there's so many point-to-point Kind of connections that in many cases are 15 or 20 years old that people don't even know what they do anymore. And you know. So I think there's real value in starting fresh with a lot of these.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:26

So now that we've sort of laid the groundwork of where we're at as an industry and Andrew, I'll go to you next, knowing all of the problems and then, I guess, the nuances around those different issues what are some of the solutions that that flow is coming up with to address those?

Andrew Petrisin: 20:41

Yeah, I'll be the first to say too, it's. It's a, you know, not a silver bullet for everything, right, as, as Pure talks about it, there's hard work that you're making, iterative, you know, improvement on, you know, day in and day out. And for us again, really, as I think about how I see this, is a really problem of kind of incentives and trust. You know, the question I posited earlier right about you know, would you share information with your competitor? It turns out, through what we've been doing at DOT, you may not do that, but you may share it with us and the federal government, which I know maybe sounds very strange to a lot of blank stares. You know, in a non regulatory way, in a fully voluntary way, and you know we have kind of built, essentially an underlying and a data set where we have, you know, the major importers, you all you know the names of your Walmart, your targets, your samsungs, your Nike's, sending us their purchase orders. We're aggregating it, Anonymizing it and providing it back out to everyone. So then the members of the platform can actually begin to see what does demand look like 90 days out. Right, not based off what we're forecasting from historical data, but from actual purchase orders of the industry and aggregate, you know, for the ocean carriers as well. You know aggregating. You know the information of MSC and CMA and Evergreen and O&E Sending us booking information. You know from. You know where is it moving, what's the port of origin, what's the port of destination as moving truck rail, what's the end destination, warehouse zip. Arranging that information, providing it back out To the point where you know, depending on the port. We have about, you know, 80% of all inbound cargo about 45 days out as it's booked and shared daily. This is information, then, that you know.

Andrew Petrisin: 22:25

We have Interimodal equipment providers starting to use, to understand their utilization piece of the some of the data in the system, demand forecasting standpoint. So our role in the federal government really just becomes an independent party, right so we have done this actually For a number of years is kind of what we call a data trust or an independent data steward. We've done it with the air, the air carriers, auto OEMs, even oil and gas industry, where we will, as independent party, aggregate, anonymize and provide information back out to the industry for their use for fundamentally a commercial purpose. Right To understand, you know future performance of the system, to understand routing decisions. It's essentially just another Data layer. Right, we're a trusted data layer so that folks can use it for primarily right now, mostly forecasting. So this is really kind of our way of getting around some of the kind of horizontal what I call kind of horizontal data sharing issues that we've seen. We've seen really great uptake really across the industry and, you know, continue to kind of build out the platform. We similarly, even from a tech standpoint, right, you know, we have an API that folks can pull from, so the kind of technology layers there, but fundamentally, are trying to address.

Andrew Petrisin: 23:43

What I think otherwise is kind of a lack of incentives right to share something you know with your competitors and over time, you know, that helps become a de facto standard right, we, you know, accept data in a standard format and as folks kind of participate, right, kind of align to a similar format. So that's what we're doing. We're super excited about it. It's, as I've talked to folks even this morning, it's very new for the federal government to operate in this way, to really think about, you know how do we sound crazy. How do we deliver great production services for people, right, how do we think about and our users right, and how they're using, you know those products and services and get feedback right and iterate on it. You know that's a culture that it sometimes can be foreign on the, on the public side, but as one that we're really committed to For mutual benefit. So that's what we're excited about and that's what we're building Together with. I see a few friendly faces in the, in the crowd too, with our friends.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:41

I think a couple of the nuggets that I want to pull on that for a second is the incentive and giving that incentive To the retailers that are participating in that, where they get access to the data, but it's also anonymized as well. Jim, do you have any follow-up comments on on the flow system and how you guys are working with? Sure, absolutely so, yeah, and just to expand on Andrew's comments.

Peter Weis: 25:01

So the idea is to have all of the supply and demand For north, for the US, in one place that's accessible. And so, when you think about everything that's happening right now With the canals, for example, we're all Trying to figure out or anticipate what that means. Right, is there going to be a push to the west coast, or certain ports going to be much more busier than other ports, and it's really guesswork or a lot of the other ports, and it's really guesswork, or phone calls with people to try to figure that out. And what flow is doing is starting to bring that data together so that you can look at it and see, yeah, we're going to have a problem, as opposed to just seeing vessels stacked out, you know, in the ocean somewhere. So you know, I think from that aspect it's extremely valuable.

Peter Weis: 25:45

From the question around the, you know the bco's and the importers Getting the purchase order data in. So that sounds scary, right, but when you look at the data model, um, it's not looking for po Numbers or hts numbers or anything like that. It's really just how many containers are you planning to bring into this port in this time frame? And the nice thing is and one of the things sentries doing is we're now offering to do that on behalf of our customers. So we already have their purchase order data and most you know ocm type providers would, and so we can connect and share that information and that immediately makes that importer a participant, so they don't have to do the work to get the data in and become a participant. And, speaking of that, it's really easy. The team's made it so easy. You can do it with Excel spreadsheets, you can do it with an API all different formats, csv files that you can load data up to the system.

Peter Weis: 26:41

And I think, being on some of the committees, one of the greatest things that I've seen is this opportunity to collaborate. So Flow has a couple of meetings a year and if you get a chance, I highly recommend, if you're a participant, to attend one. We've had these opportunities to be able to sit around a table and have major importers, the leaders of ports, you know, chassis owners, logistics providers in small group settings talking about their challenges, talking about their constraints and all of a sudden, we start to understand as a group the importance and value of this information and change starts to happen, and I haven't seen any other forum out there that allows for this open dialogue. It really isn't like a competitive dialogue or a sales dialogue. It is about working together to try to get better information Because, again, everybody is using the same shared resources right the same terminals, the same chassis, the same trucks, the same railroads, and so having a better understanding of the capacity and the capacity constraints benefits everyone.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:47

Got about 10 minutes left. So if you want to submit a question, be sure to do so so we can make sure that we get that or get an answer to you from the panelists on stage. But, as we've sort of you know, really laid the groundwork of all the nuances and the issues and how we're trying to solve them. What's kind of lost in a lot of the conversation? Or some of the smaller carriers, some of the smaller players Charlie, I'll bring you in how are you, from the shipper side of things, you know, accommodating all of those different data points when a lot of these smaller players don't necessarily have the sophistication of, you know, a large tech team?

Charlie Cunnion: 28:20

Sure, especially on our over the road strategy. You know we have an affinity for the smaller shops, the mom and pops on our dedicated lanes who we really feel like can provide the next level of service. You know the downside to that was always maybe that, you know, the visibility side wasn't to the standard or wouldn't configure well with us. But I do think the barrier to entry for anyone with, you know, two trucks or 2000,. They can get into the space with just a simple cell phone to get us. You know the ETAs, their current position, proof of delivery, and I just think there's so many other you know pieces of software that can draw that data and get it to us. So I'm it's table stakes when they, when we approach those carriers and we've had really eliminated that conversation Everyone's been able to provide us that. That, you know, lowest common denominator of visibility for us.

Blythe Brumleve: 29:15

So, andrew, from the government side of things, how are you accommodating some of those small players?

Andrew Petrisin: 29:20

I mean, I'd say we look at it quite similarly. I mean, we've you meet people where they are. So we have some folks that you know automated daily data submissions, whether it's the booking or POD data we talked about, or in the ports, we're participating, we're sharing their utilization, or our IPs, we're sharing their you know available assets, their available chassis assets. You know we have some folks that upload a CSV, right, and they do it manually and they do it every day and this data is structured in the way that we needed and that works right. Obviously, that's a decision for them. They're making a trade off of, you know whether they want to have someone uploaded every day or whether they want to invest in the IT resources to automate it and either way, you know, for our purposes it's, it's fine. We obviously, you know, push people towards a more automated data submission for obvious reasons. So we kind of have the you know really run the full gamut and just try to again meet who or they are.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:14

And Peter, I'll go to you next. What about some of the other, I guess, market solutions, maybe from a company standpoint? What are some of the other solutions that you're seeing? That's kind of attacking the visibility market.

Jim McCullen: 30:26

Yeah, can I get back to the smaller customer thing? I want to make one quick point, because it's really really a good one. Our view is that it can't just be track and trace invisibility. They have to have some, even just a simple model about what success looks like transit time KPIs, so that even the simple small company should be able to define success. If you can't define success, you're in the wrong business, you're in the wrong job.

Jim McCullen: 30:50

So then, my guidance is have fewer partners, track fewer events, because, yeah, there are 100 events from Shanghai to Chicago. Do you really need all of those? My guess is you need about seven of them, and you can write them down on a piece of paper and have lots of room left over. So those are the ones you should model. Those are the ones that you should track. Work with partners that are trustworthy and sift out a lot of the noise, the Me Too aspect. Well, I've got to have this and that and this. You probably don't.

Jim McCullen: 31:19

They're a handful of things as an SME that you need to run your supply chain well, and I think it's not as heavy a lift as you might think If you follow those. Keep it simple principles, if that makes sense. And the last thing I'd say is who the hell cares if you find out something is 10 days late, when it's two days from arriving at Long Beach, you got to know early on and what is your relationship with your suppliers? So super important question early visibility way more important than late visibility so that you can recover. You can air freight, you can partial ship there's a lot of different things you can do, so those are all very doable things, even for SMEs to improve their supply chain.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:58

Well said. And what are some of those other solutions that you're seeing? Maybe building internally or seeing outside in the market?

Jim McCullen: 32:05

Yeah. So this sort of this collision going on where everybody is crashing in. My guidance to companies is look at just a few companies that do it well. Look at operators as much as you look at. Look at pure tech, as it is mind numbing. If you walk out here, I don't know, there are multiple visibility sessions going on. There's 50 or more vendors in this space. It's super crowded. There's no way in hell you're going to be able to look at all of them. So I would do your research with trusted partners, people you know in the industry, and pick off a handful of companies that you can look at and there are plenty of companies that are nimble enough to handle what you need. But you know, a fit for a company is a bit like art you can't define it, but you know when you see it. So my advice is comb through a handful of small, comb through a handful of big operators and figure out what fits for you.

Charlie Cunnion: 32:59

And if you're curious on what not to do when it comes to procurement, I've got plenty of stories to share, because it is a difficult process and we've been in the procurement cycle in some manner or form for forever.

Blythe Brumleve: 33:14

So yeah, so I guess any visibility solution providers if they were to pitch you what would be some of those caveats that you're looking for to solve your modern day problems?

Charlie Cunnion: 33:24

Yep, blocking and tackling. I want it as simple as possible. I'm going to give you a data set and I want to see it in real time. Those are the two things Show me the complete cycle through a 315 cycle, the latency on that data, and then let me give you some data and show me the real time solution. All said.

Blythe Brumleve: 33:47

I guess it's time for closing remarks. Jim, I'll go to you. What next step action items should the audience walk away with?

Peter Weis: 33:55

Sure, I'll follow up on Charlie's comments. I think that's a really great point. Focus on what you really need, what the problem is, and communicate that. If you're working with a service provider, communicate your goal, what you're trying to achieve, and try to stay in that kind of almost POC model. First and prove it out. Ask to see the data, and so we have that with our customers, prospective customers, all the time, where they'll give us documents and we have to go show them yes, we've got all these events for you. So make the providers prove it out and if you're on the provider side, be ready for that and be able to walk in the door and show that customer that your technology and platform can really meet their needs.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:33

Andrew next.

Andrew Petrisin: 34:35

I'll be quick and you say well, first of all, thank you for having me and thank you for having us. Thank you all for being here. Yeah, I mean I think I'll just hit on some of the same points I mentioned earlier. For me, it really is kind of getting to the core of the problem of data sharing, letting that really drive the technology layer, and I would welcome, for folks who are interested in what we're doing, when a little pitch like come talk to me, we're excited to continue to grow what we're doing. It's fully voluntary and you'll be happy to talk about getting involved.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:08

So, and Peter, I'll go to you next.

Jim McCullen: 35:10

Well, we're 42 and a half minutes in and no one has said AI yet. So here goes.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:17

Here's your chance.

Jim McCullen: 35:18

Yeah, so AI. We use AI in a tool we've launched, just announced, called container AI. It's end to end container tracking, terrific UI, but the hard work, the heavy lift, is in the data, the effort we put in to make this data close to 100% right for our customers. We do use AI in a number of areas, but it's that's not going to save the day either. Ai will correct bad data. Guess what it will also learn from bad data. It's like having golf lessons and not getting your swing right and just replicating a bad swing your golfers out there. So think about AI as just another tool, but not a shortcut to fixing your data and fixing your operations and making those as bulletproof as possible. Then apply AI on top of sound fundamentals.

Charlie Cunnion: 36:09

Charlie, maybe on a couple of high notes. So I think you know we look at what's happening in the canals right now. Certainly if we hadn't been hardened by what happened during the pandemic, that would have ground a lot of trade to a halt. But I think it's been impressive to see kind of what the industry has gone through and where they are now, and just the measure of how much that's not grinding everything to a halt I think is a testament to how far visibility has come. It needs to go faster, but it's getting there. And then, lastly, you know CMPC is hyper focused on sustainability and I'm also curious to watch what sustainability can do tock scope two and three for adding standards to API and EDI feeds. You're not going to be able to do scope three without the highest level of sophistication in your visibility programs. And it might be. You know your scope three requirements that define what your EDI and API feeds look like. So I'm excited to see where that goes. I'll take it wherever it comes from.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:10

Well, I appreciate you guys. You know talking about trying to get us closer to a certainty in an uncertain world. Your insights and perspectives are incredibly valuable to this growing visibility conversation and I'm sure you know it's just day one of the visibility conversation. So thank you, guys all, and thank you guys to the audience, guys and cows for participating and taking part.

Jim McCullen: 37:35

Thank you.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:06

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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.