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How Will Rising Freight and Container Prices Impact Shipping Rates?

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How Will Rising Freight and Container Prices Impact Shipping Rates?

The headlines are full of news about how freight prices are becoming more difficult for logistics professionals and people in similar positions to manage. In many cases, there are knock-on effects for consumers who realize the things they used to buy regularly without issue are becoming progressively less affordable.

The rising container prices put extra strain on company representatives who notice how the ballooning costs impact shipping rates. Here is a closer look at this complex situation.

The Situation Will Impact Shipping Rates for the Long Term

People anxiously hoping for some relief from the current state of freight prices are probably out of luck. At least, that’s what the executives at numerous shipping companies expect. The specifics vary slightly in how long they think rising container prices will persist. However, the news isn’t good across the board.

One executive said people at his company anticipate this situation continuing until at least the first quarter of 2023. Another leader said people would have to get used to a new normal for the shipping industry, featuring more uncertainty, higher shipping costs and longer timeframes for goods in transit.

Some of the executives recommended charterers sign longer contracts with ship owners so the agreements would last longer. More specifically, they might stay valid for several years instead of remaining in effect for months. Agreeing to those extended contracts tackles the price volatility issue and helps logistics professionals rest assured regarding availability.

Numerous factors impact shipping rates and most are out of the direct control of the people they affect. However, some business leaders have responded to the matter by trying to do more business with local suppliers. When goods don’t have to travel as far and aren’t going across international borders, freight prices should be lower and it’s less likely the shipments will experience significant delays.

Logistics Professionals Will See Increased Freight Prices in Various Forms

Some people may get frustrated and feel there’s no rhyme or reason for the rising container prices. But, shipping companies have always based their rates on various factors. For example, courier rates are covering many of the least expensive parts of the shipping process. However, they can still represent a substantial amount when added together.

Many shipping providers also calculate export surcharges that customers must pay. After citing challenges associated with increasing costs for fuel, logistics and more, some have raised those by several hundred dollars.

People also must account for the overhead expenses that keep shipments moving from one stage to the next. Since multiple parties are often involved, the total costs can go up as executives from each company cope with their own progressively climbing prices.

The specific impact shipping rates have on business customers also depends on which methods those parties use to get the goods to their destination. Sea and air are the two main channels for international shipments. The rates for each option fluctuate frequently based on demand.

For example, when more customers want space on a ship, the rising container prices will mean people have to pay more to secure their spots. Those who can’t afford the growing costs will have no choice but to look for other options.

Some companies also charge lesser-known fees to seal or clean the containers customers use. However, as these rates increase, many providers post associated updates on their websites. Even though the information doesn’t negate the fact that freight prices went up, it gives customers time to adjust their budgets wherever possible, potentially mitigating some of the adverse effects.

Customers and Business Owners Alike Will Experience the Effects of Rising Container Prices

When people read about the current logistics landscape, it’s not always easy for them to grasp how the soaring freight prices will affect individual business owners and consumers. Most who purchase things at their favorite shops never think about rising container prices and may have a passing interest in what’s happening based on glancing at the day’s headlines. However, they’ll almost certainly notice the effects.

One thing to remember is the freight issues have already been disrupting timelines and budgets for months. Consider the experience of one seller of holiday goods. He said he paid as much as $22,000 per container during the 2021 holiday season. However, it was only $3,500 the year before that. When faced with such gigantic increases, many business decision-makers have no choice but to pass the costs onto consumers.

Inflation is a much-discussed topic these days and researchers found a direct link between inflation rates and freight prices. They took data from 143 countries while conducting the study. The results showed that when freight rates double, there is a 0.7 percentage rate increase in inflation.

When the researchers published the outcomes in March 2022, they concluded that the impact shipping rates have on inflation could result in an increase of about 1.5% throughout 2022.

They also noted that their research occurred before the Ukraine invasion but believed the issue would worsen global inflation. Various mainstream news outlets have also analyzed the ongoing supply chain issues. They found containers were often stuck at ports or quickly snatched up by the parties with the most financial resources to devote to the matter.

Some retailers also reprioritized what they sent through certain methods due to the rising container prices. For example, having soft items shipped often meant they could fit more per shipment.

Since some items take longer to arrive, customers also have to deal with the reality that they may not get the products in time for events like kids’ birthdays or religious holidays. The problem also affects manufacturers who need parts to build the most in-demand items.

Be as Transparent as Possible About Rising Freight Costs

It is now easier to see the impact shipping rates have on various parts of the supply chain. People familiar with the issue often warn there’s no end in sight.

If that’s the case, the best thing affected parties can do is try to control as many factors within their sphere of influence. Additionally, constant contact with customers about rate increases or delays will ensure everyone has the most accurate and up-to-date information.

 

forklifts

Why Are More Warehouses Relying on Electric Lifts?

Electric forklifts are taking over the warehousing industry. Benefits include longer life spans, fewer emissions and inexpensive repair costs, so it’s no surprise that many warehouses are turning to them to increase operational efficiency.

The world will need over 2.3 billion square feet of new warehousing space by the time 2035 rolls around. Due to this ever-expanding demand, finding ways to improve safety and efficiency is integral to the industry’s continued success.

Here’s why more warehouses are relying on electric lifts to power their operations.

What Are Electric Forklifts?

Rather than running on liquid fuel, like a diesel forklift, an electric lift runs on electricity. The power source is a battery, which has two functions — primarily to run the machine and secondarily as a counterweight to stabilize it.

There are two types of batteries for electric lifts:

Benefits of Electric Forklifts for Warehouses

Using an electric forklift has many advantages for warehouse operations. E-commerce businesses are growing every day, and demand is increasing, so reliability is integral to a company’s success.

Labor is the highest operating cost for most warehouses, so finding reliable solutions that increase worker productivity and operational efficiency is paramount. Battery-operated or electric forklifts have become an increasingly popular solution to improve operations.

The benefits of electric forklifts include:

1. Long Battery Life

An electric lift has a long battery life that can prevent unnecessary stops and delays in operations. Lead acid and lithium-ion batteries last longer in regular use situations and operate more efficiently than other power sources.

Heavier loads may cause electric forklifts to lose their battery power more quickly, but the batteries also allow for quick recharges or replacements. Workers can quickly and easily change the battery or charge an electric forklift during downtime when it loses power.  

2. Simple Maintenance

Electric forklifts have much simpler maintenance needs than their gas or diesel counterparts. Warehouses can benefit from streamlining their forklift maintenance routine because these machines have fewer parts.

Simpler maintenance also means workers can more easily perform everyday upkeep tasks like charging and changing batteries. This leads to greater productivity, as machines see less downtime and people can get back to work more quickly.

3. Quiet Operation

Warehouses are loud places, but too much noise can impact the efficiency and safety of workers on the floor. Electric forklift trucks are much quieter than diesel or gas-powered lifts because they do not have a loud intake or exhaust system.

Electric lifts are much safer to work with and won’t impact the health or hearing of individuals who operate them as much as other types of forklifts.

4. Low Center of Gravity

The stability of a forklift is paramount to its efficiency and safety. When lifting heavy loads, forklifts should remain stable on the ground to protect the driver and other surrounding workers and reduce damage to merchandise.

Electric forklifts are often more stable and reliable than other lift trucks due to their lower center of gravity and the stability provided by a heavy battery pack. This also lets workers know safety is of the utmost importance to the company, boosting morale.

5. Less Vibration and Operator Fatigue 

Vibration fatigue happens to equipment that undergoes significant vibrations for long periods. Certain frequencies and magnitudes can cause a crack in the machinery, which can grow and lead to eventual equipment failure. 

Electric lifts have less vibration than other kinds, so the equipment is more stable and less likely to crack or break.

Vibrations can also lead to operator fatigue and serious workplace injuries. Sitting on a vibrating machine for a long period can lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), which leads to irreversible vascular and sensorineural damage and severe health consequences.

Electric lifts have fewer vibrations than other machinery, so they can ensure the safety and health of operators and reduce instances of HAVS in warehouses.

6. Inexpensive Repairs

Repair costs can accumulate, especially for warehouses that need many forklifts and machines. Fortunately, electric lifts have relatively inexpensive repair costs because there are fewer parts that have the potential to break or fail. This cost savings can really add up over time.

7. Fewer Emissions

The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) dictates that warehouses cannot have a carbon monoxide content of more than 50 parts per million as an 8-hour average. Warehouses that use diesel or gas-powered forklifts and other machinery must monitor carbon levels continuously to ensure they stay in compliance.

Fortunately, electric forklifts do not have a significant amount of emissions, meaning a safer environment for workers and operators.

Electric vs. Diesel Forklifts

Why are warehouses increasingly choosing electric forklifts over diesel? Increasing fuel prices are only part of the answer. The diesel vs. electric forklift debate has been ongoing, but electric is coming out on top due to the lower cost of ownership and longer life cycle.

Electric forklifts have a much longer life span compared to diesel lifts — they can last up to 12 years, while diesel versions only last for eight years. Additionally, electric machines result in more cost savings for warehouse operations, as they have lower maintenance requirements and fewer parts that need to be replaced.

Diesel forklifts are more suitable for outdoor tasks and can often sustain a higher load capacity than electric versions. Still, the long-term benefits of electric lifts mean more warehouses are relying on them.

Electric Lifts Are Changing Warehouse Operations

The benefits of electric forklifts and other technology help workers complete tasks more efficiently as warehouse needs grow. Many industries are introducing automation technology and even robotics into their operations, and are therefore more open to advancements. 

Technology will only become more important in warehouse operations, so keep an eye out for how new advancements are changing the industry.

Emily Newton is an industrial journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers how technology is changing the industry.

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Why Is It a Good Time to Switch to Sustainable Logistics Practices?

Company decision-makers pursue various strategies to improve sustainability efforts. They might launch employee recycling programs, perform energy audits, or install eco-friendly lights and faucets. Those are all practical and widely used options. However, now is an excellent time to also look at possibilities in sustainable logistics. 

Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Options Abound

Not long ago, using electric and hybrid vehicles for a fleet was still a relatively niche idea. Now, many of the world’s largest and most reputable companies are investing in them. FedEx and UPS use electric cargo bikes on some of their routes.

Oatly, the brand behind the original and largest oat drink company, recently expanded its North American fleet with heavy-duty electric trucks. Also, lawmakers associated with the U.S. House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee want the Army to test hybrid and all-electric tactical vehicles as part of a previously announced climate plan. 

Attempts to improve sustainability may involve using fully or semi-autonomous vehicles, too. One particularly prominent trend in last-mile deliveries involves pods that operators control remotely or supervise while walking a short distance away. 

The main takeaway from these newsworthy examples is that decision-makers have plenty of current use cases to study if they’re interested in utilizing electric or hybrid vehicles for sustainable logistics and still need encouragement. They can also decide they’ll proceed gradually by launching a small trial and measuring the return on investment. 

C-Suite Members Are Ready for Sustainable Logistics Practices

Another reason why it’s a good time to look at ways to improve sustainability efforts through logistics changes is that supply chain executives are increasingly on board with the idea. Making significant organizational changes can be extremely challenging if people in power aren’t open to them. 

A 2022 IBM survey polled chief supply chain officers (CSCO) to determine their thoughts on modernization initiatives that increase companies’ resilience. About 66% saw sustainability as a core business value element. Additionally, 51% were willing to sacrifice an average of 5% in annual profits to improve eco-friendly outcomes. 

The most popular sustainability intention, cited by 47% of respondents, was to pursue full life cycle designs and uncover opportunities to reduce waste and pursue reuse. About 44% mentioned improving the energy efficiency of their products and services. 

When decision-makers are ready to turn intention into action, a good starting point is to consider the statistics associated with certain proposed changes. For example, some providers of sustainable barrier packaging provide environmental footprint and global warming impact data to aid comparisons against similar products. 

Despite the IBM study’s results, leaders in a particular organization may still have doubts about embracing sustainable logistics options. However, when they realize that more of their peers recognize the necessity of operating more sustainably, they should become more open-minded and at least willing to explore the possibilities. 

Vehicle Telematics Solutions Improve Sustainability Efforts and More

A fleet manager doesn’t necessarily need to invest in electric or hybrid vehicles to see a meaningful change in sustainability. Another, also widely accessible, option is to install telematics systems on an existing fleet. It’s a great time to start using them because the products are widely available now. That means decision-makers have plenty of options when it comes to the brands and types they might choose to meet their needs. 

Such solutions help fleet managers become more aware of what’s happening with their vehicles at any time. One way to apply telematics to improve sustainability efforts is to monitor fuel consumption, which can occur for individual cars or more broadly. Managers can then become more aware of overall performance and when it may be time to schedule maintenance appointments or budget for replacements.

Statistics also indicate that driver behavior influences up to 30% of a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Moreover, every gallon of unnecessary diesel burned generates 22.1 pounds of CO2 emissions. It’s also worth pointing out that efforts to break operators’ bad habits create advantages beyond sustainability. Most notably, they can make drivers safer and reduce accident rates, helping a fleet company’s bottom line. 

Perhaps, through various types of coaching, a driver breaks their habits of fast braking and accelerating. Doing that can cause gas mileage improvements and cut emissions. It may reduce the chances of accidents. 

Many vehicle telematics platforms also offer route planning. Those capabilities can drastically reduce the stop-and-go driving and time spent idling that can waste gas and raise emissions. It will likely take some time and trial and error for fleet company leaders to figure out how vehicle telematics offerings fit into their overall sustainability strategies. However, as these examples show, they can have numerous positive impacts that help the planet and more.

Ongoing Research Helps People Improve Sustainability Logistics

Now is also an opportune time for logistics company decision-makers to invest in sustainability because there’s so much helpful guidance and research available to help them make the most effective choices. 

Consider the recent research that compared recycled corrugated packages with reusable ones made from plastic. One takeaway was that corrugated board systems outperformed reusable plastics in 10 of 15 categories, including climate change impact. 

Another finding was that plastic crates must reach a rotation rate of at least 63 to surpass the climate change impact of corrugated boxes. However, a life cycle analysis indicated that those containers are only reused two dozen times. 

Of course, any attempts to improve sustainability efforts should also be examined from the perspective of operations at individual logistics companies. Decisions about things like which materials to use depend on various factors, including budget and corporate leaders’ willingness to change. 

People must also remember that it usually takes time to see and monitor the effects of any change, whether enacted for sustainability reasons or otherwise. That’s why it’s important to set specific metrics to track and timeframes for when desired improvements should ideally become evident. 

Commit to the Switch

These are only some of the many reasons company leaders increasingly realize now is the time to explore sustainable logistics options and see which ones might work best. Local and national legislators continually set climate-related targets and stress that reaching them requires sustainable changes from everyone. This information can help logistics professionals feel confident about doing things differently to support a more sustainable future.

 

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5 Industries Feeling the Strain of Supply Chain Delays

More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic first disrupted the global supply chain, businesses around the world continue to feel the effects of supply chain delays. A wide variety of industries are impacted by these supply chain disruptions.

Experts predict that delays are likely to continue well into the future, meaning affected businesses should prepare to adapt to ongoing supply chain challenges.

1. Bars and Restaurants

While demand for bars and restaurants is on track to recover from pandemic lows, the restaurant industry faces several new challenges, including a difficult labor market and ongoing supply chain challenges.

Restaurant owners are struggling to source essential kitchen equipment and replacement parts as well as disposable items like cups, plastic straws, and to-go containers. Crucial kitchen appliances, like ovens, have become “almost impossible” to source. When owners can source these appliances, they regularly face wait times of six months or more.

Existing and emerging gaps in the global food supply chain have also been causing problems for restaurants around the country. Meat shortages are likely to impact restaurants, along with grocery retailers and consumers, in mid-to-late 2022, along with shortages of dairy products and eggs. Other ingredients that may be in short supply include plant-based proteins, fruits, vegetables, and canned foods.

Experts have also predicted a potential alcohol shortage to strike sometime in 2022, though a similar shortage predicted for 2021 failed to materialize.

Relief for restaurant owners and the food supply chain could be coming soon. In early June, the USDA announced a new framework for “transforming the food supply chain to be fairer, more competitive (and) more resilient.”

Under the framework, the USDA aims to improve food access for rural communities, strengthen the U.S. food supply chain, and make nutritious food more widely available to consumers. The framework is part of the Biden Administration’s larger effort to strengthen critical American supply chains.

2. Aviation and Air Travel

Global air travel is rebounding from lows hit during the pandemic, but there are signs that supply chain disruptions could slow the industry’s recovery even as demand rises above pre-pandemic levels.

Aerospace manufacturers are struggling to ramp up production to meet the aviation industry’s growing demand for planes and plane parts. Manufacturers are also struggling with a variety of supply chain disruptions that have hampered their ability to spin up new production.

Essential airplane components of all kinds may be impacted – from engine components to fire extinguisher cartridges and other key airplane safety equipment – pushing manufacturers to stock up on important components sooner rather than later.

Airlines appear to already be struggling with these supply chain delays. Boeing, for example, has been forced to delay deliveries of the company’s 787 Dreamliners by at least a year, according to Emirates Airlines.

Airbus is similarly delaying the delivery of new planes, a move that forced Canadian airline Air Transit to lease planes short-term to ensure the company can fulfill its summer schedule.

As with most other industries facing supply chain disruptions right now, aerospace manufacturers appear uncertain as to when the sector will be able to meet the growing demands of their customers.

3. Electronics Manufacturing

Semiconductor chips are one of the most important components in a variety of electronics. They’re also essential for any product that needs on-board computers to function correctly, like cars. Continue reading

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How Is Technology Disrupting the Packaging Industry?

Packaging is no longer something that merely protects the item inside. It often helps to engage the consumer through interactivity, offers an eco-friendly feature, or has desirable material characteristics. All these improvements are largely due to advancements in packaging technology. Here are some of the latest advances made possible with tech that will likely remain impactful for the foreseeable future

Better Interactivity Courtesy of Augmented Reality

When a customer looks at shelves full of packaging, their gaze could land on dozens of possibilities before deciding which product to purchase. The package isn’t the only thing influencing them, of course. Maybe they’ve bought a certain brand before or got a recommendation from a friend. However, the packaging often plays a role, especially if it has bright colors or advertises a limited-edition design. 

Marketers have to continually push the boundaries to keep customers interested. Some do that by building augmented reality (AR) features into the packaging. A person usually only needs a smartphone to make the technology work, making it easy for them to see it in action. 

General Mills recently produced AR cereal boxes that turn into a drum machine or synth once someone points a phone at them. Placing pieces of cereal at certain places on the box determines what results people get. Each box also comes with five sound packs. 

In another case, edible products company Wana Brands released an AR package to promote its new cannabis product line. The technology, which takes people into a 3D animation experience,  works with both Android and iOS phones. Consumers activate it by scanning a QR code. They can then learn about several flavors of edible gummies, watch a YouTube video about them, or view the details for specific batches. 

Sometimes, the AR experience happens in the supermarket. Bothwell Cheese recently showed what’s possible in advertising its new line of lactose-free items. People scan a QR code on the packaging and see a floor-anchored hologram of a cheese chef appear in front of them. He goes through the lactose-free assortment and explains the benefits of those products. The brand launched this technology in hundreds of Canadian supermarkets. 

Improved Sustainability Through Creative Solutions

Ongoing scientific research warns that major changes must happen soon in society to stave off a widespread climate catastrophe. There are no easy solutions, but packaging specialists have investigated numerous ways to focus on sustainability. Sometimes, that happens by changing materials. For example, more than 400 organizations signed the New Plastics Economic Global Commitment. It signifies their intention to use 25% more recycled packaging by 2025. However, some sustainability efforts are happening now. 

Pacific Northwest grocery chain New Seasons Market recently changed the packaging for its private-label pasta, switching from the previous clamshell option. The new package uses 91% less plastic and will eliminate more than 120,000 clamshell packages from the waste stream each year. 

Scientists are also working on various possibilities in edible packaging. A biopolymer made from seaweed and a chemically modified material made from sea creature exoskeletons are some of the options under consideration. In most cases, the idea is to create an edible film to cover many foods sold to consumers. 

An Irish cafe even began using edible coffee cups made from a wafer-like material when its owners were looking for more sustainable ways to operate after the COVID-19 lockdowns. The consumable material tolerates a half-hour of heat before starting to dissolve. 

Chanel has also introduced its first refillable beauty package to the United Kingdom market. The products include no outer box, and the glass jar is lighter with a bio-based lid and inner pot. People can switch out the internal container for a refill when needed. That’s a sustainable decision that will save them money, too. The refills cost £13 (approximately $17) less than buying a completely new product.

Better Packaging Decisions Guided by Artificial Intelligence

It’s not always easy to figure out details like what size of box to use or the amount of bubble wrap to keep products safe until they reach their destinations. However, packaging technology is reducing the associated guesswork. Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms draw conclusions humans couldn’t easily make without help. 

Getting Rid of Excess Packaging

Most people can probably recall occasions when they’ve ordered a relatively small item from an e-commerce site and noticed it arrived in a too-large box or surrounded by far too much padding. AI could help prevent such instances. 

Amazon’s data scientists created a statistical model that predicts the best ways to package particular products. It led to a 24% reduction in product damage while lowering the shipping costs by 5%. Amazon made $11.19 billion in sales during the 2021 Prime Days event alone. That suggests any significant progress it makes with packaging, via AI or otherwise, would have a notable impact. 

Logistics brand DHL is also using AI to improve packaging workflows and limit excess. It has an algorithm that provides real-time suggestions. Dietmar Steins, executive vice president of Global Solutions Design at DHL Supply Chain, explained how it works. 

“Based on the products, volumes, and sizes in question, the software not only suggests the optimal size of the outer packaging, [but] it also provides individual, visual instructions on how to ideally utilize the space inside the box. It’s highly intuitive ⁠— and not unlike the well-known computer game Tetris” 

Removing Packaging Plant Bottlenecks

AI also excels at analyzing data from connected sensors to alert people to issues they might otherwise miss. Leaders at Singapore-based Federal Packaging are working with a tech company regarding options for using  AI to predict downtime and other problems during box-production processes. The algorithm needs six to 12 months of information from the factory’s equipment before it will work. However, the payoff should be worthwhile.

“When we have data on our machines, we will know very quickly if there are abnormalities detected by the AI. This gives us more time to act earlier on any issues that occur, on top of actions that we have already taken,” said Lau Chee Herng, Federal Packaging’s chief vision officer.

These are just a couple of the ways AI has expanded what’s possible in the packaging sector. As more companies test its capabilities in real-life use cases, other brand decision-makers should feel encouraged to give it a try, too. 

Packaging Technologies Push the Industry Forward

When you think about advancements such as perforated strips that make shipping boxes easier to open or detergent bottles with built-in pour spouts, it’s easy to see that the packaging industry has achieved continual improvements over the years. The technologies detailed here are among those that will undoubtedly spur further innovation.

 

trucking myth

What Are The Biggest Long Haul Trucking Myths?

Drivers often don’t think twice about the big rigs they pass on the highway, but the country would grind to a halt without them. More than 70% of the country’s freight ships from one end of the country to the other, thanks to long-haul truckers. It’s also one of the most misunderstood professions, with many pervasive myths that follow it around. What are the biggest long-haul trucking myths?

Myth #1: Long Haul Trucking is Just Like The Movies

Big Rig. Big Trouble in Little China. Joy Ride. Convoy There are tons of movies that feature long-haul truckers as the main character. These are great for a bit of entertainment, but they don’t have anything to do with what the long-haul trucking industry looks like in the real world. Whether you’re looking to join the industry as a driver or just wanting to learn more, don’t turn to Hollywood to help with your research.

Myth #2: No Girls Allowed

Trucking might look like an old boy’s club from the outside, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As of 2021, the industry employs more than 200,000 female long-haul truckers, representing 6.7% of the industry. A record number of women are obtaining their CDL and their long-haul credentials. This growth is a valuable asset for an industry that has spent the last few years struggling with a labor shortage that made it impossible to keep up with delivery demands.

Myth #3: Bringing in the Big Bucks

It’s important to note that the amount of money a long-haul trucker makes depends on their experience, location, and miles they drive every pay period. In some instances, a trucker could easily make six figures, but long-haul truckers on average make between $45,000 and $50,000 a year. The range for this career is wide, though, with those on the low end making as little as $10k a year while those on the upper end could earn more than $280,000. 

Myth #4: Truckers are Dangerous

The big rigs they drive might look intimidating if they pull up alongside a sedan or other daily driver, but the truckers themselves aren’t dangerous. The industry goes out of its way to train and vet drivers, ensuring that the safest and most skilled are behind the wheel on these long-haul deliveries. Drivers will go out of their way to prevent or avoid an accident because even a small collision could be devastating when considering the size difference between their rig and the other cars on the road. Even if we disregard the risk of death, collisions could jeopardize the driver’s career. 

Myth #5: Big Rigs Don’t Use A Lot of Fuel

The myth that long-haul trucks don’t use more fuel than the average vehicle keeps circulating. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to compare the fuel usage of a 2,500-pound sedan with a 100,000-pound fully loaded big rig, but the myth still persists. The average daily driver will burn through about 500 gallons a year. The average big rig will use more than 20,000 gallons of fuel in the same period. 

Myth #6: McDonald’s is the Most Transported Item

Long-haul truckers carry everything from food to medical supplies and industrial materials. One pervasive myth is that McDonald’s food is the most transported item. This might make sense to the average driver because it’s hard to get on the highway without seeing at least one McDonald’s truck, but it isn’t the most transported item. Long-haul truckers are most commonly protecting and transporting furniture, clothing and mechanical equipment. 

Myth #7: Truckers Aren’t Allowed to Shower

No one wants to spend hours in a truck without being able to freshen up, use the bathroom and find somewhere to relax for the night. Truck stops sit along highways and interstates and offer food, fuel, showers and safe places to stop for the night for long-haul truckers and travelers alike. Truckers are also limited on how many hours they’re allowed to spend behind the wheel, which will be explored more in a moment. 

Myth #8: Big Rigs Will Never Go Electric

Long-haul trucks might be big diesel guzzlers right now, but that won’t always be the case. Tesla is working on making electric semis available to the logistics industry. Depending on the extras package, these trucks can travel between 300 and 500 miles between charges, generate no emissions and haul just as much freight as their diesel-powered counterparts. They won’t completely replace traditional rigs anytime soon, but these electric semis will likely gain momentum to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint in the coming years.

Myth #9: No Sleep Til Brooklyn

One of the biggest myths is that long-haul truckers don’t stop until they reach their destination. These truckers operate under what is known as the 14-hour rule. Each duty period lasts for 14 hours, but after driving for eight hours, the driver must take at least a 30-minute break. They are also not allowed to drive for more than 11 hours straight during a single duty period. Drivers must carefully plan their routes and stops, depending on when they’re on the road and the distance to their next destination.

Myth #10: It’s a Lonely Road

Truck driving, especially long-haul trucking, is often portrayed as a lonely profession. While it’s true that many drivers work alone, that isn’t the only option. Drivers can also work together, creating a partnership that enables them to travel further, reach more destinations and get more work done. Truck driving, in general, is also a very social career, with drivers communicating through radio or just catching up over coffee at the truck stop while they wait for the shower to open up.

Which Myth Surprised You?

Which of these myths did you find the most surprising? Long haul trucking keeps the country moving forward and without the men and women who sit behind the wheel, much of what the average American takes for granted would vanish. It’s worth the effort to better understand this essential career, even if you never intended to get a CDL or explore a career in the industry. 

 

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IoT and Data Improve Transportation in Smart Cities

Emily Newton is an industrial journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers how technology is changing the industry.

Growing urbanization and rising levels of urban migration are causing a transportation crisis worldwide. Modern city management tools, like IoT and big data analytics for mass transit data, may help urban planners manage this problem.

These are the transportation challenges that cities face right now – and how smart city technology may help urban planners reinvent transit.

The Growing Need for Smart City Transportation

Traffic is an inevitable challenge for urban planners. Everyone needs to get to school or work at around the same time, meaning traffic and congestion will peak when transportation infrastructure can’t keep up with demand.

Some cities manage traffic better than others, however. In Greensboro, North Carolina, commuters spent just four hours a year in traffic on average in 2017. However, in Atlanta, they were stuck in traffic jams for 102 hours.

Urban migration is a global trend that experts predict will accelerate over the coming decades. Without intervention, traffic is likely to become an even more serious problem in most of the world.

At the same time, transportation reform may also present a major opportunity for reducing a city’s carbon footprint.

Expanding available public transit options and streamlining infrastructure to reduce traffic and time spent idling could significantly decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions a city’s inhabitants will produce getting from place to place.

How Smart Cities Are Using IoT to Improve Transportation

New smart technology allows urban planners and transit designers to use Internet of Things (IoT) technology and mass transit data analysis to streamline city transportation. They try to do so with minimal changes to existing transportation infrastructure.

Smart transportation refers to various technologies that modern cities use to monitor and manage transit systems. This includes internet-connected or IoT monitoring tools and automation solutions that enable the automatic management of infrastructure. Monitoring tools can take many forms, including sensors embedded in signals and streetlights that continuously monitor traffic flow in an area.

These systems help make city transportation more efficient, safer and easier to manage – often through using IoT devices to gather traffic information and adjust the timing of networked signals. Transportation management systems also have a role to play in maintaining electric vehicle charging stations and managing battery levels in electric and autonomous buses.

Enough data enables cities to adjust traffic signal systems based on current flows, allowing managers to guarantee a smooth process or prioritize certain vehicles. 

IoT and Mass Transit Technology in the Real World

Montreal recently introduced a smart mobility system that uses an intelligent management platform to dynamically adjust the timing of traffic signals. The new system helps monitor and manage the flow of cars around the city. Managers can also use it to prioritize certain types of traffic, like the movement of emergency vehicles or public transit.

The system uses a combination of new and existing infrastructure and connects “more than 2,700 intersections and nearly 1,900 vehicles” to a software-based traffic management solution.

In Florida, the county of Miami Dade recently began to implement a similar system, the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS). It uses intelligent intersection technology to monitor and manage city traffic flows by optimizing signal timing.

The ATMS project in Miami Dade uses technology already leveraged in several other cities, including Seattle, London and Bogota, Colombia.

Over the next few years, more cities and municipalities worldwide will likely adopt similar smart transportation management systems.

The Future of Transportation in the Smart City

These early experiments with smart traffic data-collection and signal timing management systems show how smart transportation is being implemented right now. Future solutions could be even more ambitious. 

For example, as connected vehicles become more common, cities may be able to rely on information directly from cars to map and model the flow of traffic throughout the city.

Traffic monitors could be integrated with other systems, providing another valuable data source for smart city management.

Future smart transportation systems could also help extend the utility of green city management technology. With better data on traffic and public transit utilization, cities could more effectively target transportation reform to maximize offerings and minimize transportation emissions.

However, the benefits of smart city transportation systems come with some risks. Every extra sensor and networked system can serve as another vector of attack for cybercriminals. Big technology investments could make cities more vulnerable to attacks. 

Cities that adopt smart technology will need to also invest in cybersecurity. Otherwise, they may leave themselves open to ransomware, malware and similar attacks.

How Smart Transportation Systems Could Reshape Transit

A global traffic and transportation crisis is emerging. Smart technology – like intelligent monitors and signals – could help city planners significantly improve traffic management.

New automated systems use a combination of IoT and mass transit data collection plus smart traffic signals to more efficiently direct traffic flow in major cities like Miami and Montreal. 

More sophisticated versions of the systems could integrate with other smart technology in the future, helping provide city managers with even better data-collection and automated management systems.

Contractors wanting to keep their businesses profitable will need new strategies to combat rising fuel prices.

5 Ways Contractors Can Reduce the Impact of High Fuel Prices

Fuel is essential to almost every construction process. As a result, fast-rising fuel prices are cutting into contractors’ profits.

Experts say that fuel prices are likely to keep rising even as oil prices start to fall. Contractors wanting to keep their businesses profitable will need new strategies to combat rising fuel prices.

These are some of the best strategies that contractors are using right now to reduce fuel consumption and find better deals on fuel.

1. Invest in Fleet Management Software

How fleet vehicles and heavy construction equipment are used or maintained can have a significant impact on their fuel efficiency. Harsh driving, speeding, idling, and poor maintenance practices can all reduce the fuel economy of a truck or piece of construction equipment.

With fleet management software, contractors can identify how employees and subcontractors are using their fleet equipment. Combined with the right telematics solution, these software tools
can track and flag behaviors that make equipment less fuel-efficient.

These tools can also automatically notify managers or supervisors, allowing them to take quick action to stop the behavior and prevent it from happening in the future. Along with other digital construction tools, fleet management software can make tracking, directing, and scheduling fleet vehicle use much easier, as well.

Fleet management software can also make it easier to track equipment maintenance. Well-maintained fleets tend to be more fuel-efficient because everything from tire inflation to the freshness of engine oil can have an impact on equipment fuel consumption. By monitoring and scheduling equipment maintenance with the right tool, contractors can maximize their fleet’s fuel efficiency, helping to reduce fuel costs.

2. Upgrade to High-Efficiency Vehicles
The growing market of high-efficiency vehicles and construction equipment can help contractors reduce fuel expenses. By choosing a high-fuel-efficiency machine when upgrading equipment, contractors can potentially cut down the amount of fuel they need for construction processes.

Contractors can also consider adopting hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicles. These vehicles either take advantage of electric propulsion systems or alternative fuels, like biodiesel. In addition to reducing fleet emissions, these vehicles can significantly reduce a contractor’s fuel expenses.

Alternative fuels, like biodiesel and renewable diesel, tend to be cheaper than conventional diesel. For example, “the national average price of B-20 biodiesel blends in July 2021 was $3.05 per gallon compared to $3.26 per gallon for diesel fuel,” according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

By upgrading to vehicles or equipment that use these alternative fuels, contractors may be able to reduce their overall fuel expenses while also making their business more sustainable – a potential selling point for environmentally focused clients.

3. Rent Rather Than Buy Fleet Vehicles

Owning a fleet vehicle or construction machine comes with its advantages: primarily convenience, reliability, and the familiarity of equipment you may use frequently over the course of years.

However, buying isn’t a contractor’s only option, and renting can sometimes be more cost- effective and efficient than purchasing a fleet vehicle outright.

Renting is a great way to supplement core fleet vehicles, free up business capital, and minimize vehicle upkeep costs like maintenance, repairs, vehicle storage, and transportation to sites or
when vehicles break down.

Choosing to rent can also help contractors manage rising fuel prices. Buying a vehicle locks you into a particular make, model, and fuel efficiency. Over time, a purchased vehicle will slowly become obsolete. With renting, you’ll always have access to the newest and most fuel-efficient construction vehicles or machines available.

Renting may also provide a contractor with access to cost-friendly electric and alternative-fuel vehicles, helping them reduce their fuel expenses even further.

A fleet composed of both rental and owned equipment will provide contractors with a good balance of the benefits of both options.

4. Add a Fuel Surcharge to New Contracts

While not popular among customers, sometimes the only way to manage rising fuel prices is to pass along the cost increase. Adding additional fuel fees or surcharges to new contracts or increasing the overall contract price to cover rising fuel costs will help contractors manage the current fuel price spike.

When other options fail – like improving fleet fuel efficiency or sourcing the cheapest fuel available in your area – the fuel surcharge is a good fallback option to consider.

The specific amount of the fuel surcharge can vary depending on current fuel prices and the needs of a particular client. For example, some customers may have projects that require the use of machines that require an unusually large amount of fuel to operate.

Charging a larger fuel surcharge for these projects may help you adjust contract pricing based on how much fuel-intensive projects will increase typical operating costs.

5. Consider Electrifying Your Fleet

Rising fuel prices and a volatile oil market are likely to cause problems for contractors well into the future. Even after the current fuel price crisis ends, future market shocks could easily lead to steep fuel prices next year or the year after.

In addition to adopting more fuel-efficient vehicles and using software to improve fleet fuel efficiency, contractors can also utilize vehicles that don’t need gas or diesel at all.

Electric vehicles are a serious investment, and available EV options won’t offer the same variety as the internal-combustion-engine vehicle market. However, adopting one or more EVs could allow contractors to minimize the impact of high fuel prices on their profits or avoid paying for fuel altogether.

As the EV market expands over the next few years and electric construction equipment becomes more accessible, going electric will become steadily easier for contractors.

More EVs and electric construction machines will become available, providing contractors with options at varying price points. At the same time, a robust used EV market will begin to develop, providing contractors with access to cheaper-than-ever EVs.

Planning the total or partial electrification of their fleet now can help contractors prepare to save money on fuel prices in the near future, even if they’re not willing to adopt an EV right now.

How Construction Contractors Can Manage Rising Fuel
Prices
Experts believe fuel prices are likely to continue rising and that future fuel price spikes could be an inevitability. Because contractors can’t do without fuel, they’ll need to find new ways to
manage fuel prices.

Fleet management technology, high-efficiency vehicles, renting, and fuel surcharges can all help contractors cope with rising fuel costs. As a long-term strategy, investing in electric construction equipment may also help.

In any case, finding ways to both increase revenue and decrease fuel costs will help contractors navigate the current fuel market.

IA SUN labor Automation Group Highlights Innovative Corrugated Converting Solutions at CCE International

How Can Automation Help Alleviate Labor Shortages?

Labor shortages are often discussed in fields such as logistics and trucking, but a growing number of industries have more job openings than people to fill them. Manufacturing, education, health services and retail are many industries struggling to bring in new hires and retain existing employees.

Automation and robotics may have a negative reputation for stealing people’s jobs, but in almost every case, it supplements floundering workforces. Here’s how it can help alleviate labor
shortages in various industries and help bolster the economy.

Labor Shortage Statistics

Looking at any industry from the outside, it might seem like everything is working as it’s meant to. However, behind the scenes, the problem becomes glaringly apparent. Foodservice and hospitality-related businesses experienced a 6.6% quit rate in September 2021. Durable goods manufacturing is seeing even worse resignation levels. Companies are struggling to hire enough workers to fill vacant positions and stay ahead of the competition.

Industries worldwide have lost millions of workers due to COVID-19 and the Great Resignation that followed. Many of those who left the workforce during the pandemic decided that taking early retirement was a better option than returning to work once things returned to normal. The best choice for employers would be to make the necessary changes to bring in new workers and retain those already employed. However, automation may be able to help fill in some of the gaps.

Freeing up Skilled Workers for Critical Tasks

Most industries have many mundane or repetitive tasks that are necessary to complete the job. They are all necessary, but thanks to automation, they do not need to take up the time or skills of an employee better suited to more complex or critical work. It can also be a valuable tool for helping people get ahead, allowing them to expand their skills and build a career that they will genuinely enjoy.

Relegating these mundane or repetitive tasks to robotics or automation services can also help reduce the number of repetitive stress injuries in the workplace. Poor posture, repeated motions, bad lifting techniques and other repetitive movements can cause injuries which, in turn, can lead to missed work and workers’ compensation claims. Widespread use of automation and material handling solutions could help reduce those numbers dramatically.

Capturing and Using Data Efficiently

The human race generates enormous amounts of data. In 2020, that amounted to 1.7 megabytes a second for each person or 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Much of this information languishes in digital limbo in its raw form. By using automation specifically, machine learning and artificial intelligence — companies can take these sheaves of raw data and turn them into actionable points that can improve workplace efficiency. It can also offset some of the problems caused by labor shortages.

In the past, sorting through these databases required human analysts. Today, all it takes is a skilled programmer to create a machine learning algorithm that can sort through raw data while
eliminating human error and turn it into actionable insights that companies can use to improve their business. It’s not a perfect solution — at least not yet. There are still some limitations to the
technology that could potentially hold companies back. Still, as it continues to progress and evolve, it will likely become an invaluable tool to help offset the lack of new employees.

Fewer Injuries and Less Downtime

Many industries utilize production methods that, while necessary, can be hazardous to human life. Safety precautions can help keep employees safe, but they are not accident-proof, no matter how hard they try. More than 155,500 manufacturing workers and 17,000 warehouses workers missed time in 2018 due to a workplace injury. In 2017, those injuries cost businesses upwards of $161 billion.

Automation can help reduce workplace injuries and associated downtime by taking over many hazardous jobs. Even skilled positions that can’t be automated can be made safer through robotics that distance the worker from the action. It does require some new training and significant investment initially, but it can help reduce some of the growing costs associated with workplace injuries. Many tasks, such as cleaning tank interiors in a low-oxygen environment, would be better served by automation than by a human in protective gear.

Bringing in More Young Employees

The Great Resignation and the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t the only things causing these massive labor shortages. Millions of people retired in the United States during the pandemic, most of them choosing to permanently leave the workforce rather than taking an extended pandemic-related sabbatical. There aren’t enough new workers to replace them, especially not among the younger generation.

One of the most significant benefits of bringing in automation is that it requires new technology and teaches employees how to utilize it. This is the perfect environment for workers from younger generations who have grown up in a world steeped in technology. Young millennials and members of Gen Z often avoid the traditionally blue-collar careers because they are some of the slowest to adopt new technologies. Bringing in automation is the perfect way to entice these new workers into an industry that might otherwise be lacking tech.

Utilizing Automation to Alleviate Labor Shortages

There is no simple solution to overcome these labor shortages. So many people have left the workforce throughout the pandemic for various reasons that it will take some time to recoup those losses. Companies have the option to make all the necessary changes to overcome these labor shortages without spending too much time and money trying to bring in new workers.

Adopting automation is just one piece of the puzzle for adopting new technologies as tools to overcome labor shortages. Things like data management and machine learning algorithms can help turn existing databases into actionable insights that can make all the difference. Business owners need to take the time to analyze their current labor statistics and demographics to see where problems lie and where new technologies like automation can help fill in the gaps.

kale Logistics data analytics can provide an invaluable competitive edge to third-party logistics (3PL) providers. 3PLs face a rapidly changing market.

Third-Party Logistics Providers Need Data Analytics to Save Money

Logistics data analytics can provide an invaluable competitive edge to third-party logistics (3PL) providers. 3PLs face a rapidly changing market. Supply chain disruptions and the rapid growth of e-commerce mean they must be ready to adapt if they want to continue providing high-quality services for their customers.

Data analytics allow 3PLs to uncover new insights to improve decision-making and provide cost savings.

How 3PLs Can Leverage Logistics Data Analytics

Today, businesses of all kinds have access to more information than ever and a range of analytics tools that can extract deep insights from large data sets.
Almost any business can benefit from data analytics, but 3PLs are in a particularly good position to use these tools. These companies can secure a few significant advantages by using them.

1. Improved Risk Management

Modern 3PLs face various risks. The right data makes it easier to take a proactive risk management approach, making better decisions regarding carrier selection, freight tenders and
the business partnerships the 3PL will establish.

Better data can also make it easier to identify potential risks and their potential impact. Identifying these threats can make a proactive risk management approach easier to implement and more effective potentially providing significant cost savings.

Some 3PL tools even utilize advanced technology like AI to improve supply chain resilience and risk management. 3PLs can use them to uncover insights that less advanced analytics technology wouldn’t be able to find securing a valuable competitive advantage.

2. Lower Transportation Costs

Data collected from the supply chain can make it easier to visualize and manage daily operations. 3PLs can use data dashboards and similar tools to centralize the information they gather and provide it in an easy-to-understand format for managers, supply chain specialists and key decision-makers.

3PL team members can then more easily track key KPIs — like cost per unit, order accuracy and processing time. Analytics tools will also help the 3PL identify relationships between business practices and these KPIs, making it easier to spot operational bottlenecks and
inefficiencies.

3. Stronger 3PL-Client Relationships

Data from the supply chain and logistics operations can make it much easier to analyze and respond to changes in the global supply chain market. This information can also make 3PLs a better business partner to their clients. The right shipping and logistics analysis allows a 3PL’s associates to secure a valuable competitive advantage.

One recent study of the 3PL market found that interest in robotics and data analytics is rising fast among shippers. More 3PLs are adopting data analytics technology, and these tools may become critical for strong client relationships. Clients may look elsewhere if a business can’t offer a tool its competition can.

Data Analytics Can Provide Major Cost Savings

Many of the advantages data analytics provide can help 3PLs save time and money. Managing risk reduces the chance that an unforeseen hazard will cost a 3PL significant resources.

Lower transportation costs can reduce one of the biggest expenses for a 3PL and allow the company to pass cost savings on transportation to its clients.

Better relationships with clients can provide steadier business for a 3PL, potentially decreasing costs associated with marketing and client relationship management.

3PL Data Analytics in Practice

Various 3PL data analytics approaches exist. These data analytics strategies offer benefits throughout an organization by providing workers with better information that can streamline operations or be passed onto business partners and clients.

Supply Chain Visibility and Transparency

Low supply chain visibility can make accurate predictions about availability, shipping times and processing speed much more difficult.

New data-collection and organization tools allow 3PLs to develop a much deeper understanding of how products are moving through the supply chain and how effectively current shipping partners are managing their operations.

Supply chain management tools may also lay the foundation for IoT-powered tracking and transparency. The right Internet of Things (IoT) tracking devices will let 3PLs monitor goods continuously as they move through the supply chain. These devices can provide information about a shipment’s current location, speed and shipping conditions.

This information can make it easier to track goods and predict shipping speed or delivery timing.

IoT supply chain monitoring may be especially valuable for 3PLs that offer cold chain management services. The same IoT device can track a shipment’s current location and temperature. It can immediately alert drivers and managers of an excursion, allowing them to respond quickly to prevent product spoilage.

Data-Driven Resource Planning

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is an essential investment for any 3PL. It makes it much easier for managers to effectively understand and react to the business’s current resource
planning needs.

Resource planning tools along with software like warehouse management systems (WMS) and contact management systems (CMS) — can make managing essential business resources much easier.

These systems can also automate many administrative processes, like the generation of customer reports, helping to streamline client communication and business management.

KPI Dashboards and Data Visualizations

New data analytics tools allow 3PLs to centralize and organize information by using data dashboards. For example, KPI dashboards can provide managers and executives with a snapshot of current operations, performance and overall business health.

Strategic inventory dashboards can offer a real-time view of how inventory moves through the supply chain, making it easier to identify possible process issues.

Most logistics data analytics tools marketed to 3PLs offer a great deal of customization, so these tools can be adapted to fit the organization’s needs. They can provide information on different KPIs, prioritizing certain types of data and generating customized reports for clients, business partners or regulators as needed.

Using Logistics Data Analytics to Save Money in a Changing
Market

The right analytics tools allow 3PLs to streamline their operations, save money and build stronger client relationships. Data dashboards, supply chain visibility tools, and systems like
ERPs or WMSs can make it much easier to manage essential processes, automate work and make more informed decisions.

Early adopters of data analytics will secure a competitive advantage over other 3PLs, making them a more valuable investment for their clients.