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The supply chain has been given a new blend of market disruptions in the past year. Beyond the obvious pandemic, digital commerce surges and new expectations for next-day delivery have some inventory managers scrambling to keep up with demand while meeting expectations in performance and operations.

Inevitably, cost management goes hand in hand with achieving competitive consumer satisfaction results, so this adds another layer of stress for the team to maintain. Of course, none of this matters if the product is unavailable, and if the status of goods is unknown for extended periods of time, the lack of visibility alone can quickly diminish any chance of maintaining a competitive edge. 

So, what does it take, then? Tom Martucci, chief technology officer at Consolidated Chassis Management, shares that previously held ideals toward inventory management have shifted.

“Inventory management, which was primarily driven by just-in-time philosophies before COVID, has evolved,” Martucci said. “The realization of disruption and the need for ‘buffer stock’ is no longer seen as a luxury but a necessity, particularly in asset management. The operational degradation, lost sales and recovery costs have proven far more impacting than any savings from keeping stocks ‘tight.’ Most companies will now reconsider these old philosophies, with more consideration given to service continuity.”

So, what can be done to better understand what is needed for that competitive advantage everyone in the industry is aiming to achieve? It starts with appropriate asset management. Martucci shares that assets–primarily their utilization and costs–need to be approached with a different philosophy in mind.

“The lessons over the past year have shown us that we must consider a portion of our assets as ‘buffer stock’,” Martucci explains. “The costs of these assets need to be included with the overall pricing philosophies, where I believe these small increases, clearly explained to the stakeholders, are much more easily accepted than massive disruptions and recovery costs. As always, there needs to be dialogue between seller and buyer to assure there are clear expectations and deliverables.”

Technology fulfills a critical role in supporting proactive inventory management initiatives, especially for those warehouse managers struggling to keep up with unpredictable demand trends. The important thing to remember here is the level of visibility provided by the technology implemented. By successfully gathering critical information and data, managers are not left with risky assumptions and guesses. 

“Technology drives visibility, and visibility is a necessity for efficient inventory management,” Martucci says. “In the same way that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, I believe you can’t manage what you can’t ‘see’ in terms of asset visibility via solid technology. On the cutting edge of this evolution is the adaptation of GPS tracking and telematics of the asset itself. No longer will companies need to rely on and ‘hard reader’ verification of the asset’s location. On-board technology will not only be able to tell us where the equipment is, but also the physical condition of the asset. This will promote more efficient use and a higher degree of safety.”

Consolidated Chassis Management takes asset management and amplifies it. The key part of what makes the company’s solutions competitive is not only the amount of data provided, but also the right kind of data it gathers and manages. What makes CCM a highly competitive chassis pool manager is found at the core of CCM’s mission that embraces an inclusive and extended stakeholder reach while maximizing principles of quality, availability, flexibility, efficiency, sustainability and neutral management.

“Our technology division created our CIT platform with asset management as its core mission,” Martucci says. “The technology was developed to manage the assets within the CCM chassis pools, and we recently introduced it as a fleet management solution for other companies needing an equipment management solution. The underlying design of our technology includes logging and tracking the number of different metrics throughout the various supply chain processes. We consider our systems very data-rich, which provides us the visibility needed to effectively manage the assets.”

Additionally, CCM takes into consideration how the market is evolving and proactively prepares to adapt solutions for optimal customer support and add a level of flexibility for the customer. Adding to their focus on quality, Martucci explains that changes are in the works for advancing data integration capabilities in the near future.

“Although we are currently reliant on EDI and APIs for data sharing, we are preparing our APIs for the emerging evolution of GPS-Telematics which positions us to seamlessly integrate the new data into our applications and data warehouse,” he says. “These tools are highly flexible resources our management teams use in assuring the assets are where they are supposed to be and are maintained at the highest level.”

From traditional asset management philosophies to advanced technology integrations, Martucci makes it clear that going back to the basics of asset management is at the core of any inventory management approach. Without these key functions of a business within the supply chain, there is simply too much room for error if the goal is to remain competitive. 

“This starts with having a clear visibility as to where the assets are and what their condition is,” Martucci says. “Accepting that consistency is the forerunner of efficiency, establishing clear asset management processes and procedures is a key foundational element. Maintaining a clear set of business metrics that drive and support these business processes is a must; as we’ve said, ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure–or see in this case.” 

If your company made it through the past 12 months, consider what brought it to the other side of the pandemic and this new era of digital commerce. If there are still holes in your organization’s management approach, the time to rebuild the groundwork of your strategy is now. An important takeaway is that traditional philosophies – not antiquated methods, can be what sets your company apart from competitors. 


Tom Martucci is vice president and chief technology officer at Consolidated Chassis Management, where he is responsible for the identification of CCM’s computing needs as well as designing and enhancing CCM’s software suite to meet today’s market needs. He has more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry, with responsibilities ranging from technical development of applications to developing IT strategies for several large corporations. Prior to joining CCM, he was the chief information officer with Interpool Inc., where he managed separate IT departments for servicing the leasing business and the design and development of Trac’s Poolstat system. Tom attended Iona College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in Management and minoring in Computer Science. He recently attained a certificate in Executive Training for High Performance at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. 


CCM’s Chassis MandR System Raises the Bar for Handheld Device Management

When it comes to streamlining operations while keeping vital information close by, Consolidated Chassis Management’s newly launched Chassis MandR System application gets the job done while setting a new standard in the management and information process involving chassis repairs and maintenance. Other assets and equipment types can benefit from the mobile application’s management system capabilities as it provides users – including vendors and IEPs – full visibility to ensure the most cost-effective options at each location.

“It is a top priority at CCM to optimize supply chain fluidity and informational transparency helps us reach that goal,” says CCM VP of Management Information Systems Tom Martucci. “Smart devices have become essential tools for the modern workforce and are changing the way work gets done. Today, the ever-changing pace of business dynamics requires the ability to access and share accurate information. Utilizing the Chassis MandR system mobile application within the supply chain powers an ecosystem by accelerating the distribution of vital information and promoting collaboration at an industry-wide level.”

Taking the process beyond the desktop and providing quick, accurate, and reliable information while communicating about M&R estimates, job orders, and other chassis details further enhance a seamless and productive supply chain. An example of the application’s capabilities is found in its ability to decommission out-of-service units while in-gating and management of Driver Vehicle Inspection (DVIR) and Driver Vehicle Exception (DVER) reports and record a motor carrier’s pre-trip and/or post-trip.

“The industry requires tools that can easily and readily share information relevant to the health and status of intermodal equipment,” adds CCM VP of Management Information Systems Tom Martucci. “Greater emphasis is being placed on creating systems that exchange information flexibly and efficiently between all industry stakeholders. This was precisely our philosophy when we developed the Chassis MandR system as well as our other management systems in the Chassis Management Application Suite, and it’s further strengthened with our recent deployment of our mobile application,” says Martucci.