Indiana Logistics Summit Attracts Record Attendance

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Speakers share how Fair Oaks Farms tracks milk miles, how Google doesn’t think small and NASA’s big plans for drone aviation systems

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A record number of nearly 500 people attended the 13th annual Indiana Logistics Summit at the Indiana Convention Center on Tuesday. Attendees heard why Fair Oaks Farms, one of America’s largest dairies, chose Indiana for its combined 35,000-acre farms because of logistics; why Google, one of the world’s premier tech companies, won’t settle for only a 10 percent improvement; how NASA believes unmanned systems will change life as we know it; as well as a diverse line-up of executives discussing the logistics of sports, workforce skills gap, infrastructure, the economy and many other topics.

Dr. Michael McCloskey, one of the founding farmers of Fair Oaks Farms, highlighted the event with the keynote address “From Grass to Glass Logistics” documenting the awe-inspiring development of his 36,000-cow dairy operation in Northwest Indiana. McCloskey showed how Indiana’s superb transportation infrastructure, convenient location to major markets, and prime farmland made the state the top logistical choice for the dairy farm. He estimated the inputs and outputs from Fair Oaks farming operations could travel nearly 37 million miles per year in the near future. McCloskey also said Fair Oaks already attracts 500,000 annual visitors to its farm adventure tours but in the next few years hopes to add a hotel, sports dome, convention center, bee farm and “u-pick” fruit orchard.

Ben Arnon, Google’s head of industry, told Summit attendees improving a product by only 10 percent guarantees the product won’t be a wild success. Instead, Google strives to break barriers and create products that are 10-times better than the alternatives. Arnon said discovering a few hidden efficiencies is not enough, and encouraged audience members to rethink problems entirely and explore the edges of what’s technically possible.

NASA’s Frank Jones treated Summit attendees to an eyewitness account of the first-ever FAA-approved package delivery by an unmanned aerial system. NASA was instrumental in the success of the July 17 delivery of medical supplies for a rural health clinic in Virginia. Jones said more approved deliveries by unmanned systems are just a matter of time and noted how drones are already saving lives by providing support to first responders. He cited NASA’s recent developments in aerial avoidance systems as critical to the future unmanned vehicles.

A “Logistics in Sports” session gave Summit attendees a chance to hear some back-stories of INDYCAR, Indianapolis Colts and NCAA. Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman and Co., which manages the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said each year the Speedway’s 900+ acres become the second largest city in the state, with logistics challenges ranging from terrorism threats to stocking 72,000 pounds of ice, 65,000 trash cans and 27,000 hot dogs.

Indianapolis Colts COO Pete Ward talked about how the logistics of getting players to away-games has changed. According to Ward, once then-quarterback Peyton Manning started becoming a star in 1999, the Colts could no longer go through security and walk down the concourse at the Indianapolis airport. Today, with professional autograph seekers and the popularity of social media and “selfies,” the team has to work hard to avoid public areas in its travels.

Other featured speakers for the event included Walter Kemmsies, chief economist, Moffatt & Nichol; Eric Matteson, GE Aviation; Joseph Fuller, Harvard Business School; Jason MacLean, Cummins Inc.; Jeff Davis, Eno Transportation Weekly; Congressman Luke Messer; Mark Lewis, NCAA and Dr. Richard Baker, Indiana State University.

The conference kicked off with an evening reception on Monday at The Crane Bay as part of the Colts VIP Tailgate leading up to the Colts/New York Jets game. Summit attendees came from as far away as Texas, Vermont, Washington, D.C., and even Nova Scotia, and included 110 high school students from around Indiana who received an introduction to logistics in the “Logistics U” session.

For more information about the speakers and presentations for the Indiana Logistics Summit, please visit

The Indiana Logistics Summit is co-hosted by Purdue University, the Ports of Indiana and Conexus Indiana to promote the logistics industry and showcase the critical role this sector plays in the national economy.

Media Contact: Rich Allen, (317) 232-9204, rallen(at)portsofindiana(dot)com

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