Category Archives: Supply Chain Research Center

Taking Care of Customers and Environment Pays Off, Study Shows

Sebastian Garcia-Dastugue, Supply Chain, Faculty
Sebastian Garcia-Dastugue, Supply Chain, Faculty

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Findings by a University of Arkansas supply-chain management researcher suggest that, in the field of logistics, companies that excel in customer service and environmental sustainability also perform better in sales growth and cost efficiency.

Read the full story in Newswire.

Psychological Stressors Affect Truck Driver’s Experience and Contribute to Shortage in Industry

A 2017 study published in the Transportation Journal gives insight into truck driver woes with a rigorous phenomenological research approach. What does that mean, exactly? These authors went straight to the source and talked to truck drivers about what phenomena cause them stress.

Using this qualitative research methodology, they were able to gather data in two ways: face-to-face interviews with truck drivers and online blogs. Sixty-one participants were asked to describe their experience as a truck driver, and their interviews were transcribed so the researchers could easily find statements about how drivers handle their job. These statements were grouped into themes or categories that became the findings for the study relating to the essence of the truck driver experience.

Being a truck driver is a grueling and often thankless job. Time away from home and family, poor pay and a generally unhealthy lifestyle make it an unattractive career. Recent statistics from the American Trucking Associations show turnover rates were in excess of 90 percent last year, and with the projected growth of demand, the industry is going to experience a painful shortage in the upcoming years. The number of truck drivers leaving the industry is skyrocketing, and new drivers are not there to backfill the void.

Because almost every finished good eventually ends up on a truck, this is a far-reaching problem that hits almost every industry. Here are a few of the types of psychological stress found in the study:

  • Truck drivers experience loneliness and isolation. They also experience health issues that go unaddressed because of inadequate healthcare options, uncertainty about where to find affordable care and tight delivery windows while on the road. Being away from home and an overall unhealthy lifestyle take a tremendous emotional and physical toll.
  • A multifaceted issue, truck drivers feel disrespected by car drivers on the road, customers, dispatchers and managers. While some might say that drivers should not take all the animosity personally, the fact is that they do. They feel they are being slighted as human beings, and that the truck-driving profession is snubbed and met with disdain.
  • The most challenging piece of the puzzle seems to be the regulatory environment. While most drivers understand the intent behind many of the regulations, they often feel stress-related burdens regarding their pay, eligibility to drive and being told how to do their job. Safety is the intent behind most regulations, but drivers feel that the reality is very different.

TruckThe findings in this research are timely. This past December, the Electronic Logging Device rule went into effect. These ELDs are automatically logging the hours of the truckers, and experts are already predicting increased costs for transportation. When it costs more to move products, the increase in transportation cost will eventually be passed on to consumers in cost of goods. The research team plans to conduct a follow-up study in the near future on the psychological stress related to these new ELD rules.

Stephanie Thomas, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, was a co-author of the research regarding truck driver stress.
Stephanie Thomas, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, was a co-author of the research regarding truck driver stress.

What are the implications of these truck-driver stressors to business and to consumers? Consumers need truck drivers. They need the products that truck drivers deliver, and consumers want them in a timely manner. Many companies today are working to improve the truck driver experience in a number of ways such as providing different routes, improving compensation or providing well-being resources. For their part, consumers can improve the experiences of truck drivers as well by being more aware of these stressors and by promoting a more respectful driving experience.

Read more and watch a supporting video at the Supply Chain Management Research Center website or the latest article to be published at Transport Topics at www.ttnews.com the week of August 20.

New Student Jobs at the McMillon Innovation Studio

Beginning in fall 2018, the McMillon Innovation Studio will be forming innovation design teams that will focus on prototyping new models of delivery, services, products and policies in the areas of (1) health and well-being, (2) supply chain and (3) seamless commerce. We will be hiring student project leaders for each of these teams, who will have the opportunity to travel, create and innovate for real impact, gain job experience, earn potential credit hours, and receive potential funding to support innovation prototypes. All majors are welcome to apply.

The McMillon Innovation Studio seeks to shape the future of commerce by inspiring students to be catalysts of innovation.

For more information regarding student job opportunities, visit:

Students with creative, innovative ideas in health and well-being, supply chain or seamless commerce are welcome to join a design team being in fall 2018. Contact Rachel Sullivant at rsullivant@walton.uark.edu for additional information.

Walton College Center to Host Supply Chain Conference April 17

A conference on Trends in Supply Chain Management: Disruptive Innovation will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development at the University of Arkansas. Professionals in logistics, manufacturing and retail industries are invited to attend.

The conference will be hosted by the Supply Chain Management Research Center and the Executive Education program at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

2018 Trends in Supply Chain Management: Disruptive InnovationExecutives from Walmart, Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., GRIT Studios and Roland Berger will discuss supply chain disruptors, artificial intelligence, changes in commerce implementation and innovative culture.

“Commerce is changing rapidly and, consequently, supply chain professionals must be constantly learning and adapting,” said Brent Williams, associate dean for executive education and outreach for Walton College. “This conference is an opportunity to hear from industry leaders and to network with other supply chain professionals.”

Speakers or panelists include:

  • Stephan Keese, senior partner, Roland Berger
  • Jeremy Verba, general manager, Vudu
  • Tim Madigan, vice president, eCommerce, Tyson Foods
  • Avery Vise, vice president, Transportation Intelligence, FTR
  • Rick Webb, cofounder, GRIT Studios
  • Greg Smith, executive vice president, Supply Chain, Walmart
  • Shelley Simpson, chief commercial officer, J.B. Hunt

To register for the conference, visit scmr.uark.edu. Pre-registration is required. Conference fees are $500 per person and include breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages and parking. For additional information or to register more than five attendees, email execed@walton.uark.edu or contact Blythe Eggleston at 479-575-5871.

EPIC Spotlight – Nick Foster

Nicholas “Nick” Foster is an EPIC Supply Chain student at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas. He is a sophomore from Edmond, Okla., with minors in Enterprise Resource Planning, Data Analytics, Political Science and History. Yes — one major and four minors. He is active on campus too! He is part of Alpha Kappa Psi, a member of Arkansas Supply Chain Association (ASCA), a new member of the Supply Chain Honor Society — Sigma Chi Mu Tau and is in Walton Honors College.

Foster has a passion for learning, and while he credits him mom who always encouraged him to read, he admits he sets high standards for himself to be the best that he can be. For Foster, it isn’t just about a love for learning, he enjoys continuously improving his education.

Continuous improvement led him to supply chain, although he admits initially, it was not at the forefront of his mind when coming to the U of A. His initial focus in history and political science changed during his second semester of freshmen year when Stephanie Thomas, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, opened his eyes to the world of supply chain. The process-oriented aspect of logistics, its versatility as an industry to work in and Walton College has “one of the strongest programs that is available” caused him to declare supply chain as his major.

When he isn’t busy learning, Foster enjoys being outdoors, spending time with his family and his dog, and if he was not already busy enough with all his academic endeavors, he volunteers with local community groups.

He mentors with the Make a Difference Day – Volunteer Action Center and has been an assistant coach for the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department youth soccer league for 8th grade students. He enjoys making connections and helping others, whether it is with middle school students or as a Supplemental Instruction Leader for Walton College students.

And, someday soon, Nick aspires to combine his love of history and learning by traveling to Washington, D.C., where he plans to visit all the major monuments and museums in the area.

EPIC Student Spotlight – Qinyi Zhang

As a first-time student at a U.S. university, Qinyi Zhang has found the learning environment in the states to be exciting and different from China, but such a great experience. Zhang is a student in the Supply Chain Management International dual degree program between Soochow (Suzhou) University in China and the University of Arkansas. She recalls how excited she was to be going to the U.S.

“It was an exciting adventure to book tickets and travel to the U.S. without my parents,” Zhang said. “People from the University of Arkansas and around Fayetteville are extremely friendly. It certainly makes living here very pleasant.”

Qinyi Zhang, Supply Chain Management

In addition to her supply chain classes, Zhang enjoys studying human behavior because it involves the psychology of people. Her favorite class is Consumer Behavior which focuses on determining what consumers might be thinking and why they make certain buying decisions.

Zhang feels this experience is helping her become more confident and recommends to her friends at home to take advantage of this international dual degree program. “It’s a totally new life filled with challenges and learning experiences!”

Currently, Zhang is planning her graduate school applications. “I enjoyed it so much that I will be continuing my education in the U.S.”

EPIC Student Story – Landri McGregor

Landri McGregor is a senior at the University of Arkansas majoring in both supply chain and marketing in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Originally from Golden, Colo., she decided to become a Razorback because her mom graduated with her MBA from Arkansas. Landri comes from a family of accountants and had originally planned to pursue her degree in accounting too, until she signed up for a supply chain class.

She told her mom she was going to pursue her degree in supply chain. She says it’s an exciting time to be in supply chain. It is a hot topic in the business world, and it is a competitive advantage for companies. It can help move them forward.

Like many other students with an interest in business, she wanted to study abroad and see more parts of the world. Her first experience was in India. While there, she learned about differences in transportation and logistics in India compared to the U.S. This experience has helped her understand trends and cultural considerations which impact the supply chain. The experience was a pivotal experience for her and she highly recommends to other students to study abroad.

Landri has also had several internship opportunities which have helped to prepare her for a career after graduation. Last summer, she worked at Walmart on the In-Store Activations team for the oral care department. She worked closely with their Innovations team, conducting research to ensure oral care products catch customers attention. This also added to her knowledge of the supply chain and how uncontrollable factors effect the supply chain. For example, the weather can drastically reduce the efficiency of a supply chain. Her biggest take away from this internship is how quickly retail is changing in real-time. There is so much change happening, but fundamentally the goals remain the same.

She now works at Nestle and has been offered a position to participate in their supply chain development program. She will start in Cleveland, Ohio, in their supply chain offices, and will move to other locations learning sourcing, factory and distribution center work. The program will help develop her skill and expertise in supply chain and logistics, and she is excited her supply chain degree has led her to this opportunity.

Landri is a role model for leadership and volunteerism. She currently serves as the vice president of Beta Gamma Sigma, is a member of the supply chain honors society, and until very recently chapter president of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Outside of school, she volunteers in elementary schools with children as part of Fundamentals for Kids program, lending her time as a teacher’s aide or reading to the kids.

Walton Wins Awards, Accolades at Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals Conference

Carole Shook, an instructor in the Department of Supply Chain Management at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, received the innovative teaching award from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals at the group’s annual conference in Atlanta. Continue reading Walton Wins Awards, Accolades at Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals Conference