Women's History Month Supply Chain Transportation Truck 2

Women’s History Month: Spotlight on Women in Supply Chain and Transportation

Each year, Women’s History Month is celebrated in March to honor women who have made waves in their various spaces. It’s a time to reflect on women’s contributions to culture, history, and society as a whole. Influential and impactful women are prevalent, though sometimes overlooked. In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th and Women’s History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on three women whose contribution to supply chain and transportation should be remembered.

1928

Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan

The First Licensed Female Truck Driver & Trucking Firm Owner

Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan was born in Galveston, Texas in 1897. As a young woman, she lost most of her hearing as a result of scarlet fever and would be forced to wear hearing aids for much of her adult life. Despite this adversity, Drennan started the Drennan Truck Line with her husband in 1928.

To grow the business, Drennan began driving her own truck. Her hard work was rewarded with success and the Drennan Truck Lines continued to grow into a thriving business with multiple drivers and trucks. However, in 1929, Drennan and her husband divorced, leaving her as the sole owner of the trucking company.

The industry that she had worked so hard to be a part of suddenly became a much less accommodating place without her husband. She struggled to obtain a driver’s license from the Railroad Commission in charge of regulating motor-freight at the time, allegedly because of her hearing loss, though Drennan believed it to be related to her gender. After challenging the commission to find a man with a cleaner safety record than hers, the Railroad Commission relented and Drennan was awarded a license. For the following 24 years, Drennan was an accident-free driver and owner of an expanding trucking company.

Despite discrimination because of her gender and disability, Lillie Drennan is remembered as a pioneer for women who want to work in industries traditionally dominated by men.

More About Lillie Drennan

During World War II, the army praised Drennan for her help in recruiting women drivers to the war effort. She was known to wear khaki pants, work boots, and a ten-gallon hat. Her constant companion was her loaded revolver and she was well known for cursing. When criticized for her language, she was known to reply, “Me and God have an understanding.”

Lillie Drennan Truck Driver Women's History Month

Lillie Drennan - Women's History Month Truck Driver

1973

Edwina Justus

The First Black Woman Train Engineer Working for the Union Pacific Railroad

Edwina Justus was a trailblazer for women, especially women of color, who want to enter traditionally male-dominated fields. In the 1970s, Justus didn’t let the fact that she was a black woman stop her from pursuing her dreams. After meeting up with a friend who worked for the railway, Justus decided there was no reason she couldn’t work there too and asked, Why don’t you see if you can get me on?”

In 1973, Justus became a traction motor clerk with the job of monitoring when traction motors were pulled out of trains. She didn’t know exactly what this was and decided to see for herself. Despite being dressed fashionably in a skirt and heels, Justus continued to learn about how the yard worked and her unerring curiosity and desire for knowledge led her to apply for a position there.

Justus gained the position of yard hostler. For three years she moved cars in the yard to be repaired, cleaned and picked back up when ready to go. Quickly gaining experience, she was appointed as a full railroad engineer by Union Pacific working out of North Platte, Nebraska. North Platte, at the time, was Union Pacific’s largest railroad operation in the U.S.A.

Though rapidly gaining experience in her new profession, Justus faced the discrimination many black women did when working in predominantly white, male-dominated industries in the 1970s. When asked whether her co-workers had positive attitudes about her appointment, she recalls, “Oh, hell no! Guys didn’t want to work with me… One old guy tried to kiss me. Don’t forget my age; I was 33.”

Now, 22 years since her retirement in 1998, Justus is a symbol of perseverance for many who desire to break into professions they wouldn’t commonly “fit the mold” for. Her story is part of the exhibit, Move Over, Sir!: Women Working on the Railroad, which is on exhibition at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Edwina Justus - Women's History Month Transportation RailroadEdwina Justus

Current

Melonee Wise

CEO and Co-Founder of Fetch Robotics

Melonee Wise is one of few women to found and manage their own robotics company. Growing up, Wise demonstrated her interest in robotics by building her very own plotter out of Lego blocks. Plotters are printers that use automated pens to make line drawings by making continuous lines. Her passion for robotics brought her to the University of Illinois where she studied mechanical engineering and developed a well-earned reputation for research in different fields.

After college, Wise held a number of internship positions before becoming a Manager for Robot Development at Willow Garage, a research lab specializing in both hardware and software creation for robots. Following her tenure at Willow Garage, Wise co-founded the company Unbounded Robotics and then went on to co-found Fetch Robotics, the company she currently oversees. Now with over 19 years’ experience designing, building, and programming robotic hardware, Wise is the CEO of her company.

As the CEO of Fetch Robotics, Wise is now taking the autonomous warehousing industry by storm. On Monday, March 9th at the Modex 2020 trade show, she is expected to debut her new Freight 500 robot, a replacement for a manual forklift which can transport up to 1,000 pounds of product. It’s anticipated that her team’s fully autonomous version of the Freight 1,500, which is in development, will launch later in 2020.

Automated warehouses are anticipated to completely revolutionize the supply chain in the next decade. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that Wise has already been the recipient of a number of prestigious recognitions. These include the 2015 MIT Technology Review’s TR35 award for technology innovators under the age of 35, Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Women of Influence and 40 Under 40 lists, and Business Insider named Wise as one of eight CEOs changing the way we work.

 Melonee Wise - Fetch Robotics FreightMelonee Wise - Fetch Robotics Freight


For the first time Gartner, in partnership with AWESOME, reports that “there have been increases in women represented across the pipeline for the first time, with an 8% jump at the VP level.” This gain in representation in leadership positions is due in part to the legacy of other female supply chain and transportation influencers like Lillie Drennan, Edwina Justus and Melonee Wise.

 

 

Kuebix TMS Winter Weather Challenges

Keeping Your Supply Chain Ahead of Winter Weather This Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season and the skies aren’t hesitating to remind us that things are about to get very, very cold! Supply chains everywhere are getting ready for the impact.

A winter outlook published by The Weather Company has mixed reviews. It revealed that regions from southwest Oregon into California, the Great Basin, Desert Southwest and southwestern Texas are forecasted to have warmer than average temperatures during the holiday season stretching from December to February. Unfortunately, northeastern North Dakota into northern Minnesota, far northwestern Wisconsin, and the far western Upper Peninsula of Michigan aren’t as lucky. Temperatures in these regions are projected to be near or below average from December to February.

In the midst of the first set of snowstorms, it’s important to consider how these long-term weather conditions are going to impact supply chains nationwide. Low temperatures are frequently paired with snowstorms, black ice and harsh winds – none of which are good for transportation. Regardless of delivery date guarantees, weather can be unpredictable and roads quickly become hazardous. At one point or another, every shipping company experiences delays.

Adverse Winter Weather in 2018

Container terminals at the ports of Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey faced the consequences of severe storms in March of 2018. Weather forecasts of the storm estimated three inches of snow in New Jersey and up to two feet in certain parts of New Jersey. The four main terminals of the ports were closed for nearly four hours.

The southern region of the U.S. dealt with over 500 car crashes as a result of a harsh winter storm in December of 2018. Snow was falling at a pace too rapid for cleaning crews to keep up with and impairing the vision of drivers. Black ice dominated the roads and citizens were urged to stay home for safety. Drivers who neglected the warning were continuously skidding out of control in whiteout conditions. The storm left 385,000 people residing in southern states without power.

Needless to say, all of these barriers stemming from harsh weather conditions pose a challenge to supply chains. Below are a few ways to stay ahead of unexpected winter weather:

Identify if You are in an Area At-Risk of Dangerous Weather Impacts

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to recognize that snow affects each   region differently. Be conscious of where the base of your operations is and how severe winter weather tends to be in your area. Simply knowing that you are in an area that receives a substantial amount of snow is the first step in preparing for a safer winter.

Gain Visibility Throughout Your Supply Chain

Visibility across each aspect of your supply chain instantly provides an opportunity to be better-prepared. Being able to track your orders and access real-time information about the location of your shipment is crucial for successful communication with customers. Ease frustrations in the midst of weather delays with accurate information about when shipments can be expected and ensure operations are running smoothly.

Learn from the Past to Prepare for the Future

Collecting and organizing data and analytics are an essential part of growing as a business. It’s important to take stock of how well your business operated in such severe weather conditions in previous years. Taking note of how long it took your shipments to reach their destination and the overall cost and efficiency of transportation makes it easier to identify things that could be done better upon the arrival of the next storm.

 

Kuebix National Truck Driver Appreciation Week

Highlights From National Truck Driver Appreciation Week

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is here and it’s important to take the time to recognize truck drivers and all they do for the transportation industry. Officially occurring between September 8th and September 14th, the week is being celebrated by motor carriers hosting family gatherings, cookouts, giveaways and presenting drivers with awards.

The industry is estimated to consist of 3.5 million professional truck drivers who are responsible for the delivery of 71.4% of the country’s total freight tonnage. Over 80% of communities in the United States rely exclusively on truck drivers to deliver their goods. Without the timely and professional work of truck drivers, businesses and communities alike would struggle to keep their supply chains moving. 

Below are four of the ways carriers and community members are coming together to show appreciation for their truck drivers:

American Trucking Association

The ATA is celebrating National Truck Driver Appreciation Week by hosting Trucking Day at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. where they will recognize notable achievements in the trucking industry from the past year. The event will be followed by FedEx Freight’s professional truck driver Dion Saiz singing the national anthem prior to the Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals game.

Trucking Moves America Forward

Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) operates with the intention of creating a positive image for the trucking industry to ensure that policymakers and the population understand the industry’s significance to the economy and support it accordingly. TMAF is showing its appreciation for America’s professional truck drivers through their #ThankATrucker campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. CBS Sports, NBC Sports and other play-by-play broadcasts of professional football will also air TMAF commercials educating consumers on the industry and its essential role in delivering products and goods. 

J.B. Hunt

Trucking company J.B. Hunt is hosting events for its drivers including water parks, theme parks, cookouts and carnival games. They are also rewarding drivers with prizes through Facebook including gift cards, coolers, backpacks, jackets and other apparel. 

Knight-Swift

Truckload and logistics service provider Knight Swift is hosting events for truck drivers at each of their terminals. Activities will include food, games, entertainment and more!

Whether you are a professional truck driver yourself or have one in your life, you have a lot to be proud of! Their role is essential to the success of supply chains worldwide and their impact increases with every delivery made. Kuebix thanks every driver for their hard work each and every day and hopes that everyone enjoys National Truck Driver Appreciation Week!