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Top 10 Transportation Trends to Watch for in 2020

transportation

Top 10 Transportation Trends to Watch for in 2020

A lot has been happening in the global transport sector over the last decade. In 2019 alone, we saw several cities in Europe ban diesel cars and adopt electric transit buses. Technology-enabled mobility grew tremendously well in the past year and the passenger transportation scene evolved in a big way. Transport experts, city planners, and technology futurists are all curious to see what happens in 2020 and beyond. That is why we have compiled a 10-point prediction of the trends that might define transportation in 2020.

1. Scooters will not be “cool” anymore

Scooters were the coolest kid in the transportation sector until last year when they were officially adopted into the mainstream. They are fast transitioning from the controversial transportation tool that used to turn heads and draw admiration and hate in equal measure, to a convenient transportation tool that anyone can ride. People will be riding them to work, tourists will be using them for sightseeing, and pedestrians will not be too concerned about the now uncontroversial vehicles.

2. Continued adoption of IoT

Web-enabled smart devices are taking over the world, and the transport sector won’t be spared. 2020 will be the year when data sensors, processors, and transmitters will join the mainstream. The Internet of Things (IoT) eco-system will necessitate that all cars and trucks be fitted with sensors and communication hardware that will enable them to communicate with each other in real-time. IoT will also make it easier for vehicles to identify pedestrians and cyclists, preventing potential accidents.

3. Growth of MaaS

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) will grow exponentially in 2020 and beyond. This technology will make the most of Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) in optimizing traffic management in cities.

4. The continued growth of autonomous driving

Autonomous cars are becoming a reality now after having been dismissed by many transport stakeholders as a pipe dream about a decade ago. In 2020, we can expect autonomous technology and self-driving cars to continue gaining ground in the transport industries. More car manufacturers and tech companies will keep manufacturing more functional, secure, and sophisticated autonomous cars. This technology will be claiming its place as the future of mobility within the next decade.

5. More adoption of battery-powered transportation

Battery-powered transportation is becoming a mainstream thing now. We are already seeing an upsurge in the adoption of the electric bike in the US and Europe. These bikes are making it effortless to bike and exercise, and that means they will continue finding favor in the eyes of many working citizens. City planners will also be trying to leverage these bikes because they can be a great alternative to cars. They will significantly reduce traffic congestion in our cities.

6. We could start seeing e-school buses

The “vehicle-to-grid” concept (V2G) will be integrated into school transportation in the form of e-school buses. School buses, in the literal sense, are used less than a third of the time regular public transport buses are used. Because of that significantly low mileage, it is easier to test mobile batteries on school buses before we can eventually have electric buses in the mainstream.

7. Use of AI in transportation

AI will be complementing IoT in making our roads safer and lesser congested. On top of increase passenger safety, this technology will help minimize carbon emission on our roads and at the same time make transportation affordable and profitable.

8. Mobility on Demand (MOD) will be “high in demand”

Mobility will be redefined in 2020 and beyond. Instead of having to endure the heavy burden of car ownership (maintenance costs, fuel cost fluctuations, and hefty insurance covers), people will be opting for MOD. This is where you order for a car through a mobile app whenever you need a ride as opposed to owning a car that you use less than a quarter of your day.

9. Shared mobility as well

Shared or smart mobility will also be high in demand. Cities will have to rethink their transportation preferences in this smart era. One prediction that is likely to pass in this regard is that cities will try to improve shared mobility by combining multiple modes of transport, say, bikes, PSVs, and private cars, in order to come up with a more integrated system.

10. Continued integration of clean transportation technology

Transportation companies will keep trying to cut down on emissions by reducing oil usage. That will be achieved through the adoption of transportation tools such as self-driving drones.

Conclusion

The global transportation sector is going through many changes in 2020 and the last decade, all with the aim of making passenger and cargo transportation cheaper, safer, and more efficient. The 10 trends predicted in this article will shape the transportation environment going forward. Of course, there will be many more potential changes, some of which are not yet predictable.

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.

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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).

congress

DRIVING CONGRESS TO ACT ON NATIONAL SECURITY TARIFFS

Volkswagen GTI is turbocharged with room for…tariffs?

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a perennial winner of Car and Driver’s 10Best award. The German-built sport hatchback combines “speed, handling, build quality, an attractive interior, and room for the family,” all for under $30,000. Car and Driver raves about the GTI’s turbocharged engine and notes it’s a formidable challenger to competing “hot hatches.”

Apparently, the U.S. Department of Commerce believes that the GTI poses another challenge — maybe a turbocharged threat to America’s national security.

In a still-confidential 2019 report, the Department reportedly found that imported autos like the GTI “threaten to impair the national security” and recommended that the president impose tariffs as high as 25 percent.

All revved up

The president would enact these tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. As TradeVistas’ Andrea Durkin has detailed, Section 232 is a little-used Cold War-era law under which Congress delegated broad authority to the president to restrict imports for national security reasons. The law is also the basis for current controversial duties on steel and aluminum.

The proposed tariffs have generated opposition from vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, economic analysts and members of Congress. The Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers notes that a 25 percent tariff on autos and parts would raise the price of an average imported car by an estimated $6,000 (and add $2,000 to a U.S.-built car) while potentially leading to the loss of over 600,000 American jobs. The Association of Global Automakers (now merged with the Auto Alliance to form the Alliance for Automotive Innovation) questions how passenger cars and light trucks are relevant to national security, suggesting that “America does not go to war in a Ford Fiesta.” Statements from Administration officials suggest that the “national security” justification for auto tariffs may be a pretext to gain negotiating leverage in other contexts.

Sourcing of US Light Vehicle Sales 2017

Congress may put the brakes on Presidential tariffs

With the possible exception of avid inventor Ben Franklin, America’s founders would be astounded by the GTI. They might be equally astonished, however, by the Trump Administration’s assertion of broad authority to impose tariffs. After fighting a revolution against “taxation without representation,” the founders believed it was vital to entrust the power to impose tariffs and other taxes to the people’s representatives. Specifically, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution vests Congress with the “power to lay and collect taxes [and] duties.”

Since 1934, after its disastrous experience with the Smoot-Hawley tariffs, Congress has increasingly delegated specific trade and tariff powers to the president, subject to a variety of limitations. Presidents have generally used these powers judiciously and to reduce tariffs to expand trade. For example, when President Kennedy signed the 1962 Trade Expansion Act (which enacted Section 232), he emphasized the importance of opening trade and reducing trade barriers and warned against “stagnating behind tariff walls.”

President Trump has taken a maximalist approach to his delegated powers to impose tariffs, particularly for “national security” reasons. In response, Congressional critics from both parties point out that under the Constitution, Congress should be the ultimate driver of tariffs, not the president.

Other concerns with the Administration’s application of national security tariffs include a lack of transparency in determining tariffs and administering tariff exclusions, its use of an overly broad definition of national security, and the cascading impacts on U.S. producers from higher metal prices. Legal experts are also concerned that the Administration did not follow the law when it imposed new tariffs on derivative steel products (including nails and bumpers) and when it extended its review of auto tariffs when time limits under Section 232 have likely expired.

Cost of Autos 232 Tariffs

Time for a trade law tune-up?

Congress could rein in presidential national security tariffs by simply repealing Section 232. However, even critics of current tariffs recognize that there are circumstances where the president might need authority to adjust trade in response to national security threats. Accordingly, Congress has focused instead on bipartisan proposals to place additional limits on the president’s ability to employ Section 232.

The Trade Security Act of 2019, introduced by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI), would bifurcate the Section 232 process. The Department of Defense (DoD) would first investigate whether there is a national security basis for restricting imports of an article. If DoD finds that an article poses a security threat and the president decides to act, the Commerce Department would then recommend tariffs or other measures to address the threat. The Portman-Kind bill would also enable Congress to disapprove any Section 232 trade restriction imposed by the president through a resolution of disapproval that would itself be subject to a veto by the president. This legislation would not impact current Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019introduced by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) would also require DoD to take the lead in investigating whether an article poses a national security threat, while also adopting a tighter definition of national security. Notably, under this legislation, no proposed Section 232 action by the president could take effect unless Congress first passes a resolution of approval. The Toomey-Gallagher bill would also (i) repeal current steel and aluminum duties unless Congress passes an expedited resolution of approval, (ii) direct the independent U.S. International Trade Commission to report to Congress on the economic impacts of Section 232 actions, and (iii) require that the USITC administer the tariff exclusion process for future Section 232 actions.

Two bills in Congress to brake 232

Getting out of neutral

For the past year, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has been attempting to meld the Portman and Toomey bills into a compromise measure that would attract veto-proof majorities in Congress. Despite considerable bipartisan support, Grassley notes that this effort has faced two challenges. First, there’s opposition from Republicans who see the legislation as a rebuke of President Trump. Second — as any student of U.S. trade history could have predicted —interests that benefit from new national security tariffs are now lobbying intensely to retain these tariffs. Despite this opposition, Grassley has vowed to continue efforts to enact Section 232 reform in 2020.

More potholes ahead?

Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s GTI and other imported autos will continue to face the threat of national security tariffs. And that threat won’t necessarily subside if a Democratic president takes office next year. Some Democrats have already proposed using the Trump Administration’s expansive reading of Section 232 to advance their own policy goals — particularly to address the climate crisis. Carbon-emitting autos like the GTI would be a prime target for new tariffs.

The GTI was designed for Germany’s smooth, high-speed autobahns. When it comes to U.S. national security tariffs, however, the GTI’s road ahead may continue to be full of potholes.

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Ed Gerwin

Ed Gerwin is a lawyer, trade consultant, and President of Trade Guru LLC.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

costs

10 Tips for Cutting Costs and Improve Customer Service in Supply Chain Logistics

As organizations continue to create and source raw materials from overseas, controlling expenses remains the number one priority for players involved in international trade.

One critical factor that executives should monitor closely is logistics management. This sector covers important activities relating to procurement, transport, and storage of goods. In most industries, supply chain logistics account for 5% to 50% of a product’s total cost.

Some of the issues that affect logistics costs include fuel prices, complex international trade laws, and security. High transportation fees are mainly caused by high fuel prices delays in ports. Complex international trade laws increase warehousing costs by lengthening delivery times.

As technology evaluation.com reports, air-freight shipment takes about eight to twelve days. During these days, the cargo is on ф route around 5% of the time. 95% of the time is spent lying in warehouses waiting for compliance checks and documents. So, how can you cut down costs and improve customer service in supply logistics? Keep reading!

1. Use your space efficiently

Using your space efficiently will save you a lot of money in the long run. As you already know, storing your supplies in a warehouse comes at a cost. Figure out whether you are making the most out of your space or not.

You might discover other ways of finding spaces that are best suited for your business. As we’ve seen, supplies, spend most of their time in warehouses waiting for compliance checks. The more efficient you are at warehousing; the more profits you’ll generate at the end of the day.

2.  Automate your processes

Organizations that use technology solutions to automate compliance processes have the power to speed up the process four times as much compared to organizations that rely on manual work. Automating tasks such as document preparation will eliminate expensive mistakes and errors.

Automating your processes also leads to fewer delays at crossing points thus resulting in timely deliveries, increased customer satisfaction and avoidance of expensive fines.

3. Inform decision-makers

According to dissertation service, providing decision-makers or your customers with the costs of freight associated with each service level, the reliability of every lane and the total cost of transporting inventory will make it easier for them to make informed decisions and work with you in the future. In most cases, your customers will select the cheapest option that complies with the laws to meet their needs.

4. Figure out the real costs of sourcing overseas

Before sourcing overseas, you need to calculate freight, brokerage, duty, and transportation costs to support these long supply chains. You should factor in other costs such as engineers flying overseas. Once you figure out the total landed cost and its impact on your business, you might discover that domestic buy is quite attractive. For instance, sourcing from Ohio to your plant in the US might be cheaper in the long run compared to sourcing from China.

5. JIT inventory management

There are many benefits to implementing Just-in-Time inventory management. With this system, you can order and receive inventory only when you need to. In the long run, this will reduce your inventory transportation costs, protect against write-downs attributed to dips and eliminate unnecessary overhead costs caused by excess inventory.

6. Sales and operations planning

For a supply chain to function at its highest efficiency, sales, and operations planning is required. Optimal performance greatly depends on creating proper plans. However, it can be complicated and expensive in the long run.

By working with a third-party logistics provider, your team will eliminate waste and redundancies thus enabling you to analyze data, forecast and enhance visibility so that everyone is involved. During the sales and operations planning process, you should address issues such as unrestrained stock-outs, obsolete inventory, inaccurate forecasts and adjusting demand and production schedules.

7. Package your products well

Packaging your products well will result in less or no damages during the shipping process. Ensuring that the people responsible for packaging your products do it properly will minimize quality costs and build your reputation. As the saying goes, it’s the smallest things that matter the most.

8. Assess your performance

You have to measure the performance of your strategies to forge the way forward. Doing business without assessing your performance regularly is a recipe for disaster. By not assessing your performance, you’ll have a hard time determining how much money you are spending and saving. Come up with your key performance indicators and gauge how well your business is doing.

9. Eliminate variability during transit times

The more variable the transit times, the higher the likelihood that the receiving party is using premium freight, ordering more quantity than is necessary to compensate for the uncertainty of creating buffers of inventory. When you understand these dynamics, you’ll realize that paying for higher freight costs will enhance variability and save your company loads of cash in the long run.

10. Choose your mode of transport.

Which mode of transport is the cheapest? Trains? Airplanes? Automobiles? In most cases, rail is cheaper when transporting bulky goods than air or trucking. Also, water is cheaper than air. Regardless of the delivery model, it’s important to get all the quotes from different modes of transport available.

Conclusion

Managing a supply chain logistics company is not the easiest thing to accomplish. You have to make the right move every time out to avoid expensive mistakes and losses. The ten tips discussed above will help you reduce your costs and grow your business. You owe it to yourself to assess your situation and determine what needs to be changed or implemented.

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This guest post is contributed by Kurt Walker who is a blogger and college paper writer. In the course of his studies he developed an interest in innovative technology and likes to keep business owners informed about the latest technology to use to transform their operations. He writes for companies such as Edu BirdieXpertWriters and uk.bestessays.com on various academic and business topics.

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?

culture

What Happens When Leaders Forget the Culture That Made Their Company Great?

Many business leaders view their corporate culture as so important that they make it a point to hire people who are a good fit for that culture – and jettison any employees who aren’t.

But what happens when it’s the leaders themselves – for profits, for expediency, for getting the next deal done – who toss aside the culture and plow ahead with decisions that go counter to what made the company a success?

Trouble, that’s what happens, says Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture and the ForbesBooks author of the Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business (www.culturecodechampions.com).

“Your company’s culture should inform everything you do,” he says. “When you start straying from the practices that got you where you are, you run the risk of making decisions that will cost you in the long run.”

One example that surfaced recently involved Boeing, which posted its first full-year loss in more than two decades. The company was already reeling from two Boeing 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 passengers in Indonesia and Ethiopia, and forced the company to ground its entire fleet of Max jetliners.

According to news reports, the origins of the company’s woes can be traced all the way back to 1997 when Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas, a merger that immediately led to a clash of cultures. At Boeing, engineers were king. At McDonnell Douglas, the bottom line ruled.

In the end, the McDonnell Douglas culture prevailed.

“Mergers and acquisitions are always fraught with danger both financially and culturally,” says Higgs, a founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering who recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast. “Financial concerns get the focus while management figures, incorrectly, that culture will just work itself out.”

But in any organization – with or without a merger – it’s paramount that the leaders take charge of maintaining the culture. Higgs says some steps crucial to establishing a company culture and keeping it on course include:

-Encourage communication. Higgs is fond of saying that all problems ultimately are communications problems. In any organization, there can be communications breakdowns. “The most important way to improve execution and efficiency is to foster and maintain a spirit of inclusion, where everyone who has any contact at all with a particular project feels they are involved and is kept in the loop,” Higgs says.

-Knock down silos. Too often silos emerge in large organizations where departments become insulated from each other. They fail to share ideas and resources, and an attitude of competition replaces a spirit of collaboration.

-Make sure employees know they are respected and valued. This is the real key to building a successful organization and making sure your best people stay with you, Higgs says. Leaders should communicate regularly with employees to make sure they understand how valued they are. He says employees should also know it’s all right to speak up if they see something problematic.

“When I was at Mustang Engineering and we had grown from a small to a huge company, I still had drafters who were comfortable jumping five levels in the organization to let me know they would have to put out substandard work if the schedule or cost were not changed,” Higgs says.

“I always told them I would handle the issues internally with engineering and externally with clients or suppliers, but they should stay the course on quality.”

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Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is the ForbesBooks author of Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast (www.culturecodechampions.com), where he has interviewed such notable subjects as former CIA director David Petraeus and NASA’s woman pioneer Sandra Coleman. Culture Code Champions is listed as a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes. Higgs is also the co-founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc. In 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide. Second, third and fourth-generation leaders took the company to $2 billion in 2014. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship. He is an Airborne Ranger and former commander of a combat engineer company.

NTG

NTG Slides Between Old Guard and Freight-Forwarding Disruptors

If there is one common theme among newish freight-forwarding disruptors, it is that they seek to replace an old guard that relies on paper, clipboards, and telephones with a brave new world that relies on cloud software, analytics platforms, and smartphones.

The stakes are high: tracking and handling freight is a $1 trillion industry. And so, the business media falls all over itself to profile the likes of Qwyk, Flexport and Zencargo. It’s a small wonder that established players have moved into the freight forwarding “startup” space, as evidenced by Twill, a so-called “Maersk innovation.” Amazon is also breaking into the freight-forwarding market, as is another well-known disruptor, Uber, which launched Uber Freight in 2017 and expanded into Europe last year.

Falling somewhere between the newbies and the established players is Nolan Transportation Group (NTG), a multimodal freight brokerage firm that was founded in Atlanta in 2005. Featuring parcel, truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal transportation services for more than 7,000 customers across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico—as well as a carrier base with over 30,000 independent transportation/trucking companies that aid in facilitating the movement of clients’ products—NTG has mostly been in the news lately due to industry consolidation.

After Gryphon Investors injected capital into third party logistics company Transportation Insight in September, the private equity firm and the 3PL together acquired NTG three months later. Then, in January, NTG announced it had acquired Eagle Transportation LLC, a Mississippi-based freight brokerage specializing in temperature-controlled shipping. Out of the deal, NTG added Eagle’s expertise in cold-chain logistics and brokerage of refrigerated equipment, and Eagle received access to NTG’s vast pool of carrier representatives.

But NTG Freight is now seeking to turn industry heads with its new portal for carriers and shipping customers that went live for the public on Jan. 18, after months of beta testing. Those who log in 24/7 get real-time access “to every available shipment we have as a company,” says Garrett McDaniel, NTG’s vice president of Software Project Management. “Carriers like it because available loads are not on public boards where you have to beat out the competition to find lanes you are interested in running. The second a shipment is created, it shows up on our system as available.”

Previously, NTG communicated with its more than 8,000 companies and 100,000 trucking companies via fax, email, and phone. The portal makes that process communications and booking loads faster and easier, with bidding and rate confirmation handled automatically—and via a smartphone.

“We have created a few access levels for our preferred carriers, who not only see the loads available but the offer rate for that load as well,” McDaniel explains. “It’s created a bidding system that is pretty different than the eBay-style bidding that our competitors are doing.” With the latter, a bid amount is entered and after other bids are made, a “winning bid” is selected. But with the NTG portal, a carrier submits a couple of different amounts and is automatically chosen without having to debate.

Asked whether the new portal came about based on what customers were seeking or what NTG saw needed refinement, McDaniel answered, “A little bit of both. The platform was originally created based on some specific needs of carriers.”

You might assume here that NTG’s answer to those needs came in June 2019, when the 3PL deployed Descartes Systems Group’s MacroPoint, a cloud-based freight visibility solution. After all, Perry Falk, senior vice president of NTG’s Carrier Operations, said at the time: “Our customers can opt to get real-time visibility on every shipment we move. The drivers for our carriers can provide location updates with minimal interactions while in-transit, leaving us with happier carriers who can focus on driving safely.”

However, McDaniel corrects that the new portal’s inception actually stretches back a couple of years before that, when carriers were telling NTG as far back as 2017 that they needed online access to their payment information. “One thing they wanted was access to payments in real-time. Paperwork was missing on some loads, and they wanted to see information on available loads. Over time, as we grew as a development team, along with the experience of the users, things were refined internally.

“One of the very first versions that rolled out showed the payment status. You’d log in to see when you were being paid if you were paid already what the check number was and when it was mailed. Really within the last year, we rolled out a lot more core functionality, including bidding on loads, rate confirmation, as well as some of the customer-focused functionality as well.”

McDaniel considers all of this to be part of NTG’s mission “to improve the carrier partnership.” Relationships with loyal carriers and customers were already in place during the NTG portal’s beta phase. “We’ve received a ton of positive feedback, especially among the smaller carriers that have one to five trucks,” McDaniel says. “It’s been a great tool for them to be able to keep their trucks completely filled with loads purely by using the system.” Carriers “with thousands of trucks” also participated in the beta phase, he adds. “They were able to get in, play around with it and give us their feedback. We’ve taken a lot of the feedback and been able to implement changes.”

The live version features a redesigned front end, more user-friendliness and a more modern-feeling than the beta tester, according to McDaniel, who credits Gryphon Investors with steadfastly supporting his company’s high-tech vision. “They have been a really incredible partner in developing this application,” he says.

However, while new freight forwarding disruptors scramble to build new customer bases, McDaniel is also quick to applaud the NTG network with continuing to push his company to refine with the digital times.

“We have been around for 15 years,” he notes. “In that amount of time, we’ve grown a deep network of carriers and shipper partners. These were not acquired overnight as a tech startup disruptor.”

Which, McDaniel believes, gives NTG a competitive edge over the upstarts. “We have a pretty dedicated group of users. This is something we view as an enhancement for our carrier partners. You don’t ever want to replace human relationships. Rather, this is something that quite frankly helps strengthen that relationship with us.”

fuel efficiency

The Trucking Industry’s Fuel Efficiency is Still Far Too Low, While Carbon Output is Far Too High

In 2017, the EPA reported that the transportation sector is the leading contributor of carbon emissions in the U.S. A major part of that sector is the $700 billion domestic trucking industry, which spends approximately $105B on diesel fuel annually, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). To help offset this trend, many logistics and transportation companies have recently launched some level of fuel-saving initiative, aimed at helping to reduce their fuel use and carbon impact.

The trucking industry remains a critical function for the U.S. economy, and that reliance is only set to grow. However, most Class 8 trucks on the road today are only achieving roughly seven miles per gallon (MPG) – which keeps fuel consumption and carbon output unnecessarily high. The adoption of technologies to improve truck aerodynamics for long-haul carriers, along with helping to change fuel-hogging driver behaviors, can help fleets reduce fuel costs significantly while eliminating large amounts of carbon emissions. The industry must move aggressively closer to the long-desired goal of a 10MPG standard.

Innovation in Aerodynamics

Aerodynamic drag of a Class 8 truck accounts for a majority of a truck’s energy loss at highway speeds and results in unnecessary fuel usage. Reducing drag improves fuel efficiency which translates to greater efficiency benefits for the industry overall. So, how do trucking companies get there?

Truck manufacturers offer a variety of models with increased aerodynamic efficiency, and aftermarket providers offer numerous products that are proven to further improve fuel economy. One example from the aftermarket is an active-aero device that automatically closes the tractor-trailer gap on commercial trucks when the vehicle reaches a certain speed (approximately 40 miles per hour) and creates an estimated fuel savings of between four-to-six percent. The product also offers GPS-enabled software that tracks fuel savings information in real-time. Improving aerodynamics would cut annual fuel use of a single truck by up to 860 gallons.

Improving Driver Behavior

Another area worth noting to cut down fuel consumption– reducing the driving speed. According to ATA estimates, an average truck traveling at 75 mph will consume 27% more fuel compared to one going at 65 mph. Additionally, what most people don’t realize is an idle truck can be a massive fuel consumer. Drivers that idle their engines while resting to provide air-conditioning or heat for their sleeper compartments or those that have the habit of keeping their engines warm during cold months are just simple notions that cause major fuel consumption.  Developing better practices to the above will help streamline fuel costs overall.

Beyond systems and behavior that address fuel efficiencies, companies can adopt other innovative ways to address managing fuel consumption such as side skirts or streamlined hoods to help reduce drag.

Opportunity with Data and Analytics

While physical and behavioral solutions can put more control in the hands of fleet managers, data analytics can play a large role as well. Valuable information gained through data/analytics provides a way to obtain greater transparency and visibility into performance. GPS-enabled software can help to validate the fuel savings from each innovation and help ensure it continues forward. These programs can be put in play to help manage efficiencies for the carrier and utilize technologies in ways that benefit the industry overall.

Carbon Reduction and Pushing to 10 MPG

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experts, freight activity will nearly double by 2040, and global freight transport emissions will exceed passenger vehicle emissions by 2050. As sustainability is becoming a higher priority within the transportation industry, it’s important that carriers understand the benefits of investing in sustainability programs and resources, and how this translates to cutting costs.

Today’s top fleets are leading the sustainability charge. Everyone in the industry is watching what UPS, DHL, and the like-minded industry leaders are doing in regards to innovation adoption for the best fuel-efficiency technology. With trucking predicted to grow more and more each year, improving the fuel efficiency of the industry is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting profit margins in an increasingly regulated industry. According to NACFE’s 2017 Run On Less demonstration, achieving an average fuel efficiency of 10 MPG would save the U.S. trucking industry 9.7 billion gallons of diesel fuel, $24.3 billion and 98 million tons of CO2 each year [ref 1]. While the primary goal is to reduce the environmental impact of the transportation sector, it is successful in large part because it demonstrates financial benefit for industry stakeholders as well.

It’s clear that there is an abundance of challenges when it comes to fuel consumption in the trucking industry. However, the industry can be confident that there is an equal abundance of solutions to help improve fuel efficiency in order to manage costs and reduce carbon output.

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References

1. https://rmi.org/press-release/press-release-run-less-proves-available-techs-unlock-24-billion-n-trucking/

 

Daniel Burrows is the CEO and Founder of XStream Trucking, an engineering company building connected hardware to improve the efficiency of the trucking industry

trucking

How to Use Invoice Factoring to Improve Your Business Cash Flow

Cash flow can be difficult for a business to manage effectively. When you wait 30, 60 or 90 days for payment of work already completed, expenses don’t wait with you. They need to be paid now.

But you aren’t at liberty to change payment terms you agreed to with customers. If you try it, they’ll just leave you to find another company that will work with their terms.

Let’s look at a cash flow example. Say you own a small trucking business with a fleet of 5 trucks. The trucks are assigned as collateral to the company that financed them.

Business is good. You have experienced drivers and your trucks haul for great customers who pay well. But paying well does not mean paying quickly.

Yet you have truck payments, fuel, maintenance, insurance, taxes, payroll, and other overhead. You find yourself burning through cash before you get more.

You don’t want to lose your drivers or your trucks. And you’d hate to lose your customers to competitors. But debt is not an option; the trucks are already financed. If only you could get paid quicker.

Then you hear about invoice factoring and how it can smooth out cash flow. You decide to give it a try.

How Does Invoice Factoring Work?

Invoice factoring is not a new concept. It’s been around for centuries. It is selling accounts receivable to get cash for your business.

In the example of the trucking company above, when a load is delivered and the customer is billed it creates an account receivable. But the customer doesn’t pay until the agreed upon terms. That long wait time puts stress on the business.

With invoice factoring, instead of billing the customer, you sell the invoice to a factoring company. The factor then pays you an advance of up to 98% of the invoice value.

The advance you receive depends on the agreement reached between you and the factoring company. That advance is paid to you within 24 hours or less.

The factor bills the customer and waits for payment. Once your customer pays the factor, the remainder is paid to you minus a small fee for factoring.

Instead of waiting long times for payment, your business receives cash immediately after transmitting each invoice. Now the trucking company has the consistent cash flow to carry on hauling freight. As long as you deliver loads, you’ll have the cash right away.

And the factoring company takes on the billing and collections. No more trying to manage accounts receivable and no more spending time trying to collect on them. The factor does it all for you.

How Invoice Factoring Can Help Grow Your Business

Now that the trucking company has improved business cash flow it’s time to focus on growth. Meeting all your expenses on time, having extra money on hand, and saving time and money on accounting services frees you up to take on more work. Here are 20 easy ways trucking companies can increase their profit margins.

Your customers are happier than ever that you’re so dependable, always delivering on time now. They offer you additional loads. Instead of turning them down for lack of cash to operate, you jump at the opportunity.

You begin to add more trucks, more drivers and more trips. And your business is thriving, all because you improved your cash flow by invoice factoring.

And the more your business cash flow grows, the more your factoring grows with it.

Is it Hard to Qualify for Invoice Factoring?

No, not at all. You don’t need a high credit score. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you have bad credit. With factoring you’re not borrowing so your credit is not important.

It’s the credit worthiness of your customers that matters. As long as your customers have good credit and a strong history of paying you will most likely qualify.

That’s why invoice factoring is a great idea for those new to the business and/or having a low credit score. Factoring is getting paid on work you’ve already done. It’s your money; you earned it. You just get it without having to wait. The factor does the waiting for you.

Invoice factoring is also good for businesses that are thriving but experiencing interruptions in cash flow. Getting paid immediately on invoices can really improve business cash flow and reduce the stress caused by long payment wait times.

If you’d like to improve business cash flow, reduce accounting costs and grow your business, you owe it to yourself to look at invoice factoring. It’s used by all sorts of businesses, not just trucking.

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Rachel Donaghy is the Senior Director of Account Management at eCapital.com. eCapital is building a brighter future for the transportation industry. It’s a future where freight companies get paid at the click of a button. Where document exchange becomes data exchange. Where complexity disappears into the background and drivers have the freedom to focus on delivering the next load. You can find Rachel on LinkedIn and Twitter.