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SCHOOLS, STUDENTS & SUPPLY CHAINS SCRAMBLE TO MEET INDUSTRY DEMAND

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SCHOOLS, STUDENTS & SUPPLY CHAINS SCRAMBLE TO MEET INDUSTRY DEMAND

While the internet has been exceptional in a multitude of ways, its ability to deliver information, services and products easily and quickly is by far its notable, competitive advantage. Information is digital, while services and products especially remain physical. And this is where supply chain management intersects, taking the “old” way of managing chains and super-sizing it based on the needs of a digitally, interconnected world.

Robots can and continue to contribute to supply-chain management. But the brains behind the chain are still flesh and blood. Satisfying customer expectations in 2019 demands perhaps the most agile chains in human history, so companies need good people, and students need good training. 

Student enrollment in supply chain programs has exploded. Gartner research found that from 2014 to 2016, enrollment ballooned by 43 percent. In raw numbers this is a jump from 8,500 students to 12,200. 

Take the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) as an example. The state’s largest university holds two student job fairs every year. Student job fairs are typical across universities. What’s not typical, however, is the UTK supply chain program holds its own fairs. Roughly 1,000 students arrive to these fairs to be ultimately placed in touch with between 160 and 180 Fortune 500 companies for internships, full-time jobs as well as co-op programs. An innovative supply chain forum features in-depth panel discussions and speed networking events for both companies and students alike.

Still Not Enough

There are currently 150-plus schools (U.S. only) that offer bachelor or associate degrees in supply-chain management. Yet, despite this future supply chain churn, a study by DHL in 2017 revealed jobs in the larger supply chain sector are outpacing supply by a shocking 6:1. The good news here is if you have a supply chain degree, the world is your oyster. But if you’re an employer seeking fresh, new graduates, they won’t simply fall into your lap. 

Recognizing this, companies have been engaged in more than simply getting the good word out at recruiting fairs. Abe Eshkenazi is CEO at the Association for Supply Chain Management (APICS). One of the (if not the) leader in supply chain certification programs, APICS serves an invaluable role for companies seeking supply chain management talent as well as those needing to ramp up the skills of current employees. Known for their ability to develop talent and work collaboratively with supply chain stakeholders of every kind, Eshkenazi is understandably bullish, despite this supply gap. 

Perhaps the biggest barrier to inculcating supply chain management as a profession in a teenager’s mind is it does not neatly fall into science, the arts, technology or math. Eshkenazi is a vocal supporter of getting supply chain management concepts integrated early and often in school STEM programs. Via basic, age-old exercises like the typical lemonade stand, kids learn supply chain fundamentals: calculating the amount of lemons needed, finding providers, getting the lemons back to the stand and so on. These are things we all engaged in but never knew how to neatly define the process. Yet this is supply chain management at its most basic level, through and through. 

Competition Attracts Everyone

Even the most uncompetitive among us are still drawn, to some extent, to competition. The opportunity to win something or be recognized for a job well-done is a satisfactory feeling. One way companies are attracting fresh talent to universities (to in turn groom them) is through old-fashioned, friendly competition. 

The previously mentioned APICS partnered with Deloitte to develop the ASCM Case Competition. A supply chain management problem is presented, and teams then coalesce to brainstorm, test, fail and ultimately provide solutions. The trial-by-error nature of this case competition gives participants unique insight not only into learning through mistakes but recognizing common mistakes and patterns that will likely arise in the real world. Cases involve everything from logistics to sales, operations planning to distribution, as well as inventory and similar management problems. 

The competition started as a fun idea and has evolved into a flagship event that involves students and universities across North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. A sampling of the universities that have gone through the ASCM Case Competition speak to its global reach–Duke University, University of Pretoria, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Rhode Island College, American University of Sharjah, Western Michigan University and so on. The finalists from last year were from the U.S., Mexico, Germany, India, Hong Kong and Canada.

Scholarships Never Hurt     

While competition is nice, a scholarship is arguably better received. To attract bright minds into the food side of supply chain management, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation provides scholarships to roughly 50 students per year. The Institute for Supply Management posts scholarship opportunities year-round, and it is not unheard of to see awards exceeding $10,000 per student. 

The Zaragoza Logistics Center (ZLC) is one such university, a research and educational institute forged via a partnership between MIT and the University of Zaragoza. Their full-time Master of Engineering in Logistics and Supply Chain Management is a 10-month program (nine months at the ZLC campus and three weeks at MIT) that prepares graduates to work at a global level in the larger supply chain management field. An extensive amount of scholarships is available, and if 10 months is too big a time commitment, a blended Master of Engineering in Logistics and Supply Chain Management is offered with a mix of online courses plus three weeks at MIT and four months at the ZLC campus. 

The challenges of recruiting well-trained, recent graduates will likely be an issue for some time. What the larger sector needs to do is make supply chain management an attractive offer, and for this generation of young people a nice salary isn’t going to cut it. More coverage via events from UKT and stimulating competitions get folks in the door. Evolving in this direction is where the industry should move. Only time will tell if this ends up occurring.  

3PL

IN-HOUSE VS. 3PL: WHAT TO CONSIDER

Otherwise known as a third-party logistics provider, a 3PL is utilized by a range of businesses to support logistics and supply-chain management specifically as it applies to distribution and fulfillment services. Pre-1970s transportation contracts were comprised of the shipper (the giant retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers) and the shipping carrier. This all changed however with the introduction of an increased number of “sellers” to the market. These sellers didn’t count on logistics as part of their core competencies, and that produced what economists refer to as a “gap” (in the market). The 3PL jumped in to occupy said gap and the rest is history.

Major legislation passed in 2008 legally held 3PLs as responsible for the inventory they receive/hold/transport as the actual owner said inventory. Roughly 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies and nearly all (96 percent to be exact) of Fortune 100 companies use 3PLs today. 

Despite the high uptake of 3PLs, like most industries there are detractors when it comes to outsourcing order fulfillment. Some of the pros listed for keeping things in-house are:

-You understand your business at a level no third party could.

-Issues are easier to resolve.

-Change and/or minute-by-minute adjustments are more flexible and manageable.

Along the same lines, there are experiences with 3PLs that have left sour tastes because:

-Once a relationship is established and a contract signed with a 3PL, it can be difficult to exit.

-Relinquished control can be complex when it comes to deliveries and client relations.

-It can be difficult to communicate with external drivers/shippers or similar transport personnel in the field.

Of the above, the last point, communication with field personnel, is the principal sticking point. If order fulfillment is linked closely with 3PL transportation personnel, which in most cases it is, having a clear understanding of supervisory roles and what to do in the event of delays or poor communication is vital. Notwithstanding for the most part, the pros to working with a 3PL in a smart and effective manner far outweigh the cons.

For example, concentrating order fulfillment and similar tasks in-house takes up a tremendous amount of resources, which equates to more work and a larger staff. Many relationships, with the carriers most notably, are characterized by a disproportionate number of problems due to the complexity of the job, and it is also equally difficult to know if the rates one is paying in-house are truly competitive with what a 3PL can provide.

A 3PL can compare and select the most competitive rates due to a very wide supply of carriers. They, of course, have lower overhead costs and less staff overall is needed. Then there is perhaps the most compelling argument in 2019 for a 3PL relationship: the latest technology is always up-to-date.

With regards to order fulfillment, a 3PL provides an array of functions, but two areas stand out:

Warehousing

Many 3PLs maintain extensive warehousing facilities and especially when confronting the decision to invest and open a warehouse in a foreign company, a 3PL might make better sense. Granted, one does lose a bit of control not being able to oversee warehouse management processes, but it is likely that a 3PL with warehouse management experience in said foreign country would encounter fewer costly surprises than a new company in a given territory.

At a warehouse level most 3PLs run a warehouse management system (WMS). There is no “one size fits all” solution here as a WMS can be highly complex or as simplistic per firm needs. The value added with a WMS is shippers can access reports, track inventory and easily monitor progress. This is done remotely, of course, and most 3PLs that have an advanced WMS can seamlessly integrate it with enterprise accounting software or enterprise resource planning solutions.

Picking, Packing & Shipping

Once an order is placed or something needs to be retrieved or moved, picking, packing and shipping take place. This is where coordination meets timing meets client expectations. A wrong move will cost money and potentially a client’s contract. One of the more common mistakes that occur when trying to run a warehouse (in-house as opposed to using a 3PL) is if packing and shipping procedures are not clearly understood and/or if the company has little experience in this area, generating the appropriate labeling and being able to negotiate favorable rates with carriers such as UPS, USPS and DHL cannot be leveraged. An experienced 3PL in this instance is an invaluable resource to count on.   

Prior to transitioning into “things to consider” before choosing a 3PL, perhaps the best argument for their existence is technology related. A tech-enabled 3PL leverages the latest fulfillment software to streamline the flow of information, which saves time and automates nearly everything along the supply chain. Second, being able to split inventory across fulfillment centers via software integration and advanced analytics drives effective chains and reduces errors over the long term. No one firm can be an expert in everything and successful 3PLs invest in technology knowing that their clients simply do not have the time nor resources to do the same. They are rightly betting the 3PL will do that for them.

Things to Consider

Prior to embarking on a relationship with a 3PL in the order fulfillment arena, there are several issues that should be addressed:

-Can the 3PL commit to ongoing and irregular investments that will always be needed to keep up with augmenting capacity?

-Is it beneficial to commit to these investments on an ongoing basis?

-With seasonal drops or sales spikes, unplanned expenses generally come together: A good 3PL provider can manage these market fluctuations and protect businesses accordingly.

-Regarding handling, the amount of time spent handling special packing materials can be onerous: a 3PL provider can maintain consistency and decrease costs.

Specific Questions for the 3PL Provider

-How do you administer your accounts?

-Will I have access to your reporting data?

-Does the firm count on personnel with regulatory experience?

These issue areas and questions will help in the initial vetting process. Regardless of whether the firm chooses to stay in-house or contract a 3PL for order fulfillment duties, knowing what the other scenario that has not been selected will cost and look like is vital to any intelligent decision.

Top 5 Leading Global Banks

A cursory search of “top global banks” will yield a list, typically according to size and assets, of a familiar set of names. While many of these same names are mentioned in this piece, understanding why a bank is considered a top global bank is much more nuanced than how big they are or how much they’ve netted.

Leading global banks are recognized as leading by their peers because they perform exceptionally well in one of more categories. No bank has a monopoly over leading performance in investments, digital services, sustainable finance or diversity and inclusion. It’s hard to the be the top dog in everything. Therefore, we’ve selected the leaders in each of the previously mentioned, timely categories, as these are the categories that are most relevant in 2019 and these are the banks that are setting trends and leading by example.

Investments

To begin, investments is a tough category to rank, but experts widely agree that Citi is the best investment bank in the world. While Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are highly regarded, when it comes to exceptional performance across regions (North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia), Citi rises to the top.

From an institutional client (ICG) perspective, the breadth and scale of Citi’s wholesale banking operations is best-in-class. The ICG unit is divided into a banking division on one end and a markets and a securities group on the other. Revenues in the $35 billion range were registered in 2017, which is 7 percent higher than the previous year. Morgan Stanley reported $37.5 billion and Goldman Sachs, a handful below, but Citi really shines when it comes to personalizing its business per region rather than providing a one-size-fits-all solution to clients across regions.

Digital Services

Bank of America and HSBC are high-flyers in this category, no doubt. But they are not flying as high at the moment as DBS. Mobile banking at the Singapore bank  is leading the pack, and the bank made a concerted effort to get to this point. They started at the premise (with corroborating data) that a digital customer brings in twice the income. Stunning in a way, and couple that with (digital customer) higher loan and deposit balances, it is no wonder DBS chose to de-invest in brick and mortar strategies and throw their cards into the digital ring.

Since 2017, Bank of America has also been moving in line with DBS and notably integrated its now widely used peer-to-peer payment feature, Zelle, which allows users to send and receive payments at astronomically low prices. They also launched 8,500+ contactless ATMs, where card holders can engage in transactions using mobile wallet options (Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, etc.). HSBC has not been far behind, capitalizing on their highly popular virtual assistant, “Ask Amy.” A chatbot, Amy is able to provide timely information 24/7, on nearly any inquiry. An embedded customer feedback mechanism allows for the bot to keep learning and enriching her knowledge, which grows by the day.

With this said, DBS is still ahead of its competitors, with a market cap that was up 44 percent for 2017, and the bank is now considered more “tech” than a traditional banking sector investment. That’s a real sign of success!

Sustainable Finance

A new category (over the past decade), sustainable finance, as defined by Frankfurt Main Finance, “integrates environmental, social or governance criteria into financial services.” Under a responsible sustainable finance model, capital expenditure and investment decisions take the previously mentioned criteria in mind before acting. Last year, the lauded finance publication, Euromoney, awarded BNP Paribas with the “World’s Best Bank for Sustainable Finance” award, besting more than 1,500 contenders and being decided upon after nearly 100 interviews with leading bank CEOs worldwide.

A handful of years ago, BNP Paribas CEO, Jean-Laurent Bonnafe aligned the bank’s strategies with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Roughly 135 billion euros have been devoted to energy transition and reaching said goals, and BNP Paribas is now part of the “Breakthrough Energy Coalition” that lends its support to the active promotion and advancement of clean-energy solutions.

Another notable global bank player in this sphere is Nordea, a Nordic financial services group based out of Helsinki, Finland. With total equity of approximately 32.4 billion euros, the bank has capitalized on its multi-cultural history (formed via mergers and acquisitions of Finish, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish banks) to now compete head-to-head on sustainability issues with the likes of BNP Paribas. Strong performance results generated from clean financing activities (green bonds, green loans, etc.) have propelled Nordea to now begin to offer green mortgages.   

Diversity and Inclusion

Brian Moynihan has been rightly lauded as an exceptional CEO, but his work with diversity (which began 10 years ago when he became chair of the Bank of America Global Diversity & Inclusion Council) is where many feel he really made his mark. The company’s diversity numbers are on an upward trajectory where roughly 40 percent of the global management team and 30 percent of board directors are women. At a workforce level, there are more women now than men working at the bank. 

A key issue with Bank of America executives was retaining women during motherhood, and the London office most notably includes a maternity room that new mothers can access while on the job. Small changes like this transform the bank from talking inclusion to “doing” inclusion.

In Mexico, Scotiabank has been recognized by its peers as adopting one of the most progressive LGBT laws in the world. The bank services and employs a disproportionate number of LGBT customers and employees and is re-writing employment law from a policy and internal procedure perspective.

It is exceptional to witness the growth in these areas, digital banking and diversity and inclusion especially. Watch for global banking leaders to continue to emerge from unlikely places and for the industry to become much more diversified. This will be a win-win for customers worldwide.      

WHAT IT TAKES TO BE OR WORK WITH A 3PL THAT HANDLES PERISHABLE FREIGHT

In a world that is becoming more globalized by the second, the literal array of products being shipped in 2019 is extremely diverse. One diverse segment is the perishables industry, which distributes goods that naturally deteriorate due to time or environmental conditions. This is an understandably complex segment, requiring a logistical savviness and excellent partners to ensure products arrive in time and, most important, fresh and intact.

Meats and meat by-products, dairy, fish and seafood, chemicals, flowers and pharmaceutical products make up the perishable goods segment. According to Technavio, a leading market research firm, the sector is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of nearly 8 percent (2017-2021). A revealing report published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2000 astutely signaled this growth, arguing that the advances in transportation technology would significantly ease perishable freight trade via the reduction of shipping costs and streamlined delivery times.

A Valuable Partner

Transporting perishable freight is a multiple, moving parts effort. As such, third party logistics (3PL) providers play a vital role. Outsourcing to 3PLs allows shippers to not only hang onto their capital for reinvestment in their own, core operations, but they can additionally take advantage of 3PL technology which is generally ahead of the curve.

A good 3PL will provide access to economies of scale, enable superior elasticity in areas such as route planning (to lessen unnecessary “hand-offs”), provide access to cutting-edge temperature tracking technology and enable the use of shared, cold storage warehouses with the shipper. The latter alone offers tremendous cost savings.

Choosing the Right 3PL

Food Logistics holds annual awards, prominently recognizing the top 3PL and cold-storage providers. Jumping into a 3PL partnership should not be taken lightly. While the agencies in the Food Logistics awards list are clearly leaders in the industry, fully vetting potential partners is highly suggested, with these five areas are an excellent place to start.    

1. Proven Success – To the detriment of the “start-up” 3PLs, entrusting your perishable freight in the hands of relative novices is not the best idea. Go with a winner that can provide excellent client feedback.

2. Robust Technology – This is an area where your 3PL should be much farther ahead of the technological curve than the shipper. Good 3PLs are agile enough to have resources on-hand to stay on top of the very technology that will cut costs and increase efficiency times.  

3. Scalability – Once a 3PL is in place, the shipper is entering a shared-space environment. This is the natural advantage of outsourcing, so ensuring the 3PL can scale in a parallel manner with the shipper will facilitate economies of scale.

4. Location Networks – A seasoned, successful 3PL will take a more nuanced, strategic approach to network configuration, ensuring the shipper can count on the right distribution center locations.

5. Commitment to Improvement – While last, this is a key point because every 3PL will be faced with pressure to continuously evolve and improve. During initial conversations, addressing what these challenges have been and how the 3PL addressed them in the past will reveal much about the firm. 

3PL Key Issues

As a 3PL charged with perishable freight, the issues are frankly numerous. On the trucking side, it is not machine nor technology-based–it’s humans. Driver shortages are a major concern, with Bloomberg reporting earlier this year that the shortfall has leaped to 296,311 as of the second quarter of 2018. The root of the issue goes back to 2004, when federal law mandated stricter oversight of hours worked per day. Cuts were made, which meant more drivers were needed due to the current crop having to work less. Couple this with the aging trucker population and shortages have been rampant ever since.   

A strong economy has been another issue that partly explains the trucker shortage. Manufacturing and construction have had an easier time finding new entrants into those sectors than has trucking. The former sectors are tapping into the same general population as the latter, and weeks on the road, away from families, is not as attractive as working at a given site and returning home every evening.

To combat this, 3PLs need to provide better services and remain highly efficient. Transportation is still the weakest link in supervising what’s known as the “cold chain.” Low-cost providers can enter easily, which results in a host of marginal players making it hard for suppliers to weed out the true high performers.

On the sustainability side, shippers are increasingly seeking 3PLs with the smallest carbon footprint possible. Packaging and warehousing are well-known polluters, which has put pressure on 3PLs to generate as few pollutants possible. Utilizing eco-friendly electric vehicles to adopting “green storage and packaging” processes, logistics innovation and alternative fuel implementation are major issues larger and savvier suppliers are seeking. 

As with any industry, challenges are ever-present, but the 3PL sector is revolutionizing how we consume and enjoy perishable items on a global scale. Thanks to these nimble entities, hundreds of millions of people have regular access to affordable products in ideal states, something our grandparents and many of our parents could not have said. 

OUR TOP TEN LIST: THESE SHIPPING COMPANIES CONTROL NEARLY 75% OF THE MARKET

Container shipping continues to be a major means of cargo transportation in 2019. While there does not exist an outright monopoly by any one shipping company, there are presently 10 that control nearly 75 percent of the market, and of those 10, four that maintain over 10 percent of market share.  

APM-Maersk

With 80,000-plus employees and coming off a major reshuffle, APM-Maersk survived one of the biggest layoffs in company history roughly four years ago. A concerted effort has been made since that time to ramp up digitization and optimization changes, with the past two years especially seeing some radical changes. Søren Skou moved into a dual role as CEO of Maersk and CEO of the core Maersk business line, which are two separate entities. APM-Maersk leads the pack with a 4,058,154 shipping capacity (TEU), a 17.8 percent share of the market and sole operation of 316 ships, clearly surpassing No. 2 on the list, Mediterranean Shg Co’s 193.

Mediterranean Shg Co

The world’s second largest line, this Geneva-based company counts on Italian roots with its most important port being housed in Antwerp, Belgium. Also known as MSC, the company made news earlier this year when 291 containers plunged overboard near Borkum, a German island. Worse yet, some containers were hauling poisonous organic peroxides and ended up washing up on to Terschelling, a protected Dutch island in the UNESCO biosphere reserve. Counting on a global presence, MSC is likely not to catch APM-Maersk anytime soon but does have a respectable shipping capacity of 3,303,848 TEU.

COSCO Group

The China Ocean Shipping Group Co., commonly known as COSCO, is a state-owned concern widely considered the third largest in the world. Handling a shipping capacity of 2,782,485 TEU, COSCO commands a 12.2 percent market share, and earlier this year the Chinese firm purchased a Peruvian port, its first in South America. The $225 million deal is a strategic play to increase their share in the emerging Latin American market. But COSCO is not solely focused on Latin America as they’ve also been actively purchasing ports in Greece, the Netherlands and various Abu Dhabi terminals throughout the UAE.

CMA CGM Group

Despite global uncertainty and with U.S./China talks escalating to worrying levels, CMA CGM reported their 2018 revenues jumped more than 11 percent and 14.9 percent in the fourth quarter alone. This equated to a record $23.48 billion in revenue which is a record for the French container transportation and shipping company. However, CMA CGM is not resting on its laurels as a $1.2 billion cost-reduction plan is afoot due to geopolitical tensions. On the other end, investments in LNG-enabled vessels have been made to follow the eventual Martine Organization’s rules on emissions, set to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.  

Hapag-Lloyd

The world’s fifth largest shipping company with a 7.3 percent market share, Hapag-Lloyd has decided to lay low regarding the recent trend of logistics company acquisitions (something increasingly common with the leading players on this list). While most the industry is consolidating, Hapag-Lloyd has made a concerted effort to boost on-time delivery rates. Digitalization lies at the core of this strategy and Hapag-Lloyd has gone full-in to equip their control towers with the latest connections by leveraging disparate data streams in a variety and multiple formats.  

ONE (Ocean Network Express)

If there’s one record that the shipping industry respects, it’s the amount of cargo stowed. More cargo stored equates to a higher marginal return. ONE did just that in February, narrowly edging the previous record set by Maersk (19,038 TEU) in August of 2018. The Japanese company successfully carried 19,100 TEU on the MOL Tribute, a vessel with a total capacity of 20,146 TEU. In fact, prior to this record the MOL Trust and MOL Tradition also recorded record stows. ONE operates in conjunction with Hapag-Lloyd and Yang Marine Transport Corp., forming what is known as The Alliance. ONE controls 6.6 percent market share and has been climbing up the ranks as of late.

Evergreen Line

Evergreen Line is not a line at all, but rather a group composed of Evergreen Marine Corp., Italia Marittima SpA, Evergreen Marine Ltd. and Evergreen Marin (Hong Kong) Ltd. Established in 2007 in response to growing demand for a more global presence on behalf of all four founding members, in 2009 Evergreen Marine (Singapore) Pte Ltd. jumped on board, which now gives the group a 5.2 percent share of the market and a shipping capacity of 1,185,257 TEU. In February, the company welcomed in a new president, Jeffrey Chang, who is rumored to be an out-of-the-box thinker with radical, yet proven ideas. 

Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.

Based out of Keelung, Taiwan, despite a rather recent founding (1972) this group traces its roots back to the Qing Dynasty with shipping links associated with the China Merchants Steam Navigation Co., which later became Yang Ming via a merger. With a fleet of 84 container ships and 17 bulk carriers, Yang Ming controls roughly 2.9 percent of the shipping market with a shipping capacity of 653,996 TEU. Recently, Yang Ming announced the launch of two more 14,000 TEU box-ships alongside plans to deploy 10, 2,800 TEU container vessels coupled with 14 chartered-in 11,000 TEU containerships, all by 2020-22.

Hyundai M.M.

When Maersk CEO Søren Skou called for an end to shipping company government subsidies, many carriers, namely Cosco Shipping (Chinese state-run) and Hyundai M.M. remained hush-hush. China and South Korea are keen on maintaining a competitive advantage over the likes of Maersk and Mediterranean Shg. They are right there, but to keep the momentum many advocates of financial benefits and subsidies in China and South Korea see these as mandatory measures to keep the competition lively. Hyundai M.M. joined the G6, the world’s largest shipping alliance, and now counts on 1.9 percent of the market. Not a lot, but still in the Top 10 and climbing. South Korea as a nation wants to see that percentage grow.

PIL (Pacific Int. Line)

Rounding out the Top 10 is PIL, a Singapore-based company founded by Chang Yun Chung, a Chinese entrepreneur worth approximately $2.2 billion. When Chung first made a splash, it was back in 1967 with PIL commandeering just two, second-hand ships. Counting on more than 150 vessels currently, Chang handed over power to his son, Teo Siong Seng, last year. In 2017, PIL entered into a historic partnership with COSCO, which will enable both to share vessels during peak demand throughout the year. PIL hopes this will provide some leverage to move up the ranks into the No. 5 position by 2030.

An ever-evolving list, these maritime companies are responsible for the bulk of delivery over sea. It is nice to see the variety (nationalities) and cooperation between all ten.   

THE FABULOUS 5: TOUCHING DOWN AT AMERICA’S TOP CARGO AIRPORTS

The U.S. air cargo market has been increasing at a steady clip. The economy has officially rebounded and in 2017 alone roughly 61.5 million tons of freight moved via airlines worldwide. Cargo airlines enjoyed healthy revenues of $95.9 billion, and there are a handful of American cargo airports that surged into 2019 as a result. 

Memphis International Airport (MEM)

The leader of the pack, MEM is No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 2 globally. Hong Kong is the worldwide leader with Shanghai-Pudong following at No. 3.

At MEM, FedEx is a massive player and responsible in a large degree for Memphis’ substantial activity. The global delivery company accounts for roughly 99 percent of cargo that passes through Memphis every day. In fact, MEM registers 450-plus arrivals and departures daily.

FedEx maintains 40.9 million square feet of space (under lease) at MEM, and the sheer volume that FedEx moves allows the airport to maintain competitively low landing fees. This is the goal of every airport and MEM is gaining on the big boys globally as a result.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (TSAIA)

Three Air Cargo Excellence (ACE) Awards went to TSAIA, the No. 2 in U.S. cargo volume. Alaska is a bit of an outlier, figuratively and literally, but unbeknownst to the larger public, most big cargo airlines stop off at Ted Stevens to refuel as it is nearly halfway between Beijing and New York. There are planes that can fly non-stop from China to anywhere in the U.S., but they typically possess less cargo. If one prioritizes cargo over time, then greater cargo space planes equate to increased revenues as more refueling is necessary.

Ted Stevens’ spokespeople are famous for pointing out that the airport is less than 10 hours from 90 percent of the modern, industrialized world. Growth rates for air freight have skyrocketed over the past handful of years. In 2014, airlines transported an impressive 40 million metric tons of goods. However, that was less than 1 percent of world trade (measured by volume). Today, air freight is more than double that of shipping.

Ted Stevens comes in fourth in the world, and their ground handlers can nimbly turn a cargo plane around in less than two hours. The airport is named is after the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a master tactician who was able to funnel a tremendous amount of federal funding to Anchorage, which aided in the construction and maintenance of runways and the city at large. Roughly one in every 10 jobs in Anchorage is directly or indirectly (third-party providers, etc.) related to the airport.

Louisville International Airport

As with MEM and FedEx, when one thinks of Louisville International Airport, UPS springs to mind. United Parcel Service counts on a 5.2 million-square-foot processing facility that can sort a whopping 416,000-plus packages an hour. UPS maintains 12 sorting hubs and Louisville is by far the largest. With a 7.2-mile perimeter, the size of the runways dwarfs the passenger terminal.

But why Louisville of all places, you ask? First, the city has good weather and is only 2.5 hours from approximately 75 percent of the U.S. population. Zappos has set up shop nearby and Sprint and Nikon also use UPS for nearly all their shipping.

UPS’s Worldport is the largest, automated package handling facility worldwide. An impressive 300 flights arrive and depart daily, with December being the peak holiday shipping season.   

O’Hare International Airport (Chicago)

On the heels of completing the second phase of a brand new cargo facility, don’t be surprised to see O’Hare jump a couple spots next year. In 2017, their cargo volumes were up by 15 percent, which makes yet another record year for freight arrivals and departures.

Financed by a $160 million investment from Aeroterm and roughly $62 million from the airport, the Phase II building measures a whopping 240,000 square feet. Once all phases are complete, 800,000 square feet will be available, which means up to 15 widebody aircraft will have the ability to unload at any time at O’Hare.

Trade with Asian countries is growing annually, with China being the top destination. Unsurprisingly, DHL also counts on a strong presence at O’Hare, namely a 54,000-square-foot gateway that cost $10 million to develop.   

Miami International Airport (MIA)

MIA got off to a hot start last year, registering 4 percent growth in freight tonnage over the first three months. In fact, by the end of the year, MIA witnessed an increase of cargo volumes by 60,000 tons thanks to three new carriers. But perhaps most exciting for the fifth largest cargo airport in the States is their new partnership with Amazon Air.

A twice-daily freighter service was announced by Amazon Air last October, which made perfect sense being that the largest retailer on the planet already occupies four warehouses in Miami-Dade County alone.

MIA was up 17.25 percent in domestic cargo tonnage and 1.78 percent in international cargo tonnage in 2018. Demand from Latin America e-commerce is expected to be red hot, which should equate to potential record profits for MIA.     

While the major U.S. airport players in air cargo are clear, nipping at their heels are the likes of Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky and John F. Kennedy (New York). The economy is humming, which means all these cargo hotspots are well into a busy 2019. Happy shipping!

LOUNGES ARE IN THE CARDS: BEST AIRPORT BUSINESS CLUBS (AND ASSOCIATED CREDIT CARDS)

Business takes us to people and places that were previously unimaginable. Perhaps some were imaginable–trips to London, New York, Tokyo or Berlin. But Dubai, Sydney, Kuala Lumper or Lima? As a business traveler, the world is your client and airports do a fabulous job not only facilitating your comings and goings, but also offering premier options to relax, eat, work or a combination of all three.

Airport business lounges have rapidly evolved over the years. Initially offering simply a seat with an internet connection and perhaps a glass of wine and shrimp cocktail, lounges are now mini-hotels, replete with executive chefs, showers and buffets with more options than you could possibly desire and unparalleled ambiance.

Gaining access to an airport lounge can come in a variety of ways. If you are traveling in business or first class, you will typically receive free access to most lounges. If you’re in economy, you will likely need to pay. Either way, the plethora of lounges these days is extensive, but we’re going to dive into some of the best.

In no particular order, first up is the Plaza Premium Lounge, Terminal 2, at Rio de Janeiro Galeao International Airport. At a very affordable $32.72 per passenger, this lounge ranked an impressive 5 out of 5 from Netflights.com. Private relaxation rooms, showers, an ambiance that is nearly spa-esque but professional enough to get some work done, the Plaza Premium Lounge is a must access when flying through Rio. Made-to-order sandwiches get rave reviews online, as do the chocolate smoothies.

The 1903 Lounge, Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport is an “adults only” lounge, so if you’re towing along your 5-year-old to experience Manchester while you’re at work, you’ll need to pass on this option. At a buffet offering fit for none other than a king, you can expect nothing short of spectacular from the English with 1833 vintage reserve cheddar and real dairy ice cream from Cheshire Farm. The drinks menu will make you dizzy, but in a good way.

Another lounge that will keep the head spinning is Lounge @ B, Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport. For $38.67 a pop, you can plop into a massage chair that rivals a real masseuse and also putting you in a relaxed mood are an array of pastries, Champagne and amazing customer service that rivals any lounge’s on the planet.

Ever had a craving for lamb pie? Or perhaps rice pudding? According to several users on Yelp, the Strata Lounge, International Terminal at Auckland Airport boasts perhaps the best lamb pies and rice pudding on the planet! This is a business lounge, through and through, but the food is where it truly stands out. Sleek, sliding glass doors and a range of New Zealand wine and beers will keep you satiated, but perhaps not in tip-top shape to work on that investor presentation.

While the lounges themselves are fabulous, a post on the best airport business lounges would need be complete without a mention to the credit cards that can gain you access to said lounges.   

The Platinum Card from American Express

Before jumping into the card offers here, we should touch on Centurion Lounges, which can be found worldwide in the most premier, often-traveled airports, including San Francisco, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Houston, Miami, New York, Mumbai, Mexico City, Las Vegas, Dallas and Buenos Aires. Each location features a healthy square footage and an even healthier offerings of food, drink and amenities. In Dallas, for example, spa treatments await as does a menu designed by Dean Fearing, a James Beard Award-winning chef. Need a shower after a long flight? Hit San Francisco, shower to your heart’s content, and then ramble on over to their wine tasting station.

We could keep detailing city by city but the point here is the Platinum Card from American Express gives you access to Centurion Lounges. This card will also gain you access into Delta Sky Clubs if you’re flying that airline.

Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

A bit of a mouthful, this advantageous card from Mastercard brings with it Admirals Club membership coupled with access for immediate family members or two guests traveling with you. Admirals Club is a network of lounges operated by American Airlines. Originally started in 1936 to provide perks to loyal airline passengers, members of the club were referred to as admirals and greeted as such.

While you’ll likely be traveling with other adults while on business, having this membership is an added perk when you find yourself on vacation with the kiddies. The lounge has a great space for kids to unwind and play, which is music to any parent’s ears.

Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express

This card is Delta-specific as the name suggests. You will receive access when flying Delta to its Sky Clubs, but a knock on this card is it previously allowed for complimentary guest access, which is now been rescinded.

As a card holder, you will also receive a free checked bag, 20 percent inflight savings as well as priority boarding. With the business version of this card, you are privy to some interesting perks that make that annual fee much more palatable.

Business lounges are in most major airports and if taken advantage of intelligently, they will allow the savvy traveler to rest up, eat up and even get some work done in between massages. Happy traveling and see you at the lounge!

EXECUTIVE GETAWAYS: CHICAGO

The forgotten gem of the Midwest. For those who have been to or are from Chicago, the Windy City holds a special place in their hearts. Chicagoans take great offense at “fly-over city” being applied to the Second City, which is smack-dab in the heart of America. If you are going there for business, do not fret: The heartland metropolis has a wealth to offer that will leave you wanting more, guaranteed.

Where do most executive getaway articles begin? You guessed it, where to lay your executive head. The Chicago Loop (coupled with the rest of downtown) is the second largest business district in the country. Only Midtown Manhattan tops it in terms of scale. Major corporations such as Chase Bank, Exelon, Aon Corp., United Airlines, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and Sidley Austin and Morton Salt are all headquartered in the Loop. So where will you likely be laying your head? The Loop.

By far one of the best business hotels in the Loop is the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront. Located on the edge of Chicago’s Theatre District, the Wyndham features 357 rooms with all the amenities you could ask for at very reasonable rates despite its first-class status. Another solid choice in the Loop is the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park. Nearly double the size of the Wyndham in terms of rooms (687), this David Rockwell-designed hotel is a stunner aesthetically. If you want to splurge a bit, check out the Fairmont Gold Concierge Level, which includes a private lounge and reception area with sweeping views of Lake Michigan.

If a direct location in the Loop is not a priority and you want to make this business trip one to never forget, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago is your only destination. Located in the swanky Gold Coast neighborhood, and a short distance from the Loop and downtown, the hotel features a top-notch restaurant (Balsan), an indoor lap pool, a world-renowned spa and sleek rooms. There is a plethora of conference space and from an amenities perspective, there is not a single thing missing in this hotel. The Astoria has truly taken business travel to another level with this property.

Now that you’re settled in and presumably exhausted after a long day in meetings, workshops, etc., it’s time to experience that one-of-a-kind Chicago dining that everyone raves about. Narrowing down our suggestions to fit a tight piece such as this is challenging to say the least. With that said, no trip to Chicago is complete without a taste of their infamous deep-dish pizza. New York versus Chicago is in full swing here, and Pequod’s Pizza in Lincoln Park will give any New York pizzeria a serious run for their money. Deep doughy pizza, caramelized crust and an assortment of toppings at Pequod’s might leave you with some calories to burn that next day, but they are entirely worth it.

Taking you from pizza to one of the world’s finest dining establishments, Alinea is the place to take only your most highly regarded colleagues and clients. Oh, and make reservations months ahead of time as this three-Michelin-starred restaurant is always in hot demand. Dishes change based on the season, but the edible balloon and tabletop dessert are present year-round. Another excellent choice for special guests is Maple & Ash. This Gold Coast steakhouse has been churning out creative twists on old, steakhouse classics for years. The wine list is extensive, and you might even see some Chicago celebrities/sports stars as well.

If you’ve got a more casual night, a bit more upscale than pizza, perhaps with a colleague or someone you do not need to wine and dine, go to Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. A bit of a mouthful, but mouths are filled here with south of the border fare in a casual, festive setting. This is the type of place you are angry at when 11 p.m. rolls around and you’re in full swing but need to wake up for your flight at 6 a.m. Great food, fantastic atmosphere.

If you’re lucky, dining will not be the only thing occupying your free time. Perhaps a nightcap will be in order. Chicago is not only a foodie town but a boozy town. You’ll get a real taste of the speakeasy culture at The Violet Hour, a hip cocktail lounge without a sign, but with a line–always. Once inside, the wait is most definitely worth it. The Sportsman’s Club is another Chicago staple, more informal but interesting, especially in the summer when top chefs from around the city flock to the patio to host cookouts. The food is otherworldly, and $20 will fetch you a hefty plate and one drink.

Finally, what’s to see in this city? Most business trips will yield the equivalent of one full day (a couple half days) or two if you’re lucky. A must, must, must for sightseers is the Art Institute of Chicago. A world-class art museum—and literally one of the oldest in the U.S.—it boasts collections ranging from modern to quite ancient. Don’t be surprised when a Gauguin, Manet or Picasso await you. The iconic lion statue outside is also an obligatory spot for a selfie pic.

Our next recommendation is neighborhoods. As generic as it sounds, Chicago neighborhoods are impressive. You’ve got Chinatown, Greek Town, Little Italy and a range in between. Immigrants from everywhere, similar to New York and Los Angeles, came to Chicago in search of a better life. Their culture arrived with them and is on full display in the Windy City.

To wind it up, the aquarium! You can take in the Shedd Aquarium, located on Chicago’s Museum Campus, where a charming backdrop of the lake welcomes visitors to a dazzling display of penguins, whales, sharks, piranhas, stingrays, dolphins … the list is endless. One of the country’s premier aquariums, this is a great option for burning a morning or afternoon before a flight.

We hope this post has been fruitful, and most of all, entertaining for your next business trip to the wonderful, Windy City!

IF DAYS COUNT, HOW ABOUT HOURS? 2019 BANKING INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Last year got off to an energetic start. It’s been a year now and how memories can fade, but economic growth worldwide was intensifying in January, advancing at a steady clip, and then … clunk. China, Japan, the Eurozone economies and the United Kingdom all began to weaken. The U.S. kept it moving but despite its acceleration, world markets continued to contract and pundits are now predicting a slowdown from 3.2 percent growth in 2018 to 3.0 percent in 2019.

With that said, however, the global banking system finds itself in one of its best positions in more than a decade. While recovery from the financial crisis has not been consistent across regions, total assets (per The Banker’s Top 1,000 World Banks Ranking for 2018) ascended to $124 trillion and return on assets (ROE) posted an impressive 0.90 percent. Banks in the U.S. have returned to health much more quickly thanks to forceful policy interventions and prudent regulatory measures. Total U.S. bank assets coming into 2019 hover in the $17.5 trillion range and efficiency ratios are posting new highs.

Within the larger transportation, logistics and supply chain management arena, banks and their ancillary collaborators play a critical role in financing a complex system of moving parts and players. Innovation is critical and for 2019 the banking outlook will be defined in large part by further technological developments and closer collaboration between actors.

Blockchain

We’ve been hearing about blockchain for a while now, but 2019 is poised to be a breakthrough moment for blockchain in the banking sector, with a notable focus on supply-chain management. Close to every major company worldwide runs enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management software. Yet, there are still some antiquated, human elements mixed in which make it difficult for firms to take full advantage of the technology. Global supply chains are giant ecosystems, with hundreds if not thousands or tens of thousands of moving parts, all trying to work together from a financial perspective to either achieve financing, transfer funds or get paid. Efficiency is at an all-time high, which means delivery times have been shortened and are putting pressure on middlemen (banks) to process funding for all transactional entities.

Blockchain has the potential to accelerate payment processing time and reduce transaction costs. According to an Accenture survey, “nine in 10 executives said their bank is currently exploring the use of blockchain.” Instead of relying on a central intermediary that would need to be negotiated with, managed and shared around the world, blockchains synchronize transactions and data across a shared network where everything is transparent and open to those on the network.

This last point is critical, however, as blockchain and distributed ledgers are only as valuable as the shared network they sit upon. Expect more integrated collaboration across countries with not only banks but financial technology companies (FinTechs) to arrive at a backbone in 2019 with which to underpin the system.

FinTech Collaboration

Mentioned earlier, FinTechs have exploded due to the ever-increasing integration of trade across borders. In earlier times, certain FinTechs concentrated their collaboration with individual banks, but 2019 is opening the door to a wider, broader banking ecosystem where FinTechs are developing and bringing to the table innovative technology—such as robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning—to the collective table.

FinTechs make sense for banks as banks desire one thing: the best ROE they can achieve. In 2016, EY reported the largest 200 global banks reported average ROE of 7.1 percent. To get to 12 percent, for example, those same banks would need to increase revenues by roughly 15 percent and reduce their costs by just under 14 percent. FinTechs help banks streamline, drive down costs and enhance customer service. This is going to be front and center in 2019 and for years to come.

At the moment, approximately 12 percent of European supply chain finance programs are managed via FinTech platforms. The statistic in North America is not much different and while this figure perhaps will not double by the end of the year, the cooperation between FinTechs and banks will become much more pronounced.

Artificial Intelligence

Lastly, AI. Hardly confined to the financial sector, AI is revolutionizing how nearly every sector of the economy works. From virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa to chatbots, at an individual level Accenture reports that 37 percent of U.S. consumers by the end of last year will have owned a digital voice assistance device. This has been spilling over into banking in a multitude of ways.

Customer service automation, especially vital across countries, languages and within supply chains, is resolving client issues at a fraction of the price as opposed to a real person. Autonomous predicted that AI could result in $450 billion in financial sector savings by 2030. In a similar vein, machine learning is integrating and analyzing data from multiple databases to arrive at a more holistic, 360-degree view of the customer or firm, which results in highly personalized products and services uniquely tailored per group. Behavioral data, credit and savings products and goals of the organization or person (personal goals) are shared and analyzed accordingly.

While not commonly associated with AI, fraud prevention and overall security will also be big issues for the banking sector moving into 2019. In this regard, AI is proving to be of excellent assistance with its unique ability to run through hoards of data and identify patterns that would otherwise elude the human eye. McAfee notes that cybercrime costs the world economy approximately $600 billion. AI can detect fraud in real time, providing banking and FinTech entities, as well as their customers and ancillary suppliers, information on the spot that could be disastrous if not managed correctly. With AI alone, Mastercard reduced “false declines” for its customers by 80 percent.

This year will likely see more radical banking changes as compared to 2018. As the world economy continues to work through some bumps and bruises, expect the banking outlook to be rosier.

AND THE ENVELOPES, PLEASE

What do a U.S. manufacturer, a Swedish retailer and a South African pharmacy chain all share in common? Hillenbrand (U.S.), ICA Group (Sweden) and Dischem Pharmacies (South Africa) battled it out with four other global firms recently at the 2018 Supply Chain Finance Awards.

Held Nov. 29 in Amsterdam, sponsored by global financial institution ING and organized by the Supply Chain Finance (SCF) Community, a global entity of professionals, private firms and knowledge institutions, their annual awards not only recognize achievements in the larger SCF world but also promote greater unity and collaboration as it grows and matures.

With industrial value chains becoming increasingly complex, manufacturers in 2018 relied heavily on interlocking supplier networks. More actors equate to increased risk, principally because parties do not know one another, and many times they are working across time zones and borders where physical relationships are nearly impossible to foster. Through shared new research and best practices, the SCF Community is helping to reduce complexity and risk and keeping cash liquid, something that benefits both sides of a transaction.

A typical contract is comprised of a buyer and a supplier. Each have distinct interests but both desire at least one thing in common: optimized cash flow. This produces a natural conflict as the buyer seeks to delay payment (to retain their cash) and the seller needs to release the product and invoice the buyer to receive payment as quickly as possible. With SCF, there is a third actor added to the mix–the funder or financing institution–which buys receivables or invoices at a discount from suppliers. The suppliers get their cash quickly and the bank then deals directly with the buyer.

The SCF process encourages collaboration instead of fomenting competition, which is a natural extension of a relationship where both parties desire the same, individually advantageous outcome. And SCF works even better when the buyer possesses a superior credit rating to the seller. A savvy buyer will use this to negotiate better terms from the seller, but the seller can also capitalize immediately by selling its receivables to the financing institution for immediate payment.

 

SCF at a Glance

It is useful to understand the SCF concept at a macro level because it does a lot of things but not everything. As such:

1. Not a loan – For the supplier, a true sale of its receivables is on the books, so supplier finance is simply an extension of the buyer’s accounts payable. Thus, the process is not considered a financial debt.

2. Multibank capacity – More than one financial institution can take part in the process, which adds a tremendous amount of flexibility.

3. Not factoring – In most circumstances, the supplier receives payment on the invoice (minus a standard transaction fee). Once the invoice is settled, there is no recourse burden on the supplier.

4. Equal opportunity – The beauty with SCF is it provides value not just for large companies but firms of all sizes (and credit ratings). This also includes SME suppliers.

 

The Awards

The 2018 Supply Chain Finance Awards jury, composed of the leading minds from the Fraunhofer Institute, the Luxottica Group, Nestrade S.A. and Metso, had its hands full this year. On the Transport & Logistics side, Kuehne + Nagel Group took home the award for Best SCF Solution. The Swiss-based holding with 1,336 offices worldwide and more than 75,000 employees had bested DHL Global Forwarding, Panalpina and DB Schenker in accounting for roughly 15 percent of the word’s sea and air freight business revenue.

This year, Logistics Kuehne + Nagel added an SCF layer on an already efficient Tradeshift e-invoicing platform, which now provides an unparalleled amount of transparency with regards to invoice status as well as all relevant SCF information. For small and medium-sized suppliers, early payment options are critical, and the Kuehne + Nagel solution gives them the ability to create invoices quickly online, which can result in payment within a matter of days.

The cash-conversion cycle lies at the heart of the matter with, again, both buyer and seller seeking to either maintain liquidity or add liquidity as soon as possible. The jury recognized Kuehne + Nagel’s ability to not only improve on this cycle but also advance the relationship between buyer and supplier, a natural win-win and one that the SFC Community seeks to foster. Kuehne + Nagel works with Citi to offer early payment options to more than 16 North American and European countries, spanning eight currencies. Asian and the Middle East are next for 2019.

Speed is crucial, and this is an area where Kuehne + Nagel set itself apart, having been recognized in the 2017 Adam Smith Awards in the category “Best Trade/Supply Chain Finance Solution.”

To stay abreast on news surrounding the 2019 awards, visit the regularly updated SCF Forum website: www.scf-forum.com/venue.html.