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Post-COVID Logistics: Retooling for the Future


Post-COVID Logistics: Retooling for the Future

The impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt across global economies and businesses, but for the supply chain and logistics industry, challenges go beyond the present and threaten the future of operations and business continuity. These challenges redefine what prediction could look like for the logistics industry and what considerations should be taken to keep the supply chain moving.

Global Trade had the opportunity to speak with business owner and author of “The GOP’s Lost Decade: An Inside View of Why Washington Doesn’t Work,” Jim Renacci on what changes the industry can anticipate as the current health crisis continues to change the pace for global business.

What planning measures will logistics players need to consider in a post-COVID environment?

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has changed the way manufacturers/logistic players will need to review their supply chain management post-COVID-19 and access their supply chain vulnerabilities. The crisis has demonstrated that reliance on sourcing from two geographic areas could pose a risk.

During the crisis, while supplies became unavailable, many companies were forced to start looking for new supply chains as many of their overseas suppliers had to limit or reduce shipments significantly. Post-COVID planning will include asking current suppliers to take on more and different product lines. It is already happening with many current business relationships. Also, the reliability of the supply chain…. over cost…. will be more of a priority.

In what ways have supply chain players supported their customers and consumers during the crisis?

Manufacturers/supply chain players are supporting their customers by shifting and increasing supply chain needs where possible. In many instances, secondary suppliers have started adding product lines where possible. With any crisis, opportunities will be there for the business that can move quickly and adapt to change.

How will the manufacturing site selection process shift in a post-COVID world? 

Manufacturing site selection processes in a post-COVID world should include seeking locations within the US and other countries that have access to highly trained engineers, top tier R&D, access to advanced manufacturing technologies as well as private and public institutions and universities. Site selection should also include countries that offer a competitive investment package as more and more countries post-COVID will be looking to entice companies to locate or relocate inside their jurisdictions.

In what ways can logistics players use the disruption from COVID-19 to benefit their operations in the future?

Current disruption due to COVID-19 will allow companies to reassess their vulnerabilities but also their strengths. With these disruptions, companies can retool for the future. They can adjust for their weaknesses and benefit from their strengths.


Jim Renacci is the author of The GOP’s Lost Decade: An Inside View of Why Washington Doesn’t Work. He is also an experienced business owner who created more than 1,500 jobs and employed over 3,000 people across the Buckeye State before running for Congress in 2010. Jim represented Ohio’s 16th District in the House of Representatives for four terms. He is also the chairman of Ohio’s Future Foundation, a policy and action-oriented organization whose goal is to move the state forward.

Old Dominion

Old Dominion Driver Awarded for Heroic and Lifesaving Actions

In true Old Dominion fashion, delivery and pickup driver Harold Hyde took “putting others first” to a new level when he risked his own life to save a 4-year-old boy wandering on the road in August of 2019. Using his own truck as a barricade to block off traffic on both sides, Hyde decided to act quickly when he noticed cars swerving to avoid hitting the nonverbal and autistic boy who unlocked his home and wandered onto the road.

This brave act represents one of two from Hyde, as he saved a pregnant woman from an overturned SUV in September before first responders could arrive, not long after saving the 4-year-old boy from a potentially disastrous situation. Both instances occurred while Hyde was en route for customer deliveries. These actions and Hyde’s unwavering willingness to help others positioned him as this year’s recipient of the distinguished John Yowell OD Family Spirit Award.

“I am humbled to be recognized with the John Yowell award,” said Harold Hyde. “It’s inspiring to be associated with the legacy of Mr. Yowell and past recipients of the award. My job allows me to interact with the great people of Nashville and beyond, and I will continue to strive for excellence in my work while serving my community. I’m just thankful for the chance to do something positive for someone else.”

The OD Spirit Family Award encompasses the family-focused culture Old Dominion puts at the forefront of its LTL business operations. Named after John Yowell – former executive vice president who passed away in 2011, the award is dedicated to showcasing exemplary dedication to helping others, and that’s exactly what Mr. Hyde has done.

“Harold’s continued commitment to going above and beyond for his community and Old Dominion customers naturally sets him apart,” said Greg Gantt, president and CEO of Old Dominion Freight Line. “His uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time and humble heroism make him the true picture of a John Yowell OD Family Spirit Award winner.”

Mr. Hyde has been with Old Dominion since 2007 and received a $1,000 donation from ODFL towards the charity of his choice. Hyde selected True Joy Community Progam to support healthy meals and snacks for children in low-income areas. This organization works to combat hunger and obesity while promoting health and nutrition.

Big D


Dallas, Texas. There is a lot associated with this city in the Lone Star State. Among common associations typically thought of when the city is brought up in conversation include buildings with breathtaking views creating an unforgettable skyline, skyscraper-like freeways, and southern pride some consider to be arrogant beyond reason.

There is a reason behind these common associations, though. Dallas, Texas offers an experience unlike most southern cities–and not just because of the plethora of mouthwatering food options presented every half-mile or the fact that it is home to the Dallas Cowboys football team. Dallas is a place where diversity thrives, and the nightlife never disappoints.

Whether you are looking for a refreshing cocktail with even more refreshing views or a meal that is simply unforgettable as far as food and company are concerned, you can consider yourself lucky to be in this city for business. We’ve rounded up the top spots and things to do while you take care of business. Keep in mind that these are just a few of the gems found in Dallas, and we highly encourage a trip back to the Big D for pleasure instead of business to get the full experience. For now, these will do justice.

Atwater Alley

If you’re interested in experience, look no further than Atwater Alley. Located in the heart of Dallas off of McKinney Avenue, this speakeasy-style spot is sure to provide an experience you’ll share back home. The ambiance and atmosphere found in Atwater Alley set the mood for relaxation and nostalgia while the cocktails are carefully crafted with pride. Know going in that this speakeasy is not intended to accommodate hundreds or even a couple of dozen patrons. Space is limited but the experience–and did we mention the cocktails?–makes Atwater a must on our list of things to do while in Dallas. If you are craving a traditional old fashioned paired with a unique, relaxing environment, Atwater is sure to satisfy.


Looking for something on the upbeat, modern-chic side? STIRR is sure to meet your needs. From their signature brunch, lunch and dinner menus to their impressive and unique cocktail selection, STIRR leaves the taste buds of its patrons wanting more of the deliciousness it has to offer. Located in Deep Ellum, STIRR Dallas offers visitors a grand view on its rooftop with the perfect ambiance to pair with the meal. If you’re up for a couple of flights of stairs, keep your eyes carefully on every stair as each reveals an uplifting or quirky message that adds to the STIRR experience.

Dallas Museum of Art

Ah, the DMA. This museum offers a different kind of experience for out-of-towners and locals alike with free daily general admission as late as 9 p.m. on Thursdays and 11 p.m. on “Late Night Fridays.” The DMA features more than 25,000 fascinating pieces—from Islamic art, arts of the Americas and contemporary art to arts of Africa and Asia, classical art, Texas art and much more. When considering a visit to the DMA, be sure to check out the latest exhibition. Each provides a new, intimate and thought-provoking experience to the visitor and are limited-time opportunities.

Reunion Tower

A classic staple for the Dallas visitor, the Reunion Tower really speaks for itself once you take a glance at all 561 feet of its beauty and radiance. Great for dinner and drinks, this experience might not be your first choice for a solo visit but will definitely “wow” your clients if you’re looking to accommodate an unforgettable dining experience at Wolf Gang Puck’s Five Sixty Restaurant. If you do find yourself seeking a solo light dinner and drink, Cloud Nine can accommodate your needs while providing a revolving view and relaxing ambiance. And we can’t forget to mention the Ge-O Deck offering 360-degree panoramic views of the big D.

The Mansion Bar

Located in the prestigious Turtle Creek region in Dallas, the sophisticated Mansion Bar takes pride to a whole new level with its cognac-colored leather walls, Texas countryside art pieces and equestrian-themed décor. The Mansion offers visitors both modern and classic vintage cocktails, but it’s recommended to try the Mansion Gin & Tonic for a refreshed and unmatched experience. If you’re seeking more than the average beer, Texas craft breweries keep The Mansion’s beer variety tantalizing while the award-winning wine program featuring hand-selected reds, whites and sparkling wines. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 4-7 p.m., with live music to pair with your cocktail of choice on selected days. Once you experience the hospitality, elegance and delightfulness here, you’ll want to come back.

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

Known across Texas for its take on other cuisines including barbecue, seafood and Mexican food, the Pappas Bros. experience flaunts that it really can do it all. The family owned and operated Pappas Bros. Steakhouse is known as the premier steakhouse for Dallas and Houston, offering dry-aged steaks that are never pre-packaged and a selection of more than 3,500 wines. In fact, Pappas dry ages its own meats for a minimum of 28 days and employs two butchers at each restaurant solely for quality and portion control. Recognized by the Food Network as a “Top 5 Steaks in America” location, Pappas is known for a New York strip that packs 32-ounces of mouth-watering greatness. If you have room left once the steak has been polished off, finish the meal with the comforting and delectable warm peach cobbler. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

Whether you’re new to the Big D or just visiting for a couple of days, do yourself (and your taste buds) a favor by giving these places a visit. It goes without saying that everything really is “bigger in Texas” and these are just a few of the hundreds of spots Dallas, Texas, residents attribute to their Texas-sized state pride.


Global Trade Magazine Accepting “Women in Logistics” Nominations

Global Trade Magazine officially opened nominations for its May/June cover story, “Women in Logistics” beginning this week through the end of March. This marks the publication’s second annual feature spotlighting leading female executives reshaping the way companies approach industry disruptions. The ideal candidate has a proven track record of creating long-term solutions impacting various sectors including transportation, warehousing, shipping, and supply chain management.

“As we continue to see a rise in female leaders within the logistics industry, I wanted to take recognition to the next level for female executives fostering positive company culture while displaying exemplary leadership all industry players can learn from,” said Eric Kleinsorge, Publisher and Chairman of Global Trade Magazine. “Last year’s cover story was a huge success. We received a lot of positive feedback from our readers and we’ve already received impressive nominations for this year’s feature.”

Among leading ladies featured in the 2019 issue included Joan Smemoe of RailInc., Jane Kennedy Greene of Kenco, Wendy Buxton of LynnCo Supply Chain Solutions, and Barbara Yeninas and Lisa Aurichio of BSYA. This year’s selected nominees will be selected based on factors including tenure, industry relevance, impact on the industry, the health of relationships with employees, with a high emphasis on their workplace culture approach. Nominations will be limited to one executive per submission and participants can enter their executive of choice until March 31st at 5 p.m.

“I encourage workers from around the globe to take a few minutes and submit female leaders that have changed the way they view leadership and have made a positive impact on their career and industry. It’s important to the evolving culture of global companies to recognize these women for their dedication to the industry and the workers that make success possible,” Kleinsorge concluded.

To submit a nomination, please click here or call (469) 778-2606 for more information. 



When it comes to warehousing and the use of robotics to manage and maintain a competitive supply chain, the conversations usually begin with the potential for these powerhouse machines to replace workers and eliminate the need for humans in the facility. As this might be the case in some situations, the bigger concern surrounds how to successfully create an environment where both humans and robots are able to safely collaborate, creating more efficiencies within the warehouse sector while at the same time optimizing the processes many still operate manually.

This is the concept of interconnecting the mind and abilities of these machines to support human workers, not replace them. The truth of the matter is, there are some things humans can do that robots simply cannot do, and the fear of robots replacing humans is backwards compared to what is really going on in meetings between warehouse managers and creators of autonomous solutions.

Dan Khasis, founder of Route4Me, a unique route optimization software platform, takes a deeper look at the emerging relationship between robotics and warehouses and dissects the reality of what is really going on when managing the supply chain inside the modern warehouse. “There’s this perception and risk associated with the subjects of robotics and job security,” he concedes. “It is very common to see a lot of warehouses that are based on the location, the retailer, the company, where their worker population is unionized. Many times, the situation starts with C-level executives who discover the technology that can drive efficiencies in the warehouse, save money and that work very well.”

“However, word gets back to the union workers that the expectation is for them to work twice as much in the same amount of time and they quickly realize it isn’t realistic or possible,” Khasis continues. “At that point, technology adoption is eliminated because people cannot be replaced. At that point, they accept the inefficiencies and turn to loopholes to deal with the issues that are clearly present. It is not the worker’s fault, but there is a struggle with getting warehouse workers onboard with these new technologies in addition to the long hours that are required to keep up.”

Khasis goes on to explain that the ability to do the picking and packing in the warehouse is still one of the biggest pain points in the warehousing sector. An example he cites is weight restrictions and what makes sense in terms of safety and simplicity. Can one send a robot to pick up a fridge that weighs 800 pounds versus utilizing someone in a forklift to lift the fridge? Sure, but some would question how a robot could prove to be more beneficial than a forklift in situations like these.

“There are basic and common risks associated with robotics, such as employees getting injured, and the technology exists to avoid such accidents,” Khasis says. “In terms of a hybrid model, you’re able to have things such as augmented reality where if one is driving through the warehouse, there’s clearly the safety component in question. There are heavy items throughout the warehouse that are elevated and there needs to be a population of properly trained employees to minimize these risks along with the technology to support it.”

Heavy lifting comes into play with this pain point and Khasis emphasizes that well-trained individuals are more favorable over advanced technology in these cases. With every advancement comes risk and it’s about measuring the risk against current and potential resources that determines the best way to optimize operations while mitigating these risks. The warehouse sector is aiming to operate optimally and safely as that is where competitive advantage is ultimately found.

“The hybrid warehouses that are half robots and half autonomous are still an open question regarding the interaction between human workers and robots because there will undoubtedly be issues with how they collaborate together,” Khasis points out. “For example, will there be a specific area for robots and one area for the workers, how we will address collision avoidance, and how they will actually collaborate are the bigger questions still in the process of being solved?”

Leadership in the warehouse sector is experiencing a technological disconnect as well. While many news headlines boast the latest big-name companies adopting a new form of advanced technology, there are still many large companies operating the good old-fashioned way: via Microsoft Excel or another manual process and dismissing the option of advanced technology completely. This isn’t a bad thing, but Khasis emphasizes that these companies could maximize their bottom lines by adopting technologies that aren’t incompatible with emerging technology.

“There’s a generational shift in the warehouse,” he says. “For example, the VP or director in today’s warehouse might not have faith in the modern technology approaches available. We sometimes have friendly arguments with our own customers explaining how something might not ‘look’ better but mathematically and in terms of optimization, it is paramount in comparison and when broken down. There are both trends and realities that differ from what people are talking about versus what’s actually happening.”

Khasis continues: “Many warehouses out there are still using legacy software and there’s a significant amount of big industry players who still have not modernized their systems. Part of that modernization is moving stuff to the cloud and as they move things up to the cloud, opportunities will open up for them to take advantage of newer technologies. These newer technologies on the market are not backward compatible with the relatively obsolete systems that are closed off and still very much in use. They simply do not interact well with other systems.”

For warehouses, proactive measures through advanced technologies are phasing out antiquated systems that require a retrospective approach to the process. Processes Microsoft Excel are still very much part of the manual process Khasis says breaks the dynamic between the adoption of technology and the desired bottom-dollar impact.

“Few companies actually understand what they need to have in each warehouse and when they need it,” he says, “and the way to successfully identify what consumers are demanding is best found through reliable and integrated e-commerce data. In some cases, the warehouse directors will project certain time frames for specific items based on the previous year rather than analyzing data revealing search activity increases within the e-commerce sector.”

These data predictions and trends monitoring can give matchless insight on upcoming and unpredictable events that other manual processes simply cannot accomplish. Weather changes, for example, and alerting warehouses of what to keep in stock versus assuming patterns in spending can make big differences in gaining that advantage over competitors. E-commerce monitoring through this data can give ample information in real-time without the need of someone else providing trend forecasting. This brings extra work costs down for the warehouse worker and increases time savings overall, all while driving the bottom dollar up.

Khasis emphasizes the importance and role advanced technologies will have in providing more opportunities in optimization and human-robot collaborations. With advanced technologies, warehouse managers can better predict what types of deliveries are on the horizon and prepare their warehouse more efficiently, streamlining the process and interactions between automation and warehouse workers.

“The warehouse does not live in a vacuum and it must be able to adapt to upstream and downstream systems. For example, if a shipment is coming in and you have the capability of knowing what is on that vehicle and where it needs to g—assuming you have the technology available to share that information—you can then have the human workers and robots collaborate to make room for that to go smoothly. This can include advanced space allocation, unloader coordination and advanced warehouse space preparations.”

Autonomous vehicles will soon have to adapt to the warehouse as well. The issue of inter-compatibility will undoubtedly be of question.

“One cannot send a delivery vehicle or any other type of truck with a different height from the warehouse because the robots can’t access it,” Khasis notes. “The concept of inter-compatibility between internal robotics and external autonomous systems will be particularly important in the near future. We believe that in order for there to be efficiencies, there must be integration, and everything needs to collaborate.

“Our patent–called Autonomous Supply Chain, and the point of this is to reiterate that a warehouse can have the best software on the market but if it isn’t compatible or the timing isn’t right, then it doesn’t matter. That brings up the question of timing and what determines the right time and how it impacts planning which is very important.”

Without the key element of integration, the most advanced technology simply will not present the results sought for competitive advantage in the warehouse, negating the desired effects from the dollars spent on adopting them. For companies seeking to redefine the warehouse, they must consider in what ways integration is possible and affordable.

“We look at all the assets including the people, the vehicles, the potential shipments on the way in and out of the country, the warehouse and its capabilities and location, and figure the best way to optimize routes,” Khasis says. “For some of the biggest global companies, this is still being done with manual interpretations, which includes reporting analysis after the fact. There is little preventable action with this type of process, and it takes more of a retrospective approach.”

The option of accepting inefficiencies is simply not going to cut it anymore. Processes are changing, technology is becoming the new standard, and people are needed that are open to learning and adopting methods of work that increase productivity while supporting long-term and short-term goals in the supply chain.

“The goal of Autonomous Supply Chain is to get in front of the problems and decisions rather than behind them while utilizing an advanced technology that can collaborate across the board,” Khasis says. “By incorporating all techniques across different business units and different business entities, the process is streamlined. When this is all put together, we are estimating anywhere from 25 to 50 percent value creation, savings and profit increase mainly because a lot of this process is currently human dependent.”

More than ever before, the concept of synchronization in the supply chain is needed. Customer demands will continue to rise and become more complex as time goes by. In the age of Amazon and next-day delivery, the warehouse simply cannot afford to operate with one or the other–being robots or humans. Both are a crucial part of the bigger picture that have a significant impact on business.

“The warehouse location is equally important, and the industry is extremely behind in understanding warehouse site selection,” Khasis says. “If you have a warehouse in the wrong area–even with 100 percent support from the union with the best robots on the market—it is going to be difficult because now you need different people fulfilling roles that weren’t accounted for, such as drivers. Sure, you might have a cheaper warehouse but if the location isn’t carefully considered, your savings are quickly dissolved in other valuables that weren’t modeled into the original budget. This process is also still manually done throughout the industry and can be optimized using our software.”

Each element in the process will undoubtedly impact the success and outcome of your warehouse, beginning with site selection to worker population to technology integration. In an age where business goes to people instead of people going to businesses, ensuring all parts are synchronized is a critical part of the bigger picture of gaining and maintaining competitive advantage and keeping up with an evergreen marketplace.


Dan Khasis is a technology entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Route4Me, a unique route optimization software. 



The supply chain ecosystem is becoming more demanding as consumers are conditioned to expect nearly instantaneous free shipping and where order delays can inflict serious damage to brands. As a result, shippers must carefully select their supply chain partners, as their performance has a much greater potential impact on customer satisfaction and the bottom line than ever before.

However, shippers are often perplexed when faced with the choice of partnering with a 3PL or 4PL to tackle their logistics and transportation challenges.

“Every shipper is unique, but many face the same challenges and share the same goals: reducing costs, optimizing their network, consolidating shipments, changing behaviors, improving customer service, and improving visibility, to name a few,” says Ross Spanier, senior vice president of Sales and Solutions at GlobalTranz, a Phoenix, Arizona-based tech company that provides a cloud-based, multimodal transportation management system (TMS) to shippers, carriers and brokers.

“The common thread that links these challenges and goals is data,” Spanier continues, “and many companies lack the data they need to make truly informed business decisions.”

He should know. Spanier brings more than 17 years of experience—which includes stops at C.H. Robinson and Logistics Planning Services—to the discussion of 3PL versus 4PL partnerships. Shippers, he maintains, should focus on the capabilities of the prospective partner and seek out partners that combine the technology, people, multimodal services and solutions they need to in gain a competitive advantage.

“Many shippers really cannot afford to staff and maintain an internal transportation and logistics team,” he notes. “Finding a partner that can act as an extension of their business is key. It’s also extremely important to make sure your partner can provide technology and experience in implementation, execution and integration. That can be a significant cost and a disruption for businesses that attempt to do that by themselves.”

Whether you’re a medium-sized business or listed on the Fortune 1000 annual list, deciding between a 3PL and a 4PL sets the stage for all moving parts.

“A common misunderstanding is that a 3PL is just a broker, when the reality is they can be much more than that,” Spanier says. “At GlobalTranz, our managed solutions are a great example of that. We can offer a more strategic and consultative approach for our customers including having ‘skin in the game’ on the broker side, where we’re taking on pricing commitments, service level commitments, managing the risks and owning the contracts.

“Many times, that is one of the common misunderstandings because a 3PL can act very strategically with customers and not necessarily need a fourth party. The 4PL typically offers strategic insights and management of a company’s entire supply chain, and often if one goes back to the question of ‘what is the difference between a 3PL and 4PL,’ 4PLs are the right fit for much more mature, large or complex organizations.”

GlobalTranz positions itself as a leader in customized solutions for a wide variety of shippers across many industry verticals. From LTL to truckload, final mile or white-glove service, intermodal, ocean, air, and cross-border Mexico transportation … are all part of the GlobalTranz offering. In addition, the company offers an award-winning TMS. The company takes pride in collaborative efforts between the people driving their technology as an integrated solution offered to their customer base.

“Whether a customer is best-suited for a 3PL or 4PL solution is typically not already known when we walk in the door, Spanier explains. “We like to show where a customer can gain the most value based on the solution and its capabilities. More times than not, it’s about voicing that to the customer and understanding where their constraints are and how we can put a solution together–a 3PL or a 4PL solution.”

GlobalTranz boasts a different approach when it comes to serving its customer base. Its robust managed solutions offerings serve a variety of needs that can be tailored upon identifying where the client’s business needs it the most. The experts at GlobalTranz take the process of solution identification one step further by evaluating the needs and configuring a solution from there. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, which is exactly how GlobalTranz separates itself from the rest as a leader in logistics solutions–whether that be a 3PL or 4PL solution.

“People, processes, and technology are important, and it’s crucial to establish relationships and communications that are aligned with company goals,” Spanier contends. “Without strong relationships in place, technology and process won’t deliver the needed support or what they’re looking to get out of a partner. When you have a customer looking at a 3PL solution, you want to make sure that a 3PL has the ability to bring in carriers no matter what markets they operate in. This is critical because they may be in one market today but with growth, both organic and through acquisitions, and the changing dynamics in customer demand and expectations, the footprint could expand and it’s important to have a partner that is quick to react and agile in respect to their carrier partners as well.”

So, when deciding on what makes the most sense for your business, consider partners that not only provide solutions but are agile and customizable based on specific business goals.


As the GlobalTranz Senior Vice President of Sales and Solutions, Ross Spanier leads the enterprise sales organization as well as the design and delivery of innovative and customized supply chain solutions that drive efficiency, cost savings and competitive advantages for current and prospective customers. With more than 15 years of experience in the supply chain and logistics industry, Spanier has developed and grown sales and operations teams specializing in best-in-class service execution of LTL, TL, expedite, supply chain management, projects & heavy haul, white glove and managed transportation service lines. Prior to joining GlobalTranz in 2017, he held sales and operations leadership roles at both C.H. Robinson and Logistics Planning Services (LPS).

KC SmartPort

KC SmartPort Shares Leading Differentiators for its Ecommerce Surge

Known as the “hub for food logistics” in the Midwest, the Kansas City region boasts a unique approach to economic development. KC SmartPort – a nonprofit economic development organization – focuses on attracting freight-based businesses to the region through its streamlined efforts in workforce development, real estate opportunities, and thriving logistics-focused operations. The Kansas City region recently reported substantial growth in ecommerce and distribution companies establishing operations in the area with these companies planning to invest $1.3 billion and aiming for the creation of seven thousand jobs. KC SmartPort president Chris Gutierrez and his team attended the Dallas RILA/LINK 2020 conference as exhibitors and shared the latest and greatest developments emerging in the Kansas City region.

“With online sales increasing every year, companies have really been focusing on their omnichannel strategy. The Kansas City region is centrally located and offers a robust transportation infrastructure from road, air, rail and water, ultimately supporting the ability for businesses to reach 88-90 percent of the population in about two days. This really lends itself as a successful strategy around ecommerce,” said Chris Gutierrez, president of KC SmartPort.

“Since 2012, we’ve had over 40 million square feet of industrial buildings built primarily on spec because the ecommerce companies will go through a peak season and if they hit their numbers, they need to be in the next building within a certain time frame to hit next year’s peak. If they don’t have a building to move into, then the opportunity is lost. That’s something our region has been very successful in supporting,” he added.

Among big-name ecommerce and distribution companies that made the move to the Kansas City region in 2019 include Wal-Mart, Hostess, Amazon, CVS Pharmacy,, Tool Source Warehouse, and more. Part of this surge in ecommerce, automotive, and retailers is dually supported by the region’s balancing of business and workforce development efforts.

“What we are doing locally is a three-step process. First, we create an awareness buzz at the elementary and high schools and community colleges around supply chain jobs that serve as career opportunities with great benefits and growth options rather than just filling a position. The second part of local efforts involves public transportation, rideshare, and other mobility solutions to support getting the employee to the job site.”

“The third leg of this approach is encouraging employers to critically think about workplace culture. We take it a step further and educate employers of the importance of the first week during onboarding, eliminating the desire to go to the next company offering a quarter more in pay but offering a potentially more satisfying culture. If the company offers a healthy culture, it makes a huge difference, specifically with non-tangible things that add value to the employee experience.”

These multi-layered efforts not only support the existing workforce and growth in economic development but serve as proactive solutions for future workforce generations in Kansas City. More than 2.3 million people in the region rely on the unique economic development team covering both Kansas and Missouri. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) serves as a bi-state authority covering a broader regional area while addressing large-scale concerns. This partnership serves as a major differentiator in the region for businesses seeking a myriad of options in amenities, incentives, and transportation.


Chris Gutierrez is the President of KC SmartPort, Inc., a KCADC affiliate organization focused on attracting freight based economic development to the greater Kansas City region and providing thought leadership to the supply chain industry in Kansas City. Chris has been active in economic development and logistics for over 30 years. He joined KC SmartPort in 2003.

IMO 2020

IMO 2020 Fuels the Sustainable Transition of the Shipping Sector

The deadline for the much-anticipated IMO 2020 regulation has arrived and with it comes a new set of challenges, potential solutions and newfound awareness of the impact this will have on all players within the shipping sector—from shippers to fuel suppliers. Reports of vessels found to be noncompliant have already shown up in news headlines while fuel alternatives, such as fuel blends, continue to present new degrees of barriers to overcome.

There’s no doubt that the end-goal for IMO 2020 is ultimately beneficial, but attaining its goal of reduced emissions globally will undoubtedly continue to present new varieties of disruptions that industry players and lawmakers around the world must strategically think through. David McCullough, a partner in the Energy & Infrastructure practice group at the New York office of Eversheds Sutherland, discussed with Global Trade the ways the industry is handling compliance so far.

“For shippers, it’s a contractual and compliance issue,” McCullough explains, “meaning reviewing their contractual agreements to charter the vessels to determine what liability is being shifted to them and their contracts to purchase bunker fuel, all while trying to find the appropriate balance of where liability should fall in the event of noncompliance.

“The second aspect is to review their compliance procedures, namely reviewing sampling and testing procedures recommended by the IMO and IMO 2020 itself,” McCullough continued. “It’s also a document retention aspect because under certain charter party agreements, they can be liable for noncompliance in the bunker delivery notes or for general noncompliance.”

McCullough noted that “For the first time ever, bunker fuel tanks are needing to be cleaned and that is largely on the owner and operator of the vessel. The individual shipper may need to coordinate with them to ensure that has happened. Being proactive can mean looking at their vessel owner’s implementation plan and ensuring these have been implemented without issue. The vast majority of companies will comply, but there’s likely a very discreet universe of companies out there that may not comply with the IMO 2020 requirements or have taken minimal steps at this point. Analysts often say these companies represent between 10-20 percent of voyages in the first year of IMO 2020.”

Beyond the issue of noncompliance remains unanswered questions to existing and potential disruptions with the regulation, from contracts and jurisdictions right down to fuel components and the controversial provisions found in the Fuel Oil Non-Availability Report (FONAR). How these issues will be handled in unique and changing circumstances remains unknown and it’s uncertain how the answers will come about and what their impact will be on industry players.

“The FONAR legal standard states that the vessel needs to make best efforts to find compliant fuel but need not deviate from its voyage plan in doing so,” McCullough clarifies. “This is a real open question, specifically for port states, in how liberal they will be with these provisions. We don’t have a definition over this standard yet. Does not deviating from your voyage plan mean shippers don’t have to look for a different berth at the same terminal or a different dock or anchoring point? What about a different terminal within the same port? What about a different port that is nearby?

“Industry players also aren’t sure if they will need to look at the availability of compliant fuel oil or if there’s a need to look at the availability of distillate fuel because presumably, in many ports, there will be ultra-low-Sulphur distillate or low Sulphur distillate fuel available. There is the question if companies will have to be required to put No. 2 ULSD into the bunker fuel tank at an extreme premium or not. This is unlikely, but those questions and how individual countries implement those standards are real implementation questions. If they’re overly lenient in issuing FONARs, it could undercut the market for low-Sulphur fuel.”

McCullough goes on to explain additional associated risks can result in a noncompliant blend, vessel engine performance issues or the fuel and distillates separating, creating added issues in compliance. There’s also the concern of the distillate fuel cleaning the bunker fuel tanks and knocking loose the residue not previously able to be cleaned, according to the law partner.

“Compatibility of fuel blends could remain a challenge for some time—only time will tell if this is a real concern,” McCullough says. “The industry has a new product that is coming on the market meeting the IMO 2020 standard using blends of fuel oil and distillate of varying degrees. This results in different characteristics and components and it’s unknown how a blend created in one jurisdiction reacts with a blend from another. This is still an open question and something that is of significant concern.

“We might start seeing a rebalance in the marketplace as far as contractual provisions go as time goes by, with some counterparties requiring that the new fuels will be compatible with the fuel existing in the tank, or bunker fuel suppliers stating that their fuel is compatible with certain type of blends.” He adds it will be the marketplace that determines that issue.

These unresolved challenges and works in progress arrive as compliance efforts directly impact market investments, specifically in the United States and Singapore. Global companies and competitors that get away with noncompliance from a regulatory or a contractual standpoint ultimately undercut compliant company business models. Because these regions are heavily invested in regulations such as IMO 2020, there lies an expectation for enforcement. Whether these challenges are addressed now or later will be seen in the weeks to come as more shippers are faced with tough decisions if they want to continue operations.


David McCullough is a partner in the Energy & Infrastructure practice group at the New York office of Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP.

He adds to the above:  “Certain countries–such as the United States and Singapore—are well-positioned to comply with the standards in terms of availability of low-Sulphur fuel and active companies in those jurisdictions that have made significant investments in those jurisdictions have really wanted to see robust compliance and enforcement due to the local interests that have made such investments and their concern that noncompliance just undercuts their investments. There’s a number of companies with very significant financial incentives to ensure robust compliance with the standard and as a result, because you have two countries (U.S. and Singapore) with high interest and investment in seeing this law enforced, the industry will very quickly see the rates of compliance increase significantly.”


Sawnwood Market in the Middle East Lost its Growth Momentum

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘Middle East – Sawnwood – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the sawnwood market in the Middle East amounted to $1.7B in 2018, coming down by -4% against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +1.0% over the period from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2014 when the market value increased by 16% year-to-year. In that year, the sawnwood market attained its peak level of $2B. From 2015 to 2018, the growth of the sawnwood market remained at a lower figure.

Consumption By Country in the Middle East

The countries with the highest volumes of sawnwood consumption in 2018 were Saudi Arabia (907K tonnes), Turkey (816K tonnes) and Iran (489K tonnes), with a combined 55% share of total consumption.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of sawnwood consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by Turkey, while sawnwood consumption for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest sawnwood markets in the Middle East were Saudi Arabia ($423M), Turkey ($222M) and the United Arab Emirates ($206M), with a combined 51% share of the total market.

Production in the Middle East

The sawnwood production amounted to 8.3K tonnes in 2018, approximately reflecting the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.9% from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded over the period under review. Turkey (8.2K tonnes) remains the largest sawnwood producing country in the Middle East, comprising approx. 99% of total volume.

Exports in the Middle East

In 2018, the amount of sawnwood exported in the Middle East totaled 106K tonnes, jumping by 24% against the previous year. Overall, sawnwood exports, however, continue to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. In value terms, sawnwood exports stood at $57M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Exports by Country

The United Arab Emirates represented the key exporter of sawnwood exported in the Middle East, with the volume of exports accounting for 69K tonnes, which was approx. 65% of total exports in 2018. It was distantly followed by Turkey (24K tonnes), making up a 23% share of total exports. Oman (4,182 tonnes), Lebanon (3,923 tonnes) and Saudi Arabia (1,838 tonnes) took a little share of total exports.

From 2007 to 2018, average annual rates of growth with regard to sawnwood exports from the United Arab Emirates stood at +3.0%. At the same time, Oman (+42.8%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Oman emerged as the fastest-growing exporter exported in the Middle East, with a CAGR of +42.8% from 2007-2018. By contrast, Saudi Arabia (-1.0%), Turkey (-1.2%) and Lebanon (-13.9%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period.

In value terms, the United Arab Emirates ($36M) remains the largest sawnwood supplier in the Middle East, comprising 64% of total sawnwood exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Turkey ($12M), with a 20% share of total exports. It was followed by Lebanon, with a 5.1% share.

Export Prices by Country

In 2018, the sawnwood export price in the Middle East amounted to $532 per tonne, remaining stable against the previous year. In general, the sawnwood export price continues to indicate a slight contraction.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major exporting countries. In 2018, the country with the highest price was Lebanon ($729 per tonne), while Turkey ($479 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Lebanon, while the other leaders experienced a decline in the export price figures.

Imports in the Middle East

In 2018, the imports of sawnwood in the Middle East stood at 4.1M tonnes, shrinking by -13.2% against the previous year. The total import volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.5% from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded over the period under review. Over the period under review, sawnwood imports reached their maximum at 4.7M tonnes in 2017, and then declined slightly in the following year. In value terms, sawnwood imports stood at $1.7B (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Imports by Country

Saudi Arabia (909K tonnes) and Turkey (832K tonnes) represented the main importers of sawnwood in 2018, recording approx. 22% and 20% of total imports, respectively. The United Arab Emirates (508K tonnes) held the next position in the ranking, followed by Iran (489K tonnes) and Israel (464K tonnes). All these countries together held approx. 35% share of total imports. The following importers – Lebanon (132K tonnes), Kuwait (122K tonnes), Jordan (118K tonnes), Oman (112K tonnes), Yemen (106K tonnes), Qatar (90K tonnes) and Iraq (81K tonnes) – together made up 19% of total imports.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of imports, amongst the main importing countries, was attained by Turkey, while imports for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, Saudi Arabia ($423M), the United Arab Emirates ($247M) and Turkey ($224M) constituted the countries with the highest levels of imports in 2018, together comprising 52% of total imports.

Import Prices by Country

The sawnwood import price in the Middle East stood at $414 per tonne in 2018, increasing by 14% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the sawnwood import price, however, continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was Yemen ($717 per tonne), while Turkey ($269 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Yemen, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform


On Our Radar: How Blackberry Redefined Visibility for the Transportation Sector

Visibility by definition is, “the state of being able to see or be seen.” For transportation professionals, this definition merely scratches the surface of what’s required for streamlining operations while eliminating costs and inefficiencies. Everything is connected in some form or capacity, and the moment one part of the equation is affected, the entire supply chain can suffer or become enhanced. The determining factor between the two ultimately depends on the tools being used to ensure all parts are in motion while maintaining an optimal view of each moving part.

In the modern supply chain ecosystem, disruptions come at a high cost–both in time and money. Industry players require advanced solutions to weather the various storms on the horizon, especially in a world where theft costs seem to only be rising and cybersecurity risks become advanced by the day. Visibility in the modern world no longer entails the “ability to see or be seen” and that’s exactly what BlackBerry’s asset tracking Radar solution aims to redefine and revolutionize.

The Radar dashboard provides a multitude of visibility options for trailers, chassis and containers all through securely stored data on a cloud-based platform. BlackBerry takes pride in leading the industry as a security software and services company with an impressive portfolio of solutions designed with transportation professionals in mind. Launched in 2016, the BlackBerry Radar solution continues to recreate opportunities for growth and maximizing operations impacting every part of the asset tracking process down to maintenance.

“Radar was the brainchild of founder Sandeep Chennakeshu leveraging the legendary BlackBerry patents and engineering talent, and we’ve been able to transform the Radar BlackBerry experience and history into a new, modern solution for the transportation industry,” explains Christopher Plaat, senior vice president and general manager of BlackBerry Radar. “Radar fits into the overall vision of BlackBerry providing end-point security and effectiveness for customers. Built into the basis of BlackBerry Radar is the secure infrastructure and operating system leveraging BlackBerry QNX software to provide additional layers of security in the growing transportation sector. Ensuring technology cannot be hacked is a growing concern for transportation professionals.”

Over the years, BlackBerry has established its position as a leader in legacy engineering offering unique, modern and viable solutions built to last and overcome current and anticipated industry obstacles for the transportation sector. BlackBerry Radar takes asset management and tracking to a new level and industry leaders are noticing. Last year, Radar received recognition from American Trucking Associations as the newest ATA Featured Product Provider, attributing the offering’s real-time data capabilities as one of the hallmark features redefining asset tracking and transportation visibility. More recently, Class 1 railway Canadian Pacific announced the integration of Radar devices on their intermodal chassis fleet–2,000 to be exact.

“CP is constantly looking to evolve, innovate and elevate the experience for our customers,” says Jonathan Wahba, vice president Sales and Marketing, Intermodal and Automotive at Canadian Pacific. “We’re excited about this collaboration with BlackBerry Radar, and the potential benefits this technology will allow us to drive within our network.”

Plaat understands why the industry is reacting so positively to Radar. “Visibility means different things to different people and for Radar, visibility is more than just knowing where your asset is,” he explains. “It also means visibility into utilization and the effectiveness of your operations. We provide visibility in the way of information that is actionable that can help improve asset utilization, reduce costs, improve service for customers.”

Radar takes what customers were previously blind to and presents it along with a solution to ensure it doesn’t happen again. An example of this is revealing when other companies connect to another chassis and leave while starting to do business with another customer’s assets. This is a prime example of taking visibility beyond what’s available to view and revealing unidentified and hidden challenges. The Radar solution takes a proactive approach rather than preparing for reactive measures.

“We have customers that have seen on the Radar solution that their chassis is going somewhere they do not serve, only to later to find out that another carrier was using their assets to do business,” Plaat notes. “This is wrong but it’s happening. Knowing where your assets are, what they’re doing, and how they’re being utilized is something many companies don’t have visibility into. By deploying asset-management solutions, customers are provided with information they don’t have access to.”

Recall the industry-wide concern surrounding theft and unauthorized use in the industry. BlackBerry customers are building geofences that pair nicely with Radar devices, creating a tandem effort in addressing the issue of theft and ultimately preventing it. It’s a two-part solution that relies heavily on both ends of the solution. Repeated errors are costly and have no place in operations

“Beyond reporting how long assets sit within geofences, we provide reporting on what’s going on outside of geofences and terminals,” Plaat says. “Our customers receive alerts when their trailer leaves the yard to ensure thieves aren’t pulling their customer’s cargo in their trailer. Our reporting and alerting mechanism are very good at preventing theft.”

The reporting abilities found with Radar are paramount compared to other solution offerings in that it addresses a multitude of questions all at once. Radar is providing more than basic tracking of asset utilization by reporting the frequency a chassis is moving and when it’s stationary for a selected period through weekly, monthly or annual snapshots. This provides a clearer picture of exactly how productive operations are and how your customers are impacted. Radar also provides a trailer pool management solution addressing too much or too little available equipment, all while providing information on how the end customer’s needs are being addressed.

“This allows the effective balancing of equipment while reducing costs and using current assets,” Plaat says. “It also eliminates the need to buy more and the possibility of coming up short. Radar provides the ability to do mileage-based maintenance for customers with time-based chassis. Accurate mileage reporting found within Radar enables the customer to channel maintenance dollars where they are needed. Customers can allocate costs more effectively through identifying high-use equipment versus low-utilization equipment.”

The Radar solution differentiates itself beyond its asset management offerings. The solution offers a one-of-a-kind level of durability not typically found in transportation solutions. Radar devices boast a rugged and long-lasting hardware reputation through a self-contained, high-capacity six-year premium battery life, eight sensor reading capabilities, and the elimination of external wiring.

Additionally, Radar devices provide ease in installation combined with an unmatched and modern software nature. Customers don’t have to worry about delayed operations and can focus efforts on features such as the solution’s timeline tools, visibility tools and graphical user interface. It’s really that simple.

“BlackBerry has standard set of open APIs for customers to integrate Radar data into their TMS system or into their own PRP for providing visibility for customer service or operations or even management,” Plaat explains. “About 50 percent of our customers use the Radar dashboard while the other 50 percent use their own dashboards and reporting tools with Radar data populating those reports and visibility tools. Our software is easy to understand and provides great utilization at the customer’s fingertips that helps improve performance immediately upon deploying our solution. Those major differences–the durability, the ease of implementation and use are really what make Radar stand out.”

Radar does not forget about key pieces of the transportation puzzle, including drivers. In fact, it has specific features designed with drivers in mind, directly affecting the amount of time spent on locating assets. For trucking companies, locating assets quickly is essential in maintaining efficiencies. Unfortunately, this is an issue still very much present within the sector due to outdated pieces of information. With Radar devices, real-time updates for drivers are a major advantage that address existing problems in time management. The goal is to give back the time previously lost and with Radar, this is easily accomplished.

“Radar has a unique capability that sends a link to a driver that launches navigation to route a driver to the exact location of a chassis or trailer,” Plaat says. “This eliminates the issue of inaccurate or outdated data which in turn maximizes time efficiencies. A driver can save up to 30 minutes per day, per driver in their hours of service, which is valuable to all players in the supply chain.”

Whether it’s dwell times or the number of turns drivers are taking, Radar is equipped with the technology necessary to provide a clear picture of exactly what’s going on and identifying an opportunity for increasing average turns and ultimately, revenue. These features support the notion that asset tracking is more than basic visibility and requires a sophisticated and user-friendly approach that is not only secure but revolutionary technology solutions.

“Knowing how long an asset is sitting in a geofence and getting reports of average dwell times within an intermodal terminal or shipping facility–whether that’s a weekly or monthly basis–can provide good information for conversations with your customers and suppliers,” Plaat adds. “It opens the conversation of ‘how long is my container sitting before I can utilize it for other customers?’ which is very important for improving the utilization of one’s assets. Having this information can be highly valuable for operations and increase revenue.”

BlackBerry’s Radar solution shows no signs of slowing down fleet management and optimization in transportation for 2020. It’s clear this solution has set the bar higher and continues redefining the real transparent, real-time visibility for intermodal asset tracking. Through actionable visibility, BlackBerry Radar aims to impact every moving part of the supply chain and reinforce the role of advanced technology while improving service for customers and reducing costs.


Christopher Plaat is senior vice president and general manager of BlackBerry Radar. He has more than 25 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry. With a focus on advanced technology solutions that help companies improve operational efficiencies, manage compliance and reduce costs, Plaat spent more than 18 years in strategic technology sales and leadership roles for Fortune 500 companies, including Qualcomm and Lockheed Martin. He previously led sales and operations units for organizations including Overnite Transportation Co. and Emery Worldwide. Prior to joining BlackBerry, Plaat was vice president of Strategic Account Sales at Omnitracs. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics from Point Loma College in San Diego.