Daniel L. Rust is the assistant director of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He conducts research in all modes of transportation with a specialty in commercial aviation. His recent research includes a U.S. Department of Transportation-funded inventory and survey of transportation, logistics and distribution providers within Missouri. Rust coordinates the center’s undergraduate program in transportation studies. His areas of teaching expertise include all modes of transportation as well as transportation safety, security and disaster preparedness.
Q. Is there a particular error that businesses tend to make in the shipping process?
The companies that are making it in this economy are being innovative with all of their practices. They make sure their trucks are full instead of paying for the fuel, time and labor to transport trucks that aren’t fully loaded and they hold shipments a day or so. Depending on the goods, this may not make a difference to the consumer, but it will save you a lot of money.
Q. How can transportation logistics help a business’s bottom line?
Many people look at transportation logistics as a cost center. They have an elaborate network, but they aren’t utilizing tools. Make a simple flow chart to see who handles what in the logistics department. Figure out how much time it takes to accomplish the shipping process from A to Z. Find the areas that need to be improved on. At that point, you can find the right software to help you be more efficient or focus on your core competency and allow a third-party logistics company to handle the process. The biggest thing you want to be aware of is the visibility of what you need, what you have and where it’s at right now.
Q. Will ‘green’ packaging save companies money?
There are great savings to be had from green packaging. You will be purchasing less material and also paying less for shipping because of the reduced weight of the packages. Take a look at this area now, despite the economy, to see if this is something that could be beneficial for your business. Don’t discredit it without at least doing the numbers.