LMI's logistics and supply chain approach puts the focus on 'predictive'

"At the end of the day, logistics is about data," LMI CEO Doug Wagoner said.

"At the end of the day, logistics is about data," LMI CEO Doug Wagoner said. Courtesy of LMI

Conversations with customers started with an "a-ha moment" and now focus on getting a better handle on all things logistics, especially the data, according to LMI's chief executive.

LMI was born in 1961 as a logistics-focused organization and remains so today as it embraces promising tools that can help federal agencies to use data to better manage their supply chain.

With an incoming consortium of private equity investors, LMI is looking to more quickly take advantage of its customers' desires to get a better handle on the intersection of technology with a mission typically thought of strictly in the manual labor sense.

Consider too that it is hard to think of another period in time when logistics and supply chain issues have dominated the agenda of governments and industries given what the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought and disruptions related to the conflicts in Ukraine and others.

"Across the board, we're seeing all of our customers being concerned about supply chain risk management," LMI CEO Doug Wagoner told me. "It's even more so front-and-center, and that's a data problem. At the end of the day, logistics is about data."

One area LMI is looking to do more of is in helping agencies apply predictive analytics so they can identify issues early on with fleets of all types of vehicles, indicating when they should be pulled off the mission for maintenance.

Platforms in the field of course are merely one facet of the larger supply chain discussion. Wagoner said another priority for LMI and its government customers is to get more predictive on when a stress point pops up in a supply chain during conflicts.

The above scenario could also involve how supply chain operators can preposition items at certain locations and in a specific phase of the supply chain before problems arise, Wagoner told me.

Conversations with government customers around the topic of supply chain stability and resiliency have been somewhat in phases, with last year being the "a-ha moment" for everyone as Wagoner put it.

"Until you see the tangible effects of 'I'm losing readiness, my readiness is being impacted because I can't get these parts, and I can't get these parts because a factory closed for three months in Wichita (Kansas), and oh by the way one of the components from them comes from an ally like Australia," Wagoner said."Now it's let's get around and prioritize the problems, and fix the problems."

Helping inform Wagoner's thinking about the overall topic of logistics and supply chain is a stint earlier in his career at the former Electronic Data Systems when that business was owned by General Motors.

So-called "just in time inventory" was the dominant philosophy then as it was pre-pandemic, where the edict was to not leave any parts on the shelf collecting dust.

"We made them so efficient, and things were working so well, and then things started to hiccup, and we just didn't realize what we thought was so efficient was not necessarily resilient," Wagoner said. "Now that's the a-ha moment of you can get yourself to an efficiency level that doesn't have the resiliency you need."

Wagoner cautioned that efficiency will always be a priority for managing supply chains, so the just-in-time inventory practice is not going away anytime soon.

"It really comes down to predictive: if you can give me predictive metrics, I can still enjoy the efficiencies that I've built into all of my supply chains, logistics, readiness and maintenance, but with resiliency," Wagoner said.

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