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E-Commerce Logistics and Supply Chains: Journey to the Future

supply

E-Commerce Logistics and Supply Chains: Journey to the Future

The transition of commerce to an electronic format is a well-established and economically sound process which is in its prime. Shopping and paying online has already become an integral part of modern life. Conversion of e-commerce platforms is more than 7% versus just 3% in the retail sector. But how has the transformation of e-commerce affected logistics?

The transportation of products remains a physical process that cannot be realized through the Internet. However, electronic administration of logistics processes is available now, and advanced technologies help optimize the product movement along the supply chain. How does this all happen and what are the current trends – let’s understand.

Why Classic Logistics Has Become Obsolete

The answer is simple: needs are growing.

If we immediately exclude the possibility that a business delivers goods on its own without involving third parties, then, in any case, there is some company in the chain between the brand and the consumer. With its help, goods get into the hands of buyers from different cities and countries.

But if earlier, in most cases, it was a matter of delivering the product to stores and other retail structures, now everything is much more sophisticated. Buyers may request delivery to their nearest post office, special pick-up point, or even directly to their home. This required a qualitative change in storage conditions and technologies used.

Reasons for the Rapid Development of Logistics

In order to take their place under the sun in a trading niche, brands choose the most effective methods. This is what is most appreciated by any buyer – a wide range of products and short delivery time: who would want to wait for their goods for several months? The same goes for digital commerce. Therefore, you should not be fooled, for example, a case of Photza digital photo retouching service, when they reduced the delivery time from 3 days to 2 and began to send ready-made photos not only through your personal account on the website, but also duplicated by email link to Dropbox, increased conversion by 17.3%.

A good example of successful adapting to new realities is Amazon. By activating 50 picking warehouses throughout the United States, this giant got the opportunity to promise customers next-day delivery. With the help of a special code (SKU), each item was designated, then it arrived at the distribution center, and was ready to be further piece-picked for individual orders.

The closer the inventory to the buyer, the faster the delivery. Other retailers and businesses quickly realized this and began to deploy new capacities, using both internal departments and shared resources managed by third-party partners.

New Trends and Their Impact on Logistics

Implementation of Digitalization

This is a crucial thing that makes sense to mention. Advanced technologies, the ability to create and use customized software adapted for each business and its logistic model, electronic databases and much more allowed many brands to reach a new level.

Digitalization not only accelerates work, but it also provides greater stability and sustainability in the implementation of supply chains. With its help, brands can check the availability of products in any storehouse at any time, request information on the latest deliveries as well as the status of different orders, manage inventory and pre-compile optimal routes.

The Same-Day Delivery

The question of how to speed up the process of getting the product into the hands of the buyer continues to occupy the minds of brands. The most relevant category of goods for delivery on the same day is, of course, food. One can also include consumables here. Short-lived commodities do not stand the test of time, therefore, special conditions must be provided for them. And this is not a whim of the client or the quirk of the manufacturer, but an urgent need.

Moreover, there is a certain relationship between service and money, which people consider appropriate to pay for it. This balance should be carefully calculated and taken into account. It is also interesting that more than 60% of clients are willing to pay more in order to receive the goods on the same day or at least the next day. If the brand has the opportunity to fulfill this desire, then we can say that it is already one step ahead of its other less savvy competitors.

To reduce the cost of delivery and ensure its optimization, platforms such as Uber implement market models that analyze and compare supply and demand. For example, they select available couriers and orders received in real time and, by appointing a courier to deliver a product, seek to minimize the average travel time. The whole system is fully automated: large amounts of money were invested to ensure its correct functioning. Notably, they fully paid off, because as a result, the organization has received a platform that provides stable and trouble-free operation.

The scheme of working with local couriers is gaining momentum, and in the near future, many large retailers are expected to switch to it. This is convenient and, as indicated above, requires the greatest cost only at the initial stage of implementation. With the correct formulation of the problem and the determination of the goals pursued, success will not be long in coming: it remains only to maintain the system and periodically update it. No one wants to be left overboard as an outdated option.

Couriers Robots

Delivery of goods by robots is also not as far away as it might seem. Starship Technologies is already launching its standalone food delivery robots in Tempe. Self-guided robotic vehicles can carry orders weighing up to 40 pounds over a distance of 3 miles. Autonomous navigation is provided by a 360-degree camera, which makes a robot an absolutely independent counterpart to couriers, reducing labor costs by more than 70%. Bots work best in urban centers.

There is no information about possible obstacles to their movement yet. In addition, such machines encounter far fewer legal barriers than their unlucky colleagues – drones.

The Power of Social Media

While marketing and link building strategies allow the brand to improve its online visibility, social networks dominate in matters of instant communication with customers. Clarification of address details, obtaining prompt feedback and providing the information requested by customers optimize logistics processes from a coordinating point of view.

SaaS Options to Streamline Supply Chains

Manual supply chain management with modern production volumes nowadays seems almost impossible; to say the least, then certainly both an outdated and inefficient method. Therefore, many businesses resort to various software-as-a-service supply management options.

This process became especially popular after the entry of cloud computing into the game. It made available timely informational and structural updates and created easy ways to manage infrastructure costs.

Advanced Product Tracking Scheme

The use of GPS has become another milestone in the history of an e-commercial boom. With its help, it became possible to track the location of the goods at any stage of their journey, whether it be moving to a regional storehouse or last-mile delivery. Moreover, tracking is a useful option for customers: they can clearly imagine and assume how much they have left to wait for their goods.

In the event of an unforeseen situation, brands can immediately detect problems and take all necessary measures to restore the procedure for transporting products to the buyer.

In the End

Modern problems require modern solutions. Therefore, in parallel with the new e-commerce opportunities, up-to-date options appear that handle the transportation of small and large goods equally well. Digitalization has given a significant impetus to the growth of new capabilities. Timely delivery at a price that satisfies the customer is what businesses strive for by updating their logistics models.

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Marie Barnes is a Marketing Communication Manager at LinksManagement, where you can buy real backlinks, and is a writer for gearyoda. She is an enthusiastic blogger interested in writing about technology, social media, work, travel, lifestyle, and current affairs.

private aviation

How Small Companies are Shaping the Future of Private Aviation

Executive aviation has a strong reputation based on its reliability, cost-efficiency, and flexibility, three key variables that have changed how companies are doing business all over the world. Kyle Patel, CEO of South Florida based BitLux shares his thoughts.

Time is a valuable commodity across markets. How a business can achieve, in less time, the delivery of a product or service, without undermining quality, is the building block for success. This is the case for small, medium, and large companies; they are all tied to time-bound experiences towards their clients. How does this connect to private aviation?

For small and medium corporations, with fewer employees and overall budget, accomplishing more in less time is vital to remain relevant, especially amid the pandemic outbreak. This translates in less time wasted in the airport, arriving closer to the destination, and departing right after delivering a product. Say goodbye to waiting for a late commercial flight back to your home base and welcome the possibility to depart from a regional or domestic airport at any time.

The previous is decisive in the success of smaller companies, in constant search for underdeveloped markets with the purpose to get where multinational corporations still haven’t found interest in taking action. This often means moving to locations with no airline connections; exactly where private aviation thrives by landing in secondary airports that don’t fit larger aircraft and reducing, sometimes even in hours, lengthy and costly ground transfers before reaching the destination.

There’s a misconception that executive aviation is only for Fortune 500 companies and powerful CEO’s. The access to this segment has risen during the past years thanks to an increase in availability, a change in perception and competitive prices worldwide. Private aviation serves entrepreneurs, small and medium business owners in a mission to satisfy their needs and meet even their most ambitious growth plans, thanks to a much sounder management of time.

Global trend powered by turboprops

Worldwide and especially in emerging markets where large jet aircraft are still scarce, small businesses rely on turboprops. Small towns with secondary airports are a great example. BitLux, a private aviation company based in Palm Beach, has ample experience connecting isolated regions within the state and country, taking passengers to places where commercial aviation lacks presence, thus connecting small-town businesses to various opportunities.

Many of these companies and clients can’t rely on the visit of major airline carriers. However, several regional airports serve the purpose of business aviation while also attending specific needs of local clients. It’s the case of a small-town IT company in Oregon, showcased by the No Plane, No gain campaign, which relies on private aviation to serve its clients.

Never heard of No Plane, No Gain? It started in 2010 as an effort between the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, with the purpose to educate the public on the importance of private aviation for its communities, companies, and citizens. Today, 10 years down the runway, it remains strong and serves as a source of information for debates about the future of the industry.

In essence, it’s challenging not to prefer private aviation over commercial. Less time invested in flights, the possibility to depart earlier if a meeting ends ahead of schedule, staying more time at a certain location without missing the flight back home, and reducing uncertainties while managing time. All these features help justify, in a tangible way, the use of business aviation.

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BitLux provides executive jet charter and cargo charter brokerage services in the most thorough, safe, and ethical way possible. If you would like to speak with us about a shipment involving a top priority load, please contact us immediately at covidresponse@bitluxtravel.com.

Old Dominion

Old Dominion Driver Awarded for Heroic and Lifesaving Actions

In true Old Dominion fashion, delivery and pickup driver Harold Hyde took “putting others first” to a new level when he risked his own life to save a 4-year-old boy wandering on the road in August of 2019. Using his own truck as a barricade to block off traffic on both sides, Hyde decided to act quickly when he noticed cars swerving to avoid hitting the nonverbal and autistic boy who unlocked his home and wandered onto the road.

This brave act represents one of two from Hyde, as he saved a pregnant woman from an overturned SUV in September before first responders could arrive, not long after saving the 4-year-old boy from a potentially disastrous situation. Both instances occurred while Hyde was en route for customer deliveries. These actions and Hyde’s unwavering willingness to help others positioned him as this year’s recipient of the distinguished John Yowell OD Family Spirit Award.

“I am humbled to be recognized with the John Yowell award,” said Harold Hyde. “It’s inspiring to be associated with the legacy of Mr. Yowell and past recipients of the award. My job allows me to interact with the great people of Nashville and beyond, and I will continue to strive for excellence in my work while serving my community. I’m just thankful for the chance to do something positive for someone else.”

The OD Spirit Family Award encompasses the family-focused culture Old Dominion puts at the forefront of its LTL business operations. Named after John Yowell – former executive vice president who passed away in 2011, the award is dedicated to showcasing exemplary dedication to helping others, and that’s exactly what Mr. Hyde has done.

“Harold’s continued commitment to going above and beyond for his community and Old Dominion customers naturally sets him apart,” said Greg Gantt, president and CEO of Old Dominion Freight Line. “His uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time and humble heroism make him the true picture of a John Yowell OD Family Spirit Award winner.”

Mr. Hyde has been with Old Dominion since 2007 and received a $1,000 donation from ODFL towards the charity of his choice. Hyde selected True Joy Community Progam to support healthy meals and snacks for children in low-income areas. This organization works to combat hunger and obesity while promoting health and nutrition.

shipping

BR Williams Trucking Shares Step-by-Step Guide for Shipping & Receiving

When it comes to a seamless and efficient process for managing the movement of goods, BR Williams Trucking knows what it takes. From accurately managing inventory, meeting timelines, and maintaining streamlined communications among workers, the below step-by-step process for shipping and receiving highlights why these steps are critical to supporting the health of the supply chain and developing a competitive advantage.

The Shipping & Receiving Process: A Step-by-Step Guide Infographic
Graphic provided by BR Williams Trucking
intermodal

IANA Releases Q1 Intermodal Quarterly Report

First Quarter 2020 Intermodal Volume

Intermodal volume declined 6.7% in Q1, following an annual loss of 4.1% in 2019. Intermodal volume was impacted by COVID-19 related issues at the start of 2020, while trade uncertainty pulled down volume in 2019. On a quarterly basis, Q1 performed slightly better compared to the 7.4% loss in Q4 of 2019.

From quarter to quarter, individual intermodal market performance was relatively the same, except for a directional change in domestic container growth. The domestic container market turned around this quarter, gaining 2.2% in Q1 compared to the 2.7% loss in Q4. In contrast, international container losses increased from 9.1% in Q4 to 11.3% in Q1. COVID-19 related issues impacted both domestic containers and international volume in Q1. Auto plant and other manufacturing shutdowns across North America, coupled with declining imports, made for a difficult start to the year.

3PL volumes are reported by participating Intermodal Marketing Companies. Overall, volume was up year-over-year slightly in Q1, as highway volumes recorded solid gains and intermodal volume was down a bit. While total domestic intermodal loads dropped 1.8%, IMC intermodal loads dropped just 0.3%, due to a slight decline in January and March and a solid increase in February. February’s jump likely resulted from being a day longer than the year before. Highway loads were up 2.9%, but is likely a result of a 10.6% surge in March following slight declines over the first two months of 2020.

It will be curious to see if IMCs have a significant decline in Q2 or continue to see highway loads rising. While volume was up slightly, average revenue per load fell significantly for both intermodal and highway loads. This resulted in a $113.7 million drop in revenue year-over-year, down 5.0%. Intermodal resulted in 78.8% of that total revenue decline.

Weak comparisons and an increase in conversions to containers led to the domestic container market gaining volume this quarter. On the other hand, falling imports pulled down potential growth as imports feed into transload volume. While domestic containers grew 2.2% in Q1, volume fell 4.9% from Q4 to Q1. In Q1 of 2019, domestic container volume lost 4.1% due to increased trucking competition and weak domestic demand. However, the positive change in domestic container performance in Q1 of 2020 could be the result of weak comparisons rather than an actual improvement in volume. Domestic containers fell in only three of the ten IANA regions this quarter. Losses were concentrated in the eastern U.S. as trucking tends to be more competitive with rail in this region.

In comparison, trailers only gained volume in two of the ten IANA regions in Q1. Western Canada and Mexico gained volume this quarter, but are the two smallest IANA regions. Due to their size, these two regions are sensitive to minor changes in volume. All other regions, excluding Eastern Canada as there are currently no trailers in service in that region, fell over 20%. On the whole, trailers fell 23.3% in Q1 and 21.4% in Q4. Trailer and domestic container performance in Q1 led to an overall loss of 1.8% in the domestic market.

Total international volume fell 11.3% in Q1, an increase from the 9.1% loss in Q4. International suffered in 2019 due to a 0.1% decline in imports into the U.S. This deterioration was triggered by trade disputes and economic uncertainty in the U.S. and across the globe. First quarter imports are normally volatile due to a shutdown of manufacturing plants during the Chinese New Year. However, these shutdowns were extended far past the normal two week hiatus due to COVID-19 related issues. An outsized loss of 27.2% of international loads on the West Coast in Q1 was caused by 11.2% fall in U.S. West Coast imports over the same time period.

Only one region showed an increase in international volume this quarter. Mexico gained 19.5%. However, in similar fashion to domestic containers, Mexico is one of the smallest regions and has limited impact on the overall performance of international volume. Eastern Canada and the Midwest lost over 10% in Q1, while the Northwest, South Central and Southwest all lost over 20%.

The COVID-19 impact on intermodal volume makes it the most difficult time ever to forecast. The decline is expected to be much larger in Q2, and perhaps through the rest of 2020. While volume could surge back up later this year, International volume will likely fall between 15% and 20% during the rest of 2020. This reflects the very low demand for imports as well as the impact of tariffs, most of which remain in place. Domestic container loads also are expected to fall between 15% and 20% as demand is low, fuel prices have fallen drastically, and transloads of imports are expected to decline. Trailers were expected to fall significantly prior to COVID-19, but are now expected fall even more. Overall, total intermodal loadings are forecast to fall about 15% for all of 2020. Yet all those dealing with intermodal should know it is very difficult to confirm where this will go this year.

Trucking Industry Outlook

The coronavirus’ (COVID-19) effects on truckload volumes were essentially limited to March, but they were more than enough to turn what had been forecast as a flat 2020 Q1 year over year into a negative one. Even with two months that largely were unaffected by COVID-19 and a few weeks in March when refrigerated and dry van spot market volumes were sharply higher due to the need to restock grocery store shelves, total Class 8 tractor-trailer loadings were down 1.6% from the same 2019 quarter. Compared to 2019 Q4, loadings were up 0.2%.

No truckload length of haul saw growth, either year over year or quarter over quarter. Long-hau truckload experienced the biggest hit, falling 2.1% year over year and 1.5% quarter over quarter. Super long-haul was down 1.8% year over year, although quarter over quarter it fared the best at flat. Medium-haul was down 1.3% year over year and down 1.0% quarter over quarter. Short-haul loadings were down 0.7% from Q1 last year and 0.8% from Q4.

Refrigerated truckload volume was just above flat year over year in Q1 at 0.1% growth and up 0.6% from the fourth quarter of 2019. Dry van fell 2.6% year over year and 0.8% from 2019 Q4. Together, all other segments were down 1.1% from 2019 Q1 and 1.6% from 2019 Q4.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, active truck utilization – the share of seated trucks engaged in hauling freight – bottomed out in late 2019 and utilization was expected to begin a gradual firming in the first quarter of 2020. However, utilization began to weaken toward the end of Q1. And this trend is not anticipated to reverse soon.

With truck insurance premium costs still high, the number of trucking companies losing operating authority was the highest ever in 2020 Q1. The gross number of carriers losing authority is not necessarily significant as the total number of motor carriers has risen over time, but failures have been above trend since 2018 Q4. However, there continues to be new entries, and indications are that until the COVID-19 crisis most of that capacity was being absorbed into the existing carrier base to haul what had been solid freight demand.

Spot market capacity in dry van and refrigerated freight rose modestly in late March as carriers chased a very brief period of higher loads and rates. However, spot truck availability remains slightly below 2018 in dry van and well below that level in refrigerated. When overall freight demand was solid, low truck postings suggested a general balance between capacity and demand. In the current environment, we would have expected a surge of trucks posted in the spot market. A smaller-than-anticipated increase could imply that some smaller operations either cannot operate or are choosing not to do due to health worries.

Meanwhile, truck and trailer orders are plunging due to the COVID-19 crisis. North American Class 8 orders plummeted in March to their lowest level since 2010.

The for-hire trucking industry added 1,500 payroll jobs in 2020 Q1, according to preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates. Even in March, trucking jobs were basically flat at a loss of just 200 jobs in a month that the U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs. However, data collection for the BLS report ended in mid-March, and the early stages of the COVID-19 impact represented the strongest period of increased demand in dry van and refrigerated freight.

The FTR Truck Driver Pressure Index remained negative in 2019 Q4 at -6.1, indicating no driver-related pressure on rates. The index has a baseline of zero, which represents balance in the driver hiring environment. Positive readings suggest greater pressure on rates and utilization; negative readings suggest less pressure.

The near-term outlook for trucking obviously is bleak due to COVID-19. The forecast for Class 8 tractor-trailer loadings in 2020 Q2 is for a 9.0% drop year over year and an 8.1% drop quarter over quarter. The third quarter could be even slightly worse compared both to the second quarter and 2019 Q3. We might not see any significant recovery begin until early in 2021. All segments are forecasting as negative in 2020 compared to 2019 with refrigerated least negative and flatbed and bulk/dump hit the hardest.

Utilization likely will continue to deteriorate through early 2021. Although driver capacity certainly will fall, our expectation is that the collapse in freight demand will outpace the decline in active capacity. However, this is clearly one of the major areas of uncertainty. Direct federal assistance from Washington coupled with very low diesel prices is expected to keep some capacity in the market that normally would exit during such conditions, especially considering that carriers cannot readily dispose of equipment. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, used truck values were poor. On the other hand, truck insurance premiums likely will continue knocking out carriers once temporary moratoriums against cancelling insurance for non-payment expire. Although this has been happening for more than a year, the freight market was strong enough to absorb the idled drivers, and that won’t be the case for a while.

The weaker active truck utilization and sharply lower diesel prices – both consequences, directly or indirectly, of COVID-19 – mean that intermodal volumes, which are weak enough due to lower imports and exports and other COVID-19 impacts, will be further challenged by competition from the truckload sector.

supply chain employee

Supply Chain Employee Engagement – 5 Benefits for your Business

Whether you operate out of a small warehouse or work as an international shipping company, employee engagement can be pivotal for your business’ ongoing success. According to Inbound Logistics, 85% of employees have reported that they feel disengaged from their jobs around the globe. However, those that feel engaged have reported 41% lower absenteeism, 24% less turnover and 70% fewer safety accidents on the job.

In terms of employee management, Forbes published a report which stated that 89% of HR leaders agree that ongoing employee feedback and engagement is crucial. Likewise, 89% of workers whose companies engage its employees are likely to recommend them as good workplaces to their friends and associates.

These numbers showcase that supply chain employee engagement factors into your business’ performance far more than it might seem at first glance. The way you treat your employees will have ripple effects on your overall output, brand reputation, and the subsequent bottom line as a direct result. Let’s take a closer look at why supply chain employee management matters so much, as well as the practical benefits of implementing it going forward.

Why Supply Chain Employee Engagement Matters

Let’s look at why supply chain employee engagement is pivotal before we move on to the benefits of active communication with your employees. Supply chain management is an industry with a flat vertical curve when it comes to warehouse and storage management employees. The HR structure typically isn’t built with vertical advancement and career development in mind (apart from mandatory hard skill development).

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t pay closer attention to your employees, their feedback, opinions, suggestions and personal goals. Tyler Jonas, Head of HR at Top Essay Writing spoke recently: “All employees have equal rights for engagement. You don’t have to offer elaborate rewards, position advancements or paycheck bumps to make your employees happy. Sometimes all it takes is to open a line of communication and discuss what can be done to make the work environment more enjoyable for everyone.”

Some of the common complaints and bottlenecks which hinder supply chain employees’ performance include:

-Lack of hands-on leadership and coordination from managerial staff

-High focus on supply chain ROI instead of employee wellbeing

-Poor health coverage and off days management

-Undefined employee advancement systems

Benefits of Supply Chain Employee Engagement

Let’s assume that you’ve rooted out the above-mentioned bottlenecks in your company’s supply chain management – what happens next? As you can see, the complaints most employees have in terms of engagement are not irrational – they are simply absent from the supply chain management pipeline. If you decide to pursue to correct these shortcomings, you will effectively gain a plethora of benefits in regards to your employees, including the following:

1. More Efficient Coworker Communication

Supply chain employees who are satisfied with their work methodology and engagement are far more likely to cooperate and coordinate efficiently among themselves. This will come as a natural outcome of better communication with the upper management and their efforts to make the work environment more appealing.

Aim to emancipate your employees to cooperate autonomously. Let them know that you value their opinions, experience and expertise – delegate certain decisions to their discretion to facilitate coworker communication. Once that happens, your employees will feel free to communicate their thoughts and concerns for the benefit of your company as a whole.

2. Higher Employee Retention

A major point of concern for the supply chain management sector lies in employee retention and how to entice people to renew their contracts regularly. As we’ve mentioned previously, employees who don’t feel valued or engaged by the company will likely seek greener pastures. This will leave you with a roster of employees who are there simply because they have no other option at the moment.

Such a scenario can quickly lead to a toxic work environment which will reflect poorly on your overall quality of service and brand reputation. You can avoid both points by investing time and resources into establishing a communication channel with your employees proactively rather than reactively. Don’t wait for things to go bad in your supply chain management department before opening a dialogue – increase your retention rates early on.

3. Better Productivity & Morale

Coworkers who are satisfied with the way they are being treated by the upper management will subsequently perform better in their daily work routines. This same rule applies to supply chain management as well as other industries which naturally involve a more hands-off approach from the management.

Regardless, engaging your staff frequently and communicating about what works and doesn’t in the company will help gain a lot of points in your favor. This will inevitably raise the morale and energy in your staff, leading to further improvements in productivity and their sense of belonging in the company.

4. Lowered Margin for Errors

Shipping errors and supply chain mistakes, in general, are something you want to mitigate as much as possible in your company. While mistakes are bound to happen even in the best-maintained companies, their frequency will speak volumes of how you treat your employees. Dissatisfied employees who lack any faith in their managerial staff are likely to make accidental mistakes simply because they lack the morale to do otherwise.

These mistakes can cost your company tremendously in terms of reputation, resources, time and B2B partners if they persist. However, by introducing a communication channel with your supply chain employees early on, you will effectively lower the margin for error significantly. Employees will pay far closer attention to their work and do their utmost to avoid mistakes simply because their managerial staff cares about them more.

5. Healthy Coworker Competition

Lastly, a major benefit of engaging your supply chain employees goes back to their internal communication. More specifically, employees who are simply happy with their work environment are likely to develop internal camaraderie and healthy competition among coworkers.

This will raise your staff’s morale significantly and ensure that people are more satisfied with their place in your company due to consistent vertical communication. Remember that while your B2B networking may be efficient, ground-level operations still depend on the efficacy and dedication of your supply chain employees. Facilitating a healthy coworker competition and emancipating your staff through it will bring about a plethora of improvements in your supply chain pipeline.

Parts of a Whole (Conclusion)

A company consists of numerous departments which all rely on one another to make the company viable on the market. As such, paying closer attention to your employees in supply chain management will allow the company to thrive internally. Besides the obvious increase in productivity, this will also improve your reputation on the market and make your company more attractive to future employees. Meet your staff halfway and establish a meaningful dialogue – you will undoubtedly be pleasantly surprised with the results.

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Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at ClassyEssay, Studyker and Subjecto. Kristin runs her own FlyWriting blog.

temperature-sensitive

Tips for Securing Temperature-Sensitive Cargo

When it comes to securing temperature-sensitive cargo, it is imperative to take the situation seriously. It may sound silly, but a few degrees up or down may ruin your precious belongings.

Running a temperature-controlled warehouse comes with a lot of difficulties, so it’s best to do thorough research. After all, customers are putting their trust in your hands. With that in mind, let’s see what you can do to make sure securing temperature-sensitive cargo goes without any issues.

Tips for securing temperature-sensitive cargo

Securing temperature-sensitive cargo is one of the common warehouse problems you might encounter. To solve this issue in the best possible way, you should always follow good tips and best practices. The three most important categories to cover are packaging, handling, and transportation.

Packaging process

The packaging process for temperature-sensitive cargo has a couple of steps. It might sound like a lot to do, but it’s best to cover everything and secure the cargo.

Test packaging and products

As a first step, it is important to figure out what packaging to use for what product. To determine this, a series of tests are required. You must know how packaging and the products react to different weather conditions, shock, impact, compression, etc. There are a couple of different protocols you can follow: American Society of Testing & Materials, International Safe Transit Association, etc.

The importance of documentation

As we already know, documentation is especially important for smart inventory and warehouse management. However, it also plays an important role when it comes to securing temperature-sensitive cargo. Every package that contains temperature-sensitive cargo should have proper specifications and labeling. The best is to perform an inspection prior to shipment. Furthermore, it is important to keep a copy of the report for at least 90 days.

Inspection

Furthermore, it is crucial to inspect the container for any defects. Inside should be clean, dry, and well shut. Any issue with the container may jeopardize the cargo. Before you load the container, make sure that the temperature matches what’s in the documentation. Refrigeration must work without any issues.

Handling

When it comes to handling, there are really just a few important things to take care of. First of all, you should provide all the necessary documentation to everyone who is involved in handling the cargo. Lack of information might result in improper handling and further may lead to damaging the cargo.

Also, everyone should have the proper equipment for handling temperature-sensitive cargo.

Transportation

Picking the transportation provider is one of the most important decisions to make. First of all, they must be punctual, and well equipped to transport temperature-sensitive cargo. Another great bonus is if they provide a claims-free loss service.

You should inform the driver of all the necessary information. He or she must have a copy of the documentation where the required temperature is stated. Furthermore, you should provide phone numbers to all the mechanical and refrigeration facilities in the case of an emergency.

Best practices for transporting temperature-sensitive cargo

Transportation providers should always follow best practices for transporting temperature-sensitive cargo.

For starters, they should provide quality trailers or containers, and have the monitoring equipment to track the slightest temperature changes during transport. Next, they should be familiarized with all the procedures of handling and storing temperature-sensitive cargo. Also, if there is a need for temporary storage, they should have all the conditions to perform this service.

Remember to ask for the transportation route to ensure that the cargo will be transported without delays and as quickly as possible. Finally, the transportation provider should also provide you with a 24/7 phone number for any support or questions, as well as the documented list of anyone that handled the cargo in the process. Whoever was included must have a certificate that he or she knows how to handle temperature-sensitive cargo.

Going the extra mile

The best way to go the extra mile for your customers is to offer more than they expect. By following all the procedures and requirements mentioned above, you are securing the cargo in the best possible way. Also, sometimes your clients may need additional services, like finding movers, storage units, etc. If you can go the extra mile and provide them with good contacts, like reliable companies, it will not go unnoticed.

Remember, it is crucial to get a positive review from your customers. Word of mouth is one of the strongest ways to advertise.

Tips for securing temperature-sensitive cargo – delivered.

Let me give a quick summary of all the procedures in order. First of all, both the cargo and the container should be properly inspected. Everything should be documented, and the documentation should be provided to everyone involved in packaging, handling, and transportation. The logistics provider should have all the necessary equipment to transport and store the cargo, and also to monitor any temperature changes.

By following these tips and best practices, securing temperature-sensitive cargo will not be difficult. Since different clients have different needs, it is important to be flexible, while making sure to follow all procedures and regulations.

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Mark Stephens is a blogger and a freelancer for preferred-movers.com. With the experience of over seven years working in the moving industry, he gladly shares his knowledge and expertise with his readers. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, and further researching new topic in the moving industry, so he can always stay up to date with the newest information.

workforce

Handling Workforce Management Challenges in a Logistics Company During High Demand

The ongoing COVID-19 global crisis has caused a spike in demand for online shopping due to the stay-at-home orders that have been instituted by many countries all across the world. Most of the hauling necessary to get these ecommerce products to their intended recipients is being done by truck drivers. This means there’s more work than ever for the logistics industry but more tired workers too.

Keeping fleets properly organized and scheduling the right number of employees to manage all the necessary deliveries is the top workforce management challenge in a logistics company during such a period of high demand. It can be both difficult and stressful to match employees’ availability to demand.

Managers have to be able to track employees’ stress profiles for effective scheduling and also have to be ready to deal with unplanned changes to schedules as drivers could need to swap a shift with a colleague or fall sick (not just from coronavirus, but other ailments too). Companies should have the right tools in place to keep up with unforeseen shifts in demand and update their schedules accordingly.

Communication is important

Efficient, effective communication is absolutely vital to any workforce, but it is particularly crucial for teams that are as remote as those in the logistics industry, especially during this time. It’s important for managers to prioritize communication during this crisis because if communication falters, work progress not only suffers, but truck drivers are also extremely vulnerable to feeling both overwhelmed by the news and isolated from the team and company. This can have adverse effects on employee morale.

Work on employee morale

Speaking of employee morale, that’s another pressing workforce management challenge for logistics companies during this time. If we who are at home are struggling with motivation and mental health, you can imagine how heavy it must be for truck drivers who are out there all alone on the roads driving through deserted cities, staying away from their families as the world goes through such a scary time.

Keep in mind that they are scared to go home because they might accidentally infect their families and have to eat alone due to strict social distancing rules at restaurants. Maintaining high morale in the face of such extreme loneliness can’t be easy, both for the truckers and for their managers. Companies should leverage instant messaging apps to keep in touch with staff and use video sharing/conferencing tools more than ever to make both team updates and employee appreciation more personal.

We have all come to realize just how important truck drivers are to our way of life; that they have always been providing a service that is absolutely crucial to our supply chains and are continuing to do so even with their well-being at high risk. They are driving into places that others are fleeing from to deliver consumer goods to retailers and medical supplies to hospitals. Companies should make sure they are being compensated like the essential employees they are with significant salary raises and bonuses.

Keep your employees safe

Furthermore, employee morale during such a time is greatly tied to a sense of personal safety. Most truck drivers are middle-aged and/or older men who are more likely to suffer immunodeficiency from chronic illnesses such as pneumonia that make them more vulnerable to succumbing to the coronavirus.

Logistics companies should, therefore, make sure their drivers are sufficiently supplied with the necessary protection at all times – from face masks to gloves to hand sanitizer. Trucks should also be thoroughly disinfected as frequently as possible. When it comes to morale during such a time, it’s extremely crucial for employees to feel that their employers are doing their absolute best to keep them protect them.

Managing employees and hiring new ones to help

Managing the multiple locations and mobile employees that characterize the logistics industry was already challenging enough before the pandemic hit and even more now, in this time of high demand. There’s high potential for confusion around tracking hours accurately for payroll. Managers should be able to track employee hours from any location and capture accurate timesheets using geo-location.

Lastly, with the increased demand, many logistics companies are facing a higher need to acquire and onboard fresh talent but unfortunately, even before COVID-19, hiring and retention was already a major issue for the logistics industry according to recent PwC research. The survey found that transportation and logistics companies are lagging behind other sectors in terms of recruiting and hiring. SMEs in particular are not regarded as the preferred employers of the future.

Job seekers still don’t see transportation and logistics as a desirable industry. Logistics is one of those industries that most people looking for jobs, especially for fresh graduates, simply don’t find very appealing. This has to change if the industry is to keep up with this recent spike in demand. Companies have to make it appealing for fresh graduates, as well as people who have been laid off by other industries, by highlighting the potential for career growth.

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Derek Jones  (VP Enterprise Strategy, Americas)

Derek spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication. With a focus on Healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.

truck drivers

Coronavirus Reminds America that Truck Drivers are Essential Every Day

Life on the road feels a little more lonely these days. Just ask Harold Simmons.

A truck driver for LS Wilson Trucking out of Utah, Simmons is afraid to go home because he doesn’t want to risk bringing the coronavirus with him. His wife has had pneumonia, and he wants to protect her.

At truck stops, he is eating alone more often because of social distancing practices in force at restaurants. No more small talk with a driver sitting next to him at the counter.

So it was a nice change of pace when he recently pulled into a rest area off the highway, and a group of strangers were in the parking lot handing out free food to truck drivers. “People, in general, are showing us their appreciation,” Simmons said. “Even shippers and receivers are finally treating us like human beings again.”

In our newfound appreciation for essential workers in the global pandemic, it’s heartening to see the support for our truck drivers. Social media is filled with posts marked with the #ThankATrucker hashtag.

Truck drivers have always been essential employees, hauling freight across the country, away from their families and the comforts of home. They have been easy to ignore because they toil behind the scenes. Most Americans never interact with them, unlike our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, supermarket cashiers and restaurant delivery drivers.

But what’s left of our economy would not be standing without the tireless dedication of professional drivers. They are the essential link in our supply chain. Despite health risks, they are hauling consumer goods to ensure retailers can keep their shelves stocked. They are delivering personal protective equipment and other supplies to hospitals when they often don’t have their own PPE. They are driving into hot zones when others are fleeing.

Truckers are providing critical services even when their own economic well being is at risk. In the early days of the crisis, freight volumes rose as supermarkets restocked their shelves and other essential businesses built inventory to protect against supply chain disruption. However, as shelter in place orders have expanded to cover most of the population, industrial production has contracted, and freight volume has declined sharply.

The reduction in freight volume has squeezed revenues for trucking companies. One widely followed financial measure is the dry van spot rate, which is the amount of money a driver is paid per mile to haul freight within about a day of the shipment. This rate has fallen 20% since the end of March, according to DAT Solutions. There’s no clear sign when rates might rebound, as some states have extended stay-at-home orders until the end of May.

Trucking companies say they are concerned about having enough revenue in the coming months to meet their two biggest sources of fixed costs: insurance and loan or lease payments for trucks and trailers.

This is a big concern because many trucking companies are small businesses, just like the florist or the neighborhood restaurant or the hair salon. Most drivers work in fleets that contain 20 or fewer trucks, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

OOIDA has been lobbying Congress and the Trump Administration to do more for the trucking industry during the pandemic, including providing PPE and testing to truck drivers and targeted economic and regulatory relief for trucking companies.

“They’re facing a real economic crisis to be able to continue to operate, not to mention the fact that they actually are on the front line in the battle against coronavirus,” Todd Spencer, president and chief executive officer of OOIDA, recently said on CNBC.

Preserving our nation’s trucking capacity is critical to our economic recovery post-COVID-19. It is essential that when industrial production rebounds, trucking capacity is not constrained. We cannot allow America’s trucking companies to fail or we jeopardize the broader recovery.

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Daniel Burrows is the founder and CEO of XStream Trucking, a design and engineering company for connected hardware for the long-haul trucking industry.

costs

5 Ways to Reduce Transportation Costs Efficiently in 2020

The turbulent economy has lately made it difficult for field service and transportation businesses to thrive. The industry is morphing into an intricate space, meaning that it has become critical to gain an in-depth understanding of your transportation costs and how you can mitigate the rising expenses to improve your profit margin and keep your head above water.

There are many reasons why your transportation logistics costs are skyrocketing. For example, a lack of planning and transparency or bad decision making can lead to increased overall costs, failed delivery or appointment targets, unhappy customers, and ultimately a loss of business.

So, what should you do instead to reduce transportation costs? Well, here are five important things you should consider doing.

#1 Provide Your Drivers with Well-Optimized Routes

A bad route can make all your route planning efforts be in vain and your entire route could be a mess if you’re planning routes using a pen and paper. Poor routes also mean that your drivers will spend more time on the road being stuck in traffic and traveling longer distances which will skyrocket the fuel usage and expenses. When you add the overtime costs of your drivers spending more time than estimated on the road, the transportation costs look even worse.

So, instead, ensure you always provide 100% accurate and well-optimized routes to your drivers.

You can do this with an advanced technology solution, such as a route planner, which will automate the route planning process and make logistics management seamless. Such software will plan accurate routes while factoring in traffic, weather conditions, sunrise/sunset times, one-ways, avoidance zones, weight and load capacity, and more, within a minute. In this way, your vehicles will never run empty and your drivers will have balanced workloads and better routes. They’ll ultimately make more stops without you spending more on fuel.

#2 Monitor Your Drivers

Planning optimized routes may be the most important step, but it won’t have any impact on your costs if your field reps or drivers don’t follow it. They may make personal stops, idle vehicles for too long, brake frequently, or even accelerate harshly to make up for delayed deliveries or appointments. All such actions will inevitably lead to increased fuel expenses. Bad driving behavior can even lead to excessive fuel usage or cause road mishaps which means that the damage costs will also add up.

Therefore, you should track your drivers and vehicles and see what the drivers do on the road. To do this, you can use a GPS tracker to monitor your vehicles in real-time and set up speed alerts to get notified as soon as a driver speeds. A tracker can even help you protect your vehicles from theft.

Also, if you go for a route optimization software that comes with GPS tracking, you’ll get the best of both worlds: you’ll be able to plan routes and track the drivers’ progress.

#3 Educate and Reward Your Field Reps

Drivers and field reps are the most important stakeholders in transportation and you cannot reduce costs without their 100% involvement, even with the best process in place. So, let them know why it is important for the business to save on fuel costs as well as how they can contribute in keeping the expenses down. Then, reward them for fuel-efficient driving which will boost their morale and commitment to saving more.

route optimizer will go a long way in helping you with this. Its reporting and analytics feature will give you the data you need to identify every fuel expenditure which you can then use to provide feedback to your drivers about their performance.

#4 Ensure Regular Vehicle Maintenance

One vehicle breakdown can jeopardize your entire plan and the downtime costs can vary from $448 to $760 per vehicle per day. Can you afford that?

Therefore, you should have a preventive maintenance program in place because regular vehicle inspections and maintenance will prevent breakdowns and keep your vehicles in optimal shape to provide better mileage and save you money. Also, you must change air filters, replace spark plugs, and change the oil and oil filters in regular intervals. Here are six vehicle maintenance tips you should be following.

The reporting and analytics feature of a route planner we discussed above will also be useful here. It provides critical data, such as the total distance traveled, total stops, and the fuel used, which will help you identify when vehicles require maintenance. For example, if a vehicle needs maintenance every 2,000 miles, you can easily predict how soon it may need maintenance again.

#5 Focus on Reducing Failed Deliveries

Every failed delivery will put a dent in your profits. Your drivers may show up on time but it will still be for naught if the customer is unavailable. Such a missed customer will not only jeopardize your other deliveries or appointments but will also cost you more as your drivers need to go to that stop again.

One of the best ways to improve first-time delivery success is allowing your customers to choose their preferred delivery windows. This will ensure that someone will indeed be available at the location when the driver shows up.

You can also allow your customers to track their package delivery statuses or notify them when their packages are nearby. For example, Route4Me offers customer notifications and alerts feature that does just that. It also comes with a customer portal feature that helps customers monitor their own package delivery progress. You can even set access restrictions, depending on how much information you want to reveal regarding the visit, including custom fields, driver identities, and estimated arrival times.

So, what’s your strategy for reducing logistics costs? Do you have any other cost savings methods to add?