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DOMINATE AND EXPAND: THIS STRATEGY PROPELS RO/RO LEADING PORTS OF BALTIMORE AND SAVANNAH/BRUNSWICK

ro/ro

DOMINATE AND EXPAND: THIS STRATEGY PROPELS RO/RO LEADING PORTS OF BALTIMORE AND SAVANNAH/BRUNSWICK

Being the Nos. 1 & 2 busiest roll-on/roll-off (Ro/Ro) ports in the nation isn’t quite good enough for the ports of Baltimore and Savannah/Brunswick. At least the Maryland Port Authority and Georgia Ports Authority are not resting on their laurels, anyway. These East Coast ports are doing their best to maintain their top-two rankings through initiatives such as investments in expansion and training programs for warehouse workers that are designed to increase efficiency and reduce damage and accidents in the loading/unloading process.

These growth initiatives are helping to not just cement the ports’ statuses in the Ro/Ro world—Baltimore has been the No. 1 Ro/Ro port in the United States for eight years running—but it’s making them even more desirable and competitive places for automobile manufacturers to do business.

Port of Baltimore

The Port of Baltimore continues to expand and thrive despite an uncertain trade climate. Larry Johnson, sales manager of Trade Development, Automotive, credits his port’s success to efforts to maintain positive relationships with their automotive industry partners, keeping those industry partners loyal.

One such partner, Volkswagen Group of America, recently began a partnership with Port of Baltimore to begin importing vehicles through the Tradeport Atlantic in Sparrows Point, which could provide an increase of 120,000 vehicles annually—and an additional 100 jobs.

The port also benefits from its proximity to the Midwest—it’s the closest seaport to Middle America—and with top notch services like efficient rail, cargo can get to destinations faster than from any other port on the East Coast. Baltimore’s strategic location is within two-thirds of the U.S. with just an overnight drive.

The Baltimore port’s training initiatives have helped cultivate the lowest damage rates in the industry. The port has also pioneered a program, Ro/Ro Rodeo, which is an intensive class to educate manufacturers in the highly specialized processes required to handle each specific type of vehicle that is processed through the port. Ro/Ro Rodeo has even developed a program for the highly specialized processing of farm and other industrial equipment

With almost 200 acres of pavement at the Dundalk Marine Terminal alone, the Port of Baltimore consistently breaks its own records for Ro/Ro processes, often increasing its volume as frequently as month to month, and their investments in expansion and training will likely keep that volume increasing for years to come.

“The Port of Baltimore is the No. 1 auto port in the nation and continues to break cargo records every month,” says Maryland Governor Larry Hogan in the September/October 2019 edition of Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore Magazine. “Our administration is committed to furthering this growth and strongly supports our great port and its thousands of hardworking men and women handling the millions of tons of cargo coming in throughout the year.”

Ports of Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) is the No. 2 Ro/Ro port in the United States. Its Port of Savannah increased volume almost 250,000 TEUs in 2019, according to the GPA. This growth of 5.6 percent over the previous year came at a time when auto sales are actually dropping–a true testament to the hard work of the port employees at Savannah and Brunswick.

A banner year for the ports, the Ocean Terminal recently won contracts with both Volvo and General Motors. The Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick is a Ro/Ro-only port that is already home to International Auto Processing, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions and Mercedes Benz USA.

The GPA properties are undergoing an expansion that will eventually create an additional 150,000 spaces for automobiles, bumping their processing capacity from 900,000 annually to 1.5 million. There are currently three dedicated Ro/Ro berths that process cargo via nine different steamship lines.

“Both Savannah and Brunswick are outperforming the market, with Garden City container trade growing at a rate three times faster than the U.S. total, and Brunswick Ro/Ro units increasing despite a drop in U.S. vehicle sales in 2019,” says GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight in a Jan. 28 statement.

Growth Despite Uncertainty

Strategic locations, ample space and work ethics that include faster cargo processing, in-depth training and safety records that far eclipse many competing ports are just a few reasons that these ports are leading the pack in Ro/Ro. With the onset of trade tariffs, such as those imposed on China, and reports that the United States’ manufacturing industry has experienced slowed growth recently, these ports have nevertheless managed to increase growth consistently. Growth when economic uncertainly looms large is a true testament to the power of excellent service and sound investment.

If these and other Ro/Ro ports can continue to capitalize on trends such as exporting goods to other countries competing for business with China, they will have learned that they can not just maintain their positions in the Ro/Ro processing rankings, but keep growing.

skills

Lifelong Learning: Enhancing Your Supply Chain Skill Set at Any Age

Even the most seasoned supply chain professional will tell you they can always learn a little bit more about their field. Whether it’s mastering a new software program or simply brushing up on your business skills, the more you learn the better you can invest that education into growing your business.

Work experience will only get you so far. That’s where supply chain education programs come into the picture. From degree programs at top-tier universities to certificates at trade schools and distance learning facilities, today there are more continuing education options than ever before.

If you are considering returning to school to brush up on or better hone your supply chain education skills, or even looking to recruit new employees with the most cutting-edge education, check out these programs, and get some ideas about what to look for when searching for a supply chain education program.

TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS

A training or certificate program can boost your skills and resume without the heavy investment in a degree program. They also generally take less time to complete than degree programs, but they may not carry as much weight as degree programs would, either. Still, they provide valuable education and insight into many specific aspects of supply chain, and those skills can still be very useful to your business. Check out:

Northwestern University-Kellogg Executive Education. This program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management runs just three days and offers executive training on transportation, outsourcing, facilities management, inventory and more. It gives students a further peek into the latest supply chain technologies and techniques to help them keep running their businesses in a way that works for today and the future.

American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS). A professional supply chain organization with its own certification program, APICS is open to Association of Supply Chain Management (ASCM) members as well as non-members. The program offers students strategies to level up their skills, earn the APICS certification and do so without the time investment of a major degree.

DEGREE PROGRAMS

Though they require significant time and often a significant financial investment, degree programs not only provide valuable education, but they also pad your resume so you can carry the education with you should you ever transfer jobs. Degree programs can also help improve your salary and position at your current job. Here are some of the top supply chain higher education programs in the country.

Michigan State University. Ranked No. 1 in supply chain and logistics management programs by U.S. News & World Report for three years running, Michigan State’s full-time MBA program covers everything from supply-chain management to logistics systems and technology. The program offers certificates ranging from Master to Advanced Master in topics such as global supply chain management and integrated supply chain management. Many other MSU-specific certificate options are also available.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The supply chain management program at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the No. 2 ranked program by U.S. News & World Report, which also places MIT’s business school at No. 3 overall. Meanwhile, Eduniversal ranks MIT’s supply-chain program the No. 1 program of its kind in the world. The MIT program will earn you your master’s in supply-chain management in just 10 months. The program covers all aspects of supply-chain management, and the school is the founding member of the MIT Global Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence Network (SCALE), an organization that allows for collaboration between students, faculty, researchers and industry experts. The SCALE program was designed to promote new research, processes and technologies for the betterment of the industry.

UNDERGRAD AND HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Whether you’re in a professional setting and never got a complete supply-chain education, you’re looking for programs for someone else, or you’re trying to recruit new supply chain graduates, undergraduate and high school or vocational supply chain programs are excellent resources. These programs are often taught by industry insiders and have access to some of the newest technology and techniques, giving program graduates an up-to-date education in the supply-chain industry. Also, because they are focused on supply chain and generally nothing else, these programs can be completed faster than traditional college degree programs, which means less time waiting for the right candidate.

Rutgers University. The Supply Chain Education Partnership at Rutgers in Newark, New Jersey, is a comprehensive program for high school students who would like a career in supply-chain management. Though the program is just one week long, it covers a great deal of information, including business logistics, global procurement and sourcing as well as information technology systems and systems, applications and products (SAP). Open to local students, the program is designed to introduce students to the world of supply-chain management and hopefully attract them to the field as a university major and future professional.

Other vocational/high school programs. Many high school programs offer hands-on training through classes, vocational school and internships to help train the younger generation in all facets of supply-chain management. For some, these programs may be enough of a baseline education to be hired straight out of school without needing a degree; for others the classes may pique an interest in the field and help students determine their college major. Check your local school district for schools that may offer these programs.

ONLINE CLASSES

Online classes allow students to attend a supply chain education program from anywhere in the world, which is especially helpful when no such program exists at your local university. Many prestigious universities offer online classes, so there is no need to miss out on a top-quality education simply due to geography.

University of Texas, Dallas. The university boasts of a distance learning master’s program that includes supply chain management courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. However, the distance learning program also makes it easy for busy professionals to get a world-class education without having to live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The comprehensive program covers every facet of the supply-chain industry, including management, operations and quality of service and goods.

With so much changing in the supply-chain industry, there’s only so much you can learn by doing things one way, whether it be reading textbooks, attending webinars and lectures, or simply working in the field. Both education and hands-on experience in the supply-chain industry are necessary for comprehensive mastery. From the highest person at the executive level to middle management or the newest worker on the warehouse floor, a combination of skills from all ends of the spectrum are invaluable keys to your supply-chain education—and to the success of your business.

logistics

Global Trade’s Annual Logistics Planning Guide Reveals the Year’s Top Trends

Sometimes buying your business into the latest trends isn’t the best idea. Saddled with high costs and incompatible programs, trendy new technology can often make business processes more difficult for your business, not less. But there are some industries where the latest really can be the greatest, and one of those industries is the logistics industry.

Let’s face it: Logistics make the world go round. Whether it’s shipping perishables to community markets or lifesaving machinery to medical clinics, there’s a lot riding on the shoulders of logistics providers. That’s why it often pays to rely on cutting-edge technology. From tracking and tracing to locating items in your warehouse, new technology can often get the job done faster and more accurately. Plus, with the growing e-commerce market, logistics is more important than ever before as businesses push to get their products into customers’ hands at the speed of retailers such as Amazon.

So, what’s on the horizon for the logistics industry this coming year? Here’s what’s on our radar—and should be on yours—for the best (and one troublesome) new innovations and trends in logistics in 2020.

LOGISTICS IT

When it comes to logistics, information technology (IT) may arguably be the most important innovation of 2020. That’s because without a solid tracking system in place you’re not only causing potential backlogs for your workers, but you could be causing frustration for your clients, too. After all, if your customer can’t see where their merchandise is in the supply chain, they may bring their business to someone else who can. This is where an excellent Warehouse Management System (WMS) comes in. Using RFID and GPS, warehouse management systems can now monitor and trace every piece of inventory in your warehouse, providing real-time data to both you and your customer.

Other systems expected to be used with increased frequency in the new year include order entry systems and transportation management systems (TMS).

But logistics IT isn’t just what the customer sees, or even what your employees interact with. It goes well beyond that. Logistics IT also encompasses the back end of your IT solutions—not just the IT product itself but also the customer support that goes along with it.

We all know the logistics industry doesn’t just run from nine to five. When there’s a problem like a software bug or outage, is your IT provider available to offer technical support when you need it? Does your provider strive to make software updates that are meaningful to your business, and that integrate seamlessly into your other systems? Does your provider notify you when there are new versions of your system that could benefit your business? These are all signs of a good IT provider—a trend you definitely don’t want to miss the boat (or train, plane or truck!) on.

Logistics providers are using the latest technology, such as Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment (CPFR) and Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI), to satisfy ever-changing customer requirements. DHL Express introduced a fresh TC55 technology that works on the Android platform and is simple to use, as well as the navigation skills in the global positioning system (GPS).

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is another way technology is streamlining the logistics industry. Currently, the biggest benefit of AI is arguably its ability to automate many of the processes logistics providers provide every day, including repetitive tasks that exhaust human capital and don’t challenge workers. Though many workers worry that AI will someday replace human workers, currently the technology is actually assisting them.

Another use for AI in the logistics industry relates to the driving of vehicles. As many are aware, initiatives from companies like Google have in recent years invested time and resources into developing self-driving cars, i.e. autonomous vehicles. These vehicles may be manned by a human driver, but they allow the driver to take breaks from driving while still traveling. This in turn gets deliveries to their destinations quicker, a fact that is projected to save logistics providers a lot of money. In fact, according to Mckinsey, autonomous vehicles could save logistics providers up to 45 percent, a savings providers can then pass along to their clients. These savings could then be passed to the consumer in the form of lower prices or lower shipping rates.

ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS LOGISTICS

With many seaports developing green initiatives and land- and air-based logistics providers initiating a greater push for a reduced carbon footprint, 2020 is set to be a big year for reducing carbon emissions. Some land-based initiatives include more efficient route mapping, video conferencing and net-zero emissions.

Route mapping works by eliminating excess travel on longer routes. The idea is that a more direct route cuts fuel waste as well as carbon emissions. Video conferencing saves both money and the need for travel to meetings. As for net zero emissions, many logistics providers are investing in low or zero-emission vehicles and alternative fuels that emit less carbon into the air.

Logistics companies with warehousing services are also increasing their push toward a lower carbon footprint, using sustainable packaging and ramping up recycling efforts with the packing, shipping and packaging of products.

Maritime initiatives include the restoration and protection of wetlands as well as the planting of trees at some ports. Strategies also include the use of more efficient photosensitive lighting, such as the switch to LED lighting. Some ports have even switched over to the use of electric equipment instead of diesel fuel equipment, the establishment of fuel efficient requirements for ships which frequent the port and much more.

BLOCKCHAIN

If you’re in the logistics world, you’ve likely been hearing about blockchain for several years now. But what is it? Simply put, blockchain is a way of recording data which cannot be altered, using a technology called cryptology. Blockchain data is nearly unchangeable. The “chain” in blockchain refers to the chain of messages that originate from a single entry. To edit the chain, all members who posted to the chain must be willing to alter their own data to support the potentially edited data. This reduces the risk of that data being falsified or otherwise compromised along the way.

Blockchain data can be used to do everything from order tracking to payment issues. Blockchain also streamlines the way we communicate, reducing the need for time-consuming paperwork. Blockchain works in real-time, so shippers can trace every detail of their shipment as it progresses and make necessary adjustments to their route and load temperatures as needed. This can save time and money, preventing delays or rejected shipments.

Blockchain can also aid in financial decisions regarding fleet vehicles. Similar to a Carfax report, blockchain can show whether a pre-owned logistics vehicle has been maintained as well as the previous owner claims, and can help the potential buyer make decisions that could cost them—or save them—significantly down both the literal and figurative roads.

Indeed, blockchain has become so big that an organization has been founded to monitor the industry. The Blockchain in Transport Alliance, or BiTa, was founded to help advance the Bitchain industry, developing rules and regulations and providing education for new and veteran Bitchain users. The organization already boasts an impressive member list, including representatives of UPS and FedEx.

TECHNOMAX

In the maritime sector of the logistics industry, one revolutionary service that is “making waves” is TechnoMax, or TMX. TechnoMax works to streamline maritime operations by working with AI and the Internet of Things (IoT). The system provides risk and compliance data, app development, infrastructure development and data management. Some of TechnoMax’s capabilities include monitoring a ship’s emissions, analyzing cargo information and guiding navigation.

TRADE TARIFFS

Now for some bad news. With trade deals between the United States and China again delayed, there remains a lot of uncertainty among retailers and manufacturers. Though there is no crystal ball to predict the future or what it holds for these industries, the potential for raised prices on goods is of big concern. Price increases would inevitably be passed down to consumers, who could cut out or cut back on goods, causing sales to plummet. This could in turn negatively impact the logistics industry, as fewer products will be warehoused and transported.

For now, the industry seems to be holding its own, with some businesses preparing for the looming tariffs by shipping larger amounts now to avoid elevated costs later. Whether this bulking up will cause a dramatic drop in shipments in the first few months of 2020 remains to be seen.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

All things considered, 2020 seems to be gearing up to be a great year for the logistics industry, with many new technological and environmental advances on the horizon. From AI to blockchain, the industry is poised to become more efficient than ever, saving providers money which they can pass along to their clients, and in turn potentially to the consumer.

Even with the potential for steep tariffs on China (and vice versa) on the horizon, these positive advances should still make an impact on the industry in the coming year and decade.