Mar 27

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Port X Logistics’ Purposeful Approach to Automation

2 minute read

Insights from IT Manager Blake Cooper ~

“Have you ever dealt with “smart” technology that actually turned out to be pretty dumb?
I’m thinking of call trees, chatbots, stuff like that. They all frequently fail to deliver on automation’s promise to make tech more reliable, while requiring less human intervention.

Recent advancements in AI have renewed the conversation about what can be reliably automated. But people have been debating the value and limitations of automation for decades.

When we implement these frustratingly dumb “smart” systems—typically mandated from the top down, to replace 1:1 the responsibilities of a human—we’ve forgotten what cognitive psychologist Lisanne Bainbridge called way back in 1983 “the irony of automation:” in short, automated systems are still human-made systems, and humans will always be part of the equation.

This has been on my mind as I help to develop Port X Logistics’ ever-expanding tech stack. Our goal is to find new and better ways to empower our customers by giving them insight into their freight at each and every stage of the shipment lifecycle.

How do we do it? Not by seeking to eliminate the human component, but by doing the opposite: we make our humans central to everything we do.

When we consider automating something, we start by working directly with our operations team. We want to know: what’s “getting in the way” of delivering the gold standard of service? What do our customers need from us to feel like the logistics rock stars we know they are? And how can technology help our team deliver that?

Our most successful automation projects begin with questions like these. Always.

Here’s another irony: when we implement automation at Port X Logistics, it empowers our team to be exactly who they are: humans. It means more time for personal interactions with customers, more time connecting with coworkers, even more time to share memes on LinkedIn! And that’s exactly the point.

100% automation is rarely the goal. Nor should it be. Port X Logistics’ foundational pillars have always been Culture, Service, Tech and Trucks, and we proudly consider all four in everything we do. It’s a winning formula that continues to enable our operators, empower our customers and help us to never lose sight of why we do what we do.”