Monday, January 15, 2018

The Red Ball Express

Do you know what the invasion of Normandy, the Red Ball Express, any successful business venture all have in common?

The ability to mobilize assets effectively, seamless communications and a fully realized supply chain.

Shortly after D-Day the Allied forces held a 36 hour marathon meeting to figure out the logistics of moving the business of war from the ocean to the front lines. When they emerged, Major General John C.H Lee painted bright red circles on 5 ton trucks, giving birth to what would become a famed truck convoy staffed primarily by African American soldiers. Marshaling their grit and moxy they determined how to get it done without the benefit of modern technology. Armed with little more than a compass and a map, the men of the Red Ball Express set out to do the impossible.

By the end of November 1944, approximately 300,000 tons of supplies were delivered to troops on the front lines. At its height they moved over 12,000 tons of cargo a day. Giving birth to the first visible supply chain.

A well-structured, regulated and proven process driven infrastructure will produce positive results. Moving products produced independently or obtained through an external infrastructure to where they are needed without interruption or delay defines success and failure.

A lot has changed since 1944 but the objective of supply chain has not. It is a service oriented venture companies provide to customers because… well, logistics are difficult on a good day and a nightmare when it’s not.

Commitment to working smarter, faster and better each time a transaction is made, enables the ability to receive an order, kit it, package, palletize it and ship it to its final destination. On time and without interruption.

Using well-crafted processes and software for tracking and inventory allows for forecasting for things like raw materials and space needed for warehousing. Weather models anticipate shipping delays so your customers avoid unnecessary delays to their customers.

Predictive analytics anticipate the changing conditions on the front lines and encourages a continuous innovation. Information supply chains need to adapt to an ever-evolving business environment. But without innovators like the men of the Red Ball Express and their attention to detail, innovation and planning for the modern supply chains would not have had the kick start to be where we are today.

Because industry is ever changing, and boardroom wars are won and lost by the leveraging of innovations.