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KÖRBER: ONLY 1 IN 10 BUSINESSES CAN STAY AHEAD OF THEIR SUPPLY CHAIN CHALLENGES

challenges

KÖRBER: ONLY 1 IN 10 BUSINESSES CAN STAY AHEAD OF THEIR SUPPLY CHAIN CHALLENGES

Körber, the Hamburg, Germany, global supply chain technology leader from software to materials handling automation, on Sept. 1 announced the results of its “2020 State of Supply Chain Complexity” survey.

Among the top findings: Manufacturing and fulfillment complexities only continue to grow–and 91 percent of supply-chain professionals cannot stay ahead of these challenges.

More products, distribution channels, and customer expectations make supply chains more complex, according to Körber, which polled 1,200 global supply chain professionals to learn how they cope with supply chain complexity, how they feel their solutions stack up against the competition and how they’re managing the transition from manual to automated processes.

Technology integration and customer demand ranked among the top challenges today’s supply chain faces.

The issues respondents said most often contribute to their company’s supply chain complexity include:

-48% ‒ integrating and ensuring software, materials handling equipment (MHE), and technologies work together throughout the entire logistics ecosystem

-46% ‒ integrating functions across the supply chain – from manufacturing to end-customer deliveries

-46% ‒ meeting consumer expectations for speed, cost and adaptability

Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents said senior executives view the supply chain as mission-critical–an important step in gaining support for upgrading warehouses and last-mile technology.

“Now isn’t the time for supply chains to break under pressure–yet, 48 percent of companies have experienced growth in complexity this past year,” said Rene Hermes, chief marketing officer for Körber Supply Chain. “It’s good to hear so many executives see this business area as mission-critical. Now we must transform that understanding into action.”

Access the 2020 State of Supply Chain Complexity Survey here: https://www.koerber-supplychain.com/complexitysurvey.

cross-docking

What Warehouses Should Keep in Mind When First Implementing Cross-Docking

Warehouses that want to improve labor and space utilization without expanding to a new location or breaking ground may consider cross-docking because of its potential efficiencies. Unfortunately, it can also come with many pitfalls for those trying it for the first time.

Cross-docking requires a detailed understanding of your team, space, partners, and technology. For new warehouses, that means implementing cross-docking should come with significant testing and preparation, especially in terms of your inventory management, scheduling, spatial allocation, and the training you give your team and partners.

Test inventory management tools

Cross-docking prepares companies for just-in-time (JIT) shipping and distribution, making immediate use of inventory as it arrives. Companies that want to start utilizing cross-docking will need a robust inventory management system that can understand and differentiate these inbound shipments.

Your tools must be able to understand inventory utilization. If half of the goods on an inbound shipment are for JIT purposes, then the inventory platform must be able to split received goods and correctly update both inventory levels and the number of products you list for sale. If this action would require ongoing intervention from you or additional inventory counts, it could introduce higher labor costs that negate cross-dock benefits.

Ultimately, cross-docking can help with inventory management and often keep companies from needing to expand physical infrastructure for the products they hold. It might also help you expand operations to support backorders. This takes time, however, and requires tools that help you understand and manage inventory levels without adding burden.

Robust scheduling includes flexibility

Cross-docking is intense choreography. You’re going to need smart people and reliable technology to manage the planning of how people and trucks are moving in and around your site. Cross-docking and JIT operations demand having the people available to handle inbound shipments and process them while helping your team know what inventory is ready to use and what needs to be put away.

Dock availability and the time of truck arrivals and departures must be flexible so that your operations can run normally. Every cross-docking team plans on a smooth day where everything runs on schedule. However, that’s rarely a reality. Paperwork, traffic delays, accidents, or even someone needing to use the bathroom can cause a small delay. Something as simple as an employee driving through the parking lot can force a truck to wait.

If you schedule everything down to the minute and don’t give your team and partners flexibility, it’ll cause greater delays. In most cases, as you’re expanding and learning, arriving trucks will end up waiting because it’s hard to predict the time people need, but you also don’t want docks sitting empty for extended periods. So, ensure that you have people ready when trucks are there and test the time you give teams for inbound and outbound.

Dock door assignments should consider space and traffic

One other caveat that many warehouses don’t consider when they first start cross-docking is the physical space that people, trucks, and inventory required. Cross-docking effectively requires that dock door assignments be efficient and allow incoming and departing trucks enough space to maneuver safely and quickly. Adding extra points to a turn will slow the entire process down, for example.

If your warehouse wasn’t built with cross-docking in mind, test this thoroughly. Often, warehouses need significant reconfiguration of internal elements or will install new doors and adjust the building design to facilitate cross-docking. Multiple teams, doors, trucks, and the equipment everyone is using are going to take up extra space and need to be able to move freely and safely. Start by giving everything and everyone more leeway than you think they need.

Some new inventory and dock management platforms support cross-docking and can make suggestions based on timing, assignments, and other aspects of your operations based on historical and current data. When your tools offer this, try out their analysis and recommendations to see if you can maximize your efforts.

The entire supply chain requires competencies

Cross-docking is an advanced management and utilization technique for any warehouse or distribution center. You’re managing dock door assignments, transshipment, vehicle routing, product allocation, barcode scanning and putaway, new warehouse layouts, and the network and systems required to manage it all.

Your team needs competency in each of those areas and activities. Partners should have their own understanding plus the ability to support you. Inbound expertise is required, across the board, for JIT requirements and scheduling to be effective.

You’ll eventually want to build out appropriate penalties for time windows to keep things running smoothly, but that requires your team not to cause delays. In many instances, cross-docking is complicated mathematics disguised as people and trucks.

Take your time to test and implement it. Work with partners proactively to help understand what they need from you and explain what you need from them. Train your team specifically on the new processes and requirements. Simulate, test, and optimize procedures and layout continually.

Cross-docking can save warehouses significantly on a variety of costs and size requirements. You might reduce material handling and make labor more efficient. Customer satisfaction can be improved, too, as you’re relying less on backorders or older products. Achieving all of those wins is a lengthy process, and it’s important to walk into the situation with patience.

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Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.

disruptions

Preparing for Future Supply Chain Disruptions: Insights from the Field

Organizations across all industries—from automotive, consumer goods, and pharmaceuticals to transportation, electronics, and oil and gas—have felt the disruptive effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Turning the global supply chain on its head, COVID-19’s impact has cut across multiple facets of international trade, including manufacturing, import/export, logistics, compliance, and supply chain management. This disruption has been a wake-up call for organizations worldwide, prompting them to assess their readiness to respond reliably, expediently, and effectively to rapidly evolving risk factors going forward.

Disruption Is Inevitable

Whether driven by an unprecedented pandemic or events that are more familiar, like trade wars or frequent duty and tariff changes, future disruptions to the flow of goods are unavoidable and companies must be as prepared as possible. Case in point: on June 29, the amendments to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) came into force, impacting U.S. companies that export goods, software, and technology to China, Russia, and Venezuela.

A few days later on July 1, a new free trade agreement entered into force as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While the USMCA is designed to provide “significant improvements and modernized approaches to rules of origin, agricultural market access, intellectual property, digital trade, financial services, labor, and numerous other sectors,” companies must respond efficiently to changes in import duties, tariffs, and rules of origin verification procedures in order to avoid compliance issues.

The current government’s uncertain trade relations with China, BREXIT’s unfolding impact on U.K. trade, and evolving pandemic predictions are just a handful of factors that may unsettle global supply chains going forward. With disruption an unavoidable consequence of doing business in 2020, successful companies are securing their supply chains by prioritizing operational responsiveness, agility, and adaptability in order to keep goods flowing while avoiding compliance violations and penalties.

Are You Prepared?

Today’s businesses are keenly aware of the importance of keeping a close eye on their sources of raw materials, parts, and finished products to ensure logistics costs do not erode overall profit margins. But COVID-19 caught many companies off guard, throwing their sourcing strategies and revenue flow into crisis.

Descartes’ 2020 Global HTS Classification Benchmark Survey of importers, shippers, logistics and supply chain operators, and customs brokers around the globe analyzed the impact of the supply chain disruption on companies’ operations and ascertained how they are addressing issues for the long-term.

The survey found that 35% of respondents were forced to research alternative suppliers or locations as a result of the pandemic. An additional one-third felt increased pressure to identify ways to reduce duty and tariff costs in order to shore up the shrinking bottom line.

Lessons Learned: Count On Technology

For those survey respondents forced to look for alternative suppliers due to COVID-19, many also looked to advanced technology solutions to address the more demanding workload and support the shift to a distributed workforce and the ‘remote working’ model.

In their leaning towards more advanced technology, approximately three-quarters of respondents were aiming to establish a workflow process for mass classification and to create an audit trail for proof of due diligence; sixty-eight percent were seeking a collaborative online classification process, while 55% sought configurable classification rule sets for different industries and product categories.

The Descartes survey also found that the majority of companies—not just those impacted by COVID-19—are adopting more advanced technology to enhance responsiveness to change and to increase resiliency. Regardless of the number of SKUs classified annually, businesses are recognizing the value of additional layers of protection against the unknown to help ensure their import operations remain viable during turbulent times.

Keep Agility and Responsiveness Top of Mind

Prior to switching to av more automated and integrated research and classification solution, most respondents surveyed were using labor-intensive and error-prone manual methods; a massive 81% were accessing multiple government websites to access classification data and 46% were looking up information in hardcopy books—an unacceptable drain on valuable time and resources and a serious impediment to pivoting swiftly in the face of disruption.

Respondents using advanced global trade intelligence solutions, with up-to-date tariff data accessed from a single system, reportedly accelerated the classification process by 30% to 100%. This increase in speed is a critical piece of the preparedness strategy, as companies aim to focus on agility to keep goods moving during market volatility.

Future-proof Your Organization

New disruptions to the global supply chain may be just around the corner. A proactive global trade intelligence strategy will help organizations continue to drive commerce while ensuring trade compliance in the face of inevitable change:

1. Take advantage of more advanced technologies to maintain compliance efficiency and accuracy as workload demands increase, as well as to better manage a more distributed workforce.

2. Look to technology solutions to increase the resilience and responsiveness of trade compliance programs.

3. Ensure a single point of access to research complex international trade information, including up-to-date HTS codes, duties and tariff treatments, rulings, and explanatory notes.

4. Use a robust solution to effectively exercise and establish a “standard of reasonable care” for product classification.

With the impact of COVID-19 on sanctions and export controls still not fully known, compliance professionals should re-evaluate their global trade compliance strategy, honing it to boost adaptability, agility, and responsiveness to change. By leveraging advanced global trade intelligence technologies, companies can better insulate themselves from the fallout of future supply chain disruptions while minimizing duty spend and achieving higher trade compliance rates in the process. For compliance professionals everywhere, the age-old Boy Scout adage rings true: Be prepared.

agility

4 Strategies Manufacturers Can Adopt to Increase Agility

In turbulent, transformative times like these, the term “business agility” seemingly appears everywhere. And though it’s easy to imagine even the world’s largest tech companies or consulting firms making a sudden pivot, it’s harder to picture a manufacturer with a factory full of heavy equipment doing the same thing.

So what does business agility mean in the context of manufacturing or construction? It’s less about the speed and scope of changes being proposed and more about communicating effectively across large, dispersed organizations. When disruptions break the supply chain or cause demand to plummet, manufacturers must be able to encourage an information flow across all corners of the enterprise. Agility depends on the free flow of information and the ability to guide a team directly.

The good news is that manufacturers are used to disruptions. They regularly deal with supply chain issues, sudden regulatory changes, or shifting market dynamics. Adaptation is in their nature.

The bad news is that COVID-19 puts a unique strain on the industry that makes agility more important yet less accessible. Specifically, factories and construction sites that have had to either scale back or shut down in response to public health requirements can’t exactly pick their work up remotely. Teams are spread out more than ever and cut off from core assets — and that includes everything from machinery to data.

These are circumstances manufacturers don’t have contingency plans for. Meeting the moment will require extensive brainstorming, aligned leadership, and quick and decisive action — but none of those things will be easy with stakeholders scattered to the wind.

Today’s Realities

All of this means manufacturers need a new concept of business agility along with a fresh sense of commitment.

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen heavy-duty industries forced to shut down suddenly and reopen as quickly as possible. While opening, they’ve had to integrate new social distancing requirements into all aspects of operations and vastly expand health and safety measures. In some cases, they’re even learning how to stop sharing pens and clipboards. And those are just the implications for operations.

Unstable economic forces mean that supply and demand could be in flux for the foreseeable future. Granted, some manufacturers are booming right now — but others have seen business crater, and the long-term fallout of this pandemic remains to be seen. Manufacturers must reexamine (and in many cases revise) their plans, strategies, and fundamental business assumptions. Everything is up in the air.

On top of everything, this pandemic is accelerating the shift away from in-person interactions toward digital ones. Relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, and all other stakeholders are evolving because of the need to socially distance. More than that, though, this health crisis has underscored the fact that digital environments are more efficient, convenient, and customizable than the alternatives. This could prove to be a tipping point for digital transformation throughout the manufacturing industry.

It’s hard to overstate the pace of change right now. The degree to which some manufacturers have already responded is impressive; we’ve seen liquor producers start making hand sanitizer and sports equipment manufacturers adapt assembly lines to create face masks. Agility is possible in the face of this crisis, but manufacturers must take the initiative.

“Business as usual” stopped being relevant with the first COVID-19 cases, and there are serious questions about whether we’ll ever return to normal. That means something different for every manufacturer while still placing the same obligation on all of them: Stay agile or get swept under.

Building the Basis of Business Agility

Manufacturers need to grow agile as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, moving fast while staying coordinated is never easy. Apply these strategies to help guide your transformative efforts:

1. Share information in real time. People need answers right now, whether that’s about health and safety measures, new workplace practices, changing strategies, and everything else that’s been uprooted by the pandemic.

The less accessible this information is, the more disorganized things become. Sharing information in real time so everyone has the answers they need on demand keeps communication issues from making a bad situation worse. Strive to be as transparent as possible and to make information highly accessible.

2. Identify information bottlenecks. The pandemic exacerbated the existing information bottlenecks in organizations and created a number of new ones. Analyzing how internal communication works — how information flows through an organization — identifies where these bottlenecks are and suggests how they can be resolved.

Better access to information (of all types and at all levels) helps accelerate and improve decision-making. Before COVID-19, 86% of companies surveyed said frontline workers need more insights at their disposal. That priority is even higher now.

3. Lead from the bottom up. In any fast-changing scenario, insights from the front lines are what matter most. If executives ignore the ideas and perspectives of workers who are actually in the thick of operations, they miss both the red flags that require attention and the innovative ideas necessary to meet this moment. Information needs to flow freely and broadly within an organization, from one-on-one and small group communication all the way up to corporate messaging. Instead of giving lip service to this priority, make sure there’s a direct pipeline.

4. Create new touchpoints. Information from outside the organization — from customers or suppliers — is also immensely valuable right now. It’s vital to business agility because it helps a manufacturer explore how it can pivot without alienating the partners it relies on. Take those outside insights seriously and solicit as many as possible. Convenient digital touchpoints make it easy for others to supply complaints, suggestions, and praise, all of which inform a manufacturer’s next move.

Remember that agility is all about alignment. Any company — manufacturer or otherwise — can evolve on the fly as long as it can move as one. Communication is what cements that connection and helps achieve unity across the board.

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Daniel Sztutwojner is chief customer officer and co-founder of Beekeeper, the single point of contact for your frontline workforce. Beekeeper’s mobile platform brings communications and tools into one place to improve agility, productivity, and safety. Daniel is passionate about helping businesses operate more efficiently. He has a background in applied mathematics and more than eight years of experience in sales and customer success.

fashion

COVID-19: The Fashion Store That Stands Out of the Crowd

When things get tough it’s often hard to remember why you started. When you’re drowning in paperwork, figures and the latest sales initiatives it can be hard to see beyond the next task at hand. Whether you own a fashion retail chain or a small independent boutique, it’s safe to assume that you started out with a desire to share your love of fashion with the world.

Unfortunately, it’s often all too easy for that dream to get lost along the way. This may seem like a minor issue, a simple fact of life when faced with the reality of running a business. But if you’ve lost sight of who you are and why you do what you do, you could actually be damaging your chances of success, particularly during a worldwide crisis where retailers must stand out from the crowd in order to triumph over the competition. Maybe now is the perfect time to go back to basics and remember what makes you unique?

When calculating sales targets and budgeting stock, it’s often difficult to see beyond the line of figures in the cashbook. But if we want to convert sales it’s vital to connect with our customers on an emotional level. Let’s go back to why you started. Perhaps you wanted to curate the perfect selection of stunning occasion wear dresses, to share with your customers the fun of dressing for a big event or a special day. Perhaps you wanted better options when buying clothing for your kids and decided to source childrenswear brands in line with your vision to help make parents’ lives easier and children’s clothes shopping fun. You more than likely imagined yourself as the customer – how you would feel as you browsed the ranges, or what you would think as you entered the door. Things seemed simpler then (then again, didn’t everything?)

But perhaps we need to simplify things once more in order to get to where we want to be. It’s all very well using the latest window dressing or SEO techniques, sending out carefully worded newsletters, and offering sales and coupons. But customers know when they’re being sold to, and more often than not, it’s a major turn-off. How many times have you deleted yet another sales email from your inbox, or avoided a store assistant’s pushy sales techniques? It’s time you put yourself back in the customer’s shoes. Who are they? What do they want? How do they want to be treated? Talk to them if you have the chance and find out what the problem is that only you can solve. They may just remind you why you started out in the first place.

The fashion and trade sector is always changing and every few months retailers update their stock, bringing out the summer dresses or stocking up on jumpers and scarves. The bell-bottoms that were ubiquitous years ago have been relegated to the backs of wardrobes to give way to the skinny or the wide leg. But it’s not just trends that change. Are you the same person that you were when you started your business? Is society in the same place as it was when you started out? Even if you launched your business just a year ago, the answer to these questions is more than likely to be “no”. And as situations change, if we continue to do what we always have done, we’re likely to get left behind. But how does that fit with going back to where you started? If we’re supposed to constantly be changing and adapting, how can we stay true to our original goals? The key, as always, is to strip things back to the essentials.

Let’s go back to the occasion to wear example. If your original vision was to offer stunning party wear but people are no longer buying glitzy dresses perhaps now is the time to consider what led you to your choice in the first place. Was it the glitter and sequins that attracted you? Maybe you could consider introducing a range of casual wear, but with a touch of your signature bling to stay true to your brand and bring a little sparkle to your customers’ everyday lives? If the reason you went into occasion wear was more about dressing your customers for their special events, you may simply need to reassess the mood of the moment – if sustainability and slow fashion are the buzzwords of the day, perhaps you could source more classic designs which will last a lifetime, or consider an offering a hire service to help your customers live more sustainably while still fulfilling their fashion fantasies? Consider what your original vision can offer to your customers today and be ready to step outside of your comfort zone.

Ever had the feeling that you’re stuck in a rut? Haven’t we all. It’s often easier to source your collections from the same brands year after year – you’ve built up a relationship, you know what to expect, it’s quick and easy. But ease can be an enemy of progress and relying on those tried and tested habits can lead you away from what you originally set out to achieve. If you’ve gone back to basics you should already have a good idea of exactly what you want to offer your clients. Whatever it is you decide, one of the major factors is likely to be “something they can’t get anywhere else”. We all want to be original, and when the competition is sky-high we need to be able to set ourselves apart from the crowd. “Building your own special identity is a long-term process, but it’s worth all the effort.” – says Mina Melikova, CEO of TradeGala and chief executive of occasionwear brand Goddiva.

If your customers can find the same styles in another perhaps more local store, or they keep seeing those same old favorites in your storefront season after season, they’re likely to look elsewhere. Do what you did when you were just starting out – trust your instinct and branch out with the up-and-coming designers you happened across at the last trade show. Take a risk on a new international brand you discovered recently on your travels. If you want to be faithful to your brand personality you shouldn’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd – it’s the key to success after all.

We know that sourcing brands and purchasing stock can be time-consuming, and can take you away from that all-important time with your customers. This is why we created TradeGala – the B2B online marketplace we do the legwork, sourcing emerging and well-established fashion brands from around the world, with something to cover your every fashion need. New brands are added every week so there’s always something new, something to inspire! Revisit your vision and find the brands to help you achieve it at TradeGala.

optimizing

Reducing Waste and Optimizing Your Supply Chain

Waste is, well, it’s a waste; and if you’re trying to optimize your supply chain, it can be an expensive waste. There are a lot of sources, both internal and external, which can create waste in your supply chain, like process inefficiencies, communication gaps, lack of or delayed responses, and even errors in ordering or procurement. Whatever the reason, they often end up becoming an enormous waste of time and money, which can be drastically reduced by making supply chain processes more efficient. In fact, most successful companies focus heavily on decreasing waste and reducing wasteful processes.

One of the most effective methods for reducing waste is developing lean methods for supply chain management.

How to reduce waste and optimize your supply chain

Analyze Product Design

One way of not just reducing waste, but also optimizing your production is to examine and re-evaluate your products’ design. Identify any areas or methods to reduce raw material use or replace expensive materials with cheaper ones. If you can shave off small costs, they might result in substantial savings.

You should also evaluate your product packaging options and see if there’s any way you can use cheaper materials.

Manage Resources

Apart from just looking at just using cheaper materials, you should examine each of your production processes to identify which ones are generating waste. Redesign processes that are creating non-recyclable or non-reusable waste. Even recyclable waste should be assessed and you should take the cost of recycling into account.

When you’re optimizing processes, the cost of implementing changes may seem high, but the cost of the waste, as well as associated handling, disposal and even recycling, can add up over time.

Select the Right Equipment

On the topic of handling and disposing of waste, having the right waste management equipment can save time, money and a lot of hassles. We’ve made a lot of advancements in waste management technology and equipment. Trash compactors are a great example of simple solutions to make managing and handling waste much more efficient and save a lot of money over time.

It’s very important to first know how much and what kind of waste your supply chain produces, so start with that. There are a host of solutions, some with very specific uses which you might benefit from.

Improving Production Quality

Quality control is often focused on finished products, but one of the goals of quality management should be minimizing raw material wastage. If you optimize your manufacturing processes to reduce overall waste, it might have a two-fold advantage of increasing the number of goods that clear quality inspection.

Employee Feedback

The employees who have the task with the actual production will probably have a much better idea of where waste is being produced and the challenges with managing it. They could also provide a lot of feedback on how best to reduce waste and optimize waste management.

You can create focus groups tasked with identifying and optimizing waste since this kind of collaborative approach tends to have effective results.

Inventory Management

Lean approaches like JIT (Just-in-time) logistics can help you get closer to a 100% perfect-order measure. Apart from reducing order errors, it can also help you cut down tremendously on a lot of associated costs of inventory management like warehousing, utility costs rentals, and even insurance and taxes.

However, placing multiple orders may increase transport costs and your vendors might charge higher rates if each order is of a lower value, so weigh the pros and cons carefully.

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Erich Lawson is passionate about saving the environment by effective recycling. He has written a wide array of articles on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly garbage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment savings techniques by visiting Northern California Compactors, Inc blog.

3PLs

10 3PLS KILLING IT WITH DISTRIBUTION LOGISTICS

The third-party logistics (3PL) industry did more than $200 billion in revenue in the U.S. in 2018, according to Armstrong & Associates. That figure is double what it was just a decade ago. Rising labor costs, tight shipping capacity and a general need for companies to cut distribution costs are all fueling the growth.

Here are 10 3PLs that are making noteworthy advancements in the world of distribution logistics.

C.H. Robinson

Already one of the largest 3PLs in the world, C. H. Robinson is in the process of acquiring Prime Distribution Services, one of the nation’s leaders in retail consolidation services. “Prime Distribution Services is a high-quality growth company that brings scale and value-added warehouse capabilities to our retail consolidation platform, adding to our global suite of services,” said Bob Biesterfeld, C.H. Robinson CEO, in January. Prime currently operates five distribution centers throughout the U.S., totaling about 2.6 million square feet. With nearly $20 billion in freight under management and 18 million annual shipments, C. H. Robinson earned the top slot in Armstrong & Associates’ Top 50 U.S. 3PLs for 2018.

Holman Logistics

Headquartered in Kent, Washington, Holman opened in Portland back in 1864. Today, it’s one of the leading logistics firms in the Pacific Northwest, though it also manages facilities throughout the nation. The company offers public and contract warehousing (with 7 million square feet of warehousing space), manufacturing logistics, plant support, transportation, collaborative logistics and order-fulfillment services. In terms of distribution, Holman handles both truckload and LTL deliveries, as well as spotting and shuttle services. Some of Holman’s biggest customers are Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Kimberly-Clark, General Electric appliances, Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group, Dole Pineapple, Kerry Foods, Cargill and Morton Salt.

Anchor 3PL

For customers that deal with hazardous materials, logistics can be a tricky, even dangerous proposition. If it’s going the 3PL route for distribution, it’s imperative that it find a company that thoroughly understands the demands of hazmat logistics. While not a large firm, Anchor 3PL operates a 140,000-square-foot warehouse that has 40,000 square feet dedicated to hazmat. Based in Salt Lake City, Anchor regularly deals with chemical and hazmat storage and distribution, works with fire and safety departments, stays on top of the thousands of legal requirements for storing and transporting hazardous materials and maintains relationships with all the regulating authorities.

Kanban

Even with the Trump Administration’s 2018 tariffs on imported photovoltaic panels, the solar industry is booming. Located in eastern North Carolina, in the heart of domestic solar energy production, Kanban is using its thorough knowledge of the industry and logistics to help customers with warehousing and distribution of solar panels. With a million feet of warehouse space, Kanban was able to both assist customers with high-volume warehousing before the tariffs took effect, and then offer solutions for companies that had to change course once the tariffs started. The company also offers logistics assistance for aerospace, food processing and automotive industries.

Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions

Moving pharmaceuticals around the country requires more than simply a cold chain distributor. In 2011, Cardinal began using a special non-toxic, environmentally friendly insulated tote to keep products between 2°C – 8°C (36°F – 46°F) during shipment. The result keeps the supply chain safe as well as prevents possible spoiled or adulterated products from re-entering the supply chain. For vaccine storage and shipment, Cardinal’s commercial refrigeration units are only calibrated using devices from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It’s no surprise that Cardinal Health moves one out of every six pharmaceutical products in the country.

Cerasis

Since 1997, Cerasis has specialized in less than truckload (LTL) freight management. In fact, close to 95 percent of the company’s business has been in the LTL realm. Not only does this make sense for those wishing to move smaller volumes of freight, but it’s also perfect for e-commerce shipping. Cerasis is based in Minnesota but maintains offices in Oklahoma and Texas. GlobalTranz acquired Cerasis in January 2020. “Combining with GlobalTranz allows us to continue this history while providing our customers with increased service offerings and access to capacity,” said Cerasis President Steve Ludvigson shortly after the acquisition.

Expeditors

Based in Seattle, Expeditors operates 322 locations in more than 100 nations. Though it handles logistics for a variety of industries, Expeditors has considerable experience and expertise in the automotive world. Its customers include both original equipment manufacturers and tier suppliers, and it uses its sprawling global network—which includes more than 25 million square feet of warehouse space—to track items at the part or vehicle identification number level. Expeditors’ distribution services even include light manufacturing, labeling, product localization, inspection and product rework and compliance.

BDP International

Moving oil and gas around the world is complex, even in the realm of international logistics. No shipment is the same, and regulations are often changing. But BDP has long specialized in moving fuel, so it understands pricing, procurement, heavy lift and turn-key rig mobilization. In terms of distribution, the company operates facilities all around the world (including Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia), and uses extensive barcode scanning technology to keep track of everything. The company even offers its own BDP Smart Tower application, which allows customers to monitor asset locations, maximize asset utilization and coordinate maintenance and repairs to keep equipment downtime at a minimum.

Qualex

In 1990, Qualex opened as a dock-to-dock delivery company for Southern California furniture makers. Since then, it’s evolved into a full 3PL firm with tightly integrated warehouse and transportation services, though it still specializes in the furniture industry. For each customer, Qualex sets up an Electronic Data Exchange (EDI), which channels replenishment orders directly into its own Warehouse Management System (WMS), making logistics practically invisible.  Full distribution services include confirmation receipts, the automatic emailing of proof of delivery, inventory status reports, installation job status and even emailed photos of product condition upon delivery.

United Natural Foods, Inc.

Since grocery profit industry margins hover around just 2 percent, outsourcing logistics is practically mandatory. With its 2018 acquisition of Supervalu Advantage Logistics, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) became a leader in grocery industry logistics. In fact, it’s the largest publicly traded grocery distributor in the nation. And its warehouse facilities are cutting edge—some have radiofrequency devices that guide selectors to stock, while others are completely automated, ready to deliver aisle-ready pallets to retail stores. SuperValu also ran all the logistics for four regional warehouses belonging to Krogers, the second-largest grocery chain in the country.

team

Team Leadership Behavior in a Post Coronavirus World

Human behavior throughout history tells us that when groups of people are suppressed or living in fear, they avoid making decisions dampening progress, and ingenuity. One only must look at our darkest time in history, such as the Black Plague, where one-quarter of the population of London died between 1665 and 1666. Isaac Newton may have thrived isolated away from Trinity College during his “Year of Wonder”, but group societal progress and development did not.

The human reasoning for this, which applied in the 1600s and now COVID-19 times, is instability and fear of the unknown. During these challenging times as leaders, it may seem more natural to “hunker down” and avoid making tough decisions. During a crisis in an effort not to upset others or lose status in the eyes of their followers, leaders tend to concoct sophisticated justifications for putting off difficult decisions, and the delay often does far more damage than whatever fallout they were trying to avoid.

Business leaders must understand that in fact, hard decisions often get more complicated when they are deferred especially during a crisis. The need for rapid decision making is critical, understanding that most decisions can be reversed, but nothing can be worse than an idea or a decision never put forward during a crisis.

The most significant consequences occur when a leader misses an opportunity to help his team build resilience in the face of a tough challenge. Instead of learning to rally together to find creative solutions, they feel demoralized, confused, and even scared by their leader’s deceit.

The consequence of this common rationalization is people learn the wrong lesson to avoid mistakes at all costs and that “looking right” during a crisis is more important than “doing right.” Further, if leaders end up backing themselves into a corner with fewer options sub-optimal decisions may be made. Too often in crisis leaders will continue to ask for more data or analysis (Analysis Paralysis) instead of taking the risk and making the best decision possible with limited data which can save an entire organization during these challenging times. Postponing decisions to wait for more information might make sense during business as usual. But when the environment is uncertain—and defined by urgency and imperfect information—waiting to decide is a decision in itself. As Bruce T Blythe, CEO of Crisis Management International wrote: Crisis decision making is located somewhere between analysis and intuition.

Amid uncertainty generated by a crisis, leaders often feel an urge to limit authority to those at the top, with a small team making the big decisions while huddled behind closed doors. They should reject the hierarchical model that they might be more comfortable within normal times and instead involve more people, encourage different views and debate fostering creativity and risk-taking. This approach can lead to smarter decisions without sacrificing speed. Some small choices that leaders make in the short run could loom exceptionally large over the long term as the crisis unfolds. They can be hard to spot, but leaders must look for them.

In the normal course of business, many “big-bet” decisions are obvious when there is a large cost or major impact, such as acquiring a company, marketing a product in a new geography, or shutting down a factory, with these decisions. But some decisions that seem small or routine at first can have large long-term strategic implications. In an example related to coronavirus, Netflix has gone to lower-resolution streaming in some locations to ease the data load on information networks. While most people won’t notice the difference in quality, the decision could mean that the internet doesn’t crash, which would be a big problem when so many are working from home and children are relying on the internet to do their schoolwork.

When choosing leaders to rise above the rest of the pack during these challenging times, identify colleagues  who have done as many of the three following things as possible to increase the likelihood of them being successful in the current times of uncertainty:

-Lived through a crisis (personal or professional) and shown their mental and personal resilience. For Multinational organizations, many of these leaders may be outside the US leading their markets in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and The Middle East.

-Made tough, unpopular decisions because it was the right thing to do, even though they took heat for it and potentially burned bridges or spent social capital.

-Expert in: Straight Talk – Willingly able to give bad news up the chain of command to leaders who didn’t want to hear it.

Unprecedented crises demand unprecedented actions. Lessons from past crises suggest that leaders are more likely to underreact. What is necessary is to take bold and rapid actions that would feel too risky in normal times. I.e.: Being rewarded for Daring to Try.

As an executive during a crisis how difficult decisions are made in your truly define an organization’s decision-making culture over time. Whatever temporary pain you might incur from making a tough call should pale in comparison to the precedent set that it’s important to take chances, make quick decisions, and put the organization’s success first.

At the operational or emergency response level it is true that life and death decisions will be taken, the decision is binary and those who made the decision will know very quickly whether the decision is successful or not. Sometimes it is those who go against training and procedures that survive and the ones who do what they are told and stick to procedures suffer. But the trickiest are those we call “big bets”—unfamiliar, high-stakes decisions. When you have a crisis of uncertainty such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which arrived at overwhelming speed and enormous scale, organizations face a potentially paralyzing volume of these big-bet decisions.

Make smart decisions quickly to guide their organizations through this crisis. Embrace them and continue to learn as you go. As one business leader, I spoke with recently told me when I asked how he was doing with his business: “Our company reinvented itself three times this week alone. We will continue this path until we find what works. With the Chaos comes opportunity!”

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By Frank Orlowski, Founder and President Ation Advisory Group| frank@ationadvisory.com | New York, NY USA

If you have any questions or would like help in the area of Compliance and Controls please do not hesitate to contact Frank at frank@ationadvisory.com or visit my website at www.ationadvisory.com. Ation Advisory Group has expert financial and operational experience in development, manufacturing, distribution, and sales spanning 55 countries and, six continents, delivering individualized, proven methods to build out and implement highly successful and sustainable country-specific goals.  All executed with 100% FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) compliance.

forklift trucks

How has the Role of Forklift Trucks Evolved in Warehousing Operations Landscape Amid Flourishing E-commerce Presence Worldwide?

The rising global prevalence of technology and connectivity has set off a significant transformation of the industrial landscape, especially in the retail domain. As the world moves to an increasingly digitized platform, e-commerce, or electronic commerce, commonly associated with online shopping, is rapidly establishing itself as a favored retail choice among consumers. In fact, studies have shown that almost 95% of all shopping will be facilitated through e-commerce by 2040.

With such a prolific rise expected in e-commerce adoption over the forthcoming years, the demand for robust warehousing and distribution facilities takes significant precedence. This, in turn, augments the need for efficient material handling systems and components to ensure proper storage, loading, transport activities in the warehouses.

Since product transport is one of the most integral roles in the e-commerce distribution ecosystem, the forklift market is likely to garner tremendous interest as retail and shopping activities continue their transition to the online platform.

What are forklifts?

Forklift trucks, also known as jitneys or lift trucks, refer to a class of vehicles designed for industrial use. These systems comprise a power-operated platform attached to the front, which can be raised or lowered as required to lift or move cargo. The term forklift is derived from these platforms, which are usually in the form of fork-like prongs. Lift trucks are used across myriad industrial sectors for the efficient transport of goods and materials.

The origins of these systems can be traced back to 1887, when the first material handling equipment, known as a two-wheel hand truck, was created using a combination of wheels and iron axles. However, the history of the modern forklift is more commonly associated with the invention of the Tructractor by the Clark Equipment Company, in 1917. The machine, which is often credited as being the first forklift, was essentially a tractor with an attachment for product handling, bearing only a minor resemblance to their modern-day successors.

Since its inception, the forklift industry has undergone several evolutions. The industrial impact of this material handling equipment over the years has been profound, evidenced most prominently during its contribution to boosting efficiency and productivity in workforces during World War I and World War II eras.

Rising prevalence of e-commerce solutions amid turbulent global conditions

While e-commerce itself is on its way to establishing a firm presence in the retail landscape, the ongoing global crisis stemming from the coronavirus outbreak has brought about a significant shift in consumer preferences and behavior. The rise in demand across the globe for essential and daily goods, alongside limitations due to social distancing and quarantine protocols has breathed new life into the e-commerce journey, as more and more people turn towards online portals for safer and quicker shopping experiences.

Fueled by this expansion of e-commerce, logistics systems, including warehouses and distribution facilities have grown tremendously in number, thus accelerating the demand for lift trucks and other warehouse solutions.

E-commerce solutions are most attractive to consumers due to the various benefits and conveniences they offer over conventional shopping experiences, including free and faster delivery of products, hassle-free returns and exchanges, and wider selections, among others. In order to fulfill these benefits, warehouse and distribution operations need to be extremely efficient, in terms of timely movement and transport of products to and from the facility, making the role of forklift trucks a crucial one for the industry.

Many prominent figures in the e-commerce and retail-associated industries have taken heed of this and started to develop innovative warehouse transport technologies to cater to the rapidly surging demand for online products. A notable example of this is global delivery service DHL, which has implemented several technologies including AI, self-driving vehicles and robotic lift trucks, etc., at its North America warehouses, to accommodate evolving product demand.

Technological advancements shaping the forklift industry

The forklift industry has witnessed several advancements over the years. These progressions, which range from mobility solution to automation to power source technology evolution, each assert a considerable impact on the way the modern fork truck functions.

Chief among these advancements is the emergence of environmentally friendly forklift technologies, given the burgeoning costs of fuels and the rising impact of climate change on the global ecological structure. According to some studies, energy-efficient lift trucks can last over 20-30% longer than their internal combustion engine-based counterparts.

In light of this knowledge, several companies have forayed into the development of energy-efficient electric forklifts to cater to the evolving warehousing demand from the retail industry. For instance, GMH (Godrej Material Handling) has recently unveiled the three-wheel Bravo Electric Forklift for the 1.6-2 ton category, equipped with an advanced battery solution for optimum product transport and handling.

Apart from the ecological standpoint, forklift trucks have also undergone a significant transformation in terms of mobility, as was evidenced by the launch of the Sidewinder ATX-3000 forklift by Vetex, which is an omnidirectional lift truck, owing to a series of rollers used in place of traditional solid or pneumatic tires.

Automation has asserted its impact across the industrial spectrum in myriad applications, and fork truck technology is no different. Automated lift trucks are equipped with a host of sophisticated technological systems including guidance systems that help them self-navigate through warehouses and facilitate automatic pick-up and drop of products, with little to no human intervention required.

These systems are reshaping the way forklift trucks function across various industries including warehouse, automotive, manufacturing, and more. The Raymond Corporation has recently introduced an automated lift truck stacker that leverages vision-guidance technology from Seegrid Corporation, to enable autonomous stacking from pick-up to delivery locations.

Source: Global Market Insights

logistics industry

Trends that will Reshape the Logistics Industry

No industry exists in a vacuum. Everything is interconnected and hinges on each other. The same is true of the logistics industry. The trends that will reshape the logistics industry are mostly trends that have to do with other industries that function together with logistics.

Experts believe that technological, business and social trends are going to drive the disruptions that will be felt in the logistics industry. For some, these changes will be long overdue.

From social trends like sustainability, over the changes felt in business with the rise of e-commerce, to the multiple changes the advancement of technology will allow, the logistics industry is set to undergo massive changes in the next couple of years. Let’s take a look at what we can expect.

Business Trends

E-commerce logistics and supply chains are what have most consistently been reshaping the logistics industry. What has been most influential are the customers’ expectations. Not only do customers expect to get their goods faster, but also at a low delivery cost. Not only that, but manufacturing is becoming more and more customized, which is making things all the more complicated for the logistics industry. These are the key business trends that are impacting logistics in 2020.

Last-mile Deliveries

With the advent of Amazon Prime, customers have grown to expect much faster delivery times. Companies like Amazon and Walmart provide services that offer same-day or 48-hour deliveries for less money than their competitors, sometimes even for free. This will lead to manufacturers, distributors, and logistics professionals needing to find strategies to offer shorter turnaround times on last-mile deliveries. In practice, shippers will begin focusing on what is called just-in-time delivery (JIT). JIT delivery means inbound freight arrives at the warehouse just in time for shipment in order to shorten the delivery time. This, in turn, will lead to the lowering of warehouse costs as well as carrying costs.

Localizing Warehouses

In order for JIT to work, companies will have to move warehouses closer to the consumers. Instead of having several major distribution centers, companies will look at having more smaller warehouse options throughout their market. The location of these will be determined by the frequency of orders in different areas.

Social Trends

For the most part, the social trends that will impact the future of the logistics industry are urbanization and sustainability. Increased urbanization is making it much harder to manage logistics and is making everything far more unpredictable. It also creates the demand for smaller commercial vehicles doing the deliveries. On the other hand, delivery trucks often add to pollution and traffic jams in a city setting.

This leads us to the second social trend aiming to impact the industry – sustainability. Doing deliveries cities with dense populations is getting harder and harder to manage sustainably. On top of this, there are stricter and stricter emission regulations. For example, freight-carrying ships have long been under fire for the amount of crude oil emissions. The limit for sulfur in fuel oil has been reduced starting with January 1, 2020, to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass). In addition to this, companies have been under constant pressure to adopt different green initiatives on the corporate level. All of this will force changes when it comes to logistics.

Technological Trends

Regardless of what happens in business or society, technological advances are the main and most numerous trends that will reshape the logistics industry.

Autonomous vehicles will provide great safety benefits at the fraction of the cost. Platooning technologies that link two or more trucks in convoy will provide greater fuel efficiency. Another technology that will also help with sustainability is the increased use of electric or hybrid trucks for deliveries and transportation.

Customer-facing APIs

These softwares are there to provide customers with information about where their parcel is at any time. This makes the customer feel in control of the purchase and, more importantly, makes them more likely to return. Reaching out to customers via email or text to let them know what stage their delivery is at is a simple way to keep them in the loop.

This kind of technology is also not only for customers. Advances in this field can help you keep track of your freight shipments, which can be invaluable especially if they are late.

AI and Big Data

Artificial intelligence and big data are the advances that are most likely to change the logistics industry. Analytics and AI will allow for better and faster decision making when it comes to logistics. They will enable automated scheduling as well as route and volume planning.

Drones and Robotics

Even though they are currently not very common in warehouses spaces, the awareness of the need for robotics is increasing every day. Currently, only around 5 percent of warehouses have employed this technology. It is certain, however, that this is the trend that is definitely here to stay. Its benefits are many, including solving the problem of the low labor availability for these jobs.

Drones have similarly been treated as too futuristic. However, an increasing number of companies are using them for their quick deliveries, especially in densely populated areas.

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Sebastian Miller has worked for statetostatemove.com for 4 years now. Working with a company specializing in all types of moves, from residential to corporate, for many generations has provided him with a rare all-encompassing glimpse into the moving industry. He lives and works in Dallas, TX.