Paul Jensen leads the Supply Chain Solutions Division for Ruan, a multifaceted supply chain company that provides dedicated contract transportation, managed transportation, value-added warehousing, and brokerage support services. Jensen joined the Des Moines, Iowa-based company in 2016 as vice president of logistics. Prior to that, he worked in logistics management positions for DuPont Pioneer and the Jacobson Companies. Jensen additionally served in the U.S. Navy as a submarine officer and nuclear engineer, retiring from the Navy Reserves in 2010 with the rank of commander. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics.
Q: How do you view the current state of the logistics market?
A: The overall logistics market is capacity-constrained in almost every area of the supply chain. Challenges with equipment and technology availability, labor tightness, facility availability, driver capacity, and container capacity are all creating bottlenecks in the nation’s supply chain. Each of these factors is creating cost pressures and delays in sourcing, manufacturing, and distribution.
Q: What are customers’ greatest needs as we emerge from the pandemic?
A: The capacity constraints throughout supply chains have shown the value of strategic planning, end-to-end visibility, and innovation. Our customers need the ability to quickly adapt to the changing supply chain landscape. Ruan can provide dynamic optimization based on the availability of material, capacity, or any other constrained resource in the supply chain to help our customers beat their competition to market. Delivering visibility to material flows—from raw materials to finished goods—enables proactive planning.
Q: What are the advantages of being a company that offers both transportation and warehousing services to its clients?
A: Understanding what it takes to run a world-class warehouse makes Ruan a better transportation provider. Understanding what it takes to run a world-class transportation operation makes Ruan a better warehouse operator. In addition, when Ruan operates a customer’s warehouse and transportation network, we utilize our visibility tools to be more responsive to impending disruptions and to mitigate their impacts.
An integrated warehouse and transportation solution also eliminates process hand-offs between third parties or between our operations and the customer’s operations because we control the end-to-end processes, resulting in a smoothing effect to their supply chains. End-to-end management of a customer’s distribution also results in a lower overall cost of operation.
Q: Are there any initiatives that Ruan is undertaking to better serve its clients?
A: Ruan has undertaken an organization-wide freight visibility initiative that integrates data from the various operations’ platforms to create a single point of visibility for our customers. We provide real-time ETAs based on shipment tracking and positioning at the shipment, stop, order, line, or part-number level. Visibility can be auto-triggered based on event management criteria or displayed on demand using a secure URL.
Q: Labor seems to be an issue with everyone in the industry. What do you do to attract and retain good people?
A: Labor is a challenge throughout our economy as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. Ruan is driven by our “People First” Guiding Principle and our strong desire to be a great place to work, beginning with the solution design process. Ensuring that we meet customer objectives while creating attractive positions for our truck-driving team members and warehouse associates drives satisfaction and long-term success for all parties.
Q: Are there particular technologies that Ruan is looking at to enhance operations?
A: Ruan has a team of information technology professionals that support our robotic process automation (RPA) platform. Using state-of-the-art technology, our team develops bots that perform routine data entry, manipulation, management, and auditing so that our team members can focus on the exceptions and add value. RPA technology also touches the day-to-day operations in back-office functions like payroll and invoicing. Operationally, our customers benefit from enhanced speed of information delivery and improvements in the quality and consistency of data used to optimize and manage the business.
Q: What do you think Ruan brings as a company that differentiates it from its competitors?
A: One of Ruan’s biggest differentiators is our skill at fully executing an end-to-end solution, integrating each aspect of the logistics network that supports our customers’ supply chains. Our ability to “think like a shipper”—whether operating a warehouse, managing a dedicated fleet, or executing a customer’s transportation network—positions us to create significant value within our customers’ operations.