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Understanding Vehicle Data and VIN Decoding: A Beginner’s Guide

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Understanding Vehicle Data and VIN Decoding: A Beginner’s Guide

A crucial part of fleet management is tracking and comparing every vehicle’s performance through data analytics. Vehicle identification numbers also play a considerable role, providing standard information about each unit that helps with maintenance and adherence to safety regulations. 

This guide contains everything fleet managers should know about VIN decoding and understanding the data behind their vehicles.

Tracking Vehicle Performance

The old method of tracking commercial fleets primarily took place on spreadsheets. This outdated strategy is too simplistic to monitor vehicle performance, diagnose mechanical problems and identify inefficient parts or driving habits.

Technological advancements have made recording and assessing fleet vehicles’ data easier. Today’s fleet management software allows businesses to import the vehicle identification numbers of each unit and immediately gain access to dozens of insights, including these relevant metrics:

  • Vehicle speed
  • Miles per gallon
  • Fuel consumption
  • Weight of load
  • Braking intensity
  • Driving style
  • Idle time

Fleet management software connects to the vehicle’s black box — the device responsible for telematics. Contrary to popular belief, telematics isn’t the same as fleet management software, but the technologies are closely intertwined and have maximum effectiveness when utilized together.

Telematics describes the digital connection between informatics and telecommunication. These two essential management responsibilities have combined to form one role — sending and receiving information about the fleet over long distances. Logistics professionals use fleet management software to organize this information and make informed decisions.

The critical piece that makes fleet management software and telematics work is the vehicle identification number. The VIN signifies the individuality of every car on the road. Even if an entire fleet consists of the same make and model, each vehicle still has its own unique VIN.

Decoding and Utilizing VINs

The VIN is a 17-digit alphanumeric code that provides all of the car’s relevant background information. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standardized VINs in 1981 to create a reliable method of registering and tracking vehicles. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the 17 digits:

  • Characters 1-3: The world manufacturer identifier or where the vehicle was made
  • Characters 4-8: Weight, body dimensions, engine and transmission type
  • Character 9: Manufacturer’s security number
  • Character 10: The model’s year
  • Character 11: The main factory where the vehicle was assembled
  • Characters 12-17: The vehicle’s serial number

Manufacturers put the VIN in multiple locations to avoid confusion, including the dashboard, under the hood and in the owner’s manual. The assembly details are nice to know, but fleet managers should focus on the middle digits. These characters describe the vehicle’s unique attributes and help owners decide the proper driving and maintenance practices.

Knowing the VIN specs of each unit in a commercial fleet can be helpful in many scenarios. For example, fleet managers can refer to the VIN dimensions and assign a vehicle with the appropriate height or weight if a particular route passes over or under a bridge. 

When making repairs, technicians can use VINs to confirm the correct part size that needs maintenance. This information enables them to repair or replace engines, transmissions, wheels, tires and other crucial components to maximize the vehicle’s life span.

VINs also help businesses compare the performances of identical vehicles. If one truck has shown a recent decline, fleet managers can investigate its VIN, identify any subtle differences compared to other models and locate the source of the problem. If there are no differences, the driver is likely the problem and the manager can act accordingly.

Most importantly, VINs enable managers to upload information about their vehicles at lightning speed. They can simply copy and paste every VIN into their fleet management software and let it organize for them. VINs are the secret ingredients that make telematics and fleet management software work together.

Benefits of Understanding Vehicle Data

Utilizing VINs with telematics-based fleet management software has greatly simplified the jobs of supervisors and drivers alike. These are the most significant benefits of collecting and monitoring vehicle data from a fleet’s daily operations.

1. Improved Efficiency

Commercial vehicle drivers can encounter many efficiencies throughout the day. They might choose the least optimal route, get stuck in traffic or fall into bad driving habits that hurt the vehicle’s performance.

Telematics takes out the guesswork, helping managers identify the most efficient routes and driving habits employees should take. These adjustments save precious time and fuel while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Efficiency will become essential as fleets with alternative fuels reach the mainstream. The driving experience of these new vehicles will be foreign to fleet employees and the best routes will be less apparent, given the different mileage ranges. Telematics will adjust to the latest technology faster than humans and bring them up to speed.

2. Safer Work Environment

One of the most critical benefits of understanding fleet data is maximizing driver safety. Telematics technology can identify bad driving habits by tracking employee phone usage, average speeds and other potentially reckless behaviors. It can also spot mechanical issues as they emerge, helping fleet managers get unsafe vehicles off the roads for necessary repairs.

3. Massive Savings Potential

Greater safety and efficiency create massive savings potential. Fleet managers can save money on fuel, maintenance, parts, driver training and new vehicle purchases. Most auto insurance companies also offer safe driving discounts to their customers based on telematics. Businesses have nothing to lose and everything to gain from tracking their fleets.

4. Legal Settlements

If a commercial vehicle gets into an accident, telematics can help the company avoid a legal dispute. Many businesses install dashcams to prevent this exact situation from happening. The dashcam not only monitors the employee’s driving but also comes in handy to prove their innocence in an accident and shield the company from liability.

5. Asset Recovery

Fleet management software comes with a convenient GPS locator that sends alerts to the manager’s computer or mobile phone. Businesses can easily find and recover the vehicle if it gets stolen. Motor vehicle thefts have increased in recent years, so fleet managers need to work harder to protect their assets.

The More Insights, the Better

It will always be challenging to track dozens of vehicles at once, but VINs, telematics and fleet management software make the job easier. They enable fleet managers to collect information about each vehicle, supervise drivers and make the best decisions for the fleet’s long-term success. The more insights logistics professionals have, the better they can control their automobiles.


6 Areas of Interest for Progressive Investors in 2023

The last few years haven’t been kind to the stock market. Stakeholders face an uphill battle trying to find profitable investment opportunities as big tech, cryptocurrency, and other once-hot markets have continued to fall. 

2023 could bring a breath of fresh air to progressive investors, as these six areas of interest might take a leap in the new year.

  • Talent Development

One of the main reasons for the current supply chain stagnation and economic decline is a global labor shortage across the board. White-collar and blue-collar industries alike desperately need more experienced hands. Companies have responded by investing more heavily in talent development.

About 60% of supply chain professionals report struggling to find workers with operational experience, according to a survey of 350 businesses conducted by global logistics firm DHL. In response to their hiring struggles, these businesses have sought to bolster their talent pipelines in several key ways:

  • Laying out clear career paths for new hires.
  • Providing more education and training opportunities.
  • Partnering with expert talent development specialists.
  • Building a stronger company culture.

These development efforts indicate that cloud software, video conferencing applications, and other online collaboration tools will remain profitable. These tools helped remote and hybrid work become more widely available employment options, and they could do the same for talent development in traditional work environments.

Training the next crop of laborers will be crucial for supply chains to return to normal operations. 2023 looks to be a big year for talent development as businesses seek more drastic measures to get their workforces back to full strength.

  • Renewable Energy Storage

The shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is gaining momentum as we enter 2023. 

Government intervention has played an important role, with legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act. This new bill seeks to build a clean energy economy with solar panels, wind turbines, and battery manufacturing plants.

As the energy transition continues, investments in storage will expand by necessity. Solar and wind energy can be sporadic depending on the weather, which means we must find ways to save excess energy from these sources for future use. This is perhaps the greatest obstacle preventing the widespread adoption of renewable energy.

Additionally, the batteries required to power large-scale solar and wind energy systems are heavy and fragile. A robust storage system is essential for their long-term functionality. Energy storage companies and manufacturers who supply the materials will naturally grow in demand as more families and businesses install their own renewable energy systems.

  • Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles also have a promising outlook in 2023. Sales reached all-time highs in 2022 and market analysts project that EVs will make up a majority of vehicle sales by 2030. Investing in EV manufacturers, including Tesla, General Motors, and Ford, will be a safe bet as these companies continue to put out new and improved models.

However, there might be greater profit potential in a few other areas. The rise of eco-friendly commercial fleets offers a potential solution to our stagnant supply chains. Lithium stocks will become more profitable as lithium-ion battery production ramps up to meet the demand for EVs. The global charging infrastructure also needs major improvements.

  • Campgrounds

The swift rise in EV sales is also strong evidence of a widespread shift in consumer attitudes. People are more eco-conscious than ever, which means they’re spending more time doing outdoor activities. People are also investing more time and money in their physical and mental well-being in the wake of COVID-19.

A ripple effect of investment opportunities could happen as EVs become mainstream. With more people on the roads, profitable investments will emerge in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. Shares in vacation rentals, hotels, cruise ships, and resorts all expect to see growth, especially in emerging markets overseas.

As a result of shifting consumer attitudes, the outlook for campgrounds and other outdoor recreation properties looks promising. 2022 showed definite signs of life, as 50% of surveyed campers booked a trip in the last year, and that number is expected to increase in 2023.

  • Machine Automation

Inefficient technology is one of the main factors holding back our supply chains. A digital transformation could be on the horizon, though, as investments in machine automation are ramping up. This trend is happening across a wide range of industries, from higher education to retail to the health care sector.

Emerging automated tools like order management software make transactions more accurate and time-efficient. Rather than manually sending out hundreds of POs and invoices, we can let the software do these menial tasks for us. Shipments can go out and deliveries can come in more quickly with minimal human error involved.

Machine automation also increases visibility along the supply chain. High-volume supply chains are prone to many errors, especially when they go international. AI-powered tracking devices can send status alerts across the world to notify businesses about any damage or delays. This technology helps managers make timely adjustments and keep their products moving.

  • Web 3.0

2022 has been a rough year for big tech stocks, losing almost 30% of their value on the Nasdaq. High inflation and interest rates are the main reasons for big tech’s poor performance, but another reason is more intriguing – a lack of public trust in large corporations. Fewer people are enthusiastic about the idea of Apple, Google, and Amazon controlling the digital world.

In an attempt to level the playing field, investments in Web 3.0 have ramped up. The metaverse, Web 3.0’s defining feature, could decentralize the internet and open up new online worlds in both employment and educational settings. Communication, teamwork, and productivity all can improve inside these virtual workspaces.

Other industries that contribute to Web 3.0’s infrastructure are also interesting investments. Semiconductor companies such as Nvidia and Qualcomm will see a spike in demand. Internet providers will stay busy keeping the metaverse’s systems running. Cryptocurrency declined in 2022, but crypto trading services will remain profitable so long as the metaverse exists.

Producers of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies will also grow as the metaverse becomes more advanced. These tools have already begun to revolutionize employee training, as they can simulate real environments and scenarios to bring new hires up to speed.

Once again, a variety of industries stand to benefit from the rise of the metaverse. Students can receive real lessons instead of lectures. Health care employees can perform mock procedures before attempting the real thing. Retailers and supply chain managers can virtually stock their inventories and identify the most efficient organization methods.

Big Changes on the Horizon in 2023

2022 wasn’t kind to most investors. Economic conditions got worse and stocks that were previously rock-solid have become vulnerable. However, big changes are on the horizon. Advancements in technology and renewable energy could bring new life to our supply chains, bring the workforce back to full strength, and give power back to the stakeholders.

How Fleet Managers Can Encourage Fuel-Efficient Driving Habits

How Fleet Managers Can Encourage Fuel-Efficient Driving Habits

Fuel is one of the highest costs for fleet managers. Unfortunately, the price of gas and diesel fluctuates often. The past few years have been challenging because of the pandemic, supply chain disruptions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

These factors have caused gas prices to skyrocket and stay high, and fleet owners must find ways to cut costs. Here’s how they can encourage their drivers to save fuel while on the road. 

Enforcing New Policies

The most direct way to encourage fuel-efficient driving habits is to enforce new policies for drivers. Fleet managers could set efficiency metrics for the team and have them aim for specific targets each quarter. Some companies establish a speed limit for their drivers to ensure they get the best mileage possible. 

Training Drivers From the Start

One way to make policies effective is for fleet managers to communicate their expectations from the start. Hiring managers and supervisors can encourage fuel-efficient driving habits by showing new people in training. These workers could be entry-level, first-time employees or seasoned veterans. Either way, fleet managers should ensure they know the expectations and metrics they need to reach.  

Giving Feedback to Drivers

One of the best methods to improve driving habits is to give feedback. Letting employees know how they’re doing and if they’re being fuel-efficient gives them direct knowledge of whether they’re performing well or need improvement. Today’s technology is beneficial because supervisors don’t have to sit with people while they operate. They can use telematics to give feedback from anywhere. 

Telematics serves multiple beneficial purposes for fleet owners, but the best one may be the ability to increase fuel efficiency. These devices recognize drivers’ habits and provide real-time feedback to improve performance. Sometimes drivers may accelerate too quickly on the highway or leave the truck running idle for longer than allowed. Telematics devices can also tell people if there’s a better route with less traffic. 

Altering Driver Schedules

Using telematics is one of the best tools at a fleet manager’s disposal. The ability to see traffic patterns can help companies ease supply chain pains by delivering on time and early. Managers can also keep this in mind for their drivers. Paying attention to trends by the time of day or year can encourage fuel-efficient driving.

Fleet managers should create routes daily based on traffic patterns in the area. The time of day can impact congestion significantly. One highway could have traffic jams frequently in the morning but be mostly clear by midday. Driving at night typically brings less traffic on most routes. 

Another factor to consider is holidays, which could come in the middle of the week if the government doesn’t fix them on a particular day. Also, fleet managers should consider holidays that are exclusive to specific states and counties. These days can affect traffic significantly, so supervisors must be mindful of the traffic patterns. 

Being Mindful of Fuel Capacity

Drivers can go for long stretches in rural areas without seeing a gas station. For example, vehicles on Interstate 70 in Utah can travel for over 100 miles without coming across a service station. Drivers who encounter roads like this should calculate their vehicles’ fuel range to avoid running out of gas. 

For example, say a driver’s car gets 30 MPG and has a 12-gallon fuel tank. They should be able to travel 360 miles on a single tank. Practicing fuel-efficient habits can increase mileage. However, fleet managers should encourage drivers to refuel once the tank reaches 25% remaining. Drivers should multiply the range by .75 and refuel after 270 miles. 

Incentivizing Drivers With Rewards

Employees like to receive recognition for their hard work. Those who regularly put in their best effort and advance the company’s goals deserve praise. One survey found that about 40% of employees did not feel recognized for what they did during the pandemic. COVID-19 has stretched fleet managers thin amid protocols and other challenges. 

One way to boost morale and improve fuel efficiency is by creating an incentive program. Fleet managers can use this tactic by tracking employee data and seeing who has performed the best and saved the most fuel per drive. Drivers who don’t rank highly can reflect on measures they can take to improve. Supervisors can reward the top workers with special privileges like monetary bonuses, gift cards or other prizes. 

Lightening the Load

There are a few ways drivers can benefit their managers by implementing fuel-efficient tactics. However, fleet managers can also take measures to set their drivers up for success. An excellent way to start is by monitoring the amount of weight on each vehicle used. 

Heavy vehicles have difficulty saving fuel. Most automobiles have gotten lighter over the years, but freight can still weigh down a fleet. Every 100 pounds of cargo reduces the miles per gallon by 1%. That can add up quickly on a long-haul truck. Fleet managers can encourage fuel efficiency by lowering cargo weight, removing unnecessary items and replacing drag in vehicles. 

Purchasing Fuel-Efficient Parts

Another way fleet managers can help their drivers save fuel is by changing particular vehicle parts to make them more aerodynamically efficient. Semi-trucks can weigh about 35,000 when empty, so every pound goes a long way. One way to improve aerodynamic efficiency is by installing drive wheel fairings, which reduce the distance between the wheels and the trailer. The reduced airflow lowers the amount of drag and enhances efficiency.

Managers can also install fairings on the rear to lower the amount of turbulence the trailer encounters. Employees can easily take them apart when unloading and reattach them when finished. Some fleets employ cab extenders and attach them to the cabin. They help the airflow and restrict the amount of crosswind that can affect drag and fuel efficiency. 

Getting Maintenance Checks 

Fleet managers can extend the life of their fleet by getting routine maintenance checks. These appointments increase fuel efficiency by ensuring all parts work at their peak level. Some of the  elements fleet owners should examine are:

  • Tires: Tires can have a significant impact on fuel efficiency. Fleet managers and drivers should track the PSI constantly and ensure it’s optimal for each tire. Underinflated tires compromise fuel mileage by about 0.2% for every pound dropped.
  • Air filter: Another maintenance point affecting fuel economy is the air filter. It will have difficulty with airflow once it traps debris and dirt from the road, resulting in lower efficiency. Fleet managers should regularly replace the air filter to improve fuel economy.
  • Engine: Engine tuneups are a necessity for fleets. Supervisors may see they need to replace the spark plugs or oxygen sensors when tuning the motor. Another way to help the engine is to upgrade the oil to a low-viscosity blend.

Creating Fuel-Efficient Drivers

Fuel costs are unpredictable and one of the largest expenses fleet managers have to deal with. They can mitigate costs by encouraging fuel-efficient driving habits. Small changes here and there can add up to significant savings in the long run.


The Implications of Reliable Robotics’ Autonomous Aircraft for the Global Supply Chain

Autonomous vehicles — especially driverless transportation fleets — have the potential to change logistics tremendously, but not without posing some risks. Even the most intelligent driverless system could run into issues on the open road, especially considering the human element is still a factor. But what happens if logistics professionals and fleet owners take the road out of the equation? Better yet, what happens when autonomous vehicles take flight?

That is precisely why Reliable Robotics has been making headlines in recent years. In addition to being awarded a U.S. Air Force contract, it also received acceptance from the Federal Aviation Administration for certification of its autonomous aircraft navigation system. The platform will help control and pilot autonomous fixed-wing aircraft across several industries, enabling remote piloting.

The system helps maintain situational awareness around the craft and can adjust the flight plan, all from remote devices like an iPad. Command, control, voice and data links are all available remotely, too. Operators can communicate with air traffic controllers, for example, just as a traditional pilot would be able to.

As impressive as the technology is, the pressing question is what this will mean for the global supply chain. How long will it be until people see autonomous aircraft used in the real world? How will this change the industry for better or worse?

The History of Flight

Since the first heavier-than-air, machine-powered flight happened on December 17, 1903, the airplane has played a massive role in transportation, logistics and supply chain. The first commercial air freight test took place years later on November 7, 1910, carrying two bolts of silk from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio.

The silk weighed approximately 200 pounds, but the trip was not just a quick drop-off — it was actually a race against an express train. Completing the flight in 57 minutes officially, it was a world speed record at the time and the rest is history.

Airplanes and aircraft have been used ever since to transport mail and parcels, goods, people and even vehicles and military equipment. That said, real people have always piloted and operated freight aircraft. Although modern systems make flight more automated and handle a lot of the nuanced controls, there are still generally pilots at the yoke.

If successful — and efforts are proving to be so — Reliable Robotics’ autonomous aircraft system will change all of that as citizens and professionals know it. Commercial and freight aircraft may soon be piloted almost entirely by computer and AI-based solutions.

More Flights Than Ever Before

One of the significant implications of autonomous aircraft is more time spent in the air with faster and more accurate trips. Human pilots grow tired and weary, need breaks and must see their families. So, flights have always had to be scheduled based on their availability up until now.

It’s not unlike long-haul trucking, where the drivers face many health risks, spend long and lonely days on the road and so on. It also means flights cannot operate indefinitely, provided there’s fuel available. Commercial and freight craft always have to come back down to the ground for extended periods until the pilots can get back into the cockpit.

Autonomous controls can be piloted remotely, meaning those flights can remain in the air for longer. When they do have to land — for fuel, for example — it can be done fast and without delays. This benefit will extend to commercial supply lines as goods can be transported faster, more frequently and more reliably.

Decreased Overhead

In addition to the costs of training and compensating pilots, the planes themselves will see efficiency improvements thanks to the automated systems. Similar to how travel routes on the ground can affect fuel consumption, maintenance and travel times, so can air paths. The autonomous solutions can be programmed to analyze, discover and follow optimized routes, significantly maximizing value and reducing overhead.

Couple that with the fact that companies no longer need pilots in the cockpit — at least not physically — the remote staff can be offered more convenience like breaks and shift change and the implication that overall costs will be reduced more than ever before. Pilots are one of the most expensive parts of air freight and cargo operations. It’s difficult to stress enough just how much will be saved by autonomous craft.

Better Safety

Some professionals may be undecided on computers and AI solutions empowering in-flight automation. The same is true of automated vehicles back on the ground. However, there’s no denying that an automated system will run better, longer and more efficiently than the average human pilot.

As mentioned previously, pilots grow weary, need breaks and sometimes make mistakes, both naturally and brought on by other events — heavy drinking and substance use, for example. The implication is not that all pilots are dangerous or reckless, but merely that automated aircraft powered by inhuman solutions don’t have the same needs or issues. That by itself warrants better safety and more successful flight in many ways.

When talking about commercial flights, everything has to be on time and efficient. A minor delay can cause considerable hiccups in the chain, so the increased reliability of automation will be a welcome boon. Additionally, there can be an increase in safety and possibly the number of successful flights. Approximately 75% of airplane and commercial flight accidents are due to human error, including pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics and so on.

However, that’s not to say pilots and drivers will go completely by the wayside. Human intervention is still necessary in many aspects of driving to avoid potentially disastrous complications. But working alongside such advanced technology can improve safety and help ensure fewer significant disruptions to the supply chain occur.

Revisiting the Implications of Autonomous Aircraft

The best part of all this is that Reliable Robotics’ autonomous solutions aren’t just for commercial and freight aircraft. They may soon be used for passenger aircraft, as well, enhancing and improving the entire industry of flight.

Of course, it’s still early days and while the technology is currently being tested heavily, it may be a few years before people see it used by commercial freight companies. When it does come to market, expect to see vastly improved flight operations, better safety for the entire industry and lower associated costs — fuel, maintenance, training, personnel and beyond.

supply chain management

8 Effective Ways to Increase Your Supply Chain’s Velocity

In today’s economy, supply chain management is more critical than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic and other global events have taken a toll on businesses worldwide. 

Companies and consumers alike have faced price hikes and slower production, but there are ways to mitigate the problems despite issues. 

These eight ways can help increase velocity in supply chain management.

1. Assess Supplier Viability

When companies experience supply chain issues, their suppliers are often among the chief reasons. A business looking to improve its supply chain velocity should start with its suppliers. A principal part of the relationship is communication, so managers should assess what kind of responses they are getting from suppliers. Does the supplier respond quickly and make promptness a priority? Do they waste time with misunderstandings?

Another critical part of their viability is their reliability. Suppliers should be consistent with things like purchase orders because a few delays here and there can quickly cause backlogs for the whole supply chain. Lastly, managers should consider the speed of their suppliers. Today, speed is worth its weight in gold. Suppliers should be consistent in completing orders quickly or unsatisfied project managers could begin looking elsewhere.

One sector where speed is of the utmost importance is with custom display manufacturers. These signs are an integral part of marketing for many retailers worldwide. Many companies elect to utilize domestic suppliers for displays because shipping internationally can be a hassle. The retail world moves fast, so speed is a high priority for custom display businesses.

2. Evaluate Current Strategies

After assessing supplier viability, supply chain managers should evaluate what strategies they’re currently using and how they can improve. The most efficient supply chains these days are dependable, cost-effective and lean. Simultaneously optimizing all three can be challenging, but hitting the right notes can effectively increase velocity.

Managers can start by comparing their supply chain strategy to the type of company they run. Different methods will work for different kinds of companies. For example, online retailers could use dropshipping so they don’t have to maintain inventory. Other businesses may turn to agile or lean supply chains depending on their industry needs. 

3. Continue to Track for Weaknesses

Changing the supply chain strategy or optimizing the current one is an effective way to increase the velocity. However, it’s not something managers should do only once. Often, a company solves one problem, but another opens down the line. Businesses should be consistently vigilant of their supply chain strategy and continue improving to maintain an efficient model. 

One way to track weaknesses is to utilize data and algorithms. Analytics has become a critical part of supply chain management because it gives managers data-backed feedback on what’s happening with their operations and suppliers. This information is especially integral in retail because customer demands can change rapidly and companies need to adapt just as quickly.

4. Collaborate With Employees

A business can develop the best strategy for its supply chain management, but it’s only as effective as the employees who implement the processes. Managers should train their workers with the best practices from day one and continue to retrain as strategies evolve and replace old ones.

Another way to improve supply chain velocity is to lean on the experience of tenured employees. They’ve been around long enough to know what works and doesn’t, so managers should tap them for feedback on what needs improvement and what supply chain strategies aren’t as effective as previously thought.

One idea that may seem unconventional for supply chain management is working with the information technology (IT) department. Typically, managers consult IT departments when implementing new software for the company or when problems arise with technology. IT specialists can come in handy when evaluating where managers can change the supply chain. They can increase the efficacy of supply chain management and protect businesses from cyber issues.

5. Consider Automation

Humans can detect and fix problems, but can they do it faster than a computer? The companies choosing automation are seeing positive results. Automated technology is an effective way to increase velocity in the supply chain. These machines reduce the need for humans because they can cut down errors, speed up production, save money and improve safety in the workplace.

Automation can be a fruitful investment for companies, but one barrier is these machines can be expensive. Some organizations — like small businesses — cannot afford robots and other advanced equipment, so they rely on third-party logistics partners to help them out. Companies that can afford automation can streamline processes and utilize their staff better. Automation can take humans out of time-consuming tasks so managers can put their workers on big-picture projects.

6. Use the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a valuable asset for supply chain managers worldwide. IoT gadgets can optimize processes and give feedback. They’re terrific tools for increasing visibility in the supply chain, another primary concern for supply chain management today.

Some of the largest companies in the world have put IoT to use for their supply chain management. For example, Amazon uses it to identify products in the warehouse and scan QR codes. This strategy has led to decreased operational costs and more effective employees.

7. Employ Telematics

Fleet management has become an essential part of improving supply chain velocity. In turn, the rise in telematics over the past few decades has become critical for fleet owners who want to take better care of their vehicles and increase profits.

Telematics has become especially helpful during times of driver shortages. This technology can help optimize routes for truck drivers and ensure their deliveries arrive on time. Route optimization prevents wasted time and money for fleet owners. In addition, telematics can help keep drivers safe by tracking speeds and detecting problems with vehicles before they injure the driver and harm the supplies.

8. Adopt Green Initiatives

Sustainability has become a more pressing concern for consumers and businesses. The effects of climate change have caused people to ponder how to become more eco-friendly and lower their carbon footprint. There are ways that logistics professionals can improve their sustainability while keeping their supply chain lean and efficient.

In the short term, companies could find ways to cut down on their packaging. Using fewer materials leads to lower costs and a reduced environmental impact. Redesigning the supply chain to make processes more efficient can reduce energy consumption and required labor. Going green also sets up supply chains for the future — sustainable practices extend the life of businesses and make them more attractive to consumers and suppliers.

Increasing Supply Chain Velocity in the Modern Era

Supply chain management has become a hot-button issue in the last few years. The pandemic and other global events have pushed companies to rethink their supply chain and incorporate the best practices. These eight tactics are ways managers can increase their supply chain’s velocity and set them up for long-term success.

fleets management

What Should Fleet Managers Know About Toll Management?

Fleet managers must grapple with many ongoing expenses. Fuel and maintenance are the most obvious and often costly of these, but other, less immediately evident factors make a substantial difference, too. While easily overlooked, tolls can cost fleets considerable time and money.

A dedicated toll management process can help reduce these ongoing costs and their impact, but some fleet managers may not know where to begin. Here’s a closer look at these strategies, what they can do and what they should entail.

Why Fleets Need Toll Management

Fleet management may seem like an unnecessary complication at first, but it can offer critical savings for many operations. Truckers paid $4.2 billion in tolls across the 21 major U.S. toll systems in 2018. These expenses are higher than almost all other industry cost-per-mile metrics, with commercial vehicles paying 45 cents per mile in tolls.

Toll management can help avoid these payments in some situations by finding routes with similar delivery times that avoid toll roads. Even when fleets must make these payments, toll management can still help by reducing them.

Many fleets pay more than they need to on tolls, thanks to errors like misclassification and forgoing discount programs. Ongoing expenses could reach unnecessary heights without a dedicated program to manage these factors, and workers may spend too much time trying to minimize them without a standardized process.

Considerations for a Toll Management Program

Toll management programs are crucial for any fleet with high toll costs, but they require careful consideration to deliver on their promise. Here are some things fleet managers must keep in mind when establishing these strategies.

Outsourcing vs. Managing Tolls in-House

One of the biggest questions is whether to handle toll management in-house or outsource it. Managing tolls internally can help reduce dependencies and simplify supply chains, but it’s not always the best option.

In addition to lowering toll costs, third-party toll management services can minimize ongoing expenses through a reduced administrative burden. These solutions significantly reduce the paperwork employees must file, minimizing the time and money fleets would otherwise spend on these tasks.

Third-party toll managers may also be more familiar with benefit programs and other cost-reduction strategies. Large fleets with busy operations hubs stand to gain a lot from this outsourcing. However, these solutions may be unnecessary if a fleet is small enough and doesn’t spend much on tolls. 

Fees and Discounts

Fleet managers should also review applicable fees and discounts to see what they can gain from various strategies. Different toll systems take unique approaches to how they charge tolls and what bulk discounts they offer. Consequently, effective toll management often changes between routes.

The E-ZPass program offers a 20% discount for monthly tolls above $3,000 and smaller discounts for other high volumes, but not all roads use this system. Similarly, some roads and bridges raise rates at peak hours, so minimizing these costs may be a matter of timing. Fleet managers must consider all these factors to find the most cost-effective option.

Given how complex these calculations can be, large fleets with routes across the country may want to outsource them. Otherwise, the administrative work involved in finding optimal cost-saving strategies for each trip may outweigh the actual savings.


Where a fleet is and where its routes cross can also impact toll management. Toll roads extend across the nation, but they’re more common in some places than others. Some states, like Arizona, have little to no highway tolls at all, so toll management is unnecessary in fleets confined to these areas.

These locational differences can also provide cost-saving opportunities. In some cases, it may be best to route a truck through an area with little to no tolls than to send it on a more direct but toll-heavy path.

Fleet managers should review their usual routes and nearby alternatives to better understand the expenses they face. If avoiding tolls is relatively easy for their operations, they may not need in-depth toll management. Conversely, a dedicated solution is likely necessary if they face high fees or a wide variety of discount programs.


Another part of toll management that can go easily overlooked is managing violations. Tolls aren’t the only expenses fleets may encounter when using toll roads. Incorrect billing and failure to pay can also introduce complications and unforeseen costs.

Part of having a reliable toll management strategy is a plan and process to deal with these violations. The best approach can vary depending on the system at hand. Some transponder programs provide an app that makes managing issues fairly easy. The process can be long and complicated in other cases, requiring more care and proactive action from fleet managers.

Managers may want to dispute violations to save money in some circumstances, but this can also be a long process. Having a clear record of everything will help streamline these actions, but it’s also important for managers to pick their battles.

Human Error

Managing tolls is about more than just finding loopholes and understanding how different toll systems work. Fleet managers must also realize how common human error is in these processes and how much it can cost them.

Some companies have paid more than $15,000 in toll overcharges because of mistakes like misclassification. Fleet managers that hope to avoid these costly errors must improve visibility and create standardized processes for toll management. It’s easier to find and fix mistakes when people can see things like how each truck is classified, where transponders are and who does what.

The risk of human error is another reason outsourcing may be ideal for some companies. The more complicated a fleet’s toll considerations are, the better it is to let an expert third party handle them.

Transponder Abuse

Fleet managers must also tackle transponder abuse to make the most of a toll management program. An in-state transponder can reduce toll fees by as much as $2, so it can be tempting for employees to use work transponders in their personal vehicles. An effective toll management strategy includes steps to prevent that.

Roof-mounted or license plate transponders are harder to remove, so they can help prevent abuse. Monitoring invoices closely and comparing them to completed routes will also help, and this requires visibility. Dedicated management software may be necessary to enable that transparency and avoid fraud.

Toll Management Is Crucial for Many Fleets

Tolls are unavoidable in many routes, but that doesn’t mean their cost is inflexible. Toll management strategies and services can help minimize these expenses.

Fleet managers should review their operations and options to see what their toll management strategy should look like. Some will require more in-depth approaches than others, but these strategies can provide crucial help for almost all fleets.

control method warehouse

8 Factors to Consider When Acquiring a New Warehouse

The supply chain sector is booming. As industries grow and eCommerce drives demand for logistics services, many organizations find themselves needing more room to manage new volumes. For many, that means acquiring a new warehouse.

While industrial vacancy rates have neared historic lows as warehousing demand booms, some companies manage to find available spaces. However, even in this hot market, it’s inadvisable to rush into acquiring the first available warehouse. Here are eight essential factors to consider when expanding into a new space.

1. Purpose for Expansion

The first and arguably most important thing to keep in mind is the new warehouse’s purpose. How the company will ultimately use the facility impacts virtually every other aspect, so it’s crucial to define this early and in detail.

Some organizations may want a new warehouse to provide more storage for certain high-volume products. Others may wish to create a dedicated space for reverse logistics workflows. While both scenarios may warrant a new building, their specific needs for the property will vary.

Similarly, consider the kinds of products, workflows and machinery the warehouse will host. For example, businesses can only store 60 gallons of flammable liquids in any cabinet and hold only three cabinets in one room. Consequently, a warehouse storing these items may need more space than one with an equal amount of non-flammable goods.

2. Location

Location is a critical factor for any piece of real estate, but it’s crucial for warehouses. Where the facility is will impact how quickly suppliers can stock it and how fast shipping is for customers. The cost of those ingoing and outgoing shipments will vary depending on the location, too.

To find the optimal location, first consider the kinds of goods the facility will manage. Then, pinpoint where the target market for those products is and compare that to suppliers’ locations. An ideal warehouse position will lie relatively equidistant from the source and the destination.

It’s also important to consider the available workforce in the area. Property may cost less in more remote locations, but it’ll be harder to find enough staff to run it.

3. Accessibility

Similarly, logistics companies should go over the accessibility of the warehouse and its location. With more than 70% of all goods sold in the U.S. traveling by truck, the facility will rely on highways. Consequently, being close to interstate exits or other major roads will help streamline operations and reduce shipping costs.

It should also be reasonably easy for employees and large trucks to reach the warehouse. Small access roads with sharp turns or poor pavement will make it less convenient to get there, hindering workforce productivity and impacting shipments. Be sure to note peak traffic hours and how congested the area can become, as well.

4. Size and Capacity

Next, businesses should consider prospective warehouses’ size and capacity. Once again, this ties back to its end purpose. If the facility is mainly handling reverse logistics workflows, space isn’t as pressing a concern as if it were managing peak shipping season volumes.

If a company is growing quickly and has reason to believe that growth will continue, it may be best to get a space that’s bigger than its current needs. This way, it’ll have room to expand in the future. On the other hand, if an area is too large, its rent or property taxes may be too high for the company to justify.

5. Financing 

As businesses compare their options, they should keep financing in mind. That includes more than just a general budget. Before considering a purchase, organizations need a defined finance plan, including potential loan sources and terms.

Financing a commercial property loan is often more challenging than people think. Several years ago, as much as 52% of commercial real estate realtors reported having clients fail to secure financing for a commercial property. Given how common that is, companies should ensure they have enough assets in place to secure a loan ahead of time.

Offering a larger down payment can help increase a business’s chance of getting a loan. Companies should also prepare in the months leading up to the financing talks to ensure they have enough liquid capital.

6. Staffing

Another critical factor some organizations may overlook is the warehouse’s staffing needs. Recent surveys show that 73% of warehouse employers struggle to find workers. Therefore, it may take careful planning and considerable time to ensure a warehouse has enough employees to staff it.

Businesses should keep this tight labor market in mind when planning to expand. They may need to automate more processes than they can staff, which carries different space needs. If they know how many workers they can expect to have in the beginning, they must ensure they have enough room for them, including sufficient parking.

7. State of Repair

The facility’s state of repair is another thing to consider. Any property likely needs some adjustments before it’s ready for companies to use, but if it requires too much work, it may not be worth it. Repairs and maintenance make an otherwise affordable warehouse too expensive — companies should include these considerations in their budgets.

It’s important to note how much repairs will cost and how long they’ll take. Lengthy maintenance will delay the facility’s return on investment, which may make it unaffordable. In some cases, organizations may be able to put some repairs off, but only if they don’t impact workplace safety or productivity.

8. Hazards

Finally, companies should look at any safety hazards on the property. Work-related injuries and fatalities are leading concerns in industrial workplaces and cost the nation $171 billion in 2019 alone. If a building is too hazardous, it could put workers in unnecessary danger or increase repair costs beyond a business’s budget.

When inspecting a property, note any slippery surfaces, aging infrastructure, limited visibility and similar workplace hazards. Some may be excusable but require specific signage and safety protocols once the facility is in use.

It’s also vital to consider more significant environmental hazards. Warehouses in some areas may be at higher risk of hurricanes, tornadoes or other natural disasters, requiring specific safety measures. Companies must understand all these risk factors before buying a property.

Consider Warehouse Properties Carefully Before Buying

Acquiring a new warehouse can be an excellent move for a logistics business. However, that decision must be a careful one if it hopes to make the most of it.

These eight factors can help organizations find and manage the ideal property properly. They can then expand safely and efficiently, ensuring future growth with minimal disruption.

supply chain

Avoiding 7 Workplace Injuries Common to the Supply Chain

Keeping the supply chain operating at peak performance relies on reducing accident and injury rates. Luckily, there are some concrete steps supply chain employers and industry leaders can take to help protect employees. 

Here are the seven most common workplace injuries in the supply chain and some tips for preventing them.

1. Slips, Trips and Falls

The most common cause of workplace injuries is slips, trips and falls. An estimated 18% of nonfatal workplace injuries requiring time away from work are due to these occurrences. That’s nearly one in every five serious workplace accidents. 

In the supply chain, slips, trips and falls can be particularly dangerous since warehouses often involve working on mezzanines and shelves well over a dozen feet off the ground. Warehouses are busy places, too. If someone simply slips on a wet spot on the floor, a minor fall-related injury could quickly become serious if a passing forklift hit them or something fell on them. 

To prevent slips, trips and falls, start by ensuring everyone has the proper footwear. Supply chain employers should make sure all of their workers are wearing anti-slip footwear, whether that is boots or sneakers. Additionally, staff should have access to and training on proper fall-prevention gear. For instance, if an employee uses a boom lift, they should be trained to operate it safely and wear the right protective gear.

It is vital to ensure fall-prevention gear is available in a wide enough range of sizes, such as harnesses and helmets. People who are small or large may skip wearing crucial fall prevention gear simply because there isn’t any available in their size. Employers can avoid this risky behavior by providing plenty of sizes for safety gear.

2. Caught Between Objects

Caught-between-objects injuries occur whenever an employee is injured by getting a body part stuck or trapped between two objects. For instance, if someone is moving heavy items down a ramp and one slides against the other with their hand caught in between, that could result in a caught-between-objects injury.

Other examples include fingers getting caught in machinery or toes getting caught between objects on the floor. Similarly, a worker may get trapped between a wall and a forklift or crane, resulting in an injury. Caught-between-objects injuries can also occur due to an employee’s clothing getting caught in or on something.

Preventing caught-between-object accidents can be tricky. It requires training employees to stay highly aware of their surroundings while ensuring the proper safety precautions are in place. Many caught-between-objects injuries result from wrong-place-wrong-time situations, such as a person accidentally walking between two moving objects. So, practice and train constant situational awareness in the workplace.

Additionally, all moving equipment should have emergency stop switches of some kind and staff should know exactly how to use them. It may also help to create designated forklift lanes in warehouse aisles to reduce the likelihood of employees accidentally straying into a forklift’s path.

3. Struck by a Moving Object

Hit-by or struck-by accidents are similar to caught-between accidents but slightly different. In these cases, there is only one object involved in the accident, often a vehicle of some kind. Struck-by accidents include being hit by a forklift, truck, crane, lift or crane arm. These injuries can pose an exceptionally high fatality risk simply due to the impact caused by large moving objects.

Preventing struck-by injuries is all about communication and awareness. Poor communication is a surprisingly common risk in supply chain jobs that often goes overlooked. If employees consistently and clearly communicate about their actions, it is less likely someone will accidentally get in the way of a moving object. For instance, warning signals could be established when a worker is going to back up a forklift so others nearby know to stay back.

4. Heavy Lifting Injuries

Lifting heavy objects is often an everyday part of the job in the supply chain industry. Employees are frequently expected to lift objects weighing 50 pounds or less, but it is not unheard of for them to try lifting much more than that on the job. Unfortunately, ​​heavy lifting causes about 30% of work-related injuries.

Doing so can result in muscle injuries, broken bones and serious back injuries. Additionally, attempting to lift heavy objects can result in other types of injuries such as slips, trips, falls and caught-in-between injuries. So, preventing lifting injury situations as much as possible could result in a much safer workplace.

Reducing the likelihood of a heavy lifting accident often requires investing in the right equipment. For instance, there may be a shortage of forklifts or carts workers could use instead of trying to pick something up themselves. Automated warehouse robots could help solve this problem, as well. Additionally, encourage employees to speak up and ask for help when they are struggling to lift something.

5. Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries often occur when an employee works too much or for too long, using the same muscles or muscle groups over and over in a similar fashion. For example, a worker might develop a repetitive strain injury from lifting and placing heavy boxes for an entire shift or double shift. These injuries can be hazardous since they are often hard to spot at first but result in long recovery times.

One way to prevent repetitive strain injuries in supply chain workplaces is to raise awareness of signs of overwork and fatigue. For instance, if someone feels sick during or after an active shift, it may signal something is wrong. Any severe or prolonged muscle pain should be reported and investigated to ensure employees don’t sustain serious repetitive strain injuries on the job.

Employers can also help prevent repetitive strain injuries by setting aside time at the beginning of shifts for staff to warm up and stretch. Working in a warehouse can be a highly active job — just like a workout or playing a sport. Warming up and stretching are known to help prevent injuries in athletics and executives can use the same tactic in the workplace.

6. Forklift Accidents

Forklift accidents occur any time an employee is injured while operating a forklift or by a forklift in operation. For instance, a worker could accidentally flip over a forklift while driving, resulting in a potentially fatal injury. Similarly, an employee could be accidentally hit while a forklift backs up.

A common culprit in forklift accidents is the seatbelt. Staff who skip wearing their seatbelt while operating a forklift put themselves at a much higher risk of being seriously injured in the event of an accident. So, employers must be strict about enforcing seatbelt requirements for forklift operators.

Another common cause of forklift-related accidents and injuries is improper operation. Employees who have not been thoroughly trained to operate a forklift safely put themselves and others in danger of an accident or injury. Warehouse managers can reduce this risk by requiring safety training for everyone and maintaining strict rules about who is allowed to operate a forklift. 

7. Contact With Hazardous Materials

Contact with hazardous materials in warehousing can result in chemical burns and exposure-related illnesses. Both can be serious injuries and result in time off work and possibly a stay in the hospital. Preventing hazardous materials accidents and injuries requires diligence, but it is possible.

An excellent place to start is to understand why chemicals and hazardous materials commonly cause accidents in warehouses. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published guidelines on common compliance concerns, offering insight into this topic. For instance, accidents could be caused by containers of chemicals — particularly flammable ones — going unaccounted for on a warehouse’s property. Warehouse managers must also be careful volatile chemicals are not stored close to one another.

In addition to practicing safe chemical storage, safe materials handling training can also help prevent hazardous-materials-related injuries. Warehouse managers can protect employees by teaching safe chemical-handling procedures and going over what to do in the event of exposure. For example, everyone should know where to find the hand and eye washing station if a dangerous substance splashes them.

Improving Supply Chain Safety

Supply chain employers and industry leaders can help improve the industry as a whole by strengthening workplace safety. These injuries in supply chain jobs may be the most common, but employers can prevent them by implementing detailed and diligent safety protocols and training. Everyone can work safer and smarter with the right precautions and keep the supply chain moving at top performance.

network warehouse risk

How to Hold a Risk and Vulnerability Assessment in Your Warehouse

A warehouse is one of the world’s most dangerous work environments. With so much heavy equipment and machinery packed into one place, accidents and injuries are all too common. 

Warehouse managers and other logistics professionals must be thorough and meticulous with their risk and vulnerability assessments.

Internal Risks

The most logical place to start is identifying the warehouse’s known internal risks. These are the most common risks that warehouse managers must be sure to document:

  • Unstable surfaces: Warehouse floors can become slippery from grease or residue buildup. Employees can also trip on tools, vehicles, wires, and other objects on the warehouse floor.
  • Vehicle accidents: Employees can get entangled in forklifts, hand trucks, and other warehouse vehicles. They could also mishandle the vehicles and cause damage to other employees or parts of the warehouse.
  • Chemical exposure: Warehouses that store hazardous chemicals are vulnerable to accidental spills and leaks.
  • Electrical shock: Employees might be exposed to electrical hazards while using machines or touching line-to-ground faults.
  • Falls from heights: Employees can fall from great heights when working on the warehouse’s tallest shelves and using the largest equipment.
  • Falling objects: Objects can also fall from shelves due to human error and injure employees standing below.
  • Stressful work environment: Long hours of manual labor can lead to all kinds of aches and pains, from minor muscle sprains to more severe injuries such as fractures and hernias. Work performance can also decline and create an unsafe environment.

Spotting and recording these risks is extremely important because they’re often the results of human error. Warehouse managers must be meticulous with their risk documentation to raise employee awareness and prevent man-made risks from arising.

External Risks

Aside from preventable internal risks, there are also some external risks that are largely out of the warehouse workforce’s control. Fires, floods, and other natural disasters are the most obvious external risks. No one can prevent them, but warehouse professionals must still take measures to keep their employees safe.

To demonstrate the stakes of emergency preparedness, it’s worth recalling a recent story that made national news. An Amazon warehouse in Illinois had poor evacuation procedures and failed to take action when a tornado struck in 2021, leading to the deaths of six employees. Having detailed emergency procedures saves lives.

Illness is another unpredictable risk that managers must plan for. Warehouses are unsanitary compared to other work settings, with many employees working in tight spaces and sharing the same equipment. Contagious diseases can spread easily in this environment.

Workplace violence is also a greater risk than most warehouse workers realize. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 2 million people are affected by workplace violence every year. Verbal or physical abuse, cyberattacks, data breaches, and other similar events contribute to these numbers.

Employee training, protective gear, and compliance with industry safety protocols are the four essential strategies for preventing internal and external risks.

Employee Training

A well-trained staff is the most crucial ingredient of a safe warehouse. Employees should know all the risks – and their consequences – when entering the workplace. Managers must train them to properly handle equipment and navigate the warehouse without interfering with other employees.

A warehouse can quickly become cluttered and chaotic, so employees have to take tidiness seriously. Managers must train them to keep their workspaces clean and organized. There should be no loose wires, unattended equipment, or disordered shelves. Every item needs to be accounted for.

Workers must also have the knowledge and awareness to report risks when they emerge. This responsibility requires managers to implement effective communication strategies. Warehouse managers should encourage an open dialogue and reward employees when they make a report. Bad news isn’t pleasant to hear, but it makes the workplace safer in the long run.

When everyone in the building can identify and discuss potential hazards, warehouses get a more detailed and accurate picture of the hazards in their unique environment. Thorough employee training enables the management staff to make more informed adjustments to their safety rules and procedures.

To avoid complacency, warehouse managers should do periodic unannounced emergency drills. The drills will keep employees engaged and give them much-needed practice in case a real emergency occurs.

Protective Gear

Warehouse professionals must also utilize protective equipment for employees and the workspace itself.

Loose-fitting clothes are safety hazards because they can get caught in a machine and cause injuries. Workers should wear tight, breathable clothes to stay comfortable and hard hats, gloves, vests, and eyewear to protect themselves.

The air quality in warehouses can also become dangerous, so industrial masks might even be necessary when handling certain products.

Some companies have started using wearable technology to track employee activity and monitor their physical well-being. This technology can measure activity levels, heart rate, local air quality, and other important information. It’s also a reliable hands-free communication tool that can help employees report safety concerns to each other.

Certain parts of the workplace need protective labeling. All hazardous objects and zones should have bright, readable signs to warn employees. Signage should also be posted in break rooms and other common areas to serve as constant reminders.

Industry Safety Standards

Aside from warehouse-specific safety measures, OSHA has universal guidelines to prevent slips and falls, protect workers from hazardous materials, and prevent them from getting tangled in equipment.

For example, OSHA requires workers to wear hard hats to avoid injury from items falling from warehouse shelves. There must be an adequate number of first aid kits, CPR kits, and fire extinguishers on the floor. Each room must display written evacuation procedures for chemical spills, gas leaks, electrical malfunctions, and other such emergencies.

OSHA’s optimal warehouse temperature is between 68°F and 72°F. Managers must guarantee proper ventilation by airing the building out and adding strong exhaust fans. An upgraded HVAC system might be necessary in some cases.

OSHA also pays close attention to employee work habits. It expects shelves to stay organized and workers to handle equipment responsibly. Warehouse staff must abide by these standards for their personal safety and the company’s integrity.

Risk Assessment Is an Ongoing Process

Performing a thorough risk and vulnerability assessment is extremely important, but it’s not the ultimate solution. In reality, risk assessment is an ongoing process. New hazards will emerge when you least expect them. Human error also makes certain risks impossible to predict. That’s why managers must prepare for every possibility when assessing their warehouse’s safety.


Fighting Fraud Within the Supply Chain: 3 Tips for Executives

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes to global markets. Production of goods and services slowed down dramatically due to company protocols, local laws, labor shortages, and other predicaments. Fraud is another factor business leaders have to deal with daily. 

This guide will show executives three common types of fraud and three ways to reduce them.

What Types of Fraud Are Most Common?

Fraud can occur in the supply chain from the beginning to the end of the process. A dishonest employee or outsider can find ways to act in their interests, causing backlogs and headaches for the company.

These three types of fraud are among the most common in supply chains and ones that business leaders should watch out for.

  • Theft

With today’s technology, criminals can be sophisticated in committing fraud. However, sometimes it can be as simple as stealing. The problem can come from outside thieves looking to steal items from a truck or warehouse, but that is not the most prominent reason. One study found that employee theft accounted for 90% of significant losses in companies.

Businesses selling high-priced goods like electronics and designer clothing are especially vulnerable to theft. The global chip shortage has significantly impacted the gaming industry, leading to PlayStation 5 consoles being a target of thieves worldwide. People are stealing PS5s off trucks and porches, and sometimes the problem comes from employees within the supply chain.

  • Bribery

Companies can catch thieves and their employees stealing, but sometimes the crime is more subtle and challenging to identify. Bribery is a problem for businesses and can occur at all levels.

A related issue with bribery is people getting kickbacks for the deals they make.

Bribery typically involves collusion between two companies, and external financial incentives entice companies to choose one supplier or contractor over another.

Bribery causes multiple headaches for businesses and the supply chain. In most countries, the federal and local governments have anti-bribery laws in place and will prosecute wrongdoing. A company using a supplier found guilty of bribery may have to switch to another, causing supply chain disruptions, unwanted backlogs in production, and potential legal issues.

  • Cyber Theft

The pandemic brought issues to the supply chain with backlogs and worker shortages, but another significant impact has been the increase in cyber theft.

Cybercriminals have become better at phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks. These attacks come with the rise in remote work and put companies at risk. Employees may use their own hardware with less protection than the computers they’d use in the office.

Since 2020, cyber threats have increased dramatically. About 81% of companies worldwide say they saw an increase in cyber threats and 79% say a cyber incident caused downtime during a peak season. These cyber incidents are critical for companies because the fraudster doesn’t have to have direct contact with company property or an employee. Cybercriminals can engage in fraud from anywhere in the world.

How Can Executives Fight Fraud?

Whether bribery, theft, or cyber crime, there are multiple ways fraud disrupts supply chains and costs companies time and money. How can executives combat this problem? What strategies can businesses implement to make their processes more secure against criminals? Business leaders can use the following strategies to fight back against fraud.

  • Reporting System

Reporting employee misconduct can be a challenging task for many people. They may feel conflicted and unsure of what they see. Creating a system of accountability for everybody can raise levels of trust and respect inside any office, warehouse, or organization.

There are numerous ways companies make their reporting systems easy and accessible to everybody. They can put the filing online in a designated web portal or have employees write a complaint to a specific email address. Opening this system 24 hours a day ensures a worker can file a complaint without feeling pressure or anxiety that someone is watching them.

Reporting theft is a practical way to prevent it from happening in the future. Fraud occurs in private industry, governments, and other sectors, and one form of accountability is whistleblowers. A whistleblower is someone who brings a claim under the False Claims Act of 1863. These claims come from current and former employees with confidential information who elect to report wrongdoing.

Whistleblowers could come from within an organization or they could be one company calling out another. For example, a business could file a whistleblower complaint against another company conducting a billing scheme. Price gouging is a common form of fraud, and companies should use whistleblower laws to their advantage to reduce fraud in the supply chain.

  • Asset Tracking

Asset tracking is an excellent way to reduce fraud. Waste and fraud can occur within inventories so that proper management can come to the rescue. Companies can track assets using barcodes to stay one step ahead of thieves, including the ones coming from within the organization. Barcode tracking is a way for businesses to prevent fraud and save time. Managers using it don’t have to enter data manually if the computer can track them.

Companies leveraging technology find significant benefits to supply chain functions and their bottom line. One way a business can improve efficiency and reduce fraud is with telematics. This method involves automated data collection and transmission. Telematics is prominent in industries like long-haul trucking because it enhances safety with vehicle fleets.

Vehicles fitted with telematics devices can track statistics like speed, routes taken, sudden starting and stopping, and more. This technology can save a company money by monitoring how long drivers sit idly and optimizing paths, meaning quicker arrival times and less money spent on gas. Telematics can reduce fraud with fleet tracking, dashcam footage, and asset recovery with GPS tracking.

  • Blockchain

With cyber theft on the rise, one way companies can fight back is with blockchain technology. Businesses in many industries have started using blockchain because of its reliability in protecting information. Using blockchain is cost-effective and decreases fraud because it records transactions that fraudsters cannot secretly alter once they record it. Any change made in the blockchain is available for others to see.

Every transaction on the blockchain has a timestamp and a chronological logging system. This feature prevents theft in the supply chain because no fraudster – inside or outside – can duplicate transactions. Companies can reduce costs with the blockchain because of its automation capabilities. Smart technology in the form of blockchain contracts can monitor transactions. Blockchain means less reliance on third parties and less room for fraud.

Finding and Fighting Fraud in the Supply Chain

In today’s world, anything can affect the supply chain. Fraud happens daily, and a pandemic can wreak havoc and turns industries upside down. Fortunately, there are ways to locate and mitigate fraud. Executives should watch for these three types of fraud and use these three tips to reduce theft in their supply chain.