B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 6 days ago

How Panasonic Handhelds are Modernizing Business Operations


Are you still relying on a guy in a golf cart with a clipboard to manage your yard? 

This essential link in the supply chain is sometimes referred to as the “black hole.” 

With driver shortages and rising cargo thefts, it’s more vital than ever to have the latest technology for yard operations that effortlessly syncs with your warehouse and transportation systems. 

Shelby Skrhak dives into the high impact of Panasonic’s rugged handheld tech with Larry Bowar , senior business development manager, and Jim Dempsey , director of U.S. Business Development & Partnerships. 

The dangers of underinvesting in YMS

Panasonic’s comprehensive ecosystem for tightening your supply chain

Turning your yard operations into a finely choreographed dance 

To join the discussion, follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk 

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify,Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Or, tune in on our website.

You're listening to B two B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro, the place to learn about new technology and technological advances before they become mainstream. This podcast is sponsored by Ingram Micro's Imagine Next. It's not about the destination, it's about going someplace you never thought possible. Go to imagine next dot ingram micro dot com to find out more. Let's get into it. Welcome to B two B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro. I'm your host, Shelby skirt Hawk, and today our guests are Larry Bauer, Senior business development manager and Jim Dempsey, director of Business Development and Partnerships, both of Panasonic. Larry and Jim welcome, Well, thank you for having us. We appreciate it. Shelby, good to be here. Excellent. Well, today we are talking about Panasonic handhelds and and really the technology to modernize yard operations. But or So I wanted to kind of offer some um introduction because this is the first podcast that we're doing with Panasonic. So Panason is of course very well known in the consumer market. But Jim tell us about Panasonic and the B two B market. Sure, so I'll be glad to do that, and I think yes, I think everybody knows this for the Blu ray players and TV sets, right, But if you look at Panasonic on a global basis, nine of our revenue comes from the B two B market, which in many cases people are quite surprised that much of that is done in core component manufacturing. So we're the largest battery manufacturer in the world. If you're buying other TV sets, we actually there are components are being put into those TV sets, and certainly many other examples I could kind of go through. But but again, our focus has always been more on the B two B space as a company, and as we go forward to kind of within this technology space, we'll talk a little bit more today about how we bring some of that core component technology and engineering expertise to this space. Well, so, Larry, just for for context, when we say yard operations or yard mantage, what are we talking about. Well, actually it's a combination of things, shall be. First of all, when you're talking yard operations or yard management, you have to consider two different things. Number one, what goes in and out of the yard, and then number two when it is in the yard where it is a goat, And I guess maybe number three is then how do you handle it? How do you handle the flow through the yard at that point. And it's all important because it's kind of like a choreographed dance where people are actually trying to control access into the yard, making sure that what is coming into the yard was expected and that it's there in the timely fashion rather than unexpected. When it's put into a location, people understand where that is and more importantly are able to quickly find it and tee it up for the next part of the shipment process. And then of course on the other side of defense, get it back out of the yard in the correct sequence. That's need work to move up and down the road. Well, so Jim, let's talk about the challenges. So why do some people say that yards are kind of the black hole of supply chains and and can you walk us through some of those problems scenarios. Sure, I think when you look at the art and Larry kind of touched on a little bit there, it's really connected, a connected system and where Panasonic resides with our technologies at the smart edge of the network, and we would talk to supply chain executives. It's you know, in order to get the true visibility and in r o I out of the systems that they were deploying. Having each of the each of the operational aspects to the business connected, information can be shared, um, it could be created, it could be sent up to you to headquarters, so to speak, to look at real time, keep the eyes and activity going on within the business. You know, in many cases people focus on the ERP system or the warehouse management system, which is kind of the brains of the operation. But then touching those systems are things like the...

...art management system, and very often people focus on the inside of the warehouse and kind of think of the don't even think about the art. They think its system. Afterthought, Oh, I've got a golf cart. A guy in a golf cart with a clipboard. They can run around, capture the data bringing in and you know, we can type into the system because it's really not that important. But really, if you look at the flow through that, Larry started talking about how how to choreograph your labor. How do you assign the right labor to to meet the ship and coming in to an offloaded inducted into the warehouse and then take it out, package up and shipping on their side. That's all they're all interdependent on each other. So I think, you know, the r has been an area which we've seen. You know, a lot of folks haven't really looked too much, you know, at that area. They've they've kind of underinvested. And what that's caused some bottle lengths. If you look at the container shortages that we just saw, and we're still seeing in the supply chain environment out of the truck and shortage of drivers, that component when you're dealing with the trucks and the containers coming in and out of your facility, has become even more critical because of the time constraints, and this steve those resources. Larry, let's talk about with respect to these challenges, then how does really make the difference in the yard? That I mean? I wonder if you can go a little bit through the yard kind of you know, step by step, starting with the front gate, what are some of those handheld technologies that are are really making a difference and making the yard more productive? And that's a that's a really good question when you use the word productive as part of the question, because I think that's one of the biggest things that will streamline the information flow. And when you think about it. It's really about into communications and to be able to do that, probably that means you have to have the correct type of advice both at the gate as well as out in the yard itself, as well as in the distribution center itself, and so on and so forth. So as you go through the flow in a gate, think about a driver that is approaching the gate. There's going to be supposedly a facility access control point that they approach, and at that point the people manning that gate should have anticipated already that they're there. So then we go up to the driver and they're gonna say, we'd like to see a driver's license. They're going to see probably some sort of a bill of lighting, uh, something that identifies them, their company, their cargo, and once that's matched up, they will typically then scan some sort of a barcode or some sort of a piece of information that then links that trailer and that driver, by the way, to the anticipated delivery itself. Now why is that important, Well, it's important because of the fact that as people start going into and out of the gate, a lot of times unanticipated deliveries are the ones that go into what you mentioned as that black hole. Uh, it's gotten worse over the last couple of years because since COVID set in over the road, cargo deliveries jumped fifty percent. That was alone, by the way, so it's probably much higher than that. And because of that happening, then other things came along with it as well, for example, cargo thefts they want year over year since uh that's a huge increase in the things that have been transpiring because of the quote unquote black hole, as well as the fact that a lot of the yards just are not geared for that type of operation. So if you have somebody at the gate that is electronically ensuring somebody is coming through that gate only because they are supposed to, it's an inst and extremely part of the important part of the process. And on the other side that when that person is leaving going through that great gate as an egress, they are actually carrying product that they're supposed to be carrying that it has been effectively transferred out of the yard system and uh put over Basically, I thats freight on...

...board to the to the carrier and it's now out of the system of the company itself. So a lot of different pieces in between that cause all of this stuff to tie together. And Larry, let me follow up on the one of the stats that you mentioned. So cargo that was going that's that's a huge, huge number. Just so for my knowledge and for our listeners who may not be as familiar with this this whole process, how does that happen? Then the well, and by the way, that that statistic came from a company called Cargo Net and they do a lot of different things about cargo on the roads. You know, they do a lot of reporting, so they put out a lot of information that they have the ability to pick up. But to your point, and that I think one of the biggest problems became that once COVID set in, there was a first of all, lack of manpower at the facilities. Number two, imagine that a driver approaches the facility and before you could see them, and now I've got a mask on as an example, So now it's getting harder to identify them, at least visually, and that makes it even more easy to do something that might be considered nefarious. In other words, they're they're the suspect driver might hide their face from the surveillance video because they've got a face mask. For a long time, there were suspended rules, reduced truck inspections. Remember we were in a supply chain crisis. When people couldn't get all the goods they needed just to do their day to day life styles. It became a real problem to continue to keep high load to truck ratios going to the way they were supposed to. So all of those things I think stacked up. It just got overwhelmed. And that's where those kind of statistics actually started coming into play. It's interesting, well, and so continuing then through the yard, Larry and Jim feel free to jump in and any point here. So once you've made it past the art, you have scanned the cargo using a ideally panastic handheld device, what happens then, what's that next step in trying to making sure everything is where it should be? Yeah, and I think I'll kind of continue with the conversation we had about the connected system. So, so as Larry talked about, information is being transferred in between the warehouse management, yard management, labor management systems. But once that, once that cargo is now exited, a facility advant shipping notices a s n S is. They're typically known in the industry will be sent out. Another acronym which will here is E d I E d I transactions. So what happens once that that cargo leaves is then an E d I transaction or an sent is sent out to the receiver where that product is going to to let them know that product is on its way. Um, they know how much, how much is coming where it's coming to, so that then again on the other side, they can plan their label labor. The other impact to that is in the COVID world, we are more and more companies, you know, shipping smaller numbers of items to two individuals, and we all want that shipping notice information. I want to be able to log onto my system I want to get I want texts and alerts. And the only way that I'm going to get that is if along the way, as this product is moving, the drivers and the workers are scanning those those those products at certain points. So that kind of closes the loop, if you will, for the consumer, because now I'm seeing the information. I know it's on the UPS truck, the FedEx truck, whatever carry it might be on. If I'm a retailer expecting a pallet or a shipment or a truck coming into my warehouse, home deepot or something like that. I now have an advanced notice of when to expect that that shipping to arrive. And that's very similar to than what what we're all probably very used to is, uh, you know, tracking numbers, they are Amazon packages or you know, looking at you know, I use postal service, some type of package. You're seeing these handshakes happened between locations, right, Yes, that's a great example. Yep, ye, Well...

...so when all of these things happen, can we have a little bit of a comparison before and after? Like today we have this handheld tech that is making it easier to keep track of everything. What was the process before? I think you started to mention earlier about about you know, a golf cart and a a clipboard. Were those really tools of the trade? It actually, believe it or not, and still is in some cases. Even in today's world where you think everybody's automated, there's still quite a bit of manual systems went on. You know where that first started. You know that they said folks walking around riding bikes, golf carts, whatever it was that they were using. But once you know, you start looking at some other technologies that were coming into play, the ability to put WiFi networks outside in extended areas, the abilities use r f I D passive or active type tag technology. We even see people today, you know, going from you can imagine the paper, the clipboard, the paper on the golf cart. Now we even have people looking at using drone technology with cameras to be able to fly around that yard, to be able to read the barcodes or labeling that's on the outside of the containers and then report that information back. So it's it's an interesting dynamic because we may walk into one warehouse today and it's almost completely manual with the clipboards, and then we'll go to the next warehouse where you'll see robotics in the warehouse, we'll see drones flying around in some cases um the yards. So we're in a convergence right now where I think a lot of these um as they talked about supply chain executives are looking to implement their technology so that they have that smart edge technology that's fully enabled to cross their network. But again, like I said, there's there's there's some that just have been just trying to keep up with the demand. They haven't had the time yet to upgrade their systems. So you still will see sometimes that that that clipboard and the golf cart out there from time to time. Yeah, Larry, let me ask you, what are some of the industries that are more advanced, that are are kind of really really doing well into modernize their yard operations, uh, and taking advantage of all the technology that is available of us. Maybe some of the industries that are a little bit slower to adopt. Uh. Well, there's quite a few actually, of course, if you want to start out with some general things general warehousing and storage as an example. But then you've got freight trucking, long distance whole truckload type companies, you know that do a lot of the over the road, non durable goods, merchants, wholesalers, companies that have to get their products to the big box stores and and things of that nature. Grocery merchant wholesalers, beer wine, distilled spirit companies, specialty food stores, mining, coring, manufacturing. Uh. I mean, there's so many of the retail scrap, metal recycling type companies, iron and steel mills. All of these things come into play because whether it's done through a yard operation, which would be a big multi acre maybe hundreds of acres of facility. It could even be a coort operation obviously, where ports are unloading ships or onloading ships bringing things both into an out of the country. So all of these things tied together. I probably gave you too many examples, but there are a lot of examples out there for this. Yeah. Well, so Jim, let's look at Panasonic connect. So first tell us about that what it is within this B two B space, and then I'll follow up with a little bit about Ingram Micro and I guess how that helps Ingram Micro partners and resellers. Sure. Sure, And with the Panacona Connect branding um. One of the things that we've been working very hard on, and I think in the naming you kind of see an example of this is I'm working on in the ecosystem around our products Panasonic itself, like I said, has I think we have a form of different technology divisions, you know, mostly B two BE focused, and what we're looking at doing is pulling together those technologies into into kind of a network, if you will, for our customers. Because we understand that while we in PANASONA topbook, we talked about the smart edge that's where device resides. There's also other layers to the system. There's the network, there's the...

...data warehouses, there's the AI, there's the b I. You know a lot of other components that come into play. So really with with Connect, what we're trying to do is really connect those systems together. And the other big piece to what we're doing is working with our partner ecosystem. So we understand that while we do many technologies, we don't do all of them. So we're connecting with other software partners, other hardware partners that are adjacent to us that help our product be better us. Sometimes we talk about our devices are great paper weights until they have a really good application on them, and then they have to connect to a really good network, and then they have to have the peripherals that they have to work with. So we spend a lot of time talking about and working on that ecosystem, and I think Connect kind of as an example of kind of emergence of that, and then certainly working with our great partners like Ingram and our reselling partner community when we go to our customers, we're going to market with those partners to present these entire complete solutions to them to help solve their business problems being able to connect and see all of those solutions available. I wonder if if Larry you can tell us a little bit about it gives an overview basically of the tubscues that we're talking about. I mean, we know that Panasonic has handhelds, they've got tablets and and durable laptop technologies. Uh, tell us just a little bit about what types of solutions we're talking about. Well, let's turn out with again as we're talking about entry into the yard as an example, it's an ideal opportunity to use a handheld devices light. UH. It can be WiFi only or could be running on a four G l T E platform, so that especially out in the yard, you may not have that WiFi connection easily gained without uh, you know, a four gen communications capability. But it's important to remember in those operations as well, you're actually, depending on where you're located, in sunlight that could be generating heat where the AsSalt can get a hundred forty and a hundred and fifty degrees at a time. It's hard on the hard work. It could be in below freezing temperatures in the same respect in driving, sleep, driving rain, driving snow. So there is no common perfect ambient temperature that the units have to are are built for. They have to be built to survive all the different environments. Now, let's move out into the yard itself and you come into a couple other conditions. The device might be mounited on a vehicle and in those cases there you don't want that handheld because you run into the problem of it takes the driver's eyes off the road and looking at this little bitty handheld device. So you know, there's a lot of states right now that have laws about no texting and driving right, same thing, but there's no law about it. But most companies do not want their drivers of a large forklift that is carrying fifteen to thirty tons of product across the yard looking down at a little five inch screen and it's telling them where to go. So we provide like a an option for like a nice ten eleven inch screen that allows them to the same thing. It's six moments, so they don't have to take their hands off whatever else they're doing. Everything is right there, easily seen and ready to go. In fact, even in our technology, we have some companies that asked us to do something that even blanks out the screen when they push the pedal on the you know, for the accelerator, so that the screen actually goes blank at that point. It is and especially some of these yards, if you've ever been in them, are extremely narrow, and if you're carrying let's say, a sea lane container, there isn't any room for air. You know, you make a corner too sharp, too short, things like that, the odds are you're you're an accident waiting to happen if you don't have a hundred percent of your attention paid to where you're going and what you're going to be doing. And then of course there's a third component too, and that's even the administrative side of this, the management side, and that's where the same tablets that we might mount onto one of the vehicles now becomes a...

...handheld device, but in a larger capacity, so that a manager that can be half a mile from their office because they're up in the middle of a yard or a port or an airport runway or wherever they happen to be, whatever the situation is. Now they have direct access to communications from the office, emails, urgent messages, force messages and all the other things, so they can manage not just one thing, but actually can be multitasking and be truly multimodal and what they do. So all of these things tied together, and each one still has to have that degree of survivability, but in the other side of it, it also has to have a degree of ergonomics that is more important for that particular situation than something in general. I don't think there's any score pegging around whole thing that is applicable in these type of operations. So as we uh as we do start to wrap up our episode, we've gone for kind of the large of the varying four factors that are available for Panasonic handhelds in various products. So you have a good good sense on where we're going with these types of technology. So the question that we always ask our guests is where do you see technology going in the next year. So that's a large question, of course, But if you're to get your crystal ball out and look into where are we headed to Larry, I'll start with you personally, I think you're going to see even more in robotics and in drone technology. I think those two are really big over the next year. Particularly right now, we're already seeing a lot more companies that are kind of getting to the forefront in the robotics side, and the drone technology is really kind of jumping that chasm now getting to the side that it's not just early adapters but companies that have more fluid use of that technology. Those are the two I point out. I think, Jim, how about you, Yeah, I think what we're seeing is um there has been interesting across a lot of verticals that we that we work on is also there's a technology shift, but also there's a demographic shift in the workforce, which is also I think speeding up some of the technology advancements. I think what you'll end up seeing is, um, you won't. You know, a lot of people are afraid, hey, you robots are replacing people and that that just won't ever happen completely. But what we're seeing is more of an integration to the human robot interface technologies. It used to be in the in the warehouses, the people go get the products and bring it to the automation the conveying systems. Now if you see a lot of the robotics or bringing the product to the workers, that are in more stationary areas for packing and shipping. Um, but I think you'll see, you know, additional use of voice. You know, everyone has become very familiar with voice and how it works with Siri and Google Voice and other things like that. Where systems will be will be workers will be interacting with the systems very naturally. And also the training is much easier and multi lingual environment has become much easier. And then also visual systems, whether it's smart class and other things on meta reality, virtual reality, all those things are going to come to play. The caution with those that when we talk to the customers about that is you don't take technology and trying in search of a problem. If you have a problem that you're trying to solve in your warehouse, let's apply the right technology, because well, visuals, cool, voices full of robots are cool. If it slows down your process and you become less productive and you can't put as much through your your your supply chain, then it becomes a disadvantage for you to implement implement those It's a great point, well, jim Uh for any listeners who have questions about what we talked about today, or or want to find out more. How can they reach out? Yes, so we've got from the panastan outside. We have our website as a wealth of information out there at any Panasonic dot com or Panasonic Connect either one you can find us out there. UM another great way to UM you really talk to Ingram team and get involved. Damn. Janel Rainey is our contact UM within UM Ingram Panasonic. Again, he's a subject matter expert and as well can can bring forward if there's some channel people that you need to UM that you like to meet,...

Passo salespeople or just interational training on any of the Passonic products and also the services and software that we lay around it. Daniel as well as it is a great resource to to contact well. Larry Jim, thank you so much for joining me today. Shelby, thank you so much. We really appreciate the opportunity to talk about the technology. Thank you, thanksby, and thank you listeners for tuning in and subscribing to B two B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro. If you liked this episode or have a question, please join the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag B two B tech Talk. Until next time, I'm Shelby Scare Talk. You've been listening to B two B tech Talk with Ingram Micro. This episode was sponsored by Ingram Micro's Imagine Next. B two B tech Talk is a joint production with sweet Fish Media and Ingram Micro. Ingram Micro production handled by Laura Burton and Christine Fan. To not miss an episode, subscribe today on your favorite podcast platform,.

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