Collaboration: Transforming Hype Into Award-Winning Reality

Posted - October 17, 2013

Collaboration: Transforming Hype Into Award-Winning Reality

By Sonney Jones, Division Director of Transportation for Daltile

In 2011, Daltile and Transplace embarked on a transportation collaboration project that would pair low-density freight shippers with Daltile’s high-density ceramic tile shipments. The objective was to utilize transportation capacity more efficiently in order to reduce costs and environmental impact for all parties involved. Just one year later, along with shipper partners Convermex, Werner Co. and Whirlpool, we were awarded the CSCMP’s top Supply Chain Innovation Award for our collaborative efforts.

From the beginning, we knew we would realize considerable cost reductions if the right partnerships could be forged. The process led to  external transportation collaboration – all related to executing the optimum balance of weight and cube in a single over-the-road, intermodal or rail shipment. Adapting to some unexpected events as the project evolved, we made some key decisions  that directly contributed to our success,  including:

  • Recognized “Cubic Miles” Opportunity – Understood the value of under-utilized cubic capacity on shipments from tile manufacturing locations to distribution centers.
  • Realized the Need for a Facilitator – While we understood the strategic opportunity, no benefits could be derived without the right shipper partners and a third party to facilitate the offering.
  • Defined “Ingredients” for Strong Partnerships – We “profiled” the potential partner based on key characteristics such as: product density/value; lane match; freight/operations compatibility; and customs approach.
  • Collaboratively Designed Solutions – After qualifying a potential partner, we collaboratively designed a logistics solution, considering the needs of both shippers.
  • Shared Benefits = Collective Success – Although Daltile’s product density was the primary driver and our company had invested significant intellectual assets, without interested and engaged partners we wouldn’t be able to realize expected cost reductions. This meant benefits had to be shared fairly.

It may seem a bit like a fairy tale, but it’s a true story. These collaborative efforts are frequently yielding 15%-25% reductions in net logistics cost for each of the shipper partners. Feeling like we have a proven operational model, Daltile and Transplace are working on implementing additional partnerships, generating millions of dollars in logistics costs reductions as well as significant sustainable benefits (i.e., fuel, tires, greenhouse gas reduction, etc.), and provide a competitively differentiated “win” for all involved parties.

Sonney Jones is Division Director of Transportation for Dal-Tile, a subsidiary of Mohawk Industries. He is a bilingual logistics professional with a background in the sales, operations, and engineering disciplines of the logistics industry.