Browse Category

Industry Knowledge

Port of Possibilites: The Expansion of the Port of Tampa

The expansion of a port city can have a strong effect on the host city and its economy. Expansion on the shipping industry in a particular region drives everything from employment to home prices. On September 3, 2007 , the Panama Canal began expansion with a scheduled completion in late 2014. The expansion of the port will allow for larger cargo ships to pass through the canal; which will make shipping out of Asia into the Eastern United States much more cost effective. In order to align with the projected growth in the shipping industry as a result of this expansion, The Port of Tampa has launched an aggressive Port Expansion project as well.

The current global shipping situation mandates that large sea carriers from Asia  must navigate around  South America in order to access the eastern United States, and vice versa. The expansion of the Panama Canal will allow for large sea carriers to pass through, and hence permit a more economical way to ship from Asia to the Midwest and Eastern United States. On July 26, 2012 the Port of Tampa purchased 110 acres from South Bay Corp and Industrial park to facilitate the expansion of the port facility near Gibsonton, FL. This land purchase is setting stage for the Port of Tampa to expand and gain a slice of the anticipated growth in the freight shipping industry as a result of the expansion of the Port of Panama.  The expansion of the Port of Tampa will directly affect our local economy through the addition of jobs and driving local industries.

Blue Grace Logistics has made a reputation for being a progressive freight transportation company focused on providing the very best in cost effective and time efficient services to their customers. The expansion of the Port of Tampa, more specifically the terminal in Gibsonton will put Blue Grace in an even better position to possibly add value to the local economy. Inc. 500 recently recognized Blue Grace Logistics with a Hire Power 2012 award for being a hero in Job Creation. The expansion of the Port of Tampa further positions Blue Grace to possibly offer employment opportunities resulting from increased freight traffic, a few years the changes take place.  We may have the opportunity to help our customers capitalize on more cost effective shipping, which will assist them in growing a more successful business.

Responsibility to the community in which you operate is crucial to business success. Blue Grace Logistics has continually contributed to the success of our local economy. As the expansion of the Port of Panama concludes in 2014, and US ports begin to see increased traffic; the City of Tampa will experience exponential growth. As a national leader in the Logistics and Transportation Industry, Blue Grace Logistics is poised to improve on the services offered to our current and prospective customers. The expansion of the Port of Tampa is an exciting and encouraging sign that our city is and will continue to thrive and be a shining beacon in our nation’s economy.

What impacts do you think this Port Expansion will have on our local economy? Nationally?

Currently, BlueGrace offers a variety of international shipping services, domestic freight forwarding services, LTL, TL and more. Check out our services and technology for more information on our company and if you have any questions on how we can help you. You can also call us at 1.800.MY.SHIPPING for more information.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Guaranteed Shipping Story by: Michael Sannuto

WHY! OH! YOU! YOU! YOU!

Companies ship with us because they believe or have some type of faith in the person who contacted them from BG to get their business. Case in point:

I just set up a new shipper yesterday that had very high anxiety about shipping because his products are shipped in very time sensitive situations and he has been burned before. His freight was lost, still had to pay and was not compensated in anyway.  He hammered me with questions about what BG does if we book a shipment with “Guaranteed” delivery and it does not arrive on time.  He wasn’t totally happy with my answer as I explained we will “fight” for him, but he ended up shipping with me anyway.  I gave my word that I would keep a close eye on his shipment and “babysit” it for him.  I meant what I said and delivered on my promise for his guaranteed shipping needs. I have been keeping him in the loop with email status updates over the last 2 days, kept in touch with the carrier and made sure the delivery was a smooth process.  He continually responds with “You are great”, “Thank you for taking care of this for  me”, “I really appreciate your help”, “You’re doing a great job”. Helping people keeps me going at BlueGrace and we do it for people every day.

We’re happy to say that his shipment is on track for pick up today. I sent him an update to let him know and he is very happy someone actually cares.
This is how we roll. We care, we go beyond expectations, we are BlueGrace.  It’s all about YOU!

My Shared Experience by: Michael Sannuto, National Sales Representative

Let BlueGrace fight the complex battles of shipping for you. We know the meaning of Exceptional Logistics.

Our Guaranteed Shipping services come with a 100% Money-Back Guarantee. Click here to learn more about BlueGrace Logistics’ Guaranteed & Expedited Services. To book a shipment, please call 800.697.4477– you can even ask for Michael Sannuto himself!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Silver-Lining of Superstorm Sandy

With initial estimates of economic losses due to Sandy reaching into the $30-$50 billion range, it’s strange to think that there could actually be a silver-lining to such a detrimental cloud. And in fact, the trucking industry alone suffered around a whopping $140 million per day loss. This number is based on 20% of the industry not moving freight because of Sandy’s aftermath. However, with these dismal numbers at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s wise to note that some trucking companies do actually benefit from natural disasters.

The clean-up and rebuilding phase following the super storm is what gives the transportation industry its light at the end of the tunnel. Fleets are expected to see an increase in activity in the coming months with demand on the rise. Construction companies and the flatbed carriers that haul their materials will experience quite the surge.

Flatbed carriers aren’t the only ones to have a boost in freight, however. Dry van carriers will also see a boom in business with retailers needing to replenish depleted goods on store shelves. Though many will experience a loss initially, the storm’s resulting damage will create new demand later. The immediate need for restocking, for example, is one that only the time-sensitive characteristic of trucking can provide. Not only is it excess work because everything is rushed, it’s also out of normal route, and people are willing to pay more. All of this in turn, leads to a faster recovery for the industry. FTR (Freight Transportation Research Association) Senior Consultant Noel Perry predicts that the losses caused by the storm, will ultimately be recovered due to resupply and rebuilding truck freight needs. Perry predicts the storm will generate $15 billion in additional revenue for trucking over the next three or four quarters.

Sandy’s disruption to replenishing food, gas and other goods serves as a glaring reminder that freight transportation is the backbone that supports our everyday life.  Whether a storm for you causes a loss or a sudden boom in business, you still need to have a plan for whatever comes next. Though you cannot predict, you can prepare. Check out the checklist we developed to help prepare your supply chain for natural disasters!

Have your own tips or precautions that you take in preparation for the unpredictable? Fill us in here so we can all benefit!

For more information on BlueGrace Logistics visit www.mybluegrace.com, or to request a quote, fill out the form below.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Educating the World on Logistics with SVP Sales, Eric Chambers

It’s funny, when I was looking for my first job no one who I interviewed with knew what the term “Logistics” meant. Now, it is almost a common term given the help of the likes of UPS and FedEx.
Given the global economy and the constant pressure on businesses to be more efficient for competitive reasons, “Logistics” is now a major part of most corporate strategies. Coupled with this focus is the need for individuals well versed in this discipline. Years ago transportation was a 2nd thought and normally managed by the same person who loaded the truck. Now it’s managed by Sr. Management at most organizations or in proprietorships, the owner themselves. BlueGrace Logistics… is focused on the logistics (or overall management and implementation of transportation processes).
The world in a sense has known about logistics for ages. Armies who had supplies won the wars and new settlements staked their very lives on supplies arriving on time hoping to carry enough inventories to support them until the next delivery. Even today, relief organizations rely heavily on transportation to get food and medicine to those in need. Therefore, the education of logistics has been happening for some time, it just hasn’t been very formal. Diplomas in “Business Logistics” were rare 30 years ago; now, they are common with many universities offering degrees in it.
Multi-National Corporations are using skilled employees throughout the world to secure a competitive edge through the use of Supply Chain Management. If you look at our Enterprise Solutions, you’ll see how BlueGrace provides complete solutions as they are used in the transportation industry today. Because logistics is an ongoing process, it is time consuming and numerous studies have been done showing that up to 35% of an organizations cost is in Inventory Carrying Cost. Keeping inventories low by better planning, forecasting, and replenishment practices is a major focus for businesses to succeed.
In summary, with economic globalization there really is not a country or society not involved in Logistics. Multi-National Corporations are reaching into very remote regions for raw materials while emerging societies are providing goods and services to the more established countries of the world. Logistics is the key to making all the connections of our global society.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Why does it cost so much to ship my freight? A Word with BlueGrace’s SVP, Adam Blankenship.

If you have ever shipped anything, you probably have considered the question of “how do they come up with these prices”. Whether you are at the post office shipping a box full of presents to the grandkids at the holidays or on the shipping dock of your company watching a tractor trailer truck drive away with your freight, the shipping process is both confusing and complicated. Adding to the problem is the rising cost of shipping. While estimates vary, transportation costs as a percentage of sales range from as 5% – 15% depending on the industry and as much as 30 – 50% of the overall cost of the goods. With numbers like these, it clearly becomes important to make sense of the complexity and put a strategy in place to maximize the value you get for your transportation dollars.

Industry experience and shipping expertise are vital in managing costs across the many variables that drive transportation and supply chain costs. Shipping costs and prices are driven by factors such as raising cost of labor, insurance, facilities upkeep, volatile fuel markets, regional geographic differences, customer size, competitor rates, availability of multiple transport modes, freight breakability, time of the day, seasonality, sense of urgency and perceptions of customer’s willingness to pay or need. With so many cost and pricing factors, it is no wonder people get confused. Fortunately, businesses are not alone in their quest to make sense of the shipping process. Today, numerous third party logistics providers (3PLs like BlueGrace Logistics) exist to help companies and in some cases individuals simplify the shipping experience, save money and improve the performance of their supply chain or transportation and shipping functions.

3PLs have established themselves as market leaders in transportation and logistics. Both small businesses with only a few shipments per month and major corporations benefit from working with companies like BlueGrace. Experience in the transportation industry along with access to carrier partnerships and best in class technology provides a tremendous advantage to shippers. Senior Vice-President at BlueGrace, Adam Blankenship, recently was quoted saying, “with transportation costs accounting for such as large percentage of the overall cost of the goods, companies must effectively manage their supply chains. Failure to do so will put them at a significant competitive disadvantage in their markets.” Blankenship went on to say that “at BlueGrace, we understand what drives cost to carriers and we help our customers with optimizing their shipping patterns, freight shipping configurations, and carrier selections.”

Shipping prices are in large part impacted by two major areas. First are the direct costs that transportation companies experience when handling freight. The costs of labor, insurance, vehicle maintenance are largely costs that shippers have little direct control over. Wild swings in fuel prices and soaring insurance costs have drastically impacted the cost of shipping in recent years. However, costs related to freight theft, damage, and cube utilization do offer areas where smart shippers can save money. For example, packaging high value freight in very plain boxes which do not draw attention to the contents inside does have an impact on freight theft. Shipping freight on well packaged skids that allow transportation companies to fully utilize the cube of their trucks will make a company’s freight less costly and more desirable. Good 3pls like BlueGrace can help educate shippers on how to make their freight as desirable (least costly to handle) as possible to carriers and thereby secure the best possible pricing.

The other area impacting shipping cost has little to do with cost and more to do with a company’s willingness or need to pay. In many cases, transportation companies set rates based on seasonality, the amount of freight moving in a given lane, how soon the customer needs the freight, what the competition is doing and in many cases simply how much they believe they can charge. This is where the value of a top-notch 3pl really shows up. Companies such as, BlueGrace Logistics, have solid, long-term relationships with virtually all major transportation companies in the United States. Further they have the technology to analyze a company’s shipping data and build an optimal plan for shipping using a variety of carriers across numerous markets. In some cases, this may even mean utilizing more than a single mode of transportation (i.e. LTL, TL, Rail, Ocean, etc). Not to mention that the increased leverage and buying power of experienced 3pls helps customers to control shipping costs over time.
Blankenship states that “the true value of BlueGrace or any great 3pl is not only to save you money, but to also save you time and improve the performance of your supply chain in the process.”

Many of the costs that drive transportation and shipping costs ever higher will likely be present for the foreseeable future. That coupled with the old industry adage of “if you bought it, a truck brought it” means that this topic will be on the minds of shippers for a long time. So while you probably cannot avoid shipping costs, there are many good 3pls out there including BlueGrace Logistics to help you take the complexity of those shipping costs and save you money in the process.

Give BlueGrace a call at 800.MY.SHIPPING or send an email to contactus@mybluegrace.com to speak with one of our logistics experts today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Manufacturing: Coming Back to America

One of the best trends I have seen in the U.S. logistics industry is the bounce back of U.S. manufacturing, albeit slow recovery. During the economic recession, the U.S. relied on outsourcing jobs and manufacturing to countries such as China and India. Although doing this helps U.S. businesses reduce their bottom line costs in the short term, does it actually hurt our country?

Manufacturing jobs in the U.S. on the rise.
Small and large businesses are beginning to bring jobs and manufacturing back home to the U.S. http://bit.ly/KQohUJ

Today, small and large businesses are slowly beginning to bring these jobs back home. U.S. manufacturers are taking it upon themselves to include that all important “Made in the U.S.A.” stamp back on their goods, but there have been questions posed about their supply chain. These companies bring in large loads of raw materials and then break them down into smaller quantities. Large loads are brought in via rail or full truckload and then when produced into smaller quantities they are shipped via less than truckload (LTL). As you can imagine, transportation spend is a large part of a manufacturer’s budget… and that’s why 3PLs are here to help! A reliable 3PL allows manufacturers to leverage their freight shipping and reduce their overall spend on transportation. Companies, such as BlueGrace® Logistics, also make sure they are shipping under their correct freight class to avoid possibilities of re-class and unexpected charges.

As for me, I hope to see and ship a lot of new products in the 4th quarter for the holidays… and it means more when they are “Made in the U.S.A” What are your thoughts on the direction of goods manufactured in the US? Are you also in the transportation industry and can offer your insight on this topic? Leave a comment below!

If you are interested in learning more about how BlueGrace Logistics can help your business leverage its freight shipping, contact an expert on our team today!

Dustin Snipes, Senior National Sales Manager – Inbound
Twitter: @dsnipesnole_bg

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Common Concerns and Simple Solutions of U.S. Manufacturers

How does logistics differ among manufacturers across the globe? Do the logistics needs of a particular steel manufacturer differ from that of a food and beverage supplier versus or a chemical manufacturer? In some instances, absolutely – But, according to a recent Logistics Management article that discusses the results of the “Business Strategy: 2012 Supply Chain Survey – Manufacturing Priorities and New Technology Adoption,” most all manufacturing companies share a common concern – reducing supply chain costs by implementing simple solutions through the use of technology.

There is no doubt that the global economy is impacting all manufacturers and retailers. Consumers demand faster production, higher quality materials, and lower prices. Transportation logistics typically accounts for 30% of the cost of any good. Here are some ways you can stay competitive in your marketplace, while increasing your bottom line:

  • PLAN AHEAD: Begin planning for the increase in demand for the holiday season this year. Retailers have prepared their forecasts and are analyzing consumer purchasing trends. Perhaps your item is going to be on the “hottest-selling” list this year. Are you ready? Back-to-school season is fast approaching and the ports have been planning for a virtuous year for retailers.   As we all know, no matter how well you plan – stuff happens! You must be flexible, react and make changes when necessary.
  • Lean strategies and operations: Whether it’s wasted materials or labor hours, a business must adopt lean thinking and processes to remain competitive and profitable in a global market. Eliminate waste in your production: hours, materials, etc.
  • Transportation efficiency: That’s where we come in, and there’s that word efficiency again! Trucking companies, ports, and 3PLs (like BlueGrace Logistics) are continuously searching for ways to move goods across the globe seamlessly. Technology plays a critical role in efficiency and a transportation management system (TMS) could be just the perfect solution for your business’ logistics needs. With a TMS, you are able to quote freight shipments, book the carrier of your choice, and track 24-7.  BlueShip® offers customization and can be integrated to your businesses information system. Controlling transportation costs is led by route optimization, reduced fuel consumption, and reduced idle time.

Take a look at the findings of the Business Strategy: 2012 Supply Chain Survey – How does your company’s concerns differ or mirror those of over 350 U.S. manufacturers surveyed? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

Contact one of our transportation experts today to book a shipment! Shoot us an e-mail or give us a call at 800.MY.SHIPPING

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lesson for Heavy Weight Shippers

Overloaded Dry Van
This is a caution to heavy weight shippers! You cannot overload a trailer in the middle of the van.

Now this is something you don’t expect to see on your way home from work…

One of our team members captured this scene of a dry van that caved in, and as you can imagine – causing major delays during 5 o’clock rush hour on northbound I-75.

This is a caution to heavy weight shippers! You cannot overload a trailer in the middle of the van. Instead, the weight (under 45,000 lbs) must be evenly distributed throughout the trailer. Perhaps this shipment was best fit for a flatbed. Flatbeds have reinforced steel beams underneath that are designed to support heavy loads compared to a dry van.

For more information on flatbed versus dry van shipping or to book an LTL or truckload shipment with a top rated carrier contact us today.

Our team of logistics experts is happy to assist you – and fellow commuters will thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Logistics in the U.S. – Facts at a Glance

Logistics in the U.S. - Facts at a Glance Every facet of American life is touched by transportation. With freight being the economic staple that it is, every haul is a piece of a complex logistical puzzle that powers our nation. We’ve dug up some interesting factoids to help shed some light on just how large of a role transportation plays!

  • The US is comprised of 566 railroads (138,623 railroad miles).
  • Total 2011 U.S. logistics spend was estimated at $1.28 trillion up 6.6% over 2010.
  • According to the 2012 3PL Study, shippers who partner with third-party logistics providers report an average cost reduction of 13% and nearly two-thirds (64%) of survey respondents reported an increase in their use of outsourced logistics services.
  • 3.5 Million: The approximate number of truck drivers moving America’s freight. To put this in perspective, 1 in every 15 people working in the U.S. is employed in the trucking industry.
  • The transportation and warehousing sector totaled 4.292 million people in 2011. You can be an addition to this number, check out a career with BlueGrace Logistics!
  • Fact: Trucking is the dominate mode of transportation for our nation’s freight movement by approximately 71%.
  • 1.2 Million: The number of trucking companies operating in the U.S.
  • The highest-valued imported products in the U.S. include: agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys).
  • There are 149 ports located in the U.S.  South Louisiana, Houston, New York/New Jersey, and Long Beach often hitting the top of the list when ranked by tonnage or TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).
  • American businesses transported over 19 billion tons of raw materials and finished goods in 2002, valued at $13 trillion (including domestic commodity movements and domestic transportation of exports and imports).
  • More than $1 out of every $10 produced in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) is related to transportation activity.

After exposing your brain to all of this info, the importance of transportation should be crystal clear. You can see how each load is merely a link to an ever-globalizing supply chain. There’s never been a better time to get involved in this industry!

Any of these numbers surprise you? Share your logistics facts and figures with us!

Let us know what you think!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Are You Prepared if a Natural Disaster Disrupts Your Supply Chain?

Although the Weather Channel forecasts a below-average hurricane season in 2012 – there is still uncertainty and history says you can never be too prepared. As Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro instructs,

“people in hurricane-prone areas should be equally prepared every year regardless of seasonal outlooks.”

So what can your business do to prepare this hurricane season? Our team has outlined a few simple procedures to integrate throughout your entire supply chain to help you be proactive and prevent potential loss.

Flooded city hurricane aftermath
Flooded street in the Soho area of Manhattan from last year’s Hurricane Irene. Source: http://bit.ly/LhejIK
  1. Team: Are you prepared if your team is short-handed? Remember that cell phones, email, land lines, etc may become unavailable, which can cause great confusion. To avoid this stress, be sure to have multiple channels to communicate important messages and announcements to your staff. Satellite telephone systems offer a reliable form of communication for your immediate staff members.
  2. Customers: If/when your business is notified of a potential storm, let your customers know immediately so that they can plan ahead and adjust their inventories. Are there any products or materials that will be high in demand before or in the aftermath? The key is to remain flexible.
  3. Supply Chain: Daily operations and supply chain processes can be complicated very easily in the presence of severe weather. An easy way to prepare is to run through best and worst case scenarios with your team so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and how to respond quickly and effectively.
  4. Suppliers: Do you work directly with a single supplier? Is the business located in a hurricane prone area? If so, plan ahead with the supplier and ask how they have prepared to provide services or products in times of disaster. It’s also a good idea to maintain good relationships with multiple suppliers especially if you find yourself in a pinch.
  5. Freight: Be prepared to make special arrangements for your shipments. If the roads are dangerous, truck drivers will be pulled off for safety. An easy proactive measure is to schedule your freight shipments earlier or work with a logistics provider to see if there are any alternative routes. Keep in mind port availability. In the case of heavy rain and flooding, your freight may not be able to move. Consider all modes of transportation.
  6. Insurance Provider: Be sure to have a copy of your policy and get any questions answered from your provider so you’re not left wondering.
  7. Data: Backing up your data is critical. In today’s global economy, businesses function on computer systems and databases. Be sure that your business documents, records, etc are stored at an off-site location.
  8. Community: Once your business has a backup plan, reach out to others in your community and share your tips and advice on how you prepared your business for a natural disaster. Hint: You can start by sharing this information!

No matter how many hurricanes, tropical storms, or natural disasters occur – it only takes one to impact our communities and cause major disruption. Get a plan started today and re-evaluate periodically, especially if severe weather is on the way.

We hope that these hurricane preparedness tips and reminders are helpful to your business. Of course, it is our hope that you will never have to put your plan into action. If you would like more information on how to formulate your own plan, build a kit and get involved, check out this natural disaster preparedness resource from FEMA.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

#BGInvestigates: Is Rail Transport Right on Track for your Business?

 

Rail Transport | Rail Freight Shipping | Intermodal Transportation
When it comes to transporting your heavy load, have you looked into all transportation modes?

The Shipper’s Key to Railroad Freight is Planning Ahead of Time Based on your Business Model.

When it comes to transporting your heavy load, have you looked into all transportation modes? The U.S. rail system is one of the largest contributors to our economic well-being, providing an efficient long haul transportation alternative. In 2009, following a historic $26 billion railroad investment, Warren Buffett was quoted saying

“Our country’s prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system.”

With increasing diesel fuel prices and rising carbon emissions – The planet can’t afford for you to ignore the benefits of rail freight shipping!

Suppose that your business has freight going from Tampa to Los Angeles, about 2,500 miles. While road may take 4 ½ transit days, rail would take approximately 10 days. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s a big transit difference!” We agree – but how fast could YOU travel with 100 tons on your back?! Not to mention the difference in environmental impact. Did you know that rail is the most energy efficient way to move your goods on land? In fact, rail uses on average 4x less energy than truck, reducing carbon emissions by 75%! The point is… If your business can plan ahead, then you can utilize rail to transport your goods and significantly reduce your supply chain costs and carbon footprint. Sounds like a pretty good deal, huh?

This issue of #BGInvestigates identifies a few questions to help you identify if rail is the ideal mode of transportation for your business.

  • What type of goods can be transported by rail? Coal is the most important commodity carried by rail, followed by other products such as chemicals, grains, farm products, non metallic minerals, waste and scrap.
  • Approximately how many tons can a rail car handle? While a truckload can handle about 43,000 lbs., a rail car can handle 100-110 tons.
  • How do you receive a freight rate for rail? Contact one of our Freight Experts via email or phone (800-697-4477) so that s/he can identify the rail lane options and select the best route for your freight.  This is a customizable process and it’s important to know all of your transportation options.
  • Is booking railroad freight difficult? Not at all! After receiving a competitive price to transport your goods, you can fill a container when time allows and schedule a truck to pick up your freight from your business location. From there, the driver will take it to the rail yard where your freight will be loaded and sent off by railroad to its drop off destination.

So what do you say? Does rail seem like the right track for your business? Contact one of our Intermodal experts today to analyze the advantages and cost savings potential to move your goods via rail. As we continue to research new methods that will save you money and the environment while improving efficiencies, we’ll report them to you! Did you find this post helpful or have an idea the BG Investigates Team should look into? Don’t forget to mention it on Twitter (#BGInvestigates).

Have freight that’s ready to be shipped by rail? Share a picture!  Are you on Pinterest? Pin it!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Back-to-School Preparation in Ports

Back to School Preparation in Ports | International Shipping | Container FreightAccording to Logistics Management and the Global Port Tracker, the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) reported an increase in container volume throughout the month of April.

“It was a very good month with double-digit increases on both the import and export side,” said POLA Director of Communications, Philip Sanfield.

Once a container is unloaded, it is usually reloaded with new cargo and shipped to a new port or destination. Although it is preferred that a container is loaded with new cargo once emptied, that’s not always the case. Shippers are forced to consider that the cost to ship back an empty container is more than the value of the container itself. So as these used containers begin to reposition to areas where they will be used, it’s a sign that shippers and retailers are preparing for a particular season or time where traffic is prominent. In this case (and due to the time of course), we’re referring to back-to-school season at the end of summer.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipates the number of imports will grow through the back-to-school season, indicating signs of economic recovery with expectations for a “good year” for retailers. Toward the end of June and into early July shipments for back-to-school season will encourage the Peak Season shipping pattern.

West coast ports such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, Tacoma and Seattle welcome the anticipated increase in imports forecasted through July. The increased volume of goods shipped around the globe is a good indicator of economic health; proving that logistics moves the global economy.

As you prepare to send your kid to summer camp and make room in your budget for back-to-school supplies and apparel, keep in mind that the ports and retailers are preparing today to meet your demands tomorrow!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Low-Cost Franchises Rise in Popularity – Discover BlueGrace Logistics Franchising

What could fitness businesses, mosquito control and third party logistics companies all have in common? The opportunity to be your own boss with no tricky investments! A recent CNBC article on franchise opportunities discusses the rise in popularity of low-cost franchises in the US. BlueGrace® Logistics Franchise is proof that popular and low-cost franchise opportunities do exist. A BlueGrace franchise is a service-type business growing in a $600 billion dollar shipping industry that does not require a large office space, staff, or industry experience.

Think you can’t afford to go into business for yourself?
Think again.

Financial independence is well within reach thanks to the prevalence of these inexpensive franchising opportunities. It’s simply a question of which one best fits you! There are outstanding low-cost franchise options available for entrepreneurs and experienced business owners alike. You can change your life through business ownership or diversify your business and lower your risk with proven business models like BlueGrace Logistics Franchise. The initial investment and startup costs are minimal and no previous industry or business ownership experience is necessary.

Though the investment may be smaller, you should still place thorough research at the top of your to-do list before jumping on-board the franchisee train. Below are some tips to help you succeed before and after signing on the dotted line.

  1. Understand the marketplace. You don’t need to be a subject matter expert. In fact, many franchisors prefer their owners to house their talent in sales and marketing to drive the business.
  2. Pay attention to consumer trends. Keeping a watchful eye on emerging industries and the fluctuating economy can help you stay on-top of what will be the most profitable for your business.
  3. Choose a franchisor that offers ongoing support for your team. Do they provide in-depth training to get you started out on the right foot? Do they offer advertising and marketing support?

You can see by the growing popularity and affordability that benefits to owning your own business are clear. So the question now becomes, “How can I afford not to?” 

Are you attending the International Franchise Expo (IFE) in NYC this week? We’d love to meet you – Stop by Booth #364 to meet our team and discover if a BlueGrace Franchise is right for you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

#BGInvestigates: How Regulations Affect the Transportation Industry

The transportation industry is no exception when it comes to government regulations. In the coming year, many regulations will be enforcing drastic changes in the transportation industry. These changes will impact the bottom line of truck drivers, carriers, shippers, consignees and even consumers. As regulations increase, trucking companies are forced to increase shipping costs, in turn, driving the cost of products in the market to rise. BG Investigates points out why it’s important to be aware of new industry laws and regulations.

Many transportation regulations are highly controversial in regard to their costs and effectiveness. Specifically, the CSA 2010 law was passed in December of 2010 and remains a top concern. According to the FMCSA, a part of the US Department of Transportation, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative is a regulation that is working to further reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes, fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. The trucking industry (including common carriers) feel the impact of this regulation as drivers are taken off the road due to safety concerns. Although this helps to increase safety, the loss of truck drivers due to CSA regulations has caused driver and capacity shortages.

“We are really starting to see the impact (of CSA 2010) in the industry right now. Every day we are seeing carriers that are being rated down to conditional and last week we saw five carriers shut down by the DOT for unsafe ratings. Obviously that increases the capacity constraints we have in the market by reducing the amount of drivers on the road and causes an increase in rates,” says Chris Reeves, Director of Specialized Services.

The debate continues on many other government policies. The Hours of Service regulations published in December 2011 were enforced to control the amount of hours a driver can be in operation. The HOS rules cause changes in the current transit times for shipments, as drivers are not able to travel as long. There are severe penalties for both the driver and carrier for violations. Industry groups argue that these regulations should change before they officially go into effect July 1, 2013.

BG Investigates uncovered the following transportation industry regulations that all readers should be aware of for 2012 and beyond:

  • Stability Control Standards – Technology mandate controlling stability on heavy-duty tractors to preventing rollovers of trucks and trailers.
  • Mandatory Speed Limiters – Controlling the speed of trucks to prevent accidents.
  • Crashworthiness Standards – Standards, similar to automobiles, that help protect truck drivers involved in accidents
  • EOBR RegulationsElectronic on-board recorders tracking the time truck drivers are on the road.

The laws and regulations of the transportation industry are constantly changing. Whether you are a truck driver, carrier, shipper, consignee or consumer, you should consistently be informed to be compliant and understand the effects it may have on your business model.  BG Investigates will continue looking and reporting the status of new transportation laws and regulations that affect you, so keep an eye out for future articles. Contact one of our knowledgeable representatives at BlueGrace Logistics with any questions about industry regulations or call 800.MYSHIPPING.

– Ben Dundas, Sr. Marketing Analyst

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Fresh-Cut Freight: Shedding Light on the Logistics of the Floral Industry

The nation’s 2nd highest gift-giving holiday is fast approaching and retailers and shippers alike are kicking it into high gear. According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 23,000 florists in the United States! Flowers account for 70% of all gifts bought each year on Mother’s Day.

With such essential perishables on-board, you may wonder how these delicate tokens are transported from their origin to your mother’s hands. The inventory must be kept cool and in constant motion, creating a complex logistical approach to any supply chain. One day lost in delivery can equal 10% of the effective floral shelf life, limiting the opportunity for the re-seller to sell the product.

The journey begins with the snip of a stem – the clock is ticking to get the flowers to their destination. The majority of flower supply stems from Colombia and Ecuador. Christine Boldt, Executive Vice President of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida describes the supply flow after being placed immediately in a refrigerated truck for transport to a cool warehouse at the airport, “They go through a process we call ‘pre-cooling,’ in which any warm air that might be trapped in the box is vacuumed out. That allows the flowers to cool faster than they would if we simply left warm air inside the package.”

Fresh-cut Freight: Shedding Light on the Logistics of the Floral Industry, Mother’s Day 2012
Fresh cut flowers experience pre-cooling and are released to the warehouse, where shipments are broken down and shipped to their destination. Source: http://bit.ly/LXlMz2

Following the “pre-cooling,” the blossoms travel through the center of the U.S. flower distribution system: Miami International Airport (MIA). MIA houses approximately 2/3 of the supply (about 35,000 – 70,000 boxes every day) with huge spikes in volume around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day! In an effort to challenge Miami International Airport’s market dominance, California-based Mercury Air Group’s opened a 12,700-square-foot refrigeration facility at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Once packages arrive, they are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); ensuring the flora is free from harmful pests and diseases can take up to four hours. Fortunately, only two percent of shipments are labeled non-compliant under APHIS regulations. After the flowers receive the “green light,” the next step is another pre-cooling and release to warehouse, where shipments are broken down and shipped to an international location or placed on refrigerated trucks for domestic distribution. The flora can reach any city in the US by truck in less than five days.

Retailers are the final link in the cut-flowers supply chain before reaching your mother’s hands. Retailers include traditional florist shops, online stores, supermarket chains, roadside vendors, gas stations, drugstores, etc. Supermarkets account for nearly 40% of our flower sales and are steadily increasing sales throughout the slower parts of the year.

From harvest to retailer, perishables are a challenging transport, but 3PLs are here to help. BlueGrace® Logistics offers freight shipping services and solutions that aid in simplifying the supply chain process. Our dedicated representatives provide complete consult in helping shippers choose the best mode of transportation as well as the right carrier for their needs. Our customizable transportation management system, BlueShip™, provides detailed visibility of time-sensitive shipments so you’re always aware during transit.

We know the importance of on-time delivery. Whether it is flowers or materials, let BlueGrace® handle the logistics while you manage your other critical business operations. Contact a member of our team for a free, customized freight quote today!

If you’re involved in the shipping process of flowers, please add your input! Do you work in the floral industry and have any tips to share? Let the community know by commenting on our blog!

Happy Mother’s Day!

-Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Twitter: @BG_JennyD

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Logistics: What is it? BlueGrace Offers the Whole Package

What is logistics?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the industry. Add “third party” to “logistics” and you may as well be wearing a sign that says “barrage me with questions, please!” Confusion may be created because the meaning is so broadly applicable across a diverse range of trades. The scope of “logistics” could describe the operations of a thriving corporate enterprise or the play-by-play of a day in the life of a soccer mom. While both accurately depict the word, those are not exactly the everyday logistics we manage at BlueGrace® Logistics.

To say we handle the details of transporting your goods from Point A to Point B would not do justice to what truly goes on behind the scenes of your freight’s journey. The factors below offer a glimpse into what you experience by partnering with BlueGrace for your logistics.

  • Optimization. One way BlueGrace creates value is by helping customers optimize existing transportation and logistics functions. We take a deep dive into the inner-workings of your transportation management to identify inefficiencies. With these discoveries we engineer solutions for specific processes in your supply chain and aid in execution across all departments. We strive to create new opportunities which ultimately increase efficiency and your bottom line.
  • Preservation. With so much change and variability in the supply chain, optimization is a recurring process. We don’t abandon you once changes are in place, it is our job to take that extra step and ensure those improvements are maintained and your success continuous.
  • Reporting. When you work with a logistics provider, we know that the ultimate goal is to take care of your shipments from start to finish without having to chase anyone for updates along the way. This is why we provide complete visibility through BlueShip™, our transportation management system. Using information like real-time tracking, we allow you the freedom to dictate what, when, and how you view your shipments and reports. Our customized reports take the guessing out of your supply chain.
  • Understanding. This part of our “logistics” is one that we hold in the highest regard. BlueGrace is comprised of over 150 years of experience in logistics, freight and transportation management. Our expertise helps you make the best decisions for your company. We strive to gain a healthy understanding of your business goals and how you wish to attain them.

Logistics means different things to different people. All of the factors above encompass what it really means to BlueGrace. Logistics goes well beyond just shipping… it reaches into the heart of your business. If you would like to request a free freight quote or an audit on your logistics processes, contact our team today!

What does logistics mean to you? What are the most important factors in determining who handles your freight? We’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like to join our team of professionals, contact BlueGrace Careers or visit our Careers page for more information about a career in logistics.

 

-Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Twitter: BG_JennyD

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Partnership Reduces Costs and Transit Time… Creating Benefits for All

This is a fantastic read and I wanted to share it with you! Logistics Management reports how a closeout retailer, Tuesday Morning, partnered with a leading transportation provider, Averitt Express, and increased their bottom line.  Headquartered in Houston, TX, the retailer strived to find a solution to transport its “obnoxious freight” and keep inventory moving. The experts at Averitt Express, one of our valued partners, provided a distribution center (DC) bypass solution, eliminating significant transportation costs and shipment days for Tuesday Morning.

Kudos to the transportation professionals at Averitt and congrats to the team at Tuesday Morning! It’s evident you are a dynamic match!

At BlueGrace® Logistics, our team of experts can evaluate your supply chain to identify inefficiencies and propose solutions to eliminate time and enhance your bottom line. Contact us today for a free audit and to discuss collaborative distribution.

Read the Logistics Management article  “Tuesday Morning’s DC bypass cuts two weeks, 19 percent cost out of supply chain.”

 

– Samantha Hill, Community Manager
Follow @SamHill_BG on Twitter!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Transportation: Earth Day 2012

To commemorate Earth Day 2012, we believe a proper “shout out” to Mother Nature is in order. People say the driving force behind the nation’s economy is the trucking industry. That’s a logical rationale considering nine million people help transport eleven billion tons of freight annually. In regard to these figures, BlueGrace® Logistics asks not only what the freight and shipping industry can do for you, but what can transportation do for the planet?

Sustainability efforts do not come in a one-size-fits-all box, here are methods to shrink your carbon footprint and reduce waste on either end of the supply chain!

Shippers/Warehousing:

      • Motion sensors:Only illuminate
        Shipping Pallet Garden Wows Visitors at the Canada Blooms Garden Festival
        Shipping Pallet Garden
        areas when a truck or other vehicle is actually present at the pickup point.
      • Solar panels: Utilize natural energy and light from the sun, thus reducing energy consumption, or… add a skylight!
      • Packaging materials: Biodegradable packing peanuts made from renewable resources are a great aid in the quest for sustainability. Companies such as StarchTech, produce packaging alternatives that dissolve in water after use.
      • Pallet-sharing programs: Thousands of pallet recyclers buy/sell pallets to create a comprehensive retrieval network. If a pallet cannot be reused for shipments, grind it down to reuse as mulch, animal bedding, or create a pallet garden!

Drivers:

      • Speed Reduction: The easiest (and safest!) step to take. Reducing your speed from 75 to 65 saves up to 27% of fuel and reduces carbon emissions by approximately 31.5 million tons!
      • Idling time: If you’re on a long haul that requires overnight rest, take advantage of truck auxiliary units or truck stop electrification systems to heat or cool your truck instead of wasting diesel while in idle.
      • Accessories and Equipment: Low viscosity lubricants can be used to reduce friction. Monitoring tire pressure regularly is also an efficient step towards fuel-economy.

Carriers:

      • Aerodynamic/engine modifications: Install aerodynamic panels on trailers and replace older engines with new, environmentally friendly engines.
      • Alternative fuel: Biomethane gas emits 50% less carbon than current diesel standard and is derived from organic matter in landfill sites. Coca-Cola Enterprises was the 1st in the logistics sector to invest in biomethane trucks.
      • Collaborative distribution: Merge different loads destined for the same end point to maximize trucking efficiency.

It’s easy to take a pro-active hold on the planet’s future. If you or your company is “Going green” we’d love to hear from you! Comment below and tell us about the steps you’re taking to make a difference!

BlueGrace takes pride in its involvement with the community and sustainability efforts. Several carriers in our network are SmartWay Certified. Naturally, a 3PL is a green solution to manage your logistics needs as BlueGrace operates from web-based systems or cloud computing thus reducing paper waste, consolidates your freight bills into a single invoice, and allows you to select the best carrier to move your goods – saving you green!

Let’s reduce the carbon footprint in your supply chain together! To learn more about how BlueGrace can help increase efficiencies in your logistics processes, shoot us an email or call 800.MY.SHIPPING today!

– Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Follow @BG_JennyD on Twitter

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

It’s a Man’s World

Its a Mans World | Women in Trucking Industry and MMA | BlueGrace MMA Sponsor Felice Herrig“You see, man made the cars to take us over the road. Man made the trains to carry heavy loads.”

Ah, James Brown…how the times are a changing. Man may have made those things, but guess who’s transporting these days? That’s right,women.

Now more than ever, women are entering into arenas that were once thought to be ruled by men. Places such as the octagon of a fighting ring and behind the wheel of a big rig – both are familiar to BlueGrace® Logistics. As most of you know, we are proud sponsors of MMA and recently teamed up with our first female XFC® fighterFelice “Lil Bulldog” Herrig. The qualities that Felice and women of MMA embody are the same that ladies in the logistics industry possess in order to succeed.

“Integrity, determination, dependability, and a healthy respect for competition, that is what these UFC® fighters represent to BlueGrace,”says BlueGrace President/CEO, Bobby Harris.

Relevant to our industry, Desiree is a well known female truck driver recognized for her viewpoints and expertise. Desiree provides trucking news and shares her story as a  female trucker. She believes that women are an underappreciated resource—yet exemplify the critical skills that are needed to perform the job. To stay up to date on the latest news, read The Trucker Desiree Daily!

Working as a female in a predominantly male industry presents additional unique challenges and circumstances. Therefore, whatever obstacles men may face driving a truck or knocking out an opponent, women must overcome another set associated with the gender stereotype. Though the percentage of females employed in the “transportation and material moving occupations” is approximately15 percent, it’s worth reporting that this movement is trending in an upward and positive direction. Women should be acknowledged as “forces to be reckoned with” despite the barriers they face.

Some may argue that the road and the ring are no place for females, we beg to differ. We must recall the most important line of Mr. Brown’s song, “It wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl”.

Be sure to check out our exclusive video of Felice on the BlueGrace Facebook page.

BlueGrace is thrilled to be involved in supporting the women of the MMA industry; and appreciates the hard work and dedication of women in transportation.

If you are a woman in the transportation or sports industries, we want to hear from you! Do you have an example of an obstacle that you have had to overcome? Perhaps you can offer helpful tips on how to succeed in a male dominated industry.

Contact our Community Manager with any questions about our MMA sponsorships or logistics services today!

– Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Follow @BG_JennyD on Twitter

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

#BGInvestigates: Why not use a 3PL?!

No acronym boils the blood of a BlueGrace® Logistics employee more than “3PL”. In our experience, this acronym conveys an adopted meaning that doesn’t give justice to the value added service BlueGrace delivers. We believe 3PL providers should be an extension of your business, not an outsourced process. So instead of a “3PL”, we consider ourselves a Logistics Service Provider.

Phrasing is not the reason that decision makers stray from 3PLs. To further understand the issue, BlueGrace investigated internally. Here are the most common concerns:

 “I’ve been burned by other 3PL’s, so now I steer clear…”

This could be the most common objection to any business considering a new 3PL. To those questioning the use of 3PL’s, we say, “Well you haven’t experienced BlueGrace.” Completely nixing all 3PLs from your life is the wrong move. We have learned the most common reason for failed 3PL partnerships is billing resolutions. At BlueGrace, we take certain precautions to safeguard against mistakes. We know that re-classes and re-weighs are the heartache of any shipper’s existence. Our new and enhanced BlueShip Transportation Management System allows users to enter weight and dimensions into their customized portal; alerting the shipper to contact their rep if the shipment requires special attention (pricing, class, etc.).

Another concern is the lack of education from the provider to the customer. This results in miscommunication and animosity, which potentially leads to a short-lived business relationship. It’s vital for you, the shipper, to understand what we provide. A good Logistics Service Provider (or 3PL) will help their customer understand resources like NMFC codes, cubic capacity and linear feet guidelines.

“If we can be of help, we will. If not, we tell you. We want to create mutually beneficial relationships and properly educate our customers,” says Eric Chambers, Sr VP of Sales.

“You don’t own your own trucks, so why should I trust you with my freight?”

That’s a good question. BlueGrace Logistics has a strong network of top rated carriers to handle our customer’s goods. We use a scorecard with each carrier to monitor overall performance such as damages in transit and punctuality. Our carrier partnerships allow us to negotiate competitive rates on your behalf. Take advantage of the lower costs that the buying power of the right 3PL can get you.

BlueGrace Logistics provides free quotes and internal audits of your current logistics processes. For any questions in regard to your shipping needs call 1.800.MY.SHIPPING

So, we hope this topic was helpful in identifying your concerns in determining whether or not working with a 3PL is right for you. Give us a call, send an email, or follow us on Twitter (@mybluegrace) for more on these important subjects as #BGInvestigates.

Visit us online at www.mybluegrace.com

– Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Follow @BG_JennyD on Twitter!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email