Archives for October 2016

Shipping Pilots: What happens next?

By Dr. Robert L. Gordon | 10/24/2016 | 5:26 AM

Finland has moved forward to declare that they will have autonomous vessels available by 2025.  Although this appears to be a bold statement, it will likely actually happen sooner.  Shipping has been behind in technology for a while, however, with just a push, shipping can move to the forefront of automation.  Navigational systems are already available that allow a single person to pilot a vessel.  That sounds pretty sophisticated, but when you compare it to new airplanes that can be landed by personnel in the tower, it seems that ships are a little behind.

Autonomous automobiles will become a fact of life in a matter of years.  Airplanes can already be landed remotely, so it will only be a matter of time before ships will no longer need a local pilot.  Alternatively, if a pilot is needed, the pilot would be able to take control of the vessel without ever having to endure the risky maneuver of climbing on board.    

The injury statistics are clear that the pilot transfer can be one of the riskiest parts of the job of a local pilot.  More pilots are killed while either boarding or departing the vessel, than in the performance of their duties.  After all, climbing a tricky pilot ladder in shifting seas can be pretty harrowing.  A fall from the pilot ladder can be fatal, although the different precautions and safety steps were taken in advance.   It would appear that given the dangerous nature of the operation, remotely operating a vessel would be a safer option.  However, shipping is not swift to embrace most technologies and so there would have to be significant testing and industry acceptance before such a leap of faith could be made. 

Although the safety of the pilot is important, the safety of the ship is paramount.  The question that regulators and nations will struggle with will be, is it safer than the current system?  Over time, there is no doubt that it will be shown to be safer.  After all, people are slowing accepting self-piloting cars and recently in the U.S. that once ‘evade and avoid’ systems are implemented, delivery drones will become a fact of life.

In the past, technology moved at a pace where governments had time to consider different restricting legislation and local laws.  Now, technology is moving so fast that both national and international governing bodies are struggling to keep up with the waves of innovation.  Clearly, there will need to be faster ways to implement new rules, and this will be one of the future challenges for governing bodies in the future.

APICS Annual Conference - Washington, DC

By Dr. Robert L. Gordon | 10/10/2016 | 6:00 AM

Guest Post by Stacey Little, Program Director, American Public University System, and Irv Varkonyi, President, Supply Chain Operations Preparedness, and Karen Pentz, Professor, American Public University System.

APICS Conference Picture

Photo: Dr. Stacey Little at APICS Conference

The APICS annual conference took place in Washington, DC from September 25th through September 27th, 2016.  Several members of the Transportation and Logistics Management faculty at American Public University attended the conference.  A great benefit of APICS’ membership is the ability to participate in the annual conference.  During the conference, there are several opportunities to meet and network with other supply chain professionals, students, and educators.  The keynote speakers for the conference this year were exceptional.  The first keynote speaker was Bill McDermott, CEP of SAP.  He highlighted the importance of focusing on the customer and customer service.  The second keynote speaker was Mel Robbins, author, commentator, and legal analyst for CNN.  She hit home with her explanation and challenge to make a change.

There were more than 65 educational sessions offered allowing attendees countless opportunities to engage in instructor-led sessions.  The learning paths this year were Collaboration and S&OP, Distribution and Logistics Insights, Operations Management, Risk and Resiliency, Supply Chain Analytics, Supply Chain Leadership and Supply Chain Strategy.  The topics in all the sessions were relevant, interesting, and timely.  It was challenging to select a session to attend because of multiple offerings being scheduled at the same time.  Sessions are designed to be engaging, and the presenters were experienced and knowledgeable.  During the APICS Conference, there were networking lunches and receptions permitting attendee time away from the session to network and meet new people.  Finally, there was an Expo Hall set-up with exhibitors featuring education, technologies, supply chain solutions, and information regarding APICS membership and certifications.  American Public University was an exhibitor at the conference this year highlighting their program offerings and certificates.

With the APICS 2016 Conference in Washington, for the first time in a couple of decades, it gave the opportunity for Federal Government and our military to send attendees. One session in particular which attracted this demographic was  "Humanitarian Logistics and the Role of the Department of Defense."   Irvin Varkonyi, CSCP, and part-time professor in Transportation and Logistics Management at APU/AMU, and Navy Cmdr. (ret) Jeffrey Brown were the session presenters. Vendors for state, local, and Federal Emergency Management organizations also attended as did the collaborative aid organization, ALAN (American Logistics Aid Network.) ALAN is composed of several associations including APICS and CSCMP.  A key takeaway was the incorporation of best practices to deliver humanitarian aid and how DoD organizations, such as the US Northern Command, have organized itself to support emergency management organizations. The "Humanitarian Logistics and the Role of the Department of Defense" presentation was a timely session given APICS' new credential, Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD).  The new certification can provide and validate logistics capabilities for both commercial and public sector logisticians.

Dr. Karen Pentz, a part-time faculty in Transportation and Logistics Management, was also in attendance at the APICS Conference.  Karen enjoys the conference content as well as the networking capabilities. One of the interesting aspects of the conference is the ability to focus on a particular certificate program offered through APICS.  This year Karen's focus was on finishing the required electives for the S&OP and the Risk Management certificates. To do so, she attended some fascinating presentations over the three days offered by industry thought leaders. Karen stated, "APICS does a great job of choosing presentations that cover a specific path, but that also offer a variety of thoughts and aspects of the same or a similar topic."

The APICS Conference is beneficial as it allows for its members to enhance their membership by meeting new people, discussing best practices, and investigating new and emerging trends in the industry. The educational sessions are valuable, and some sessions (depending on topic) count as electives toward educational certificates offered through APICS.  

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is program director of the Reverse Logistics department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over twenty-five years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. He holds a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA. Dr. Gordon has spent more than 14 years teaching reverse logistics, transportation, project management, and human resources. He has published articles on reverse logistics; supply chain management; project management; human resources; education, and complexity. He has also published four books on Reverse Logistics Management; Complexity and Project Management; Virtual Project Management Organizations, and Successful Program Management..

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