January 2007 | Commentary | Checking In

The Human Touch (Felecia Stratton)

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When was the last time you shared a drink with your WMS, complimented your forklift, or gave your computer a pat on the back? Accidental coffee spills and wishful coaxing aside, probably never, and for good reason.

Machines may help get the job done faster and more efficiently, but the real power behind the supply chain sits at your desk, in the cab at the loading dock, and on the other end of the phone call to China.

Why is this human element so important? Three reasons: Innovation begins with an idea; collaboration is built on mutual trust; and leadership is buttressed by a shared vision. Thinking, feeling, seeing people share all these qualities and more.

That's why you are the focus of this year's Logistics Planner. But don't tell your ERP system that!

Take, for example, Todd Hopkins, general manager for the Martin-Brower Company. In Amanda Loudin's Freezing Transport Costs in Their Tracks, you will read how he bucked conventional wisdom and criticism by successfully transferring all the company's inbound frozen potato shipments to rail.

John Edward's Extreme Makeover: Supply Chain Edition introduces Gregory Bostick, vice president of transportation for Pinnacle Foods. Bostick arrived at the New Jersey food distributor with an open mind and a closed fist.

He saw inefficiencies in its transportation processes, so he took a hard line negotiating with carriers and creating better performance metrics, while padding the bottom line with millions of dollars in transport savings.

Often the power of people trickles down from the executive level. Kathleen Hickey's Adjusting Focus offers a frame-by-frame account of how Kodak Chairman and CEO Antonio Perez led the company's shift from traditional film to digital media and locked its supply chain into demand-driven mode.

These stories and more are anchored by our main feature, People: The Power Behind the Supply Chain. Merrill Douglas presents an in-depth look at the broad demographics of the industry and the ways in which it has evolved—through the eyes and lives of the people working in it.

And of course, you'll find the companies and people who are stewarding logistics and supply chain innovation in our annual Planner Profiles.

This 500-page issue has a lot to offer, and we hope you find it useful. It could not have been produced without the Inbound Logistics staff's talent, energy, and great enthusiasm:

Michael Murphy, whose design expertise brings the pages to life; Amy Roach Partridge, with her insightful writing and sharp-eyed editing; Sonia Casiano's diligent production management, which kept us right on schedule; Shawn Kelloway's production skill and willingness to go the extra mile; and Joseph O'Reilly, a great scribe and invaluable in a crunch.

Thank you to The People Behind the Planner.

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