Ruan Transportation Management Systems, Iowa State, and Oracle: Cultivating future supply chain leaders through technology

March 19, 2024 | 5 minute read
Joan Lim
Senior Manager, Product Marketing
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This year marks a decade of partnership of bringing together real-world use cases and the latest technologies in transportation management to the classroom. Since 2014, Oracle, Ruan Transportation, and Iowa State University have collaborated to provide training to college students using real-world data and insights. According to Bill Rose, assistant professor of supply chain management at Iowa State University, “Students are able to get hands-on experience using Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) via the Principles of Transportation course that supply chain management students take prior to graduation.”

Intersection of technology and relationships

Training the next generation in supply chain management is a critical initiative that ensures a skilled workforce capable of navigating the complexities of modern logistics and meeting the evolving demands of the industry. “While interviewing recent graduates, we realized that students entering the workforce lacked experience handling real-world transportation scenarios.” explains Marty Wadle, chief commercial officer at Ruan. “Together with Oracle, we approached Iowa State University (ISU) with the aim of teaching students how to navigate a TMS using OTM.” Paul Jensen, senior vice president of supply chain solutions at Ruan further adds, “Real-time problem solving is key, and the impact of being able to see the direct results of those actions. Students get really excited about how much of what they do is problem solving from a data standpoint.”  

While everyone now has access to vast amounts of information, understanding data and how to use it to solve problems is important in the action-oriented world of supply chain. “We don't consider ourselves just a transportation company anymore. We're a data company. We're a technology company – it’s all about data. It's all about real-time visibility.” shares Marty.  

Developing a comprehensive supply chain management program

While supply chain disruptions are inevitable, the pandemic brought supply chain and logistics challenges to the forefront. “Being resilient to supply chain challenges and disruptions means modernizing your logistics network and having the ability to develop real-time data insights and making changes based on this data.” shares Srini Rajagopal, vice president of product strategy at Oracle. This is why when training the next generation of supply chain professionals, ensuring a comprehensive supply chain management program is essential, and involves focusing on these five crucial areas:

  1. Curriculum development – While it is important to cover the fundamentals of supply chain strategy in the curriculum, including demand planning, manufacturing, logistics, procurement, and inventory management, Bill explains that “We also discuss integrating emerging technologies, sustainability practices, and global perspectives into the coursework.”
  2. Real-world case studies – Using real-world case studies to illustrate the application of theoretical concepts in practical scenarios prepares students with handling real-world scenarios. Paul mentions that “This is what makes the ISU, Ruan and Oracle partnership so successful. Analyzing challenging supply chain problems using different data sets from various industries enhances their problem-solving skills.” Kyle Ticer, a business support leader at Ruan adds, “It was good to just see some more real-world projects vs. going through a structured book curriculum.”
  3. Social, ethical and environmental responsibility – Integrate ethical considerations and social responsibility, addressing issues such as fair labor practices and energy-efficient transportation. Marty further adds, “I think another thing that is important to students is sustainability. They want to understand, are we doing everything we can to be efficient when managing freight?  CO2 emissions can be minimized by reducing out of route and empty miles.”
  4. Cross-functional collaboration – Emphasize the development of communication, teamwork, and leadership skills through group projects, presentations, and collaborative assignments, as supply chain management often involves working with various stakeholders across different departments. Paul advises, “While we look into integrating data and technology, at the end of the day, it is still a relationship business. It's still about building strong relationships, and building trust, so that organizations can work seamlessly together to deliver results for the ultimate end customer.”
  5. Continuous learning and adaptability – “With geopolitical and natural events disrupting supply chains on a daily basis, having the expertise in using relevant supply chain management software and risk management tools will give students the confidence in handling real-world problems.” explains Srini. Bill further adds, “Students are now very curious about AI and robotics, and how these technologies are affecting the way we work and operate.”

Partnership impact and realizing outcomes

Ruan is part of the Supply Chain Management Executive Advisory Council at ISU where Marty and Paul actively participate in student coursework and activities. “Iowa State has a great case competition program within the supply chain management curriculum. Teams of 3-4 students are given information the day before and they develop a solution for that challenge and then present to judges from the Advisory Council as part of their evaluation.” explains Marty. Joe Meek, a business analyst at Ruan shares, “The experience within OTM opened a new avenue in the SCM field that I had not previously considered. It directly contributed to securing an internship with Ruan, leading to a subsequent full-time employment offer.”   

In the ten years that Ruan, Oracle and ISU have collaborated in this partnership, the program has produced thousands of students more prepared and confident in entering and staying in their supply chain management roles, with some potentially following the footsteps of Paul and Marty who have been in supply chain for more than 25 years. Kyle further adds, “My last 8 years at Ruan likely would not have happened if Iowa State and Ruan did not have the partnership they do.” Aside from Ruan, ISU graduates are also hired by companies in various industries, including manufacturing, consumer goods, wholesale distribution, automotive and other logistics service providers, to name a few.

Taking the partnership to a new level

Beginning Spring 2024, Oracle Transportation Management will be introducing new capabilities within the ISU training module, and will include access to additional cloud capabilities including machine-learning enabled ETA prediction and order routing, easier end-user access using both a digital assistant and a mobile app, and additional logistics network scenario modeling use cases. Paired with Ruan’s real-time data and insights, these new capabilities will further enhance the student experience, and continue leading the path to developing a new generation of supply chain professionals.

Discover how Oracle’s logistics cloud solutions can help solve your transportation needs.

Find out more about Iowa State University’s supply chain management programs.

Learn about Ruan Transportation Management Systems’ integrated supply chain solutions.

Joan Lim

Senior Manager, Product Marketing

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