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Instability of governments, economies and climates around the world is underscoring the need for supply chains to be even more flexible and agile, ready to react to whatever happens, says Damco CEO Rolf Habben-Jansen.
This imperative is impacting many corporate decisions, from materials sourcing to employee training to IT investments, each of which can support or suppress a company's flexibility, Habben-Jansen says. "If you want to be able to react to everything that is happening in this increasingly unstable environment, you have to make sure that everything in your pack - be it systems, suppliers, employees or logistics partners - is integrated into your operations and able to make changes very rapidly and without disruptions," he says.
This means that companies need to put more emphasis on working with partners that have an international presence, he says. "If a company needs to quickly change sourcing locations, it should still be able to work with the same people, systems and processes," he says.
Habben-Jansen notes that DAMCO operates its own offices in about 100 countries, with a very flat organizational approach. "Generally, there are no more than two layers between me and our remote offices," he says. "That means we can be very agile and responsive."
DAMCO also puts a lot of emphasis on sustainability and on helping customers optimize the carbon footprint of their supply chains, he says. "We particularly help customers optimize their choice of modes, he says. "We see quite a lot of shippers who decide between ocean and air, but we think there are services in between these two that can be beneficial. A sea-air option, for example, can often meet lead-time requirements with a smaller carbon footprint."
DAMCO's product development over the next year will be focused on such modal options, he says. "I think there is a lot of merit in giving customers a choice between a two- to three-day air service and up to 30 days at sea. But there also should be options for 13, 15, or 20 days. We will be working on that." During the next 12 months, DAMCO also will focus on building strength in emerging markets like Cambodia, Vietnam and portions of Africa, Habben-Jansen says.
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