July 2006 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

Amilia Pickerill: Go With the Flow

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Swagelok Company's fluid system components keep liquids and gases flowing, and Amilia Pickerill keeps those components streaming to customers around the world.

Pickerill is logistics program manager for Swagelok, a Cleveland-area firm whose fittings, valves, filters, hoses, and other products play important roles in research and in the pharmaceutical, oil and gas, power, petrochemical, alternative fuels, and semiconductor industries.

Pickerill manages the company's import/export compliance and develops logistics strategies for serving new markets and customers.

Swagelok sells its products through more than 200 authorized distributors in 54 countries. Pickerill is part of the company's logistics team, which analyzes where to locate distribution centers, evaluates the logistics requirements for serving new markets and customers, and determines what resources the company should add, or operations it should change, to support distributors in new countries.

When Swagelok sets up shop on fresh turf, local distributors become valuable resources. "Having the distributor understand the local logistics requirements for the final delivery is a great benefit," Pickerill says.

Distributors can explain the nuances of their country's import requirements and contribute inside knowledge about available transportation services. "Having a local distributor tell us what actually happens on the ground has made our supply chain stronger," she says.

Because Swagelok has been exporting for most of its 59 years, it has built up a great deal of expertise in export management and logistics automation. That makes it a challenge to find logistics partners who can teach the company a few new tricks.

Often, for example, "a logistics provider will solicit us by saying, 'We can help you get rid of all the paper in your warehouse,'" Pickerill says. "And our response is, 'That's great, but we've been paperless for more than 20 years. What else can you do for us?'"

Swagelok also seeks consistent performance from its logistics providers. "When customers receive a Swagelok product, they know it comes with dependability and reliability, all around the world," Pickerill says. "But our logistics providers sometimes are not consistent around the world, but rather are stronger in some markets than others."

Swagelok is "trying to push our service providers to deliver product more consistent with our business model," she says.

If there's one technology Pickerill couldn't do without in her job, it's the Internet.

"With the Internet, you don't have to reinvent the wheel anymore," she explains. "Someone has already created it for you; it's just a matter of finding it."

Pickerill's first Internet stop each morning is the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security web site, a treasure trove of information on trade relations and regulations.

"The government does a great job of publishing investigative reports, whether it's a country summary, import/export information about a country, or a study on intellectual property rights," Pickerill says.

Elsewhere on the web, many logistics professionals have published whitepapers. "If you want to learn about any supply chain topic, it's out there on the Internet," she says.

The Big Questions

Ideal dinner companion?

I'd love to have dinner alone with my husband. Our chances are few and rare. We're either with our children or other family members.

What's in your briefcase?

Right now, one notebook. First thing in the morning, I dump everything else out on my desk.

Anything in your career you'd do differently if you had the chance?

I wish I had more time to teach. I used to teach a logistics class at John Carroll University in the spring semester. I did it for a number of years, until my first son was born, and I loved it.

If you didn't work in supply chain management, what would be your dream job?

What do you do when you're not at work?

I spend my time playing with my two young sons. I've learned how to play superheroes and how to create art from sand and dirt. I would never have dreamed of doing these activities a few years ago.

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