In June, FDOT and the University of North Florida teamed up to offer the first ever FDOT Trade and Logistics Academy in Jacksonville to meet a critical need for training in the field of freight logistics and operations. For 23, twenty three department employees from around the state and from a variety of disciplines (traffic operations, design, maintenance, work program, and planning) had the opportunity to gain knowledge about transportation trade and logistics at one of the top programs in the nation. The trade and logistics program at UNF is ranked 12th in the country, ahead of schools like Harvard, Penn State, and Wisconsin. The participants’ days were divided between in-class instruction and field visits to logistics facilities around the Jacksonville area. The students also were divided into groups and made a presentation to District Two Secretary Greg Evans and UNF Dean of Continuing Education Robert Wood on a Fortune 500 companies supply chain process.
Classroom instructors from the University of North Florida included Ron Shamlaty, who has over 40 years of logistics experience, and Brett Harper, who served as vice president of contract business development at APL Logistics for much of his career. These instructors, as well as other highly qualified professionals, spoke specifically about the contributions each mode of transportation has on the supply chain, detailing how they affect the efficiency and movement of goods, services, and information. They shared their experience on cost trade-offs and how relationships can help maximize funds while also increasing efficiency. “In the past it was always very easy to concentrate on traditional commercial carriers (trucks) but now that I have a better picture of the process, I understand that there is a lot more to the freight puzzle,” said attendee Paul Clark, Central Office Incident Management and Commercial Vehicles Operations Program Manager.
Industry experts such as CSX Intermodal Marketing Director, Amy Rice, also made an appearance to educate department employees about future goals for network reliability and expansion. Her explanation of optimization of transportation by switching from truck to train related directly to the department’s goals of exploring rail movements in congested corridors. Amy, along with others like JAXPORT chief operating officer, Chris Kauffmann and Walmart’s Transportation and Exports Operations manager, Robert Midgett contributed greatly to employee understanding of intermodal relationships.
In addition to classroom instruction, the class participated in a number of field trips to see the operations of the industries and learn how transportation is not just a service; it is a critical element that determines where businesses are located and how businesses grow. “The tours were amazing and showed up close the movement of products from manufacturing to warehouse to consumer by various modes,” said Seaport Systems Specialist Catherine Kelly. Tour guides explained that profit cannot be made unless efficiency is at its highest point. Michael O’Leary, President of The Grimes Companies, explained that minimizing backhaul, consistency in shipments, and shifting to “just-in-time” manufacturing can help companies get the most out of their shipments.
The goal of the Academy was to advance the department’s mission to “provide a safe transportation system and ensure the mobility of people and goods” by broadening employee understanding of logistics. “It is also expected to improve the coordination between our [traffic engineering] department and the planning department” says attendee Rochelle Garrett, District 7 Engineering Supervisor. Program facilitators are hoping to extend the program and offer the second FDOT Freight Academy in the fall of 2013. If you are interested in finding out more about the Freight Academy please contact Ed Hutchinson or Annette Lapkowski.