3 Questions

Cynthia Cabrera is a lead consultant and president of Global Solutions & Services Inc., a Miami-based logistics planning and consulting firm. Cabrera consults for and trains supply chain service providers and manufacturers. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College, where she created and implemented a continuing education course on international trade and logistics.

Q. How can transportation logistics help a business’s bottom line?

The first thing transportation logistics does is ensures on-time delivery. If managed effectively, it will improve efficiency and reduce costs by reducing fuel consumption and improving customer service. Many CEOs see transportation as a necessary evil, but without logistics, you don’t have a company. The shipping department and the rest of the company must partner instead of making the logistics department the bad guy. If products are late, the problem may be further up in the process — so evaluations always have to be companywide.

Q. What can a company eliminate or add to its transportation logistics strategy to save money?

Adopting lean strategies will help you produce a value stream map to see the process from A to Z, from the time an order is received to the time it’s out the door. Find bottlenecks in the process and eliminate members if necessary. Buy or sell trucks if needed or consolidate shipping companies if you use an outside company. Do your homework.

Q. What advice can you provide to other companies looking to reassess their in-house shipping process?

Technology is your friend until it’s not your friend. You must use it properly and know what type of software you need or else it won’t be helping you at all. Effective use of software can yield enormous savings while ineffective use could yield none at all. Since the economy is down, a knee-jerk reaction is often to not spend any money, especially since companies are dropping like flies. Surviving companies are investing in the long term even now. As long as you are investing wisely, it will still be a good decision.