A Conversation with Paul Delp,

CEO, Lansdale Warehouse

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LQ’s Top North American 3PL Executive Interview Questions for this interview have been prepared by members of LQ’s Board: John Langley Jr., Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology; Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., university of Tennessee.

LQ: What are your priorities in the area of information technologies that can support your relationships with customers? (John Langley Jr.)

Paul Delp: Our priorities begin with our WMS and the functionality it provides to ensure timely dock-to-stock processing, inventory accuracy, and perfect order processing. By providing tools like EDI, RF Bar Code Scanning, and Web Based visibility for our customers, we become a valued resource within their supply chain.

LQ: What do you feel are of great interest with regard to innovative, value added services by 3PLs for customers? (John Langley Jr.)

Paul Delp: Any time 3PLs can perform a supply chain function for customers that they cannot or do not want to perform, we provide a very valuable service and become a partner, not a vendor. For example, we recently helped one of our customers with a kitting project to streamline a product launch. Through a collaboration of associates, service providers and the customer, we helped get product into the country, developed kitting and assembly processes and even helped design the packaging components. 3PLs may not be experts in all areas of the supply chain, but we know those who are and use those relationships to the best advantage for our customers.

LQ: If you could ask your customers to change just one thing, what would it be? (John Langley Jr.)
Paul Delp: We can offer our customers so much value if they let us become logistics partners instead of vendors based on price.

LQ: There are some who would suggest that the 3PL industry is becoming “stalled out” in terms of its relationships with customers. Do you agree or disagree with this statement, and why? (John Langley Jr.)
Paul Delp: I disagree. Those customers who share production schedules, share surprises, participate in regularly scheduled meetings and are willing to openly discuss their problems with us are the accounts for whom we can truly provide solutions and value, and tend to stay clients for many years. Given the opportunity, 3PLs can perfectly perform many supply chain functions as long as there is trust and transparency with the customer.

LQ: How are constraints in North American infrastructure affecting your ability to provide service to your customers? (Diane Mollenkopf)

Paul Delp: In the case of our rail infrastructure, we operate two rail-served facilities, which give our customers the opportunity to ship four truckloads in one very cost-effective railcar. The railroads are investing billions of dollars in their infrastructure where they move significant volumes of freight but are deferring maintenance on the “first and last mile” areas of their networks. For example, a 10-mile line known as the Stony Creek Line is the only way high cube cars can reach our serving yard; right now, this is our weakest link in our rail supply chain for our customers.

We need a Federal Transportation Policy that will address all of our infrastructure issues. The congestion on our highways is straining supply chain capacity and it has a negative impact on our environment.

If we invest and improve our rail infrastructure and get freight moving on the correct mode this will free up highway capacity. Port infrastructure is another integral piece of the supply chain puzzle. In order to accommodate the tsunami of shipping containers that is anticipated to hit our coasts, intermodal freight trains must be the primary method of moving those boxes inland.

LQ: What kind of innovative solutions are you developing in light of infrastructure constraints? (Diane Mollenkopf)
Paul Delp: Our company has become a very active participant in our local MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization), the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission in order to bring an awareness of the importance of efficient goods movement in and though our region. Also, forming a Public Private Partnership to upgrade the Stony Creek Line is a possible solution but it is a painstakingly slow process. While it may not be innovative, we seek any opportunity to reduce empty miles for our trucks through backhauls and effective dispatching processes, which in turn allow us to control costs and provide value for our customers.

Transloading and cross-docking are options to move freight through the supply chain as very cost-effective transportation and warehousing alternatives. Even though we hear discussions regarding the next federal highway reauthorization bill, there are time-tested and proven transloading opportunities which will enable us to move freight more efficiently utilizing our intermodal networks and to maintain strong economic growth.

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