NCET explores business and technology
By Dave Archer
The logistics industry used to be all about big metal — semi-trailer trucks and warehouses filled with miles of steel racking.
These days, the logistics business is about big data just as much as it’s about big metal, and northern Nevada companies continue to be among the industry’s leaders.
Just look, for instance, at the ways that technology is helping to drive the rapid growth of ITS Logistics, the locally grown company that recently moved into a 630,000-square- foot facility in Sparks.
As David Espinosa, the director of information technology at ITS Logistics, strolls through the sprawling warehouse, he sees a highly efficient operation reliant on transparent information that supports good decision-making.
He points, for instance, to rows of products that ITS stores for Michael Lewis Company, Books Are Fun, and Ritchey Design. From the moment that these products arrived in containers, each pallet was tracked electronically. Truck drivers knew exactly what they had on board. Warehouse operations staffers got the space ready in advance. An electronic record follows each move of the merchandise while it travels through the distribution chain and is ultimately delivered to a customer.
For customers as large as Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner, or as small as a web-based retail startup, technological-driven logistics is key to profitability.
Technology provides similar transparency and efficiency to the fleet of more than 350 trucks and more than 500 trailers operated by ITS Logistics.
Onboard computers allow constant contact between drivers and the company. If a driver is headed into Los Angeles, technology alerts them to traffic jams and helps determine a faster route.
That’s efficiency that can aid the customers of ITS Logistics as well. If analysis finds, for instance, that trucks making scheduled deliveries on Tuesday of each week routinely encounter traffic slowdowns, the logistics company might suggest a different delivery schedule. That’s the sort of efficiencies that allow businesses to keep more inventory on store shelves and less in transit.
The next step: Technology that tracks fuel prices along routes and suggests the most cost-effective options. The result is money-saving decisions whether the trucker can make it 15 miles down the road to a fueling station where prices are a couple of cents lower or pull off at a station that’s right here.
Northern Nevada always will have important geographic advantages for the logistics industry with its location within a one-day drive of major markets through the West.
Advanced logistics — a marriage of traditional trucking and warehousing services with savvy use of technology — drives the industry forward. Creative use of technological tools and the willingness of industry-leading companies to invest in new technology keep this important cornerstone of the region’s economy strong.
Learn more the ways that technology drives the advanced logistics sector during NCET’s Tech Wednesday event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, at ITS Logistics, 555 Vista Blvd. More information and registration is at NCETwed.org.
Dave Archer is President/CEO of NCET, which produces networking events to help individuals and businesses explore and use technology. This column first appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal.