21 May Technology Helps This 3PL Manage Productivity, Labor and Transparency
The rise of 3PLs has been a consistent trend in supply chain strategies for various industries. A Gartner report from March 2021 said that “nearly 2/3 of organizations mostly outsource logistics activities, and this number is set to increase.” What we witnessed last year with the pandemic was an even greater reliance on 3PLs to help companies keep up with the demand.
With so much going on in the 3PL world, the DC Innovation Series, 20-minute talks with supply chain pros sat down with Mark Duffy, President & CEO of Fond du Lac Cold Storage, DNT Express and Chilled Solutions to further explore what’s happening in that space.
Serving customers in New York, New Jersey and Illinois who specialize in high-end wine, cheese, chocolates and craft beer, this 3PL operates nearly one million square feet of temperature-controlled warehouse space and delivers products in temperature-controlled trucks to maintain optimal freshness.
“The 3PL industry has been very good,” said Duffy. “People realize there is very good value in outsourcing things that they are not experts at. In our business, we excel at warehousing and delivery and that lets our customers focus on their core competencies including sales & marketing and managing portfolios of their products.”
For Duffy, one of his biggest challenges is no different than what many others in the industry are facing – the ability to attract and retain labor. While there are various ways to manage that challenge, including determining what the right value proposition is for the workforce, Duffy has looked elsewhere.
“That’s where technology comes into play,” he said. “Whether it’s the voice automation software we leverage from Voxware that enables productivity and helps us manage labor to be more productive and efficient, technology definitely helps us manage the labor challenges we’re facing.”
Technology also plays a key role in another important aspect for this 3PL, transparency. In the past year, transparency to customers and employees became more important than ever, and many believe that will be a high priority moving forward.
“When we talk about transparency for our customers, we’ve been very intentional about figuring out ways to give our customers line of sight into their business,” said Duffy. “That includes routing software so they can view an app on their device and know when an order has been delivered or scheduled for delivery. We’re supplementing that with additional technology that gives us product tracing capabilities so that when the product arrives at our warehouse, when it’s picked, when it’s pre-loaded and put onto the truck our customers will know,” he added.
While technology and transparency are two main themes of this episode, another topic that Duffy discusses is the importance of growth for his business. Having recently completed an acquisition at the end of 2020 which opened up additional capacity and delivery coverage to the entire state of New York, Duffy shares a bit about their growth strategy.
“We’re very actively looking at how we can strengthen our overall foundation to grow organically and acquisitively, but right now, also being very focused on our customers and what we can do differently and better so that we can service them, so that it does feed into the overall growth strategy, because we are all about growth.”
As a proponent of talent and talented people, Duffy is most proud of his team for how resilient they’ve been throughout the pandemic and the various challenges faced during that time.
“Talent that’s committed to the purpose of the business, committed to each other, to lean on each other and trust each other and that played itself out very nicely and I’m really proud of the team.”
You can watch any of the full episodes on Voxware’s website, including the last episode with John Cooper, Head of Supply Chain for UK-based Belron, LLC. As the first international guest, John shared his perspective about navigating the global COVID-19 pandemic and adapting to new ways of working and the challenges being faced overseas.
New episodes of the DC Innovation Series presented by Voxware go live on the second Thursday of every month.