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Nissan’s Todd Myers: ‘Supply Chain Must Focus on Collaboration’

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Todd Myers, director, parts logistics for Nissan North America, recently joined the AIAG Supply Chain Steering Committee. Myers has been involved with AIAG in various volunteer capacities for the last 10 years, primarily helping AIAG develop standards related to parts quality. Since 2001, his job experience at Nissan has included body engineering, stamping engineering, parts quality, crisis management, and logistics. In this interview, Myers talks about how the pandemic has permanently impacted and changed the supply chain.

AIAG: How did you find your way to the AIAG Supply Chain Steering Committee after volunteering primarily on the engineering side?

Todd AIAG 2022Myers: I was asked to join the Steering Committee in October 2021. While I’m still acclimating myself to the group and its initiatives, they wanted me to participate to bring some diversity of functional disciplines onto the committee. With everything going on in the supply chain world, they were looking from additional expertise in logistics. Let’s just say that the last two years in logistics has been an interesting journey.

AIAG: What are the pandemic’s biggest challenges to logistics?

Myers: The entire world disrupted. This magnitude, duration, and volume of problems for the supply chain is not only unprecedented, but also beyond anyone’s ability to predict. On top of that, now the industry is facing driver shortages, direct labor challenges, last-mile challenges, staffing losses, container shortages, rail problems…. It requires a very bold and innovative approach to solving problems that are costing companies hundreds of millions of dollars.

AIAG: What about how it has affected you in your work?

Myers: Lots of very long days, long hours, and weeks with not much downtime — but that’s what it takes to be successful. When COVID hit, OEMs were shutting down. But in 48 hours, here at Nissan, we were all back at work shipping parts overseas. At first, they were forecasting that the duration would be short. Now, it’s the new normal.

AIAG: Why do you think the supply chain has been hit so hard?

Myers: Historically, the supply chain has been reactionary. That drives up costs and hurts your P&L. And when something like this comes along, if you are in reaction mode, you’re going to get hit hard. One of the biggest challenges is the backlog of containers at the ports. The port situation is very challenging.

The good news is that we are developing tools to get more predictive and prescriptive. We are making large expenditures to put countermeasures in place before the log jams occur. But for now, it’s just taking much longer to get containers from door to door because when a port gets backed up, everyone is doing the same thing — just moving from port to port.

On top of that, the domestic trucking industry has a visible shortage of drivers. They have a challenge retaining them and having enough capacity. A shortage of workers at the last mile adds cost pressures. It’s probably as big as the port problem.

AIAG: What kind of contribution can you make to the AIAG Supply Chain Steering Committee?

Myers: I’m still learning about the committee and what its goals are, but there are potential projects like standardizing packaging and CO2 reduction. There are lots of efficiencies in shipping to be gained, as well as development of a more viable and efficient network. And if I can help at all with driver retention, I would appreciate that opportunity.

Also, I think the supply chain segment can work on its collaborations and get a bit more creative. I’ve noticed that in logistics we’ve worked more as competitors, whereas the engineering side tends to work more as partners. I’d like to see the same level of collaboration in the supply chain.

AIAG: Why do you think the supply chain side of the business has been less collaborative?

Myers: The engineering processes are better defined than they are on the logistics side. We need to standardize logistics processes so that we can collaborate. Also, people that work in logistics have very diverse backgrounds. Engineering is more uniform — everyone has an engineering background. But people come into logistics through finance, education, and lots of other places. Having a degree in supply chain is beginning to be more common now, but it wasn’t like that until recently. Before, you came into supply chain and logistics from the school of hard knocks.

AIAG: What excites you the most about working in supply chain?

Myers: Supply chain used to be very tactical focused, and now it’s getting very strategic. It’s a challenging but very interesting time to be in supply chain and a lot of opportunities to contribute and problem solve in meaningful ways.