TEMPLE, TX — Logistics. It's the art and science of moving goods and providing services just when we need them.
With the arrival of Amazon, we'll start hearing the word logistics even more, but a home-grown company already has it down to a science.
Temple's days as a railroad town put it in the logistics business before anybody even knew what it was. So it's no surprise that one of the top logistics companies in the country is located in Bell County.
PDI began as a company that ran back-office functions for convenience stores, but it has grown into so much more.
"Back office, when they hit automated, their back office, they found out that there were other steps in the process that needed to be digitized. So you can only get so much, you know, optimization. With the back office automation, you need to do supply chain. You need to track how your customers do business with you, so long as he comes in, and then you'd basically need to make sure you can time, the market, with a fuel pricing solution." said Sid Gaitonde, head of logistics for PDI.
PDI keeps track of every item in a store and every gallon of gas, making what we used to call simply “trucking and shipping” the business of moving things around.
Central Texas has always had a hand in it, but Amazon has put the area in the big leagues.
But the idea of just-in-time delivery showed its weakness when the pandemic hit and demand went through the roof. Suddenly stores had shortages and logistics struggled to keep up.
"Because they're not keeping six months of inventory around, and so as a result of that, logistics has become more and more important to all areas, including areas with manufacturing development, like the Waco-area." said Dr. Ray Perryman of the Perryman Group.
Far from a drawback, Gaitonde sees the pandemic shortages as something logistics has now fixed.
"Just a challenge to do better. I think what the pandemic did is accelerate 10 years worth of digitization," he said.
Digitization, the accounting of everything from ordering to displaying on computers, which monitors every step.
Logistics gets used in everything from transportation to daycare. So how does that work?
"You need to make sure a logistics system is set up so you get enough supply at the right time so you have space to enrollment. Same thing with daycares. I mean the, you know, you have children over there, you're gonna have to feed them, right? So you're gonna have to have food delivery come in at 11 o'clock at three o'clock and five o'clock for their snacks," said Gaitonde.
So if any convenience store starts to run low on gas or even blueberry muffins, PDI knows it first and gets stocks replenished before we even know they're low.