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Join the Winning Team at BlueGrace Logistics

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We Bleed Blue

BlueGrace Logistics is has already exceeded its earlier goal of hiring 100 new employees at our corporate office in 2016. Now with our recent $255 million private equity investment, we are making huge strides toward the top of the 3PL industry. Our Core Values are a huge part of the hiring process and we strive to find individuals who fit that model.

BG Core Values

  1. Be Passionate about Excellence
  2. Be Caring of Others
  3. Pursue Outrageous Goals
  4. Simplify the Complex
  5. Embrace Chaos
  6. Perform with Agility, Speed & Precision
  7. Own Your Results, Be Humble
  8. Be Happy, Have Fun

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

At BlueGrace, we strive for innovation and excel by collaborating as a TEAM. Candidates call it fun, positive and refreshing; we call it the BlueGrace Experience. Our open floor plan, live Twitter feed, buzzing employee stations, and the occasional gong ring create a motivating and engaging atmosphere. At BlueGrace, we pride ourselves in providing our employees with opportunities for growth and success. If you Work Hard and Pursue Outrageous Goals – apply at BlueGrace Logistics TODAY!

Want to Join our Team?

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Our talent is scouted by a team of experienced recruiters seeking motivated individuals who want to grow with the nation’s fastest growing logistics service providers. From sales, accounting, technology, business, marketing and everything in between, we recruit talent from all walks of life. Every career move is considered a risk, but at BlueGrace it’s an opportunity. Join the BlueGrace team and be challenged, be creative and reveal your true potential!

 

Break Free From Your Job, START A CAREER WITH BLUEGRACE TODAY!

For more information on what it is like to work at BlueGrace, check out our profile on Glassdoor.com.

What It Is Like To Work At BlueGrace? See More –#BGHires On Twitter

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

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

Opportunities For Cost Savings

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

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

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

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

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

But is every TMS the same?

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

1. Upfront costs can be high

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

2. It takes time

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

3. IT Staff

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

4. Ongoing Management

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

5. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Electronic Logging Devices:  Making time more valuable

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

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

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

Pending Lawsuit to Stop ELDs

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

The Law of Supply and Demand

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

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

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

Loading and Unloading Times Should Improve

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

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

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

 

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The Busiest Time for Logistics – Holiday Season

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Holiday Logistics Ramp-Up

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

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

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

Where are my trucks?

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

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

Amazon/UPS Drop the Ball in 2013

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

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

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

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

Things to Bear in Mind When Planning for Holiday Uptick

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

Shippers – there is no need to fear.

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

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

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

Is your business ready?

 

 

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Internet of Things: 2016 Status

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

On the Roadmap

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

  • Location
  • Temperature
  • Speed

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

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

Reasons for Implementation

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

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

Technology Growth Overall

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

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

Implementation and Use of the IoT

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

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

Return On Investment

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

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

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

Plans to Expand

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

 

 

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How Do You Cut Supply Chain Costs On Your Next Acquisition?

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The size of the private equity market is huge.

Assets under management have grown from just $30 billion to $4 trillion over the past two decades.

In the last few years the news has been inundated with “Private Equity Firm Invests in Logistics Company” types of articles. We have all seen it before and most recently here at BlueGrace Logistics where Warburg Pincus invested $255 million for a minority stake in the company. It’s a daily conversation in this space and will continue to be, as Third Party Logistics (3PL) start-ups build momentum.

But what if we twisted the story?

What if BlueGrace Logistics could assist with an acquisition from a private equity group? What if we could aid them in reaching their ROIC in a timely fashion?

These types of transactions aren’t always front and center. For example – a Private Equity Firm is considering investing in a restaurant supply company and this company has been operating their supply chain at a dismal pace with an inefficient system and extremely high costs. When identifying proprietary opportunities, a PEG should consider partnering with a 3PL.

According to the State of the Logistics Market Report, two-thirds of US total logistics costs are attributed to transportation spend. Additional industry reports further corroborate the high cost of transportation spend citing it as either the #1 or #2 largest line item cost driver for many manufacturers.

Private Equity Groups can often lack the capabilities, sophistication, experience or resources to truly transform this major line item cost into a strategic competitive advantage over their competition. For many of these clients, as business grows, transportation can exceed its internal capacity and resources thus proving difficulty to manage its day-to-day transportation function on its own. As such, partnering with a logistics provider like BlueGrace can prove beneficial.

New BlueGrace and PEG Case Study - 12% Reduction In Costs

Before The Investment:

We review your data before the investment to determine potential issues.

No cost consultation – with no upfront cost to the private equity group, VC or even the business being acquired, we can immediately offer:

  1. Introductory discovery call
  2. Historical data review
  3. Engineering reports of data
  4. Potential transportation issues
  5. Integration opportunities

After The Investment:

After the investment is finalized, an ongoing partnership would ensue and BlueGrace Logistics would continue to work with the PEG to grow profits and reduce costs.

BlueGrace clients on average, save 8% on freight costs.

We would work directly with the investment to provide ongoing logistics expertise, dedicated service reps, ERP systems integration, KPI and Goal setting, and Business Intelligence reporting.

In the case of this restaurant supply company, we were given a set of parameters and a timeline to achieve certain cost reductions and integrations.

We were able to provide 12% reduction in transportation costs – a $300k in annual savings. The PEG was also able to see their ROI within 11 months of the acquisition.

BlueGrace can vet and bring acquisition opportunities into shared services.

BlueGrace can vet acquisition opportunities for our clients. If the customer decides to acquire the prospective business BlueGrace will bring them into shared transportation services.

It doesn’t end with reporting.

BlueGrace Logistics will provide the investment and PEG with suggestions and plans to execute the changes. Lost profitability, warehouse relocation studies, consolidate shipments and much more will be addressed in order to cut costs.

BlueGrace provides scalability for PEGs to achieve their aggressive cost cutting and profit goals without labor or technology investments.

Our expertise and processes provide PEGs with the bandwidth to operate efficiently and drive direct cost reduction through our procurement and dedicated management.

It’s a partnership worth investing in.

When a private equity group is considering acquiring any company, especially a manufacturer, a 3PL with a track record of success should definitely be brought into the mix. BlueGrace Logistics brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and skill to quickly assess situations which in turn generates substantial savings and performance improvements to supply chains.

New BlueGrace and PEG Case Study - 12% Reduction In Costs

 

 

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The Challenges of Exhibit and Trade Show Freight

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Trade show freight is a very time-sensitive segment of the transportation industry.

In fact, due to the extremely high standards within this niche, there are companies solely dedicated to trade shows.  Trade show freight requires narrow pickup and delivery windows, no tolerance for damage and a “get it done-no matter what” type of attitude.  Most transportation companies do not normally provide this level of white glove service, therefore a logistics company dedicated to trade shows and exhibits must be called upon. These full-service companies will help plan, create, transport, set up and tear down trade show exhibits – all for a premium price.

If a shipment is late – at best, there will be higher costs for last minute material handling, up to a 30% increase.  At worse, it can cause the exhibit to miss the show entirely.  Very high penalties are involved if that happens.

3PLs can provide the type of service that most trade show exhibiters require.

Companies with large marketing budgets and complex displays are perfect customers for these premium turn-key trade show logistics providers.  However, most exhibiters do not require an all-in-one type of solution.  3PLs can provide the type of service that most trade show exhibiters require.  Even though a 3PL does not have its own assets to support a trade show event, they do have many contacts within the industry to call upon.  Their access to the best carriers in the industry, coupled with a strong team of logistic professionals that plan and coordinate challenging moves on a daily basis, makes an excellent choice for moving trade show freight.

3PLs – dependable and more economical than specialized logistic providers

The dependable carriers that partner with a 3PL are the best for a reason.  They consistently perform at a 100% on time service rate and utilize good communication with the 3PL.  This is vital in making any move a success.   A carrier must constantly inform the 3PL of current location of shipment, alert them of anticipated problems along the route and communicate a back-up plan in case of something that could delay the shipment.

If you are planning on participating in a trade show in the future, start planning now.  This will allow plenty of time for you and your 3PL to garner support with their carrier partners and coordinate for the specialized needs of a trade show move.

A 3PL can perform as well and more economically than a specialized turn-key trade show logistics company.

 

 

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Pursue Outrageous Goals | Core Value #3

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Bill Gates

Dropped out of Harvard after two years – He founded Microsoft and is now known as the richest person on earth! He Pursued an Outrageous Goal.

Elon Musk

Founded his first company at the age of 23 and sold it for $300 million. He is also the co-founder of PayPal, founder of Tesla Motor Company and SpaceX. When he funded the project for SpaceX, he spent nearly all of his net-worth and for many years the public thought he would fail. NASA has now teamed up with Elon to fund SpaceX for a $1.6 billon contract. He Pursued an Outrageous Goal.

Joan of Arc

A peasant girl living in medieval France, believed that God had chosen her to lead France to victory in its long-running war with England. She doned mens clothing and hairstyle to fight and was nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans.” Joan is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. She Pursued an Outrageous Goal.

Sara Blakely

Billionaire Founder of Spanx was just trying to hide her panty lines while wearing white pants and cut off the feet of her panty-hose. For a full year she worked on an undergarment without telling anyone. Neiman-Marcus eventually picked up her product and she sent a pair to Oprah. A few weeks later she got a call asking if she had a website and could handle a ton of orders. She quit her job in October of 2000 and was on Oprah’s couch in November and never looked back. She Pursued an Outrageous Goal.

BlueGrace is a big believer in it’s employees, potential new hires and clients ‘Pursuing Outrageous Goals’.

Taking a risk and pursuing an outrageous goal is something that many will avoid for one thing – FEAR. The fear of failure and the fear of letting someone down. People fear what they have to lose.

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. – Jim Rohn

Bobby Harris

CEO of BlueGrace Logistics founded this company because he saw an opportunity and pursued it. Starting his career at 18 years old working on the docks for Southeastern Freight Lines, Harris worked his way up through operations management. At 20 he was running an outbound facility, and at 22, he was working in sales.

Harris was 30 years old when he bought into a DHL shipping franchise, and within two years, he owned 23 franchises. In 2008, Harris wanted to buy the franchisor, but the deal fell through when DHL decided to leave the U.S.

So at the beginning of 2009, Harris decided to start Blue Grace Logistics. He tapped into his 401(k), brokerage accounts, real estate and financial investments to start the company. He Pursued an Outrageous Goal.

Our employees, companies and carriers we partner with shouldn’t settle for mediocrity.

Along with 7 other core values that we look for in our candidates, employees and partners, Pursuing Outrageous Goals has to be one of the top.

“We look for people willing to take risks and jump in with both feet. It’s a great combination knowing that the people who work with you are some of the most caring and most encouraging. I know that the people employed here support our mission and see our vision for the future. They are Pursuing this Outrageous Goal with me at BlueGrace Logistics,” said Bobby Harris, CEO.

Do You Pursue Outrageous Goals?

As you may have seen in recent news stories and articles, BlueGrace Logistics is growing and needs to hire more team members! Check out our Careers page and apply today if you think you have what it takes to join our team and Pursue Outrageous Goals!

 

 

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Tampa Manufacturing and Logistics – A Perfect Marriage.

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

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

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

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

Manufacturing Growth Perfect for 3PLs

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

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

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

E-Commerce Puts Pressure on Logistics

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

The Value of Business Intelligence

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

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

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

Job Opportunities for the Future Generations

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

Optimization and Forward Thinking Manufacturers

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

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Out with the Old: Changes to the Bill of Lading

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

What Does this Mean for You?

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

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

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

 

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The Logistics of Natural or Manmade Disasters

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Transporting freight to areas affected by natural or manmade disasters is one of the toughest challenges in logistics. The recent floods in Louisiana are an example of the difficulties involved. Two interstates were closed causing 55,000 daily motorists, including truckers, to use Interstate 20.

This added over 200 miles to some of the trips.

There were trucks being dispatched with relief supplies and there were trucks passing through the affected regions with loads destined for Houston and San Antonio, TX. The detours and interstate delays caused many loads to miss their service deadlines.

Disaster Recovery Procedures Established

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the devastating flooding of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, much improvement has been made in the area of disaster recovery logistics.

We now have established frameworks are in place to handle almost any situation.

However, due to the nature of disasters and catastrophes, logistics experts must be adaptive. An example of the Strict Utilization of Established Frameworks is brought to mind with the story of a few “Good Samaritan” truck drivers who wanted to support the Hurricane Floyd relief effort. They arrived at inland shipping locations, volunteering to move the loads of supplies at no cost. After much confusion and hours of waiting, they were turned away as the contracted carriers transported the loads.

Some companies like Anheuser-Busch, take this opportunity for charity as well. They recently sent over 250,000 cans of water to the Louisiana flood victims.

FEMA Diverts Carrier Assets

During times of disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) works with contracted carriers to transport basic needs items like water, food and temporary shelter.

When the event happens, carriers supply resources to FEMA immediately because the response has to be swift in order to be effective. These FEMA contracts are very lucrative and assets must be provided as requested per the demanding federal contracts. Shippers could be left out in the cold when carrier assets are diverted to such an operation.

Specialized 3PLs Dedicated to Recovery

Major segments of the economy have standing agreements with 3PLs that specialize in business continuity and disaster recovery operations. When disaster hits, there is no time to build relationships and negotiate responsibilities. It has to be pre-planned and recorded in a binding contract or a memorandum of understanding.

When asked about his responsibilities, this small fleet owner who contracts with a specialized disaster relief 3PL said –

“I subcontract with a logistics provider who contracts directly with AT&T. The communication sector is vital to our national economy and national security, so when there is a disruption, we are called to transport fuel, generators, sanitation equipment, temporary shelters, food and anything else you can think of that is needed in a disaster response.”

In conclusion, logistics providers must have established procedures in place, prior to a disastrous event. Attempts to circumvent established procedures will not work in times of crisis.

Customer needs must be clearly defined.

Customer needs must be clearly defined for these situations and a framework of service providers identified. When such an event happens, the long hours of planning will pay off and result in the service being provided.

 

 

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Backpacks of Hope – A Drive for Student Success

2016 Backpacks of Hope

Back To School = $$$

As every parent with a school-age child in their home knows, the phrase “Back to School” means one thing; school supply shopping. While this can be a fun, bonding experience with your child, it can also be a stressful one. The average spend on school supplies exceeds $600 and this expenditure can be a huge struggle for many families, BlueGrace Logistics wanted to help.

BlueGrace Expansion Leads to More Charity

Every year, BlueGrace partners with local charitable organizations to collect school supplies in a drive called “Backpacks of Hope.” With the expansion of the company into multiple locations around the country, including Chicago, Boston, and New Jersey, the drive was able to help many more children than in the past.

“We collected over 1500 items on a typical school supply list, including backpacks, notebooks, paper, folder, crayons, binders and much more,” said Courtney Smith, Manager of Culture & Engagement at BlueGrace Logistics.

School supplies were collected throughout the months of July and August. The drive culminated with a “Back to School” themed event on August 12th where employees were encouraged to dress in their best back-to-school clothes with all decades and trends welcomed and encouraged.

Metropolitan Ministries | Mother’s Of Hope | Perry Hall Elementary

BlueGrace’s corporate office, located in Tampa, FL, partnered with Metropolitan Ministries as they have in years past. While some offices, such as the location in South Jersey, graciously donated to the cause in Tampa, other offices in Chicago, Baltimore and Tallahassee partnered with local organizations in order to support their local schools.

Everything Collected

Collectively, BlueGrace as a company collected almost 150 backpacks, as well as hundreds of notebooks, folders, boxes of crayons, pencils and other needed supplies. The Chicago office was also able to collect just shy of $1,400 to assist families with additional needs, and the Tampa office was able to supply 5 students with school uniforms for the entire school year.

BlueGrace Logistics operates by 8 core values, the second being “Be Caring of Others.” Events such as these is BlueGrace’s way of caring for their communities, and they are excited to be able to make a larger impact across the country through the growth of all offices.

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Must Arrive By Date (MABD) Compliance and How it Affects YOU

MABD Blog

We’ve talked about it before | Walmart Compliance Regulations

Suppliers are under tighter compliance regulations to get the right products to the right stores or distribution centers by a certain time or they pay a fee. Walmart suppliers now face paying a fee of 3% of the cost of goods of all non-compliant deliveries.

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

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

A third party logistics provider, or a 3PL, is an expert in transportation management and supply chain optimization and has the ability to help estimate from start to finish where the MABD will impact the suppliers products.

The MABD Window

The MABD Window includes the day the merchandise is due to the distribution center or other facility, plus the three previous days. It’s not just the arrival date that counts, it is also the contents and the number of items. If less than 90 percent of merchandise cases are received within the MABD delivery window, the supplier must pay 3% of the cost of goods.

Basically, retailers like Walmart and Target are no longer acting as warehouses, with too much inventory in back stock rooms or in trailers behind stores.

With these regulations, you can see that a smaller manufacturer might have an issue in managing the stresses of logistics. If the supplier is currently using the “cheapest” route to get products from point A to point B, their goods may be affected and the transportation model may need to change to not conflict with the MABD.

This is where a 3PL with a proven track record would come in and provide a customized transportation plan.

Ship Truckload or Less-Than-Truckload?

Manufacturers and Suppliers who ship Full Truckload have a much easier time complying with the rules because their trucks deliver to one destination. Unlike Less-Than-Truckload (LTL), which has their freight combined on a truck with several customers and several deliveries and has more opportunities for delays; especially if the goods are being delivered by a cheaper mode like rail.

A third party logistics provider could assist in an LTL shipper’s evaluation of their supply chain.

The entire supply chain would be evaluated. A 3PL could help the supplier consider using a more efficient carrier or find ways of improving the proper lead times and shipping the full order.

A Way to Avoid Fees

If at least 90 percent of the merchandise complies with the MABD window in a month, then the supplier is not subject to fees. That means one order in a month might arrive late or only contain 85 percent of the ordered merchandise for that purchase order. However, if that is the only out of compliance purchase order, then the supplier likely has a 90 percent or better compliance average for the entire month.

Resolving Issues

The hardest thing is to resolve issues. It’s better to stay ahead of the game and track compliance and with Walmart’s “Retail Link.” 3PLs and suppliers will need to keep focused eyes on the MABD compliance reports.

 

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The Uncertain Road to Autonomous Trucks

Autonomous Trucks

If you spend any time reading technology related content, you’d think that we’re ready to see flying cars in a few months.  The talk of autonomous vehicles dominates the automotive sector and most recently the trucking industry.  Trucking companies have been wanting this technology for years, but didn’t know it.  They’ve complained about rising labor costs, driver shortages and excess regulations. The autonomous vehicle engineers have nearly solved these problems.

Should the Freight Industry Adopt the Idea of Autonomous Trucks in the Future – Here are some of the benefits:

  • Trucks can run 24 hours a day – no hours of service regulations
  • Half of the trucks will be removed from roads as they can now operate 24/7
  • Maximum fuel economy – no stopping for sleep or food
  • Longer transit times will be cut in half
  • No labor costs for driving the truck – this will offset the higher prices of the vehicles

Will Autonomous Vehicles Become a Reality Sooner than Later?

The topic of autonomous vehicles has only been mainstream recently, however the ongoing work has been quietly advancing for quite a few years.  It’s been, and will continue to be an incremental process to full autonomy.  This incremental process has been happening before our eyes and we didn’t even know it.  Below are some of those incremental steps toward full autonomy.

  • Predictive cruise control
  • Collision prevention assist
  • Active blind spot assist
  • Active parking assist
  • Lane departure assist
  • Pedestrian recognition systems
  • Cross-Wind and roll-over stabilization

There is enough data available now for a vehicle to drive itself

 

Standard cruise control has been around for years, but the safety assist systems are comparatively new and are only found in late model vehicles.  There’s enough data available now for a vehicle to drive itself.  Cameras and radar are present so everything relevant to the safe operation can be picked up by the sensors.  Then, an advanced computing system calculates and initiates corrective actions.  These corrective actions are performed much faster than a human can react.  The final piece is to remove the driver and connect these systems to the steering mechanism and fully into the driveline.

So When Could This Actually Happen?

It’s hard to say because the general public will take a lot of convincing before they will accept and trust this technology.  The transition will be extremely challenging as it should be – there are many unanswered questions in regards to the programming.  Philosophers have been tapped to determine what the most ethical decision would be when the vehicle has to react to a situation where there aren’t any good choices.

Here are some thoughts on how autonomous trucks may be implemented:

  • Fully autonomous trucks will most likely operate on “smart highways.”
  • They will be upgraded interstates
  • They will incorporate sensors that communicate with the trucks
  • The U.S. government will have to invest heavily into our infrastructure to make this work.
  • With $19 trillion in debt, it’s doubtful they can do this.
  • Lag in government spending will slow the implementation.
  • Privately funded smart highways will be approved and built.

The implementation of autonomous trucks seems very likely despite the remaining obstacles.

The projected increase in efficiency will demand that this massive effort succeed.  The increased efficiency will lead to a myriad of positive results to include a reduction of trucks – therefore a reduction in fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gases.

 

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BlueGrace Provides Logistics for Minnesota Tourism Campaign

 

Minnesota Tourism Thinking “inside” the Box

BlueGrace Logistics has been trusted to provide freight and logistics services for cultural and arts exhibits many times before and the recent campaign of “Minnesota in a Box”; an initiative set up through the state’s tourism department, was probably the most exciting for the truckload division at BlueGrace.

All 50 states have a tourism department that creates marketing and advertising campaigns to showcase their popular cities and landmarks. The state of Florida has beautiful beaches, the Space Coast, Miami and Disney World. Colorado has the Rocky Mountains, hiking, white water rafting and much more. If you watch any television, there is no doubt you have seen an advertisement to visit either one of these states; Minnesota just took it one step further.

Minnesota brought to YOU

Minnesota Tourism decided it would be best to capture two scenes that make Minnesota unique and create a tangible setting where people could interact and share images and video via their social media. These scenes were housed in 8x8x8 steel shipping containers. 

mnstagram-hed-2016

Tourism In a Box

The shipping containers were exhibited in Kansas City, Denver and Chicago. They visited various street fests, MLB baseball games, RibFest in Chicago and a final Stint on the Navy Pier in Chicago before returning home.

We had weekend pickups and drop offs. We had late night trips to the office to arrange storage and middle of the night pick and runs as we navigated between events. – Brian Blalock, Sales Coach at BlueGrace Logistics.

 


Minnesota in a Box: To Get You to Visit, the State Will Now Visit You First

See Colle+McVoy’s MNstagram booths

Take a vacation to Minnesota? Nah, it’s too cold and dreary with all that snow and dreary-ness. Brrr…

To combat this common misperception, Explore Minnesota Tourism tricked out a pair of steel shipping containers for an immersive campaign that invites prospective visitors to “sample” a pair of the state’s diverse attractions and share their experiences via social media.

One of the 8-by-8-by-8-foot containers—they’re dubbed MNstagram booths—sports a wilderness motif that evokes the state’s Boundary Waters region, complete with wispy cattails, a morning mist generator, lilting loon calls on the soundtrack, and best of all, a wooden canoe for faux-paddling.

The other container simulates Minneapolis’ iconic First Avenue music club, complete with a fog machine, “bouncer,” purple stage lighting (a tribute to Prince, who featured the venue in Purple Rain), and best of all, a full drum kit, allowing folks to jam along with tunes playing over the sound system.

So, what prompted this inside-the-box approach? “Committing sight unseen to a Minnesota vacation can be a tall order,” says John Neerland, group creative director at Colle+McVoy, the agency behind the effort.

Hey, maybe that’s because they’ve all read about how it snows there in July! Oh wait, that was just an ad campaign. Never mind.

Plus, “running TV is often cost-prohibitive for a state tourism agency with a finite budget,” Neerland says. “We wanted to supplement our other efforts with a more hands-on, interactive, sharable and press-worthy experience.”

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Carrier Spotlight | Estes

estes-express_logo

With “On-Time, As Promised” delivery and over 85 years of regional experience, it is a no surprise that Estes is one of the core carriers that BlueGrace Logistics works with.

Combined with strategically placed terminals and a national network, Estes provides its shippers with extensive coverage, a modern and well-maintained fleet, cutting-edge technology, an extremely low claims ratio and an industry-wide reputation for excellence.

Their Guaranteed Service can be booked directly in BlueShip. Just look for the “Guaranteed Standard Service” option next to lanes serviced by Estes.

Estes BlueShip

 

 Estes Regional Services Feature:

  1. In-depth coverage with nearly 750 million one and two day points
  2. Six strategic service regions in the U.S. with thousands of knowledgeable employees at each hub
  3. Multiple Estes terminals in each region to efficiently support heavy shipment volumes
  4. Technologically advanced loading and delivery systems
  5. Superior transit times
  6. A comprehensive, direct service territory including Alaska and Hawaii
  7. Over 99% claims free

Need to Expedite Your Freight after it’s shipped? Estes offers an In-Transit Upgrade.

Freight Moves Fast.

Estes-Express-truck

Time Critical  When it comes to providing time-critical services, Estes has one of the highest success rates for on-time, as-promised delivery.

Expedited – Given their comprehensive network, some shipments other carriers consider expedited are standard, next-day deliveries for Estes.

Time/Date Definite – If you have freight that must be delivered on a specific date and/or within a short time frame, Estes has a solution. They can travel around the world on the next flight out or across the country using their asset-based ground services. You tell them the time, and they’ll get the job done.

 

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Why Auto Industry Growth Increases Logistics Technology Requirements

BlueGrace_AutoParts-

In 2015 the US automotive industry witnessed a record 5.7% increase in sales over 2014 to 17,402,659 light-vehicles according to the Automotive News Data Center. The good news continued with Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s annual industry outlook, in which it expects annual sales to top 20 million vehicles by 2018.

According to Merrill Lynch, the continued growth is attributed to solid consumer confidence, a steady job growth since the 2008 recession and an increase in total miles driven by Americans. 2016 started off well for the industry, however May-June “month-to-month” comparison dipped slightly. In the month of June, cars and truck sales were good for Ford which reported a 6.4% increase in sales, Fiat Chrysler was up 7%, Honda was up 3.2% and Nissan reported its best June ever, by being up 13.1%.

Strong Demand For Cars And Light Trucks

The continued strong demand for cars and light trucks in the US is particularly helping the growth in cross-border trade between Canada and Mexico. In fact, so much so, it’s common for trucks to sit and wait for long hours to enter the US and vice versa. Congestion is a problem in which the three governments as well as transportation carriers, are working towards solving.  Meanwhile, the tracking of finished vehicles and parts needed for assembly plants, has to be monitored at all times to keep the industry rolling.

This ‘just-in-time’ business model that many automotive manufacturers ascribe to, begs the need for complete transparency within supply chains.

This ‘just-in-time’ business model that many automotive manufacturers ascribe to, begs the need for complete transparency within supply chains. Whether its congestion on the border, a work stoppage at an assembly plant or a natural event, such as a snowstorm, disrupting a particular location, automotive manufacturers need to respond asap and adjust inventory as needed to keep all assembly plants humming.

Logistics Technology Is Playing A Larger Role

As a result, technology is playing a larger role and is turning the industry upside down with innovations like on demand 3D-printing of parts, and the tracking of shipped parts from manufacturing directly to the assembly floor. Many automotive manufacturers are already utilizing 3D-printing technology for specific components and even more are tracking their part deliveries with amazing accuracy that leads to additional productivity and profits.

Parts manufacturers need to better track and maintain their supply chain to keep up with the new demands placed on them by the automotive manufacturers

Auto parts logistics is shifting, bringing parts closer to the manufacturer. This is creating an impact on transportation demands, not to mention potential change in warehousing locations and inventory management. The parts manufacturers need to better track and maintain their supply chain to keep up with the new demands placed on them by the automotive manufacturers, and may need to utilize a Third Party Logistics (3PL) provider, to keep up with these demands. A 3PL can take current and past shipping data and determine the most effective methods for a parts manufacturer to work with the new freight window scheduling of the the automotive manufacturer while maintaining and even increasing cost savings.

Automotive Manufacturers Team Up With Technology

As the automotive manufacturers increase the technology used to produce their vehicles, the current parts manufacturers’ supply chain can become out dated very quickly. These logistics changes have resulted in redefining the automotive industry into a technologically advanced supply chain monster. The automotive industry continues to reinvent itself and its supply chain will likely change as well. Auto parts manufacturers will need to be more collaborative with its partners, such as a 3PL, to transform each of the major supply chain components including sourcing, manufacturing locations, warehousing as well as transportation.

 

 

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Carrier Spotlight | YRC Freight

YRC BLOG

Carrier Spotlight – YRC Freight

When a small business partners with BlueGrace Logistics, they automatically have access to BlueShip, one of the industry’s premier transportation management systems (TMS). BlueShip allows customers to quote a shipment, print Bill of Ladings (BOL), price out different carriers and much more. Among the list of carriers that BlueGrace works with is, YRC Freight.

BlueGrace Logistics has worked with YRC Freight since 2009 and is a national carrier that offers a unique set of services to accommodate their shippers always evolving needs.

YRC Freight LTL Services

  1. The LTL OriginalStandard Service allows for freight to be shipped safely and securely throughout their 250-plus terminal network. This service is great for shipments that have a larger window for delivery time.
  2. Faster StandardAccelerated Service is a faster and cost-competitive service that allows shipments to travel through their faster network and include their weekend advantage.
  3. Any Need. Any Speed. Guaranteed.Time Critical Service is their expedited service with customer-defined delivery dates and times. Shipments move through their fastest network and are handled by a dedicated team from start to finish.
  4. Over and AboveLogistics Solutions Service is their customized services for your most complex shipping needs. Their logistics experts tailor specific solutions for your needs, regardless of how complex or regular your shipment is.

Note to BlueShip users:

When quoting and booking through BlueShip, please note that the YRC Accelerated Service holds dynamic transit days based on pickup date. This service travels through YRC’s “Weekend Advantage” network, so if your shipment travels through the weekend, include the weekend as 1 of the transit days.

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