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Freight Shipping Tips

How Do Construction Suppliers Overcome Logistics Challenges?

The MABD and Your Construction Supply Company

Construction suppliers who provide hardware and tools are under tighter compliance regulations to get the right products to the right stores or distribution centers by a certain time, or they pay a fee. Walmart suppliers now face paying a fee of 3% of the cost of goods of all deliveries after the Must Arrive By Date (MABD).

These regulations for Walmart were implemented back in early 2016, but other retailers such as Target and Home Depot have been charging these fees for some time.

Walmart suppliers now face paying a fee of 3% of the cost of goods of all non-compliant deliveries.

Your construction supply company succeeds or fails based on the constant delivery of your products. Even more so now with the MABD mandate. The timely and effective delivery of your products, is a major priority for you, your retailers and your market. How do the logistics aspects of hardware and building materials differ from other industries?

How do the logistics aspects of hardware and building materials differ from other industries?

The truth is they don’t, with the exception of specific project dates and deadlines that could be missed.

Manufacturers and suppliers that work with large retailers like Walmart, Target and Home Depot are more successful in getting their merchandise on the shelves with the proper lead time due to partnering with a third party logistics provider (3PL).

Out with the Old

Doing things the old way, is not always the best way. Once employees get comfortable in their schedule and day to day routine it  becomes difficult to change those habits and behaviors. BlueGrace Logistics has seen and learned how to explain and implement these changes. In the case study you will learn about a Hardware distributor that was drowning in manual processes and letting inefficiencies become the norm.  

Once employees get comfortable in their schedule and day to day routine, it becomes difficult to change those habits and behaviors.

How We Reduced Costs & Removed Manual Processes for Hardware Supplier

A large big box hardware supplier, based in the Midwest, was utilizing a single national carrier model. There was no GRI mitigation, or freight bill auditing. The manual task of booking shipments was taking up much of the customer support team’s day. The accounting team had no way to tell if the invoiced amount of the shipment was the same as the quoted amount of the shipment. The ways of the past were starting to catch up as volume increased and this supplier had to make a change.

This Hardware Supplier saved 13% of their yearly freight spend which added up to $260,000 annually.

Hardware Suppliers In The Construction Industry Case Study

What About Other Construction Freight?

As a successful third-party logistics (3PL), BlueGrace handles the freight for all types of construction supply businesses. This freight can be heavy, oversized loads, such as cranes and dump trucks to replacement parts and pallets of construction materials. Our first step in any relationship is what sets us apart and brings the most value to your freight and logistics team. Your current freight data is analyzed and then processed with our proprietary engineering software.

Your current freight data is analyzed and then processed with our proprietary engineering software.

This process gives your logistics team a brand new overview of your freight. From there, your team has access to the entire BlueGrace toolbox of solutions, including ERP integrations to our flagship quoting and product, BlueShip. All of these tools come with a team of logistics experts at your disposal and a constant goal to make your freight program more successful.

Would you like to talk with BlueGrace today? Feel free to call our Enterprise Group at 800.MY.SHIPPING or come see us at the CONEXPO in Las Vegas March 7-11 Booth #B9500.

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Laying the First Bricks: Amazon is Getting Physical but Wal-Mart Fights Back

 

There aren’t a whole lot of companies that can match up to the innovative prowess of the e-Commerce giant, Amazon. It seems as though every couple of months we’re catching some snippet that Amazon is trying out a new trick for the convenience of its loyal customers and, true to it’s nature, Amazon is about to pull their next trick out of the bag. An actual grocery store.

Amazon Go

Unlike AmazonFresh, the online grocery shopping option that promises quick deliveries of produce and other perishables, Amazon Go will be an actual brick and mortar store, one of the few ventures Amazon hasn’t really gotten into yet. So why the sudden change? For starters, how about throwing the competition a curve ball?

Some of Amazon’s biggest competitors are Wal-Mart and Target, who focuses on a combined service of both groceries as well as higher ticket items such as apparel and home goods.

Some of Amazon’s biggest competitors are Wal-Mart and Target, who focus on a combined service of both groceries as well as higher ticket items such as apparel and home goods. While the groceries and produce account for a relatively small amount of the sales, it does bring in business which helps these chains hit their real goal of selling more expensive items.

Working out of a brick and mortar store will have its advantages.

Logistically speaking, trying to deliver produce and temperature sensitive goods in an appropriate time frame isn’t out of the scope of Amazon’s fairly comprehensive delivery machine, but it’s not necessarily practical either. This is why the grocery delivery service is only offered in select locations and still isn’t quite as popular as the tried and true alternative, as many customers still prefer to do their grocery shopping in stores, being able to touch, smell, and generally select their produce before purchase.

Many customers still prefer to do their grocery shopping in stores, being able to touch, smell, and generally select their produce before purchase.

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is experimenting with a few different styles of store, a convenience style or quick pick up store, as well as a drive through style, which lets customers skip having to walk into the store to begin with. The key is this, if Amazon has a physical location to work out of, they can capture more of the grocery market shares. As it stands, online grocery shopping is only a small portion of the business, about one percent currently, but is expected to continue to grow.

Wal-Mart Fights Back

If Amazon is going physical then Wal-Mart is retorting with the digital, according to an article from The Motley Fool. Many of the Wal-Mart supercenters are getting a technological upgrade in the attempt to keep Amazon in check in two ways. First is the curbside order pickup. Rather than having to walk into the store, select your items, then wade your way through the checkout line, you can simply place your order online and have it brought out to the car, allowing customers to skip the check out.

Additionally is the Gas and Go Style of Shopping, Similar to a Convenience Store.

Additionally is the Gas and Go style of shopping. This involves a secondary shop, similar to a convenience store, that has some last minute grocery items, coffee, snacks, and other concessions, as well as being a full service Gas Station. The twist is that, customers can place an online order, which is fulfilled by a nearby Supercenter, and arrive at a set time to have their groceries delivered while they gas up their vehicle. This level of convenience, combined with the grocery infrastructure that Wal-Mart already has in place might be enough to keep Amazon Go at bay.

This level of convenience, combined with the grocery infrastructure that Wal-Mart already has in place might be enough to keep Amazon Go at bay.

The Master of Logistics

It’s fairly safe to say that this point that Amazon’s actions are rarely without some sort of ulterior motive. Think back to the Amazon cloud services, which was originally designed to be an in-house service and was then converted into a highly successful business model.

If Amazon can get down the necessary logistics infrastructure to handle groceries and perishable produce, who’s to say they can’t then turn that service towards their competitors?

If Amazon can get down the necessary logistics infrastructure to handle groceries and perishable produce, who’s to say they can’t then turn that service towards their competitors? While it’s unlikely that many grocery stores are eager to hand over any form of control over to Amazon, it might be something we hear about in the future, especially given how skilled Amazon is at offering a high caliber service at a lower rate than the competition. Again, this is a bit too far off to tell presently, but it will be something to keep an eye on, especially as Amazon Go stores start to open around the country.

 

 

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2017 Is The Year Of The 3PL. Will Your Freight Be On Board?

While the shipping industry is still suffering through a glut of overcapacity, things are finally starting to look up. The 3PL Value Creation Summit of 2016 yielded some pretty interesting results. Namely that the value added by 3PLs is only expected to keep going up through 2017 and beyond, a welcome boon for the weary shipper. This growth is expected to continue well through the following year and only continue beyond that.

“The global third party logistics (3PL) market is expected to be worth $925.31 billion by 2020 and will be partially driven by the outsourcing of secondary business activities,” according to a study released by Orbis.

A Combined Front of Transportation

While just about all modes of transportation are experiencing an issue, oceanic freight is dealing with a gross overcapacity and weak demand, truckers are faced with growing legislation and on the road concerns, to name a few issues, it will be the combined effort of all these various modes of transportation that will create the greatest value for shippers. A service, of course, that is rendered by eager 3PLs.

“Although carrier overcapacity on the still continues, Evan Armstrong, the president of Armstrong & Associates, predicts that integrated solutions such as air-ground, air-sea, and other combinations will create more value for shippers and increase 3PL margins,” said Patrick Burnson, executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review .

The big winner in the transportation race is going to be the domestic transportation sector

However, the big winner in the transportation race is going to be the domestic transportation sector, responsible for facilitating the last mile deliveries for the majority of eCommerce companies.

Calmer Waters for M&A to Mark Stability for the End of 2016

One of the most promising signs of 2016 is seeing the feeding frenzy of mergers and acquisitions finally dying down. Now that all of the smaller companies have either been absorbed or faded away, the transportation industry is able to turn its attention on the importance of building the right team, focusing on training and talent acquisition. This is important to note given the confusion and frustration of the M&A period that many companies have experienced caused by negative acquisition experiences and overpriced companies. With the dust finally settling, 3PLs and logistics companies can focus on adding value for their customers, which will come as no small undertaking.

With the dust finally settling, 3PLs and logistics companies can focus on adding value for their customers, which will come as no small undertaking.

The challenges of managing geographically dispersed supply chain operations as a result of increased globalization, has led to several companies to outsource their logistics function.

And difficulties with addressing logistical challenges has also led to increased outsourcing by wholesalers and retailers, thereby boosting the 3PL industry.

It found that emerging trends such as Big Data and availability of bespoke 3PL services are expected to drive the market over the forecast period,” says Andrew Allen, a CIPS contributor.

Improving Technology will Continue to Add Value

Another driving factor is the continuous improvement of technology which will only add value for all parties involved. Cloud based IT solutions help to control overhead costs while providing invaluable data in real time, which is necessary for the continued success of 3PLs and shippers alike.

All told, 2017 looks to be a more promising year for both Shippers and 3PL providers.

 

 

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How Can Expedited Shipping Be A Game Changer For Your Business?

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Quick, Fast and In a Hurry

With the holidays quickly approaching, you can bet that manufacturers will be paying close attention to the Must Arrive By Date (MABD), set by big box retailers like WalMart and Target. While big box retailers mandate Must Arrive By Dates to ensure their shelves are always stocked with products consumers want, many companies who sell products directly are often are losing potential customers and revenue by not offering expedited shipping options to customers who have their own Must Arrive By Dates in mind for freight sized purchases.

What Is Expedited Freight?

For smaller parcel sized items, a business will often utilize the overnight or next day air options available from USPS, FedEx or UPS. But for larger sized items requiring freight shipping, many businesses and consumers aren’t aware that expedited shipping options are available, or find that they aren’t able to receive reliable or economical shipping rates from their current transportation partners.

Let’s explain more about how Expedited Freight works in comparison to standard LTL Options.

The transit of a standard LTL shipment is typically estimated as the shipment being picked up from the shipper that has to be taken to a terminal where it will be cross-docked. During this process the shipment will be loaded and unloaded from freight trucks multiple times, depending on the distance, before it arrives at the final destination. While many LTL carriers offer guaranteed shipping services, some shipments need to arrive sooner than LTL shipping can provide.

New Expedited Options For Your Business

Depending on the size of a shipment there are multiple expedited shipping options available for freight sized orders. By cutting out the cross-docking necessary in LTL shipments, expedited services are able to cover quite a bit more ground, or air, in a much shorter time than a standard LTL carrier could.

Cargo vans, straight trucks with lift gates, and air freight can be utilized for shipments that would ordinarily take up a few pallet spaces on a LTL truck. For orders that require a full truckload, a team of drivers can be booked so that your freight can theoretically move non-stop without breaking regulations imposed by the United States Department of Transportation. 

Expedited Freight = Time Sensitive Freight

It doesn’t matter if it’s July or if its a few weeks before Black Friday, as a shipper, you have the ability to expedite your freight. Whether you need to get your pallet of a custom equipment repair parts to the factory that is currently down or you need to get your trade show displays to a convention center by Friday, expedited shipping may be the best route for you. Some of our current customers are from industries like: Auto Parts, Promotional Displays, Industrial EquipmentTrade Show Management,  Airplane Parts, Computer Servers & Equipment, Maintenance Repair, AV Equipment, Restaurant Equipment and Medical Suppliers.

What Qualifies for Expedited Shipping

  1. Shipments that need to be picked up after 5 p.m. and delivered before 8 a.m.
  2. Shipments that need to move 1000 miles in 24 hours.
  3. Shipments that are loose and fragile, can’t be cross-docked with LTL carriers.
  4. Shipments that require faster transit than what LTL can offer. (Express LTL is one step away from Expedited)

How Does BlueGrace Put Expedited Shipping to Work for YOU?

BlueGrace can easily handle any expedited freight shipment request. With a network of over 1,100 carriers and 10,000 pieces of equipment available we can meet demanding pick-up and delivery times on weekends, nights and holidays, including 2 day cross country service. Each shipment also includes realtime, Macropoint tracking of your expedited freight, so you can feel secure of the delivery times promised.

Expedited Freight Only Works With An Expedited Quote

BlueGrace is also one of the few providers that is able to offer guaranteed pricing and availability within 30 minutes of your request.

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For any questions, please contact your BlueGrace Logistics Rep today! If you call after 5PM EST or weekends, please email expedite@mybluegrace.com or you can download our Expedited PDF by Clicking Here.

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Debate This: Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications Systems

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We saw the success of the automated fleet as it made its debut journey through Eastern Europe. The idea that something the size of a tractor trailer can link up and draft off another tractor trailer in near perfect unison seems like something out of science fiction. However, the technology is not only here, but is undergoing approval for use in not only the logistics sector, but also for non-commercial use as well. The V2V or vehicle to vehicle communications systems is currently being debated on with a final decision to be issued from the White House this coming January.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) submitted a draft proposal to require V2V technology in all cars and light trucks to the White House at the beginning of this year,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who is optimistic that the rule would be released before the next administration takes over in January.

A Frequency Issue

One of the biggest opponents for the V2V systems is the band spectrum which the system will be using according to a recent article from Bloomberg. There is a growing concern as telecommunication companies are attempting to skirt around the Department of Transportation’s issuance of the V2V rule which would allow automotive manufacturers to start making plans to use the spectrum.

The DOT and the Federal Communications Commission are working together to test spectrum-sharing tools. However, the 5.9 gigahertz spectrum band at the center of the industry fight should remain dedicated for use by connected cars until there is a proven and safe method of sharing it,” Foxx said.

About More than Just Communication

While the vehicle-to-vehicle communication system is all well and good, there’s a bigger prize at the end of the line, the driverless car. This has some pretty big implications not just for the consumer sector, but would prove to be a massive boon for the logistics industry as a whole. Imagine if the roads were free of traffic jams and snarls caused by inattentive or unskilled drivers. Not only would this cut down on the amount of accidents, but also traffic flow as a whole would be greatly improved. This improvement would come as an increase in fuel efficiency and productivity overall for trucks on the road, allowing for better forecasting and productivity for logistics decisions makers.

That is, of course, if the NHTSA, the DoT, and the White House can all come to a consensus this Janurary.

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A Change of Plans: Reevaluating A Company Supply Chain

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Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)

Both are critical to running a successful business, however trying to favor one over the other can prove to be disastrous. More often than not, companies are losing out on considerable profits, or paying out tremendous expenses such as last minute shipping charges due to a lack of cohesion between sales and operations planning.

A number of manufacturing companies are operating off a general set of rules for supply and demand, leaving both sales and production teams frustrated when they aren’t reaching their target goals.

While these generalizations might have cut it in the past, companies are going to have to change their operations if they want to succeed and thrive in the future.

The Creation of Internal Conflict

Supply Chain Management Review, an online industry news source recently reviewed this issue as it’s occurring in a number of companies, not only manufacturing, but service firms as well. With decision makers from both sides of the companies calling shots without conferring with the other side, there are a number of mistakes being made.

“A different type of demand–supply mismatch plagued a computer hardware maker. It relied on ocean shipping for units made in China because that was $15–$20 per unit cheaper than air freight. But while the units sailed across the ocean, the commercial team frequently changed their forecast for the mix of units that would sell over the next few weeks. The company routinely had to scramble at the last minute to ship via air (at great expense) in order to match the right supply to changes in demand forecasts.”

The article goes on to list a number of different causes for these problems, the core of which, comes down to poor information. Often times different cells within the operation are operating with different sets of data, both of which are skewed, leading to complications down the line.

Learning the Best Practice

Perhaps the biggest facilitator for change is the growing expectations from clients. With higher demand for more products with shorter delivery times, manufacturers will need to get their act together. Failure to do so could mean losing out on profits or even losing clients altogether.

“Running merely good S&OP may no longer be acceptable, because customers have higher expectations for product availability and fast delivery. The spread of new digital channels, on top of existing physical channels, has made it more complicated to know where inventory sits and what it will cost to deliver to customers. Also, the supply chain has grown more complex as suppliers operate a more far-flung network of suppliers, third-party logistics providers and inventory partners. Coordinating all that activity can be a stiff challenge.”

Changing the Game

In addition to finding better ways to communicate within the business, other business are branching out in different ways and are successful in doing so.

Apple is a perfect example of this. Originally, all Apple products were made and manufactured in the U.S. which was all well and good when they started. However, it didn’t take long for Apple to realize that manufacturing could be done cheaper out of house.

Not only could parts be procured at a lower cost but everything from assembling to warehousing could be done at a better rate. Some would simply cite lower labor costs as the main reasoning for this strategy, and to that end, gives Apple some flak for not bringing jobs back stateside. However, there’s more than one side to that issue.

“It’s also about, you don’t have as many mid-level manufacturing engineers available in the U.S. anymore, just because as an economy we don’t have as many of those types of jobs. That’s not the type of education that we focus on anymore, and there’s a ton of that over there,” said Evan Niu in an interview with the Motley Fool.

“Including the lower-cost labor, they have more people that are within the specific skill sets that they need to ramp up the manufacturing. I think a long time ago they said you could fit every single manufacturing engineer within, they would need a baseball stadium; in the country, that’s just how many there are now. Over in China, Foxconn can get hundreds of thousands of engineers within a couple hours if they need them to make some change, or tweak some processor. There’s a lot of sides to the story why they do it like that,” he added.

The manufacturing industry is accelerating and evolving rapidly, creating a challenge as businesses will need to be able to adapt and overcome, altering their business structure to meet the ever changing demand. — The real question is, will companies be able to adapt to quickly enough to meet these new expectations?

 

 

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Empathy in the Workplace – Why BlueGrace is Successful!

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Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Take a moment and think back to some of the jobs you’ve held in your life.

If you identify as a millennial, you’ve probably held several jobs since college. You maybe reach a point where you hit a ceiling, or you don’t enjoy the culture, disagree with management, etc. You may have worked for a company that doesn’t empathize with it’s people.

Typically the older generations have more tenure at companies and see long-term growth within. They ignore the issues with management or the mundane work culture, and “put in their time”.

So who is right and wrong in this scenario? Are the millennials wrong for wanting to be happy and pursue something different? Are the Gen X and older right for “embracing the suck”?

The feeling of being unimportant and undervalued is actually more common than you might think.

The End of an Era

The days of ‘hiring the resume’ are soon coming to an end. Highly successful start-ups are focusing on the person and not necessarily the resume, in the recruiting process.

A large issue is that companies are placing too much value on “hard skills” or the abilities of prospective employees that directly complement the nature of the position.

On paper, that sounds like what a company should do right?

There is no arguing that hard skills are important, as the company does depend on employees with strong knowledge that allows the organization to run smoothly. Putting a strong emphasis on the process has allowed companies to evolve and develop to the point they have today.

When Process Comes Before People

However, when process comes before people, when empathy and the true valuing of employees comes after the bottom line, it creates a large problem for retention.

No one wants to work a job where they don’t feel appreciated.

Prospective employees don’t want to sign up with a company where all their coworkers seem unhappy. It creates stagnation and lack of innovation, which can be the death of a business, or at least have a crushing effect on morale and productivity.

Building a Team

Much the same with playing sports, your team is only as good as your weakest player. Here’s where ideas like empathy and inclusion come into play.

Your smartest and most tenured manager may be loaded with hard skills but lack in the subtleties necessary to be an effective team player. This person could be ruthless when it comes to efficiency, which may lead to a singular mode of thinking, “My Way or the Highway” scenario.

While you might get a good jump in numbers for a time, that sort of thinking can be fragile, as it’s too rigid.

The logistics industry is constantly changing, and because of this, a good manager needs to be able to adapt and change tactics as necessary. They need the help of the team in order to stay ahead of the changes and make the process work consistently.

This is why empathy is so very important.

BlueGrace Logistics and Empathy

We’ve mentioned our Core Values before and we have highlighted our second as ‘Be Caring of Others’. This is probably one of the characteristics we focus on the most during the recruiting process.

Our team not only cares about each other, we care for our carriers, vendors, clients and partners. We work best with those who have compassion for others and truly show it.

The takeaway from this is simple. If you want a better business, you have to put your people first. Give them an environment where they cannot just survive, but thrive, and you’ll find your company will also reap the benefits.

To see all available positions at BlueGrace Logistics locations all over the US, visit careers.mybluegrace.com today.

 

 

 

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Fast Facts & Predictions About ELDs – Infographic

Countdown to the ELD Mandate

The time to plan for the ELD Mandate is now!

With the new ELD compliance creeping up on the trucking and logistics industry, we thought it would be beneficial to show some fast facts and predictions about ELDs. What do you think about the new requirements?

Click the image below for a larger version or download the PDF version here and feel free to share.

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Drones – Why You Want Them In Your Supply Chain.

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Drones are all over the media these days. Civilian drones have taken selfies to a whole new height, while Amazon has been working to get their drone delivery service off the ground. However, many companies are looking at the other ideas of using drones, especially when it comes to mapping out your supply chain.

An article recently released on Forbes website is showing the advancements being made to drone technology and why they could become an invaluable resource moving forward.

New Technology Makes Drones more Effective

One of the most pressing concerns about drone use is the limited range of operation. Even with the new battery technology, a drone typically has a flight time of about 25 minutes.

While this is great for taking a few aerial shots at a picnic, it’s not too helpful when it comes to large scale operations like mapping a supply chain.

Matternet, a company that specializes in drone logistics systems, partnered with Mercedes-Benz to co-develop a docking system that would allow a drone to take off from and reconnect to the roof of a vehicle. This would not only solve the matter of charging, it would also accommodate for packing and delivery all while increasing the range and payload utilization in the field.

This alone already ramps up the possibility for drone usage for last mile deliveries and improved logistics.

What Drones Could Mean for Your Supply Chain

First and foremost, drones are incredibly flexible as far as their uses go, even if you’re not looking to make quick deliveries.

“It’s increasingly clear that drones deserve consideration as part of your digital roadmap. Plus, ground and even ocean-going drones are developing fast, with problem-solving applications such as driver hour limitations, inaccessible or hazardous locations and massive materials handling chores, similar to what BASF is doing with autonomous vehicles in its mega-plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany,” says Forbes writer, Kevin O’Marah.

Companies Look into Fielding Drones

More and more companies are looking into fielding drones, and nearly a third of all supply chain professionals have said that drones have become very important to their supply chain roadmapping and strategy.

This is almost triple what the response was only two years ago, back in 2014.

More businesses are seeing the tremendous benefit and are lobbying to get regulatory approval for wider use. This is something which the FAA has been slow to agree to at first, but is starting to become more receptive to the idea as time goes on.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Much like the new digital platforms that are allowing businesses to be proactive about their supply chain issues, rather than merely reactive, it would be a mistake to ignore the benefits of drones and the advantages they can bring to your supply chain.

 

 

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How does Freight and Transportation Fit into your Budget?

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The 2017 budget season is heating up!

We all know how it goes. The heads of each department work on their annual budgets and turn them in to finance. Finance then returns with remarks like “the budget is too high, make it leaner.” How do you go about “trimming the fat” off of the transportation budget? Transportation is typically a 10-12% cost band on the general ledger for most manufacturers and distributors and once the 2017 budget is locked in, it doesn’t change.

MABD Affecting 2017

There will be challenges rolling into 2017 with freight carriers and big box retailers making their Must Arrive by Date programs or MABD rules more strict.

Huge retailers have very strict rules when it comes to receiving products by a certain date to restock their shelves. If a manufacturer or distributor is not getting their product to the retailer by the (MABD) or Must Arrive By Date, the retailer can hit the business with a ‘charge-back’ for a certain percentage of the invoice value. Not only will the business have to pay a fee, but it will reflect poorly on their business scorecard as well.

General Rate Increase with Less-Than-Truckload

At the beginning of every year the LTL carriers will begin to roll out general rate increases also known as GRIs.

Something to remember about LTL carrier GRI’s, is that the announced GRI isn’t necessarily indicative of the true impact to a shipper’s bottom line freight cost because the GRI is not a flat percentage rate increase across the board.

It is merely an aggregate combined average percentage increase across all lanes serviced by a carrier. Rates in some lanes may remain unchanged but some may increase by more than 4.9%.

A shipper could be seriously impacted by a general rate increase much higher than what’s announced by the carrier, so it’s imperative for shippers to check each lane for actual impact on costs.

Has your transportation and supply chain departments brought these items into consideration when rolling out transportation budgets?

Freight Cost Allocation

There is also the issue of past freight cost allocation. True freight cost allocation should show your most profitable ship to locations, customers, and products. Were you able to deploy sales people, advertising, and marketing budgets to the correct locations? Were customers, and product lines also accurate in relation to your budgeting for 2017 as well?

Transportation cost is much more than beating up LTL Carriers on price, sending out an annual RFP and picking carriers based on cost alone.

Don’t just remove a carrier and bring in a new one if you have a spat with the driver or if a shipment gets damaged. Make the decision based on the total of the carriers activity.

Consider a 3PL When Budgeting

Transportation costs affect all aspects of your organization and should be taken very seriously. When working on the 2017 budget, consider working with a third party logistics provider (3PL), as they will take the time to learn your business and see how these costs can affect everyone in your organization.

 

 

 

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How Expedited Freight Can Influence Purchasing Decisions

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Steve Daniels: Account Executive at BlueGrace Logistics

Expedited Shipping Options & the MABD

In a previous blog post we detailed how BlueGrace Logistics was able to resolve a long standing Must Arrive By Date (MADB) dilemma that was negatively impacting a health and beauty products company whose business model was increasingly moving towards “big box” retailers.

While big box retailers mandate MABDs to ensure their shelves are always stocked with products consumers want, many companies who sell products out of their own brick and mortar stores or through online eCommerce sites, are often losing potential customers and revenue by not offering expedited shipping options to customers who have their own Must Arrive By Dates in mind for purchases.

Fast Growing Automotive Industry

In 2015, the US automotive industry had a record 5.7% increase in sales growth over 2014. With this increase in sales comes additional demand for parts, to service these newly bought vehicles.

Many dealerships and local service shops find themselves having to order parts from manufacturers outside of their local areas to complete repairs and get vehicles back on the road as quickly as possible. The price of an item is just one factor consumers consider when deciding where to order an item from. Others, such as those in the automotive industry, are increasingly basing their purchase decisions on how quickly they can get a product delivered.

For smaller parcel sized items a business will often utilize the overnight or next day air options available from USPS, FedEx or UPS. Many businesses and consumers aren’t aware that expedited shipping options are available for larger sized items requiring freight shipping and often they aren’t able to receive reliable or economical shipping rates from their transportation partners.

Expedited LTL Transit

The transit of a standard LTL shipment is typically estimated as the shipment being picked up and be taken to a terminal where it will be cross-docked. During this process the shipment will be loaded and unloaded from freight trucks multiple times, depending on the distance, before it arrives at the final destination. While many LTL carriers offer guaranteed shipping services, some shipments need to arrive sooner than LTL shipping can provide. Depending on the size of a shipment there are multiple expedited shipping options available for freight sized orders.

By cutting out the cross-docking in LTL shipments, expedited services are able to cover a lot more ground or air, in a much shorter time than a standard LTL carrier could.

Cargo Vans and Air Freight

Cargo vans and air freight can be utilized for shipments that would ordinarily take up a few pallet space on a LTL truck, and for orders that require a full truckload, a team of drivers can be booked so that your freight can theoretically move non-stop without breaking regulations imposed by the United States Department of Transportation.

30 Minute Guaranteed Price And Capacity

BlueGrace can easily handle any expedited freight shipment request. With a network of over 1,100 carriers and 10,000 pieces of equipment available we can meet demanding pick-up and delivery times on weekends, nights and holidays, including 2 day cross country service. BlueGrace is also one of the few providers that is able to offer guaranteed pricing and availability within 30 minutes of your request.

GPS Tracking Of Your Freight

We also offer GPS Tracking of your expedited shipment. This data is updated every 2 hours for 1 Day Point shipments, every 4 hours for 2+ Day point shipments. Either way your Expedited Freight is tracked for visibility and security.

For any questions, please contact your BlueGrace Logistics Rep today! If your request is after 5PM EST or weekends, please email expedite@mybluegrace.com

 

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How We Reduced Freight Costs by 14% for Healthy Living Company

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A company that specializes in healthy, protein rich treats was able to see a 14% reduction in a transportation costs by partnering with BlueGrace Logistics. This organization was growing at a rapid speed which lead to a long list of transportation issues that needed to be alleviated and managed more efficiently.

Opportunities For Cost Savings

Their transportation problems range from costly carrier invoices and freight re-classing to no carrier management and lack of warehouse space to hold orders. We saw several opportunities to cut their costs and improve their bottom line. Our first order of business was to break down their issues into sections and tackle them one at a time…

Does your Health & Wellness organization ship product to retail? If so, this Case Study will reveal how BlueGrace is able to transform your current transportation program for maximum cost savings.

New BlueGrace Heathy Living Product Case Study - 14% Reduction In Costs
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5 Things to Consider When Selecting a TMS

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A Transportation Management System (TMS) can offer huge benefits for manufacturers, distribution companies, and anyone who ships freight. The benefits go way beyond lowering the cost of shipping freight by helping to reduce costs throughout the entire transportation process.

Transportation Management Systems help companies move freight from origin to destination efficiently, reliably, and cost effectively. A TMS serves as the logistics hub for route planning, load optimization, freight audit and payment, order visibility, carrier management and much more.

But is every TMS the same?

Not every TMS is the same. Here is what you need to know before selecting a TMS for your business.

1. Upfront costs can be high

In most cases, your business will need to budget accordingly and prepare for a costly bill. At BlueGrace Logistics we offer our TMS to our customers as part of our business partnership package. Having a powerful and user-friendly TMS is a benefit to both our customers and to our staff.

2. It takes time

A full implementation and integration for a TMS can take several months and there will have to be upgrades every few months to ensure efficiency. It is true that integrating a TMS with other systems can take time, but at BlueGrace our in-house IT team works directly with yours to integrate almost any ERP system into our BlueShip product.

3. IT Staff

Will your IT staff be able to integrate the software into your ERP system? If you find that your staff will not be able to handle the work load for implementations and upgrades, you can partner with our IT staff at BlueGrace Logistics; we can help manage the upgrades and integrations.

4. Ongoing Management

Who will be using the system and how many people do you have on staff dedicated to transportation that would be logging into the system on a daily basis? We would recommend having a specialist dedicated to this system that is able to provide direct reports to your organization. Your team at BlueGrace will also be available to work closely with your team daily to answer questions, correct issues and instruct them how to maximize the system.

5. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

You will need to decide what exactly you will be using the TMS software for. Will your freight bills be invoiced into the TMS via EDI’s or API’s from freight carriers? Will the system manage accruals and freight cost allocation? If you answered yes, these variables would need multiple licenses and different departments working in the software during the implementation and attribute to the ongoing success of the software.

This all becomes before transportation procurement, negotiating with carriers, getting the carriers to EDI tracking, and invoicing into your TMS. Your new team at BlueGrace will discuss all these options before any integration takes place. We will work together to determine what KPIs matter most and report on them so we both know which KPIs are being hit and which may be a miss.

This whole process can be and will be overwhelming to most.

Partnering with a transportation management provider that has the dedicated resources as far as IT, transportation procurement, dedicated support, project management, finance, and operations is often a better option.

So, do the hard and soft costs outweigh the benefit of implementing a TMS software platform for your business exclusively?

Take the time to discuss with BlueGrace your needs before you shop for a new TMS. You will find that we offer all of the tools of a standard TMS. We combine that with the ability to integrate the TMS, monitor KPIs, handle disputes and provide customer support for all your shipments.

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Electronic Logging Devices:  Making time more valuable

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There has been much speculation on the upcoming electronic logging device (ELD) mandate that is to be implemented in December 2017.  The discussion often heard is not about the benefit to safety even though that was how it was sold to Congress.  The American Trucking Association (ATA) lobbied the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for ELDs based on the promise of safer highways.

However, compliance enforcement and keeping everyone on a level playing field is most likely the goal of the ATA.

That is understandable as smaller companies and independent truckers have not voluntarily embraced ELDs and subsequently can move freight farther and faster.  But that is about to change in December 2017.

Pending Lawsuit to Stop ELDs

Before we predict the future of trucking and develop a course of action for shippers and logisticians alike, it would be clumsy to not mention the lawsuit that is standing in the way of implementation.  The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed a lawsuit that can be read about here and should be decided by the end of 2016.  OOIDA’s legal team has a history of challenging FMCSA overreach and winning – so stay tuned.  OOIDA’s president recommended to members that they wait on the court decision before they purchase an ELD.

The Law of Supply and Demand

Now, assuming the ELD implementation goes into effect next December, there will be an immediate demand for more trucks as the supply will be reduced.  How is the number of trucks reduced you wonder?  There will still be the same amount of trucks on the road the day after ELD implementation as the day before.

But the amount of hours available to wait on the shipper, receiver and drive will be strictly enforced.  There will be no more favors of putting in a few extra hours to get the load delivered a day early.

Some service times between a shipper and receiver may increase by an entire day if they were already borderline before mandatory ELDs.  Paper log books are easily manipulated and some shippers and 3PLs have standardized the faster service times by expecting everyone to do it.  A conversation with a 3PL agent sometimes sounds like this:  “You can’t get this shipment 800 miles to destination next day?  My other carriers do it all the time.”

Loading and Unloading Times Should Improve

The detention of trucks at shippers or consignees will have to improve.  Either the load/unload times will be expedited or heavy detention rates will be charged in order to compensate for the lost driving time.  Remember, every minute that a truck driver is on-duty will be more valuable because it will be precisely measured and regulated by ELDs.

In the past, some trucking companies have looked the other way as the dock delays cut into driving time.

Now, with strict compliance to hours of service regulations around the corner, trucking companies will no longer look the other way in order to save business, but will look to levy detention fees to shippers and receivers who unnecessarily borrow valuable driving time from a trucking company.

 

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The Busiest Time for Logistics – Holiday Season

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Holiday Logistics Ramp-Up

The busiest time of year for retail sales will soon be upon us. Logistics during the holiday season requires a significant amount of planning. If shippers are not currently prepared, they may already be too late. Product inventories are being increased as early as August of each year in preparation for the coming rush. For products arriving from overseas on container ships – early summer is when things heat up.

Nineteen percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping in October and 40% are holiday shopping during November. The average consumer plans to spend $804 for gifts and this number climbs steadily each year.

Large retailers are already moving products into warehouses and reviewing/finalizing contracts with large fleets. The sharp increase in the volume of retail products being moved in the next few months is staggering. It is “all hands on deck” for companies looking to capitalize during this strong, but brief uptick in the economy.

Where are my trucks?

Shipping around the holidays creates a significant amount of traffic, so it’s important to keep in mind the international holidays as well. Top of mind is Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas.

If your business depends on trucks to move your products to distribution centers or retail locations, I recommend that you keep constant communication with your transportation management team during the next few months. Often they are lured away from routine shipments to help support large retailers with their increased capacity needs during the holiday rush. It is a very lucrative time for carriers who are in high demand a few short weeks.

Amazon/UPS Drop the Ball in 2013

Remember the big Amazon/UPS debacle from 2013? Many packages did not make it to their destination as promised. Frankly, Amazon sold more products then projected and UPS and other carriers could not handle the excess. They have shipped more packages in subsequent years and have not had service failures as they did during Christmas of 2013. That is mainly because of Amazon deciding to take more of a lead in response to the increased demand and securing more truck capacity then in the past.

UPS and Fed-Ex contract heavily with outside carriers prior to the holidays for extra truck capacity. They both work with large trucking companies to gain line haul support in order to move thousands of extra loads from service center to service center. The trucking companies send a good portion of their fleet over to support the package carriers.

During this time, routine shippers may have trouble securing trucks for their normal operation.

That is why the constant communication between shippers and their carriers is imperative in understanding and reassuring capacity concerns.

Things to Bear in Mind When Planning for Holiday Uptick

  1. Be Proactive – Stay in constant contact with your 3PL. Have everyone on the same page and send out your forecasting to everyone who has a part in your success. “All Hands On Deck”
  2. Go Over Last Years Mistakes and Key Wins – Compile a list of previous years takeaways. Going over the things you could have done better is an effective way to avoid making the same mistakes this year.
  3. Be Flexible – As you may know one of our Core Values is to Embrace Chaos and we strongly encourage vendors, shippers, and carriers to do the same; especially during the holiday shipping season. By constantly communicating with your 3PL and handling your shipments early, you can avoid most last minute issues.
  4. Have a Plan B – Effective supply chain execution is the difference between getting products to customers on time. Make sure you have a Plan B and are able to execute it as soon as you notice any issues with Plan A!

Shippers – there is no need to fear.

There are still many solutions to get your products delivered to the destination during the busy holiday season. I recommend that you begin a business relationship with a 3PL if you have not already. You need to begin and foster this relationship as soon as possible because they too, will be called upon heavily during the holiday season.

3PLs have access to thousands of carriers across the country that can be called upon with short notice to transport your products to their destination.

Working with a 3PL anytime of the year will improve your bottom line, but if there is any time that we urge shippers to utilize the resources of a third party logistics provider – it’s the holiday season!

Is your business ready?

 

 

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Internet of Things: 2016 Status

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The IoT has come a long way within the logistics world, making both significant headway as well as changes within the logistics industry. Eft polled 600 supply chain decision makers to see what their standpoint on the IoT was, as well as any other thoughts they might of had. Of the respondents polled, many have plans to incorporate the IoT into their operations; while almost half already have an active IoT solution which means the majority of the respondents have or are planning to have the IoT as part of their inner logistics workings.

On the Roadmap

Respondents who have plans to implement the IoT have shown similar findings as those polled during 2014. While the IoT can offer a considerable amount of data, the three main areas of focus where:

  • Location
  • Temperature
  • Speed

While other variables such as Theft Prevention and Security have risen, some respondents have indicated that they are looking forward to having every statistic, showing that companies are taking a growing interest in not just the practical applications, but the potential application that the IoT can bring to their supply chain.

Additionally, the survey showed the different types of technology that companies are using to track and monitor their freight. While the IoT remains the most popular choice presently, other options such as GPS tracking, barcodes, and the much vaunted RFID aren’t far behind as companies are looking for higher levels of visibility in their supply chain.

Reasons for Implementation

There are a number of reasons companies are looking to step up their technology. Safety and compliance, access to real time freight data such as temperature and humidity levels (product integrity), as well as improving efficiency throughout their operations. However, the most important use of the IoT listed by the respondents is the customer. Having access to real time data and location for freight not only allows for more frequent updates regarding the location of their freight, but also offers companies the ability to provide better customer service through more information.

With the tumultuous nature of the freight industry, especially given the current policy changes, international regulations, and overall issues spanning from weak demand to overcapacity, strong customer service is becoming more important than ever, especially if companies want to attract and keep new clients.

Technology Growth Overall

In addition to the overall improvements to customer service and visibility made by incorporating the IoT many businesses have embraced a number of technological advancements. From 2014 to 2016 GPS and Satellite Tracking has increased 5%, data logging has increased by 14%, and IoT sensor and monitoring technology has increased to 19%. Conversely, RFID and barcode solutions have remained mostly constant, which would seem to indicate that companies are making a shift towards technologically advanced solutions.

One of the driving goals for the tech upgrades is to increase the visibility and efficiency of the supply chain. Given the complexities of land based logistics, it comes as no surprise that 80% of respondents dealing with land based freight are looking in increase visibility. About 50% of air shipments and only 33% of ocean freight carriers are looking for visibility improvements.

Implementation and Use of the IoT

Respondents were also asked how they planned to use the IoT within their business. Over half, 59% are currently using the IoT simply for real time monitoring and alarms, while 41% are looking to use the data to create predictive models and optimize their supply chain. With continued growth and development of the IoT, it’s very likely we’ll see a shift from monitoring and alarms over to prediction and optimization.

However, while there is a considerable amount of potential with the IoT, 61% of the respondents say they only utilize less than half of the information gathered. This is likely due to the lack of analytic capabilities necessary to process the sheer amount of data gathered by the IoT.

Return On Investment

Return on investment is important, especially when it comes to big ticket items like implementing new technology. The survey asked respondents what they felt the time frame on their return on investment would be.

The majority answer, at 28%, said that their ROI would be seen within 12-18 months. More confident companies, 17%, said that they would see their ROI within 12 months or less. This leaves a number of companies not expecting to see their ROI until 24 months or longer.

However according to the 2014 findings, more often than not, this was due to execution and implementation issues, which means companies who were experiencing a longer than average ROI timeframe, are confident that they would see it within a reasonable time frame after getting their program back on track.

Plans to Expand

Perhaps one of the most vital bits of information gathered is that 87% of current IoT users have plans to expand on their IoT capabilities. With the high success rate for the ROI and the growing shift to predictive modeling, the continued growth and expansion of the IoT amongst companies world wide would only help to strengthen the data collecting capabilities, providing more sources to draw from. As companies continue to make the shift to advanced technology, it can be assumed that we will see a change in the way that freight and logistics are carried out, harnessing the power of data and analytics over the trial and error method of the past.

 

 

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Tampa Manufacturing and Logistics – A Perfect Marriage.

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Manufacturing in Florida, is the backbone of the state’s economy.

Florida has nearly 18,000 manufacturers in all types of industries ranging from traditional such as plastics and printing to breakthrough technologies like aerospace and medical devices.

Tampa Bay knows a thing or two about manufacturing and economic development, as it is home to 19 corporate headquarters with over $1 billion in annual revenue, eight of which are Fortune 1000 companies.

The depth and diversity the city provides for its economy makes for the perfect marriage of logistics and businesses, especially manufacturers.

Manufacturing Growth Perfect for 3PLs

While the manufacturing businesses in the region are continuing to see a huge amount of growth, the infrastructure that Tampa Bay provides, is allowing modern logistics and Third Party Logistics (3PL) providers to grow and adapt alongside the companies they ship for.

Florida is second in the nation for transportation infrastructure with our ports, airports, rail and roadways.

Logistics and 3PLs providers are always looking for ways to improve these modes to help businesses move raw materials, components and finished products. With these options, logistics and 3PL providers have the ability to provide customized transportation programs that help grow local manufacturing.

E-Commerce Puts Pressure on Logistics

Both regionally and nationally based manufacturers are seeing a demand to keep up with e-commerce giants like Amazon, which means that their logistics provider needs to stay one step ahead to provide efficient and cost effective transportation management. Much like consumers, big box retailers and mom and pop shops now demand the product to be on their shelves at a quicker pace. This “just-in-time” mentality is what puts a strain on manufacturers who rely on an in-house transportation department. Business intelligence and carrier advocacy are critical to these companies in order to keep up with the changing market.

The Value of Business Intelligence

Of all the resources that a logistics or 3PL providers delivers to its customers, the most underrated yet most valuable is business intelligence. A 3PL has the ability to take a company’s current freight data and see where opportunities are being missed, find ways to shave costs and offer an efficient transportation program that ultimately mirrors their business model and will push for more growth.

This valuable data, when run through the right engineering platforms, can help decide the best modes, which carriers to use and even help pinpoint where the best location for a new distribution center would be, based solely on past data and performance.

By partnering with logistics or 3PL providers that have access to multiple modes of transportation, large carrier networks and the ability to review current freight data, solutions can be provided that better fit the company’s business model. Manufacturers can adjust rapidly to the increased supply chain demands, without expensive increases to the head count of their transportation department.

Job Opportunities for the Future Generations

While the logistics and 3PL providers continue the push to deliver customized and adaptable transportation programs for manufacturers, the state of Florida is also striving to increase job opportunities to fulfill logistics and distribution demands. Currently the logistics and transportation industry employs more than half a million Floridians. 85,500 of these employees are working at companies that specifically provide logistics and distribution services. The future is also bright as Florida has ten public high school career academies offering training in Global Logistics and Supply Chain Technology.

Optimization and Forward Thinking Manufacturers

Today’s technology and service that a logistics or 3PL providers utilizes, paired with a forward thinking manufacturer looking to optimize their supply chain, will prove to be a successful marriage for growth. This growth is what will help bring even more success and jobs to Florida for both the manufacturing and logistics sectors.

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Out with the Old: Changes to the Bill of Lading

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Last week saw a change to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) bill of lading, as a supplement was released by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) which changes the terms and conditions of the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading.  According to a missive released by the Airforwarders Association, there are some rather substantial changes to the long standing and widely used bill. Two trade organizations that represent shippers in such matters, the Transportation Logistics Council (TLC) and the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) filed a petition for Suspension and investigation of the new changes; They were ultimately shot down by the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

What Does this Mean for You?

The Uniform Straight Bill of Lading is something of a staple when it comes to land based shipping. If you are handling truck shipments, here are some of the more important changes that you need to know.

  • The Motor carrier responsible for cargo loss or damage is the one listed on the bill of of lading, rather than the one currently in possession of the bill during the time of loss.
  • According to the new terms and conditions, Carriers will no longer be responsible for loss, damage, or delays caused by Riots, Strikes, and any causes related to the five common exceptions. The burden of proof will now fall from the carrier to the shipper in these matters.
  • Prior to the changes, all claims were to be filed within nine months after delivery of the cargo, or in the event of failure to deliver, a reasonable amount of time after the delivery was supposed to have taken place. Under the new conditions, claims will have to be filed with nine months from the date of the bill of lading.
  • Previously, the limitation of liability could be applied if the cargo value was established by the shipper or was agreed upon, in writing, as the released value. Under the new language, a carrier can limit liability simply by publishing the limitation in its tariff.

It’s important to note, however, that these are only some of the changes being effected by the NMFTA’s new supplement. With the new bill of lading already in effect, make sure you understand the changes entirely to avoid possible future complications.

 

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