Logistics Education: Homegrown Distance Learning

Today’s business logistics professionals need to continually upgrade and improve their supply chain skillsets. Besides the expected benefit of administering logistics responsibilities more effectively, the effect on your paycheck’s bottom line will be dramatic. Yet who among us has the luxury to stop work and take off for the nearest college campus, whatever the personal and professional benefits? As you will see in our feature Beyond the BA (February 2002), many programs are available that allow you to work around working and learn while you earn.

Inbound Logistics has covered logistics and distance learning convergence for more than five years. During that time, many fine centers for logistics, transportation, and supply chain learning have established distance learning courses. Since then, logistics organizations have joined in establishing online centers for sharing specialized functional knowledge.

One good example is the Material Handling Industry Association, which has recently established an e-lessons site at www.mhia.org. The current series covers everything from introductory concepts in material handling to a personal guide to automatic guided vehicle systems. Other organizations and associations should follow MHIA’s lead.

Carriers, 3PLs, and IT providers should be doing the same. Many, such as ABF for example, have assembled an impressive array of e-tools that help manage the transportation and logistics process. Carriers have a unique opportunity to draw upon years of experience and a large customer base to distill some best practices and serve it up to everyone and anyone, helping customers and non-customers alike.

Given the extent that the Internet has permeated our everyday life, there is a big opportunity to kick it up a notch or two. Logistician, teach thyself! The ubiquity and ease of programs that create PDFs, presentation programs such as PowerPoint, and the seamless way these presentations can be converted to HTML create a real opportunity to share your own supply chain excellence program and logistics knowledge base. Get some space on your company web site, or have your department set up its own. Put your homegrown knowledge and logistics procedures online and make them available to all on your team—ranging across functions, departments, and locations.

Here are a few possible uses for an online logistics knowledge center:

  • Keep up with the pace of change and stop reinventing company-specific solutions for change management, implementation, and work-arounds.
  • Share company logistics standards, measurements, and procedures.
  • Leverage outside knowledge by sharing presentations and information that you pick up at seminars, trade shows, and meetings.
  • Build a shared set of experiences, practices, and skillsets that brand your logistics mission, nurturing the culture of logistics excellence you need to drive change and your organization’s competitiveness.

If you have, or are aware of, a logistics distance learning program at your company, we’d like to cover it. Email me at [email protected]