Supply Chain Now Radio Episode 202

Supply Chain Now Radio, Episode 202
Live Interview from SC Logistics Tech Talk  

Prefer to watch the podcast in action rather than just listen?  Watch Scott and Greg as they interview John Cameron for SCNR Episode 202 at the SC Logistics Tech Talk in Charleston, SC.

Captain John Cameron is the Executive Director of the Charleston Pilots. Serving as the Association’s liaison with regulating bodies, operating partners and the general public, Captain Cameron holds a unique understanding of government affairs and port safety and security regulations, and the ever-changing shipping industry.  He retired from the United States Coast Guard in 2007, as Captain of the Port and Sector Commander, Charleston.  In that role he led all Coast Guard operations throughout South Carolina and Georgia, including direction of search and rescue, marine environmental protection, port safety and security, and federal marine law enforcement.  Board seats include South Carolina Emergency Response Commission (Member, Executive Committee), American Salvage Association (Associate Member Chairman), President of the Charleston Propeller Club and member of the Senator Lindsey Graham Homeland Security Coalition. Learn more about the Charleston Pilots here:

Greg White serves as Principle & Host at Supply Chain Now Radio. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now Radio and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory:

Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now Radio. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. He also serves as an advisor with TalentStream, a leading recruiting & staffing firm based in the Southeast. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about SCNR here:

In this episode, Scott Luton and Greg White welcome Captain John Cameron to Supply Chain Now Radio at the SC Logistics Tech Talk.

[00:00:05] It’s time for Supply Chain Now Radio. Broadcasting live Supply chain capital of the country, Atlanta, Georgia. Supply Chain Now Radio spotlights the best in all things supply chain the people, the technology, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.


[00:00:29] Good afternoon, Scott Luton here with you, Liveline Supply Chain Now Radio. Welcome back to the show. We’re not broadcasting in Atlanta today. We’re broadcast. We’re on the road. We’re broadcasting live from the South Carolina Fall Logistics Tech Talk event in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, at the Gilliard Center. We continue our coverage in partnership with the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. And as we have seen throughout all the interviews we’ve conducted and certainly the sidebar conversations, this event highlights some of the most innovative leaders and companies that are really driving the Logistics industry and really the general business environment forward in the booming state of South Carolina. So quick programing note. Like all of our series on Supply Chain Now Radio, you can find our replays on a variety of channels Apple, podcasts, SoundCloud, YouTube, wherever else you get your podcast from. As always, we’d love to have you subscribe. You got Missy thing. So let’s welcome in my esteemed co-host joining us once again throughout all the coverage here today. Greg White serial supply chain, tech entrepreneur, trusted advisor and board member. Greg, how you doing? I’m doing great. Good to see you. This has been home-run home to.


[00:01:35] You know, we were here in South Carolina and not that long ago. And I was amazed then at what is happening here and how it’s being supported by the state and local governments and and educational institutions. But, yeah.


[00:01:52] I mean, this is this place does not disappoint lots interconnectivity between the companies and the resources and the individuals and leaders. And we were when as you mentioned, when we were here last time, three or four weeks ago, it’s for the AIG SCAC Automotive focused conference. I spent two days here. Really? I put a finger on the pulse of of what’s going on in the automotive industry. And really you could do any of that without some of the folks we have here. And some of these other previous episodes, you know, because transportation and the ports and. Yeah. And that element of the infrastructure is incredibly important. So that’s why I’m excited about this episode with Mr. John Cameron with the Charleston pilots, is executive director of the organization. Good afternoon, John. Good afternoon. At double Chetnik time. Make sure it’s three o’clock, not three. Hard to believe it is so hot. Key takeaways from the event so far. You really plugged in. Were you here as part of the port’s conference earlier this week?


[00:02:50] Yes. Yes, it was. And it’s so proud of how this event brings so many people together. Yeah. Not only to promote the Port of Charleston and the state of South Carolina, but also to to work through issues that lay on the table. The thing to challenge all of us and share those ideas. You know, share those resources that we can bring to bear and really optimize what our state can do for ourselves and for the region. I love that.


[00:03:16] Good job so far. Absolutely. And that’s the nature of what make what supply chain professionals do. We solve problems. We get together, we lay the facts on the table and figure out a solution right as the core of who we are. So I’m excited. Learn more about I’m not sure if I’ve ever sat. We’ve never interviewed a captain that is involved in maritime like you are. So I’m a learn a lot from this this next segment. Also, one of the coolest jobs ever. I bet. Harbor pilots. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. That and fighter pilots maybe. Yeah. But tell us about, you know, for our audience. Tell us about more about who you are and how you’ve gotten to this point. Tell us about your journey.


[00:03:53] Well, I finished one career with United States Coast Guard. I was in the Coast Guard for twenty three and a half years. And my career was almost exclusively focused on overseeing commercial ship safety imports. So the safety of the ship itself, the crew members on board, you know, cargo issues, you know, hazardous cargo carriage and all the safety concerns that go with that. So, you know, the Coast Guard inspects every ship that comes into the United States. Right. That was part of the best job I ever had. Climate around. Oh, yeah, that’s cool. So anyway. But also involved in that mission of the Coast Guard is environmental protection and environmental protective plans.


[00:04:33] Port security. And in in ways in which the government can regulate and oversee shipping, facilitating commerce, who through safety and security.


[00:04:44] So taking care of the people while making business happen. Really? Both. That’s right. Things got keep moving. Yeah. That’s what makes up the global Indian supply chain. All right. Let’s talk more about the Charleston pilots organization and your role there. What? Tell us more about what the company does.


[00:05:00] Well, pilots are operate pretty much the same all over the world and every every port in the world, there’s a local pilot and the base. The basic function of the job is to navigate ships in and out of port. But really what we’re doing is we’re managing the flow of commerce in and out of a not a port in concert with all the other vessels that are moving at that time. So the the obligation of a pilot, it’s it’s to the state or the jurisdiction where they are in the United States. It’s actually the state that licenses the pilots. And the pilot is responsible to discharge his or her duties, to protect the public, to protect the environment, to protect the flow of commerce and to protect the protect that protect the policy lane.


[00:05:48] The flow commerce. In the end, the Mariners on the ship itself. Got it. All right. I’ll get to that fourth one. It’s like a long day. Yeah. Yeah. You should always keep list three. Yeah, that’s right. So anyway. But by doing that, it’s it’s an obligation for the ship to take a pilot. And you’re actually working for the ship. So at the end of the day, you know, our success is that every ship got to the dock on time. And we know what on time is for every ship. And we we manage the traffic throughout the harbor. So so that that happens. But there are all sorts of impositions and unexpected events that that occur on onboard ships and around Sheer. Imagine. Rodney Dangerfield, I’m sorry, I’m going back to Caddyshack. Things like that.


[00:06:39] So at the pilots as executive director, I’m more focused on planning. And, you know, I I work with our customers and with the Port Authority and with the regulatory agencies that that we we we work with both the Coast Guard and the state commission. And we’re we’re always looking to optimize the service we provide. Again, you know, getting ships in and out on time without delay. We’re very fortunate here in Charleston that we have a great natural resource in our harbor. So we we have some we have some advantages to do that. We’re relatively resilient to hurricane threats. We’ve we’ve got deep, wide channels and whether they should be deepened as well.


[00:07:21] Right. Right. Is going to change that. Probably the flow continued flow into the harbor.


[00:07:28] Right. Right now, there are there are four ports on the East Coast that are handling the larger ships that trade on the East Coast. And the deepening project that’s going on here will allow us to handle those ships fully loaded anytime a day we won’t have. I won’t have to wait for for high tide.


[00:07:44] And that would tell me and it’s Ryder episode at any time. That’s right. So and we’re the ones that manage those those those tight windows. So we we won’t have to do that anymore when we’re keeping. But people talk about deepening as if it’s the only aspect of a channel that channels three dimensional, you know, as the Panama Canal was improved. It got 25 percent deeper, but it got 55 percent wider. Mm hmm. And we’re also widening the channels here in Charleston. And that gives us the ability to run two way traffic, even even with the largest ships that are trading. So that’s going to end the port.


[00:08:21] And activity through the ports there have grown quite a bit in recent years. And this activity going deeper in water is going to fuel even more activity.


[00:08:30] That’s right. That’s right. So and the ships are so large, though. I mean, the largest ship that we handled 15 years ago was forty five hundred SEUS, fifty thousand gross tons. We’re handling ships that have three times that capacity and three times that gross tonnage now. Wow. So to get to get here, we’ve done quite a bit of training. We go to simulators around the world and that’s something that we manage in the office, make sure we keep up with with the growth, the growth of vessels. But anyway, you know, you’ll go to a place overseas in Europe or in the United in the United States, where you’re in a scale model of a 14 hundred foot ship that’s about 35 feet long.


[00:09:11] And right. It it it looks like you’re having fun, but it’s extremely challenging. Oh, I bet. And, you know, having that experience before you you take that next step onto that next larger ship is imperative. But, you know, if you think about it going from one hundred thousand ton ship and 11000 to you ship to a fourteen thousand Keith, your ship is like putting that old Panamax fifty thousand tons ship on your ship as an appendage. So people think it’s a trivial step to go, you know, go up that next class, a vessel. But it’s the ship you’re on plus another ship.


[00:09:46] Yeah. I think I’ve toured some of the ports. And one of the things that you just can’t describe anybody. They have to see it is just what you’re speaking to, the overall scale and scope of the operation, the activity, the constant. Flow of trucks that the sides of things are moving around and being able to know exactly what’s going where, so right things are lined up at the right time, be the right channels. It is. It is amazing what our ports do. Let me go back, though. I want to ask you. Clearly, with 22 twenty three and a half years in the Coast Guard, you’re perfectly prepared to do what you do now. Do most pilots come from serving in the military? So the branches.


[00:10:25] No, actually. And actually, as executive director, I don’t serve as a pilot. So the pilots are out on the ship and I’m back in the office looking out for the business interests and the planning interests of the pilot and service that we provide. We have boat operators as well. And several of those are retired military folks. We have dispatchers that are talking to the ships on the radio because, of course, it’s 24/7. Ships are coming and go. Right.


[00:10:49] Day and night. So our office really operates more like a firehouse than than a typical business. We’re you know, we have bedrooms, we have a lounge, we have we have a kitchen. And so we have a generator that will run everything full time after hurricane and so forth.


[00:11:06] So so anyway, you know, we’re what the pilots do. They go out to sea 20 miles from the office in a boat and they climb up a rope ladder up the side of the ship. They develop a rapport with the captain and the crew.


[00:11:21] And they probably they should not be overstated. I think that’s probably a pretty important component, right? Absolutely. And there’s actually training that we go through periodically to try to run that run run. That dance is called bridge resource management training. So that, you know, that’s that’s another training demand that we manage. But anyway, the you know, immediately you have to establish a credible command presence on that ship and work with with the officers on that ship. They have to believe in you. You have to believe in them. And, you know, the professionalism of mariners is is really fantastic nowadays. So we you know, we have good, good partners to work with. And but keeping keeping that going, you know, ships are they have occasionally they have problems with propulsion. There was an accident down in Georgia recently. There’s been a Journal Commerce’s written reports lately on the incidents of fires on container ships and car carriers. Ships around the world are delayed from, you know, military incurred military aggressions and piracy and routing around hurricanes and so forth. Right. So for for us to keep those ships on schedule where we’re always considering the contingency that, you know, there may be a mechanical problem on a ship.


[00:12:39] And it’s it’s happened to us recently, two very large ships. And as they were getting getting ready to pass each other, the pilot noted through the vibration, through the deck that there was there was a hiccup with the engine, knew through his experience that the engine was about to fail. He was meeting another ship coming the other way. He called it on the radio to the other pilots, said, give me a little more room. I’m losing it. And the. And he also steered his ship a little bit farther to the right. You have a little more buffer between them. And as the ships were just getting to the point that their boughs were were meeting up with each other. The engine did die on the ship. And then the automation alarms went off and noted that there was a problem. So, of course, the pilot, you know, through his training and his experience, you know, detected a coming problem. Right. Delegated it not only onboard his ship, but another ship. And had the problem solved before the computers onboard, knew there, knew there was a problem.


[00:13:43] So we we are always striving to integrate technology into into what we do. But at the same time, the human is still the still the best watch keeper. Yeah, of course.


[00:13:56] And so the ship you mentioned earlier, the Golden Ray, I understand yours office was called in to help provide support or assistance somewhat Sheer perform well.


[00:14:05] Right. Pilot groups around the country are all members of the American Pilots Association where, you know, we all we all do the same thing and when we’re all friends. So when, you know, one group has a problem, we all offer each other help. And, you know, when an incident like like that happens, the incident command that follows is is really an onerous task. It needs to be there. There needs to be a very coordinated response. And that’s run by the Coast Guard. So. Right. We we went down to help them get through that that overhead. And, you know, that’s a very professional group. And I look forward to the results of that investigation that will, I think, show that the pilot’s actions contributed to the best possible outcome of that tragic situation.


[00:14:48] Yeah, I’m I’m hoping what comes out of that investigation helps continue to make all the other future transits even more safe. We can avoid some of the same sets of circumstances. Right. You tried to learn. Whether you are manufacturing, you have a near miss. You learn as much as you can from that or you have an unfortunate accent. What have you learned to come out of that, just like the from a success go into making future operations stronger and stronger. Stronger, right.


[00:15:12] Right. It it it doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident. And and again, there’s been significant trade press about both stability and fire problems with the you know, with these larger container and vehicle carrying vessels.


[00:15:28] So let’s go broader here as we kind of wrap up this interview. We’re talking with John Kameron, executive director with the Charleston Pilots Organization. What other in the world of world of global end to end supply chain from a topic standpoint or challenges standpoint on new stories, what else has been on your radar more than others here lately?


[00:15:47] Well, certainly the the HMO 20:20 fuels, it’s a it’s it’s an uncertainty for everyone.


[00:15:53] You know, from our standpoint, obviously, we we weren’t shipping to continue to be economical. And but the the last evolution we went through, where we went to a more environmentally friendly fuel, there were there were operational problems. The engines weren’t responding to the switch over to the to the new fuels. And there were a number of incidents where they the engines just just quit. So, you know, we certainly hope that the the transition will will quickly, you know, resolve any uncertainties in how the engines will respond to these fuels. But, you know, there are there are always going to be environmental issues. And the the shipping industry responds very well to those things. Button pilots and crews and shipping companies, we have to work together to get through them. But, you know, efficiency just just always striving for for efficiencies, moving ships in and out in. One of my questions this morning was, you know, in the Supply chain, people talk about, well, you know, road road congestion is delay in my trucks.


[00:17:08] You know, an hour or two. But the other mode in that supply chain is a ship that traveled 8000 miles and is subject to any kind of peril. Right. We deal with ships that are a day late every day. And it’s you know, it’s just inherent. You get held up in another port or go around a hurricane or something. So we want to try to make up that time. And you know that that means that the risk management that a pilot does, you know, moving moving ships efficiently moving ships by each other around each other with an acceptable margin of safety is is it is a calculation that is constant. And you you have to you may have to rethink it over and over and over as you’re doing the job.


[00:17:50] I find this fascinating. And I wish we had another couple of hours to sit down with you, because the there are there are lots of niche roles and niche aspects of the global and in Supply chain. And this is one of those hyper niche. I can imagine some of things that the pilots, as they get into the ships and then some of things have to tackle with the crews.


[00:18:10] I find it fascinating and it impacts such a huge amount of content at a time. I mean, the number of containers on these ships, especially the ones the size you’re talking about, is I mean, it could impact every you know, not every but many, many of the carriers, many, many of the shippers on a single vessel. Sure. Right. So touching every family.


[00:18:32] I mean, e-commerce to automotive. You know, I think all the people, all the jobs here in the states for what’s made here go in that way or, you know, product coming in. It’s just so, so vital. So it’s great to hear. You know, we’ve had a string of interviews with different ports and it’s just amazing, which I’ll do day in and day out. So when ask John Cameron, how can our listeners learn more about the Charleston pilots organization?


[00:18:59] Well, our Web site, Deborah Dull, B.W., the Charleston pilots dot com. And there’s a number of links on on there as well. But we certainly welcome many anyone to check it out. And if you have any of the questions, I’m sure my contact information is on there.


[00:19:12] Terrific. Outstanding. Well, it’s on. You got the thumbs up. Yeah. Well, good stuff. Well, again, big thanks to Captain John Cameron for joining us here today, executive director of the Charleston Pilots Organization. Greg, in on the great interview. Yeah. Love and fascinating topic. Yeah, really? I mean, we don’t we don’t win 50 minutes. You can’t give something like this justice now, but it kind of wets the appetite.


[00:19:36] Well, we learned a little something here. Right. I mean, it’s interesting. I mean, the thing you got to think about with these vessels is if a truck breaks down and the engine goes out, the truck stops moving. That’s right. Right. With a vessel, that doesn’t necessarily happen. That’s just the beginning of the peril often. All right.


[00:19:52] Good point. So to our listeners, stay tuned as we continue our coverage of the twenty nineteen South Carolina fall. Let’s. Tech talk event, be sure also to check us out. As I mentioned, Apple podcast, SoundCloud, YouTube, Rioux ever helps you get your podcast from, of course, find this far more information on past episodes, upcoming events, you name it, at Supply Chain Now Radio dot com for Greg White Scott Luton and the entire Supply Chain Now Radio team. This is Scott Luton wishing you a wonderful week ahead and we’ll see you next time on Supply Chain Now Radio thinks about.


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