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Supply chain’s future will be mode-agnostic, J.B. Hunt’s Simpson says

Network efficiencies must be powered by collaboration, executive tells FreightWaves’ Future of Supply Chain event

Building an intelligent, efficient supply chain requires providers of all types to shed their siloed mindsets and collaborate in areas where in the past that might have been seen as problematic, a top executive at J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (NASDAQ: JBHT) said Monday.

Keynoting FreightWaves’ Future of Supply Chain live event in Rogers, Arkansas, Shelley Simpson, Hunt’s chief commercial officer and executive vice president of people and human resources, said future supply chains will take the form of intelligent and “connected” ecosystems where shipments and capacity move seamlessly, in sync and in real-time. 

Future success will also require stakeholders to be “indifferent” as to how shipments move and to work together to match customer needs with available capacity, Simpson said. A `people-first’ approach is key to developing and executing intelligent and collaborative supply chain solutions, she said. 

For all the significant technological advancements of the past five years, which included the 2017 roll-out of Hunt’s “360” load-matching platform, there is still too much wasted motion in the transportation network. According to Simpson, roughly one-third of drivers’ time each day is unproductive due partly to unnecessary waiting times but also the inability to efficiently match freight with capacity. 

More precise load-matching combined with better visibility into network movements could significantly reduce costs and drive out millions of empty miles, as Hunt’s platform has succeeded in doing, Simpson said. It would also go a long way toward converting millions of over-the-road shipments to intermodal movements, which are more cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes J.B. Hunt (No. 4).

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.