New Articles

GLOBAL FORWARDING: BIGGEST, FASTEST SAVINGS FOR GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS

global

GLOBAL FORWARDING: BIGGEST, FASTEST SAVINGS FOR GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS

Increasingly complex omnichannel business models are resulting
in correspondingly complicated global supply chains. Maximizing
efficiencies for time and cost in moving freight around the world
is mission critical. This paper takes a high-level look at three
opportunities for optimization: cargo consolidation, cargo risk
management, and customs management.

The multichannel retail business model, along with increasing levels of global sourcing, have created staggering opportunities for importers and exporters around the world, whether huge multinationals or small companies shipping globally for the first time.

Global supply chains are becoming longer and more fragmented,
presenting significant new issues for logistics professionals. In one
survey, 104 global supply chain executives reported that visibility
(21.1%), fluctuating consumer demand (19.1%), and inventory
management (13.2%) were their biggest challenges (1).

Many factors add complexity to global supply chains, including longer lead times and lead-time variability and an increasing number of suppliers, partners, carriers, customers, countries, and logistics channels. Contrary to what you might think, global freight forwarding can offer relief for these concerns and when people, processes, and technology are leveraged, can even offer competitive advantages.

10 Approaches to Savings in the Global
Forwarding Supply Chain

EASY

1. Align shipping activities to leverage benefits of consolidation
services.

2. Minimize financial impact of cargo loss and damage by
purchasing marine cargo insurance.

3. Take advantage of transportation providers’ TMS to create
visibility and take control of the supply chain.

MODERATE

4. Develop strategies to match service modes with inventory
planning and sales forecasting.

5. Create a risk management strategy—identify and understand
risk types, probabilities, and potential costs.

6. Integrate with a single transportation provider’s TMS and
connect with suppliers and carriers globally.

DIFFICULT

7. Effectively use Incoterms® when negotiating with suppliers to
impact unit price, cash flow, inventory levels, and logistics costs.8. Actively engage with a customs professional to deploy best
practices in customs management.

9. Leverage transportation provider’s business intelligence
reporting and analytics to improve supply chain performance.

10. Utilize PO management to control the purchase order lifecycle;
go upstream to supplier order fulfillment logistics activities.

CARGO CONSOLIDATION

What it is
Few companies can fill an entire ocean or air container with their
own freight. Both ocean and air carriers require shippers to work
with freight consolidation services to accommodate small volume
shipping needs. These freight consolidators accept complementary
freight from multiple shippers, and consolidate freight all kinds
(FAK) containers for ocean shipping or unit load devices (ULD) for
air. This results in better freight rates and cargo security measures.

Why it’s important
One of the biggest areas for savings in a global supply chain is
taking advantage of space. Companies of any size can use freight
consolidation services, but it’s particularly useful if you have a lean
supply chain or operate in a just in time environment. Using logistics
efficiencies from freight forwarders, consolidators, and third party
logistics providers (3PLs), you can choose to move smaller quantities
of material more frequently. In doing so, you make a strategic
decision to spend more on consolidation shipping services and less
on inventory, storage, returns, and other costs.

Ocean versus air
Whether air or ocean consolidation is the right choice for you
depends on the required service level and transit time. Globally,
ocean is the less expensive transportation method. That cost
advantage must be carefully weighed against longer transit times, as
well as potential delays caused by adverse weather conditions, port
strikes, or other issues.

In addition, there are faster and slower ocean options. Some ocean
freight goes directly to the port of call. Other shipments can stop at
multiple ports of call, which is less expensive, but takes longer and
is more prone to unexpected disruption. Working with a reputable
freight forwarder can help reduce unexpected supply chain failures
and delays, and provide options if disruptions occur.

Air freight consolidation service is a faster, more expensive option
than ocean, but here, too, there are faster and slower options that
determine the cost. For example, if you don’t need direct service
(next flight out), choose a slower transit time at more favorable
pricing.

Best Practices for Cargo Consolidation

Choose a forwarder with:

-Sufficient freight volumes to effectively consolidate without delays and to aggressively negotiate rates with ocean and air carriers.

-Dedicated space allocations for capabilities when they are needed.

– Work in major markets with high flight capacity.

Generally, in any type of transportation, the more time there is between pickup and delivery, the less you pay. In air, for instance, use providers with gateways (vs. a hub and spoke approach)
to get cost-efficient options that meet your deadlines. Use consolidation schedules if you can for more savings.

CARGO RISK MANAGEMENT

What it is
Global shipments are exposed to risk from a wide range of human
and natural forces. Yet, global shipments are subject to a unique set
of international laws and/or treaties that limit the liability of carriers. Whether you import or export, you should understand the various types of risks that cargo could face and how you can help protect the value of the goods shipped globally.

Why it’s important
Even with proper packing, stowage, and securing of containers on
a container ship, severe weather and rough seas can cause rare but
catastrophic events like ship groundings, structural failures, even
collisions, any of which can result in loss of cargo. On average, the
World Shipping Council estimates that there were 1,582 containers
lost at sea per year between 2008 and 2016; 1,012 of these
containers (64 percent) were lost due to a catastrophic event.2 Theft, counterfeiting, hurricanes, floods, political unrest, labor disputes, documentation errors, or mechanical problems can also delay or ruin delivery of the most perfectly planned global shipment. Protecting the value of products while they are in transit across the globe can have a significant impact in protecting the bottom line.

Air and Ocean Carrier Liability

When events occur, companies are often dismayed to find that not
all risks or damages are covered by carrier liability.

Air carriers are not liable if damage was caused by:
-An inherent defect, quality, or vice of the cargo
-Defective or insufficient packing of the cargo
-An act of war or armed conflict
-An act of a public authority carried out in connection with the
entry, exit, or transit of the cargo

Even if an air carrier is held legally liable for damages, they pay the
value of the goods or 19 SDRs3 per kilogram, whichever is less.
If a ship experiences an extraordinary sacrifice or expenditure at sea,ship owners may declare general average. The concept of general average hearkens back to the days when a crew tossed cargo overboard to lighten the ship in a storm. During the emergency, there wasn’t time to figure out whose cargo should be jettisoned. After the fact, to avoid quarreling, merchants whose cargo landed safely would be called upon to contribute a share or percentage to the merchants whose goods were tossed overboard to avoid imminent peril. Today, general average declarations still mean that all the merchants with freight on the vessel are required to share in the cost of the expenditure before the goods are released.

General average is a growing risk and concern for many risk
managers and insurance experts. In recent times, there has been a
rise in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events that
have led many vessels to become grounded, causing container loss
and/or vessel damage. In addition, fires on container vessels are
more common now than in the past.

Today, when these events occur and general average is declared:

1. Ship owners have a lien on the ship’s cargo. At the time
the voyage is completed, the level of sacrificial losses will not
normally be known. Ship owners will usually call for security
from cargo interests, against which the assessed contributions
can be enforced. The amount of the claim is usually calculated
by average adjusters, appointed by ship owners. Each cargo
owner’s contribution is calculated on a percentage of the cargo
owner’s interest or commercial invoice value, ranging from
1 to 100 percent.

Ship owners have a lien on the cargo until each cargo owner’s
contribution or security is satisfied. Unless a shipment is secured
with all-risk marine cargo insurance, the cargo owner will be
required to post their contribution or security in cash before
their cargo will be released. As the frequency of general average
declarations has increased, so has the amount of the required
securities—from about 12% a year ago to about 50% today.

2. Ocean carriers are not automatically liable for loss or
damage to your cargo. The U.S. accepted the Hague Rules in
1936 through the passage of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act
(COGSA). The rules expressly remove the ocean carrier’s liability
for loss or damage to cargo that arises from one of the 17 stated
liability exclusions. Legal liability claims are often met with
resistance by carriers.

Even if the ocean carrier is found liable at the end of a legal
process that can take months to settle, their limit of liability
under COGSA is $500 per package or customary shipping
unit, or the actual value of the goods, whichever is less. In other
words, the onus is on you to assess and minimize your
risk exposure.

Best Practices for Cargo Risk Management

-Buy the appropriate amount of marine cargo insurance for ocean or air shipments.

-Ensure the valuation clause for a given shipment defines the maximum amount an insurance company will pay for a loss. Most valuation clauses include the commercial invoice value and any prepaid charges associated with the shipment, such as freight, customs clearance, or duty. This clause can be modified to include other charges or profit margin—if requested and approved by underwriters.

-Choose an insurance intermediary with experience or specific training in international logistics and transportation insurance.

Calculating Costs to Determine Risk Exposure

The risk of lost cargo is real. Yet, without a crisis to motivate
action, most companies place risk management at the bottom of
the priority scale. The most common method used to protect the
value of goods from physical damage, theft, or other calamity is the
purchase of marine cargo insurance.

The first step you can take is to understand your risk exposure
by tying dollar values to varying types of risk. The challenge is
quantifying the potential cost. You can brainstorm to gather that
information, or can work with a logistics provider that has in-house
risk management professionals to help uncover potential liabilities
in the supply chain.

You can apply subjective probability to calculate possible losses. In
other words, you can estimate the chances of a risk event happening
and multiply it by the cost if it did happen (see below). Once the
dollar amount is calculated, the next step is to reduce the expected
loss by reducing the probability of the occurrence, or the cost of the
occurrence.

Armed with subjective probability estimates, you can effectively
buy the appropriate amount of insurance. While insurance is readily
available, it is your responsibility or the consignee’s to ensure the
coverage purchased best fits the unique exposure.

CUSTOMS MANAGEMENT

What it is
Most companies choose their customs broker for the long term.
That’s because the customs broker must truly understand your
company and products. They must also know how to navigate each
country’s compliance requirements with their own specific set of
customs rules, governmental regulations, VAT, duty rate calculations, and payment plans.

Why it’s important
Even simple trade-related mistakes, such as an incorrect spelling on
a declaration, can result in fines, penalties, or even cargo seizure.
Penalties for transgressions can be severe, depending on the
seriousness of the infraction.

For example, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) imposes
fines of up to $10,000 per entry for recordkeeping infractions.
Non-financial costs, such a shipment delays, the diversion of staff
resources to correct problems, and in rare instances, the loss of
trade privileges, can be detrimental to an importer’s business.
When you work with Trusted Advisor® experts in customs, you can
learn where the most common mistakes occur and implement best
practices to avoid them. In addition, CBP can conduct a customs
focused assessment—essentially, an audit—with any U.S. importer. A
customs expert can help your company prepare before, during, and
after a focused assessment to minimize risk exposure.

Compliance programs and options that are worth investigating
Not every compliance option will fit or resonate with every business.
Discuss specific issues with an attorney or Trusted Advisor® expert
in customs compliance and learn which elements might be the most
useful. Always seek out an expert opinion.

-Customs bond sufficiency. If you import into the U.S., you must
have a customs bond, generally 10% of the duties and taxes
you expect to pay to CBP for import transactions throughout
the year. CBP can shut down all imports if they discover you
have an insufficient customs bond. Since tariffs (and duties)
are increasing substantially, existing bonds may no longer
be sufficient. Bond insufficiency will lead to additional costs
and delays if not monitored or addressed in a timely manner.

Consider the increased duty amounts well before the bond
renewal period comes up. If the customs bond will need to be
significantly higher, the surety company may require additional
documentation—including financial statements and possibly
letters of credit—before they issue a new customs bond, all of
which will take time to get into place.

-Duty drawback programs. Duty drawback programs refund
99% of certain import duties, taxes, and fees for goods that are
subsequently exported; this supports both U.S. manufacturing
and foreign export sales. Before 2018, duties might only have
been in the 1% to 2% range, and since there is paperwork to file
to get the refund, many companies did not bother with it. Today,
those 1.2% duties have jumped up to 25% in some instances,
making duty drawback programs a potential game-changer for
your business. The downside: duties must be paid up front; your
company may wait for 1 to 2 years to receive the refund under
the current drawback environment, which can become a cash
flow issue for some companies.

-Foreign trade zones (FTZs). Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) are
secure areas located in or near CBP ports of entry, and are under
CBP supervision. Unlike duty drawback programs, companies
don’t have to pay duties when goods enter an FTZ. Instead, FTZs
enable duty deferment; the duties are paid when the goods
enter CBP territory for domestic consumption. At that point, the
importer pays the duties at the rate of either the original foreign
materials or the finished product.

-Exclusion requests. If a company thinks their product should
be excluded from Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs, they can
request an exclusion. When filing an exclusion, make certain that
the classification used is the best classification for the product.
Also, work with a trade attorney; they can help you navigate
the law and apply it to a specific product so the exclusion isn’t
rejected on a technicality.

-Changing sourcing locations. It’s not always easy to change
suppliers, but some companies are looking at it in a new era of
tariffs. Yet, suppliers for some materials are only found in China,
and even if you locate a source in another country, there can be
issues. Can they supply at the necessary level? How long will it
take to test the new supplier against specifications? The more complicated the product, the more challenging a switch will be.
Also, keep in mind that if the cargo ships from Singapore but its
origin is China, U.S. tariffs may still apply.

-Incoterms®. Incoterms®, or International Commercial Terms,
are published by the International Chamber of Commerce.
They are the rules that define the responsibilities of sellers and
buyers for the delivery of goods under sales contracts, and
they establish where the transfer of risk takes place. However,
they vary from situation to situation. For example, if a container
being moved across the ocean from Shanghai to the United
States falls overboard, who is at risk? The Incoterms® tell the
story. If the U.S. buyer purchased the product FOB (free on
board), the importer took responsibility for the risk as soon as
the freight was loaded on the vessel in Shanghai. If the same
product was purchased DDP (delivered duty paid), the shipper
would be responsible until the product reached the purchaser’s
door in the United States. You can save money if you ensure
your purchasing team understands how Incoterms® rules will be
applied to freight.

Best practices in Customs Management

-Buyers are not transportation and compliance professionals who understand Incoterms®—they choose suppliers based on favorable pricing. You can establish internal structures or education to help buyers understand how Incoterms® impact risk management and pricing.

-Rely on a customs professional to leverage U.S. Customs data. They can combine a company’s unwieldy historical shipping data into usable trade reports to reveal whether an organization is taking proper advantage of free trade agreements around the world.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY CAN TIE IT ALL TOGETHER

As companies large and small continue to expand internationally,
they can no longer afford to single-handedly manage the countless
details and nuances of global freight forwarding. Shortened lead
times, the use of multiple transportation modes and carriers to
deliver product efficiently across continents, and an environment
fraught with risk requires both worldwide and regional management
of cargo flows.

Many companies rely on a transportation management system
(TMS), hoping to keep their fingers on the pulse of their global
supply chain providers. However, TMS products were developed
initially to track domestic or regional truck shipments and to
automate tedious, low-value processes performed by an enterprise’s
transportation staff. Today, few TMSs can enable global visibility to
every shipment, or can interconnect disparate systems on multiple
continents to provide the level of visibility to show where products
are at any given point in time.

A truly global supply chain network has a single TMS architecture
that spans all continents. Global visibility enables your organization
to clearly see the entire supply chain. Utilization reports for multiple
services and modes (air, ocean, rail, and road) on all continents
confers specific strategic advantages:

-Continuous improvement to supply chain logistics in real time

-Access to business intelligence, crossing all freight and spend.categories to strategically understand the impact of decisions

-Access to a centralized network of multiple providers–without
integrating individually with each provider

Work with a logistics provider that offers a full suite of services,
manages service performance, consistently communicates
performance metrics, and offers strategic optimization to gain
distinct advantages in the marketplace.

A case in point: purchase order management

-Purchase order management (POM) within a TMS delivers end to end visibility throughout the purchase order (PO) life cycle. POM enables you or your provider to manage shipment windows, work
with overseas vendors to coordinate bookings, manage exceptions,
collect and distribute documents, and provide reporting at the shipment and PO/line item level.

-POM options include PO tracking and visibility, reporting, online booking, document management, check and verification process, vendor self-service, vendor management, exception management,
and PO and shipment analytics.

5 Questions to Ask a Potential Global Freight Forwarder

IS YOUR TMS TRULY GLOBAL? There should be one system architecture that works across regions and covers all types of transportation.

CAN YOU PROVIDE CAPACITY OPTIONS?
They should ship goods by ocean, air, rail, and truck,
choosing the option that best aligns with the business
need. Ask about their consolidation programs to
optimize spend, routings, and transit time performance.

DO YOU HAVE “BOOTS ON THE GROUND” IN KEY
GEOGRAPHIC REGIONS?
Your global freight forwarder should think globally, act locally.
That is, they should know global transportation, but also
have deep knowledge of the local population, infrastructure,
languages, politics, economy, customs, currencies, tax laws,
and tariffs for each country your shipping routes touch.

CAN YOU HELP ASSESS CARGO RISK?
They must adequately help you assess and mitigate cargo
risk to help protect your bottom line.

DO YOU OFFER CUSTOMS ADVICE?
They should be experts in leveraging customs information
and programs to your company’s advantage.

 

_________________________________________________

1. “What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your supply
chain?” eft Supply Chain & Logistics Business Intelligence,
April 2018. Accessed at https://www.statista.com/
statistics/829634/biggest-challenges-supply-chain/.

2. “Containers Lost at Sea-2017 Update,” World Shipping
Council, 2017.

3. SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights, refers to a basket
of currencies designed to iron out currency exchange
fluctuations in International valuations, now used to express
the limitation under the Hague-Visby Rules and the MSA
Limitation Convention.

4. “Global Trade, Trade Statistics,” World Shipping Council,
2018. Accessed at http://www.worldshipping.org/about-theindustry/global-trade.

5. “Containers Lost at Sea-2017 Update,” World Shipping
Council, 2017.

6. Larry Kivett and Mark Pearson, “Understanding risk
management in the supply chain: Using supply chain data
analytics to drive performance,” Deloitte, 2018.

freight invoicing

How to Tackle the Freight Invoice Management Obstacles

A freight invoice is a detailed bill which includes information regarding the transportation of a company’s goods from one place to the other, along with the inclusion of the amount of charges, its weight, due dates, complete goods’ description, contact information, and names of both the receiver and the shipper, etc.

On the other hand, logistics is defined as the process of planning, implementing, and controlling the storage and movement of services and goods from the point of origin to the point of consumption within a supply chain, explains a top provider of Invoice Processing Services. The companies which deal with these processes become a part of the logistics industry and handle a few or all of the functions of supply chains as per the logistic requirements of the client.

Past Examples of Invoice Issues

-In recent times, an IT company was overbilled throughout 14 days by an amount of $935,578 owing to the incorrect weight applied by a parcel carrier.

-Auditing helped a national level entertainment retailer in saving around $35,000 from a wrong monthly invoice charge

-A worldwide renowned LED manufacturer had to pay $93,147 more due to incorrect billing currency, but the amount was recovered after the fault was discovered during the auditing process.

Top Freight Invoice Management Obstacles

Multiple Challenges

Managing invoices is extremely hard as a lot of challenges like reconciling contract terms with Bill Of Lading (BOL), invoices’ rating for correct rate selection, decisions about the acceptance of differences in charges, getting invoices resubmitted after making the carriers do corrections, etc. have to be dealt with extreme care. When these challenges are not addressed properly, they lead to errors, which further lead to overcharging, eventually adding to the overall Invoice Processing complexity.

Tedious Information Processing

The processing of information for the invoices is really tiring and tedious in nature. This is the reason employees who process the information for billing, weight, ledgers, data entry, and more commit multiple mistakes and make the final outcome inaccurate and hard to understand.

Bill Entry Issues

The very first concern which the logistics industry has to deal with during invoice management is the efficient functionality of the billing entry process which is defined below:

-Shortage of non-standardized processes and control due to operations which are not centralized for billing entry

-Multiple systems integration

-Due to missing BOL information, incomplete billable items are captured

-Multiple formats for BOL 

-Lost information regarding a customer or local-specific procedures for billing

Refund Management Issues

There are a lot of instances where the goods and services do not land safely at the doorstep of the receivers. In such cases, goods and services are returned back to the suppliers, which involves going through all the invoice processing steps again, which is extremely time-consuming for the owners of the logistics company.

Best Practices to Tackle Invoice Management Obstacles

Must-Include Invoice Listings

-Consignee and consignor names

-Shipment date

-Packages number

-Freight description

-Volume, weight, and measurement of freight

-Total outstanding charges

-Each carrier name engaging in transportation and movement route

-Shipment’s transfer point

-Issuer’s business address and remittance address

Freight Management Controls

It is important to incorporate internal controls which are powerful into the management structure of the freight. An authorization system, duty separations, and internal audits on a periodical basis are one of the most important tasks for managing risks like favoritism and fraud, which have the potential to bring down the overall profitability. 

The main objective is to make sure none of the employees have any chance for concealing and committing any illegal or unethical activity. For example, an employee who has been given the responsibility of getting the estimates should never be made the in charge of making the final freight invoice payment or selection.

Proficient Auditing System

According to a report by ReconLOgistics.com, wrong freight bills appear in about 5-6% of the entire invoices, which can raise the expenses of transportation to a great extent. With a proficient auditing system in place, along with a thorough recalculation and review can save you from overpaying due to inaccuracies in the freight bills. 

Apart from this, normal dealing procedures for lost shipment or damaged dealing, and timely claims reconciliation are an imperative part of a cost-saving management program for the freight.

Outsourcing Payment and Freight Audit

When it comes to finding the best solutions for streamlining the freight invoice management process, Outsource Invoice Processing remains a top favorite amongst the businesses due to its cost-cutting feature, along with the following benefits provided by it:

-Paper routing, filing, and handling elimination

-Centralized system for entire processing functions of the freight invoice

-Eliminating multiple systems and non-uniform processes

-Real-time insights into the invoices

-Latest technology use like artificial intelligence and automation

-Invoices’ long-term archival in the electronic form

-Carrier queries

-Increase cash flow to the maximum levels with timely invoice payments

-Receive correct and detailed accrual files and cost allocation straight into your system

-Gain visibility into operational metrics, invoice status, and payment information

Invoice Automation

Most of the industries have already incorporated the use of automation in a majority of their work processes, and have reaped great benefits in the following forms:

-Faster processing of invoices

-Elimination of costly human errors

-Invoice costs reduction by 80%

-Preventing payments duplicity and maximizing initial incentives for payments

-Enabling enhanced cash flow control and visibility

-Achieving 100% accuracy for invoice entry

Freight Software

Businesses who are trying to manage their freight invoices by themselves can ease their management workload with some of the top freight software mentioned below:

The Magaya Cargo System

This user-friendly software helps in eliminating duplicity of data entry, streamlining shipment workflows, generating Bill Of Lading, etc., along with a fully-integrated system for Invoice Accounting.

A1 Tracker

This software meets the unique business demands of the present scenario, make the working of the logistics systems smooth, and bring the required value to your business.

Freightos

The online platform for global trade management and freight booking, along with providing logistics owners with digital sales tools.

Excalibur WMS

This is a software which is fully integrated for warehouse management, accounting system, and third-party logistics (3PL) service billing.

CargoWise One

A central software system platform for worldwide providers giving logistics services.

Managing the freight invoices is definitely challenging owing to the various complexities in the form of inaccuracies and irregularities in the data and work processes, respectively. These complexities can be brought down greatly with the use of automation, outsourcing, audit systems, etc., eventually streamlining the process of freight invoice management at large, along with saving time and money at the same time.

_________________________________________________________________

Gia Glad holds the position of Business Content Writer at Cogneesol – an outsourcing firm offering finance and accounting services along with other value-added services to the small and mid-sized businesses globally.

delivery

The Advent of Smart Vehicles & Drones in Delivery

Consumers will almost always pick the company that delivers faster. Having the most efficient supply chain is now, more than ever, the key differentiator that sets companies apart from their competitors. But more than this, companies that can predict behavior are the ones that will stand out ahead of the pack.

Since the early 2000s, logistics, freight, delivery and service companies have been outfitting their fleets with GPS tracking systems to monitor the location, movement and status of their fleets. For many companies, GPS tracking is where logistics technology begins and ends, with businesses investing thousands of dollars into monitoring their vehicles and reacting to ‘what happened’. But companies that are positioning themselves for the future recognize that the real value lies not in just determining what happened, but rather in using data obtained through intelligent logistics solutions to predict future scenarios, mitigate risks and avoid adverse outcomes altogether.

By accessing data in real-time through internet of things (IoT) technology, businesses can anticipate their customers’ needs and desires before they do, enabling them to deploy resources more strategically and sharpening their competitive edge. Using the real-time data collected, which helps identify where to trim the fat or drop what’s not working, companies are now able to make quicker, bolder and more informed business decisions. And beyond helping companies streamline their logistical processes and distribution networks, IoT technology is also driving their expansion into new untapped markets with the advent of smart vehicles and drones.

Using smart vehicles and drones to expedite delivery

One of the key – and arguably most important – innovations in intelligent logistics is the development of the delivery drone. The immediate and obvious benefit of drones is faster delivery, enabling consumers to speedily receive products from vendors like Amazon, Sam’s Club and Whole Foods. Drones allow for expedited deployments; waiting for trucks to dispatch takes significantly longer. However, even more important is the impact drones are making on reaching developing societies that, up to now, have missed out on decades of infrastructure development.

Drones using IoT technology are connecting developing countries with limited infrastructure to the global village, thus enabling them to participate in the global economy. This is opening new markets for business that were previously closed to them in the past.

Smart logistics in vehicle fleet management

Delivery vehicles that get caught in traffic or take convoluted routes to their locations can cost businesses hours of lost productivity. But by using Real-Time Location System (RTLS) technology, IoT devices allow businesses to easily and precisely track driver locations.

Smart trucks that implement IoT tech do more than ensuring the driver is on task, on time and performing safely at optimum levels. IoT devices are also enabling businesses and their delivery fleets to gather even more valuable data, such as identifying the fastest route to avoid traffic, knowing when the trailer is unhitched or when the recipient has opened a dispatched package. Companies like McDonald’s are experimenting with delivery trucks that can map the fastest and most efficient routes on their own, thereby reducing emissions and speeding up delivery.

Drivers, too, benefit from IoT tech in their vehicles. Smart logistics tech can also monitor the environment on all four sides of a vehicle, which helps prevent costly mistakes and accidents.

By leveraging IoT technology, companies can now execute every step of the delivery process on-site. For a happy ending, wireless sensors notify companies when the order was opened, allowing company representatives to ‘wow’ customers with a text alert saying, “did you enjoy the product?”

Driverless vehicles: how can they help me?

Back in 2017, an English online grocery chain named Ocado released a self-driving delivery truck into the backstreets of London. The little truck was accompanied by two human monitors and delivered goods to London residents over the course of ten days, all by using its onboard IoT mapping software.

Ocado’s mini-truck was unable to carry as much cargo as its bigger, 18-wheeler brothers, but it did arrive at customer houses faster and with less hassle than larger vehicles could have. Online buyers, meanwhile, could use Ocado’s smartphone app to track their delivery and receive updates right as the Ocado van pulled up to their place of residence.

The Ocado van was the first in a continuing development of vehicles that can deliver goods quicker than traditional freighters, with more cost savings. Additionally, autonomous delivery vehicles can be scaled up more quickly; it’s easier to fit 20 small vans on the streets versus 20 diesel trucks.

IoT technology is future-proofing businesses for long-term returns

To today’s businesses, with the advent of smart vehicles and drones integrating IoT tech into supply chains may seem costly or even risky. But its striking long-term benefits and savings far outweigh the initial costs. Companies deploying intelligent logistics technologies within their fleets have fewer safety concerns, less staff compensation claims and more satisfied customers. With an eye on the long game, smart companies are employing IoT solutions to go beyond merely being ‘good’ at logistics: by mining IoT data, they’re investing in long-term returns for their businesses.

Gregg Abbate is the iLogistics key account manager of Advantech.

WHY THE DRIVER SHORTAGE AND TRUCKING-CAPACITY CHALLENGES ARE NOT GOING AWAY

In the busy and demanding world of trucking, industry players are inevitably reminded of two significant challenges that show no signs of lessening now and in the near future: trucking capacity and the driver shortage. Neither issue will solve itself with current approaches. Companies are now faced with the reality that change must be embraced through improving training standards and the utilization of advanced technology solutions. 

This might not come as a surprise to some, but for others still operating with outdated practices, reality presents its own set of challenges. To look at the numbers the industry is dealing with, a report released by Insurance Journal confirmed the driver shortage figure has reached 51,000–up from 36,000 in 2016.

Some industry leaders, such as Advanced Training Systems CEO John Kearney, are confronting these issues at every angle–from a legislative, cultural, educational, and technological positions. 

“The issue is that the existing workforce is aging,” Kearney maintains. “The truck is a different piece of equipment from what it was a few years ago–it’s very sophisticated. The technology advances are significant and the regulations are outdated. Simulators are really emerging as a major change to the training field. A lot of companies are now going to simulators because there are some things they can do that are not possible to train any other way.”

Advanced Training Systems (ATS) has spent more than a decade developing cost-effective training simulators and preparing aspiring truck drivers across the United States through many of the training schools in the country. These driver training schools offer students unmatched training experiences that have propelled ATS in a leading position in the driver training field. 

“In 2008 we started the process of developing simulators because we know they are an excellent part of the training process,” Kearney says. “Today, we have simulators in a number of places around the U.S. and Mexico with operations in California where we do manufacturing and technology development while our corporate offices are in Florida.”

Among the scenarios truckers are faced with at a moment’s notice that traditional training methods can’t address include sudden road obstructions, aggressive drivers, inclement weather and truck malfunctions. These unavoidable situations present some of the most challenges in preparing the next generation of truck drivers

“Let’s take the example of a front tire blowout,” Kearney suggests. “If someone does that in a real truck, they could kill someone. There’s also the risk of something coming out on the road all of sudden and if the driver swerves, they could create an accident. These types of scenarios can be taught in a simulator.” 

He continues, “Ice is another example. If a driver is sliding on ice, what do they do? They don’t want to slide in a real truck, so what we do is have simulators that train properly so drivers know how to react if that happens. The reaction time is improved through the process of repetitive proper actions needed to teach muscle memory in the training process.”

Earlier this year, 28 vehicles were involved in a devastating truck collision in Lakewood, Colorado, that claimed the lives of four people. Since then, conversations surrounding improved training methods have taken priority among industry players, with simulators leading the position of potential solutions. 

“Technology is a big part of the answer,” Kearney maintains. “If we use technology, we use better methods of training and we’re not sending someone to sit in a classroom for too long. Change in technology expands on the number of people who can become interested in the field. The methodology of training using simulation and various other training methods available today—such as virtual reality—will provide the industry with better drivers and more people interested in a career in the field.”

Beyond technology, Kearney urges legislators to consider how current age restrictions limit the industry’s growth. Current laws only permit young adults over the age of 21 to drive a truck over state lines, limiting both driver populations and proactive education efforts. The desire to learn is there, but current laws restrict motivated and qualified students to begin training, leaving high schools with little reason to further pursue efforts in education. 

“High schools are not teaching students to drive in a truck. What’s beginning to happen is we are realizing young people are very qualified, they’re very used to working with things like simulation, and we need to allow the young driver to enter into the profession from the time they leave high school, between ages 18-21 once properly trained.”

The trucking industry is sometimes generalized as an exhaustive, demanding and less-than-glamorous profession. It’s time for a refresh of trucking culture to mirror what a career in the industry really looks like, beyond long hours and demanding schedules, according to Kearney. 

“The other part of the issue is we must educate young people to think about truck drivers differently. A truck driver today has much more involvement than just being a truck driver. The industry needs to change the name of what truck drivers are to something that better indicates what they do and what they are. The current trucking condo is actually a very nice place to live and travel around the country.”

The first step in creating reliable and effective solutions for the trucking industry begins with expanded training for existing and future drivers and elevation to a professional level. The technology available in today’s markets enable companies across the nation to improve operations and prepare the next generation of drivers for fulfilling careers. The reality is, trucking is not what it used to be both operationally and professionally. 

“The driver of today has become a manager of multimillion dollars’ worth of freight, managing the technology with careful compliance to the delivery schedule, serious regulations and changes in the method of operating a $100,000-plus vehicle and the method of driving as it develops. The driver of today can move up in the company they work for. Many drivers will be moving up in the industry from driving a truck.”

Opportunities now exist that weren’t fathomable in previous decades. The challenge now is to overcome antiquated mindsets and operation patterns to boost productivity, driver satisfaction and safety. It’s up to industry leaders to step up and initiate change. 

couscous

EU Couscous Market 2019 – France is the Undisputed Leader in Consumption, Production, and Imports

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘EU – Couscous – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends And Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the couscous market in the European Union amounted to $538M in 2018, approximately equating the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +2.2% from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded over the period under review. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2011 with an increase of 13% y-o-y. The level of couscous consumption peaked in 2018 and is likely to see steady growth in the near future.

Consumption By Country in the EU

France (143K tonnes) remains the largest couscous consuming country in the European Union, comprising approx. 43% of total consumption. Moreover, couscous consumption in France exceeded the figures recorded by the region’s second-largest consumer, Germany (53K tonnes), threefold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Italy (25K tonnes), with a 7.5% share.

In France, couscous consumption remained relatively stable over the period from 2007-2018. In the other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: Germany (+7.7% per year) and Italy (+4.1% per year).

In value terms, France ($238M) led the market, alone. The second position in the ranking was occupied by the UK ($79M). It was followed by Germany.

In 2018, the highest levels of couscous per capita consumption was registered in France (2,198 kg per 1000 persons), followed by the Netherlands (690 kg per 1000 persons), Belgium (669 kg per 1000 persons) and Germany (640 kg per 1000 persons), while the world average per capita consumption of couscous was estimated at 654 kg per 1000 persons.

In France, couscous per capita consumption remained relatively stable over the period from 2007-2018. The remaining consuming countries recorded the following average annual rates of per capita consumption growth: the Netherlands (+5.7% per year) and Belgium (+5.3% per year).

Market Forecast 2019-2025 in the EU

Driven by increasing demand for couscous in the European Union, the market is expected to continue an upward consumption trend over the next seven years. Market performance is forecast to decelerate, expanding with an anticipated CAGR of +1.1% for the seven-year period from 2018 to 2025, which is projected to bring the market volume to 361K tonnes by the end of 2025.

Production in the EU

In 2018, the amount of couscous produced in the European Union stood at 333K tonnes, growing by 3.6% against the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +2.8% from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded over the period under review. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2016 with an increase of 8.3% against the previous year. Over the period under review, couscous production attained its peak figure volume in 2018 and is expected to retain its growth in the near future.

In value terms, couscous production stood at $509M in 2018 estimated in export prices. The total output value increased at an average annual rate of +1.5% from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations in certain years. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2011 with an increase of 9% against the previous year. The level of couscous production peaked in 2018 and is likely to continue its growth in the near future.

Production By Country in the EU

France (140K tonnes) remains the largest couscous producing country in the European Union, accounting for 42% of total production. Moreover, couscous production in France exceeded the figures recorded by the region’s second-largest producer, Italy (67K tonnes), twofold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Germany (46K tonnes), with a 14% share.

In France, couscous production remained relatively stable over the period from 2007-2018. The remaining producing countries recorded the following average annual rates of production growth: Italy (+6.4% per year) and Germany (+6.8% per year).

Exports in the EU

The exports stood at 77K tonnes in 2018, lowering by -8.1% against the previous year. The total exports indicated a remarkable expansion from 2007 to 2018: its volume increased at an average annual rate of +4.0% over the last eleven years. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2010 with an increase of 18% against the previous year. The volume of exports peaked at 84K tonnes in 2017, and then declined slightly in the following year.

In value terms, couscous exports totaled $107M in 2018. The total export value increased at an average annual rate of +3.7% over the period from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded in certain years. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2008 with an increase of 29% y-o-y. The level of exports peaked in 2018 and are expected to retain its growth in the near future.

Exports by Country

Italy represented the largest exporter of couscous in the European Union, with the volume of exports resulting at 44K tonnes, which was approx. 57% of total exports in 2018. It was distantly followed by France (23K tonnes), making up a 30% share of total exports. The following exporters – Belgium (2.8K tonnes), the UK (1.8K tonnes), the Netherlands (1.5K tonnes) and Germany (1.2K tonnes) – together made up 9.5% of total exports.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of exports, amongst the main exporting countries, was attained by the Netherlands, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest couscous markets in the European Union were Italy ($47M), France ($39M) and Belgium ($6.1M), together accounting for 86% of total exports. These countries were followed by the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, which together accounted for a further 9.2%.

In terms of the main exporting countries, the Netherlands experienced the highest growth rate of exports, over the last eleven-year period, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Export Prices by Country

The couscous export price in the European Union stood at $1,381 per tonne in 2018, surging by 12% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the couscous export price, however, continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2008 an increase of 28% against the previous year. In that year, the export prices for couscous reached their peak level of $1,825 per tonne. From 2009 to 2018, the growth in terms of the export prices for couscous failed to regain its momentum.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Germany ($2,524 per tonne), while Italy ($1,058 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

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

Imports in the EU

In 2018, couscous imports in the European Union amounted to 77K tonnes, reducing by -12.7% against the previous year. Overall, couscous imports, however, continue to indicate resilient growth. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2013 with an increase of 19% against the previous year. Over the period under review, couscous imports attained their maximum at 89K tonnes in 2017, and then declined slightly in the following year.

In value terms, couscous imports stood at $106M in 2018. The total imports indicated a buoyant increase from 2007 to 2018: its value increased at an average annual rate of +5.9% over the last eleven years. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Based on 2018 figures, couscous imports increased by +84.0% against 2010 indices. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2011 with an increase of 27% year-to-year. Over the period under review, couscous imports attained their peak figure at $108M in 2017, and then declined slightly in the following year.

Imports by Country

France was the key importer of couscous in the European Union, with the volume of imports reaching 26K tonnes, which was near 34% of total imports in 2018. It was distantly followed by the UK (11K tonnes), Belgium (8.7K tonnes), Germany (7.8K tonnes), Spain (5.1K tonnes) and the Netherlands (3.5K tonnes), together comprising a 47% share of total imports. The Czech Republic (2.8K tonnes) followed a long way behind the leaders.

From 2007 to 2018, average annual rates of growth with regard to couscous imports into France stood at +2.8%. At the same time, the Czech Republic (+17.9%), Germany (+14.8%), the UK (+8.9%), Spain (+6.6%), Belgium (+5.5%) and the Netherlands (+4.7%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, the Czech Republic emerged as the fastest-growing importer in the European Union, with a CAGR of +17.9% from 2007-2018. While the share of the UK (+8.7 p.p.), France (+8.7 p.p.), Germany (+7.9 p.p.), Belgium (+5 p.p.), Spain (+3.3 p.p.), the Czech Republic (+3 p.p.) and the Netherlands (+1.8 p.p.) increased significantly, the shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

In value terms, France ($35M) constitutes the largest market for imported couscous in the European Union, comprising 33% of total couscous imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Belgium ($15M), with a 14% share of total imports. It was followed by the UK, with a 12% share.

In France, couscous imports increased at an average annual rate of +5.3% over the period from 2007-2018. The remaining importing countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: Belgium (+6.0% per year) and the UK (+8.7% per year).

Import Prices by Country

In 2018, the couscous import price in the European Union amounted to $1,369 per tonne, rising by 13% against the previous year. Over the last eleven years, it increased at an average annual rate of +1.2%. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2008 when the import price increased by 30% y-o-y. In that year, the import prices for couscous reached their peak level of $1,572 per tonne. From 2009 to 2018, the growth in terms of the import prices for couscous remained at a somewhat lower figure.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major importing countries. In 2018, the country with the highest price was the Netherlands ($1,837 per tonne), while the Czech Republic ($1,109 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

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

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

Customs

Common U.S. Customs Clearance Issues & Overcoming Them

For people who are not intimately familiar with the international freight industry, it can appear to be dauntingly complex. After all, dabbling in international trade means dealing with a host of different entities, each of which has its own regulations and rules that you have to follow. And US customs are just one large piece in an ever-increasing puzzle.

However, understanding common US customs clearance issues and anticipating them is crucial for a successful global trading endeavor. That’s why we’re going to delve into some of them, and propose ways to of solving them.

Customs Exams

If you want to deal with common US customs clearance issues, be prepared for customs exams. Naturally, you probably know that random checks at customs aren’t that rare of an event in the world of maritime shipping. And sure, only up to 10% of global shipments are inspected in reality. While that may be a small fraction of the overall volume of shipping; you need to be prepared. And that goes for any customs in the world, including the US.

Issues with US Customs Clearance

The first thing you need to understand regarding US customs clearance issues is – they are different in each country and port. So, some things you read about the priorities of Dutch customs won’t necessarily be true when the US is concerned. Generally, U.S. customs tend to have frequent random inspections.

Know that there are separate, country-specific inspections that they conduct, depending on what country your shipment is coming from. That’s the sort of information that importers regularly provide to freight forwarders. So, that sort of logistical information is important, as any misleading information can lead to long-term distrust; not a good thing for trading efforts. If complete information flows both ways, your freight transport will be a smooth process. And in the case of the contrary, you’ll be dealing with another issue: delays.

Delay Expenses

One of the most common US customs clearance issues is delays. And these happen precisely because of different exams and holds. These, in turn, lead to fees and charges that are a consequence of delays. Which can happen for an entire slate of different reasons. However, not all delay charges are the same. Generally, they are divided into per diem, detention, and demurrage. So, make sure you familiarize yourself with the terms, before negotiating with a shipping company.

Missing Documentation

When it comes to your shipping process, know that the original copy of your Bill of Lading is the most crucial document. And its misplacement is a surprisingly common problem that happens to shippers. If the Bill of Lading is missing, be sure that you will face issues regarding your shipment’s release. And that will result in additional delays. That’s why you need to be sure that the Bill of Lading will be carried through a channel you can rely on. That’s where the aforementioned trustworthiness comes into play.

If you’ve got a supplier with whom you have a fairly trusting relationship, you can opt for an Express Release or a Telex Release. Though, you may require more particular paperwork, depending on the type of cargo and the port of destination. Uncertainty and trade volatility is something that all shippers face; being familiar with all the details will go a long way towards reducing them to the minimum.

Missing Taxes and Duties

As we’ve mentioned just now, you may need some specific sort of paperwork, depending on where the shipment is going and the sort of cargo you’re shipping. And not abiding by this is one of the common US customs clearance issues, but you want to avoid that. After all, this additional paperwork is there to protect the interests of the country’s residents and the economy. Thus, some commodities may be forbidden, while others are allowed, but only with special permits.

To give an example – auto-shipments are among those which require specific documentation. Before the shipping is done, have a look at the HS Code of the cargo that you’re transporting. You may encounter extra taxes and duties in order to clear your shipment. So, if you want your shipment to go through smoothly, be certain that you have all of the particular documentation that all the different ports require.

Cargo Damage

Unfortunately, cargo damage is something that happens often in the world of shipping. That’s why you want to make sure your cargo is safely secured in its container at the port of origin. Statistics show that 90% of cargo damage actually happens due to improper storage and packing. Plus, bear in mind that the loading process in your origin point should be perfect. Take care of all the details, like remembering how many pallets you can actually fit into the container.

Because in reality, cargo damage rarely happens due to terminal or carrier mishandling. But if that does happen, do not forgo filing an insurance claim. And while doing that, take great care to go through all the proper procedures step by step, if you want to be certain that you will be compensated for the losses. Still, though; we recommend safely securing your cargo, and you won’t have to go through any of this.

Nathan Smith is a freelance author, mostly writing analyses of the maritime and air shipping industries. When he’s not writing about moving companies like Four Winds Saudi Arabia, he likes reading crime fiction and watching science fiction movies.

intermodal

HOW TO BE AN INTERMODAL SHIPPER OF CHOICE

Fluctuating capacity and freight rates along with increased focus on efficiency and sustainability have led to substantial growth in the intermodal market in recent years. As more companies now compete for intermodal capacity at competitive rates, it is important for shippers to set themselves apart from the competition by being attractive partners to their intermodal carriers. 

By being a “shipper of choice” and implementing flexible and efficient practices, companies can build collaborative, mutually beneficial relationships with their intermodal carriers. This better positions them to secure capacity at stable, competitive pricing and enhance service levels and improve overall performance. 

Why It’s Important to be an “Intermodal Shipper of Choice” 

While being a “shipper of choice” has been a hot topic in recent years, the focus has primarily been placed on over-the-road shipping. And while there are many similarities between the two modes, there are also some nuances that must be considered to be an “intermodal shipper of choice” in particular. 

First, because loads are tied to the equipment instead of to an individual driver, there must be an equal (if not greater) focus on equipment management and efficiency in addition to driver efficiency. By placing equal focus on implementing “carrier-friendly” tactics for intermodal freight, shippers can strengthen carrier relationships and better control costs. This, in turn, ensures enhanced intermodal service performance–increasing the ROI of utilizing the mode.

Here are some strategies organizations can use to become an intermodal shipper of choice:

Engage in annual renewals with incumbent carriers rather than annual RFPs. While annual RFPs can yield savings, they also increase uncertainty and risk for both shippers and carriers. By focusing on long-term commitments with incumbent carriers through annual renewals, shippers and their core carriers can continuously foster a relationship of mutual trust and ongoing success. Through this relationship, the carrier and its drivers become intimately familiar with the shipper’s network, freight and business, and the shipper gets to know the carrier’s operations and the drivers responsible for picking up and delivering their loads.

Accurately forecast freight volumes. The ability to forecast freight volumes and seasonal swings allows shippers and carriers to proactively plan (and reposition) equipment and drivers to provide adequate capacity. Sharing this information not only helps provide more consistent service but can be beneficial for both sides on an ongoing basis. 

Consistent freight volumes. Having consistent volume spread out throughout the week, month or year makes appointment scheduling and equipment planning easier for the carrier. And if shippers do ship heavier at certain times, it is important to set and manage expectations with carriers. 

Equipment pool requirements in line with volume. Pool requirements that are in line with volume allow shippers to turn boxes on a regular basis and keep loads moving at a consistent pace. This helps maximize equipment utilization while minimizing equipment costs.

Inbound and outbound volume. Setting consistent inbound and outbound volume out of facilities allows drivers to pick up loads immediately following a drop-off. This reduces empty miles and improves both driver and equipment utilization. These efficiencies will ultimately result in better rates from carriers. 

Utilize drop and hook freight capabilities. Drivers want to be able to get in and out of a facility in an efficient manner, at any time. Drop and hook freight capabilities create load flexibility, reducing congestion in the yard and maximizing driver utilization by minimizing detention time. 

Flexible pick-up and delivery appointments. For customers that require pick-up and delivery appointments, it is important to make them as flexible as possible. This drives further efficiencies for both the carrier and the shipper.

Reasonable payment terms. Shippers should have timely freight payment terms (often 30 days or fewer) and keep to those terms. It is also important to have a system in place to quickly resolve any discrepancies.

Provide driver amenities at the facilities. By providing driver amenities at their facilities (such as bathrooms or waiting lounges), shippers help make the pick-up and delivery process easier and more comfortable. These simple comforts show that the shipper views the carrier (and its drivers) as a valuable part of their operations versus a commodity. 

Utilize facilities in close proximity to intermodal terminals. Facilities that are located near intermodal rail terminals allow rail to be a more competitive option for a shipper. While this is not always possible, shippers looking to build new facilities should consider placing them near rail ramps in order to take advantage of more intermodal opportunities. 

Intermodal Presents Significant Opportunity for Shippers

Intermodal continues to be a cost-effective, efficient and sustainable way to move freight and should be a key piece of any strategic modal mix. And as more shippers compete for capacity and competitive rates, it’s important for shippers to best position themselves to be attractive partners to intermodal carriers. This will allow them to better take advantage of intermodal while helping to control costs and enhance service performance. 

__________________________________________________

Doug Punzel is president of Celtic Intermodal, Transplace’s intermodal business unit. David Marsh serves as Celtic Intermodal’s chief operating officer and helps oversee all daily operations. 

Descartes

Shipping Support Consolidated with Descartes ShipRush™

Descartes’ cloud-based ecommerce shipping solution ShipRush™ now provides customers increased visibility through its added less-than-truckload (LTL) freight management options.

The global logistics solutions provider announced the adding of LTL freight to the offering, further increasing efforts in streamlining shipping operations while supporting companies as they determine carriers and efficient service options.

“Descartes continues to drive ecommerce shipping innovation by bringing together LTL freight, parcel shipping and rate shopping on a cost-effective platform for ecommerce companies,” said Troy Graham, Senior Vice President, Business Development for Descartes Systems Group.

“These combined capabilities help companies, like ZUP, remove the guesswork from choosing the best combination of cost and service for their shipments.”

“As a multi-channel business, ZUP’s shipping needs are complex. We process both individual marketplace orders and large palletized orders for our network of dealers,” said Nick Kierpiec, director of operations for ZUP.

Beyond increased visibility with its all-in-one capabilites, ShipRush™  supports customers in determining the most cost-effective options for LTL management and usage. The platform assists in how and when to use LTL and can produce bulk shipping savings up to 50 percent while offering access to integrated Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP) and carrier rate selection processing.

“The ability to do everything in one platform, including process incoming orders and rate shop the best price and delivery options for parcel and LTL, saves us both time and money,” concluded Kierpiec.

 

Pilot

Pilot Freight Selected for “Logistics Provider of the Year”

Major motion picture 3PL provider, Technicolor, recognized Pilot Freight Services as the 2018 Logistics Provider of the Year. The eMemphis-based, long-term Pilot customer relies heavily on the freight forwarder for time-sensitive deliveries of  DVD displays to big-name retailers, ultimately supporting Technicolor during peak, fourth quarter deliveries while providing the company unwavering support.

“Pilot pulled out all the stops to make sure we were in every store we needed to be in for Black Friday and continued their stellar support through the busy holiday season,” said Elaine Singleton, vice president of supply chain at Technicolor.

A variety of strengths launched the global company at the top of the list for the recognition, among them included on-time service; communication and proactive tracking; billing accuracy; and proof of delivery. The final decision was made by Technicolor staff votes.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by Technicolor as their Logistics Provider of the Year,” said John Hill, president and chief commercial officer of Pilot. “We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Technicolor and our abilities to coordinate and handle time-specific deliveries have been able to help us both grow in our respective industries.”

Source: Pilot Freight Services

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

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

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

A Valuable Partner

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

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

Choosing the Right 3PL

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

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

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

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

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

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

3PL Key Issues

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

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

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

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

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