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Expert Insight: Supply Chain Disruptions Through the Eyes of TITAN Professional Tools

supply chain management

Expert Insight: Supply Chain Disruptions Through the Eyes of TITAN Professional Tools

“Supply chain troubles.” “From bad [2020] to worse [2021].” It was a “perfect storm for our supply chain crisis.” These are just a few of the headlines I’ve seen in recent weeks looking back on 2021. While I think we’re all eager to turn the page and start anew, I fear many of the challenges we experienced last year will continue into 2022 – and perhaps beyond. If there’s one thing we learned last year, it’s that our supply chain is more fragile than many of us imagined.

Case in point, a recent estimate from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) reported that the truck driver shortage has risen to 80,000 – an all-time high for the industry. According to the ATA study, the driver shortage could surpass 160,000 by the end of the decade, noting that the industry will need to recruit nearly one million new drivers to replace those retiring or leaving the business. Not only did the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 exacerbate the issue, but it also revealed gaps in every link of the supply chain and then amplified the impact of those collective weaknesses.


A recent Wall Street Journal article perfectly summarized the challenge:

Trucks haul more than 70% of domestic cargo shipments. Yet many fleets say they can’t hire enough drivers to meeting booming consumer demand as the U.S. economy emerges from the pandemic. The freight backup has intensified longstanding strains in the industry over hours, pay, working conditions and retention. The surge of goods has created logjams at loading docks and port terminals, gobbling up scarce trucking capacity and making drivers’ jobs even harder. Factories and warehouses are also short of staff to load and receive goods. Meanwhile, the broader labor shortage has left openings for other blue-collar jobs that compete with trucking, including in local delivery operations, construction and manufacturing.

To better understand the operational and logistical issues retailers, importers, wholesalers and other distribution organizations are facing due to the state of today’s supply chain, I recently spoke Nick Tsitis, vice president at TITAN Professional Tools. His account is eye-opening, to say the least, and can hopefully help those facing similar challenges.

Q:  How did the Suez Canal accident create operational and logistical issues for businesses like TITAN Professional Tools?

A:  No one talks about this anymore. Before conversations of current supply chain issues, however, our forwarders often referenced the incident. I believe it significantly contributed to and accelerated our current supply chain problems, including shortages of equipment and limited space on vessels and at our ports. There’s been a huge stress on the ports, making it difficult to even get containers off the ships. And when you do get them off the ships, they sit in these piles disorderly piles they’re calling “pig piles” now. Whatever’s on top becomes available first.  And if you’re on the bottom of that pig pile, your merchandise is stuck.

So, not only is it taking time to get containers off ships, but it’s also taking time to get them from the ground onto chassis. Once containers finally do make it to our facility, and we get them unloaded, you would think with such a shortage of equipment there would be an urgency to return containers, but they cannot be returned to the port. We recently discovered 12 containers being stored in our business park from someone that is not a tenant here.  Apparently, they ran out space in their complex, and decided to park the equipment at ours.

Q: How have issues like this impacted your operating costs?

A: In so many ways.  It used to cost $1,500 to get a container from Asia to Seattle. Now we’re paying as high as $18,000. We are often charged demurrage for containers that are off vessels but not delivered to us within a week.  There are surcharges being implemented on both sides as well (Asia and USA). It’s a huge burden on us. It also affects our cash conversion cycle as goods invoiced to us are stuck in transit, and we can’t invoice until we receive and ship to our customers.

Q: How are you dealing with dock scheduling and similar issues caused by all this unpredictability?

A: Once we can get the container and get an appointment, it hasn’t been too big of a problem. On occasion, the truck drivers will have to wait sometimes six to eight hours to pick up a container. We used to pay under $100 to get a container from Seattle to Kent. Now it’s almost $700 to move it seven miles. Local drayage is up, and we’re often having to pay the drivers by the hour to wait in line to ensure we get our merchandise.

Q: Are you also facing labor shortages in the warehouse that compound these issues?

A: I know others have but we haven’t realized that because we’re a small business and have a lot of family here that have been with the company for a long time.  We are fortunate and may be y the exception when it comes to labor. But, yes, when you look down the road and see Amazon hiring at $23.50 an hour with a $3,000 signing bonus, it can be hard to compete with that.  it has in the past.

Q: How close do you think we are to seeing an end to these disruptions?

A: Well, everything’s related in one way or another – if not directly, then indirectly – to these supply chain problems. Our lead time with several factories is now as high as 18 months, where it used to take 45 to 90 days to manufacture product and 14 days transit is now taking as many as 60 or 90 days transit. There are some factories, that if we placed an order now, we won’t see it for almost two years. That’s an extreme. Most factories now are taking 6 to 8 months. As a result, we’re buying out a year, which is really scary. So, yes, it’s going to take a long time to recover. I don’t think it’s going to get back to normal for at least another year.

Q:  Based on your experiences, what advice would you share with other businesses facing similar challenges?

A:  We often use the word “partnership” between vendors and customers. We are making it thru these challenging times because of the true partnerships we have on both sides, with our vendors, and our customers. Everyone is understanding, being more flexible and forgiving, and more willing to accommodate than before. Pardon the pun, but everyone is “in the same boat” on this.  We need to work together to get through it.



If you’re not combining barcode scanning and data collection technology with your ERP software, you’re inevitably going to pay more in labor costs, excess inventory, and errors.

Real-time inventory data is increasingly seen as the lifeblood of eCommerce and omnichannel commerce initiatives. With customers demanding high levels of visibility into inventory status before, during, and after every transaction, companies have to know what’s in stock, what’s in transit, what’s being returned, and when they need to re-order.

Inventory has to be accurately tracked, or it can negatively impact warehouse operations, fulfillment, receiving, and customer service. However, according to some estimates, nearly half of small and midsize businesses don’t track inventory at all or use manual methods. A recent Zebra Technologies study found that nearly 40 percent of companies still aren’t using mobile computers or mobile barcode scanners.


Managing inventory without real-time barcode scanning is only going to get more difficult as companies expand their SKU count and increasingly process larger numbers of smaller orders that are typical of e-commerce and omnichannel operations. As the number of inventory mistakes increase, they can have a ripple effect across the entire business.

When companies don’t have inventory visibility, it can cause various problems.”

– Brady Stevens, Project Manager at Global Shop Solutions

“For example, they may run out of product and not discover the problem until they’ve already completed an online sale. Now, they’re missing delivery deadlines and will likely have to follow up with customers and offer make-goods. It can lead to profit losses at best, and often leads to customer losses as well.”


Here’s an example of a typical scenario of a company using an ERP system without mobility or barcode scanning: A warehouse worker uses a paper document (i.e., picklist), which lets him know where to find specific products for an order. The worker picks all the parts (kitting) and then walks to a work station to confirm the job has been completed. After that, the order is ready to be shipped.

There are a number of things that can go wrong in this process without real-time visibility, and they all have a cost:

1. Unnecessary Labor Costs: Without using barcode scanners, there’s a lot of time wasted typing information into the computer when employees retrieve their picklists and then confirm that they have picked all of the necessary items to fulfill the order.

If there are mistakes, then at least some of that labor is duplicated as workers return to the bins to pick the right items and then re-key the order information. The longer it takes an employee to process a single order, the more employees you’ll need to keep up with increasing volumes. Scanning accelerates the data collection and entry process.

2. Data Entry Errors: Manual data entry always leads to errors. Once those errors are in your software systems, they create inventory inaccuracies and shipment mistakes that can be difficult to spot and correct. With barcode scanning, all of the data entry is automated and initiated by the barcode label; there’s no opportunity for mis-keying a SKU or item quantity.

3. Picking Errors: Picking errors can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars per year. In industries that handle more expensive goods, the cost can be even higher. Picking and putaway are rife with opportunities for mistakes – employees can inadvertently pick the wrong item, pick the wrong number of the right item, put inventory in the wrong location, or make data entry or counting errors during physical inventories.

Barcode scanning and mobile computing can eliminate most of these problems by providing real-time confirmations that the correct SKU has been picked and in the right quantity.

4. Excess Inventory: Without accurate inventory data, most companies over-compensate for their lack of visibility by increasing inventory. This is a costly investment, as it not only results in unnecessary purchases and higher inventory costs, but also an increase in obsolescence.

With extra inventory, there are also more write-offs and write-downs, which can cut into profitability.

5. Lack of Visibility: Knowing how much inventory you have and where it’s going doesn’t just affect your ability to ship accurately. Without accurate, real-time inventory data it’s almost impossible to determine key performance indicators (KPIs) like on-time shipments, perfect order percentages, out-of-stocks, etc. This data is necessary if you want to make any kind of performance improvements ― it helps create a baseline and makes it easier to identify problem areas in your inventory processes.


The data created through mobile barcode scanning can help determine where the bottlenecks are in your inventory management operations, as well as identify where mistakes are being made and how well you’re performing against your customer expectations and your own internal goals.

If you haven’t deployed mobile barcode scanning to help track and manage your inventory, you are likely absorbing unnecessary costs and risks created through wasted labor, excess inventory, and picking/shipping mistakes that can ultimately result in lost customers.

To learn more about how you can take advantage of the cost-saving benefits of barcode scanning with Global Shop Solutions, check out this webpage.


Eric Sutter is a business development professional with more than 20 years of experience in barcoding, building solutions for asset tracking and warehouse management across a wide range of vertical markets. Sutter founded EMS Barcode Solutions on the premise that customers need more than data collection devices and software— they need solutions. By combining and integrating components such as mobile computers, software, labels, and ribbons with professional services, EMS delivers solutions that provide its customers with a tangible return on their investments.


Calculating the True Value of a WMS: Top Cost Savings for Manufacturing Companies

When manufacturing companies consider the digitization of their supply chain, many opt to delay their project because of the investments required to acquire and implement new technology solutions. In so doing, however, they deprive themselves of their operational and financial benefits.   

SaaS solutions like the SOLOCHAIN WMS have made efficient technology solutions far more affordable than ever before. Nevertheless, a WMS still remains a significant investment to smaller manufacturing companies. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a WMS or ERP’s TOC is not indicative of the system’s actual value – at least, not in and of itself.

Any investment in supply chain infrastructure must be evaluated by relating the TOC to the ROI an operator stands to achieve. It is therefore essential that operators rigorously understand the kinds of savings and gains a given technology solution can yield to make an informed decision regarding its value.

In this paper, we look at five ways manufacturing companies achieve tangible and intangible savings and gains thanks to the SOLOCHAIN WMS.

1. Roasting Coffee to Customers Satisfaction, for Less

A coffee roasting, packaging, and distribution company is putting out a great product and garnering the attention of major players the likes of Walmart, Target, and Menards. To benefit from these new revenue streams, the manufacturer must comply with distinct customer requirements, from packaging to labeling to shipping.

With the SOLOCHAIN WMS integrated with its ERP system, the manufacturer can rely on automated compliance processes and ensure that all shipments meet their customers’ requirements. At all stages of the production and distribution cycle, employees are informed of the customer’s requirements through intuitive interfaces on handheld devices or computer stations.

Thanks to these efficiency gains, the manufacturer is able to achieve a throughput that meets the increased demand instead of having to invest in new real estate, new material handling equipment, and a larger labor force.

2. Manufacturing Cosmetics in an Attractive Work Environment

Some savings generated by the SOLOCHAIN WMS are easily quantified. Others are more intangible, but nevertheless very real.

Most manufacturers these days have trouble attracting and retaining qualified warehouse workers. For a cosmetics manufacturer, this was true before the pandemic hit and it has become a real thorn in their foot today. Labor shortages are now affecting manufacturing and distribution activities to the point where they cannot meet productivity targets. Delays in shipments are having an impact on service levels. Meanwhile, a high turnover rate leads to significant training fees and further operational penalties.

The SOLOCHAIN WMS supports workflows from production processes all the way to shipping. Thanks to clear instructions on intuitive interfaces, activities in the warehouse are more efficient and the cosmetics maker can meet its productivity targets with fewer employees.

Implementing the WMS on handheld devices similar to iPhones and Android platforms, the younger generation of workers find their work environment much more pleasant. This helps the cosmetic maker achieve a higher retention rate, which in turn reduces the training budgets.

By relying on a smaller workforce and retaining more of its employees thanks to an improved work environment, the company can meet its productivity targets and ensure customer satisfaction while saving on labor costs.

3. A Production Flow That Never Drops the Ball

The benefits of traceability might be more obvious in the Food & Beverage industry, but the truth is that all manufacturers stand to make important savings by keeping track of the items that go into making what they produce.

Through SOLOCHAIN’s traceability and automated order cycles capabilities, a baseball equipment manufacturer can keep an eye on quantities produced as well as every item consumed in the process. Management can configure the WMS so that it automatically generates POs to procure items once a certain quantity threshold is reached. In that way, SOLOCHAIN ensures that production is never halted because items are missing on the shelves.

With management in charge of determining thresholds, the system also bypasses the risk of human errors, avoiding that too many, or to few items are ordered. This leads to an optimal use of the warehouse’s storage capacity, which saves the baseball equipment manufacturer from having to make unnecessary investments in their physical infrastructure.

4. Your Counts

Weekly inventory cycle counts force a manufacturer of audio-visual equipment to close areas in the warehouse. This slows down productivity and cuts into the manufacturer’s margins. Thanks to SOLOCHAIN’s inventory management capabilities, the company can save on the costs of long weekly cycle counts.

Once implemented on handheld scanning devices, SOLOCHAIN enables the manufacturer to keep track, in real time, of the quantity and location of every item in the warehouse. While they perform cycle counts, employees are continuously supported in their activities with clear instructions, which drastically cuts down on the time required to complete their tasks.

Today, the manufacturer is attaining inventory accuracy levels of 99.6% and working on eliminating weekly shutdown periods altogether. Thanks to SOLOCHAIN’s support, annual counts can be performed in a single weekend, ensuring that their production of a5. Thinking Ahead: Intelligent Manufacturing  audio-visual equipment never misses a beat.

A food processing facility specialises in the production of organic packaged meals that are delivered daily to various organic grocers in the region. Their products are gaining in popularity and demand is on the rise. The number and complexity of customer orders are quickly overwhelming their pen & paper fulfilment processes. The resulting production and shipping errors are now eating at the manufacturer’s profits and affecting customer satisfaction levels.

The SOLOCHAIN WMS facilitates Just-In-Time Delivery through automated full cycle order management. Thanks to the system’s support, order fulfillment at the food service manufacturer is now virtually errorless. Clients are satisfied and demand is on the rise again. Meanwhile, lesser returns lead to lesser losses, which in turn saves the organic meal maker from welting margins.

About Generix Group

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more. 


Siemens Offers Turnkey Logistic Solutions for Material Handling Processes at MODEX 2022

Siemens will exhibit at MODEX 2022 in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center from March 28-31, 2022. MODEX is the premier supply chain event, attracting industry professionals from across the globe.

Highlights will include the new SIMATIC MICRO-DRIVE, designed for ultra-low-voltage applications, in a demonstration of an automated guided vehicle (AGV). Also featured will be the new SINAMICS G115D, a recently released distributed drive system, specifically designed for conveyor applications.

Displays in the Siemens booth will include drives for motion control, material handling and intralogistics applications that are controlled by SIMATIC PLCs with unified HMI panels and integrated safety, all programmed in the Siemens Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal. Additional topics in the booth include Industrial Edge and cybersecurity.

Another highlight will focus on a project Siemens recently completed for a customer in Kentucky. Siemens supplied a fully automated mega warehouse with 200,000 pallet positions as a turnkey project which distributes laundry and home care products to 60% of the U.S. market, with all logistics operations performed at this production site. The benefits Siemens offered, in addition to all mechanical deliveries, include a modular automation standard by SIMATIC, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMOGEAR standard components and INTRALOG TIA software modules resulting in increased delivery reliability (on-time and defect-free.)

engagement roambee

8 Effective Strategies for Increasing Engagement Among Supply Chain Employees

Even in heavily automated fields, employees are the lifeblood of any company. Many supply chain optimization strategies focus on new technologies and workflows, but any effective measure must also consider the workforce.

One of the most important factors to address is employee engagement. Without an engaged workforce, no supply chain will operate at its full potential.

Why Is Engagement Important?

Engagement, the degree to which employees feel motivated, interested and passionate, is hard to quantify but essential to success. Studies show that highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable, exhibit 59% less turnover and 41% less absence.

Despite those benefits, many companies fail to engage their employees. As of January 2021, just 39% of U.S. workers reported being engaged at work. While that figure has risen over time, it still indicates that most employees don’t feel motivated in their workplaces.

In a field like supply chain operations, where efficiency is crucial, businesses can’t afford to overlook this data. Employers must keep supply chain workers engaged, and here are eight strategies to do so.

1. Invest in Employees’ Careers

One of the most important steps to take is to emphasize career development. Surveys show that 94% of employees will stay at their company longer if their employer invested in their career. By contrast, if workers feel like they have no opportunities for advancement in their workplace, they’ll become dissatisfied, eventually leaving.

One solution is to provide opportunities for upward mobility within the company, promoting from within. Another is to offer career development classes or training, equipping workers with new skills. Whatever path a company takes, it should emphasize and promote these opportunities.

2. Listen to Employee Feedback

Another effective strategy for increasing engagement is to listen to what employees have to say. Workers will quickly become disinterested and disillusioned if they feel that management doesn’t care about their opinions. Asking for feedback can help assuage those feelings, but it’s important to go a step further, too.

Businesses must respond to employee feedback, not just request it. If common threads emerge between workers’ suggestions or complaints, there’s likely an underlying issue that needs addressing. Management should take all feedback seriously, thanking employees for it first, then investigating it further. If meaningful change comes from this feedback, companies should highlight it.

3. Create Volunteer Opportunities

Engagement often stems from workers’ respect for the company or a feeling like they’re making a difference in their role. One way to lean into that is to coordinate volunteer opportunities for employees to give back to their communities. In a 2017 survey, 74% of employees and workers said that volunteerism improves their sense of purpose.

Management should look for opportunities to partner with local charities or organize volunteer initiatives. It’s also important to encourage participation, partly to involve more workers and partly to show enthusiasm for the project. Hosting projects like this at least once a year can help employees feel they’re part of something bigger, improving morale.

4. Host Social Events

Volunteer opportunities aren’t the only events outside of work that can boost employee engagement. Social events like parties, potlucks and trips can give workers a chance to grow closer to one another and their leaders. As employees build closer, healthier social relationships within the workplace, work will begin to feel more cooperative and engaging.

Listen to employees to gauge what types of outings and events would interest them the most. Hosting various social events throughout the year can help appeal to different workers, ensuring no one feels left out. In nearly all settings, providing food can be effective, so find people-pleasing recipes to bring.

5. Recognize Commendable Performance

One of the primary goals of boosting engagement is to get employees to perform to their full potential. If companies don’t recognize and reward exceptional performance, they can’t expect workers to strive for these goals. Conversely, if management shows their appreciation for commendable work, more workers will feel motivated to perform better.

In some circumstances, simply highlighting a job well done to other employees is enough to motivate workers. Offering tangible rewards for meeting certain performance goals may be even more effective, as it gives something concrete for employees to work toward. These rewards could be cash bonuses, extra paid time off, gift cards or anything else that workers would want.

6. Pay Attention to Worker Health

Another effective employee engagement strategy is to emphasize worker health. Employees will have an easier time engaging with their work if they feel their company cares about their wellbeing. In supply chain operations, this should include measures to prevent injury, but sponsored workout classes or fitness goals are also good ideas.

Considering one in five American adults experience a mental health issue each year, this strategy should include mental health. Businesses should emphasize the importance of looking after emotional wellness and offer related solutions. Counseling services, support groups and other measures can help assure workers their company cares about them.

7. Remove Inefficiencies and Complexity

Some factors affecting employee engagement aren’t as immediately apparent. One impactful yet relatively easy-to-fix obstacle is inefficient or overly complicated workflows. If employees have a hard time understanding what they’re supposed to do or face multiple obstacles doing it, it will be hard to remain engaged.

The solution to this issue involves two main areas of focus: training and workflow adjustments. More comprehensive, involved training can help workers understand their tasks better, removing mental roadblocks to engagement. Removing unnecessary complexity or inefficiencies in a workflow will then help employees focus on value-adding work, maintaining engagement.

8. Lead by Example

Finally, it’s important for supply chain management to embody the company spirit in their own work. Workers won’t likely exhibit much engagement if the leaders they see don’t appear motivated or passionate about their work either. By the same token, if company leaders are enthusiastic, positive and driven, it will inspire others to be the same.

Studies show that 50% of all workers have left a job at some point because of a bad manager. What constitutes a “bad” leader may vary between people, but leaders saying one thing and doing another certainly won’t help. Anyone in a leadership position in supply chains must lead by example.

Engaged Employees Are Productive Employees

Supply chains become far more efficient with engaged employees. If logistics companies can follow one or more of these eight strategies, they can engage their workforce on a deeper level. They can then maximize their human potential, mitigating workforce issues that plague the industry.

demand planning

Demand Planning: What It Is and Why It’s Important

Demand planning has evolved to be an integral function of business over the past decade. It addresses the major concerning issue of matching the demand while avoiding wastage. In this article, we will try to cover everything important related to demand planning and why has become so important for business. Before we delve into the details of demand planning, let us understand the concept of demand planning vividly.

Demand Planning: Definition and Concept

As the name suggests, demand planning refers to planning the stock against the forecasted consumer demand. It is a cross-functional process that enables businesses to always have the necessary stock of products while minimizing excess inventory and avoiding supply chain disruptions. It is a continuous process that forms an important function of a business. The constant improvement in technology has made this business function possible. However, its accuracy is still not dependable.

Demand Planning Vs. Demand Forecasting

Often the two are used interchangeably but they differ in their scope and function. Demand forecasting is only a part of the supply chain demand planning process. Demand forecasts are usually done for a specific period of time that varies for different organizations. The demand forecasting process lays the groundwork for the crucial process of demand planning.

Demand Planning: Process

Demand planning is done through close observation of sales, seasonality data, historical sales, and consumer trends. This assessment enables the business to meet customer demand in an efficient manner. In order to achieve accurate results, businesses use statistical forecasting. In statistical forecasting, statisticians use historical data to generate supply chain forecasts using various advanced statistical algorithms. Data-backed forecasts in demand planning help to avoid stock-outs or overstocks while ensuring customer satisfaction.

Each business has different demands and hence demand different algorithm. In order to select the best algorithm for a business, the statisticians have to try different algorithms to see which forecast is more accurate by reviewing each model’s accuracy and bias measures. With the help of statistical forecasting, demand planners can easily identify outliers and exclusions that are based upon user-defined parameters that include standard deviation or the interquartile range.

Demand Planning: Significance

The most important function of demand planning is to strike the right balance between customer demand and stock inventory. This is imperative for delivering customer satisfaction and thereby filling the sales funnel of the business. Although the function of demand planning is very crucial, it is very difficult to achieve accurate results. The complexity associated with demand planning is due to the fact that it requires coordination across the entire organization.

Excess inventory not only blocks the working capital of the business but also adds inventory carrying costs that could otherwise be utilized towards buying fresh stocks or developing the technologies used in the business. On the other hand, a shortage of stock supply can lead to backorders, hasty buying of costly raw materials, and most importantly a bad image of the organization. Shortage of stock is one of the most prominent causes of customer dissatisfaction that can adversely affect the goodwill of the organization.

Demand Planning: Procedure and Best Practices

Demand planning is as complex as it is important for the business. It is a multi-level process that involves speculation and good analytical skills. To make you understand things better, we have broken down the entire process into simple steps.

1. Defining and Collecting Relevant Data

The first and most important step is understanding the data that would be relevant in forecasting the demand. The data is subjective to the nature of business and the scope of its operations. For this, the planners discuss the data with the internal sales and marketing team about the timing of price changes, marketing campaigns, and promotions that could affect demand.

2. Utilizing External Data

Now that your internal database is ready, the next step is to collect the relevant external data. The external data could include metrics regarding the recent performance and delivery timelines of suppliers and distributors and the latest purchasing habits of your key customers. Other factors include the economic conditions that can have a bearing on the demand and sales of your product.

3. Analyze Demand Forecast

After collecting and analysing the internal and external data, professionals decide upon the most appropriate forecasting model that is relevant to your business. After a model is decided, the next step is to determine how much inventory is needed to fulfill the forecasted demand.

4. Measure Results

The final step is to measure the results against the forecasted demand. This step is very important to ensure that you are able to plan the future forecast accurately. For measuring the results, demand planning professionals identify the Key Performance Indicators(KPI) that help you determine the efficiency of your planning.

Your Takeaway

Now that you know the importance and other nuances of demand planning, it is just about time that you invest in a good team that can ensure a smooth flow of supply.



Texas continues to add successful projects to its economic development portfolio, and Global Site Location Industries (GSLI) continues to spearhead efforts supporting businesses gearing up to expand or relocate operations.

GSLI’s Choose Texas program focuses solely on connecting these expanding or relocating businesses with Texas-specific markets that best meet their project needs and goals without the costs and hassle of traditional site locators. 

The following 11 Texas communities represent GSLI’s latest roundup of Choose Texas partners that offer companies unique opportunities for business – from competitive locations to robust infrastructure and skilled workers.

TexAmericas Center

Known for being a Top Ranked Business Facilities Location in 2021, the Texarkana region’s mixed-used industrial parks offer 3.5 million square feet and 12,000 acres of commercial and industrial property to expanding businesses. From its low operational costs, flexible facility options and access to Texas’ primary freight corridor (Interstate 30), TexAmericas Center brings 150 years of solid economic development experience to support the needs of its current and prospective tenants.

Most recently, TexAmericas Center announced efforts to combat the trucker shortage through a truck training partnership with Texarkana College. Through this partnership, space is offered to support the initiative to beef up the labor pool and continue to meet the increasing demand for drivers. Thanks to TexAmericas Center’s ideal location, students can benefit from the area’s space to practice and access multiple interstates and rail lines. 

“We have tenants who need commercial truck drivers directly or need to make sure raw materials can be brought in and shipped out for finished products,” Scott Norton, CEO and executive director of TexAmericas Center, said recently. “We want to do everything we can to support a trained workforce.”

To learn more, visit


Located in the Texas panhandle, Dumas has a reputation for being one of the busiest and most historical small towns in the Lone Star State. In fact, Dumas was an essential production point for wartime products (including the largest helium deposit in the world) during World War II.

The city’s industrial park, located along the Ports to Plains International Trade Corridor, represents variety and opportunities. Current companies found in Dumas include Frito Lay Area Distribution Center, Equipment Supply Company, Inc. and Specialized Dairy Services. 

Dumas offers expanding or relocating businesses a diverse range of industries to grow among, competitive transportation access points and a proactive approach to workforce development. 

Through its partnership with Amarillo College-Moore County Campus, the city prepares the labor pool with resources relevant to industry needs. The Career Skills & Technical Training Center offers custom-based training to further develop skills needed to support growing businesses. Most recently, Dumas Economic Development Corporation worked with Beach Coders Academy to create a program specifically designed for web development skills and certification.

To learn more, visit


Best known for its globally-minded business climate, Laredo is home to the No. 1 inland port along the U.S.-Mexico border, Port Laredo. The diverse city is about 150 miles from San Antonio and two hours from Monterrey, Mexico. Laredo represents the third position among the nation’s top five ports, after the Port of Los Angeles (No. 1) and runner-up Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

In terms of international trade, Port Laredo reported $205.88 billion of total global trade last year alone. Mexico, China and Japan are recognized as the top three trading partners of the city, with motor vehicle parts, gasoline/other fuels and diesel engines among top exports and motor vehicle parts, passenger vehicles and tractors among top imports. 

There is an alphabet of transportation options for businesses located in Laredo. From air, water, highways, motor freight, rail, bus, parcel services and trade handling services, the options are equally efficient as they are competitive. 

To learn more, visit

Sulphur Springs

Heading northeast, Sulphur Springs/Hopkins County offers a unique blend of small-town history and thriving business environment. The city is located just outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) region along Interstate 30. The name Sulphur Springs is self-explanatory of the city’s history. Among the city gems still found there is the city courthouse, originally built in 1895, adding to the area’s traditional flair.

Looking at the business side of things, Sulphur Springs offers a robust and diverse industry presence with companies including Ocean Spray, We Pack Logistics, Aero Space Aluminum and B.E.F. Foods. The city’s advantageous transportation options offer businesses short and main line rail, air and NAFTA corridor access via Interstate 30. Did we mention the city’s municipal airport was named airport of the year? 

Additionally, Sulphur Springs is known for its outstanding academic reputation, bragging state recognition every year since 1999, and preparing its workforce via the Sulphur Springs Higher Education Center. It is clear there is nothing “small” when it comes to doing business there. 

To learn more, visit


The “Shining Star of Texas” lives up to its name, particularly when talking business. In 2020, Lancaster took the No. 1 position on Dallas Business Journal’s list of highest value deals by Economic Development Agencies, with an impressive $1.41 billion secured. 

Expanding and relocating businesses can benefit from the city’s competitive job investment consisting of 1,000 jobs by 2023 offering wages between $30,000 and $76,000. Location is everything when deciding on where to grow your company, and Lancaster provides ideal access to rail and multiple interstates within a three-mile radius (including IH20, IH35E and IH45) in addition to Lancaster Regional Airport, Dallas Love Field and DFW International Airport all within a 35-minute drive or less. 

Distribution and manufacturing are two driving forces behind the city’s economy with opportunity for artificial intelligence companies, cold storage, food processing & manufacturing and motor vehicle parts. Among Lancaster’s top employers are AT&T, Quaker Oats, Brasscraft, Oncor, LGS Technologies and DSV Logistics. 

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If you have ever wondered what a successful micropolitan region looks like, the City of Andrews is one of the best examples. Known for being among the fastest-growing micropolitan areas in the state, Andrews was recognized as the fastest-growing county in the nation between 2010 and 2015.

Business development is supported several ways, one of which focuses on advanced training and postsecondary education opportunities through the Andrews Business & Technology Center. A result of a partnership between Odessa College, University of Texas Permian Basin, College of the Southwest and the city and county governments of Andrews, this training center is a prime example of how the area commits to preparing its workers.

The small-but-mighty community is home to companies looking for long-term options. Andrews has been the home of The Kirby Co. since 1972 and currently employs 162 workers. Advance Cooling Towers is another example of longevity in the area, with 20 years of business in Andrews. Salazar Service & Trucking Corp. has more than two decades of business in Andrews while Chemical Service Co., which was originally established in 1967, expanded operations in 2014, adding 15 new jobs over five years.

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Known for being the county seat of the oldest county in the state of Texas (Houston County), Crockett is between Tyler and Houston, east of Waco. Incorporated in 1837 and named after legendary folk hero Davy Crockett, the City of Crockett embodies small-town culture, big business opportunity and a collaborative approach to development. 

Industrial manufacturing is one of the primary economic drivers in Crockett. Among companies currently found there are Elastotech, Quantex, Alloy Polymers and Vulcraft. 

Thanks to the town’s advantageous location, Crockett provides a multimodal transportation channel via: the Union Pacific freight rail; Highways 7, 21, 19 and 287; and DFW International Airport, George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Crockett Municipal Airport.

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Located in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen is known for its diverse business portfolio and highly competitive access to international markets. In fact, the Port of Harlingen generates $1 billion in economic activity via import and export activity alone.

And we must point out the robust infrastructure available for businesses. Multiple telecommunications and fiber optic services, 15 electricity providers, natural gas & propane, and high-quality water/sewer make a critical difference for businesses located here.

The city consists of 3,545 establishments and a labor force of 33,482. Among top employers, those in education, healthcare, technology and manufacturing take the lead in Harlingen. Companies such as L&F Distributors, Valley Baptist Medical Center, Penn Aluminum International LLC and United Launch Alliance are all found there.

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Known for offering expanding and relocating companies a “business climate that shines,” Sunnyvale is east of Dallas, slightly northeast of Mesquite and within the DFW market, approximately 36 miles from DFW International Airport. 

Manufacturing, warehouse & distribution and healthcare sectors can all be found in Sunnyvale, with other sectors sprinkled in. Healthcare and social services, construction, administrative and support services and retail are the leading industries. Among the city’s major employers are Texas Regional Medical Center, Dal-Tile and FedEx Distribution. 

Sunnyvale’s labor force stands at 4,828 employees among 484 establishments

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If you have not already caught on to the vast number of small towns driving business in Texas, the City of Clyde should do just that. This small and highly charming town started with the building of a log cabin sometime around 1876 before people from Fort Worth would become the first to officially settle in Clyde.

A mix of public-private employers make up the business roster. A unique aspect of the city is that it is the opposite of what one would find in an unpredictable business environment. This city takes pride in the stability of its major employers and a quality of life-focused approach to business development.

Air, highway and rail access provide ideal logistics for companies seeking immediate access to multiple transportation options. Additionally, Clyde’s workforce and low operating costs support businesses looking for a competitive edge.

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Last, but certainly not least, is the City of Paris, a.k.a. “The Best Small Town in Texas.” Paris is where one can find that classic small town feel without compromising opportunities for business. 

Healthcare leads the industries in this town, with Paris Regional Medical Center and multiple outpatient facilities. The town’s 200-acre industrial park is another significant asset, offering several shovel-ready options. 

Served by the Kiamichi Short Line Railroad Co. and the host of Cox Field, Paris offers a variety of competitive transportation options, including multiple motor freight carriers. Looking for competitive wages and a skilled industrial labor shed? Paris has those, too.

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Companies involved in the import of global products into the U.S. and considering the utilization of a foreign trade zone (FTZ) in their business may want to consult with a third-party logistics firm to get an in-depth look at what access to an FTZ may mean for them—and what a 3PL could offer in terms of benefits and efficiencies while operating within an FTZ.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), FTXs are secure areas under the agency’s supervision that are generally considered outside CBP territory upon activation. Located in or near CBP ports of entry, they are the U.S. version of what are known internationally as free-trade zones.

Imported products can be brought into the country through an FTZ and no duty is paid on these products until they are moved to their U.S. destination. Products can sit or be warehoused in FTZs for lengthy periods and if it is determined these products are no longer required, they can be returned without duties being paid.

“Most importantly, the FTZ program is a U.S. government program-driven around compliance and is unique in that it covers the full supply chain,” says Trudy Huguet, senior director of FTZ Product at GEODIS in Americas, in an interview.

An international firm with a strong North American presence and operations, GEODIS is a logistics company that offers services in several lines of business: supply chain optimization, freight forwarding, contract logistics, distribution and express, and road transportation.

Huguet offered that the expertise of the 3PL that offers foreign trade services has many benefits but, most importantly, they usually can serve on compliance and efficiencies. For instance, she noted a 3PL may have better access “to operational systems and data flow that is needed for multiple systems to run an FTZ” or systems integrated with a foreign-trade zone system. She said a 3PL may also be able to serve certain shared costs with the availability of facilities such as warehousing, as an example.

“3PLs are driven by customers’ needs, like customization and square footage, along with services, staff and team members to run that FTZ for them,” she said.

Addressing a company’s needs is extremely important, in or prior to a peak holiday season, said Huguet.

She noted that many years ago companies used to administrate their own zones but that meant the expertise had to be in-house, necessitating the need to cross-train employees. However, by contracting with a 3PL, “those risks with these programs go away,” Huguet said.

GEODIS has molded programs to fit customers’ needs “so we will work with customers to determine how they can get the biggest bang for their buck,” and where they can find the greatest savings within the FTZ, she said.

Because the U.S.a U.S. FTZ is a sister program to the global free-trade zone, “We are unique in regulations and how we operate and very strong in compliance and most industries and manufacturers, producers and distributors,” Huguet said. “If they are importing into the U.S., they have the opportunity to benefit from this program.”

Getting involved in an FTZ is “kind of a three-stage process” that, Huguet says, involves consultation with the FTZ board where designation is obtained. Activation with local customs and security is followed by building the operational side of the FTZ to run parallel with in-house systems.

Paul Killea, senior vice president of Freight Services Compliance & Security in Americas for GEODIS, oversees import and export compliance for the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Colombia, in addition to running an FTZ product. He stressed that “compliance is very big part of the FTZ.”

“Compliance is the process of ensuring that all of our services and our customers’ services are performed in a compliant manner and adhere to all (government) regulations” in and out of the U.S., Killea says. “So, we are responsible to ensure that we have the right processes in place, the right tools for auditing and reporting and in doing so, create visibility to outside parties, specifically the government and our customers, to show them we are compliant.”

GEODIS provides an array of services such as air freight, ocean freight, warehousing and trucking, and the 3PL has a top goal to be compliant itself and to make sure its customers are, too. “First and foremost, GEODIS has to be compliant but obviously we need to make sure our customers are compliant as well. It is a global principle we hold in high regard at GEODIS,” he says.

Strong compliance would definitely be beneficial to a company looking at the benefits of a 3PL with access to FTZ, he noted.

On the security side, GEODIS has a team that manages various aspects of security. The company is a member of Independent Air Carriers and freight forwarder that adheres to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration regulations. The company not only transports air freight, “we are also a certified screening facility in six locations,” Killea notes. “So, my team manages all of that air freight security which is also beneficial to clients.”

Huguet points out that more companies are becoming interested in FTZs “so what we have seen are more companies trying to improve their supply chain dealing with all the various supply chain challenges and bottlenecking with merchandise. Everyone is looking for a better solution and FTZs will help with that.” 

In addition, they can assist with some of the governmental trade issues that have been put into place, such as dealing with China.

Challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and port congestion have created issues for companies that 3PLs with access to FTZs can assist with, such as creating additional warehousing within the FTZ to store products longer.

“Because of port congestion and because of COVID, merchandise is sometimes being delayed and not moving as quickly as it should,” Huguet concedes. “The FTZ program has certainly helped.”



Nearly every business has experienced the effects of today’s global supply chain disruptions over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, including product delays, shortages and rising costs. Pandemic-related challenges that were expected to be temporary are now predicted to last well into 2022—and potentially beyond.

The ocean freight industry has arguably shared the spotlight the most due to record-breaking prices, port congestion, container shortages and more. The average price worldwide to ship a 40-foot container has more than tripled from the beginning of 2021 and is 10 times pre-pandemic rates. Only a few months ago outside two of the biggest ports in the U.S. near Los Angeles and Long Beach, California (which manage 40% of all cargo containers entering the country), more than 70 vessels waited to dock. Before the pandemic, it was rare to see more than one.

Given today’s complexities, it’s important we examine the key 2021 learnings from the ocean logistics industry to incorporate lessons learned as we prepare to navigate the year ahead.

Lesson 1: Embrace Flexible Shipping Routes

As capacity shrank, container ships experienced record times to dock and labor shortages backlogged the unloading of cargo, 2021 highlighted that flexibility is key to a successful shipping strategy. For 3PLs and freight forwarders, this meant adapting plans in real time to manage limited resources in the most strategic way possible according to each customer’s specific product and goals.

For some large retailers and automotive manufacturers, for instance, we witnessed growing shifts from ocean to air cargo as an alternative. While air freight ensures a faster and more reliant shipment of goods, it is also a much more expensive option. According to Freightos, a $195 ocean shipment can comparatively cost $1,000 via air. Because of these major price discrepancies, we have largely seen the trend of shifting from ocean to air routes among big-box retailers and manufacturers of premium goods that can absorb the higher rates.

However, shifting from ocean to air is not feasible for most brands. Instead, flexibility in 2021 also meant pivoting to different ocean routes. Throughout the pandemic, many countries have closed or limited capacity at key shipping ports for reasons like worker shortages or limiting the spread of the virus. This presented 3PLs and freight forwarders with the opportunity to explore less traditionally traveled sea routes to try to mitigate delays. For example, closures in Australia due to COVID-19 significantly decreased capacity from the United States. As a result, some forwarders successfully rerouted to Singapore and finally to Sydney as a solution.

In 2021, we also increasingly saw shippers embrace a hybrid sea-air model. While transitioning wholly from ocean to air isn’t viable for most, shippers did strategically tap into air to move critical inventory to keep operations running smoothly on an as-needed basis. Ultimately, 2021 taught us that flexible, real-time adjustments to supply chain routes based on the current environment and each customer’s strategic goals is crucial to best navigate backlogs.

Lesson 2: Explore Agile & Visible Solutions

While the ocean freight industry has always experienced unplanned challenges beyond its control, such as severe weather, the impacts of COVID-19 have only exacerbated these preexisting issues. Now, it is more important than ever that shippers explore creative solutions to mitigate the effects of today’s both expected and unexpected challenges.

For example, in 2021, we saw the growing trend of major retailers and 3PLs chartering their own shipping vessels to combat capacity issues. Coca-Cola began chartering vessels typically reserved for raw goods like coal and iron to instead use for finished goods. Retailers such as Walmart explored chartering smaller container ships to dock at smaller ports to help side-step congestion. Also chartering vessels more and more were 3PLs seeking to guarantee capacity for clients in an ultra-tight sea freight market. While in the past this has traditionally been viewed as risky due to cost and capacity, chartering vessels became a creative solution for many this year to supplement carrier agreements.

For other shippers, particularly those unable to charter their own vessels, freight consolidation services became especially vital in 2021. Many brands leveraged Less than Container Load (LCL) services for reasons like the need to ship smaller and less-sensitive products on a more ad-hoc basis to keep up with fluctuating e-commerce demands. Partnerships with 3PLs became even more important thanks to fixed sailing schedules with space across all major routes, steady cargo volume to consolidate orders, and competitive rates and conditions.

This year also reinforced that incorporating sophisticated visibility technology into operations is imperative for maneuvering supply chain challenges. A 24/7 freight management application allows for real-time tracking and tracing and full control over shipments. Incorporating the latest visibility technology provides critical data across every stage of the supply chain—from tracking fluctuating customer demands to updates on freight in transit—to empower real-time, data-driven decisions. Visibility has proven to be particularly important during the pandemic to mitigate unforeseen disruptions by rapidly adjusting resources and strategies.

Lesson 3: Adjust Your Supply Chain with New Resources

The pandemic underscored just how critical it is to partner with supply chain experts amid times of severe disruption. In fact, a recent study predicts strategic relationships between shippers and 3PLs will increase from 28% to 45% over the next five years due to the effects of COVID-19.

There are several reasons behind this shift from transactional to relationship-driven partnerships between 3PLs and customers. First and foremost, a partnership with a skilled 3PL allows shippers to outsource supply chain management so instead, they can focus on their core competencies. Shippers found that working with a 3PL during the pandemic, when business decisions changed daily based on the fast-changing environment, was particularly significant in order to focus on running efficient operations. Deemed an essential service during the pandemic, 3PLs were also able to keep supply chains moving and businesses running.

Additionally, 3PLs are able to offer real-time adjustments to shipping strategies based on the current environment. Utilizing an international network across all modes of transportation, global 3PLs are equipped to provide comprehensive, 360-degree recommendations across the supply chain to source the best possible solution. For many businesses during the pandemic, demand was unpredictable and ever-changing. An advantage of partnering with a 3PL is its ability to quickly and easily scale operations up or down based on demand so customers can run their businesses most efficiently. With a massive network of transportation carriers, including vessels, planes, trucks and rails, 3PLs can tap into their strategic partners to best source capacity even during strained environments.

As we look ahead to 2022, it is important we learn from the ocean logistics challenges of the past year as these issues are not expected to end anytime soon. Because of this, it will be increasingly vital that businesses emphasize flexible and agile shipping strategies and relationship-driven, third-party partnerships to best navigate what is to come.


Joshua Garee is vice president of U.S. Ocean Product at GEODIS in Americas. Previously the vice president of Operations at PAC International Logistics, Garee has a proven record of growing organizational talent and implementing innovative solutions through key leadership, best practice, strategic planning, continuous improvement, financial planning and cost management.

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Six Big Trends in Cross-Border Logistics for 2022

As we look back on the year, the supply chain and logistics industry received more attention than ever before as it faced a myriad of challenges and circumstances. As we look towards 2022, here are some of the top trends and priorities to keep an eye on in the year ahead from Nuvocargo, the first digital freight forwarder and customs broker for US/Mexico trade.

Platformization and integration of data across the whole supply chain. The pandemic pushed the adoption of digital platforms lowering the friction to try new solutions that will drive migration from informal and manual communication platforms to specialized products that make their workdays more “automagical” by providing one source of truth and higher visibility. According to a report by Alloy Technologies Inc., 92 percent of executives agree supply chain visibility is important to success, only 27 percent have figured out a way to achieve it. This means, we may see a shift from discrete software to manage specific use cases (TMS and warehouse software) to platformization and integration of data across the whole supply chain, which will increasingly make operations smoother and companies more competitive. To achieve this, blockchain technology can be used to integrate all supply chain components in one platform and offer more transparency in the process.

Vetting suppliers and vendors based on resilience and adaptability.  With digitalization revolutionizing the logistics industry and bringing about more efficient processes, information exchange and visibility, we will see the industry shifting into a careful selection of partners based on their technological aptitude and insights. This will strongly be the case for Mexico since new tax regulations are forcing companies to adapt and optimize their processes in order to comply. Smaller carrier companies will struggle to comply with requirements when dealing directly with clients without the technical infrastructure of brokers. The accounting team of every logistics company will be put to the test and the ones that manage to leverage efficient and automated processes will avoid the crisis of on-time compliance for every shipment. From that angle, staying competitive will require a stricter filtering system of logistics partners and suppliers.

Regionalization of supply chain and nearshoring.  Organizations have been impacted by COVID-19 supply chain disruptions which have led companies to find suppliers closer to home to reduce costs and be less affected by more complex logistics or uncertainties. McKinsey’s report on the coronavirus effect on global economic sentiment says that uncertainty over COVID-19 is no longer executives’ foremost economic worry. Instead, they perceive the mounting fallout on the supply chain and inflation as the biggest threats to growth in their companies and economies.’ “Companies have learned the importance of being agile, adapting and solidifying to be able to thrive in volatile and unpredictable environments. That includes a restructure of the business core, technological implementation, regionalization, partners, etc.,” says Anaid Chacón, Head of Product of Nuvocargo. “Businesses have already started implementing new strategies over their supply chains and we can expect these shifts to continue in the coming years.”

Creative and technological solutions to address driver shortage. Delayed delivery is the accumulation of many factors. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), in order to keep up with the current economic demand, more than a million truck drivers will have to join the industry. In 2022, we will see how the industry fills this need by tapping into talent from other areas or demographics with previous low representation among drivers. A 2019 US Department of Transportation report states that 28 percent of the current heavy truck driving workforce will be 65+ years in the next decade. This means that the industry will have to promote and offer more benefits to younger people and women since the current average US truck driver is 48 years old. We may also see solutions based on process automation or self-service systems for customers to deal with these labor shortages. Autonomous trucks are also on the rise since large transport lines are starting to buy and test efficiency and costs.

Innovative financing solutions for the supply chain. Continuously offering partners alternatives that will help finance their operations and improve their cash flow will benefit all parties in terms of incrementing capacity and in keeping the supply chain moving. “Our data collection and experience has taught us the pain points of our partners who have high expenses, get paid 30 to 60 days after delivering shipments, and often need loans with high fees to continue operating,” says Chacón. “This is an industry-wide condition that requires attention if we wish to continue strengthening and growing the industry. Financing is one of the solutions to cash flow unpredictability that is required to respond to demand spikes.”

Greener supply chains.  Logistics and transportation companies are pushing environmental efforts to make their supply chain less invasive or harmful. This may include eco-friendly warehouses with advanced energy management systems, climate-smart supply chain planning, etc. We can expect these initiatives to continue rising and becoming more sophisticated over time.