Data Analytics and Logistics

Well, it’s been a hot second.

A LOT has changed in the past… eight months.  Yeah, I’ve got to get better at this blogging thing.

At any rate, I am excited to say that I have acquired a Logistician position (a fancier word for Logistics Manager) at DSC Logistics and Supply Chain.  It is a dream come true for me; I know people look at me like I have a second head growing out of my neck when I say that, but when you’re passionate about something – you’re passionate about something.  And I love this field.

The first question I get, nearly all the time, is “Oh! That sounds neat!” -insert long pause- “So… uh… what do you do?” (The second most asked question is if I am a truck driver. Spoiler: I am not) 

Obviously, as a manager, I manage people.  Thirty-four people report to me based on quality, safety and performance.  That means there is a bunch of data I have to read and understand  and interpret to ensure that we are falling within or better than the benchmarks our Engineering department has set forth.  I also do the important tasks like, approve pay roll and vacation time.  I am a part of the hiring process, I am a part of the termination process. I motivate my workers to perform.  We function by the order amount, meaning, if we meet our numbers before the shift ends, our guys can go home early but still get paid their full shift.  But this also works the other way around – if we have large quantities, it can mean a longer shift.  So in short, I manage data, I make sure the data manages the people, and the peoples data helps manage engineering.  Got it?

It means long days and short days, part of being a logistician is looking ahead and being proactive rather than reactive.  Orders come in and we can plan our week, but there’s also the possibility of JIT orders coming in and that can mean hustle or bust, you’re always on your feet, and there’s very little wiggle room for error.  A missed pallet of goods can mean a relationship hindrance with your customer and their customer; so the reality of stopping fires before they start is very real.  It is a “think on your toes at a fast pace and with reasonable speed.” And by reasonable, I mean, quick or die.

Needless to say, by Friday my brain is mush, I feel like I am processing all the time; even when I am not at work. But this is the beast and speed of logistics.  It is ever growing and changing.  

Logistics is a great field to be in, it is facing a skills gap – by 2020 it is slated to have 5 million jobs unfilled because there won’t be people there to fill it. But it also means you have to know your stuff, you have to be willing to work, you have to be willing to learn new practice.  And a large and growing new practice is analyzing data. 

What kind of data? 

I can give you an example of what I do: 

Every day, twice a day, I pull a report on my team.  This report tells me how well each individuals quality and speed are within a benchmark that DSC has set as a standard.  I can see everything that my guys have done, measure it by productivity and then by the quality of their productivity. If they are not performing well or seem to be struggling in an area, it is my job to make them aware and give them the tools to adjust.

It used to be speed, “get the product out, get the product out, get the product out.” 

The the pendulum swung the other way, “get it right, get it right, get it right.” 

Now it has settled in the middle of performing in both areas.  And there is a happy medium, and I have to manage that happy medium.  And this medium is set by the customer. 

Management is shifting from “make sure it is done,” to “how is it getting done, let’s measure what is getting done and let’s set a quality standard within those measures that meets what our customer wants.”

All while juggling the weather, track and trace, lack of workers, accidents, system failures etc.  because it is never the same thing each day, and when you think that you have seen everything – something will prove you wrong. 

But at the heart is understanding and implementing data. And that is becoming a pretty common standard.  It is an exciting time in this world and I am grateful to be in it.  


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