Chain Reaction: Adrian Stoch of GXO on Optimizing Supply Chain Efficiencies to Better Serve Customer Needs

Chain Reaction is Sourcing Journal’s discussion series with industry executives to get their take on today’s logistics challenges and learn about ways their company is working to keep the flow of goods moving. Here, Adrian Stoch, chief automation officer at GXO, discusses how the logistics company’s diverse offerings position it to detect trends early and apply best practices across industries. 

Adrian Stoch, chief automation officer, GXO
Adrian Stoch, chief automation officer, GXO

Name: Adrian Stoch

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Title:  Chief Automation Officer

Company: GXO

What industries do you primarily serve? Which industry do you think has the most to gain from improving their supply chain logistics?

At GXO, some of our core verticals include omnichannel retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG), food and beverage, consumer electronics and more.

We learn lessons from each industry we serve, and every learning opportunity helps us improve our customer’s supply chains in other verticals. For example, tech and consumer electronics see high levels of returned purchases that need to be processed and returned to inventory for resale efficiently to maintain maximum value. The fashion industry, on the other hand, has different types of products, but similar demands. We focus on bringing custom solutions to all our customers, and our diverse exposure positions us to detect trends early and apply best practices across industries.

Taking a step back, we’re seeing some overarching trends changing how businesses look at their supply chains. This includes the need for exponentially improved supply chain operations—especially omnichannel solutions—tighter inventory planning and more accurate product positioning and forecasting. These are the drivers for today’s supply chain revolution.

When it comes to supply chain logistics challenges, there are things companies can fix, and things that are beyond their control. How can the former help the latter?

By optimizing what we can control—like warehouse safety, efficiency, accuracy and productivity—we create the widest possible margin for managing and reacting to the things that we can’t, like a changing macro environment or specific supply chain disruptions.

Another key contributing factor is precise planning across supply chain networks, which enables businesses to safeguard their operations against the impact of these outside variables. This has become an increasingly complex undertaking, spurring one of the strongest trends we’re seeing. Companies are making decisions differently than previously regarding where they should focus internally and which strategic partners they can trust to operate in complete alignment with their goals.

When it comes to creating efficiencies, what are a few things your company is doing to help its partners succeed with both quick wins and longer plays?

When a new implementation is complete, we don’t view it as a finish line, but rather as the start of our continuous improvement journey.

Every day we’re looking for opportunities to improve how our operations and automation can better serve our customers. This practice is integral to our approach, which combines our industry-leading expertise with a broad scope of automation. Our engineers assess the most relevant technologies to optimize how product flows through our warehouses based on the customer’s specific inventory and volume profile. For example, we recently converted manual packing for an omnichannel apparel customer into a completely integrated and automated solution. This enhancement reduced the customer’s cost of packing by 91 percent, and their overall cost by 18 percent. Beyond cost improvements, this is a remarkable competitive advantage for the customer in terms of reduced cycle time and improved service.

What is your company doing to make the movement of goods more sustainable?

We’re partnering with customers globally to help them achieve their sustainability goals while we innovate to reduce our environmental impact across our 970-plus sites worldwide.

Examples of our efforts include cleaning, grading, repairing and refurbishing products rather than sending them to landfills, recycling waste in warehouses—including corrugated cardboard, wooden pallets and plastics—right-sizing packaging to use less material and truckload space and installing high-volume low-speed (HVLS) fans to circulate air more efficiently than air conditioners.

What logistic challenges (if any) do you think the industry is currently facing?

In the last 5 years, supply chain networks have become both increasingly visible and complex. Companies have felt the impacts of stock-outs and shortages at scale, and this has driven pressure and focus into the supply chain ecosystem. Supply chain leaders are now being challenged like never before, but they’re also getting more attention and support.

Furthermore, supply chain partners must balance a range of external priorities, from a changing economic backdrop to regional conflicts, while delivering on the increasing demands and expectations of customers. The true test of an industry leader is how they adapt and overcome those challenges for their customers, their employees and the communities where they operate.

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