Transportation and Logistics
North Platte did you know? Did you know how complex and ever changing Bailey Yard has to be to stay competitive? Did you know that the Wal-Mart DC #7018 just south of town services Wal-mart retail stores across seven states making it the largest within the network? What about the fact that Lincoln County Dept. of Roads (3rd
largest in the St) keeps over 1600 miles to maintained year round. One last did you know…that North Platte has a Door to Door Bus Service which provides transportation within the city limits?
Being relatively new to the area I was given an opportunity to participate in Leadership Lincoln County through my employer (Wal-Mart DC #7018). Thus far it has proven to be very engaging and I am learning about my community as well as how I can contribute. Many thanks to LLC for sponsoring this program, now that I have shamelessly plugged LLC let’s get into more detail about the day spent learning about transportation.
The day started early with all of us meeting at the DC parking lot for a 7:30 departure. Aside from it being a brisk morning I was excited to visit Bailey yard and it what it had to offer. Once there we were lead into a conference room in which they had a diagram of the entire yard which really put perspective onto how truly big it is. For as many years as I traveled along I-80 I always noticed the bill board claiming the enormity and capacity that is Bailey Yard. Somewhat desensitized by such claims, I guess from the fact that I have stopped by the “Biggest Ball of Twine” the “Smallest Horse” attractions both of which were supremely not impressive because I had seen a smaller horse than the one displayed and as for the ball of twine. Well I thought to myself why would anyone ever spend time on rolling up a ball of twine? I look at a balled up string of Christmas lights and I just as soon go buy a new set. Anyhow back to Bailey Yard looking at the diagram and studying it while Scott was talking about the ins and outs of the yard something resonated with me, my AgEcon professor would always say about logistics “it really is irrelevant on whether you are shipping widgets or coal the process is the same”. While the statement is true what is ever changing are our business models, in order to be competitive we have to run our business Lean. What exactly does that mean? A lean business model is a streamlined core plan for running a business. Any successful business has to utilize the “Lean Methodology” if they are going to have any traction. The superintendent spoke a lot about running a lean business by doing so he is seeing smaller and smaller dwell times, or the time a car or locomotive spends on the yard, this has given them a competitive edge by increasing the capacity to able to handle more freight and keep a consistent flow. He has eliminated bottlenecks in the yard by improving on the existing process and cutting waste out. In doing so he has increased his opportunity to take on more business increasing his throughput and driving that Golden Spike solidly into the ground cementing the continued presence of Bailey Yard in North Platte.
Our next stop was the North Platte Transit system but I will leave that for last so I will jump to our third stop the Wal-Mart DC. This being my home away from home I was excited to tour my fellow LLC members. As mentioned above the North Platte DC has the largest service area within the Walmart network and is one of the largest employers in the area. The DC itself is a sprawling 880,000 square feet that consists of four areas ranging from an ambient chamber to a -20 degree ice cream chamber and is a full-line grocery distribution center and currently employs about 520 associates. On average it receives about 200 trucks in of merchandise and ships about as much. One of our primary responsibilities is to provide quick and reliable service to our customers – the Walmart store.
Carla O’dell the Lincoln County Highway Superintendent joined us at the DC to address the group which I found very informative. For as small of a group she oversees (40 employees) they cover the third largest roads department in the state of Nebraska. Responsible for 1,642 miles of roads 1,366 of which are gravel roads which is a huge task in it of itself but they also maintain our bridges, signage, graveling, mowing, paving, drainage, snow removal and the list goes on. Being federally funded often times projects while on the board they are set back to the tune of years due to variable factors, this year was weather. As many of you know this past winter was brutal and unrelenting causing chaos for our Roads Dept. many project that had been funded after several years have once again taken the back seat to more pressing infrastructure repairs to the roads.
Lastly I wanted to talk a bit about the North Platte Public Transit system, I wanted to be sure that this was highlighted because of the service it provides to our community. We visited Marilee Hyde at NPPT which was impeccably clean as were her busses, which are equipped with wheelchair lifts, on the premises. They provide transportation to anyone within the city limits for only $3.00 one way for same day service, $1.50 if you schedule 24 hours in advance. I thought this is a great service to the public and yet I had no idea it excited. Give them a call next time you are needing a ride.
As I am sure you have gathered being an author is not a strength of mine but that is ok because I am stepping outside of my comfort zone and I encourage you do the same. Every time we do we improve ourselves just a little…so I leave you with the best piece of advice I was given early on in my career.
“Watch your pennies and the dollars will come”
-Hector A. Ortiz
Wal-Mart DC #7018