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Best Ways to Keep Track of Your Freight Shipments

shipments

Best Ways to Keep Track of Your Freight Shipments

When shipments are late, so much becomes inconvenienced. Production stops, work gets backed up, further shipments are delayed. Then, the phone calls arrive with customers wanting to know the status. If you have ever had to ask “Where is my freight?” then, it’s time to learn about the best ways to keep track of it.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options that are helpful for tracking freight from the moment it leaves the original location all the way to the final destination. Many of them are under your control. If you follow best practices and meet the needs of shipping company regulations, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about where your freight is, as it should arrive on time.

Tip #1: Accuracy Matters with Time and Cost

When you ship freight, the accuracy of the information improves your shipping speed. Your shipments need to have accurate measurements of length, width, height, and weight. If you have fractions, they should be rounded up.

When your measurements are inaccurate, the shipping company has to make adjustments which can be costly in both time and money. Shipping companies do not set their own freight weight regulations; the Department of Transportation does. Companies have to comply with the DOT rules. If you give the shipping company inaccurate dimensions, they have to make adjustments that could cause your shipment to be delayed.

Tip #2: Package Properly for Pallets

Another reason your items could be delayed is another one that is under your control. When you ship freight, you should expect that it will sit on a typical 40” x 48” pallet. Your best bet for timely shipping is to package your freight to fit on a standard pallet. If you cannot do that, then you should take time to talk to your freight company for the best advice. If the freight company has to take care of poorly packaged items, they are slowed.

Tip #3: Learn About AEI Tags

Shipping companies of all types rely on Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) tags. These passive tags help shipping companies see where their rail cars and semi-trucks are when they are in transit. With various types of AEI readers, real-time information about the location of the freight cars and the items they are carrying can be shared with shipping companies and their customers. AEI tags can help you not only see where your freight is in real-time, but they can also provide you with alerts when the shipment is expected to be delayed.

Tip #4: Use a Transportation Management System

Freight or transportation management systems help you keep track of what you are shipping, where it is, and when it arrived. They are designed to create helpful reports in real-time, and they can help you manage all of your freight to optimize your business. Some systems can be connected with AEI readers to create timelines for arrivals and to show what is happening when shipments are delayed.

Tip #5: Put Your Smartphone to Use

Along with a transportation management system, mobile apps can help you track your freight. Businesses rely on apps that provide GPS tracking and confirmation. Delivery logs are helpful, too. Some freight companies offer their own branded, specific apps to follow shipments. Some apps even get down to fuel efficiency and how to save money that way. When you are able to see all the data regarding your freight and shipping, you will be able to save more money in the long run.

Tip #6: Know Where Your Freight is Going

Sometimes, when things go too well, it can be too good to be true. Imagine the freight that is packaged perfectly and arrives on time to the destination without any hitches along the way. But, once the freight arrives, no one is there to meet it and assist in unpacking. Then, there’s no loading dock. It is just as important to know where your freight is going, so there aren’t any unexpected delays at the arrival end.

Tip #7: Watch the Road Conditions

There are times and places where road conditions become impossible to maneuver. When the weather is bad or traffic is at a stand-still, freight companies cannot do anything about it. But, when they use apps or tracking software, you can find out where your freight is and realize the problem.

If you require shipments to arrive on time and weather could affect your production, then you should do what you can to plan your shipments in advance. For example, it can be tough to trust the road conditions in the northern United States in the middle of January. So, planning for delays should be part of your production design.

asset tracking

Why Fleet Managers Need Mobile IoT Asset Tracking

Not long ago, local grocery stores were lined with empty shelves. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages gripped headlines from California to New York. In the throes of the COVID-19 era, demand for basic goods had so abruptly shifted that transportation and logistics companies were forced to react at breakneck speed to the unprecedented surge, all while maintaining worker safety.

The issue is, managers can only truly manage what they see – and need to know exactly where vehicles and equipment are in order to properly use them. Real-time visibility of critical assets, which can be anything from fleet equipment to humans, is essential for operating a supply chain at peak efficiency. The pandemic is exposing a need for access to insights for moving assets across all sectors, especially when multi-tiered distribution models are relied upon. Fast, real-time decisions are only delivered when a fleet manager knows the real-time location of all tools in their arsenal. Fleet managers need an end-to-end asset tracking solution that works anywhere, indoors or outdoors, with no-nonsense setup to scale.

GPS Sucks More than Just Power

Historically, fleet managers have leaned on GPS to track higher value assets, though being able to yield a location report has been far from guaranteed. Due to GPS’ inherent limitations, enterprises were only able to pinpoint assets when they had a clear line of sight to the sky. Yet many times, equipment and goods were inside a container or warehouse, rendering GPS useless. With steep price tags and quickly drained battery life, GPS trackers are difficult to maintain and to frequently replace on the field. If a fleet manager wanted to layer on indoor coverage, they’d need to accumulate additional costs and infrastructure for the incorporation of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Amalgamating these location solutions with other existing software platforms to offer valuable data becomes a burden on crucial resources: finances, time, and manpower.

Thankfully, other changes in the market have been brewing long before COVID-19 entered the picture. With the onslaught of digital transformation and Industry 4.0, enterprises are turning to newer technologies such as Mobile Internet of Things (IoT), cellular-based location techniques like Cell-ID, or more accurate alternatives, such as Cloud Location over Cellular (C-LoC) to help solve the growing challenge of providing end to end supply chain visibility. Innovative players are realizing they can leverage existing, ubiquitous 4G and 5G cellular networks for connecting asset trackers through Mobile IoT. New Mobile IoT standards such as LTE-M and NB-IoT are changing the game on cost, battery life, and extended coverage and have been deployed by carriers around the world. Mobile IoT is the foundation for 5G Massive IoT, which is poised to usher in a new era of hyper-connectivity.

Fleet managers are now able to connect millions of low bandwidth asset trackers to tap into their equipment’s location, whether it’s inside a building or out on the open road. Small, agile devices make for flexible systems, so sensors can be easily affixed to any object needed to be tracked. Using cell towers that already reach 97% of the global population (ITU), there’s no need for new infrastructure. Deployment costs are slashed, and scalability is streamlined. The battery life of a tracker extends from days to years.

Mobile IoT allows actionable intelligence to present itself in the form of various sensor data, including temperature, humidity, shock or other conditions, with the backbone being location. Used in conjunction with asset tracking platforms, configurable alerts and customizable geofences can help make sense of the information in order to act quickly. The point: real-time data enabled by Mobile IoT and cellular-based location provide the best context for fleet managers to rectify problematic situations before they result in business disruption.

Mobile IoT and Fleet Management

Fleet management is evolving to include not only gaining visibility into a vehicle’s location, but even further – into the items on or associated with the vehicle, whether they are scooters or pallets of soda. This encompasses tracking the trailer, the vehicle cab, in addition to the individual items inside the trailer (i.e. hand trucks).

Moreover, fleet tracking doesn’t always mean a vehicle in motion. A fleet of vans stored on an expansive property can rack up hours in labor costs for personnel who are tasked with finding a needle in a haystack. This knowledge is important for automobile manufacturers, car dealers and leasing companies.

Using Mobile IoT and cellular-based location, systems can also be supplemented with cost-effective trackers in areas where many signals aren’t available, such as inside warehouses or covered parking garages.

Fifth Wheel Dolly Mini Case Study

When fifth wheel dollies are no longer needed, drivers for one LTL company often drop them off in a manufacturing/warehouse district, or hook them up to another, second trailer. These dollies are then left susceptible to theft or damage by other drivers. Though it’s difficult for fleet managers to know where an individual dolly is at any given time, they have not seen the ROI in using GPS trackers for this type of equipment. If drivers don’t pay attention to where they drop dollies, or they’re damaged and can’t be pulled, this is typically only discovered later through walk-throughs and manual checks around the truck yard.

Using a Mobile IoT location solution with cellular-based location, the LTL company can now leverage existing mobile infrastructure and lightweight devices for asset tracking, no matter what unplanned lot or district a dolly is left in. Less power consumption and heightened indoor/outdoor coverage leads to simpler scalability and increased efficiency in preventing theft, as well as recovering dollies or other goods after loss.

Mobile IoT is driving down the cost and eliminating the barriers to entry of asset tracking for smaller, individual assets. With millions of new IoT devices coming online rapidly, this technology is proving to have a real impact on fleet managers’ bottom lines. While Mobile IoT can be used in combination with various location solutions, choosing the right method can make or break implementation success.

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About Ed Chao, CEO, Polte

As CEO of Polte, Chao leads the team to position Polte as the premier location technology provider for Mobile IoT. Chao brings 26 years of leadership experience, serving as an executive for companies such as MetroPCS, T-Mobile, Lucent Technologies and with the U.S. Digital Service at the White House.

Chao holds a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University, a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech, and a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Rutgers University.

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.

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.

fleet

How to Prepare Your Fleet and Stay Organized During a Global Crisis

In times of global crisis, the world relies on the trucking industry to transport essential items across the country. From medical supplies to restocking the shelves at local grocery stores, truck drivers play an integral role in maintaining the supply chain. In order to keep these essential items moving during the COVID-19 crisis, the Department of Transportation has suspended most of the Hours of Service regulations for those trucks that are transporting these essential goods.

Commercial truck drivers have had their driving hours extended from 11 to 14 hours depending on the goods being carried. With so much going on and so many depending on trucking and freight transportation organizations during this global crisis, fleet managers and owners need to be extremely organized to handle current and future industry needs. With that in mind, here are a few ways in which you can keep track of your fleet during a time of heightened demand and uncertainty:

Communication is key
The visibility that essential telematics technology brings can be incredibly helpful. Being able to stay in constant communication with your drivers via messaging and dedicated contact forms—as well as knowing their locations at all times—allows fleet managers to make informed decisions. With things being so hectic right now, knowing where your assets are, who is available for the next load, who is nearest to the depots, and who has encountered longer detention times is critical in a time when efficiently maintaining your fleet on the road is more important than ever.

Most likely due to shelter-in-place orders reducing the traffic overall, many of the states experiencing the highest level of COVID-19 spread are seeing a reduction in travel times for drivers. According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), freight trucks are clocking faster times overall in these areas, particularly in regularly congested areas. That being said, because of additional route changes, border regulations and detention delays, freight is taking much longer to transport. Having access to accurate telematics and open lines of communication with drivers will be key in planning and tracking routes.

Documentation should continue
While logs are not mandatory to be kept while under the Federal Emergency Declaration, continuing to make notes and annotate the daily log with the reason for non-compliance is a good practice. This will make sure that logs are current when the Emergency Declaration is lifted. It’s a good idea to integrate a route planner or add-on the service if it isn’t included by your telematics provider to facilitate the planning of loads and tasks. With so much on the fleet manager’s plate and the additional hours drivers are logging, any opportunity for automation should be embraced.

Driver safety
For all fleet managers, the safety of your drivers should be the top priority. The Department of Transportation Hours of Service regulations are there for a reason. The guidelines, of course, are there to make sure that drivers are not being overtaxed, reducing the possibility of accidents. Giving your team ample time to rest before taking the next load is imperative. And while it’s required that drivers receive at least 10 consecutive hours off if they let their company know they need immediate rest, they may be inclined to push themselves given the current situation, feeling a responsibility to their fleet manager and the community at large. Plus, with people practicing social distancing, it’s likely there will be an uptick in eCommerce purchases, adding additional strain to fleet capacity. A fleet tracking tool will allow managers to review driver’s time, how often they have completed a 14-hour shift, and allow for properly scheduled rest periods to avoid exhaustion and potential accidents.

Track maintenance
While drivers are putting in the extra miles, so are their rigs! Keeping track of oil changes, tire rotation and other regular maintenance items can keep your drivers and trucks safely on the road. While you may think a global crisis is not the time to stop for regular maintenance, these quick care items are much easier and more cost-effective to complete than larger complications they could cause going unaddressed. An oil change can help engines run more efficiently and reduce a fleet’s cost per mile. Taking time to examine tires could reveal a small leak or puncture which could lead to a popped tire on the road, leaving your driver stuck for hours on end or even cause them to lose control of the truck due to the blowout. Addressing these regular maintenance items will boost efficiency and save time in the long run.

Invest in add-ons
During times of global crisis, the supply chain can change at a moment’s notice. Add-ons such as a brokerage provider integration can help keep the lines of communication open with your customers and help you keep track of where the loads are and when they will arrive. With demand high, and lives on the line while carrying freight like medical supplies, these up-to-the-moment notices can be key in providing your team and customers with the proper support.

Driving demand
There’s no doubt about it – the trucking industry is a key player in combating this global crisis. Delivering everything from medical supplies, to food to other ecommerce purchases for those in quarantine, the country is demanding quite a bit from our fleets. By staying organized and using helpful telematics tools, fleet managers and owners will be able to meet this challenge with the knowledge they need to make smart decisions. Staying in constant communication with drivers and customers will also help manage expectations and make sure everyone is on the same page.

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Marco Encinas, Senior Product Manager at Teletrac Navman, plans the product strategy and roadmap releases globally for all of Teletrac Navman’s software platforms. He gains industry insights from customers, integration partners and R&D to improve current Teletrac Navman product features and tools, and drive development of new product requirements. Before joining the Teletrac Navman team, Marco planned product strategy and roadmap releases for both commercial and consumer product lines, developed sales training tools and product curriculum at Magellan GPS and Mitsubishi.

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?

nominations

Global Trade Magazine Accepting “Women in Logistics” Nominations

Global Trade Magazine officially opened nominations for its May/June cover story, “Women in Logistics” beginning this week through the end of March. This marks the publication’s second annual feature spotlighting leading female executives reshaping the way companies approach industry disruptions. The ideal candidate has a proven track record of creating long-term solutions impacting various sectors including transportation, warehousing, shipping, and supply chain management.

“As we continue to see a rise in female leaders within the logistics industry, I wanted to take recognition to the next level for female executives fostering positive company culture while displaying exemplary leadership all industry players can learn from,” said Eric Kleinsorge, Publisher and Chairman of Global Trade Magazine. “Last year’s cover story was a huge success. We received a lot of positive feedback from our readers and we’ve already received impressive nominations for this year’s feature.”

Among leading ladies featured in the 2019 issue included Joan Smemoe of RailInc., Jane Kennedy Greene of Kenco, Wendy Buxton of LynnCo Supply Chain Solutions, and Barbara Yeninas and Lisa Aurichio of BSYA. This year’s selected nominees will be selected based on factors including tenure, industry relevance, impact on the industry, the health of relationships with employees, with a high emphasis on their workplace culture approach. Nominations will be limited to one executive per submission and participants can enter their executive of choice until March 31st at 5 p.m.

“I encourage workers from around the globe to take a few minutes and submit female leaders that have changed the way they view leadership and have made a positive impact on their career and industry. It’s important to the evolving culture of global companies to recognize these women for their dedication to the industry and the workers that make success possible,” Kleinsorge concluded.

To submit a nomination, please click here or call (469) 778-2606 for more information. 

4PL

ONE, TWO, 3PL … or 4PL? DETERMINING WHICH MAKES THE MOST SENSE FOR YOUR BUSINESS

The supply chain ecosystem is becoming more demanding as consumers are conditioned to expect nearly instantaneous free shipping and where order delays can inflict serious damage to brands. As a result, shippers must carefully select their supply chain partners, as their performance has a much greater potential impact on customer satisfaction and the bottom line than ever before.

However, shippers are often perplexed when faced with the choice of partnering with a 3PL or 4PL to tackle their logistics and transportation challenges.

“Every shipper is unique, but many face the same challenges and share the same goals: reducing costs, optimizing their network, consolidating shipments, changing behaviors, improving customer service, and improving visibility, to name a few,” says Ross Spanier, senior vice president of Sales and Solutions at GlobalTranz, a Phoenix, Arizona-based tech company that provides a cloud-based, multimodal transportation management system (TMS) to shippers, carriers and brokers.

“The common thread that links these challenges and goals is data,” Spanier continues, “and many companies lack the data they need to make truly informed business decisions.”

He should know. Spanier brings more than 17 years of experience—which includes stops at C.H. Robinson and Logistics Planning Services—to the discussion of 3PL versus 4PL partnerships. Shippers, he maintains, should focus on the capabilities of the prospective partner and seek out partners that combine the technology, people, multimodal services and solutions they need to in gain a competitive advantage.

“Many shippers really cannot afford to staff and maintain an internal transportation and logistics team,” he notes. “Finding a partner that can act as an extension of their business is key. It’s also extremely important to make sure your partner can provide technology and experience in implementation, execution and integration. That can be a significant cost and a disruption for businesses that attempt to do that by themselves.”

Whether you’re a medium-sized business or listed on the Fortune 1000 annual list, deciding between a 3PL and a 4PL sets the stage for all moving parts.

“A common misunderstanding is that a 3PL is just a broker, when the reality is they can be much more than that,” Spanier says. “At GlobalTranz, our managed solutions are a great example of that. We can offer a more strategic and consultative approach for our customers including having ‘skin in the game’ on the broker side, where we’re taking on pricing commitments, service level commitments, managing the risks and owning the contracts.

“Many times, that is one of the common misunderstandings because a 3PL can act very strategically with customers and not necessarily need a fourth party. The 4PL typically offers strategic insights and management of a company’s entire supply chain, and often if one goes back to the question of ‘what is the difference between a 3PL and 4PL,’ 4PLs are the right fit for much more mature, large or complex organizations.”

GlobalTranz positions itself as a leader in customized solutions for a wide variety of shippers across many industry verticals. From LTL to truckload, final mile or white-glove service, intermodal, ocean, air, and cross-border Mexico transportation … are all part of the GlobalTranz offering. In addition, the company offers an award-winning TMS. The company takes pride in collaborative efforts between the people driving their technology as an integrated solution offered to their customer base.

“Whether a customer is best-suited for a 3PL or 4PL solution is typically not already known when we walk in the door, Spanier explains. “We like to show where a customer can gain the most value based on the solution and its capabilities. More times than not, it’s about voicing that to the customer and understanding where their constraints are and how we can put a solution together–a 3PL or a 4PL solution.”

GlobalTranz boasts a different approach when it comes to serving its customer base. Its robust managed solutions offerings serve a variety of needs that can be tailored upon identifying where the client’s business needs it the most. The experts at GlobalTranz take the process of solution identification one step further by evaluating the needs and configuring a solution from there. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, which is exactly how GlobalTranz separates itself from the rest as a leader in logistics solutions–whether that be a 3PL or 4PL solution.

“People, processes, and technology are important, and it’s crucial to establish relationships and communications that are aligned with company goals,” Spanier contends. “Without strong relationships in place, technology and process won’t deliver the needed support or what they’re looking to get out of a partner. When you have a customer looking at a 3PL solution, you want to make sure that a 3PL has the ability to bring in carriers no matter what markets they operate in. This is critical because they may be in one market today but with growth, both organic and through acquisitions, and the changing dynamics in customer demand and expectations, the footprint could expand and it’s important to have a partner that is quick to react and agile in respect to their carrier partners as well.”

So, when deciding on what makes the most sense for your business, consider partners that not only provide solutions but are agile and customizable based on specific business goals.

_______________________________________________________________

As the GlobalTranz Senior Vice President of Sales and Solutions, Ross Spanier leads the enterprise sales organization as well as the design and delivery of innovative and customized supply chain solutions that drive efficiency, cost savings and competitive advantages for current and prospective customers. With more than 15 years of experience in the supply chain and logistics industry, Spanier has developed and grown sales and operations teams specializing in best-in-class service execution of LTL, TL, expedite, supply chain management, projects & heavy haul, white glove and managed transportation service lines. Prior to joining GlobalTranz in 2017, he held sales and operations leadership roles at both C.H. Robinson and Logistics Planning Services (LPS).