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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!

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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!

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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.

 

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#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!

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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!

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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!

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#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

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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

 

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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#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!

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Behind the Wheel of a Big Rig

If you follow our CEO Bobby Harris @BobbyBG_CEO on Twitter, you’ll see that he continually warns of capacity overload and driver shortages looming. I don’t understand why people that are stuck in “dead-end jobs” do not want to become truck drivers! According to Indeed.com the average salary of a truck driver in Florida is $53,000/year and the salary index is on an upward trend.

I believe that most people typically think of drivers as long haul and that is a huge misnomer. Many drivers that work for LTL carriers go in to their home terminal in the morning, help load their van, take deliveries out in the morning, enjoy lunch, do pickups in the afternoon, unload back at terminal and then go home. These routes are very structured and the pay tends to be as well. Independent owner operators that do the long haul driving across the country have more freedom to name their own price and make more money.

These modes, in addition to railroads, have been the backbone of this country for many years and it will remain as such. President Obama spoke about how manufacturing is experiencing an uptick in the United States, which means that more American-made products will need to get from point A to B.

Can you see yourself behind the wheel of a big rig? The opportunity is there to have a career for years to come. Your future is up to you!

– Dustin Snipes, Inbound Sales Supervisor
Follow me on Twitter: @DSnipesNole_BG

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Rising Price of Oil: Effects on Daily Purchases and Transportation

Oil prices are going up in 2012! If you are in the trucking industry or just a consumer, when oil prices go up … YOU are affected. Oil prices not only effect the price of gasoline that we put in our car every day or diesel in a truck (which is more expensive) but also the cost of our food, packaging of products and many other items that we use daily. Remember, the cost of a barrel of crude oil is based on what speculators think will happen to the production and delivery of the barrels of oil around the world. Recently Iran made a statement that they will close the Strait of Hormuz, which is a major waterway for theStrait of Hormuz, Iran transportation of oil from the Middle East. The reason for the statement is not important pertaining to this blog, but the impact to the price of oil would be huge. The NY Times reported that if the Strait of Hormuz was closed, the price of oil could rise as much as 50% or more within days (which we are already beginning to experience).

Today the average cost per gallon of gas is $3.30 and for diesel is $3.78 (eia). Just sit back and imagine if the cost of these two items doubled within 2 days. Let’s do some quick math, to personally fill my car the cost would go from $60 to $118. To fill a truck that can carry 400 gallons of diesel would go from $1,512 to $3,024. For shippers, the fuel cost that you would pay for a shipment from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA would go from an estimated $1,581 to $3,849 just for the cost of fuel. That does not count the line haul cost. If the cost of transportation for our products goes up, so do the costs at stores where we buy our goods. Food, paper towels, diapers, apparel, paper for the copier, etc… will go up.

So, if you ever wonder why oil prices are such a big issue in this country or why the USA spends so much time in the Middle East, just look at the impact it has on your personal budget and transportation services. Look at the impact on one of your shipments if oil prices should double.

-Chris Reeves, Director of Specialized Services
Twitter: @BGTruckload

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Not the end of Hours of Service (HOS) Rules Changes

Who has seen the new HOS (Hours of Service) rules that just came out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)? The trucking industry has been waiting to see what the FMCSA was going to do with the HOS rules that they currently operate under. I am not going to get into the details of the changes, but I am going to make this point. If trucking was so unsafe that the FMCSA had to get together to make changes to the law, then why did they make the effective date start 1.5 years in the future? Personally it does not seem to be that big of a safety issue if drivers are going to continue to operate under the same rules till July 2013 before they have to change.  With the Millions of drivers on the road that is a lot of unsafe driving till July 2013.

If we are going to make change, let’s change. I said I am not going to let you know the details and the main reason is because the rules will change before this ever goes into effect.

Trucking Industry be aware. This is not the end of the HOS rules changes. More to come!!!

– Chris Reeves, Director of Specialized Services
Twitter: @BGtruckload

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Cocoa Collaborators Exemplify Holiday Spirit

Hershey and Ferrero Group collaborative distributionSo the holiday season is upon us once again. ‘Tis the season of love, laughter, and generosity of spirit. While candy canes and mistletoe are abound, one more important element comes to mind. It’s the element that makes perfect stocking stuffers and the element that continuously gets sent to BlueGrace Logistics and ends up in our break room. The one that seduces the indulgent heart of ladies everywhere and it’s certainly not sugar plums. That’s right—rich, creamy chocolate. In the true peaceful spirit of the holidays, two goliaths of the chocolate world, Hershey Company and The Ferrero Group joined forces in October in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint on the world–what a match made in chocolaty heaven. The competitors allied together through joint warehousing, transportation and distribution. Joy to the world! Now if only they could celebrate by giving out samples of their yummy goods everywhere (Merry Christmas to me)!  Hershey, alone ships over 100,000 outbound refrigerated truckloads annually. Holy toothache, batman!

I read in a manufacturers survey that, in unions such as these, supply chain savings and new growth are high atop the priority list of many large global manufacturers. About half of companies surveyed said reshaping supply chains was a top priority. Though collaborative distribution is indeed a growing trend (across all industries), adoption is slow and is still very much under-utilized in my opinion. For middle-market companies that lack the volume to ship in full truckloads, this method just seems the sensible alternative. With fewer deliveries, less road congestion, reduced energy use and more efficient receiving at the retailer’s distribution center, it’s much more economical and mutually beneficial for both parties involved. Who wouldn’t want to save money while saving the planet?

So, I think these “green”, confectionary trailblazers are setting a terrific example for fellow shippers in their supply chain operations. My hope is that this distribution model will become more of a standard in the future of logistics. All I’m saying is that if Santa Claus could strike up some kind of collaborative supply chain deal, that jolly old man could end up back in the North Pole with his feet up and out of those boots a lot faster and maybe afford to give those elves a raise too.

Are you jumping on board the “green” train this holiday season? Any collaborative distribution plans in the near future? Comment on this blog and let us know!

– Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Follow me @BG_JennyD

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Response to a Fool

A recent discussion on Linkedin regarding 3PL’s in the transportation market included a number of foolish comments made by a clearly disgruntled freight carrier sales rep. Below are the highlights from his misinformed, one dimensional, price hoarding rant, followed by my b*#!@ slap…

  • “Most shippers of any regular frequency have become fairly saavy during the “great recession”. Most accounts I call on are turning away 3PLs because they don’t provide a value added. Even in the case of a small shipper (5-10 LTL shipments per month), I regularly see the difference in the 3PL price and the direct-to-carrier price to be under $10.00 on an average pallet sized shipment…”
  • “A few 3PLs are great partners for both the customer and the carrier. Most are not. They regularly call the carrier with no idea of what is going on with a shipment THEY scheduled or the customer cannot get an answer on a shipment, claim, pickup, etc…”
  • “I have worked in one of the largest markets in the country and in one of the smallest and the song remains the same, an 800 number, a computer and assorted tariffs from multiple carriers do not a logistics provider make.”
  • “…what I do know about most 3PLs is: 1) They depress freight rates which directly impacts the livelihood and opportunity of carrier associates. 3PLs don’t create freight, they create lower profitability on the freight that exists. 2) They will undercut their carrier “partners” without hesitation yet howl in indignation if a carrier dare “back solicit” a customer. 3) Frequently mislead or directly lie to a customer about how the customer-3PL-customer relationship is defined from a legal perspective. 4) No carrier does business with a 3PL because they want to. Why would they? It invariably results in the carrier moving the same freight at a decreased O/R.”

I’m also going to disagree with you on a number of fronts. There may be a number of 3PL’s who operate as such but you clearly underestimate the value in which a 3PL brings to a carrier. It’s obvious as to why you would have such bias. A good 3PL partnership does not hurt the carrier, it hurts the rep. The historic mentality of a carrier rep is to sell on price, price, price.

Of course, a carrier will make less direct profit on a shipment when the revenue is less. What you are overlooking is that the carrier has significantly less overhead on that shipment. The revenue may be less, but the profit % will be higher. The carrier is not paying a sales rep salary, car, commission, expenses, insurance, cell phone, etc. on that shipment. They are not paying the rent, electric bill, office supplies, phone service, etc. for sales to secure that shipment. With a 3PL using EDI and TMS, the carrier is not paying the administrative expense of tracking, uploading W&I or POD’s or communicating this with customers via phone or email. I could go on and on. This is a statistical reality and of course I would expect this to be overlooked by a sales rep losing out on commissions and thinking this is just a matter or price v. price.

Also way understated is the value of the 3PL. You are right that a carrier would not deal with a 3PL if it didn’t have to. But they have to – because a good 3PL can and does provide value that the carrier cannot. The carrier cannot provide a single source for data management, data warehousing, a single source for tracking, shipping documents, addresses, product information, carrier procurement and rate negotiating, unbiased carrier scorecards, etc. some of the best carriers, partners like SEFL or Con-way, can only provide the services that SEFL or Con-Way provide. Even YRC, who has some of the better technology, is leagues behind what a good 3PL can do. Customers cannot pay the hundreds of thousands of $ to purchase a TMS and even if they did and attempt to manage their own transportation, they are doing so at the expense of their core competencies.

A carrier and especially a carrier rep can only provide “Freight” Services, and as we all can see, this discussion group is for freight as well as LOGISTICS and SUPPLY CHAIN – two things which go way beyond the scope of what any one direct carrier can offer.

-Nick Klingensmith, Director of Sales and Personnel Development
Twitter: TheBGexperience

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The Blurry Line Between LTL and Small Parcel

Often the line between the use or difference of UPS and freight services may seem a bit blurry.  Most would agree it’s easier to ship a few boxes via UPS Small Parcel versus LTL (less-than-truckload) via a third party logistics solutions provider…. And at times, it may be the best option.  Although with a bit of information you may learn the benefits of using an LTL provider. 

Here are a few thoughts to consider before shipping:

  • How many boxes are shipping to the same location?
  • If you have a few boxes shipping to the same location it may be advantageous to use an LTL provider.  Why? Well, you can assure that all of the boxes will reach the destination at the same time. 
  • Most people believe LTL providers only move palletized material – WRONG. You do not have to put them on a pallet. However doing so may offer a sense of comfort and confidence knowing that they will arrive together. The average cost of a pallet is under $5.00.
  • What are the dimensions and specs? How long or heavy is the box? A UPS Small Parcel provider is equipped to carry smaller, lighter boxes.  Therefore when the boxes reach certain dimensions or weight the transportation provider will charge additional fees.  These fees can be avoided if shipping with an LTL Freight carrier – and the package may qualify as a “minimum” charge depending on the distance.

There are many other factors to consider when choosing to ship through UPS Small Parcel versus LTL services provider.  Hopefully these helpful tips have provided you with more resources to help your decision making a smoother process and also save your wallet!

If you have any questions, please contact a member of our team at BlueGrace Logistics to help with your shipping needs!
800-MY-SHIPPING
Twitter: @myBlueGrace

– Vanessa Castillo, Sales Manager
Follow me @Vanessa_BGmngr

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News: What S&Ps downgrade really means for the US economy

After listening to President Obama’s speech today, it helped to answer some of the questions regarding the recent downgrade of our nation’s credit rating. For those that don’t know, Standards & Poor (S&P) downgraded the credit rating of the United States from AAA to AA. As Obama stated, this is not a doubt in the ability of our country to pay our debt, but a doubt in our political system’s ability to act. The President made some great points, many that focused on the fact that we didn’t need a rating agency to tell us that our country needs a balanced, long-term approach to policies.

The Standard & Poor’s rating agency has actually caused a stir among those who feel the downgrade was unnecessary and inconsistent. The other top two agencies maintained AAA and Warren Buffett even said he would give the US an AAAA if there was a rating. S&P’s determination also led them to downgrade the credit ratings of agencies linked to long-term US debt, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This has caused markets to fluctuate, but is it something that should worry us all long-term? If similar situations from other countries are any indication, we shouldn’t have too much to worry about. As the President said, “Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America. We will always be a AAA economy.”

What this all really comes back to is the need for Washington to cooperate and form the balanced, long-term proposals necessary to maintain our country as a superpower. The lack of political will to work towards achieving these proposals needs to stop. Combining spending cuts with tax reforms and adjustments to healthcare programs is a necessity for the future of the US. As we look back at those soldiers who lost their lives this past weekend, we need to honor their memory. They served our country as a team and we all need to work together to ensure our generation, and future generations, can enjoy the freedoms we do today.

– Ben Dundas, Web Analyst
Follow me @ben37dBG

Today’s Transportation & Logistics News:
Survey Shows Driver Shortage Limiting Hauling Capacity, Growth Potential
Partisan Finger-pointing Draws Credit Downgrade Warnings While Oil Prices Tumble
OOIL Sees ‘Disappointing’ 2011 Outlook
Trucking Industry Hiring Slowed in July
Obama Finalizing Truck Fuel Efficiency Rules

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