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22nd Annual Study of Logistics and Transportation Trends: Masters co-create value

The Masters of Logistics have developed strategic partnerships with carriers that enable them to keep costs low while providing innovative service to their customers—and our data show that this value-added perspective is leading to performance that is significantly better than their competitors.
By Mary C. Holcomb, Ph.D., and Karl Manrodt, Ph.D., Contributing Editors
September 01, 2013

The data suggests that LTL, intermodal, and surface parcel are the beneficiaries of this multi-modal approach to meeting transportation needs. In particular LTL, at 21.1 percent of the overall transportation budget, appears to be in somewhat of a resurgence as this mode’s share increased for the first time since its high of 28.9 percent in 2007.

Customer service: Stagnation
During our interviews, both shippers and carriers frequently mentioned the importance of service. In fact, shippers stated that service was a critical value-add in their strategic carrier relationships. What’s driving this focus on service? The data gleaned from this year’s study show that, in general, service for the past two years has been stagnate.

Average on-time delivery for the surface transportation modes remained the same as last year, while the percent of correct invoices and equipment availability showed slight declines. Damage rates for all the surface modes, except for parcel, increased dramatically. “With the ever increasing changes in customer requirements, it’s hard to increase service,” says Tommy Barnes, president of Con-way Multimodal. “To do this, there needs to be some level of stabilization in service requirements.”

However, very different results were reported for international modes of transportation. As our data show, on-time deliveries for air freight and ocean improved substantially from 2012 to 2013 as did the percent of correct invoices and equipment availability. This year marks the third consecutive year that ocean has improved its on-time performance.

About the Author

Mary C. Holcomb, Ph.D., and Karl Manrodt, Ph.D.
Contributing Editors

Mary Collins Holcomb, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Logistics and Transportation at The University of Tennessee.  Dr. Holcomb was also a member of the faculty in Transportation and Logistics at Iowa State University, Ames.  She holds B.S., MBA, and Ph.D. degrees from The University of Tennessee.  Her professional career involved some eighteen years at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in transportation research and policy issues for the U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation, and Defense.  Dr. Holcomb’s background also consists of various industry experience with the former Burlington Northern Railroad, General Motors, Milliken & Company, and two years of collaborative research with Procter & Gamble.  She is a principal researcher in one of the longest running annual studies – Logistics and Supply Chain Trends and Issues – that has been conducted for more than 14 years.  Dr. Holcomb is the former editor of the Transportation Energy Data Book, author and co-author of numerous reports and articles in the area of transportation policy and logistics systems design.

Karl Manrodt, Ph.D., serves an Associate Professor in the Department of Management, Marketing and Logistics and Georgia Southern University, located in Statesboro, Georgia.  Prior to joining Georgia Southern, he served as the Executive Director for the Office of Corporate Partnerships and the Supply Chain Strategy Management Forum in the Department of Marketing, Logistics and Transportation at the University of Tennessee.  Degrees include a B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology, Wartburg College, M.S. in Logistics, Wright State University, and his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee.  He is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Citation for Professional Promise, the Walter Melville Bonham Dissertation Scholarship, both at the University of Tennessee, and the E. Grosvenor Plowman Award awarded by the Council of Logistics Management.


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